Higher density = More jobs per capita?

Sprawl may cost city jobs, reports indicate The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By Julie B. Hairston, November 21, 2003
Atlanta’s suburban sprawl may be literally driving away good jobs.

According to the recently released study, The Jobs are Back in Town: Urban Smart Growth and Construction Employment, building places like cooltowns creates more jobs and uses less resources than sprawl. The study defines Smart Growth as apartments and townhouses vs single-family homes.

For instance, Oregon has limited sprawl more than any other state, and its construction job growth beat the nation’s by 4 to 1 in the last 15 years. Atlanta’s Atlantic Station (image above) is cited by the report as a good example of job-creating Smart Growth, with 20,000 to 30,000 permanent jobs planned as well.

Where do the jobs come from? Smart Growth requires skilled designers and construction workers with craftsmanship vs. mass-produced suburban homes using off-the-shelf plans and factory-built components. There is also less profit in suburban development because of its commodity-like status. The same for urban streets vs. resource-intensive freeways.

Doesn’t this simply mean higher costs for consumers? Not at all – Smart Growth/cooltowns require less land, car dependence and road/highway maintenance, all of which are significant expenses that are ultimately borne by every consumer.

It seems fitting that creating more finely-crafted homes in beautifully-designed, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods creates more jobs, and for many, at a lower cost of living.

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