Housing Amenities and Talent Attraction

Over the next decade, economic developers will likely be consumed with issues related to talent attraction, i.e., how do we attract and retain smart and skilled people?  These pressures are already generating lots of new ideas and approaches.  For example, more than 50 US localities now offer incentives for relocating workers and their families.  While cash always helps, amenities, primarily affordable and attractive housing, are the real magnets for relocating talent out of major urban areas.  That’s a major take-away from a new Philadelphia Federal Reserve analysis.  In this research, the authors confirm some common-sense conclusions.  Recent urban population declines are driven largely by high housing costs.  Meanwhile, high-amenity rural and suburban locations (i.e., those with better housing options) are the main beneficiaries of this out-migration, especially when compared to similar low-amenity locations.  This finding suggests that addressing housing gaps will help urban places retain talent, and help rural places attract talent.  It won’t be sufficient to offer talent-focused cash incentives if these new workers have poor housing options.