Young Workers, Jobs-Housing Balance, and Commute Distance: Findings from Two High-Housing-Cost U.S. Regions
19 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2023
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the affordable housing crisis is forcing households in large, primarily coastal U.S. metropolitan areas to seek lower cost housing in peripheral neighborhoods distant from downtown, helping to explain recent increases in commute distance. In this study we examine whether the availability of housing in close proximity to jobs is associated with the commute distance of young workers, many of whom are relatively new to the labor market. We draw on data from two high-cost metropolitan areas in California, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. We find that commute distances are longer for both younger and older adults in neighborhoods where there are more jobs relative to housing. Despite the growing affordable housing crisis, the strength of this relationship did not change over time in either region. As we might expect, jobs-housing balance is more strongly associated with commute distance in the San Francisco Bay Area—where housing is more constrained and expensive—than in Los Angeles. The findings suggest the importance of policies to greatly enhance housing availability in high-cost metropolitan areas. They also underscore the need to go beyond housing policy in efforts to significantly increase access to employment and reduce travel.
Keywords: commute distance, young adults, jobs-housing balance
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