The rise of a few ‘superstar cities’ hobbles the job and housing markets

The view on street from the hill in San-Francisco.

America has fallen — and it can’t get up.

Surging home prices and rising income inequality are reducing migration and leaving some Americans “left behind” in stagnant communities, according to a research paper published in June. Even worse, those dynamics feed on themselves, making the problem more intractable.

Despite America’s history as a beacon of opportunity, upward mobility, and shifting frontiers, “the United States’ status as the global poster child of dynamic labor mobility is waning,” write the researchers in a paper published by the International Monetary Fund.

The paper’s authors use Census data on migration, the Zillow Home Value Database and income data from the Census and Labor departments to make their case, that a steep decline in interstate migration — it halved between 1980 and 2016 — can be attributed to what they call “increasing differences” in house prices.

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