People Are Relocating Less.

Robert Massimi.
People want to put their roots down and stay where they are.
Unlike generations before them, they want to stay put even if it means finding another job.
Years ago, corporations demanded that a person move several times around the country or around the world. Today people are unwilling to do that. Below has more detsil as to why this is happening.

Why Some Americans Won’t Move,

By RICHARD FLORIDACityLab JUNE 6, 2019
A new study identifies powerful psychological factors that connect people to places, and that mean more to them than money.
WORKFORCE
Mobility in the United States has fallen to record lows. In 1985, nearly 20 percent of Americans had changed their residence within the preceding 12 months, but by 2018, fewer than ten percent had. That’s the lowest level since 1948, when the Census Bureau first started tracking mobility.

The decline in Americans’ mobility has been staggering, as the chart below shows. Mobility rates have fallen for nearly every group, across age, gender, income, homeownership status, and marital status.

Declining mobility contributes to a host of economic and social issues: less economic dynamism, lower rates of innovation, and lower productivity. By locking people into place, it exacerbates inequality by limiting the economic opportunities for workers.

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Long-run trends in geographic migration in the United States

Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Data from US Census Bureau Current Population Survey (CPS). Mover rate measures share of U.S. residents age 1 and older whose place of residence in March was different from their place of residence one year earlier.
A wide range of explanations have been offered to account for these substantial declines in mobility. Many consider the culprit to be the economic crisis, which locked people into declining-value homes; others attribute it to the huge differential in the housing prices in expensive cities. Some economists contend that job opportunities have become similar across places, meaning people are less likely to move for work; others see rising student debt as a key factor that has kept young Americans in their parents’ basements.

Now, a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that other, more emotional and psychological factors may be at work. The study uses data from the bank’s Survey of Consumer Expectations to examine the degree to which people’s attachment to their communities affects their willingness and ability to move. To get at this, they use data from the survey (which covers a monthly panel of 1,300 respondents and is nationally representative) to group Americans into the three mobility classes I identified in my book Who’s Your City: “the mobile” who have the means, education, and capability to move to spaces of opportunity; “the stuck” who lack the resources to relocate; and “the rooted” who have the resources to move, but prefer to stay where they are.

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The survey identifies respondents’ most recent move, their probability of moving in the next two years, and other data related to moving including job opportunities and income prospects, housing costs, the distance from current home, costs of moving to various locations, crime rates, taxes, community values and norms, and proximity to family and friends. The researchers use these data to estimate the overall costs—what they call the “willingness to pay” or WTP—for people to move different locations. They then use statistical models to examine the importance of these psychological factors compared to other mostly financial explanations.

A significant reason for the decline in mobility is that many of us are highly attached to our towns. Nearly half of those in the survey (47 percent) identify as rooted. The rooted are disproportionately white, older, married, homeowners, and rural. Their reasons for not moving are more psychological than economic: proximity to family and friends, and their involvement in the local community or church.

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Another 15 percent identify as stuck, lacking the resources or ability to move. The stuck have less formal education, are in worse health, and are less satisfied with their jobs, the survey finds. In addition, they are more likely to live in cities and live relatively close to family members. Their reasons for not moving are mainly economic: the costs of moving, the affordability of housing in other locations, the difficulty of qualifying for a new mortgage, and the perception that there is less opportunity for them elsewhere.

Taken together, the stuck and the rooted make up a huge fraction of the population, more than 60 percent. Indeed, the average chance of moving in the next two years is 25 percent as reported by survey respondents, while the median person reports an even lower 10 percent chance of moving. And, nearly a quarter of respondents say there is zero percent chance they will move the next two years. As the study notes: “The average respondent has much stronger views about reasons not to move than about reasons to move.”

Just 38 percent of respondents say they are mobile with the resources, ability, and inclination to make a move. In fact, 5 percent of respondents say there is a 100 percent chance of their moving. The mobile are most likely to live in cities, though the income and educational background of the mobile and the rooted are similar.

Reasons for moving, 1999-2018

Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Data from US Census Bureau Current Population Survey (CPS).
It turns out that the personal costs of moving—and leaving family members, loved ones, and friends behind—are quite high. According to the study, the average American perceives not moving as worth a sacrifice of more than 100 percent of income. The psychological cost of leaving family and friends alone equates to 30 percent. As the study reads: “The median person in our sample will forego 30 percent of his or her income in order to stay close to family.”

