Reviving Distressed Communities

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The US spends nearly $50 billion a year on job-creating business incentives. Unfortunately, a lot of this money doesn’t go to the places that need it most.

Upjohn Institute senior economist Tim Bartik says that policymakers must do more to invest in distressed regions. In the Journal of Economic Perspectives, he argues that policymakers could get more bang for their buck by targeting needy communities. Even more, economic development officials need to broaden their approach beyond cash grants and tax incentives, which might be politically popular but are less effective at generating jobs than skills training, brownfield development, or other programs.

Bartik spoke with the AEA’s Chris Fleisher about which incentives are most effective, the trade-offs of becoming a high-tech hub, and why places will continue to matter even when more workers are doing their jobs from home.

Issue Date

September 16, 2020

Subject Areas

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




Bartik, Timothy J. 2020. "Reviving Distressed Communities." Podcast interview with Chris Fleisher of the American Economic Association on September 16, 2020.