Today’s Top Talent Live and Play Downtown but Work in the Suburbs

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By: Harrison West, Senior Research Analyst, JLL

Job growth is happening in both the CBDs and the suburbs, but educated adults are increasingly city dwellers. Discover the impacts of the resulting “reverse commute” trend, pulled from the first installment of our Ambitious Thinking Research on Smart Cities report, called “Live, Work, Play?”

Reverse commuting

Locating Educated Talent

Now more than ever, it’s critical that real estate investors, developers and decision-makers understand which cities and suburbs are experiencing job growth and attracting highly-educated talent.

Educated talent is clustering faster in major cities than it is in suburbs. The major city educated population is up 28.7% since 2008, whereas the suburbs surrounding those cities have increased their highly educated populations by 23.6%.

As economic recovery and expansion continue across most sectors and regions, competition for talent is intensifying, increasing pressure on employers to differentiate based on location, amenities and environment.

The Reverse Commute: Explained 

Today’s professionals live downtown where they can enjoy a fun, urban environment and then commute out to the suburbs for work, AKA the reverse commute. In fact, more than 4.8 million people reverse commute out of major cities in the 25 largest MSAs according to the report.

City vs. suburb jobs in 25 MSAs

The complete report shows:

  • Major cities aren’t seeing the same momentum in jobs as they are in talent.
  • Major cities are experiencing a slight drop in their share of regional jobs.
  • Reverse commuting unsurprisingly remains a widespread fact of life across all major regions and has increased in every metropolitan area.

Of the 25 cities studied in the report, both Detroit and Pittsburgh have more jobs located in their suburbs than downtown. These cities, along with other Midwest hot spots like Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Louisville, have the opportunity to attract talent with real estate, as proximity and accessibility to fast-growing talent clusters will improve talent retention.

Download the full report for an in-depth examination of how highly educated talent is increasingly living and playing in one place and working in another… and the opportunities this presents for occupiers and investors.

Download JLL Research

About the Author

Harrison West, Senior Research Analyst, JLLHarrison West is a Senior Research Analyst in the Great Lakes region of JLL. Harrison is responsible for analyzing trends in multiple industries, including office, industrial and retail properties, and developing best-in-class research reports. Connect with Harrison on LinkedIn