Archive for the ‘Mobility - Who's Your City?’ Category

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun May 24th 2009 at 2:00pm UTC

Geography of Personality

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

MapScroll links to a series of “new and improved” maps of Big Five personality types from the expanded (Canadian) edition of my book Who’s Your City?. Based on data collected by Cambridge University psychologist Jason Rentfrow and his collaborators, these new maps ignore state and national boundaries and include the U.S. and Canada.

The first map is agreeable types.

The second is conscientious personalities.

The third is for extroverts who are more likely to move according to Rentfrow and company’s research.

The fourth is for open-to-experience personality types, also more likely to move.

The fifth is for neurotics.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue May 19th 2009 at 1:00pm UTC

Where College Grads Are Heading

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

This spring’s 2.3 million newly minted college grads are understandably worried about their economic future. Unemployment among their peers is on the rise, according to this analysis by Chicago-area employment services firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, which found the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds jumping to 13.2 percent this spring, up from 9.2 percent a year ago.

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that many of the past decade’s “youth magnet” locations are losing their appeal as economic opportunities whither in cities like Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, and others which led the nation in attracting young college grads from 2005 to 2007.

So where are this year’s college grads heading?

This recent survey lists the best places for college grads to launch their careers. New York City topped the list – despite the financial crisis – with eight in 10 survey respondents listing it as one of their top destinations. Second-place Washington, D.C. was named by 63 percent. Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and San Diego round out the top 10. And, remember, this is a list of the places that are best to find a job, not to have fun, go to great restaurants or clubs, make friends, or get lots of dates.

The list is heavy on big cities. It differs considerably from the Wall Street Journal’s youth magnet list, but it’s quite similar to a list my research team and I developed of the best places for recent college graduates which put big cities like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, and New York on top. (D.C. jumped to the top of the list when we factored affordability and cost into the mix).

The appeal of big cities stems from a simple economic fact – they offer thicker labor markets with more robust job opportunities across a wide number of fields.

Getting ahead in your career today means more than picking the right first job. Corporate commitment has dwindled, job tenure has grown far shorter, and people switch jobs with much greater frequency. The average American changes their job once every three years; the average American under the age of 30 changes their job once a year.

In today’s highly mobile and economically tumultuous times, career success also turns on picking a thick labor market which offers diverse and abundant job opportunities. For new grads, picking the most vibrant location is an important hedge against economic uncertainty and the risk of layoff.

So for you newly minted college graduates ready to jump at the first job you’re offered, now more than ever it’s important to gauge the vibrancy of the job market and economy you’re signing onto. Moving is an expensive and time-consuming proposition; mistakes are hard to undo. Maybe this place finder tool will help.

And, here again, the economic crisis appears to be reinforcing the position of America’s leading talent magnets while further eroding the status of both older manufacturing centers and sprawling Sunbelt centers, for a simple reason: the location decisions of young college graduates are critical to shaping the future of cities and city-regions. The likelihood that a person will move peaks at around age 25 and then declines steeply with age: a 25-year-old is three times more likely to move than a 45- or 50-year-old. The combination of declining housing prices and concentrating economic opportunity in large U.S. city centers is only likely to compound this trend.

CCE Editor
by CCE Editor
Wed May 6th 2009 at 8:00am UTC

Celebrating Words and Ideas

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

This weekend, instead of picking up your cumbersome Kindle, how about kicking it old school instead? You know, books and paper, readers and writers mingling… meeting authors in person, shaking hands, making eye contact. It’ll do your heart and soul good.

Dig into the feel-good feeling that books and knowledge can prompt by attending The Globe and Mail Open House Festival: A Weekend of Words and Ideas, which is being celebrated at the University of Toronto this weekend, May 8 – 10.

Richard Florida will be speaking on Friday, May 8 about his groundbreaking book Who’s Your City? and the critical importance of weighing the pros and cons of where you live. There’s plenty of advice out there about careers and relationships, but finding your place in the world, literally, is just as crucial to creating a happy life.

Richard himself has moved 17 times. And as you’ll learn by watching Bravo!’s Seamus O’Regan’s compelling interview with Richard for this Arts&Minds special, mobility is something that can enhance your life and career, but there are also costs to leaving behind the people and things you love.

What have been your personal trade-offs in choosing the right city to settle in? Have you given up a certain job or left behind family and friends? Have you traded off on hobbies for a certain lifestyle? Is your life stage winning out over your personality’s needs?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Apr 22nd 2009 at 5:54pm UTC

Mobility and the Reset

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Fewer Americans are moving than at any point in the past six decades (since the Census Bureau started tracking mobility). Fewer than 12 percent (11.9 percent) of Americans moved in 2008 compared to more than 20 percent in 1984-85. This is the result of the economic crisis and the housing slump which has essentially locked Americans in place. Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told the The New York Times:

“It represents a perfect storm halting migration at all levels, since it involves deterrents in local housing-related moves and longer distance employment-related moves. … [T]he U.S. population, often thought of as the most mobile in the developed world, seems to have been stopped dead in its tracks due to a confluence of constraints posed by a tough economic spell.”

