PALM COAST, FLA. -- The recession is claiming yet another victim: Americans' near-constitutional right to pick up and move to a better job.
Labor mobility has nearly ground to a halt in the past two years, and policymakers are increasingly worried that the slowdown is not just a symptom of the nation's economic struggles but also a barrier to overcoming them.
With many people locked in homes by underwater mortgages, only 1.6 percent of Americans moved between states in a one-year period that ended in March 2009 -- a labor stagnation not seen in half a century. Though household mobility has gradually declined for more than two decades, the recent sharp downturn has caused economists to worry that it could harm the already struggling recovery.
"In the past, people tended to move to where the jobs are," said Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan B. Krueger, who oversees economic policy for the department. "Now it is necessary to have more of a strategy to move the jobs -- and create new jobs -- in areas where the people are."
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Bringing work to where people live also means they'll need affordable access to modern, Internet protocol based telecommunications services that will allow them to work remotely and teleconference with their employers and customers.
There's an added bonus. Constructing fiber to the premises telecom infrastructure is as Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance pointed out in a recent radio interview is very labor intensive, which means badly needed jobs.