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The Great Stagnation: Americans stopped moving to find work

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

From the first, Americans have been on the move in "Great Migrations" for a better life, like those of the last century that saw poor blacks and whites go from the south for higher-paying work in northern cities. But no longer. Starting around 1980, working class Americans have largely stood still, and a primary reason is real estate prices, according to new research.

In a new paper, the University of Chicago's Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag say high rent in America's most economically vibrant areas make these moves a money loser for lower-skilled workers.

Why it matters: Their relative immobility stunts a historical trend in which lower-skill American workers have climbed the income ladder. It's one reason for the decades of stagnant income documented across the West by economists.