A new report from the Urban Institute analyzed 2017 application data across several types of low-wage, hourly jobs in 16 major U.S. cities, looking at the mismatch between openings and job seekers by zip code.
- In 41% of Boston-area zip codes, there were far more openings than job-seekers who lived a reasonable distance away. In other words, most possible applicants lived too far from the workplace — there either was no efficient public transportation to the job, or it cost too much to get there.
- In New York, 32% of zip codes had this problem. In San Francisco, 29%.
The backdrop: Half a century ago, there was a hollowing out of big cities. As high-earning workers moved to suburbs, low-income residents were left behind.
Today, as cities have had a resurgence, there are tons of jobs in downtowns, but gentrification and a surge in housing costs are once again keeping low-income workers away from jobs, says Yingling Fan, a professor at the University of Minnesota.
What's happening: Poorer city residents live in the "last-subway-stop" parts of cities, a couple of hours, or further, from work — and they can't afford to move.
Often, the long commute is not worth the trouble. "You could take a couple buses to that restaurant job if there’s a career ladder there or if the wages and benefits are worth it," says Christina Stacy, lead author of the Urban Institute report. But that's rarely the case.