Archive for September, 2009

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Sep 29th 2009 at 9:33am UTC

Creativity in the Country

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Creative jobs are not only a big factor in the success of urban areas, they help to power growth in rural areas too. New research by my colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute examines the role of creative jobs in the economic development of rural communities in Ontario.

In the decade 1996 to 2006, creative class jobs led job growth in rural Ontario at 22 percent, considerably ahead of working class jobs which grew at 13 percent and service class jobs which expanded by nine percent. Over the same period, agricultural and resource jobs fell by 20 percent.


A summary of the research is here.

Michael Wells
by Michael Wells
Mon Sep 28th 2009 at 7:15pm UTC

How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

Monday, September 28th, 2009

A story in this morning’s news caught me up. Social Security is apparently in trouble because more people than expected are taking early retirement, often after losing jobs and failing to find new ones. This is making demands on S.S. payouts sooner than expected and drawing down the “trust fund.”

But wait a moment, wasn’t the problem last week that boomers weren’t retiring fast enough? The next generation in line is being denied promotions because their elders aren’t quitting fast enough.

It brings to mind the old country-western song, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”

The first story:

Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that’s happened since the 1980s.

The deficits – $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 – won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.

Applications for retirement benefits are 23 percent higher than last year, while disability claims have risen by about 20 percent. Social Security officials had expected applications to increase from the growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement, but they didn’t expect the increase to be so large.

What happened? The recession hit and many older workers suddenly found themselves laid off with no place to turn but Social Security.

“A lot of people who in better times would have continued working are opting to retire,” said Alan J. Auerbach, an economics and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “If they were younger, we would call them unemployed.”

The second story:

The financial downturn has left all sorts of casualties in its wake: more unemployment, depressed wages, and greater economic uncertainty. But I’d like to direct my angst at a different target — the baby boomers.

A hidden effect of this crisis is that, in the workplace, as in popular discourse, they simply refuse to get out of the way.

To understand my lament, you have to realize that the oldest of the baby boomers are on the cusp of retirement. For younger generations, this should be a cause for relief. For decades, Gen X-ers like myself have had to hear the standard declarations about the uniqueness of the baby boomers. Maybe they were not the Greatest Generation, but they were the ones who glorified the whole idea of generational identity. For decades, Gen X-ers have had to hear complaints about our political apathy, our popular culture, and our musical tastes.

We have suffered many of these critiques without complaint. Why? Because so many of us worked for so many of them. They were the bosses of the business world. And they were supposed to be retiring very soon, but the recession has changed all that.

In 2008, U.S. workers aged 55 to 64 who had 401(k)’s for at least 20 years saw their retirement balances drop an average of 20 percent. A recent YouGov poll showed two-thirds of this generation have not made the necessary adjustments in their financial planning. This is not a recipe for leaving the workforce anytime soon.

What does this mean for the rest of us? Younger workers who expected promotions when the boomers cleared out are going to have to stew in their own juices. With this job market, looking for a better opportunity elsewhere is not in the cards.

Leaving aside the Boomer bashing, this seems to be a contradiction. Are Boomers retiring early or not? I suspect that some of what’s happening is class based. The managerial and Creative Class 60-somethings are continuing to work because they can and often want to – their skills are relevant, they’re not caught in large layoffs and if they need to they can consult. On the other hand, working class, non college-educated boomers who are laid off aren’t finding jobs – their health care costs are high and they’re expensive to hire. So many of them who can’t find work may be taking Social Security at 62 in spite of the disadvantages (smaller checks, limits on earned income).

Does anyone have statistics on who’s retiring and who’s keeping working?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Sep 28th 2009 at 8:56am UTC

ComplexCity – How Cities Are Like the Human Brain

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Jane Jacobs long ago showed us that cities are complex adaptive systems. Now new research by cognitive scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute finds that not only are cities organized along the same complex principles as the human brain, but evolve in ways that mirror the brain’s evolution.

“Natural selection has passively guided the evolution of mammalian brains throughout time, just as politicians and entrepreneurs have indirectly shaped the organization of cities large and small,” said Mark Changizi, a neurobiology expert and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer, who led the study. “It seems both of these invisible hands have arrived at a similar conclusion: brains and cities, as they grow larger, have to be similarly densely interconnected to function optimally.” … “When scaling up in size and function, both cities and brains seem to follow similar empirical laws,” Changizi said. “They have to efficiently maintain a fixed level of connectedness, independent of the physical size of the brain or city, in order to work properly.”

Science Daily provides a fuller summary (via Planetizen). The full paper can be downloaded from Changizi’s website.

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Sep 28th 2009 at 8:34am UTC

“Free” Agency?

