Archive for July, 2008

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Jul 19th 2008 at 7:27am UTC

Stadium, Schmadium

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Year after year, city boosters tell us building new stadiums at a cost of hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars will create jobs, bring back neighborhoods, spur development, build national buzz and image, and stimulate local economies. The evidence shows this is mostly hooey. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mark Yost sheds light on one of the great public policy travesties of our time:

Yes, stadiums do create high-paying construction jobs
for a year or two. But the vast majority of long-term employment is
low-wage concession jobs. A Congressional Research Service study of the
Baltimore Ravens stadium found that each job created cost the state
$127,000. By comparison, Maryland’s Sunny Day Fund created jobs for
about $6,000 each … A 1998 report by the New York City Independent Budget Office
found no “economic rationale for assuming that building any new stadium
would itself spur construction of office towers and hotels. Total
output resulting from the presence of the teams in the city amounts to
less than one tenth of one percent of the economic activity in New York
City.” …

But perhaps the best argument against publicly financed stadiums is straight out of Econ 101: Opportunity cost. “What else could the city have invested its money in
and what kind of a return would it have produced?” said King Banaian,
chairman of the St. Cloud State (Minn.) Economics Dept.

While using public money to subsidize stadiums and sports is economics and bad economic development is in most every city, wealthy cities like NYC, DC, LA or Boston can to some degree afford such extravagances. The real tragedies are in smaller, older, stagnating rustbelt cities – like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, St. Louis and others, where city revenues are terribly strapped and stadium funding takes away from pressing local needs from police and fire to schools and parks.  I am amazed and outraged that such blatant abuse of the public purse is allowed to go on.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 18th 2008 at 2:18pm UTC

I’ll Take … Houston?

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Urban economist Ed Glaeser says NYC has a Houston problem. Houston has more affordable housing, less congestion, and easier commutes – all because of its “deregulated market,” lack of rent control, and ease of construction. Ryan Avent says not only is Glaeser wrong, he’s contradicting his own research.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 18th 2008 at 1:33pm UTC

Young Americans

Friday, July 18th, 2008


Mark Thoma points us to new research by Elizabeth Casico and her collaborators on how young Americans stack up in the global competition for skills:

Young Americans entering the labor market today face substantial competition.
Employers can look all over the world for workers with the skills to meet their
firms’ needs. Are young Americans ready for these challenges? …This Economic Letter summarizes new research by Cascio, Clark, and
Gordon (2008) (hereafter CCG) that uses data from the International Adult
Literacy Survey (IALS), fielded in the 1990s, to address this issue. The authors
estimate the skill levels of 16- and 17-year-olds and 26- to 30-year-olds for
the United States and other high-income countries. Consistent with other
assessments of the school-age population, the IALS data show that U.S. 16- and
17-year-olds perform poorly relative to their counterparts in other nations. By
their late 20s, however, those in the U.S. group in the IALS data compare much
more favorably to their counterparts abroad, suggesting that they are able to
“catch up” in college or beyond.

I find this research fascinating: It lines up completely with my personal experience. As a working class kid who had to hide the fact that I was “smart,” my “skill level” and test scores at 16 or 17 would surely have lagged against many international competitors and middle-class Americans. But a Garden State scholarship and admission to Rutgers fundamentally changed my trajectory.  I made up ground very quickly and then continued along into and through graduate school.  I wish I still had my scores: But if I recall correctly, my GRE’s were in the neighborhood of 400 or 500 points higher than my SATs.

I can’t wait to see if they have subnational data for the US, and – hey wait a minute – any data at all for Canada.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 18th 2008 at 11:11am UTC

Big Apple Bounce

Friday, July 18th, 2008

It’s been widely reported that U.S. housing starts “surged” – rising 9.1 percent in June – after many months of decline and turmoil. The seasonally adjusted rate of more than 1 million homes was seen to be a significant turnaround over a 2.7 percent decline in May. Behind this shift was one anomaly – an extraordinary run-up in building permits in New York City before July 1st, when the city will enact new building codes as both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal report. The Journal summarized it this way: “The gain was driven by soaring apartment construction, which was related to the New York building-rules change. Aside from the boost given by the building-regulation change, U.S. housing starts fell 4% in June.” More evidence of the very different housing markets separating global real estate superstars from rustbelt regions, ex-urbs and overbuilt resort markets.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 18th 2008 at 9:45am UTC

Walkability Index

Friday, July 18th, 2008 has rated and ranked the “walkability” of more than 2500 US neighborhoods. Here’s the top 10. The site allows you to click on the city to get list of walkable neighborhoods. Nice maps too.

  • San Francisco
  • New York
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Washington D.C.
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Portland, OR

Some obvious ones: NYC’s Tribeca, Little Italy and Soho; DC’s Dupont and Logan Circles; Boston’s Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End. But it’s terrific to see L.A. and Long Beach on the top 10 list.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 17th 2008 at 9:22am UTC

Sorted Nation

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Part Three of our “sorted nation” conversation, that is Bill Bishop and me, with Planetizen’s Nate Berg is up over at the Planetizen site. Click here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 17th 2008 at 9:17am UTC

Not Good

Thursday, July 17th, 2008


Image from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas via Mark Thoma.

