How to Create More Jobs: A New Study Weighs In

Last Updated Jan 26, 2011 7:47 AM EST

With President Obama focusing on job creation in last night's State of the Union, the debate today is sure to center on just how to accomplish that goal. Whether it's by cutting the deficit, encouraging entrepreneurs or investing in clean energy, the solution to providing more and better jobs in bitterly contested. Now new research is adding fuel to the fire.

The study from Michigan State University sociologist Zachary Neal appears in the Journal of Urban Affairs, and the findings turn the conventional wisdom that a city must create jobs to attract workers on its head. Neal argues that "people come first, then the jobs," and that cities should invest in amenities that attract business travelers. Research news site Futurity reports:

For the study, Neal examined the number of business air-travel passengers in major U.S. cities during a 15-year period (1993-2008). Business passengers destined for a city and not just passing through are a key to job growth, he says.
Attracting business travelers to the host city for meetings and other business activities by offering an easily accessible airport and other amenities such as hotels and conference centers is one of the best ways to create new jobs, Neal says.
"One might expect to see a bump up in jobs first, and then a year or two later an increase in business passenger traffic," Neal says. "But we saw just the opposite. There was a bump up in business traffic and then about a year later a bump up in jobs. The business passengers were coming before the jobs did, rather than after."
No word on whether these jobs were largely in the hospitality and service sectors catering to conference goers or more widely dispersed, but the study does suggest which cities might be winners -- and which losers -- in the battle to increase employment by attracting travelers. Sunbelt cities such as Phoenix, Miami, Dallas and Houston have the most potential to create jobs this way, while chilly Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh were expected to fare worse.

Fostering better job opportunities is of huge importance to young people and a goal which will no doubt require a many-pronged approach. So what's your opinion on the best way for federal and local governments to help create more jobs?

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(Image courtesy of Flickr user Global X, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.