I imagine New York faces a similar problem, although the scale is likely different.
People who work in the District make some of the highest wages in the United States — on average, higher than those in San Francisco and the Boston area. But every night a significant proportion of those handsomely paid workers take their earnings back to homes and stores in the suburbs.
Let’s gather our big brains and surmise the explanation. Could it be this?
That gap leaves the District with an imbalance that is growing worse, said Stephen S. Fuller, head of the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis. “People have choices and want to buy homes with yards and good schools,” he said. “If those workers are taking out their income tax and going home to do their shopping, there isn’t much left behind for the District.”
I’ve never lived in a home with anything resembling a real yard since I moved to the D.C. area in ’98. It would be nice, but it’s not significant. More importantly, when I was younger, and it really made no difference, I lived in a high-rise apartment complex. D.C. can offer that type of accommodation without question. But that never kept me away from considering the District as a home. The obscene tax rates, however, factored significantly, as did the ineptness with which the city managed the revenue from those obscene tax rates. Why live in the District when I can live in Virginia and pay only a portion of what I’d pay in taxes as commuting costs? It’s really been a no-brainer. Incentives matter.