Not Going Where The Jobs Are

by Tracy R. Walsh


Yglesias wonders why more Americans aren’t moving to find work:

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. New York to Florida (presumably retirees) leads the Census Bureau’s list of the 10 most common state-to-state moves. None of the 10 lowest-unemployment states are destinations of the top 10 interstate moves, and none of the five highest-unemployment states are departure points for the top 10 interstate moves.

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.

(Map: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)