Business News

While Limited in Size, Individuals With Limited English Capabilities Perform Well in Regional Economy

In the United States, more than 45 million working-age adults – over 20% – speak a language other than English in their homes.

According to a report released by the Brookings Institute, approximately 19.2 million (almost 10%) of this sub-population are considered “limited English proficient” (LEP). More than 70% of these LEPs participate in the work force, and the Brookings Institute found that they make considerably less (anywhere from 17-135%) than their English-proficient counterparts. These individuals, researchers found, are also more likely to suffer from unemployment and poverty.

While most LEP individuals live in the nation’s large metropolitan areas, like Cincinnati, their numbers are rapidly growing in smaller urbanized regions, like Dayton and Lexington.

In the Cincinnati metropolitan region, the number of LEP adults exceeds 35,000 and has grown 55.1% since 2000. This places the region in the top 25 of the 89 largest metropolitan areas in the nation; however, LEP individuals only make up 2.5% of the metropolitan region’s total workforce. This places Cincinnati 88th out of the 89 largest regions in America.

There has been a growing interest in this topic recently, with some organizations going as far to organize workshops to help non-native English speakers with business start-up and management training.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that the most commonly spoken language by LEP individuals is Spanish. Across the nation, that percentage is 66.3%, but represents just 41.9% of the LEP population locally.

The Cincinnati region does, however, have a relatively high percentage of Asian and Pacific Island language LEP workers (35.2%), with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese following Spanish as the top languages spoken. French speakers come in next at 3.9%.

It should be emphasized that while Germans represent the region’s predominant historical migrant community, the German language did not rank amongst the top five languages spoken within Cincinnati’s LEP community. This, however, may be the result of Germans immigrating to the region several generations ago. It also speaks to the complexity of the issue of immigration and the need for a comprehensive study of the matter.

Following national trends, the Brookings Institute found that LEP workers in Cincinnati are most likely to work in industries like manufacturing, accommodation and food service. Cincinnati’s LEP workers, however, were found to be slightly more educated than the national average, with a smaller percentage of individuals with less than a high school education and a larger percentage of individuals with an education level of at least some college or a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Those positive numbers seem to translate into better economic performance for the region, with more than 76% of Cincinnati’s LEP workers active in the regional workforce – a rate that is slightly better than the national average.

With demographers predicting that almost all growth in the U.S. labor force will come from immigrants and their children over the next half-century, these statistics have a large impact on the overall well-being of the American economy.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Listen to our podcast with Alfonso Cornejo, President of the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber, and Kristin Hoffman, an Immigration/Administration Lawyer with Hammond Law Group, to learn more about the region’s efforts and needs to become more welcoming to immigrants and foreign language speakers.

Business Development News

Are Regional Population Trends in Cincinnati and Dayton Entangled?

Anyone in this region knows that Cincinnati and Dayton are closely influenced by one another. Perhaps you could say that Cincinnati, being significantly larger, influences Dayton more than Dayton influences Cincinnati, but you might not want to say that to anyone in charge at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport.

A new study conducted by Alberto Hernando de Castro for the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Paris found two trends in the population growth and decline of Spanish cities. His team was able to determine these trends by developing a model based on population data collection from 8,100 Spanish municipalities between 1900 and 2011.

One of the trends Hernando’s team noted in the study was that a city’s growth rate depends on the growth rates of neighboring cities. And it was specifically noted that cities within 50 miles of one another become “entangled” in a way that if one grows, the other grows as well. It is this trend that is perhaps most interesting for the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex, where the two core cities are less than 50 miles apart.

Cincinnati-Dayton Region Population Change Entanglement

The primary cities of both regions peaked in terms of their population in the middle of the 20th century, but metropolitan area population growth has more or less continued for both up through the 2010 Census.

The Dayton metropolitan statistical area (MSA), with 841,502 people, has suffered two decades of population decline – the first from 1970 to 1980 and the second from 2000 to 2010. The Cincinnati combined statistical area (CSA), meanwhile with 2,172,191 people, has never recorded a decade of population loss.

