According to these Forbes rankings, the Texas Triangle of Houston, Dallas and Austin score 1, 2 and 3, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Charlotte, and San Francisco all scored in the top 10. Take that NY, LA, Chicago, Boston and DC. My hunch is Forbes is giving way too much weight to “cost of living” in an era of front-loaded careers. Their rankings of best cities for young professionals make a bit more intuitive sense. Saine bet for young professionals as well as recent college grads came in 9th. One of the assignments in my economic development course is to deconstruct Forbes’ rankings of the best cities for business. Guess what their next assignment might be? (pointer via CEOs for Cities).
Archive for July, 2008
In Rise of the Creative Class I posed the question of the machine shop and the hair salon, asking a group of my students in which profession they would rather work. A recent UK survey (h/t: Charlotta Mellander) suggests my students are a very smart bunch.
- Hairdressers are undoubtedly the UK’s happiest profession, ranking in the top two positions in every year except 2006 when they were usurped by DJs! Beauty therapists have also ranked highly, in
the top three for the last four years of the survey.
- Both (hairdressers and beauty therapists) attributed their contentment to strong relationships with their colleagues. Salon professionals also value having an interest in what they do for a living, which 100% of hairdressers believe is important to on-the-job happiness.
It’s worth asking what it is about jobs like hair-cutting, cosmetology, and DJing that make people happy. And as I argued in Rise, there’s a lot we can learn from these jobs to upgrade the happiness quotient of other forms of work.
That’s the title of this Wall Street Journal report:
For much of the 20th century, the proportion of whites shrank in most
U.S. cities. In recent years the decline has slowed considerably — and
in some significant cases has reversed. Between 2000 and 2006, eight of
the 50 largest cities, including Boston, Seattle and San Francisco, saw
the proportion of whites increase, according to Census figures. The
previous decade, only three cities saw increases.
“Cosmoburbs” is the term used in the forthcoming book “Boomburbs: The
Rise of America’s Accidental Cities” to describe wealthy suburbs that
are also diverse and that increasingly contain non-traditional
households. Leading examples around the nation include Naperville,
Ill., Plano, Texas, Bellevue, Wash., and Lakewood and Aurora in
In many respects, the Cosmoburb may be the coming America where race
is part of the ambiance. Ethnic restaurants and shops with exotic goods
draw people into these communities. In such places, it does not matter
what race the neighbor is – as long as the lawn is mowed.
The new Cosmoburbs will be part of a global economy. For planners
this means that suburbs should not be thought of as merely bedroom
communities, but as new economic hubs for an increasingly
“brain”-oriented economy …. Suburbs today don’t have
less sophisticated economies than cities but are equal to central
cities. This shift will require not only new thinking about design,
transit and infrastructure in the suburbs, but also new thinking about
how the suburbs can truly accommodate singles, seniors, the
foreign-born and people of every color.
Eric Torbenson provides a humorous dose of urbanism in the New York Post:
Defibrillate the suburbs – if you can. The tenets of suburban life are the oxygen in the economic
bloodstream, and the nation is suffering hypoxia. The reason a lot of
folks think we’re just getting warmed up on an economic swoon is that
the global economy has neatly garroted all the drivers that make
For New York and other cities with respectable public
transportation, it’s still relatively good times; maybe too good. But
have you found a seat on the subway recently? New York City, already projected to expand to 10 million people over the next 15 years, will grow even more rapidly if these trends
continue … Is it any wonder that the greatest number of new housing
construction starts last month – that’s nationwide – were apartment
buildings in New York City? …
Wall Street’s losing jobs, but with enough other urban industries, people can afford to buy – or at least rent -an apartment; sell that car and take the subway; cut up that CostCo
card for groceries at the bodega. No more gas grills on the redwood
deck. But hey, a kitchenette! Welcome to the new urban renaissance …
Something tells me, though, as those huddled masses pour into the city by the thousands,
yearning to breath free of filling up the Silverado, New Yorkers will
have a political awakening. Nothing will be more important to city dwellers than hybrid or
electric cars. Get these people green lightbulbs and energy-efficient
vent systems. Send them back where they came from, to their Best Buy
parking lots and Applebee’s riblets.
Long live the suburbs! It’s our only hope.
In Flight of the Creative Class, I argued that America was no longer a single country, but two or more divided along the lines of social and economic class. Now, alongside Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort comes a new American Human Development Index, modeled on the landmark UN report. The Independent summarizes some of its key findings.
The United States of America is becoming less united by the day. A
30-year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between
Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New
England. Huge disparities have also opened up in income, health and
education depending on where people live in the US, according to a
report published yesterday.
The American Human Development Index has applied to the US an aid agency
approach to measuring well-being – more familiar to observers of the
Third World – with shocking results. The US finds itself ranked 42nd in
global life expectancy and 34th in survival of infants to age. Suicide
and murder are among the top 15 causes of death and although the US is
home to just 5 per cent of the global population it accounts for 24 per
cent of the world’s prisoners.
Despite an almost cult-like devotion to the belief that unfettered free enterprise is the best way
to lift Americans out of poverty, the report points to a rigged system
that does little to lessen inequalities.
“The report shows that although America is one of the richest nations in the world, it is
woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to
all Americans to build a better life,” the authors said.
Some of its more shocking findings reveal that, in parts of Texas, the
percentage of adults who pass through high school has not improved
since the 1970s.
Asian-American males have the best quality of
life and black Americans the lowest, with a staggering 50-year life
expectancy gap between the two groups.
Despite the fact that the US spends roughly $5.2bn (£2.6bn) every day on health care, more per
capita than any other nation in the world, Americans live shorter lives
than citizens of every western European and Nordic country, bar
Using official government statistics, the study points
out that because American schools are funded primarily from local
property taxes, rich districts get the best state education. The US has
no federally mandated sick pay, paternity leave or annual paid vacation.
“Some Americans are living anywhere from 30 to 50 years behind others when it
comes to issues we all care about: health, education and standard of
living,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps co-author of the report.
Although the US is one of the most powerful and rich nations in the world, the
study concludes it is “woefully behind when it comes to providing
opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life”.
This image from Ben Fry via Marginal Revolution shows data from intelligence tests given to all NFL players. Centers and guards beat QBs with tackles close behind. What’s going on with wide receivers, cornerbacks and running backs?
Money Quote: “”The closer you are to the ball, the higher your score.”
Sort of like cities ala Jacobs and Lucas.
“When malls become a meeting place, it’s a sign that a
city is sick.”
Enrique Peñalosa, urban theorist and former
mayor of Bogotá, via Tyler Brule.
Simon Jenkins, writing in the Times of London, absolutely nails it (h/t: Bill Bishop):
Futurology seminars have long been obsessed with one question: what next after the
internet? The answer is always the same, a new electronic gizmo. …
Since the invention of the telegraph and gramophone,
innovation is interested only in kit that yields profit. What is becoming plain,
even under the strains of recession, is that the futurologist’s answer should
lie in the realm not of electronics but of reality. It is in reality television,
reality politics, reality entertainment and sport, the immediate, the active,
the present, the live.
The phenomenon is near-universal. People do not want to spend their spare time in
front of the same screens at which they increasingly work. They want to “go
What is happening is a reversal of history. Artists can no longer sell the products
of their genius because the internet supplies it virtually for free. What can be
sold is that genius in the flesh.
The whole story is here.
Experiences matter. Authentic experiences, especially. Cities can provide them, and those that do so gain an edge. All part and parcel of the shift to the creative economy and society. We’re tracking the transformation of the popular music and entertainment industries in one of our big, focal projects at the MPI. More to come.