Urban vs Rural Low Skilled Jobs?

Throughout the 20th century, it was a well-known fact that good paying low skilled jobs are in large metropolitan areas. That was where the factories were, and they hired by the thousands to keep the mind-numbing assembly lines running. Today, of course, those low skilled factory jobs have been rightfully replaced by automation. Why hire a human being who gets easily distracted and makes mistakes, or simply calls in sick, when you can make a robot who is totally focused on the job 24/7?

Here is what an article in the New York Times has to say about that:

Low-skilled workers may also find opportunities in cities that don’t come in the form of higher wages. They could come from the availability of nonprofits and social services, or of training programs, or from better access to health care and public transit. And there are other ways to measure opportunity in a community, like whether it enables poor children to get ahead.

Source: New York Times

The disparity between rural and urban when it comes to low skilled jobs is just not as evident in the 21st century. But as cited above, the metro areas still have the advantage in that that is where the training programs reside. If you are in a remote rural area those just don’t exist for you.

Eventually, everyone will consider a high school diploma to mean you now have fundamental life skills and basic education to train for your chosen occupation. Maybe we need to change the term “high school” to something else that would make it clear that it is not an endpoint?

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Urban vs Rural Low Skilled Jobs?

  • First I’d say the economic advantages for low wage workers in the denser areas are not so much disappearing but were really never there to begin with after 1980. the dots tend to flatten from 1980 to 2015 but overall not a significant difference What you really see is regardless of density education makes a huge difference in income levels.

    What is really interesting is how the college dots spread out as they go up over the years vs the non-college tend to flatten. Which would tend to show the non-college jobs are becoming less skilled and therefore more “generic” and worth about the same pay. And they stay flat even when time in job increases or maybe, people get skilled and move into the college level jobs.
    . While college jobs may become more specialized as they move into the more dense areas. If you see clusters of jobs it may mean they are all worth about the same pay (or the cost of living is more consistent which impacts salaries) in the less dense areas.
    Although without knowing what “commuting zone” really means it’s hard to tell much.

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    • One thing to point out here Bob is that none of the jobs shown in the graphs are really high-paying as the top of the graph is only $30/hour ($60K annually). I tend to disagree some with you as the slope of the curves tends to increase with population density. Looking at the 2015 data it goes from $18/hour for low-density areas to about $30/hour for the high-density areas. I would say that is quite a difference.

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      • I probably tried to read more into the numbers than is possible. As I look at these again, with the limited information about the data that we have, about the only thing you can really say is that salaries of the orange/red dot jobs the salaries have flattened over time mostly by salaries becoming lower and their salaries are not impacted by the increased cost of living in the urban areas. We have no idea why they flattened based on this data..
        You can’t really tell much about the gray dot jobs other than having some level of education over just high school impacts salaries.

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