More here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 17th 2008 at 9:05am UTC

Creative New Zealand

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, Richard Wagstaff skewers a ANZ Bank report which divides government spending into productive and non-productive categories, placing culture along with other functions in the former category.

make its point, the report divided government spending into
“productive” and “non-productive” categories. Among productive spending
were education, law and order and transport …

Similarly, spending on culture is deemed
“non-productive”. Business professor Richard Florida would disagree.
His book Rise of the Creative Class found that to succeed in a modern
economy, cities have to attract creative thinkers. Auckland City
Council has embraced this concept. Last year, it released a blueprint
for growing its creative industries. The council says these
employ more than 13,000 workers in Auckland alone and contribute $1.7
billion to the city’s Gross Domestic Product. But even as New Zealand
cities strive to compete with others world-wide, ANZ says helping
cities to be more liveable through culture is “non-productive”.

The full story is here.

Rana Florida
by Rana Florida
Thu Jul 17th 2008 at 9:00am UTC

10 Steps to a Promotion

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Ask Rana

Advice on Work, Life & Play

Internationally syndicated advice columnist

I’ve been in the same job for two years with no promotions except for a slight cost-of-living adjustment. I typically clock over 60 hours a week and I sit idly by watching colleague after colleague climb the corporate ladder. I finish my work; get my projects in on budget and on deadline but with no kudos. What do I need to do to get a decent promotion?



(image from


The key word here is idly. You CAN’T sit idly by and wait for a promotion to get handed to you on a silver platter! My brother was in the same position and I was flabbergasted when he told me he made his request heard by muttering under his breath as he passed his boss in the hallway or passively aggressively joked about wanting a promotion. Here are 10 easy steps to a promotion.

  1. Schedule an appointment with your boss for an hour meeting with the subject of the meeting as “career development.”
  2. Do your homework! Make a list of all your accomplishments and successes in your current position and bring it to the meeting.
  3. Start the meeting by telling your boss how much you appreciate the time they took to meet with you and how happy you are working there. Go through your accomplishments and explain that you feel it’s time to move on to something more challenging.
  4. Clearly state what position(s) you are seeking and the value you bring to the organization.
  5. Lock your boss into a deadline and next steps by asking how soon they can help make that happen or get a clear picture of what you need to do to make that happen.
  6. Get concise information about the salary range for the position.
  7. Explain that you will do whatever it takes to help expedite the process and train your replacement.
  8. In the meantime, make sure you are not just sitting idly by. Update your resume and cover letter.
  9. Submit your resume to several other organizations and find a headhunter.
  10. One month prior to the deadline, schedule another meeting with your boss to see if the timeline is on track. If it isn’t, get clear answers as to why. If you feel you are getting the runaround, explain that you are dedicated to helping the organization advance but that you feel it’s time to take your career to the next level and if they can’t help you do that, then you will have to try to do it elsewhere. If your boss says it is on track, then make sure to check back one week prior to the deadline and congratulations!
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jul 16th 2008 at 9:32am UTC

Suburbia at the Tipping Point?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Check out this image and more tracking the variation in housing prices within regions from Business Week based on data from Business Week’s Prashant Gopal discusses them and more in this story on the “unravelling of the suburban fringe:”


(Image from Business Week; data from asked, which provides online home
valuations, to analyze how home values have been holding up in large
cities across the county compared to both inner and outer suburbs. The
results are fascinating. Annual price changes in most of the largest
metro areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San
Francisco, Seattle, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia,
followed a similar pattern: Values were most stable within a 10-mile
radius of the center of the city, but generally worsened with each
successive radius ring as far as 50 miles from the center of the city.

Not all cities kept precisely to the pattern, in part because of the
complications of geography. In Washington D.C., for example, prices
started improving in the 40-mile and 50-mile rings, most likely because
the area intersects with Baltimore and its immediate suburbs. Some
cities, such as Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, San Diego, St. Louis, and
Phoenix, did not seem to have any discernible pattern. And in other
areas—Detroit, Cleveland, Dallas, Atlanta, and Reno, Nev.—the opposite
phenomenon seems to be in play, with real estate values actually
improving away from the city.

This seems to suggest a new spatial fix in the making, with consolidation and concentration and higher real estate values in the core areas of mega-regions and especially their hub cities, and less re-concentration and a more general decline in real estate values in second- and third-tier cities, alongside more general real estate stagnation or decline in both urban and suburban locations. The pattern in Boston is intriguing: Why is it different than that for other metros in the Bos-Wash mega? This pattern is complicated, a bit unclear, and emergent.

It’s still early in the game – but these data suggest it’s worth further examination.

Any other thoughts?