Team NEO Charts Racial Disparities in Workforce

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A new report may influence regional stakeholders to think differently about issues related to racial disparities in northeastern Ohio’s economy. At least that’s the hope at Team NEO.

The report, “Misaligned Opportunities: How Racial Inequities Lead to Skills Gaps in Northeast Ohio,” was developed from research conducted for TeamNEO’s series of opportunities reports.

“We hope this report can be used as a starting point to inform local conversations on how racial inequities lead to talent gaps in northeast Ohio and influence solutions that we, as a region, can implement to effect positive change,” says the CEO of Team NEO, Bill Koehler, in the introduction to the report.

“The message is clear that economic success has not been equitable for all members of our community particularly people of color,” he says.

 “The objective of this research is to better define the challenge and inspire solutions that will positively impact both personal and regional economic growth,” adds Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research for Team NEO.

Racial inequality – particularly for people of color and especially Black people – was one of three critical issues the organization identified that will hinder the region’s ability to grow and prosper if unaddressed.

“Given things that have been going on in our country the past several months, it’s taken even heightened priority in the way we think about this,” Duritsky says. 

According to the report, non-White people – including Black people, Hispanic people, Asian people and multiracial people – represent about 23% of the region’s population, but are underrepresented in several fields, including management and construction, while overrepresented in others, such as service jobs. 

A series of charts illustrates the inequalities Black and Hispanic people experience. While 35% of White people in the region have a baccalaureate or above, just 23% of Black people and Hispanic people do. White people account for 71% of postsecondary completions in in-demand industries, compared with 11% for Black people and 4% for Hispanic people.

While 9% of health-care credentials went to Black people, that doesn’t tell the whole story, Duritsky says.

“It tends to be lower levels of credentialing on the spectrum of jobs that are going to people of color, particularly African Americans,” he says. “You’re not seeing significant numbers of registered nurses, for instance.”

Black people and Hispanic people are disproportionately underrepresented in many in-demand occupations. Black people represent 5% of general and operations managers and Hispanic people, 2%. White people hold 91% of those positions. White people make up 84% of web developers, compared to Black people (5%) and Hispanic people (4%).

Unemployment among both groups is double or more than that of White people. White unemployment is 5% compared to 10% among Hispanic people and 12% for Black people. Median household income in the region for Black people is $30,403, compared to $44,356 for Hispanic people and $55,687 for White people.

Black people “make up a significant portion” of the region’s population, but “disproportionately aren’t seeing the economic gains that others are,” Duritsky says.  

Further, minority-owned businesses represent just 15% of businesses in northeastern Ohio and account for just 6% of firms with paid employees. Minority-owned firms tend to be smaller, have less revenue and are in sectors such as hospitality that have felt the initial brunt of the coronavirus pandemic much more than other sectors, Duritsky says. 

The data “supports what our gut was telling us,” Duritsky says.

Even so, the starkness in some of the disparities surprised him, he says. Among 20 in-demand occupations identified, Black representation is below double digits in all but seven. In some of those fields, this representation is as low as 4%.