Cleveland Population Decline... Why?

100 Replies

We all know Cleveland Population is Declining every year. I hear a lot of reasons, but other than jobs as being the main reason, I cannot seem to find other reasons that make it reasonable for the declinning population. 

There are a lot of metros with high unemployment and yet the properties are appreciating greatly (EX: Fresno, CA, Bakersfield, CA). 

With such high unemployment rate in Fresno, you would still be able to see an increase in population. Although I strongly believe in the fact that job will significantly impact the population, but after seeing Fresno as an example, I think jobs are not only source nor the true source of population decline. What do you think the reason that may contribute to the decline population? 

Interesting population graph that I see here: 

Although this is not a great indicator that "population is moving to Columbus", but those curves really made me wonder what is happening. 

To local Clevelanders, tell me what you think of the reason of decline population? 

Several points here:

Cleveland is located in the rust belt, an area where heavy manufacturing was important at one time and has decline.

1.   Even though the population of Cleveland has decline, your statistics don't mention the whole Cleveland MSA.   Residents have left the city for the suburbs, which often has newer and more functional housing.  

2.   Columbus is probably the healthiest large city in Ohio.   Two reasons:   the state government is located there.  Plus it is a university town.  This brings stable employment.  Also, being next to a University also creates other industry jobs.

You are from California, so you probably are thinking about investing outside of your area.  If you invest in the top 50% quality areas of Cleveland, you should be fine.  Parts of the city are impoverished.  Being an investor in these areas can be profitable, but they are not turn-key type properties.  You need to have boots on the ground.  It is better suited to local investors.

One word......”sunshine”.   Actually 3:   “Lack of sunshine”

@Brian Ploszay , I heard those reasons before but unfortunately they still don't fully justify the decline. The heavy manufacturing is gone long ago. The decline should've happened before the end 90s. I should expect more of a flat line for the last 20 years, but it is not what I am seeing. 

1. The graph shows that the suburbs surrounding Cleveland are not seeing much increase in population over the years. 

2. I cannot comment since I don't have enough information. But I am not a strong believer that the capital of the state is usually the wealthiest city. 

I am not in California, and my investments are not limited to California. I think your assumption is a bit off. But I really appreciate your attempt for caring about the issues and made recommendations for my investment route. =) Thank you. 

One word is going to change Cleveland, "Amazon."

@Sergio Picciuto , lol.

I wish that is the reason... but when I look at a worse weather area like Toronto, I'm certain that isn't the reason. 

@Helen Zhang

Less worried about Headquarter #2. Would be a jackpot for me if they do win but they are actually building two distribution centers (one in Euclid and one in North Randall).  With these two distribution centers, it will employ 3-4000+ people.  

@Helen Zhang

You are right.  The Cleveland MSA did lose population from the last census.  

Many cities have lost population and continue to do so.  But the overall areas are stable.  Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburg and even Chicago.

In Chicago, where I live, the population is quite stable in the above average areas.  The impoverished areas are losing population rapidly.   People that have the ability to move, do so.  The schools are mediocre, the crime is above average, etc..

Back to Cleveland, look at the statistics more carefully.  Ideally by neighborhood.  

And America and Cleveland still manufacture things.  But it continues to erode.  Another thing is that technology is allowing for labor saving manufacturing.  It takes much less labor to make steel than it did in the 1950s.

Many of the surrounding cities are not in that graph, Lakewood, Rocky River, south Euclid, Garfield heights, maple heights, North Royalton, Strongsville. All are within 30min if downtown Cleveland but not present on the graph

Originally posted by @Helen Zhang :

We all know Cleveland Population is Declining every year. I hear a lot of reasons, but other than jobs as being the main reason, I cannot seem to find other reasons that make it reasonable for the declinning population. 

There are a lot of metros with high unemployment and yet the properties are appreciating greatly (EX: Fresno, CA, Bakersfield, CA). 

