Why Your Neighbor’s Job Matters

The rhetoric around “job creation” has become a little tired, almost to the point where people tend to glaze over when it’s mentioned. No one disagrees that jobs are important, it’s just that other people’s jobs aren’t usually on our minds.

We often have our hands full just dealing with our own jobs and how they impact our own busy lives. In the day-to-day rush of life, it can be hard to think more broadly.

Consequently, while we don’t have any trouble getting interested in job creation if something happens to our own job, we often forget that our job doesn’t just help to stabilize and improve our individual life — it reverberates throughout the entire community along with the jobs of our families, friends and neighbors.

Here’s just a few of the ways job opportunities for other people help to transform your community for the better:

This is perhaps the most obvious, but also the most visible consequence of job growth in a community. With a steady job, individuals can lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

At street level, poverty reduction helps combat a myriad of other problems that make communities unsafe, from high crime rates to addiction and mental illness. At a macro level, it eases the burden on local governments, reduces dependence on the social safety net and helps to combat corrosive trends such as brain drain and infrastructure collapse.

When it comes to education, no matter what funding structure you use, more good jobs lead to a stronger tax base, which correlates to better-funded, higher-performing schools that offer more opportunities for children — including yours.

When jobs are plentiful, this creates a virtuous circle that self-perpetuates an educated workforce that pays for the education of the next generation. When jobs are absent, the circle breaks down — morphing into a vicious cycle of poverty and brain drain that also self-perpetuates.

For the lion’s share of the population, employer-based insurance plans are still the primary health care option. For the rest, the ability to pay for a private health care plan is still dependent on the ability to earn a wage. That means access to good jobs are still one of the best predictors of positive health care outcomes in a community. In fact, one study, undertaken during the height of the recession found that unemployment can increase the risk of premature mortality by up to 63%.

These community outcomes are often overlooked, but even if you have quality insurance, your neighbors’ health care options — or lack thereof—will still impact how well your local clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices operate. At a macro level, they will even determine the cost of your own insurance over time.

As you can see, the community benefits of job growth are clear. The more good paying jobs that are available in a community, the more than community thrives. The trick is that it takes a major investment of both time and money — but it is well worth it in the end.

That’s the reason that JumpStart — and many of its philanthropic partners — are doubling down on commitments to find new ways to help more businesses get the connections, capital and technical assistance they need to grow and create more good jobs in Northeast Ohio.

Because when our neighbors have good jobs, the whole community wins.

This post originally appeared in Crain’s Cleveland Business on May 30, 2017