The Economist makes much the same point arguing that housing has turned from “shelter” to “burden” – noting that “the social benefits of home ownership look more modest than they did and the economic costs much higher.”

The Census Bureau also reports that foreign immigration to America is down to its lowest point in more than a decade. Quite a devastating double whammy for the U.S. economy which draws considerable strength from labor mobility and inflows of foreign talent.

Economic recovery will turn on restoring both.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Apr 16th 2009 at 7:58am UTC

Who’s Your (Canadian) City?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Here’s is the Globe and Mail’s excerpt from the hot-off-the-press Canadian edition of Who’s Your City?.


Our cities are good, but they’ll need to be a lot better

The world is becoming more competitive – spikier – every day. And as we learned late last year, trying to grow an economy with financial capital alone leads to economic turmoil. Cities and regions increasingly need to invest in, and build up, their real capital – the kind that comes from the energy and talent of their people.Canada’s two biggest mega-regions – basically, the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor and the West Coast – clearly put the country in the global game. Yet they pale in comparison with the world’s largest mega-regions and cities, such as Greater Tokyo, Greater London or the powerhouse that stretches from Amsterdam to Antwerp and Brussels.

This country has done a reasonably good job of accommodating global talent, but it will have to do even better. To succeed, its cities must become destinations for the world’s best and brightest. They must ensure that newcomers can use all of their skills and talents to contribute to the nation’s economic prosperity.

Moreover, for all their exemplary social cohesion, Canada’s urban centres show signs of stress. Major cities, including Toronto, have sprawled relentlessly, adding rings of bland, sprawling topography around energetic urban cores.

Traffic congestion in urban centres is appalling, on par with the worst U.S. cities. Housing in the city cores, and in many suburbs, has become unaffordable in the major urban centres, pricing out precisely the creative types that give a city innovative and entrepreneurial energy.

Canadian cities have been spared, for the most part, the financial tumult and economic and social polarization that have marred so many American cities.

This means greater diversity in the urban centres, and many more families living in the cores. It means more social dynamism and a real sense of equality at street level.

However, a landmark report by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Urban and Community Studies documents the transformation of Toronto into three separate cities: an affluent core, a poor periphery and a declining middle-class zone. The same basic trend can be seen in Vancouver. Things have yet to reach the extreme level of economic, cultural, class-based and ideological segmentation seen in the United States, but the challenge is growing. And that is something Canadians need to be concerned about.

There is much to be done to strengthen the position of Canada’s mega-regions – and to overcome stale rivalries left over from the past century. Pitting East against West, or urban against rural, will stymie change here, just as the red-blue divide in the U.S. has distracted Americans from the far more urgent matter of getting ready for the world that lies ahead.

The “spiky” world is one of increasingly concentrated opportunity and greater social, economic and geographic inequality. The greatest challenge of our time is to find new strategies to overcome this accelerating morass of social polarization and economic inequality.

Toronto is one of few places in the world able to become the model of a full-blown, creative community, one that is sustainable and inclusive.

Some have suggested that my theory about a creative class is relevant only to a pampered elite -”yuppies, sophistos and gays” is how one critic put it – but they are missing the point. The most fundamental aspect of my work is the belief that every human being is creative. The real winners of the 21st century will do more than just provide an attractive climate for high-tech innovation, cutting-edge arts and entertainment (although that will help).

True success will turn on harnessing the full creativity of every single human being. This is not wishful thinking. It is part and parcel of the grand logic of economic development that requires more intensive, effective and productive use of human talent.

Right now, the most economically dynamic regions in the world tap the capabilities of less than half of their populations. But they are islands of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship surrounded by a sea of untapped capability. What about the other 60-plus per cent?

In particular, how do we harness the full capabilities of the millions of workers in the service industry; how do we make their jobs more creative, productive and fulfilling; and how do we ensure that their wages rise, making them the equivalent of those good, high-paying, secure manufacturing jobs of the past industrial age?

Harnessing the full talent of everyone is the real key to sustainable prosperity. Those places that manage to harness this talent most thoroughly will emerge as the key success stories of the new century.

With a long history of openness and tolerance, of investing in people, of inclusiveness and social justice, Canada’s cities and regions are among those with the best opportunity to accomplish sustainable prosperity. But Canada will require a new kind of social compact – a “creative compact” that goes beyond the provisions of social insurance, health care, basic education and the like, which defined the twentieth century.

