Trump can bring jobs to the Rust Belt by relocating federal agencies there

Some of the biggest voting swings to Trump in 2016 were in places like Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown is part of Mahoning County, which voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 by 26 and 28 percentage point margins, respectively. Trump cut that margin down to three points while winning the surrounding counties of Stark, Portage, and Trumbull, all of which voted for Obama in 2012. This is an area that is crying out for change.

Trump could get things started in a new direction by relocating some federal jobs there from Washington. Even if not a single factory reopens in the next four years, such a move would add material prosperity to a region in desperate need of it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Youngstown’s metropolitan area ranked 317th in the nation for employment. Some federal jobs could help with that.

There were once good reasons for concentrating federal jobs near the capital. In the explosion of federal employment that accompanied the New Deal in the 1930s, it made sense for people working together to be physically near each other. The files and folders of that time were made of paper and manila, and if you wanted to look at them, you had to do so physically.

In the twenty-first century, however, the words “file” and “folder” are used more often to describe digital information than physical objects. They can be created, edited, and reviewed anywhere a worker has access to the internet. The federal government is already a leader in remote workplaces. For a D.C.-based worker, that tends to mean working remotely from Arlington, not Akron, but there is no need for such a geographic restriction.