Jun 29, 2019

The cities no one can afford to live in

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Around the world, people are streaming into big cities. But owning a home in these places is out of reach for many Americans — and where most end up renting, the idea of a quick zip to work is a cruel joke.

By the numbers: This is a global issue. A recent survey by Demographia, a firm that researches cities, looked at 309 metros in 8 countries. Of these, just 9 housing markets (all in the U.S.) were judged to be "affordable" — meaning that the ratio of average housing prices to income was 3 to 1 or less. The most affordable were Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Oklahoma City.

  • But 29 cities were severely unaffordable, including 13 in the U.S., 7 in the U.K., and 5 in Australia. The worst was Hong Kong, with a ratio of 20 to 1. Vancouver was next at 12.6, and Sydney at 11.7.

The "smart city" concept may exacerbate the affordability crisis. Joel Kotkin, a professor at Chapman University, said the term currently connotes killing single-family homes in favor of dense living arrangements and public transportation.

  • It also means "no kids, because unless you are rich, there are no families," Kotkin told Axios. "Most people over the age of 30 want a single-family home with a backyard. But people live in a crate and take a bus for an hour to work."
  • "The whole paradigm is off."

Some urban experts blame "urban containment" policies that seek to build up density by limiting the contours of a metropolitan area. "All cities with severe unaffordability have adopted one form or another of urban containment," said urban policy expert Wendell Cox.

  • One answer, experts say, is to loosen up by lifting regulations to enable cities to grow.

What's next: "We ought to redefine what smart is," says Kotkin. "To me, smart is upward mobility, maintaining the middle class, and helping the working class."

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Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 6,294,222 — Total deaths: 376,077 — Total recoveries — 2,711,241Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,811,277 — Total deaths: 105,147 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.

More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April

Adapted from EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

As is often the case, the staggering job losses in the coronavirus-driven recession have been worse for black workers.

By the numbers: According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, titled "Racism and economic inequality have predisposed black workers to be most hurt by coronavirus pandemic," more than 1 in 6 black workers lost their jobs between February and April.

Coronavirus could lower GDP by $15.7 trillion

Reproduced from Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

The CBO released projections on Monday for U.S. nominal GDP to be lower by $15.7 trillion over the next decade than its estimate in January as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: It predicts that when adjusted for inflation GDP will be $7.9 trillion lower over the next decade and down by $790 billion in the second quarter of this year — a 37.7% quarterly contraction.