Archive for May, 2009

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat May 30th 2009 at 11:00am UTC

America’s Most Resilient Cities

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Image courtesy of Kiplinger’s

My MPI colleague Kevin Stolarick lists the nation’s most economically “resilient” cities over at Kiplinger’s. His rankings are based on: current employment trends, historical employment, and unemployment performance; how the region did when national unemployment increased; the share of professional, knowledge, and creative jobs; and cost of living. Here’s the top ten.

  1. Huntsville, Alabama
  2. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Charlottesville, Virginia
  5. Athens, Georgia
  6. Olympia, Washington
  7. Madison, Wisconsin
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. Flagstaff, Arizona
  10. Raleigh, North Carolina

Detailed rankings of all 361 U.S. regions are here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat May 30th 2009 at 10:00am UTC

Unequal America

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
county-levekl HDI.jpg

Here’s a map of the human development of U.S. counties based on factors like income, education, literacy, and health (via (Map Scroll). There’s been some concern about the utility of such combined indexes, still this map provides a powerful visualization America’s enormous social, economic, and geographic divide.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri May 29th 2009 at 10:45am UTC

The Nashville Effect, Ctd.

Friday, May 29th, 2009

My colleague Dan Silver crunches the numbers and finds that while Nashville may be at the top of the commercial music pyramid, it lags on genre diversity.

Nashville takes fifth place in terms of popularity of its acts, according to Silver’s analysis of MySpace fans, behind L.A., Manhattan, Chicago, and Atlanta, and just ahead of Brooklyn. It falls to 25th in terms of total (MySpace) acts behind Portland, Austin, and Miami, not to mention leaders like L.A., Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago.

Nashville also lags in the diversity of its music mix, according to Silver. Not surprisingly, it’s way out in front on country with 1,800 (MySpace) bands with five times as many as second-place San Antonio. Nashville also makes the top 20 for Christian music, acoustic, pop, rock, folk, jazz, and indie.

Silver provides further evidence of what he dubs Nashville’s “intensive rather than extensive” music profile by ranking Nashville alongside L.A., NY, Chicago, Atlanta, and comparably sized Portland on MySpace’s “bands with fans” metric (see table below).

Nashville is the national leader in Country and Christian music, and has bands with the top 10 most fans in folk, acoustic, acapella, pop, rock, punk, jazz, and alternative. This is very impressive indeed; Nashville is for sure a hit maker. But, once again, note the steep drop off. The other top 5 “bands with fans” cities – NY, L.A., Chicago, ATL — have high fan rankings across all the genres, with averages of 3, 7, 6, and 18. Nashville plunges to 40. Portland, by contrast, which ranks #19 overall on this metric (14 lower than Nashville), has an average fan rank across genres that is 14 higher than Nashville’s.

So yes, Nashville is more than country music. But, ranked in terms of the sheer cosmopolitan multiplicity of the genres its bands produce and circulate, Nashville is not quite New York City. Or, for that matter, Portland.

Still, Nashville’s music scene remains highly focused on the best-selling and most commercial of genres - pop (fourth), rock (sixth), and punk (sixth) as well as country (first), Christian (first) and folk (second) – compare to its 33rd place finish in Afrobeat and 151st place in death metal – as Silver’s data show.

genre rankings.jpg
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri May 29th 2009 at 9:49am UTC

What Do You Call…

Friday, May 29th, 2009

We’ve already got a name for conventional infrastructure projects that are ready to go: shovel-ready. But what do we call ready-to-fund projects that might be part of a needed creativity stimulus?

Here’s a list our gang at the MPI came up with:

  • Production Ready
  • Neuron Ready
  • Spotlight Ready
  • Camera Ready
  • YouTube Ready
  • Synapse Ready
  • Cortex Ready
  • Imagination Ready
  • Log-in Ready
  • Google Ready
  • Performer Ready
  • Web 2.0 Ready
  • Stage Ready
  • Performance Ready
  • Canvas Ready
  • Realization Ready
  • Communication Ready
  • Pen-stroke Ready
  • Roll-out Ready

Vote for your favorites and feel free to suggest more.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri May 29th 2009 at 8:50am UTC

More Nashville Effect

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Boy, Ta-Nehisi’s commenters surely do rock.