With such high unemployment rate in Fresno, you would still be able to see an increase in population. Although I strongly believe in the fact that job will significantly impact the population, but after seeing Fresno as an example, I think jobs are not only source nor the true source of population decline. What do you think the reason that may contribute to the decline population? 

Interesting population graph that I see here: 

Although this is not a great indicator that "population is moving to Columbus", but those curves really made me wonder what is happening. 

To local Clevelanders, tell me what you think of the reason of decline population? 

 Not a local Clevelander! Although Cleveland Metro has one of the most profitable senior rental housing sectors in the nation. With that some of the population is merely passing away and not being replenished with new family formation like previous decades. The first wave of that overall population loss is just showing up statistically now is my best guess. Still certain choice pockets in Cleveland will boom and are expected to return above national average moving forward. It also might a good idea for some cities to actively recruit some of the more fertile type residents and immigrants asap!

Good luck! 

@Federico Gutierrez , RockyRiver, Euclid are in the graph. We can add more, but they are all  mostly are declining as well:

 

Interestingly, during great recession, these cities would spike in population. It is likely that residents from Cleveland are moving to suburbs. This is normal as I have observed this in many other major city along with surrounding suburbs. 

But as you can see, Cleveland and surrounding neighborhoods are all trending down in population. 

Stand outs to me A neighborhood have rose in population. 

Helen, job opportunity is the # 1 reason for pop decline in CLE. In 1996 there were 15 Fortune 100 companies in CLE, today there are Eaton, Sherwin Williams, KeyBank, maybe PNC. When big companies leave the demand for middle Mgr and executive housing and perks dwindles. Our golf courses have merged, turned into parks etc. Ancillary small companies of every kind die, move or adapt due to lack of demand. Whereas people with a HS education used to be able to get Union jobs with Fabulous benefits making exorbitant incomes exceedingly $100k/ yr with overtime .... went on welfare and food stamps. Cleveland metro has aging housing stock - it costs money to take care of them. Taxation in Ohio at the corporate level was among the highest in the the country. If you were a businessman would you move manufacturing to a lower cost area without Unions? ??? Yes you would. 

And they did. Ohio traditionally had a low rate of college graduates remaining instate - I was one of those - I left to go to ATL after college where there was business and job growth and a new city.  So Ohio is now gratefully on the upswing - recent governors and state legislators have been able to cut taxes to encourage corporations to stay and more to come, Young people see a future in urban Middle America, I won't drone on but CLE is definitely a different place now vs 15 yrs ago- super fun and there's so much business coming back in. Somebody said leave The gritty urban neighborhoods to the locals - agree but there are solid reasons to investment in the area . 

@Federico Gutierrez , where are you seeing that actually rose in population? If you are referring to Strongsville between 1990 to 2001, yes it has increased population by a few thousand. But this is only a few thousands, compared to the population drop in Cleveland of more than 100-thousand. Be aware the units of two graphs are not the same. 

What I am trying to say is that these people who left Cleveland def did not go to suburbs. (You can always argue that maybe they did, and people from these suburbs are leaving). But whatever the case is, people are still leaving Cleveland along with surrounding suburbs. 

@Andrea Hauserman , it is great to get a local perspective. 

It make total sense that job is the reason, and there should be a strong correlation between jobs and population.

Here is some interesting data:

1. Cleveland unemployment rate: 7.2%, and population decline 2.8%

2. Fresno's unemployment rate: 9.5%, and population increased 5.2%

3. Yuma's unemployment rate: 8.5%, and population increased 3.3%

Even higher unemployment rate cities have population increase, so exactly what is wrong with Cleveland that causes population decline? 

pretty simple to me, people don't see an opportunity to make a living. Can you break out data on CA cities by illegal and legal immigrants?

You're a gateway state, Ohio is not.

I love your question... But the answer is not one dimensional. First, understand that Cleveland was once the 6th largest city in USA., with so many firsts, it would make your head spin.

Cleveland peaked in the post war years... 

