Many workers find themselves too far away from the right jobs

MIDDLE CLASS
Edward Linsmier | The New York Times

In many places across the country, low-wage workers live too far away from hourly jobs. And in other spots, employers can't find enough people to fill their hourly positions.

That's the takeaway from a new report by the Urban Institute. The researchers analyzed the distance between every job seeker and the jobs they applied for in 2017 on Snag, the largest online marketplace for hourly work.

The Mismatch in Cities

 

SOURCE: Urban Insitute analysis of jobs listings data provided by Snag. Data visualization provided by the Urban Institute.

When low-wage workers can't connect to jobs, families have to deal with persistent unemployment, said Christina Plerhoples Stacy, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute.

Local economies suffer, too. "Employers in fast-growing neighborhoods and cities are having a really hard time filling positions, and that's got to effect their bottom line," she said.

In the Bay Area around San Francisco, there are more minimum-wage, hourly job openings than there are people seeking to fill them. The low-wage earners who apply for these positions are likely priced out of the city due to its high housing costs. (The average studio in San Francisco runs around $2,500 a month, according to one recent report).

Job Postings and Job Seekers in the San Francisco Bay Area, 2017

 

Use the slider to compare the location of job listings and job applicants.
SOURCE: Urban Insitute analysis of jobs listings data provided by Snag. Data visualization provided by the Urban Institute. Note: "Reasonable distance" is 6.3 miles.

Meanwhile, some areas in the Columbus, Ohio region suffer from the opposite problem — pockets where low-wage job seekers outnumber the appropriate positions available.

Job Postings and Job Seekers in the Columbus Region, 2017

 

Use the slider to compare the location of job listings and job applicants.
SOURCE: Urban Insitute analysis of jobs listings data provided by Snag. Data visualization provided by the Urban Institute. Note: "Reasonable distance" is 6.3 miles.

To address this mismatch, local governments are partnering with businesses to carve out a clearer career trajectory that can follow from what's often perceived as a first-time job. The hope is that low-wage workers will be more likely to go the distance for a position that carries opportunity.

Other cities, such as Minneapolis, are creating and preserving affordable housing that would enable low-income workers to live closer to the jobs.

Expanding access to public transportation is yet another effort. Workers in downtown Columbus, Ohio, for example, are now provided with free bus passes.

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