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These workers will have major effects on cities and the areas outside them.
Remote work is doing a lot of labor.
People hope it will temper gender imbalances by giving women with children more flexibility and keeping them in the workforce. Others think it could help cut down on commuting time and, by extension, greenhouse gas emissions. Employers see it as a way to save money on expensive office space, while employees want to be able to take advantage of cheaper housing outside large metro areas.
Some have suggested that remote workers, newly untethered from their offices in big cities, could move to and revitalize beleaguered cities and towns in the heartland, bringing with them their big paychecks and big spending. That, however, isn’t likely to happen, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. People aren’t moving from coastal cities to the Midwest in any meaningful way. That said, remote workers will have major effects on cities and the areas outside them, from service job losses to urban sprawl.
We talked with one of the report’s authors, senior fellow and policy director Mark Muro, about what remote work can and can’t do.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.