Using Place-Based Jobs Policies to Help Distressed Communities

Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier

Publication Date



Journal of Economic Perspectives 34(3): 99-127


Place-based jobs policies seek to create jobs in particular local labor markets. Such policies include business incentives provided by state and local governments, which cost almost 50 billion USD annually. The most persuasive rationale for these policies is that they can advance equity and efficiency by increasing long-term employment rates in distressed local labor markets. However, current incentives are not targeted at distressed areas. Furthermore, incentives have high costs per job created. Lower costs can be achieved by public services to business, such as manufacturing extension, customized job training, and infrastructure. Reforms to place-based jobs policies should focus on greater targeting of distressed areas and using more cost-effective policies. Such reforms could be achieved by state and local governments acting in their residents' interests or could be encouraged by federal interventions to cap incentives and provide aid to distressed areas.




American Economic Association

Subject Areas

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; Local labor markets; Regional policy and planning; Business and tax incentives




Bartik, Timothy J. 2020. "Using Place-Based Jobs Policies to Help Distressed Communities." Journal of Economic Perspectives 34(3): 99-127.