Job sprawl

The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program published a report on "the ongoing decentralization of population and employment" from city centers to distant suburbs. Authored by Elizabeth Kneebone, the report found that:
  • Only 21 percent of employees in the top 98 metro areas work within three miles of downtown, while over twice that share (45 percent) work more than 10 miles away from the city center.
  • Job location within metropolitan areas varies widely across industries.
  • Employment steadily decentralized between 1998 and 2006: 95 out of 98 metro areas saw a decrease in the share of jobs located within three miles of downtown.
  • In almost every major industry, jobs shifted away from the city center between 1998 and 2006
The author concludes:
Understanding the changing location of jobs within U.S. regions represents a necessary step towards implementing more cohesive, comprehensive policies for economically productive, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable metropolitan growth.

Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment
      Report (pdf, 24pp/2.6MB), April 2009
      Press release (pdf, 4pp)
      Q&A with author (pdf, 2pp)

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