With that said, the population growth trends for the two cities do tend to mirror one another. From 1950 to 1980 both regions saw their population growth slow significantly, with Dayton leading the way. The two areas then saw an uptick from 1980 to 2000, with Cincinnati leading the way.

If the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex is in fact following this trend noted by Hernando and is researchers, then it would appear that Dayton’s slowing growth in the middle part of the 20th century brought Cincinnati’s down with it, or whatever factor led to this change in Dayton had similar effects on the nearby Cincinnati market.

The same would be true, but in opposite fashion, for the latter part of the century when Cincinnati’s rebounding population growth seemed to pull Dayton along with it – even reversing the slight population decline the Dayton MSA experienced in the 1970s.

The other trend noticed by the researchers was that cities seem to grow based on a 15-year memory – meaning what happened within the past 10 to 15 years serves as a reasonable indicator for what will happen in the next few years. This analysis, of course, is more accurate the closer the years are to the base year, and less accurate the closer the data is to the 15-year extreme.

If this trend is also true, might it mean that the Dayton MSA will post a population gain between 2010 and 2020, as a result of Cincinnati’s population gains lifting up Dayton’s population decline as it did in the 1980s? Or will it mean that the population gain for the Cincinnati CSA will be even less than the 6% gain posted last decade, as a result of whatever is dragging down population gains in Dayton?

Time will tell, but so far the two noted trends seem to apply to the Cincinnati-Dayton metroplex. In what way, exactly? Good question.

Business Development News Transportation

Streetcar first step in Mayor Mallory’s regional rail transit vision

Last night Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory (D) shared some exciting information regarding the future of rail transportation in the Cincinnati region in his State of the City address. First he announced that Spanish-based Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) had been selected to design and construct the first five streetcar vehicles for the Cincinnati Streetcar project currently under construction. Then, he revealed a conceptual vision of what the future of regional rail could look like in Cincinnati.

CAF is a well-respected international manufacturer of streetcars and light rail vehicles, and competed against four other companies who responded to the City’s request for proposals sent out in September 2011. Project officials say that representatives from the City, Metro and other transportation experts based their design selections on a combination of technical specifications, power needs, physical dimension, cost and the ability to travel up the Vine Street hill.

Mayor Mallory touted a new regional rail transit vision for Cincinnati at his seventh State of the City Address.

As city spokesperson Meg Olberding explained, “We wanted to select a company that had both previous experience with streetcars and light rail vehicles as well as was the most cost competitive. We will be the first city in the country to have these streetcars.”

The streetcar team did reportedly consider the use of battery powered streetcars, to avoid any overhead wires, but in the end decided that the electric vehicles save on cost.

One of the most important aspects of the modern streetcar vehicles is their “low floor” feature along the entire length of the streetcar. The low floor is the section of the streetcar that is most level with the curb of the streetcar station, and thus provides significant benefits for handicap accessibility, bicyclists, and people with strollers. Whereas other streetcars have only a small section that is low floor, the CAF streetcars are 100 percent low floor, meaning even greater access for people with wheeled transportation.

Project officials say that the next steps are ensuring manufacturing of the vehicles is done in the United States, and meets ‘Buy America’ standards with at least 60 percent of the materials sourced from the U.S. as well. Officials believe that the first standard has already been met since the vehicles will be built at CAF USA’s Elmira, NY facility.

CAF USA’s modern streetcar design for Cincinnati will be the first of its kind in the United States.

Two basic paint schemes have been distributed for illustrative purposes, and city officials note that no final paint schemes have been determined.

While the mayor touted a vision for rail transit in Cincinnati during his seventh State of the City address, he also noted that the City has been actively pursuing funding for the next phase of the streetcar route to extend uptown. This includes a $1.2 million grant application under the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. Should the City receive those funds, officials say work will begin on studying the appropriate alternatives for an uptown circulator route to be built after the Uptown Connector route is constructed along Vine Street.

As for light rail and commuter rail, the Mayor’s plan is looking even further down the road.

“It’s a vision of the future,” Olberding stated. “Growing our transportation options [beyond the streetcar] is a regional conversation we are willing to have.”