Brookings Institute Study Finds Jobs Moving from Downtown to Suburbs

Written by: Scott Sery

Jobs are fundamentally dynamic.  That means they are constantly changing and reshaping themselves on how they perform their duties.  Just look at the news, it started out that print was the only medium.  Then it switched from radio, to television, to the internet, and now a lot of people get their news via their smart phone.  Likewise, the location these jobs are performed is constantly changing as well.  Having been consolidated for many years in the  downtown area of cities, a Brookings Institute Study finds jobs Moving from Downtown to Suburbs.

The Brookings Institute recently conducted a study that looked at where jobs were performed.  The survey of 100 major cities found that there has been a significant change in job locale in the 2000’s.  Instead of being primarily located in the downtown areas, many jobs are now moving to suburban areas at least 10 miles from the urban core.

The study (read the full text here) found that only in Washington DC did job density increase within the downtown area, and in all but 9 of the 100 areas studied jobs within 3 miles of the downtown area declined during the 2000’s.  During that same time period, the share of jobs at least 10 miles away from downtown rose in 85 of the areas.  The migration away from the urban core was going steadily until the Great Recession hit.  That halted the job movement, mostly because it crashed the job market.

Part of the American Dream is to have a good job in the city, a house in the suburbs, a wife, and 2.5 children.  But as times are changing, people are recognizing the American Dream can be different for everyone.  Gas prices are going up, and people are sick of spending a lot of money on long commutes.  More people are choosing to telecommute to work anyway, and in order to help maintain employee morale, many companies are moving the jobs to the people rather than bringing the people to the jobs.  The biggest reason is perhaps that the downtown structure was designed around the need to be in close proximity to your co-workers and similar industries.  But now with the internet, smart phones, webcam meetings, and the like, there is no need for a centralized location.  Companies can spread out and purchase buildings on outlying land for far cheaper than they could rent the same space in the city.

As people begin to realize that they are an asset to the company they work for, this trend will continue.  Companies are saving money by having more offices in cheaper locations, and at the same time they are getting more out of their employees.  Keeping in constant contact is easy to do through the internet, and a live meeting via webcam is just as effective as one in person.  This study found that 43% of jobs are at least 10 miles from the downtown area.  In another 10 years will we see a greater percentage of jobs being at least 10 miles from the city’s urban core?


Brookings Institute Study Finds Jobs Moving from...

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