By: Christopher Matthews, Axios
From the first, Americans have been on the move in "Great Migrations" for a better life, like those of the last century that saw poor blacks and whites go from the south for higher-paying work in northern cities. But no longer. Starting around 1980, working class Americans have largely stood still, and a primary reason is real estate prices, according to new research.
In a new paper, the University of Chicago's Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag say high rent in America's most economically vibrant areas make these moves a money loser for lower-skilled workers.
Why it matters: Their relative immobility stunts a historical trend in which lower-skill American workers have climbed the income ladder. It's one reason for the decades of stagnant income documented across the West by economists.
What's to blame: The paper proposes a potential answer to a question that has nagged researchers and political observers in the current anti-establishment wave: why people in the decaying rust belt do not just move. According to the authors, a primary reason is state and local zoning regulations that have increasingly slowed housing growth in the most attractive cities since the middle of the 20th century, thus driving up real estate prices…