Monday, September 28th, 2009

As previously discussed on this blog, in Canada this recession has pushed a number of people into self-employment. In the U.S., the trend has been less pronounced. Yet I suspect one part of the trend is happening, or soon will, in America – the move by many firms to hire “contract” employees who technically are not employees in that no deductions are taken from their pay and no extended medical or dental benefits are offered.

In Canada, some of the newly self-employed are launching new entrepreneurial start-up businesses that eventually may hire dozens of people or more. Entrepreneurship seems to be doing better in Canada than it has in a while.

But many “self-employed” persons are working on contracts in positions that were formerly salaried. A corporate recruiter recently explained the trend in the Globe and Mail:

Jeff Aplin, Calgary-based executive vice-president with David Aplin Recruiting, has also noticed a shift to more temporary work. Across Canada, he’s seen a surge of demand for contract consultants in accounting, engineering or IT to work a fixed term with a fixed task. “There’s definitely more appetite for a flexible work force” he says.

Because the 21st century economy will likely require the ability to adapt and change quickly, successful companies will likely want a certain percentage of their staff to be on fixed term contracts. Contractors may be a larger part of the future workforce.

Just because employers prefer it doesn’t mean those with talent to “sell” will want it. (And the unemployment rate in many skilled areas isn’t that high so, even in this down time, employees have some power here). Presumably, contractors receive some advantages, such as increased pay to compensate for the lower benefits.

So, for contractors, what are the advantages? What will employers need to offer in the future to have a healthy pool of contractors to choose from when they need them?

Do you primarily work on contract, doing work that others are paid on salary for?

Do you like the freedom? Or would you prefer a salaried position with set vacation allotments, benefits, etc.?

CCE Editor
by CCE Editor
Mon Sep 28th 2009 at 7:39am UTC

Guest Blogger: For the Love of Japan

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This post comes to the Creative Class Exchange courtesy of guest blogger Scott Sognal, policy researcher and novice blogger.

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, which held power almost continually for 50 years, was well suited to a world based upon Taylorist mass production. They created the Japanese system of “jobs for life,” cross-shareholding between banks and firms, and pay rates based upon seniority – all of which delivered rising living standards more or less equally across the nation.

However, since the “Bubble Economy” finished in 1990, globalization has forced Japan’s economy to partially open too, exposing the chronic weaknesses inherent in the old system.

But the Liberal Democratic Party continued to bury Japan under highways and bridges that weren’t needed (eloquently described in the book Dogs and Demons) simply to buy the votes of its rural and blue collar power base, while running up a massive national debt.

The rigid education system delivers math and science skills needed for mass production – but not the creativity, imagination, and people skills required by the creative economy. Young Japanese people are no longer offered jobs for life on a large scale, but are stuck in a world of unstable, temporary work as “freeters” (more about the freeter lifestyle).

Japan’s recent election of the Democratic Party of Japan is the first time that Japan’s “lost generation” has stood up to be counted, with a turnout of around 70 percent. The DPJ listened to these people; many of the new DPJ politicians are younger than those they replaced and female. In many areas, this desire for change was so strong that entire cities were carried by the DPJ.

Young Japanese people are attracted to Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Fukuoka, where they can escape the formal social straitjackets of their home towns and be somewhat anonymous. This does not account for the whole change by any account, but I think it might have some correlation to the graphs shown on the Creative Class website outlining people who are “open to experiences.” A report released by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research predicted that almost half of Japan’s 47 prefectures will see their populations fall by more than 20 percent over the three decades from 2005. With job seekers flocking to the capital, Tokyo is expected to account for 11.5 percent of Japan’s total population in 2035, up from 9.8 percent in 2005, the report said. But internal migration is drying up – in 2008, only Nagoya and the areas directly around Tokyo showed net inward migration.

Japan’s rapidly aging population, which has been shrinking since 2005, raises issues that all countries should pay attention to. Its birthrate is around 1.3 children per woman, but it has been falling for decades (pdf). Many of Japan’s youth are voting with their feet for a Creative Class lifestyle – but there is a large gap in the average age of prefectures. What happens when entire regional economies hollow out, and local governments cannot afford to support the remaining elderly citizens?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Sep 27th 2009 at 9:43am UTC

Pittsburgh’s Long Night

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Quite a scene in Pittsburgh last night in the wake of the G-20 on Forbes Avenue, in front of the Carnegie Museum, a block or two away from the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. It’s literally two blocks from my old Heinz School office, a block from my favorite coffee shop, and three blocks from where I lived.

Picture by Radder Photos, flickr

Picture by Radder Photos, flickr

Here are some eyewitness reports from the Post-Gazette.