This new creative compact starts from two key principles: that all human beings have a fundamental right to use their full talents and creative abilities; and that in doing so they all have the right to self-expression, which is the basic building material of creative and productive endeavours. These rights are not the icing on the cake of prosperity and progress – they are the cake itself.

Making the most of this opportunity requires leadership and sustained effort, but the benefits are beyond comprehension.

This article is adapted from the newly released Canadian edition of Who’s Your City? © Richard Florida. Published by Random House Canada. All rights reserved.

Richard Florida is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management


La dolce vita

In the new Canadian edition of last year’s Who’s Your City? Richard Florida sizes up the best places to live north of the border, depending on who you are.

SINGLES (Age 20-29)

1. Calgary

2. Iqaluit

3. Ottawa-Gatineau

4. Victoria

5. Yellowknife

6. Edmonton

7. Guelph, Ont.

8. Canmore, Alta.

9. Whitehorse

10. Montreal


1. Ottawa-Gatineau

2. Calgary

3. Whitehorse

4. Yellowknife

5. Iqaluit

6. Edmonton

7. Guelph

8. Victoria

9. Toronto

10. Montreal


1. Ottawa-Gatineau

2. Toronto

3. Calgary

4. Fredericton

5. Yellowknife

6. Guelph

7. Quebec City

8. Kingston

9. Hamilton

10. Montreal


1. Toronto

2. Ottawa-Gatineau

3. Calgary

4. Victoria

5. Canmore

6. Charlottetown

7. Vancouver

8. Montreal

9. Parksville, B.C.

10. Kingston

RETIREES (Age 65 and over)

1. Ottawa-Gatineau

2. Toronto

3. Calgary

4. Victoria

5. Montreal

6. Vancouver

7. Kingston

8. Quebec City

9. Guelph

10. Halifax

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Mar 30th 2009 at 1:37pm UTC

Who’s Your (Canadian) City?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The new Canadian version of Who’s Your City? is now in print. Media starts this week. Here’s the first review – a nice one – by Canadian urbanist Michael Dudley in the Winnipeg Free Press.

[P]lace matters so much to Florida that, upon his arrival in Toronto (to assume his post as professor of business and creativity at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto), he decided to revise for a Canadian audience his most recent book, Who’s Your City?, released a year ago.

This is no quickie “Canadian edition” with token references to Toronto thrown in: it is extensively rewritten, so much so that it almost constitutes a new book.

To be sure, Florida’s principal ideas remain much the same. We are still dealing with a “spiky” world of concentrated talent and economic clustering, not Thomas Friedman’s “flat” world in which location is of little consequence.

Florida describes how the “clustering force” tends to draw people and economic activity into certain key regions rather than to others. As a result, we are becoming segregated according to economic class and chosen urban lifestyles.

To demonstrate how talent, opportunity and quality of life criteria are distributed (and concentrated) north of the 49th parallel, Florida and his team of collaborators generated (or took advantage of) new data, new maps and new analysis. These are augmented by more than 40 life histories by Canadians describing their own place-finding experiences.

Unsurprisingly, Canada’s main mega-regions of Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa-Gatineau, and Montreal are most frequently cited as the best places to live. In fact, Florida’s new home of Toronto appears in the index no fewer than 57 times. Montreal follows with 31 page references, and Vancouver with 28.

Winnipeg, alas, is mentioned a mere three times, though two of these references emphasize our city’s creativity (did you know we boast 12 per cent of the country’s musicians with only 2.25 per cent of its population?).

More here.

David Miller
by David Miller
Thu Mar 19th 2009 at 8:12am UTC

WSJ: U.S. Migration Drops Sharply

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Conor Dougherty over at the WSJ highlights the slowdown in movement of people in the U.S. The article makes use of data being released today and covers the one-year period up until July 2008 – so the most severe/recent parts of this recession are not included. There are some interesting migration numbers from areas as diverse as Cleveland and Phoenix. From the piece:

Older metro areas such as New York and San Francisco, which have seen residents move to faster-growing areas, are now losing fewer people. Cities in the formerly hot housing markets such as Nevada and Florida are seeing fewer arrivals and, in some cases, more people moving out than in.

At the local level, more people are staying in the city and postponing their move to the suburbs. In 2005-06, metropolitan areas with one million or more people saw a net 688,000 people leave their core counties. In 2007-08, a net 336,000 left, according to an analysis of Census data by Kenneth Johnson, senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute.

“Fewer people are leaving the urban cores to go to the suburbs,” said Mr. Johnson.

Decisions like his help explain why a net 15,000 people left the Cleveland area for somewhere else in the U.S. in 2007-2008, compared with a net of 21,000 between 2005 and 2006. Sarasota, meanwhile, saw a net increase of 2,500 residents from inside the U.S., compared with as many as 20,000 during the boom years.

