Rethinking live, work, play

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Over the past 10 years, the demographic and economic makeup of the U.S. has changed quite a bit. Of note has been the influx of highly educated talent into the workforce. Interestingly, although this talent is clustering in major cities, they are working in the suburbs. According to our recent Ambitious Thinking: Smart Cities report, reverse commuting is actually up 11.6% over 2011 levels. In fact, more than 4.8 million people are now reverse commuting out of urban cores in the country’s 25 largest cities.

Why the sudden increase in reverse commuting? Per our report, major cities are simply not seeing the same momentum in jobs as they are in talent. Although the educated talent pool has grown by 6.8 million people since 2008 across major metros, these cities essentially contain the same share of regional jobs as they did five years ago.









In Boston, however, the story is slightly different. Even though 45.2% of Bostonians reverse commute, Boston proper has outpaced its suburbs in growth of jobs. In fact, from 2011-2015, Boston grew its total jobs 12.1% compared to only a 7.5% increase in its suburbs. With companies like GE and Reebok now calling Boston home, this news should come as no surprise. Relative to other markets, though, Boston has a serious supply restraint with much of its inventory under development already preleased. This lack of available space coupled with improved amenities in various suburban markets could mean a surge of reverse commuting for Boston in the near future.

For a more in-depth look at the employment data from the other 24 metro areas we looked at, download the full Ambitious Thinking: Smart Cities, part 1.