Drew Singer, editor of the student newspaper The Pitt News, watched the events from a window in the William Pitt Union, which has a view of Schenley Plaza. Two Pitt News photographers were among those arrested. “There were way more police than there were civilians, nonpolice,” he said. He said the police gave a loud order to disperse. He said police usually arrest people who are especially unruly, but Friday night, “it seemed like anybody who didn’t leave immediately was being arrested even if they were just kind of watching. Technically, they did not disperse.” He said some Pitt News reporters saw people passing out note cards earlier in the day at the permitted “People’s March to the G-20,” which announced a rally that night in Schenley Plaza. While there may have been protesters, he said, “I personally didn’t see a single protester. There was absolutely nothing like Thursday night. It was overwhelmingly spectators and people who just wanted to see what was going on. It seems like just after Thursday night, [police] just weren’t taking anything. They just weren’t up for any funny business. They gave the orders to disperse, and I guess anybody who didn’t immediately disperse they were going after, it seemed like.”

“It was all students and no protesters — it looked like any Friday night in Oakland but with more people,” said Nathan Lanzendorfer, 23, of Mt. Lebanon. He went to Oakland out of curiosity to see the protests. Shortly before midnight he was caught on Forbes Avenue, with police deploying OC gas from two directions. He was hit with a rubber bullet in his right leg and his left, started to run, and was then hit in an arm and his lower back. “I never heard any warning to leave the area — all four [rubber bullet] shots were within five seconds,” he said. “All the wounds on my back. If I was opposing [the police] at all you’d think I’d have a front wound.” Mr. Lanzendorfer went to UPMC Presbyterian for treatment of his contusions, one of which is softball-sized, he said.

Post-Gazette reporter Sadie Gurman, 24, was among those arrested on the Pitt Cathedral of Learning lawn.”I was arrested on the cathedral lawn while truly trying to get out of the fray,” she said. Ms. Gurman said she had gone to Schenley Plaza because of news alerts she received on her cell phone. At Schenley Plaza, she was talking with colleagues and others she had met while covering G-20 events. In the plaza, she said there was one person on a loudspeaker. Others were standing around talking, running or playing games, such as duck-duck-goose. She estimated the number of civilians in the plaza at about 200.

Much of the plaza was flanked by police officers. “There was definitely an energy that was very ominous at that point,” she said. Even as police ordered the crowd to disperse, Ms. Gurman said some people in the plaza stayed and chanted, “You’re sexy, you’re cute, take off your riot suit.” Ms. Gurman said she left the plaza and went onto Forbes Avenue.”I was trying to move in a way that would not be in their perimeter. I was walking on Forbes toward Craig Street to get out of it. Another police van pulled up. Additional officers in riot gear jumped out and said to ‘move back, move back’ and were pushing us the opposite direction back toward Bigelow.” She went that direction and ended up having to jump over bushes on the Cathedral lawn to get out of the way of police. “I thought I was OK there. The cops jumped over the bushes, too,” she said. She said a helicopter was overhead. With the cathedral behind a group of people, the police made a half circle and ordered people to lie down on the ground. “Some of the girls were hugging each other and crying, saying to the police, ‘Tell us how we can get out of here peacefully. We don’t want to be here, but you’ve trapped us.’ “She estimated about 30 people were put into a police vehicle. She was released about 10 hours after her arrest.

Ellyanna Kessler, an 18-year-old freshman, said she had been watching from her dormitory in Forbes Hall when police shot OC gas canisters onto the balcony of the residence. “Everybody got tear gassed,” she said.

Tracy Hickey, an 18-year-old freshman, said she had been arrested while watching the protest as an off-duty ACLU legal observer. When she realized that many of those being ordered to disperse had “nowhere to disperse to,” she saidheld open the door to a dormitory, ushering a crowd of screaming students into the residence. She said police then arrested her … By about 10:50 p.m., K-9 units and police with plastic shields had surrounded the plaza began to make arrests. Police fired OC gas canisters into a crowd of mostly students on the corner of Forbes and Bigelow. Many people ran down Forbes Avenue, coughing and screaming, as a line of police several officers deep stretched across the road and marched down the street, ordering the crowd to disperse. Some protesters taunted the police, he said. “How do you feel shooting students,” one yelled.

Peter Shell, co-chair of the Thomas Merton Center’s antiwar committee, said he had gone to Oakland Friday night to celebrate the day’s successful and peaceful People’s March to the G-20, which his organization had sponsored. When police made Mr. Shell leave Schenley Plaza, he was forced onto the Cathedral of Learning lawn. When he tried to leave via Fifth Avenue, he was surrounded, trapped and arrested, he said. “We tried going left, we tried going forward, we tried going right,” he said. “We wanted to disperse and they did not let us disperse.”

