You might think where someone decides to buy their coffee in the morning doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to the health of the U.S. economy. But, in fact, it could mean a great deal in the years ahead.
“Working remotely for the past year and a half, I’ve been buying coffee closer to home instead of my usual downtown coffee shop,” says Capital Group economist Jared Franz. “In my case, it doesn’t mean much, but if a quarter of the U.S. labor force does it one or two days a week, it has significant implications for the economy, financial markets and the future of large cities.”
While the data is short term and the jury is still out, there are early signs of a powerful deurbanization trend in the United States and other major developed economies. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, migration from some big cities has accelerated while suburban home prices have soared. Moreover, national labor force surveys indicate an overwhelming majority of employees who have been working from home want to continue doing so one or more days per week.