Archive for July, 2010

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 30th 2010 at 4:30pm UTC

Internet Connectivity and Economic Development

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Across the world, two in 10 households have access to the Internet at home, according to a just released Gallup survey. Internet access at home was far greater in more economically advanced countries: Nearly eight in 10 people (78 percent) in countries where gross domestic product (GDP) is more than $25,000 have Internet access at home. Home Internet access drops off steeply in less affluent, less developed nations, according to the Gallup survey, especially in countries with less than $10,000 in per capita GDP. The survey is based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older in 116 countries, and was conducted in 2009.

The map above, by Zara Matheson of the Martin Prosperity Institute, shows the percentage of households with Internet connectivity, highlighting the top 10.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 29th 2010 at 11:00am UTC

Where the Highest-Paying Jobs Are

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Ever wonder where the highest-paying jobs in your field are? Now, courtesy of the Bureau of  Labor Statistics (BLS), we have some answers.

Late last week, the BLS released a report (via Catherine Rampell of The New York Times Economix) showing the U.S. metros with the highest-paying jobs in nine major occupational categories including: business, finance, and management; professional and technical work; service; office work; construction; and blue-collar production jobs, among others. The BLS measures what it calls ”average pay relative” which includes wages, salaries, commissions, and bonuses. And, its calculations control for differences in the composition of jobs, industry, firm-level, and occupational characteristics, and the fact that data are collected at different times during the year. As the BLS defines it: “The average pay relative for all occupations and each occupational group equals 100.” A figure above 100 reflects the percentage above the national norm, while values below 100 reflect the percentage below that norm.

The chart below shows the pay profile for a series of U.S. metro regions. San Francisco is highest, followed by Greater New York, Salinas, California, and Greater Boston, which are all above the U.S. norm. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 27th 2010 at 4:30pm UTC

Big Macs, Happiness, and Economic Development

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Last week, The Economist released its Big Mac Index (via Catherine Rampell of The New York Times Economix) which basically compares how much it costs to buy – you guessed it – a Big Mac in countries across the world. The magazine explains the index as a:

…lighthearted attempt to gauge how far currencies are from their fair value. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), which argues that in the long run exchange rates should move to equalise the price of an identical basket of goods between two countries. Our basket consists of a single item, a Big Mac hamburger, produced in nearly 120 countries. The fair-value benchmark is the exchange rate that leaves burgers costing the same in America as elsewhere.

And it goes on to note a number of caveats about it:

The Big Mac numbers should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. They are not a precise predictor of currency movements. The bulk of a burger’s cost depends on local inputs such as rent and wages, which tend to be lower in poor countries. Consequently PPP comparisons are more reliable between countries with similar levels of income. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Jul 24th 2010 at 9:00am UTC

Music as Economic Development

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Nashville is the Silicon Valley of the music industry – a concentrated cluster of musical talent,  venues, studios and all the inputs required to make music.  So it’s no surprise the city take the music business seriously.  In May 2009, the mayor launched a Music Business Council (h/t: Ian Swain -my MPI colleague, music project collaborator and DJ).  To signal the initiative’s importance, he sits on the council whose members not only include label execs and entertainment lawyers, but also musicians like Emmylou Harris and Jack White. The Council’s goals extend all the way from supporting and expanding the presence of music festivals in Nashville to aiming to develop the best music education program of any public school system in the world.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 23rd 2010 at 9:00am UTC

Music and the Mega-Region

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Nearly 40 years ago, the geographer Jean Gottmann documented the rise of the great megalopolis of Bos-Wash – the Boston-New York-Washington corridor – as a massive new kind of geographic form. My own research (PDF) has used satellite imagery to plot the rise of mega-regions – integrated systems of cities and their suburbs – across the globe. The world’s 40 largest mega-regions produce two-thirds of all economic output and nine in 10 of the world’s innovations. With their massive scale and market size, mega-regions are becoming a key economic and social organizing unit of our time.

But mega-regions are not only important to markets, economics, and technology, now it appears they are important to music as well. Case in point, the indie-rock band The Walkmen whose newest single was recently released. Half the band live in New York, half live in Philadelphia. They maintain recording space in both places, and recorded their upcoming album from BOTH studios. Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser described the logistics of their arrangement to Pitchfork in February: (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 22nd 2010 at 9:38am UTC

Pull Power

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

One of the high points of my visit to the Aspen Ideas Festival was spending time with two of my favorite thinkers, John Hagel and John Seely Brown who are partners in the Deloitte Center for the Edge and co-authors of The Shift Index and the recently published book, The Power of Pull with Lang Davison.