Interesting stuff. What is clear is that, like everything else in our modern economy, changes can be sharp; from major capital positions (Madoff’s billions) to human capital movement.

Btw, part of me wonders if less people are leaving the cities because they are trapped under high priced urban real estate? That concept has been discussed here. Any thoughts on any of the new data?

Zoltan Acs
by Zoltan Acs
Thu Mar 5th 2009 at 12:09pm UTC

All Boarded Up

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

In the New York Times, Alex Kotlowitz visits my home town of Cleveland, Ohio to find that it is all boarded up. I grew up in Cleveland right in the middle of it just a few miles from the famous Cuyahoga River. Cleveland was a modest town with lots of blue collar workers in scores of industries. The city had a very large and very substantial housing stock. Over the years, as industry declines, the creative class fled, and as technology evolved the city declines. When a city like Cleveland declines it leaves behind something, and that something is an abandoned housing stock. Cleveland now has between 10,000 and 15,000 abandoned and boarded up houses. Of course this is not new. When I was growing up in Cleveland, the whole east side of the city was abandoned, houses were torn down, and the Cleveland Clinic expanded in much of the space, the rest was left abandoned like my old neighborhood.

This is in part a legacy of industrial restructuring, the sub prime mortgage problem, and the long term subsidy to housing dating back to the great depression. Whatever the cause it seems to be well picked up by Richard in his article in the Atlantic. Cities come and go. In an article by Phil McCann and I we show that this has been the case for over 1,000 years and is nothing new. Baghdad 1,000 years ago was the most important city in the world.

The question is how do we deal with the housing abandonment in this country. For a large part of the problem is that we have an overstock of housing that no one will ever use. Should we start the write off of the trillions of dollars worth of old abandoned, or nearly abandoned housing, wipe the slate clean and just move on? Perhaps as Richard suggests we should just abandon the support for home ownership, eliminate the tax subsidy, and use the savings to clean up and abandoned housing mess.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Jan 30th 2009 at 8:53am UTC

The Mobility Paradox

Friday, January 30th, 2009
Nearly half of all Americans would like to move to a new place. Trouble is, the credit crisis and economic downturn have effectively locked them into their current location. Residential mobility levels approach record lows, according to recent reports by the U.S. Census and the Pew Research Center. USA Today’s Haya El-Nassar, one of my favorite trackers of demographic trends, reports:

Whether they favor cities, suburbs or the countryside, almost half wish they lived somewhere else, the report found. Denver, San Diego and Seattle are the top picks of the 30 largest metropolitan areas. Denver is the favorite city among Republicans, and it also rates well with Democrats and independents … In addition to Denver, favorite cities among Republicans are Phoenix, Orlando and San Antonio. Half of all liberals would like to live in San Francisco, more than double the share of conservatives. San Diego, once a bastion of conservatism, appeals to Democrats, liberals and moderates.

46% would prefer to live in a different type of community from the one they now reside. Adults 50 to 64 who live in cities are the least likely to say they live in the ideal place; two-thirds of those in that age group who live in the country say they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Young people are the opposite: 57% of urban dwellers younger than 30 say the city is where they want to live. … “Fewer than half of all city residents say there is no better place to live than in a city.” … A smaller proportion of women express the desire to live in the nation’s largest cities  … Wanting to live outside cities doesn’t necessarily mean people reject urban lifestyles, however. The appeal of developments with an urban flair — ones that combine housing, stores and offices in a neighborhood setting — is growing.

My main take away: America’s two great dreams – the dream of unlimited economic opportunity and to own a single family home – are running head on into one another. Home ownership means less economic mobility when you can’t sell your home. The big cost of the housing crisis may not be what’s happening in the financial markets, it may be the long-run competitive damage caused by sagging labor mobility and the inability to flexibly match the location of workers to the location of jobs.

Christian Unverzagt
by Christian Unverzagt
Mon Jan 19th 2009 at 5:05pm UTC

Out of Business (Intentionally)

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Steven Heller checks in with designer Stefan Sagmeister in Print Magazine about his second, self-imposed “year without clients” in Bali. Ever since his first sabbatical in 2001 (spent at home in New York City), Sagmeister now structures his business to allow for this period of experimentation once every seven years. And while he may have had the fortunate foresight to schedule this time away before the current economic downturn, recessionary times often lead to advances and innovation in design and the arts. With today’s uncertainly of not knowing if one will even be able to retire, why not make use of some of that time now and put it to work? What else might we learn from Sagmeister and his time away? “When attacked by hollow-eyed Balinese dogs, I can make them scatter by pretending to pick up a stone.”