Molly Shea said she came to Pittsburgh to protest at the People’s March but wanted nothing to do with Friday night’s demonstration, she said. A 22-year-old senior at Ohio University, she was studying at Kiva Han coffee shop until about 10:45 p.m. Friday, when she left to look for her friends. She walked to the lawn next to the Cathedral of Learning to find them and soon realized she was surrounded by police, she said.”We kept asking them how we could leave, or if we could leave,” she said. “Most of them were unresponsive. Some of them just said no.”She was on a police wagon and then a bus for about five hours without water or a bathroom break, though many girls with her were asking for both, she said.”A few police officers were nice,” she said, “but for the most part, they were not.”She said one of the officers was “taking a lot of pride” in taking mug shots next to female detainees, and that other officers frequently used profanities specifically derogatory to women.”Some of them were making jokes when they were moving around from paddy wagon to paddy wagon about ‘getting the hot ones out,’” she said.She was released Saturday morning after being detained for about 10 hours, she said.

A 24-year-old member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Army Sgt. Jeff Bartos had been deployed to Iraq as a medic in 2005. When he came to Pittsburgh this week from New Britain, Conn. to protest the G-20 summit, it was also as a medic.Friday night, he was helping to treat a reporter who had been exposed to OC gas near Schenley Plaza when he realized he was surrounded by police on all sides. He said he was corralled with about 40 “pretty nervous, ‘What-are-we-doing-here’ protesters” as well as “random college kids,” including a girl who had been jogging through the park when she was trapped. He said he was charged with disorderly conduct and released about 6 p.m. Saturday.

Jordan Romanus, 22, who lives in South Oakland, a 15-minute walk from campus, was among those arrested Friday night on the Cathedral lawn. He said they were told to lie face down on the ground. “I feel pretty horrible. I think 99 percent of the people that were arrested had never been arrested before. The anarchists who did all the damage, none of them were there … It was absolutely atrocious.” Mr. Romanus, who said he was released around 12:30 p.m. yesterday, said police kept the detainees handcuffed all night. “My wrists are really sore. I didn’t get any sleep. They made us sit in chairs. They [the handcuffs] were on really right. One kid’s hand was bleeding by the end.”

A former student of mine said in an e-mail:

“The police went totally haywire last night.  this article only gives a partial account.  they were bashing people, pretty much indiscriminately.  Nothing to do with protests, or vandalism, or anarchists.  Just people going to get Primanti’s (a Pittsburgh institution famous for its sandwiches piled high with french fires and coleslaw) its , and then they get teargassed, or billy-clubbed, or arrested.”

Update: Here is a video clip from in front of the University of Pittsburgh.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Sep 24th 2009 at 11:00am UTC

What Your Playlist Says About You

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

What does the music you listen to say about your personality, and what determines the kinds of music we like? Watch this video by path-breaking Cambridge University psychologist Jason Rentfrow and find out.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Sep 24th 2009 at 10:45am UTC

Austin Scene Map

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

More here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Sep 22nd 2009 at 10:30am UTC

Where High Speed Rail Makes the Most Sense

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The ongoing debate over high-speed rail generates heated passions on all sides. Those opposed see high-speed rail as too costly and the U.S. as lacking the density to make the numbers work. Those in favor argue that high-speed rail is a way to move the U.S. to smarter, more energy-efficient transportation alternatives. My own take is that high-speed rail offers a mechanism to both expand and intensify the use of urban space leading to what geographers call a new “spatial fix” – required, I would add, to spur long-run economic recovery.

Here’s some useful analysis by America 2050 which can help advance the dialogue. Its new  report uses six factors – population, economic output, distance between cities, quality of local transit networks, highway congestion, and mega-region designation – to rank the top 50 routes across the U.S. (via Planetizen and Infrastructurist).

high speed rail routes.gif
Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Sep 22nd 2009 at 9:05am UTC

The Bohemian Factor

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

New research by Oliver Falck, Michael Fritsch, and Stephan Heblich – “Bohemians, Human Capital, and Regional Economic Growth” – nails it down for Germany.

An emerging literature on the geography of bohemians argues that a region’s lifestyle and cultural amenities explain, at least partly, the unequal distribution of highly qualified people across space, which in turn, explains geographic disparities in economic growth. However, to date, there has been little or no empirical attempt to identify a causal relation. To identify the causal impact of bohemians on economic growth, we apply an instrumental variable approach using as an exogenous instrument the geographic distribution of bohemians prior to the Industrial Revolution in Germany. This distribution was primary the result of competition for prestige between courts and not of economic prosperity. Accordingly, the instrument is independent of today’s regional economic development. Focusing on the concentration of highly skilled people today that is explained by the proximity to exogenous concentrations of bohemians, the observed local average treatment effect supports the hypothesis of a positive impact of bohemians on regional economic development.

Blogger and Indiana University professor Michael Rushton elaborates.

Artists attract development, at least in Germany. Hmm. Now the problem for you sophisticated econometricians out there: what is a good “instrument” for artists in the US? In other words, what things generated bohemias in the US prior to industrialization that were not related to economic conditions? I haven’t been able to think of one (and I’ve been thinking on this  a question for a while now).

Any suggestions out there?