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Zillow: Here’s why home prices are rising faster in large cities than in small towns

Hint, it's about jobs

While the U.S. continues to see the longest recorded economic expansion in its history, the expansion has not been universal.

According to a new analysis from Zillow, in the decade since the Great Recession, job growth has been "disproportionately concentrated" in the largest U.S. job centers, and home values in these markets have risen accordingly.

Zillow's report showed that the 25 largest job markets have accounted for more than half of employment growth and nearly two-thirds of home value growth in the U.S. since July 2009.

And what's unique about this expansion is that has almost entirely been located in large markets. 

During the previous expansion from the early- to mid-2000s, job growth was strongest in small or rural areas, and home value growth was more aggressive in the very largest and very smallest markets. At that time, rural areas accounted for 14.8% of job growth and home values outperformed the national average by 7.1%.

But, during the expansion since the Great Recession, the proportion of job growth has fallen by more than half to 7%, while housing in rural areas has underperformed the national market by nearly 10%.

The cause for the shift, as Zillow notes, is that people are moving to where the jobs are being created, and the jobs are being created in large cities. So, people looking for a job are moving to where the jobs are. And that's making it much more expensive to live in those places.

"The striking difference between the two periods of recent economic expansion is the contrast between more balanced growth across the U.S. in the early 2000s, to a fairly consistent pattern of rural and small markets being left behind as jobs and home value growth concentrate in large markets," said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow.

"The jobs story is one of continuing struggles in rural and small markets where manufacturing and agriculture are concentrated," Olsen continued. "But large cities are seeing another side of the problem in home value growth. It's not only about job vitality but also a city's ability to increase the amount of housing to meet that influx of workers. Job concentration increasingly means that already expensive metros are becoming even more expensive at a faster rate than before."

And unless jobs are suddenly created in smaller and rural areas, this trend is only likely to continue.

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