Bus tickets won’t fix the economy
Big cities are no longer the places struggling Americans can find opportunity and prosperity, said Henry Grabar. That’s a surprise, because economic data show that employment growth in the U.S. over the past decade “has occurred almost entirely in big cities.” It turns out, though, that living in these places only pays off if you have a college degree. For those who don’t, big-city wages have stagnated while housing costs have soared. This is bad news for those who subscribe to the “Greyhound theory of economic growth,” and believe that residents of economically troubled regions should just get a bus ticket out. In fact, research shows that urban middle-class jobs for those with middle-tier skills—in fields such as manufacturing and administration—are vanishing. Newcomers “wind up working low-skill jobs with low wages and little opportunity for advancement.” Telling Americans that they should leave job-starved places like upstate New York isn’t the answer to economic malaise. Most people have already grasped this truth, which is why the share of Americans who moved last year, 11 percent, was the lowest on record. If we want to make the economy work for everyone it’s been failing, we need to raise pay in the big cities. And stop talking about leaving the small towns for dead.