The authors describe the power of pull as follows:

Pull helps us to find and access people and resources when we need them-think of search engines as an example .But in a world characterized by unpredictable change, a second level of pull becomes increasingly valuable: the ability to attract people and resources to you that you were not even aware existed, but once you encounter them, you realize that they in fact are extremely relevant and valuable … Finally, we need to cultivate a third level of pull-the ability to pull from within ourselves the insight and performance required to more effectively achieve our potential.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jul 20th 2010 at 11:00am UTC

Urban Authenticity

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

America is awash in generica – from generic stores and generic malls to generic food and chain-restaurants. Anthony Bourdain, the culinary adventurer of No Reservations searches the globe for the authentic, the unique, the real. America’s older industrial cities have one great advantage on their side, he says – their urban authenticity.

“What went wrong here?” is an unpopular question with the type of city fathers and civic boosters for whom convention centers and pedestrian malls are the answers to all society’s ills but Harvey [Pekar] captured and chronicled every day what was–and will always be–beautiful about Cleveland: the still majestic gorgeousness of what once was–the uniquely quirky charm of what remains, the delightfully offbeat attitude of those who struggle to go on in a city they love and would never dream of leaving … A place so incongruously and uniquely…seductive that I often fantasize about making my home there. Though I’ve made television all over the world, often in faraway and “exotic” places, it’s the Cleveland episode that is my favorite–and one about which I am most proud …

As Joseph Mitchell once owned New York and Zola owned Paris, Harvey Pekar owned not just Cleveland but all those places in the American Heartland where people wake up every day, go to work, do the best they can–and in spite of the vast and overwhelming forces that conspire to disappoint them–go on, try as best as possible to do right by the people around them, to attain that most difficult of ideals: to be “good” people.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Jul 17th 2010 at 12:00pm UTC

The “Pro-Real” Experience Economy

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

It’s pretty well-known that our economy – and society – is transforming from one where wealth and prosperity came from industrial products and material goods to a system where new ideas, human creativity, and experiences play a greater and greater role. As societies become more educated and basic needs are fulfilled, the attention of their populations shift to favor experiences and self-actualization over physical goods and even luxury items – what sociologist Ronald Inglehart calls the rise of “post-materialist” values.

This shift can be seen in everything from the excitement around the sleek design and user experience of the Apple iPad to the rise in sales of organic, high-quality foods.

But my sense is that perhaps the best place to observe this transition is in the rapid evolution of the music industry. Music is a highly competitive business – one I like to think of as an innovative market in miniature. Musical entrepreneurs compete not only on the basis of musical talent and their ability to create new sounds and arrangements, but also on fashion, design, business acumen, and even spectacle. Music was one of the first industries to experience the brutal effects of the digital transition, and it’s clear that the ability to make money has shifted – even for the most established acts – from selling albums, CDs, and even digital downloads to live performance and, well, designing experiences. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 16th 2010 at 1:54pm UTC

Food and the City

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Food is increasingly a key element of the city and of city life. Ever at the cutting-edge of trends that are reshaping the city, Chicago Mayor Rich Daley has become the No. 1 ambassador for the city’s world-class food scene, according to this report in The New York Times.

The mayor’s pride in Chicago’s growing stature in the world of haute cuisine was on display again this week. After Mr. Daley spent much of last week in Idaho at a conference of the nation’s news media moguls, his next two public appearances in Chicago involved promoting the local gastronomy scene

The mayor made a stop at the French Pastry School on Monday to promote its expansion into new teaching kitchens at the City Colleges of Chicago. The school’s chefs had recently visited City Hall to present the mayor with a chocolate replica of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup trophy. The mayor beamed below the brim of a tall chef’s hat” …  “He’s the best cheerleader for the industry that anybody could ask for,” said Sheila O’Grady, the mayor’s former chief of staff who is now president of the Illinois Restaurant Association.”

Money quote: “These chefs, to me, represent the creative class of society,” Mr. Daley said. “We have to realize how important they are to the city.”

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jul 16th 2010 at 10:00am UTC

Cities and the Offshoring of Work

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Traditionally, the United States has worried about the offshoring of manufacturing jobs. But concern is mounting that as the rest of the world becomes increasingly well-educated and competitive, the desirable and high-paying service jobs previously considered immune to moving overseas are becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In a widely cited 2007 study, economist Alan Blinder estimated that between 22 and 29 percent of U.S. jobs were vulnerable to offshoring as of 2004. In a sobering Wall Street Journal op-ed published earlier this month (via Economist’s View), economists Martin Neal Bailey, Matthew Slaughter, and Laura Tyson provide evidence that the global competition for jobs is heating up considerably. They note that multinationals have long been among the most important economic drivers of the U.S. economy, accounting for an estimated 19 percent of all private jobs, 25 percent of all private wages, and 41 percent of the increase in private labor productivity since 1990. Then they cite a McKinsey study based on personal interviews with senior executives from 26 of America’s largest companies that finds the U.S. faces an unprecedented level of competition to “attract, retain and grow the operations of multinational companies that it’s never faced before.”

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