Charts of the Week: City growth, social distancing attitudes, tech job shifts


In Charts of the Week this week, analysis of new Census data, insight about partisan divides on social distancing, and whether increased remote work will shift big-tech jobs to the American Heartland.

Uneven growth in America’s cities

Fig1William Frey observes that “the nation’s largest cities experienced uneven growth trajectories over the last decades.” All size categories, as shown in the chart above, experienced slowing growth over the past three years, but he greatest decrease—and in some cases loss of population—can be observed in some cities with over 1 million in population. Frey concludes that despite the pause in migration because of the coronavirus pandemic, “there are still reasons to believe that cities can rebound in the years ahead.” Learn more in his analysis about these trends, including city-specific trends and suburban population growth.

Partisan divides in essential workers’ attitudes on social distancing

Richard Reeves studies Gallup data from a COVID-19 tracking panel on public attitudes about responding to the pandemic, and focuses on what the data reveal about partisan divides. “[T]he main conclusion,” Reeves observes, “is that among essential workers, there is a big political divide, but almost no gender divide.” Democrats are more likely than Republicans to report that they have concerns about getting COVID-19, and thus more likely to adopt behavioral changes to mitigate their exposure. Reeves cautions that “the attitudes among essential workers may be broadly shared among others with the same political leanings” which “may influence how the pandemic develops in the months ahead.”



Mark Muro and others have studied the agglomeration of innovation-sector and tech jobs in just a few of America’s urban areas, like the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and Seattle (see chart). “As a result,” he writes, “growth in other places has been stymied—to the point that just 16 of the country’s 100 largest metro areas managed to increase their share of the nation’s digital services economy by more than a tenth of a percentage point.” But the increase in remote work as a response to the coronavirus pandemic suggests the possibility of “a more fundamental dispersal of America’s highest-value employment away from large ‘superstar’ metro areas and into the lower-priced American heartland.” Muro concludes “widespread remote work, especially in the tech sector, might very well prompt a degree of geographic healing that would counter decades of economic divergence.”