The Great Leveling of Geographic Pay Differences in Tech – Six Ways it Will Change our Future

3. Communities Will Compete for People, Not Companies

Instead of trying to convince companies to form or relocate within their boundaries, cities and towns will compete for upper-middle-class, work-from-home, tech employees. And rather than crafting tax breaks and other business development incentives, city teams will enhance local IT infrastructure so they can promise remote workers high-speed Internet and strong cellphone signals.

City leaders will also be mindful of the need to upgrade schools, downtown areas, and healthcare access. They’ll creatively promote these amenities to IT workers and describe all of their other quality of life advantages, including proximity to recreational opportunities and, ironically, big city nightlife, albeit on a smaller scale.

4. Societal Institution Diversity Will Be Enhanced in the Long Run

Nothing will shake up a Tier 3 city in the heartland of the U.S. like an influx of “big city” folks.

Religious institutions, political fiefdoms, local governments, and other local foundations will evolve. The newly arriving IT workers will evolve as well, and everyone will move toward a new point of consensus in these often polarizing spheres. Everyone will learn just a little bit from and about each other, and something about themselves in the process.

Let’s hope…

5. In the Short Term There Will Be Cultural Tension in Tier 3 Cities and Regions

Because that spirit of getting along will be tested early on as the newcomers with Bay-area paychecks buy up land, drive up the cost of living and possibly the cost of labor, and generally change the pace and character of life in the region.

We can see signs of the resulting resentment already in some western states. Over time, the original locals who are most bothered, disrupted, and priced out of their hometowns will either learn to integrate or leave the area. At the same time, local service jobs will be difficult to fill as a new economic and social equilibrium begins to emerge.

6. Tier 1 Cities Will Strive to Offer More than Jobs

In the past, Tier 1 cities didn’t compete for residents, they competed for tourists. They’ll have to do both in this new world of geographic wage compression and remote work.

Like Tier 3 cities and their suburbs, Tier 1 cities will need to promote quality of life elements like schools, public safety, and other family-friendly features we don’t necessarily attribute to big cities. To make up for the outflow of IT workers, these cities will need to act and sound more like their Tier 3 competitors.

This will require some creative marketing campaigns, and I can’t wait to see the promotions for a family-friendly San Francisco or New York City.

Final Thought

Too many people have viewed the U.S. as a bifurcated, bi-coastal nation, generalizing that the big important cities are on the coasts, with the inconsequential rest found in the blank space in between.

This tendency has always struck me as unhealthy, if not elitist, so probably the best thing that will come out of the new age of remote work and geographic salary parity is the homogenizing effect it will have on the entire nation.

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