Archive for February, 2010

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Feb 27th 2010 at 1:52pm UTC

Olympic Medal Counting

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

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Americans following the Olympics at home have been almost as pumped as their athletes are about their record haul of medals. “I have looked (at the medal count),” Viktoria Rebensburg told USA Today, after picking up a gold medal in the women’s giant slalom, “But I didn’t expect I could give a medal to this thing. I never thought that would happen, so it’s cool. And maybe we will win this.”

The United States hasn’t dominated a Winter Olympics since 1932. With 32 medals earned thus far, statistics guru Nate Silver predicts the U.S. will end the games with 34, ahead of Germany with 30, my adopted home-base of Canada with 26, and Norway with 23.

But wait a minute. The USA is a much bigger country than any of these. With 300 million-plus people it’s nearly four times the size of Germany, 10 times bigger than Canada, and 60-plus times bigger than Norway.

So with the help of my statistically minded colleagues at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, I decided to take a different kind of look. We rated and ranked medal performance by the size of each country’s population. We’ve dubbed this new ranking system the Winter Olympic Medals Per Capita Metric, WMPC for short, where we rank medals per one million people.

Now the results get interesting.

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The U.S. ends up in 19th place, with roughly one medal per one million people, less than Australia and about the same as Poland. Germany ends up 14th and Canada ranks 10th with five times the take as the USA. The top finisher is tiny Norway with four-plus medals per one million of its people. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Feb 24th 2010 at 11:05am UTC

How High-Speed Rail Can Help Expand the Economy

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

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It’s been hard to justify high-speed rail (HSR) projects in terms of conventional cost-benefit analysis. But, it may be time to rethink – and broaden  - the way we think of the benefits of HSR. HSR’s benefits are usually thought of in terms of lowering transport costs by reducing problems like gridlock, pollution, and travel time. But the real benefit of HSR may turn on its ability to expand economic growth, according to a new analysis by my colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute.

There are three main mechanisms through which high-speed rail can help expand the economy, according to the MPI study. First, HSR expands the labor pool available to firms, bringing talented workers from nearby centers within commuting distance and thus expanding the quantity and quality of available employees. Second, HSR makes more jobs available to workers without making them have to relocate and move to a new home. Third, HSR extends the benefits of other expensive, productivity-enhancing infrastructure such as airports across broad regions. International airports, major research universities, and reference libraries are all more financially viable and internationally competitive when they serve a larger population. High-speed rail allows them to build the scale they need to achieve world-class excellence and also spreads their high costs across a wider population.

The MPI report is here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Feb 19th 2010 at 8:15am UTC

What Makes Happy Cities Happy

Friday, February 19th, 2010

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Earlier this week, I discussed the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index of happy cities. Today, with the help of my Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Charlotta Mellander, we take a look at some of the social, demographic, and economic factors that are associated with the happiness and well-being of cities.

There has been considerable debate on the factors that are associated with happiness and well-being at the national level. The well-known Easterlin Paradox suggested that happiness tends to level off after a certain income threshold. Psychologists, notably Edward Diener, have argued that factors such as health, challenging work, and close social relationships, among others, play a considerable role in happiness. Some have even made the case for instituting a new measure of gross national happiness to supplement conventional metrics like gross national product.

Recent studies by Princeton University’s Angus Deaton and Justin Wolfers and Betsy Stevenson of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School question the Easterlin Paradox and indicate a closer link between happiness and income across nations. Carol Graham raises the enigma of the “happy peasant and the miserable millionaire” as a way to resolve this apparent paradox. Graham suggests that happiness is relative to one’s position in society. Take unemployment for example. Unemployment is crushing for previously employed people in places where gainful employment is the norm. But people in poor countries where unemployment is more the norm find other ways to be happy. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Feb 17th 2010 at 12:50pm UTC

Happy Cities

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

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Silicon Valley is America’s happiest big metro-region and Washington, D.C. is second, according to a new survey of America’s 52 largest metro regions by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

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The Gallup-Healthways data breaks down well-being into six main categories. Greater D.C. leads in life evaluation. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul lead in two categories – emotional health and basic access. Silicon Valley takes first place in two categories as well – physical health and healthy behavior.

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That said, Boulder tops the list of small- and medium-size city-regions – and posts the highest happiness index score of any metro. Holland, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Provo, Utah; and Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara, California also post higher scores than any of the larger regions.