The worth of not moving is higher for those who own their homes (137 percent of current income for owners vs. 62 percent for renters), for those who did not graduate from college (137 percent for non-graduates vs. 97 percent for graduates), and for older residents (270 percent for people over 50 years of age vs. 57 percent for people under 50). Ultimately, the study estimates that the mobile perceive a cost of 33 percent of income to move. And this “willingness to pay” rises far higher for the rooted; as the authors put it: “Our finding of strong preferences for family and local cultural norms suggest that these factors may be acting as migration multipliers.”

The study uses the example of a move of 1,000 miles, to a community where housing costs 20 percent more and with a tax rate that is 5 percent higher, with less agreeable values and norms, and leaving behind family and friends. For the median person, that move would be perceived as worth a sacrifice of 187 percent of annual income. For the median member of the mobile, it adds up to just under 100 percent of income. But for the median member of the rooted, the cost would be even higher—“infinite” is how the study puts it.

America is not just split between expensive cities of opportunity and “the rest.” Moving is about more than finding a job or a more affordable home; it’s a highly personal decision with deep psychological costs. Nearly half of Americans are rooted in the communities, willing to sacrifice substantial income and opportunity to be around people and places they love. It is of no use to tell them to abandon their community ties when the costs to their well-being are so high. This is a critical, and all too often overlooked, dimension of our geographic divide.

CityLab editorial fellow Claire Tran contributed research and editorial assistance to this article.

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The Case for Wearing AirPods All the Time

SIVILLA/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

By MARINA KOREN JUNE 6, 2019
The inconspicuous buds might make friendly interactions awkward, but they can also provide protection in dangerous situations.
CONSUMER TECH
Small, snug, and unyoked from laptop or phone, AirPods are easy to wear for hours at a time, without a second thought.

This, BuzzFeed News recently declared, is “Making Things Awkward for Everyone Else.” All-day AirPod wear can make social interactions clumsy and uncomfortable: Has the AirPod wearer hung up the call or turned off their music? The person on the other end of the interaction doesn’t know. Particularly in situations that require some sustained face-to-face communication—ordering coffee or crossing paths with a co-worker—wearing AirPods and ignoring others, intentionally or not, can be a jerk move, BuzzFeed News concludes.

But something’s missing in the lamentation over the Apple buds and their erosion of social norms. There’s actually a very good reason for wearing AirPods all the time, even at the risk of offending someone: to safely ignore street harassers.

The currency of street harassers is attention—they want it, and they act as if they’re entitled to it. Leaving your AirPods in while ordering at Starbucks is rude, because the barista at the counter is owed some common courtesy. Wearing them on your commute to pretend you didn’t hear that nasty comment is not, because the harasser isn’t owed anything at all.

I wear my Apple EarPods, the classic kind with cords, for this purpose. A familiar gut feeling, the kind sharpened over years of simply existing as a woman in the world, told me I probably wasn’t alone. When I put the question to Twitter, asking users whether they wear their AirPods—or any headphones—in part because they want to tune out unsolicited attention from strangers, I heard from nearly 100 people, mostly women. Twitter is not a representative sample of the United States, let alone people who wear headphones, but a clear theme sounded through the responses: Wearing headphones made navigating public spaces feel safer.

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Headphones act as both cue and barrier; they convey an air of unavailability that warns strangers not to bother and provide a membrane of protection when someone decides to anyway. Suspended in a state of plausible aloofness, people with headphones plugged in their ears can pretend they didn’t hear those comments and keep on walking.

“Before I started wearing headphones, catcallers who felt that they were being intentionally ignored would sometimes follow me, touch me, or say increasingly graphic things—sexual, racial, violent,” says Whitney Lee, an attorney in Washington, D.C. “When they believe that I’m only ignoring them because I can’t hear them, they tend to disengage faster.”

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Even if the headphones can’t stop a bad situation, they can help their wearers cope with the encounter. On a recent morning, Anni Glissman, a marketing manager in Chicago, was wearing her Apple EarPods on the train when the car emptied out. A man entered from an adjacent car, sat down next to her, and began to masturbate. Glissman didn’t move, afraid a reaction might somehow make the situation worse.