I was just in Nashville and it felt like Hollywood or NYC, where people get off the bus to make their artistic fortune. Also, a friend of mine who LOVES karaoke was annoyed to find the quality of karaoke talent much higher in Nashville than in Boston …


[P]eople come to Nashville with dreams to play music, to write music, or to make it in the industry. Nashville also has a major school of music and a major symphony orchestra and a lot of non-country music. Plus it’s warmer, and chiller, and less expensive than NYC.


Having lived in Nashville for the last 10 years, I can tell you that the staff at Waffle House can do better than more than many top 40 artists. There is something to be said about having that many musicians in one place at one time… There are few things more annoying than to go some other town (e.g. NYC or Boston) and listen to a bad band. You forget where you’re from until you listen to a bad band. It doesn’t happen in Nashville. Like. Ever.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu May 28th 2009 at 11:05am UTC


Thursday, May 28th, 2009

This NYT graphic summarizes key findings from Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz’s intriguing study of how taking time off effects the career prospects of various professional groups. It’s not surprising that MBAs – especially those who log long hours in finance and consulting – take the biggest career hit. For many the strategy is to front-load their careers, working hard and making boat loads of money when they are relatively young which they can enjoy later on in life. And most people understand that lawyers put in long hours as well. Understandably, the Times‘ story focuses on the relatively small hit taken by medical doctors.

But what really struck me is the result for PhDs, who suffered a 29 percent average financial penalty for taking time off. This was tied for second with lawyers and nearly double the penalty faced by medical doctors. This stands in contrast to the more popular perception of the inquisitive, free-flowing academic career. But like lawyers, consulting partners, and others in so-called “up-or-out” professions, young academics must put in especially long hours early-on to conduct their research, publish their papers, and achieve tenure. Taking time off is a huge risk at this stage of the game (at an age that coincides with child-bearing) – one that extends far beyond the immediate loss of salary.

One thing I have noticed over the past decade or so is that some of the very best PhDs I have come across – not just in social science but in computer science, engineering, and other scientific fields – have decided to opt out of academia for careers in everything from startups and consulting to think-tanks and non-profits.  A common assumption is that they “did it for the money,” but most I’ve talked with say they simply did not want to endure what it would do to their “life.”

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed May 27th 2009 at 5:30pm UTC

Taking Back the Streets

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

New York Magazine’s Michael Crowley profiles NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s effort to take back the city’s streets from the automobile (pointer via Brian Knudsen).

[E]ven though the Broadway plan has been pitched as a way to ameliorate traffic, it’s apparent when touring Times Square with Sadik-Khan that the planning problem that most animates her is not car congestion but people congestion. ‘This is a plan to pedestrianize a street, not to mitigate traffic,’ says someone who has discussed it with DOT officials. ‘This was a plan about greening New York, outdoor space, and seating. It was almost a happy accident that they found that traffic could be mitigated.’  In this offhand remark one can see Sadik-Khan’s truly revolutionary vision. She has fashioned herself the city’s streets commissioner, rather than the city’s traffic commissioner, and has not been shy about imposing a vision of the 21st-century street that seizes it back from the automobile. ‘One of the good legacies of Robert Moses is that, because he paved so much, we’re able to reclaim it and reuse it,’ she says. ‘It’s sort of like Jane Jacobs’s revenge on Robert Moses.’”

