Milwaukee bucks national job sprawl trend

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The Milwaukee metro area was the only large metro area to see an increase, rather than a migration, of jobs within its urban center, according to a Brookings Institute Study released today.

The report, titled, "Job Sprawl Revisited – The Changing Geography of Metropolitan Employment," reviewed job migration in 98 major metro areas, noting a drop in the share of jobs located within 3 miles and 10 miles of metro downtowns, during an eight-year period between1998-2006.

Detroit, Chicago and Dallas saw the greatest shift of jobs away from the city center (10 miles or more.) More than half of the major metro areas experienced rapid job sprawl. Detroit saw 77 percent of its jobs migrate out of the city, Chicago 68 percent and Dallas 66 percent.

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The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metro area had a .03-percent gain of jobs within its three-mile ring of downtown between 1998-2006; one of only three metro areas to do so and the only metro area in the "large" category of the study.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett credited the accessibility and affordability of doing business in the metro area, along with opportunities to grow existing businesses in such places as the Menomonee Valley.

The study noted that financial, insurance and utility industries locate almost one-third of their jobs in the inner three-mile ring of metro centers, and those three industries are strong in the Milwaukee area. Information Technology and health care industries also are concentrated in the metro area and according to the study, one fourth of the jobs in this sector are usually located in the urban center.

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The Brookings Institute study concluded that the distribution of jobs geographically should be taken into consideration in policy and economic recovery issues, especially as metro areas work toward sustainable growth.

To read the study, visit

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