Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Partial Mobility Strategy

For a variety of reasons, many Americans are unable to relocate for employment purposes. This hurts the recent trend of boomerang migration. Home is a good place to weather the recession, but moving back might be impossible. Extreme commuting is one solution:

With joblessness statewide nearing 11 percent, more Tennessee workers are willing to go to just about any lengths and travel just about anywhere that a help-wanted sign goes up. They leave homes and families behind for a while and carve out a makeshift existence in extended-stay hotels or efficiency rentals during the week to earn a paycheck. ...

... For instance, when a Delphi plant in northern Alabama closed this year, about 60 workers transferred to General Motors' plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. While some are making the 90-minute to two-hour drive every day, others are opting to live in apartments during the week, McKeel said. Now, the Spring Hill plant's future is in danger with the loss of products to other assembly facilities the U.S. carmaker operates in Michigan.

For Pittsburgh workers, the DC area is within a similar striking distance. That is a strong proximity advantage with all the jobs available. Given the disparity between the economies of Ohio and Pennsylvania, I'm surprised that more people don't opt for longer commutes. That might be an indicator of how easy short-distance relocation was in the recent past. Or, it might mean that the job market was bad all over.

I've noticed that the job market is hard to crack if you don't live where the opportunity is located. Youngstown might as well be Denver if the employment listing is for Pittsburgh. But a robust social network reaching beyond the region could change that and businesses might discover scarce talent just over the next ridge.


  1. My commute is a little over an hour for work. Been doing it for three years. sure I have a job, but it certianly takes its toll on you...

  2. Although I would like to work in Youngstown, there are no jobs available in my area of expertise. Hence, I have been commuting to Pittsburgh. There is a bus that runs from Chippewa to downtown Pittsburgh. Although the commute is long, it is relaxing.