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The United States has historically been a place of great mobility — when local economies have lost hope, Americans have often picked up and moved to where the jobs were.

This time seems different: Americans have not abandoned the rust belt towns of Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere in droves as jobs have fled (see chart below), and some say they should. But MIT economist Daron Acemoglu disagrees: migration is too disruptive to families and the cities that workers leave. In an interview with Axios, he said policymakers shouldn't encourage them to go.

Expand chart

Data: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios Acemoglu said:"Migration puts a lot of negative pressure on the families that migrate, who have to go and adapt with low income to an entirely different area."It can leave an economic "wasteland" in the wake of fleeing workers.In Detroit, housing prices and tax revenues have plunged, and it can no longer provide adequate schooling or other public services for those who remain.And while economists see the benefits of the historic readiness of U.S. workers to relocate, they say migration may not be the silver bullet it once was. Economic historian Robert James has written that current workers must have "skills and initiative" if they are to successfully migrate, unlike past great migrations in which just showing up was often sufficient to find a job. He argues, "In today's world, workers must learn to embrace adaptability and flexibility. ... Unfortunately, the U.S. and most other industrialized countries, with their stultifying and rigid education systems, have failed to prepare people for this reality."

Go deeper

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Massachusetts.

Parties pounce on China as midterm issue

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democrats and Republicans in purple states are already leaning into U.S. competition with China as a key issue in the fight to control the Senate in 2022.

Why it matters: American voters hold increasingly negative feelings toward the Chinese government, particularly around bilateral economic relations and following the nation’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.