The growing appeal of medium-sized cities for college-educated Americans

A new analysis by The Upshot1, perhaps of interest to archaeologists, suggests that the same economic forces that years ago drove working-class Americans out of the cities may be reaching further up the socio-economic hierarchy. Their key finding, based on careful consideration of American Community Survey data, is that many college-educated Americans have in recent years chosen to forego the amenities and other benefits of so-called “superstar cities” like New York and San Francisco, opting instead to live in less expensive medium-sized cities like Phoenix, Atlanta, and Houston.

It’s tempting to place the blame for this sorting process on the pandemic and the rise of remote work, but the trend was already well-established in The Before Times, or the years preceding the first quarantine measures. What actually seems to be explaining the process is instead a lack of affordable housing, or affordable housing relative to available amenities, with a city like Salt Lake offering comparable amenities at a fraction of the cost of, say, Seattle.

At any rate, it’s a complicated process, with many issues – most notably, inequality and mobility – overlapping with any number of archaeological questions, so it’s worth checking out the full article here: Coastal Cities Priced Out Low-Wage Workers. Now College Graduates Are Leaving, Too.

1 The Upshot is a news and data visualization website run by the New York Times.

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