Slate has discovered that the only thing stopping our economy from being fixed are Americans’ lack of mobility. No, dummy, not their ability to climb the precarious social ladder and improve their economic standing; their willingness to actually move to where the jobs are. According to the article, worker mobility has dropped from 20% in 1985 to just 12% in 2012. The article also cites how there are huge disparities in unemployment among various urban areas throughout the country. What gives?
The first example Slate gives is Yuma, Arizona, which has a staggering 31.8% unemployment rate, while a mere 800 miles North, Logan, Utah has only 4.6%. So why aren’t all of these unemployed Arizonans packing up and moving North? If we had to hazard a guess, it’s because moving is really, really expensive. It ain’t easy to scrape together a down payment on an apartment, let alone hire a company to move all of your stuff north of the border. Also, perhaps, local support networks (like family) are the only thing keeping you afloat. The idea of moving to Bismarck, North Dakota with the vague promise of a job and absolutely no safety net isn’t appealing.
Places like Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Alaska have previously tried to
bribe entice the “youngs” with cash and promises of better jobs. How far would you move for a job? In our proverbial Dust Bowl, would you stick around like Jim Casy? Or would you pack up the jalopy and head Californy way like Tom Joad?
According to Slate, the reason no one is packing up and heading to these jobs is because these workers aren’t educated. You see, college students are “taught to think in terms of a ‘career’ that you pursue by actively seeking opportunity, not just a job to look for locally.” (We don’t recall taking that elective.) So it’s clearly the fault of all of these uneducated people to think outside of the borders of their own home and not, say, differing skill sets needed in various regions.
So let us know: how far would you travel for that dream job. Or any job, really.