This week, the Brookings Institution came out with a report on "job proximity"—that is, which cities have the largest and fastest-growing concentrations of jobs in their city centers. This is an important statistic, because people who live closer to work are more likely to be employed. It's particularly important for poorer workers who cannot afford longer commutes.
The key finding of the study was that people and jobs moved to the suburbs in the 2000s, and the number of jobs near the typical resident fell by 7 percent. This is in keeping with Trulia data that has found that most moves—both within counties (two-thirds of all moves) and between counties—are toward lower density and cheaper housing.
Even in a decade when retail gasoline prices tripled, people and work didn't move closer together. Americans are spacing out.
But another story emerges when you look at the cities with the highest job density and who is moving there. When Elizabeth Kneebone and Natalie Holmes used Census tracts to determine the places with the greatest job proximity, these cities topped the list:
Where the Accessible Jobs Are: The Number of Jobs Near the Average Resident in 2012, by City
Anybody who spends their free time looking at ordinal lists of American cities will notice that this is a pretty familiar set. It's almost exactly the list of the most populous U.S. metro areas (for methodological reasons, the Brookings study could not include Boston or any other cities in Massachusetts). It's almost exactly the list of the large U.S. cities with the highest median incomes. And the highest density of college grads. And the highest share of foreign-born residents among young people.