The labor force is made up of individuals who base their choices on a broader set of factors than just job availability – the affordability of a region, the perception of access to opportunities, and quality of life. In the global economy, regions emphasize what makes them attractive to the labor force — whether homegrown or imported — to fill jobs in their emerging industries.
Firms in every industry have been affected by the recent recession. Small businesses tend to be more vulnerable to regional trends in housing affordability, health insurance, land use and transportation. Because the greatest job growth is typically in low-paying occupations, regions interested in sustainability must plan for growing disparities in social equity. The challenge for any region is not just to attract more primary jobs, but also to understand and plan for workers’ needs for affordable child care, health care, housing, and transportation.
Through history, human persistence and ingenuity have proven capable of solving the most intractable problems facing each generation. The achievement of sustainability, at every scale from household to globe, will rely on the creativity of individuals both in invention and in their lifestyle choices.