Dec 31, 2019

Affordability is driving Americans' decisions on where to live

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Data: Prudential; Note: ±3.0 margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most American workers place affordability above jobs on the priority list when determining where to live, according to Prudential's Pulse of the American Worker survey conducted in November by Morning Consult.

Why it matters: The high cost of living in job-rich centers holds people back from looking for new opportunities there.

Nearly half of those surveyed said affordability and proximity to family and friends were the most important factors, while only 15% listed job opportunities as a primary reason. (Note: The survey has a 3% margin of error.)

  • Although 6 in 10 people are willing to relocate for a new job, 88% wouldn’t commute more than an hour, even for their dream job.
  • The majority of Americans surveyed said they've lived in their community for more than 15 years.
  • Only 23% said they'd relocated for their current job.

Blue-collar and hourly wage workers tend to have deep networks of friends and families that tie them to a particular community and keep them from leaving, even if higher-paying opportunities are elsewhere.

  • "It struck me how locally anchored people were," said Molly Kinder, a fellow at Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Center, whose recent research interviewed 40 workers including those employed in grocery stores, fast food and clerical jobs.
  • "We have this notion that all people need is a platform online that tells them where a job is available," she said. "But for the lower-income population we talked to, the way people knew about or had access to jobs is through a friend or family."

Occupational licensing requirements can also discourage crossing state borders, Kinder noted.

What to watch: The cities projected to have the fastest-growing populations over the next five years include Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Orlando and Charlotte, per an analysis by the Urban Land Institute.

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The new relocation test: Jobs for spouses

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The rise of dual-career couples has contributed to lower mobility rates between cities and has made it harder to recruit workers to smaller job markets.

Why it matters: Moving to a different town for a job opportunity was more common when most households had one primary earner. Now that the majority of households rely on two incomes, relocating requires finding two good jobs instead of one — a much harder proposition for many couples.

Go deeperArrowDec 31, 2019

U.S. economy adds 145,000 jobs in final report of 2019

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December, the government said on Friday, below economists’ expectations of 160,000. The unemployment rate held at 3.5% — a 50-year low — while wages grew 2.9% from a year earlier, the smallest gain since July 2018.

Why it matters: The U.S. job market held up in the final month of 2019, but heads into the election year with a slowing pace of job creation and wage growth.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Unemployment fell to 50-year low in 2019 but wages stagnated

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's jobs report missed expectations, but still delivered solid numbers, showing the U.S. economy added well over 100,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained near a 50-year low.

The big picture: BLS reported that the number of people who were employed part time but would rather be full-time employees declined by 507,000 over the year.