Monday, August 03, 2009

This is not your Father's Suburban Sprawl

Joel Kotkin: "Perhaps even more important may be social changes that could make Relos less relevant in the future. For decades in the post-World War II era it was believed that “spatial mobility” would increase, hastening social disintegration. This vision was epitomized in Vance Packard’s 1972 best-seller, “A Nation of Strangers,” with its vision of America as “a society coming apart at the seams.”

But in fact, far from becoming ever more nomadic, Americans are becoming less so, as the population ages and as formerly urban amenities are more widely dispersed and accessible. As recently as the 1970s, 20% of Americans moved annually; by 2004 the number had dropped to 14%— the lowest since 1950. By 2008, barely 10% were relocating.

These days human-resource executives complain that workers are increasingly unwilling to move even for a promotion, citing family and other concerns. With the recent economic downturn, worker mobility in the U.S. has waned further. The decline in the relocation tradition seems likely to persist in good times or bad."

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