Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Feb 10th 2009 at 10:09am UTC

Uneven Effects of the Crisis

The crisis is having uneven effects on jobs. The table below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (via Michael Mandel) shows the change in employment for 2008. Massive losses are concentrated in what Mandel calls the “tangible sector” – production, construction, and farming and fishing. Health care and education have help up reasonably well, along with management. The intangible sector and creative sector jobs – arts, design, and entertainment; architecture and engineering; computer science and mathematics; and life and physical sciences – are starting to register losses. I’d love to know where in terms of geography these losses are concentrated. But the bigger point is that if this continues the U.S. economy may start to look like the meds-and-eds dependent economies of old rustbelt city-regions. That said, the job losses in the creative or intangible sector are in range of 3-5 percent, while tangible sector losses are in the double digits.


Percent change

Change in thousand of jobs

Healthcare support



Personal care and service






Education, training, and library



Healthcare practitioner and technical



Community and social services






Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance



Food preparation and serving



Business and financial operations



Installation, maintenance, and repair



Protective service



Life, physical, and social science



Transportation and material moving



Computer and mathematical



Sales and related



Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media



Architecture and engineering



Office and administrative support



Farming, fishing, and forestry






Construction and extraction



4 Responses to “Uneven Effects of the Crisis”

  1. Buzzcut Says:

    the U.S. economy may start to look like the meds-and-eds dependent economies of old rustbelt city-regions.

    What’s that? Never heard it put that way, “Meds and eds”.

    What are you saying, that, for example, Buffalo’s only growing industry is the county hospital and/or SUNY Buffalo?

  2. Michael Wells Says:

    The stimulus infrastructure spending should help the construction and engineering sectors. But Martin’s question in Quo Vadis about what’s being done for arts, design, etc. is relevant. We can only grow if we encourage creativity.

    I wonder what healthcare support means. Is it the waste in the US system caused by unnecessary paperwork? It’s scary if the fastest growth is in an unproductive sector. And is the personal care and service increase more low paid workers in assisted living centers?

  3. RF Says:

    Meds and eds – means, er medical/ healthcare and education. Kevin Stolarick’s number crunching and research shows pretty clearly that these are virtually the only game in town in many older cities. Todd Gabe has picked up on this in his recent work on jobs/ occupations across regions. While visiting the Institute a month or two ago, he showed us a remarkable bar graph chart, comparing the Boston metro to the Buffalo metro. Boston had huge bars for many regionally specialized and high paying occupations. Buffalo’s were all clustered along the X axis. Nothing particularly specialized, nothing spectacularly high paying. Michael Porter taught us this a long time ago, and my colleagues Roger Martin and Jim Milway have been driving this point home in Canada. Regions generate wealth based on highly clustered industries, and as Stolarick would add on highly clustered, specialized and distinctive jobs. Meds and eds are much more dispersed, and our research show they add little if anything to regional income levels. Hope this helps.

  4. Buzzcut Says:

    Richard, can you clarify a little more?

    Let’s stick with Buffalo, which I know well, having gone to UB.

    So, in the city itself, you do have the meds. The County hospital, Children’s Hospital. UB is building a medical research corridor.

    And you have UB. Their presence in the city is shifting. They have an old campus on the outskirts of the city, their new campus is in the ‘burbs. They’re repurposing their old campus towards medicine, in addition to that medical corridor downtown.

    So you’re saying that this focus on medicine and education is common in the rustbelt? And that it doesn’t generate wage growth?

    Both are news to me.

    Does it matter if there is an interaction between the meds and the eds? UB seems to me to do a very good job of grabbing research dollars. They’ve got their hands in everything. This might be a differnt kind of “ed” than, say, Buffalo State University, which is just an old teachers college.

    Considering that your data was Buffalo vs. Boston… probably not.