As Matt Yglesias notes, most Manhattanites don’t depend on, or even own, cars. Still the streets are clogged with them – mostly from commuters or so-called “bridge and tunnels.” Closing off parts of Broadway is terrific. Now it’s time to get some real congestion pricing in place.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed May 27th 2009 at 1:30pm UTC

Housing: Back to 2000

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Felix Salmon says there’s no end in sight for the housing bust, pointing to the latest edition of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Housing prices are off 36 percent since their 2006 peak.  Housing prices have fallen back to 2002 levels in nominal terms but, as Business Week’s Prashant Gopal notes, they’ve plunged to 2000 levels when adjusted for inflation. Calculated Risk (with great graphics as usual) predicts another 10-20 percent drop,

Regional differences remain pronounced. Phoenix and Las Vegas are down more than 50 percent from their peak values, while Dallas is off only 11 percent. Dallas, Denver, Boston, Charlotte, and New York appear to be holding up best. New York prices remain 73 percent above their 2000 levels, Detroit’s are nearly 30 percent below – in line with their 1995 levels.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed May 27th 2009 at 11:30am UTC

How the Crisis Will Reshape the World’s Cities

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Michael Lind argues New York and London are in for the biggest fall:

New York, London, and other financial centers were heavily dependent on financial-sector profits. Throw in the technology-driven collapse of the publishing and broadcast industries headquartered in such places, and those cities are likely to suffer devastating blows. Capitals of both politics and commerce, such as Paris and Tokyo, will adjust the best in the new state-capitalist world. Purely commercial centers such as New York and Frankfurt will suffer the most. Without the obscenely rich investment bankers and the legions of well-paid retainers who supported their lifestyles, formerly flourishing parts of these former financial capitals may become as derelict as Detroit or the crumbling industrial towns of northern Britain and Germany’s Ruhr region.

Not so fast.

NYC and London are much more than financial centers – and always have been. Sure, finance generated a lot of income, especially in the top ranks, but the data show that greater NY is not overly dependent on finance and has significant capabilities across a broad range of creative industries. Ed Glaeser has advanced several compelling explanations for why NYC’s unemployment has remained relatively low in the face of what was supposed to be devastating losses from the financial crisis, With Washington, D.C. in its mega-region gambit, New York will do just fine even if you believe Lind about the coming era of “state capitalism.”

London is admittedly more finance-dependent, but it too has considerable capabilities in media, entertainment, fashion, and as a draw for global talent. How many other cities around the world can say that? And both NYC and London have withstood far more serious blows and and emerged stronger and more resilient, as Youssef Cassis’ landmark study of global financial centers shows.

Paris and Tokyo are much more likely to lose as the global city system consolidates. This year’s edition of the Global Financial Centres Index shows NYC and London consolidating their hold on global finance in the heat of the crisis, while Paris and Tokyo are getting clobbered.

The winners in the new era of capitalism are more likely than not to share the same fundamental characteristics that have defined leading-edge global cities in previous capitalist epochs – the economic benefits of diversity and openness in attracting talent, and of density and speed in mixing to create new innovations, new firms, and new industries. Those advantages will only compound in the future.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue May 26th 2009 at 1:23pm UTC

America’s Urban Dilemma

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Megan is skeptical that cities can outlast the crisis. Crime will get worse, she fears, tax revenues will shrink, and middle class families will once again head for the ‘burbs. Ta-Nehisi (and many of his commenters) say economics favors big cities, especially Gotham. Case in point: how expensive it (still) is to live in Manhattan. I side with Ta-Nehisi, especially on the question of New York City, for reasons I outlined here.

As an American living in Toronto, I’ve come to learn this is peculiarly American condition and conversation. Toronto is loaded with families: middle-class, working class, upper-class, immigrant, and Canadian-born; gay and straight; married and so on. Crime, violent crime at least, is relatively low; the public schools stellar by American standards. I live downtown in a largely residential neighborhood loaded with middle-class families, of roughly the same demographic that would live in, say, Bethesda or somewhere like it. Toronto provides a workable model of an “urban family land” – which stands in sharp relief to the barbell demography of American cities which divide into the young (singles and “strollerville” couples) on the one hand and empty-nesters on the other.

This missing middle is less a problem for America’s biggest and best cities. Places like New  York and San Francisco have shown they can function without a large contingent of families. But it poses a looming problem for American competitiveness. It means America’s leading metro centers remain, by definition, considerably more stretched out. In an era where density and talent clustering are key drivers of innovation and economic prosperity, this may ultimately prove a significant competitive disadvantage for the nation as a whole, even as its biggest cities continue to fare relatively well.