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The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America

The 2000s ushered in significant demographic and economic changes that have redrawn the map of economic opportunity in metropolitan America. Two economic downturns and the weak recoveries that followed left the nation with fewer jobs in 2010 than in 2000. As jobs declined, they continued to push farther outward within the nation’s largest metro areas. Almost every major metro area saw jobs shift away from the urban core during the 2000s.1 As jobs suburbanized, so did people. Minorities and the poor suburbanized at the fastest pace, such that, by 2010 in the nation’s largest metro areas, the majority of every major ethnic and racial group and the majority of the poor lived in suburbs for the first time.2 Where people and jobs locate within metro areas over time affects how close they are to one another. The outward shift of both people and jobs in the 2000s changed their proximity to each other, and often not for the better. This study takes a new approach to determine how many jobs people live near, or what we term job proximity, throughout the United States. Proximity can influence a range of outcomes, from the fiscal health of a community to employment opportunities for residents. Differences across people and places in job proximity, and trends over time, illustrate how economic and demographic shifts in the 2000s reshaped the map of economic opportunity for different communities and populations.