For more crisp and insightful business and economic news, subscribe to The Daily Upside newsletter. It's completely free and we guarantee you'll learn something new every day.

Turns out those crazy infomercials with the question-mark-covered guy claiming you can make lots of money from home — and get government support doing it — were right. You just have to move to small-town Kansas. Or Oklahoma. Or West Virginia.

New data shows a record number of programs have popped up across the US offering remote workers heaps of cash to move from their urban digs to smaller cities and towns. One will even throw in free martial arts classes.

The 'New Arms Race'

In the third quarter, 15% of US job listings were for remote positions with salaries over $80,000, according to job search engine Ladders. That's up from 4% at the end of 2019, before the pandemic began — showing just how radically the labor market has transformed.

The change has led small cities and towns to completely rethink their economic development model. Rather than trying to lure companies there by dangling incentives, municipalities are pitching remote workers directly. There are now at least 24 local programs designed to attract the new work-from-home class, according to The Wall Street Journal — 19 of which started during the pandemic:

  • Topeka, Kansas will pay $10,000 in cash to homebuyers with salaries of at least $60,000. Renters and those with lower salaries also get reduced payouts.
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma will not only put up $5,000 toward a house purchase, remote workers can learn to defend their new property with a year of free martial arts classes — plus a year of gratis coffee and other local goods worth $2,000.

"Is this the new arms race? I would say yes," Justin Minges, CEO of Stillwater's chamber of commerce, told the WSJ.

Grandparents on Demand: Greensburg, Indiana is even offering remote workers with children the option to have local seniors cover their babysitting duties. That way they can enjoy a night out at the, uh... [Googles "things to do in Greensburg, Indiana"].