Archive for July, 2011

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 21st 2011 at 10:00am UTC

If Metros Were Countries

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Based on new data from the United States Conference of Mayors and The Council for the New American City annual U.S. Metro Economies Report

The above map highlights some of the U.S.’s largest metropolitan areas, comparing their Gross Metropolitan Products to the nearest Gross Domestic Product equivalents of countries. If nothing else, it provides an insight into the sheer scale of the U.S. economy, even when it is in crisis.  As I noted in an earlier post, 37 of the world’s 100 largest economies are U.S. metros.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 14th 2011 at 6:27pm UTC

The Geography of How We Get to Work

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The combination ofthe Great Recession, rising gas prices, and growing environmental concerns are causing may people to rethink how they commute. After housing, transportation is the biggest item American families spend money on, accounting for an average of 20 percent of a typical family’s budget. The sheer fact of car ownership can make the difference between who spends and who saves, and even which homes go into foreclosure, as I noted here.  Not to mention that being stuck in traffic ranks high on almost every list of the things that make us the most unhappy.

And yet for all that, America remains overwhelmingly a nation of drivers. Across the board, nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) of Americans commute to work by car and more than three-quarters (76.1 percent) drive to work alone, according to the most recent estimates from the American Community Survey.  Only five percent use public transit to get to work.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 7th 2011 at 5:29pm UTC

Paperback Edition of the Great Reset Available

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

A year ago, I published a book that argued that, for all the privations and dislocations of the economic crisis, it also provides us with the opportunity to make fundamental changes in our economy and society. I characterized these changes as a Great Reset, and I found similar moments in American history when new economic orders arose from the ashes of old ones, ushering in new eras of growth and prosperity. Since writing the book, I’ve been able to see for myself what I’ve long suspected: that Great Resets unfold not from top-down policies and programs but gradually, as millions upon millions of people respond to challenging economic times by changing the ways that they live.  The economic crisis has taught us the hard way that we need to live within our means, to forestall debt; it’s made us understand that we don’t have to define ourselves in terms of material goods, that we can achieve a more meaningful and sustainable way of life.

In my travels across the country, I’ve heard from people who are in the process of resetting their lives.  Young people just out of college tell me that they don’t want their parents’ suburban lifestyle; they’d prefer to find an affordable rental apartment in a city they love where economic opportunities are better. They don’t want to go into hock buying a big house and a big car, just so they can endure a long commute. Young parents tell me they’ve had to defer their dream of buying a bigger house with a backyard, either because they can’t afford it or don’t qualify for a mortgage. Instead, they’ve decided to stay put and renovate their city apartment or fix up their small house in an older, closer-in suburb.  Empty nesters tell me they’ve decided to sell the big house, sometimes for a lot less than they could have gotten for it a few years ago, and buy a smaller condo or house closer to their kids in the city.  These shifts, brought on by economic exigencies, are already adding up to a gradual but enduring change in the way we live – one that will prove every bit as consequential as the move towards suburban living was in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Jul 3rd 2011 at 8:00am UTC

Safety in Diversity: Why Crime Is Down in America’s Cities

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

This is a longer, more detailed, and more statistics-laden version of an op ed piece that ran in the Financial Times on Friday. As mysterious as the downward trend in crime may be (and as vexing a challenge as it’s posed to professional explainers), it’s obviously a welcome development—and is very possibly a bellwether of even more positive changes in our society.

Almost three years into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, with massive unemployment and pessimism rife, America’s crime rates are falling and no one—not our pundits, policemen, or politicians, our professors or city planners—can tell us why. As I wrote about here, there were 5.5 percent fewer murders, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults reported in 2010 than in 2009, according to the most recent edition of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report; property crimes fell by 2.8 percent over the same period and reported arsons dropped by 8.3 percent. And the drop was steepest in America’s biggest cities—which are still popularly believed to be cauldrons of criminality. “While cities and suburbs alike are much safer today than in 1990,” notes a recent report by the Brookings Institution, “central cities—the big cities that make up the hubs of the 100 largest metro areas—benefitted the most from declining crime rates. Among suburban communities, older higher-density suburbs saw crime drop at a faster pace than newer, lower-density emerging and exurban communities on the metropolitan fringe.”

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