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The most unhappy metros are mainly housing-dependent Sunbelt cities of sand and Rustbelt locations that have been hard-hit by the Great Reset. Las Vegas has the dubious distinction of being America’s unhappiest large metro.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Feb 13th 2010 at 11:24am UTC

Liveable Cities

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

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The Winter Olympics’ host city of Vancouver tops the new list of the world’s most “liveable” cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit.  Toronto comes in fourth. Canadian and Australian cities do well. Not a single U.S. city makes the top 10. More here.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Feb 11th 2010 at 1:00pm UTC

The Job Creation Map

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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Here’s a map of job creation from The Gallup Organization. It’s based on approximately 100,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted throughout 2009 with employed adults in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. It provides a clear picture of the evolving economic geography of The Great Reset.

On the losing side of job creation, Rustbelt states, especially Michigan and less so Minnesota, continue to be hard hit, along with the “housing-crash” states of Nevada, California, and Arizona. Northeastern states -  Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire – also fare poorly. In the west, Oregon and Idaho also see low rates of job creation.

The best-performing states in terms of job creation are energy economies – North Dakota, Louisiana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, and New Mexico, as well as Nebraska; and those with economies that benefit from federal spending, Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. More here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Feb 11th 2010 at 9:45am UTC

The Facebook Connections Map

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

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Here’s a cool map based on over 210 million Facebook profiles (h/t: Jason Rentfrow). Compiled by Pete Warden, it plots the connections between places that share Facebook friends. The map divides the U.S. into seven distinct locational clusters with names like “Stayathomia,”  “Mormonia,” and “Socalistan.” More here.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Feb 6th 2010 at 1:50pm UTC

Unemployment: Getting Better for Some

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

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It’s terrific to see unemployment rate dip below the 10 percent mark. But, unemployment in the Great Reset remains quite a bit deeper than in previous ones, as the NYT’s Catherine Rampell shows. The overall U-6 measure of unemployment – which includes discouraged workers – stands at 16.5 percent.

A close look at the numbers finds some groups are doing far better than others. Men continue to fare substantially worse than women:  The unemployment rate for adult men remains 10 percent, while the rate for women is now 7.9 percent.

The effects of the economic crisis continue to be extremely uneven. Unemployment remains much higher for the less educated. The unemployment rate for workers without a high school degree, 15.2 percent, is 50 percent higher than that for workers with a high school diploma, 10.1 percent, and three times higher than for college-educated workers, 4.9 percent.

Unemployment also varies substantially by industry. The unemployment rate for blue-collar workers remains quite high. The unemployment rate for manufacturing workers stands at 13 percent while construction workers face a staggering 24.7 rate. The rate for professional services workers has grown to 11.1 percent, but financial professionals have unemployment of 6.6 percent.  The rate for educational professionals stands at  5.5 percent, and that for government employees is 4.3 percent.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Feb 4th 2010 at 2:55pm UTC

Regional Unemployment Continues to Rise

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

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Unemployment continues to rise in U.S. metro regions, according to the December figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Unemployment rates were higher in December than a year earlier in 371 of the 372 metropolitan areas and lower in one area,” according to the report. The Detroit metro continued to post the highest level of unemployment – 14.9 percent  But Las Vegas saw the largest increase in their jobless rate, which grew by 4.4 percentage points over the past year. The number of metros with unemployment rates of more than 10 percent more than doubled from 42 in December 2008 to 138 in December 2009. Of regions with more than one million people, Oklahoma City and Greater Washington, D.C. posted the lowest unemployment rates – 6.0 and 6.2 percent, respectively.

The full list of unemployment by metro region is here.

Mike Dover
by Mike Dover
Thu Feb 4th 2010 at 2:38pm UTC

Quitting on Twitter or #madashell.notgonnatakeitanymore

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

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Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, announced his resignation via Twitter, deploying haiku to boot. His message:

Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more

This illustrated his frustration surrounding the acquisition by Oracle.

Normally, I recommend (especially to young people) to resist the urge to be cheeky and keep it to the point and be professional. This article suggests that Conan O’Brien should have been more diplomatic, although his détente final words may have cleared things up.

What was your most creative quitting story? What quitting fantasies have you had?