Why Cities Will Outlast the Pandemic Slump

An analy­sis from the Bass Cen­ter for Trans­for­ma­tive Place­mak­ing presents evi­dence in favor of the argu­ment that, despite pre-pan­dem­ic growth in sub­ur­ban job cen­ters and the pan­dem­ic-induced clear­ing out of cen­tral dis­tricts, “cities’ val­ue propo­si­tion is still very much intact.”

Tra­cy Had­den Loh and Jen­nifer S. Vey out­line the results of the report for Bloomberg City­Lab, writ­ing that “these find­ings can inform city on how work­place needs con­tin­ue to evolve — and how they can deploy pol­i­cy and fund­ing to shape a more resilient eco­nom­ic future.”

Pre­sent­ing their evi­dence, Loh and Vey note that “In our mod­el, every increase in medi­an cen­ter job den­si­ty of 1,000 jobs per square mile is an addi­tion­al $1,723 in out­put per work­er across the metro area.”

While cor­re­la­tion is not cau­sa­tion, sug­ges­tive rela­tion­ship between place and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty is impor­tant for and work­ers to con­sid­er as they deci­sions about where to locate — and for urban lead­ers to rec­og­nize as they work to sway those choic­es in their favor.

Accord­ing to Loh and Vey, “There is sub­stan­tial mea­sur­able val­ue to employ­ers and the when firms locate their work­ers in close prox­im­i­ty not just to their col­leagues, but to work­ers from oth­er firms and sec­tors.”

The authors describe steps cities can to keep down­towns vibrant, such as ensur­ing fre­quent and reli­able tran­sit ser­vices to reduce the cost and spent com­mut­ing, con­cen­trat­ing hous­ing near job cen­ters, and invest­ing in invit­ing, safe, acces­si­ble pub­lic spaces that make peo­ple want to spend time in cities.

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