As the train approached her stop, the man ejaculated onto the floor next to Glissman’s feet, and she rushed out of the car, focusing the whole time on the music streaming into her ears. “I really felt that the only way that I was able to get through that was because I had my music in,” Glissman told me. “He knew I couldn’t hear what he was saying, even though I could tell that he was saying something.” The headphone barrier, she said, gave her the courage to stay stony and keep her gaze steadily out the window.

The headphone force field can also help signal the inverse—that a nearby stranger doesn’t pose a threat. Zappa Johns, who works in marketing and lives in Monterey, California, wears headphones to not only ignore stray comments, but make others around him more comfortable. Johns, who is transgender, once used headphones to tune out sexual harassment from male strangers. After he transitioned a few years ago, he found the same implied barrier can also reassure strangers that he’s happy to stay in his own bubble.

“Before, I was trying to sort of fend off attention, and now I’m like, How can I look as nonthreatening as possible?” Johns says. “Men of color tend to be seen as more threatening than not, even when we’re just minding our own business. I’ll go out of my way to give people, especially women who are at the bus stop by themselves, as much space as I possibly can.”

Feeling at ease in a public space, especially for those who identify as women, can be an impossible balancing act, says Laura Logan, a sociology professor at Hastings College in New Hampshire who studies street harassment. Wearing headphones is just one of many tactics available to “a woman in America going about her life while trying, and at times failing, not to be assaulted,” as the author R. O. Kwon put it in a Paris Review essay last year. These tactics involve quick and careful calculations in response to potential threats. Refusing to acknowledge a call for attention might discourage one harasser and infuriate another. “When women wear headphones, or read books, or do other things that mean they don’t have to acknowledge this is happening in some way, they’re managing that dilemma,” Logan says.

This predicament might be easier to navigate with the AirPod shield up at all times. “It’s become part of my routine everyday to have headphones in when I leave, just like grabbing an umbrella,” says Alex Zins, a consultant in the Washington, D.C., metro area, about her pair.

Sally Edwins, an executive assistant in Seattle, says her AirPods make her feel safer than bulky, over-the-ear headphones. Like other women, Edwins grew up hearing and heeding the warning that big headphones can tag women as easy, distracted targets. At the same time, she is concerned her AirPods make her vulnerable in another way. “Because they are so bright white and such a wealth signifier, sometimes I worry that that’s also making me a target,” Edwins says. “Because obviously I’ve got an iPhone on me, and I’ve got these nice, expensive earbuds in my ears, and I’m not paying attention.”

For some, AirPods aren’t the same blazing do-not-disturb sign as other kinds of headphones. Their inconspicuous design, while convenient, can be easy to miss, and their users try to remedy that. “I make a pretty distinct effort to keep my hair pulled back so that people see that I have them in,” says Maggie Powers, an advertising consultant in Boston.

In addition to appearance, volume matters. Some people said they blast music, choosing to be blissfully unaware of negative comments. (“If a guy catcalls you and you can’t hear it,” Zins says, “did he even make a sound?”) Others prefer to be a mix of checked out and alert, donning a single bud. Still others walk around in silence, the AirPods nestled in their ears serving as nothing more than miniature armor. Passersby and would-be harassers alike are none the wiser.

This behavior comes with a societal cost: Sometimes, the stranger trying to get your attention, mouthing muffled words and miming removing the buds from your ears, just wants directions, or to ask some other benign question. But for many people, the desire to avoid a bad experience, the need for some self-preservation, wins out. As the BuzzFeed News story made clear, most people don’t enjoy being rude to well-meaning strangers. But the shield, a pair of snow-white gadgets, stays up.

“I felt guilty about that a time or two,” Glissman said, about overreacting to strangers with harmless intentions. “But honestly, I just don’t anymore.”

All this hypervigilance, several people told me, can be exhausting. Perhaps someday, the proliferation of AirPods and other wireless earbuds—and the habit of keeping them in all day—could ease some of that pain, Logan says. If women ignore their comments, catcallers might assume they’re wearing AirPods tucked underneath hair or hats—just like everyone else is—and move on.

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Author: nobullwithragingrobert

Was a drama critic at Manhattan College. Wrote professionally for Bergen News, Sun Bulletin . Alpha Sigma Lambda, Beta Theta. Has seen over 600 shows worldwide, has published both on Theater and Politics. Avid reader on many subjects and writers. Chief Drama critic for Metropolitan magazine. Writes for Jerrick media, American conservative, The City Journal and Reason magazine. Has produced shows both on and off Broadway.

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