As we began 2022, it became very clear to us at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Center for Research and Data that it is becoming ever more necessary to benchmark the Cincinnati region’s progress against our peers and the nation as a whole. With a worldwide pandemic, record low unemployment, inflation numbers that we haven’t seen in decades, and all kinds of uncertainty, we knew that there has never been a more important time to create a resource for our members, policy makers, and community leaders to refer to for the latest data about our region.
So, we created the first State of the Region report – with a rollout event in September 2022 – that defines several key indicators and dives into a host of economic and community datasets, including demographics, public health, and industry spotlights. The report identified geographically comparable regions located within 500 miles of Cincinnati. Most are similarly sized to Cincinnati, but not all. Each has its own unique opportunities and challenges, but each offers a chance for us to learn about what the strengths and challenges are in our own region.
As we laid out the report, we divided it into several different sections, including an overview of the Cincinnati region, economic indicators, community and health indicators, housing and migration indicators, and industry indicators. The report also includes a spotlight on the healthcare industry.
In this blog post, I’d like to share a few notable datasets, one from each of the categories.
The Cincinnati region has consistently grown every decade and has gone from a region of 1.2 million people in 1950, to a region of 2.3 million people in 2020. The Center for Research and Data created population projections out to the year 2050, which show that the consistent growth we have seen throughout the decades now faces a challenge in the coming years. It probably does not come as a surprise to folks who work on workforce development issues that our population is rapidly aging, and without a large influx of migration into the region, we will see our population growth begin to slow. It will take the right set of policies and collaboration from business leaders and the community to ensure that we remain a vibrant region with a growing workforce.
One of the economic indicators that the State of the Region report looked at was jobs by industry. Within the Cincinnati region, the health care and social assistance industry has the most employment, followed by government, and then manufacturing. Cincinnati has more healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, finance and insurance, transportation and warehousing, and management of companies and enterprises employment than one would expect for a region our size. Among all industries, transportation and warehousing has seen the most growth, adding over 20,000 new jobs between 2016 and 2021. We fully expect that the transportation and warehousing industry will continue to be a leader in job creation for our region.
Community and Health Indicators
A community and health indicator that we are tracking is educational attainment over time and compared to our peer regions. Over the past decade, educational attainment in the Cincinnati region has been on the rise, with the percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or greater increasing by six percentage points. At the same time, we know there is still a lot of room for improvement. Among its geographic peers, Cincinnati ranks near the middle of the pack. While our academic institutions have been growing in size and prestige, our ranking in this category illustrates the importance of efforts to retain and attract a highly skilled and talented workforce.
Housing and Migration Indicators
The housing and migration section of the State of the Region report includes several datasets pointing to the make up of new Cincinnatians and their efforts to find a place to live. We know that home prices and rents have been rising across the country and it is also true here in our region. In fact, the median home value in the Cincinnati region increased by 138% between 2019 and 2021, and we have been featured on several lists of fastest growing rent increases in the country. We are still a relatively affordable region, but we’ll need to build a lot of new housing and embrace an “all of the above” approach to the housing crisis to maintain our affordability.
One way we can measure our progress is through the number of housing permits granted, as we know that research shows that an increase in housing supply brings down rents across the board. Our region saw an increase of 1,112 housing permits between 2020 and 2021, which represents a 15.4% increase. However, this is near the middle of the pack compared to peer regions. Zoning reforms will be an important part of making it easier to build homes and maintain the affordability that is one of our strengths when it comes to attracting talent.
As was already mentioned, the transportation and warehousing industry is a huge source of economic growth for the Cincinnati region, and the State of the Region report includes a host of indicators that show just how strong this industry is. For example, between 2019 and 2021 we saw an increase of almost 8,500 jobs in the transportation and warehousing super sector, the highest of any super sector by far. Over 6,000 of these new jobs came specifically in the general warehousing and storage subsector. Projecting out to 2026, we expect that the transportation and warehousing super sector will add approximately 8,500 additional jobs in our region.
Additionally, as you can see in the table above, we expect that health care and social assistance will continue to be a strong source of job growth for our region. This is one of the reasons that we chose this super sector as our Industry Spotlight in the State of the Region report. There are a lot of great data about this industry in the report, including that we expect the region to have 162,000 health care and social assistance jobs by 2030, and that the industry has a $13.2 billion impact on the local economy. The two charts below show how we stack up against our peers. We are in the top half for health care and social assistance jobs and for average salary in this industry. Be sure to check out the full State of the Region report for a lot more data on occupations and job posting in the health care and social assistance industry.
While we consider the first State of the Region report to be a great success, at the Center for Research and Data, we know that it is only the beginning of the great resources we want to provide for the Cincinnati region. Looking forward, we will be tracking key regional indicators and how Cincinnati compares to an expanded list of peer regions.
In early 2023, we will be launching our Regional Indicators Database, which will include a host of regional indicators and will be updated regularly as a go-to reference for our members, community leaders, policymakers, and the public. The 2023 State of the Region report, and future reports, will track progress on many of these key indicators.
Be on the lookout for the launch of the Regional Indicators Database and, in the meantime, be sure to check out the State of the Region report at cincinnatichamber.com/stateoftheregion.
For questions or more information on the Center for Research and Data or the State of the Region report, contact Brandon Rudd, Director, Center for Research and Data, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
Director, Center for Research and Data
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber