Help Wanted: Connecting Inner-City Job Seekers with Suburban Jobs

Bruce Katz and Katherine Allen

Cities have historically been the hubs of economic activity in America?the focal points of commerce where farmers brought crops and livestock, where office buildings bustled, and where manufacturing industries thrived. In short, cities were the places where people worked. Suburbs began growing up around the cities in the 1950s and 1960s, but they were originally mostly residential. People commuted from them to jobs in the city. Now, though, after decades of decentralization from city to suburb to exurb, the landscape of home and work has radically changed.

Today, work is still central to the role of cities in the new knowledge-based economy. With the U.S. economy booming, many new jobs are being created in central cities. Between 1993 and 1997, for the first time in nearly 30 years, central city job growth rivaled both national and suburban growth rates. Urban unemployment rates fell nearly 40 percent between 1993 and 1999.