In the years since the financial crisis, most cities have seen a shift in their approach to developing and building new communities.
For some cities, it’s been to create a new urban area, and for others, it has been to replace a traditional suburban grid with a denser, walkable, or even bikeable urban form.
In many cases, the city that develops a new development will not only become a destination for new residents, but also one of the few places in the United States where businesses can thrive.
“When a developer wants to build a new community, they don’t just have to build it on a vacant lot,” says Mark Schoen, a partner at urban planning firm Guggenheim Partners.
Instead, they have to find a location that is attractive to the public and, above all, to the community.
“The more places you create, the more people you attract,” Schoen says.
It’s a strategy that can be a boon to a city’s economy, but the new urban areas built in recent years have also contributed to the loss of jobs, said Mark Dyer, the CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Renewable Energy (ACREE).
“When we look at the decline of manufacturing, for example, there has been an enormous amount of lost jobs in the manufacturing sector,” Dyer says.
“In the same way, the new development process has had a massive impact on the loss and loss of economic activity that has been created by a city.”
ACREE has been tracking the loss in manufacturing jobs in urban areas across the country for the past decade, and its latest report shows that more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in metro areas in 2010 alone.
As a result, the report states that the nation’s largest cities are experiencing a net loss of more than 1 million manufacturing jobs from 2010 to 2021.
“A lot of people don’t realize how large the loss is, because we’re only looking at manufacturing,” Dye says.
For many, it can be difficult to understand why this trend is happening, especially when you look at trends that aren’t being tracked, like the decline in construction and the continued trend toward higher home prices.
“What’s really driving this is the economy is getting more and more automated,” Schoe said.
“You have people doing jobs that were once done by human hands.
And as we have automation, we’ve gotten more and better at getting people to do these repetitive tasks that weren’t previously done.”
But that automation isn’t always about creating jobs.
Sometimes, it may simply be about getting rid of jobs that are more profitable for employers.
For example, construction workers are more likely to have a job with higher wages.
And for many of these workers, those jobs are more lucrative because they don’ t require them to be on the job all day, or in the hot sun for long periods of time.
In some cities in the Northeast, for instance, workers have been given the choice of staying home and taking care of their families, or they can accept the high-paying job of construction, which can be especially lucrative if the company that owns the building is in a metropolitan area that has higher unemployment rates.
It makes sense that some cities would be interested in replacing jobs that aren’ t profitable, because they can provide a much higher wage, Dyer said.
But in other cities, they may be competing for the same jobs, even as they try to attract more people.
“There is a big opportunity for people to be displaced, because their jobs are not necessarily being replaced,” Dose says.
In cities with higher unemployment, it could be even more difficult for residents to find employment, and the jobs are also less likely to pay a living wage.
As Dye points out, if the economy loses a lot of manufacturing jobs, the overall economy is also likely to be impacted, and it could lead to a downward spiral of rising costs for all areas of the country.
“We need to recognize that it is not just a one-time thing,” Dope says.