In cities across America, a pattern is emerging — there are more job openings than there are individuals looking for work. But there are still 13 million individuals living in the United States who are unemployed, working part-time or who have given up on finding a job.
The problem, according to a report released yesterday by the Urban Institute, is that the job seekers live too far away from where the jobs are. In Boston, for example, 41% of the ZIP codes in the city have “far more” job postings than job seekers, and none of the ZIP codes have more job seekers than postings. In Minneapolis, 26% of the ZIP codes have more job postings than seekers and only 2% of the ZIP codes have more seekers than openings.
The problem is that individuals who need the work often live too far away from where the jobs are. The cost and time of commuting hours per day back and forth to work makes it impractical for individuals living in the suburbs — where it is cheaper — to try and find jobs in the cities near where they live.
To be fair, there are plenty of cities where the number of seekers outnumber the number of postings. Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami are just three examples where there are no ZIP codes that have the number of job posters exceeding the number of job seekers.
Economists call this phenomenon of employers who can’t fill positions while there are still individuals who can’t find work, “spatial mismatch.”
Cities need to make conscious decisions about housing availability and public transit options to make sure there is enough opportunity for individuals to either live closer to where they work or to get there quicker. A collection agency needs to be more aware of whether it makes sense to open an office in a city where it might be difficult to find workers, or to open an office in the suburbs that might attract more interest from potential employees.