Lower income workers lose out when cities concentrate more highly-skilled

The drive to attract skilled workers to urban centres has significant costs as well as benefits, according to new research by urbanist Richard Florida.

The results underline the importance of affordable housing to ensure that lower income workers — also vital to a city’s economic future — are able to live alongside their more “highly-skilled” counterparts.

Florida found that concentrations of skilled workers led to generally higher wages for those workers, high enough to offset the rising housing prices their arrival in the city usually generates.

But that’s not the case for lower-income workers, who find the higher housing costs leave them further behind than they would be in a “less-talented” city.  (The quotation marks are mine.)

In the absence of action to produce more affordable housing — right across the spectrum, not just social housing — the trend to inequality accelerates.

As Florida concludes, “that’s not just a vicious cycle but an unsustainable one — economically, politically, and morally.”