More than half of Americans live in the state where they were born, and the Census Bureau reports that the percentage of people changing their residence in the United States is dropping—just 11 percent of Americans moved between 2010 and 2011, the lowest level since 1948.
Fernholz sheds light on why Americans are largely immobile, and he ties the migration issue back to jobs and the current economic malaise. Some in the US are tied down by unwieldy mortgages. Others, Fernholz writes, can’t afford to move to dense urban areas — some of which are flush with tech jobs — because land-use and transit policies drive up housing costs. But he also points to metros, some with a lower cost of living, that are doing well.
What does all this have to do with jobs? Consider the cities with the most hiring last year. Austin, Texas, saw unemployment trending down thanks to an educated workforce, strong tech sector, and relatively affordable rent; in high-cost New York, which has many of the same advantages, if not more, tech startups can’t find developers. San Jose is growing, too, as people seeking employment in San Francisco and Palo Alto’s tech industries look for cheaper rent near the city. Other growing cities like Houston, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have an advantage thanks to their low cost of living.
If you’re interested in more about this, Brian Kelsey has a good look at the most expensive neighborhoods in select US cities. As he concludes and Fernholz mentions, housing in Austin is relatively cheap compared to New York, Boston, or San Francisco.