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Where job growth and af­ford­able hous­ing meet

THE EIGHT-YEAR eco­nomic re­cov­ery has been un­evenly spread. Ris­ing hous­ing costs can be a drag on growth, be­cause they de­ter worker mo­bil­ity. And hous­ing sup­ply lags de­mand. To make sense of it all, Mark Flem­ing, chief econ­o­mist for ti­tle in­surer First Amer­i­can, con­trasted cities’ hous­ing costs with their em­ploy­ment in the five fastest-grow­ing “ad­vanced in­dus­try” (A.I.) sec­tors iden­ti­fied by Brook­ings, such as au­to­mo­tive or en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices. “Think of the com­bi­na­tion of these two things as your en­tre­pre­neur­ial op­por­tu­nity in­dex,” says Flem­ing. There are sur­prises. Take Nashville ver­sus New York City. These cities are roughly equal in hous­ing costs rel­a­tive to pur­chas­ing power, but there’s a lot more growth in the A.I. sec­tors in Nashville, “a re­ally in­ter­est­ing find­ing,” Flem­ing says. Like­wise, Kansas City tops Austin, where the me­dian list price for a home is a hefty $375,000, ac­cord­ing to Real­tor .com. “Kansas City is an­other sneaky mar­ket where there is a lot of growth in the STEM and tech sec­tors, yet hous­ing prices haven’t caught up,” says Flem­ing. What could change things? Ama­zon’s pick for its sec­ond HQ, for one. The winning city will quickly be­come less af­ford­able.

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