Thursday, August 22, 2013

We Need More Than Encouragement, We Need Assistance If We're Relocating People To Where the Jobs Are

The sluggish economy is still a big issue, despite Congress' and the media's inertia on the matter.

One problem has been the fact that some regions of the nation are free of the ravages of the Great Recession, and have healthy employment numbers with sizable job markets... but lack the numbers of people willing or able to live in those markets and fill those jobs.

Yglesias' article on the matter jumps straight into the numbers:

In the metropolitan area centered around Yuma, Ariz., the Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that the unemployment rate is a terrifying 31.8 percent. Just a bit west is El Centro, Calif., with America’s second-highest jobless rate—23.6 percent. Yuba City and Merced, both also in inland California, come next, with unemployment rates of over 14 percent.
Drive about 800 miles north of Yuma and you’ll come to another small metropolitan area, centered around Logan, Utah, where conditions are very different. In the Logan area, the unemployment rate is just 4.6 percent. It’s as if the full employment economy of the late 1990s were still in swing, while Yuma’s joblessness is worse than the Great Depression.
Lack of mobility is hardly the cause of macroeconomic distress in the United States. But it’s not helping. And it turns out that the population has grown more moving-averse over time. This aversion appears to be particularly concentrated among the native-born working class and especially men—not coincidentally the precise group that has suffered the most severe downward pressure on wages.

Part of the reasons for the lack of relocation is that the ones hardest hit by the Recession - the middle-class families - are tied down by various obligations: homes they can't sell "above water" (home values haven't returned to what they were back in 2007 when the crash hit) are big obligations.

Yglesias takes the opportunity to point out how mobility in previous economic cycles actually helped the economy:

But the existence of good reasons not to move doesn’t explain the decline in mobility. Back in 1985 over 20 percent of the population moved. That number fell steadily to 11.6 percent in 2011 before ticking back up to 12 percent last year. What’s more, even if you just look at interstate moves, a lot of the shifting doesn’t appear to be related to a search for employment...  This is bad for unemployed people in Rhode Island and Nevada who perhaps could be getting work in Vermont and North Dakota. But it’s also bad for the broader economy. An outflow of unemployed people from high-joblessness regions would reduce pressure on state and local budgets. And in the low unemployment areas, the arrival of more workers wouldn’t just fill job openings. Their presence would make local labor markets more efficient and would spur investment, as the new workers need places to live, places to shop, and tools to work with. That in turn increases demand for goods and services nationally as regions that produce capital equipment or primary commodities get a boost.

In some respects, it would be in our nation's interests to get some funding going to 1) help families relocate to jobs, 2) help families pay down mortgages on homes so they can afford to sell the homes as part of the relocation effort and 3) help communities with sizable job openings entice relocators and provide social services to help families adjust to the moves.

So, of course, Congress ain't doing much on this because it doesn't help them repeal ObamaCare for the 42nd time.


If the voters of this nation had any collective common sense, they'd vote into office in the 2014 midterms politicians sworn to pass jobs bills.  Any jobs bills for our returning veterans would help.  Any jobs bills fixing our broken bridges would help.  Any jobs bills helping families move to where the jobs are would help.

No comments: