Smart Growth Means More Jobs
Study: Anti-Sprawl Strategies Good for Jobs, Even in Construction
We already knew that sprawl means more pollution, longer commuting times, lower quality of life, and higher taxes. Now we find that sprawl even takes away jobs.
Infill development is far better than sprawl in every way.
Here is an announcement of a new report that examined the links between anti-sprawl measures and employment.
A new study by Good Jobs First (GJF) finds that, contrary to common belief, smart growth policies are good for construction jobs. The report provides evidence that smart growth can create more employment opportunities than sprawl for workers who build residential and commercial structures and transportation infrastructure.
The full study is available at http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/pdf/backintown.pdf
"Our findings challenge the conventional idea that construction employment suffers when communities seek to curb sprawl and manage growth," said Philip Mattera, GJF's Corporate Research Director and primary author of the study. "In fact, our research shows just the opposite, that smart growth fosters job growth."
GJF Executive Director Greg LeRoy emphasized organized labor's expanding role in the movement against suburban sprawl. "We see growing involvement from unions, including the Building Trades, in efforts to promote smart growth. Our findings suggest that trend is very likely to continue."
LeRoy noted the national AFL-CIO's 2002 convention resolution denouncing sprawl and the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council's recent endorsement of an Urban Growth Boundary ballot initiative with strong support from its Building Trades affiliates.
The study, The Jobs are Back in Town: Urban Smart Growth and Construction Employment, examines how growth-management policies affect construction jobs. In Oregon, which adopted the country's first UGBs a quarter-century ago, construction job growth outpaced the nation's more than 4 to 1 for the most recent 15-year period.
GJF also commissioned two senior urban scholars to perform a national analysis of 155 metro areas. Those with growth management policies enjoyed construction activity per new resident more than $100,000 higher than "business as usual" areas over a ten-year period.
The study also analyzes the labor intensity of different types of buildings. Using data from a prominent estimating firm, it compares compact building types (apartment houses and townhouses) to single-family homes. In denser construction, labor makes up a larger portion of total costs.
Finally, the study compares highway projects, using data from the Federal Highway Administration. "Fix it first" projects - such as resurfacing, rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads - are more labor-intensive than new highway construction, after adjusting for land costs.
"We already know that smart growth reduces traffic and promotes clean air," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "This report provides another important reason why smart growth is a winning formula for the economy and the environment."
Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan research center promoting best practices in economic development; it is based in Washington, DC.
"Growth boundaries" are just one way, and sometimes not the best way, to deal with sprawl. For a review of all the best anti-sprawl tactics, see Three Keys to Containing Sprawl
For more details and creative ideas against sprawl, be sure to visit the Sprawl Information Center
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