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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Jobs-Housing Balancing and Regional Mobility


Despite the steady migration of jobs to the suburbs over the past decade, many suburban residents commute farther than ever. In this article I attribute the widening separation of suburban workplaces and the residences of suburban workers to several factors: fiscal and exclusionary zoning that results in an undersupply of housing; rents and housing costs that price many service workers out of the local residential market; and several demographic trends, including the growth in dual wage-earner households and career shifts. Case studies of metropolitan Chicago and San Francisco confirm the displacing effects of high housing costs and housing shortages. In addition, data from over 40 major suburban employment centers in the United States show that suburban workplaces with severe jobs-housing imbalances tend to have low shares of workers making walking and cycling trips and high levels of congestion on connecting freeways. I argue that inclusionary zoning, tax-base sharing, fair-sharing housing programs, and a number of incentive-base programs could reduce hobs-housing mismatches and go a long way toward safeguarding regional mobility for years to come.

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