But earlier, Rockefeller, the worlds first billionaire felt shunned by Cleveland's elite so he moved to a new zip code... Leaving the 300 mansions of Eulclid Avenue (Millionairs Row ) in his rear view mirror. Many more regilar folk would follow , such that in each of the last six decades, we saw a 10 percent population loss... With Art Modell's moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore a puncuated low point in the Cleveland psyche.

... The Rust Belt, the sunshine, the global economy, the evolution of high tech in a low-tech place, the highways to the suburbs, high taxes, our conservative bankers, stifling politics, recalcitrant unions, the difference between the thinking in blue-collar bars and East Side country clubs, the failure of urban renewal, the disaster of school busing... On and on.

Today we have the dicotomy of not enough good jobs, yet too many high tech jobs going unfilled for lack of talent.

Decades of Inept leadership.

Amazon! Can you believe that we had people protesting that Amazon was building the distribution center here without the main contract going to a minority contractor? 

We have one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world, and 30 percent of the population will soon not be able to afford to pay their water & sewer bill.

I love Cleveland. And it truly does feel like a turn-around city. 

But the reasons for the decades long population decline will not be found in statistics or graphs, but rather in the study of its last century's leadership.

Thanks for the great question.

That's been going on for years in rust belt blue states for obvious reasons. Have you heard about the Lindbergh baby?

Where did you get the graph from ?

@Helen Zhang I cant argue with facts on declining population, but I can tell ya that there is not a shortage of tenants whatsoever! If you run an ad for just about any type of unit or house, your phone will blow up!

Just my experiences. :-)

@Andrea Hauserman , the cities that I have listed are not just for California, and I don't live in California. I can't seems to understand how is illegal immigrants actually involved with population counting.  Illegal immigrants do not count toward population nor employment rate. Am I missing something?

@Bob Collett , that's a lot of reasons. Thank you for providing it. Allow me to have a better understanding, are you stating that Cleveland actually have a lot of high tech jobs but unable to attract talents? I have always believed that it was the opposite. (I believe Andrea also believe that it was because opportunities are not offered in Cleveland). Can you tell me more or link me a post about people protesting Amazon's main contract not going to a minority contractor? (Not going to a minority contractor as not accepting bids from minorities? or refuse to even allow minorities to bid?) The fresh water is questionable, and this has always been a very questionable thing about Cleveland as I am trying to learn. I believe the lake is very badly polluted. Correct me if I have the wrong impression of the lake/river. 

@Steve B. I have not heard about Lindbergh baby, but I just looked up. It looks like some real old historical event that people who are born after 1980s would not even know. 

@Nina Ibrahimbegovic , google is your best friend =) 

@Brian Ploszay , thanks for the heads up. That's interesting, I didn't know Cleveland actually still have a decent amount of manufacturing companies. Although I am not convinced that jobs are the only source that caused the population to decline. You have a point that Cleveland manufacture companies still have not fully died all these years. I've always thought that was long gone. 

@Bob Collett  I just looked up Cleveland's water rates, first 1.5k gallon is $19.25. Following with each 7.5k gallon is $33 which is equivalent as $4.4 per 1k gallon which is just about the same as any other city that I have lived in. Is there any reason why you believe that water rates are too high? is the income relatively too low? or is Cleveland average household using a lot of water for a specific purpose that I am not aware of? 

Helen, you are right. Water is much higher in places like Boston.  Yet, so is income. Cleveland water rate is almost twice that of Chicago, another great Lakes city. I read a study ranking Cleveland as more expensive than 39 of the 50 largest cities (water & sewer combined). Schedule Annual increases of more than 8 percent for each of the next 5 years are adding to the perception that rates are high. Another study ranked Cleveland water dead last in customer service... with frequent news stories of water bill errors followed by tax liens. See article.

http://www.news5cleveland.com/longform/drowning-in...

This is I think a small reason for people leaving Cleveland, but instead, unlimited water should attract business and jobs to the region. I read the article and ask why does Cleveland water department customer service rank dead last in the country. This does not happen over night, and is indicative of systemic leadership issues.

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