April 6, 2009

Morning commute is changing direction

The morning commute in most U.S. cities is turning itself around, as more jobs move away from the urban centers, a Brookings Institute report said.

A study released Monday said that only 21 percent of the employees in the country's 98 largest work centers had jobs within 3 miles of downtown.

In larger cities like Dallas, Detroit and Chicago, almost half the jobs were located more than 10 miles from downtown. In smaller cities like Boise, Idaho and Syracuse, N.Y., about 27 percent of the jobs were that far from the urban centers.

Education, utility jobs and financial jobs tended to keep workers closer to urban centers than manufacturing, construction and retail jobs said the report titled, Job Sprawl Revisited: The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment.

The trend of jobs moving from city centers held true from 1998 through 2006 in 95 out of 98 metropolitan areas and in 17 out of 18 industries studied, the report said.

The shift is unrelated to economic fortunes, it said.

Amid changing economic conditions -- expansion, contraction and recovery -- during the late 1990s and early 2000s, employment in metropolitan America steadily decentralized, the report said.