Big City Competition Follows Broadband to Rural Areas

Tech professionals who hope to get out of the rat race by
landing a well-paying job in a small town have been counting on the nationwide
roll out of broadband. But instead of Mayberry RFD, job seekers are finding conditions
that are more similar to New York or L.A.

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California indicates
that access to high speed Internet connections has boosted job growth in
rural areas, it says, especially among firms with a lot of professional, scientific and administrative personnel. At the same time, new hires aren’t garnering higher wages. The reason: So many hopefuls have entered the market, employers have the upper hand during negotiations.

Writes Newsweek’s Arik Hesseldahl:

“This expansion in the labor supply keeps the employment rate from going up, and prevents wages and earnings from rising rapidly,” says PPIC fellow Jed Kolko, a former research director at Forrester Research.

Because the population increases at the same time more jobs are created, the rate of joblessness changes little, Kolko says. Existing residents have to compete harder for new jobs and see no change in their chances of getting a job, according to the report.

While the local economy is experiencing benefits like an increase in the tax base and access to
new markets, employees aren’t realizing the same financial advantages.

The effect is also stronger in places with lower populations as local businesses find ways to reach new markets farther afield. Increased availability of broadband also results in higher tax returns for municipal and county governments as property values increase and the number of people paying
taxes rises, the study found.

So while it may not be a bad idea to head out to an area that’s scheduled for broadband
installation, be sure to bring your big city job hunting and negotiating skills with you.

— Leslie Stevens-Huffman

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