Team NEO Releases Economic Research Report: Misaligned Opportunities

Report explores racial inequities and the pandemic’s effects on minority communities

During a virtual event this morning, Team NEO released the second edition of Misaligned Opportunities, a supplement to the annual Aligning Opportunities report that presents insights into the demand-supply imbalance in the Northeast Ohio Region’s workforce. Insights from the report reveal the gap in economic outcomes between communities of color and white communities. In addition, this year’s report leverages new data to illustrate further COVID’s effects on communities of color.  

Misaligned Opportunities, prepared in partnership with Delta Dental, shows that economic success has not been equitable and opportunities to prosper have not been equal for all members of our community, particularly people of color. The report explores educational attainment, entrepreneurship and racial proportionality of in-demand occupations.

Misaligned Opportunities key highlights include:

  • COVID impact –  Black unemployment was impacted twice as much as white unemployment from COVID. The most recent data available, from 2015-2019, shows Black and Hispanic communities had higher rates of unemployment (5% white, 12% Black and 8% Hispanic). COVID increased this disparity. While Ohio’s overall unemployment rate reached 8.8%, white unemployment was 7% and Black unemployment rose to 14%.
  • Educational Attainment – A pivotal first step toward a higher-wage career, three in-demand occupations are underrepresented by minorities in postsecondary completions (a program resulting in a degree, certificate or other diploma):
    • Manufacturing is one of the largest sectors in the Northeast Ohio Region, yet Black students make up only 4% of completions in this sector, while white students make up 72% of completions
    • Health Care is represented by 76% white completions versus Black completions represented 8%
    • Computer & IT provides the highest median annual salary of the three in-demand sectors. However, white students account for 62% of completions compared with 6% for Black completions
  • Disparities exist in minority business enterprises and entrepreneurship with only 6% of businesses minority owned
  • Of the top 20 in-demand occupations, offering family-sustaining wages, minorities are disproportionately underrepresented:
    • Whites make up 80% of Information Security Analysis occupations while Blacks represent 11%
    • Nearly 90% of Nurse Practitioners are white, while only 6% are Black.
    • Financial Managers are overwhelmingly white at 88% while Blacks represent only 7% of this in-demand occupation.

Misaligned Opportunities is a critical element of Team NEO’s work with businesses in the Northeast Ohio Region to help close the talent gap. The data insights from the report provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the need to enhance our approach to eliminate inequities and increase our talent pool.

“Northeast Ohio employment could close the in-demand occupations gap by nearly a third if minorities had greater opportunities to participate in manufacturing, health care and computer & IT industries,” said Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler. “These insights are critical so we can influence solutions that we, as a region, can implement to affect positive change toward a more vibrant economy in Northeast Ohio – one that is talented, equitable, innovative, resilient, competitive and prosperous.”

Misaligned Opportunities shows Northeast Ohio is gaining some traction with workforce development programs and education opportunities, highlighting the work of leading organizations such as College Now Greater Cleveland, IBM & Youngstown State University and Ohio to Work.

About Team NEO

Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization accelerating business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio Region. As the designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we align and amplify local economic development efforts in the region’s 18 counties; we conduct research and data analysis to inform local conversations and influence solutions; we market the Northeast Ohio Region; and we work to increase access to jobs, education and training for the region’s 4.3 million people. We do this to build a more vibrant regional economy –  one that is more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient and prosperous. For more information, visit