Tech

Distance work sends people to the periphery, not to the Midwest

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Working remotely does a lot of work.

People hope to moderate gender imbalances by giving women with children more flexibility and keeping them in the workforce. Others think it could help reduce travel time and, by extension, greenhouse gas emissions. Employers see it as a way to save money on expensive office space, while employees want to be able to enjoy affordable bargaining outside large metropolitan areas.

Some have suggested that remote workers, newly independent from their offices in large cities, could relocate and revitalize besieged cities and towns in the heart, bringing with them their high wages and expenses. This, however, is not likely to happen, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. People don’t move from coastal cities to the Midwest in a significant way. That said, remote workers will have major effects on cities and areas outside of them, from service job losses to urban sprawl.

We spoke with one of the report’s authors, former colleague and political director Mark Muro, about what distance work can and cannot do.

This interview was slightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Rani Molla

A lot of people are excited by the idea that working remotely could help revitalize the besieged parts of the country. What do people expect to happen?

Mark Muro

The idea is that talented, well-educated, often techie people will come to all sorts of places, bringing their human capital, bringing their well-paid jobs, and just bringing new energy to places they don’t lose. only population in many cases but struggling really economically.

Rani Molla

And what places are we talking about here?

Mark Muro

We think of metro areas not coastal, not superstar. You can think of really inner states, and you can think of what is known as the heart of the east, which runs from the upper Midwest to the south, or heart of the west.

Rani Molla

Okay, but what do the data show? People actually say, “Hey, I have this remote job so now I’m moving to Cleveland”?

Mark Muro

A lot happens. People move around, but it’s not exactly the movements that maybe people expect or expect. In the big coastal cities, there is of course movement and there is outlet, but we are talking mostly about the Bay and New York. Elsewhere, there has been no massive growth in movement since last year.

Rani Molla

So people leave the two biggest meters. Where do they move?

Mark Muro

Interestingly, they move for the most part to the periphery. They don’t move, for the most part, in Wichita to save the heart. They move either farther into the subway or into nearby counties. So nearby counties around the New York area or the Bay Area, passing through Alameda County, and so on. And they’re mostly shorter moves.

In the end, the volume of movements in most places is not really much more than a regular year, except New York, the New York region and the Bay. It is a movement outside the periphery or even the periphery, but it is always attached to the large meters.

Rani Molla

So, people in these big cities are moving outwards, creating this kind of candy effect from the center of the big cities, but they are not necessarily moving to the Midwest or any besieged area of ​​the country in a significantly.

Mark Muro

A smattering of them are. We watched it closely in the Bay: 700,000 movements outside the Bay, only 12,000 in 19 classic states of the heart. It’s not the main thing that happens, we say so.

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Rani Molla

As for the smaller moves outside of cities, is it just a matter of uncertainty surrounding the future of work? Like, “My boss might change his mind next year and make me go back to the office, I can’t go too far”?

Mark Muro

I think that’s a big factor – or hybrid work, meaning you have to come in two days a week. That will limit where you can move. The other thing that happens is that remote work is on the decline. It was about 57 percent of professional workers working remotely a year ago in May. This May it was 30 percent. I think it will fall further. It won’t go away. But even remote work may not be a massive trend as expected.

Rani Molla

What are the economic effects of having a large group of people working from home some of the time and making these movements smaller out of town?

Mark Muro

To the advantage, perhaps it could benefit from participation in the workforce, perhaps improve working conditions for people. On the downside, I think it’s a sprawl driver. I think it’s not good for global warming. And the impacts near and on the meters will be substantial. Moving out of the central office area – what happens to all the meals and services provided in the city center? We are going to see town planning centers on the outskirts. And I think we’re going to see it spread and move in the exurbs.

Rani Molla

So working remotely will not save your heart. What will revive those places?

Mark Muro

Ultimately, for better or for worse, jobs are left with the basic kind of economic development, which means more and more trying to build digital capabilities, digital industries. It’s about training. It’s about being a good place to live. More important than ever is support for families. Making this a good place to live and work really matters. And we think there are some federal policy ideas coming down on the lucca that can be useful, even for creating in a bunch of indoor local technology centers with significant investments in local universities, colleges, workforce, and all that. But we have a lot of work to do to turn many places around.

Rani Molla

Why do technology companies find offices in smaller but still considered and popular cities?

Mark Muro

This is more real, in some ways, I think, than the kind of exodus idea. I think it’s emerging great technology that will do a lot better going to talent than trying to bring in talent in places like the Bay.. So the South – while dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion, the need to access more diverse workforces – is an incredible opportunity for them.

Rani Molla

You and I have talked before about agglomeration, the idea that the concentration of workers and industry and supply chains in certain areas makes it more likely that other workers and industries and supply chains will concentrate here. . When people work from everywhere, does crowding always matter?

Mark Muro

That’s a nice question. Agglomeration, I think, is a fact of the universe, but it is content to some extent in technology and communication. In the past, any communication advancement has led to more clustering. And I think that grouping will remain crucial. But we don’t completely know how he can play. Our evidence suggests that long-term moves are not even a massive feature but that working remotely has an impact, influencing where people work and the decisions they make. But that need to keep the tie at the office seems to remain.

So I think we can see more movement, but not necessarily an end to these intense groups. They are so powerful, especially in the early stages of an emerging technology. I think the AI ​​platform is emerging. And that’s when clustering matters most: When something becomes a commodity, people move away. But I think the core of the AI ​​economy is to keep tech workers in the big hubs.

Rani Molla

I recently wrote one article about how it is very difficult to hire people now, for a variety of reasons. And to deal with this, many companies and industries offer remote work as a kind of indispensable advantage. Now, 10 percent of jobs on LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter allow you to do at least some of your work remotely, up from 2 percent last year. And that doesn’t seem to be enough. Those employees receive the application four times. Do you see that distance work continues to grow to address recruitment issues?

Mark Muro

First, remote work did not return to the low level it was pre-pandemic. My point is simply that working remotely won’t always be super far, far away. It will be almost far away. I think working remotely will remain critical not only for what workers want (or say they want) but for what companies offer. And I think you’ll see it as an ubiquitous sort of starting point offer. It will only be assumed.

Rani Molla

Obviously, jobs that are typically done on computers can more easily be far away. But more and more, jobs you don’t expect – home health helpers for example, who most of the time have to physically go to people’s homes – have to do at least a small part of their time. work, part of the documentation, remotely. Do you see the distance work growing into these more manual types of work?

Mark Muro

Yes, a lot. Working remotely for a part of each week’s time becomes and will become more ubiquitous. And anything that prevents people from taking jobs will be challenged and provide new benefits. I think it’s been a vendor market for work for a while. And because of this, remote work will become an offer for all types of entrepreneurs.


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