Archive for the ‘Rankings’ Category

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Mar 11th 2009 at 4:48pm UTC

Happy States Map I

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

(Gallup Organization via NYT Economix). Click here for map fun.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Mar 3rd 2009 at 12:50pm UTC

This Just In…

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Joel Kotkin writing in Forbes has apparently just discovered that cities like New York and San Francisco are unequal and (get this) that such rising inequality threatens social cohesion and long-run economic prosperity.

Higher costs–manifested in everyday expenses like sales taxes and energy bills–now contribute in a large way to growing inequality even in the richest, most elite cities. When housing and other costs are factored in, notes researcher Deborah Reed of the left-leaning Public Policy Institute of California, deep-blue mainstays Los Angeles and San Francisco rank among the top 10 counties in America with respect to the percentage of people in poverty. Only New York and Washington, D.C., do worse.

Here’s a list of the most unequal large metro regions -those with over 1 million people – from way back in 2003.




San Jose, CA



Raleigh-Durham, NC



New York, NY



Middlesex, NJ



Orange County, CA



Dallas, TX



Boston, MA



San Francisco, CA



Washington, D.C.



Houston, TX



Could this be related to the world being… ahem… spiky?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sun Feb 22nd 2009 at 12:46pm UTC

America’s Emptiest Cities

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Las Vegas takes top spot, followed by Detroit. Atlanta, Greensboro, and Dayton round out the top five. Phoenix comes in sixth. No surprises there. But, I was surprised frankly to see Chicago make the list. Here’s the full list, from, based on fourth-quarter rental and homeowner vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country. Curiously, there is considerable overlap with this Forbes list of the places where home sales are rising fastest.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Jan 27th 2009 at 9:22am UTC

The M-List

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

A-list, B-list, C-list. Now the M-list – M is for Meltdown. The Guardian put together this list of the 25 people “at the heart of the meltdown.” Do you agree? And do you think history will be harsh on all of them?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Dec 24th 2008 at 1:07pm UTC

America’s Most Literate Cities

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

1. Minneapolis and Seattle (tie)

3. Washington, D.C.

4. St. Paul

5. San Francisco

6. Atlanta

7. Denver

8. Boston

9. St. Louis

10. Cincinnati and Portland, Ore. (tie)

The ranking is based on six key indicators: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources for cities with populations of 250,000 or greater. (via USA Today). My eyeball analysis suggests this ranking is reasonably though not entirely correlated with levels of human capital and the creative class.

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Mon Oct 27th 2008 at 5:58am UTC

Who’s Best? Tampa Bay or Philadelphia?

Monday, October 27th, 2008

No, not the baseball teams! Which is the better city?

In a light-hearted nine-inning match-up, I compare the two cities head-to-head in the categories we normally use to rank places for quality of life. The categories include such areas as climate, crime, economy, and housing.

Which wins?  Gritty Philadelphia or sun-splashed Tampa Bay?

After nine hard-fought innings, the winner is crowned in the World Series of Cities.

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Thu Oct 2nd 2008 at 4:37pm UTC

Sperling Goes Freaky(nomics)

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

The Freakonomics guys (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner) have invited me to answer reader questions on their blog in the New York Times.

My work is all about finding “Best Places,” and studying differences between the cities, metros, and communities of the U.S. and Canada. So it dovetails nicely with Richard’s work in Who’s Your City?

I hope you’ll check it out and ask some questions of your own. We’ll take questions for about three days, and then answer them in another post.

“Best” always,


Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Tue Sep 30th 2008 at 8:39am UTC

Milken Index

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The 2007 edition of the Milken Institute’s top performing metros is out. Here’s the top ten.

1. Provo-Orem, Utah
2. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina
3. Salt Lake City, Utah
4. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
5. Huntsville, Alabama
6. Wilmington, North Carolina
7. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
8. Tacoma, Washington
9. Olympia, Washington
10. Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina

What do you think? Does this list jibe with your own thoughts and indicators of America’s top-performing places?

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Fri Sep 19th 2008 at 2:25pm UTC

“Learning” is not “Smart”?

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Here’s something interesting…

So Maclean’s did a nice article about a recent study measuring “Learning,” from the Canadian Council of Learning. The name of the article is “Canada’s Smartest Cities.”

But I wondered about the difference or connection between Smarts and Learning, so I did a search of the meaty 45-page report – and found zero (nada, zilch, l’oeuf) instances of the word “Smart.” The authors were plainly sensitive to the issues surrounding labeling something as “smart.”

I’ve wondered about this frequently. Is it elitist to value higher education?  By celebrating smartness, are we in essence devaluing those who have not had the opportunities or chosen the path to higher learning?

I confess, I enjoy being around smart people. I find a strong connection between well-educated people and those who are open, tolerant, inquisitive, far seeing, and inclusive. But I’ve also found some of the most maddening people in well-educated professionals – rude, selfish, entitled, unsympathetic, and petty. (They make me want to hang out in a trailer park, or some other low-rent neighborhood where anything goes.)

I still think that the educational attainment of city or community is one of the best measures of a place’s quality of life.  Generally, better-educated citizenry make tougher and better decisions for the future, and see value in making a community better for all, not just their peers.

Bert Sperling
by Bert Sperling
Thu Sep 18th 2008 at 1:18am UTC

Learning Mega-Study: Needs Focus?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Maclean’s magazine contacted me last month to ask for my comments about a recently released mega-study of “lifelong learning.” The subject of the piece was the 2008 Composite Learning Index (CLI), from the Canadian Council on Learning.

Here’s a link to the Maclean’s article, which has some insightful quotes from CCG’s Kevin Stolarick, and some boring ones from me.

The Maclean’s article is a good overview of the ambitious CLI study, but it’s really worth a look in its raw form. Here is the home page for the Composite Learning Index, and the 2008 report itself.

Your time is valuable, so let me just give you my thoughts about the study, having done many similar ones over the last 25 years or so.

  • First, it’s huge in scope - too big, in my opinion, for any valuable insight. By covering so much, it dilutes its results by including sometimes conflicting measures.
  • The study attempts to quantify “learning” in large and small cities and towns across Canada, nearly communities in all. In an apparent effort to value everyone everywhere, all types of learning are included such as use of the Internet; recreation and sports participation; buying and reading printed matter; attending live performing arts; travel time to nearby museums, libraries, and business/civic associations; expenditures on social clubs; attending church; volunteering and socializing with other cultures; as well as the more common measures of high school and university graduation rates and student test scores. These are all valuable metrics, and all worthy of their own study. By mashing them all together into one index, some insights are undoubtedly lost.
  • Many of the metrics are based on estimates of household expenditures for various metrics. I did not find a list of specific sources, but in my experience household expenditure data is based on a national model, and adjusted for each geographic area, usually on the basis of income. It is unlikely that individual differences between communities are revealed, except as a function of income. Rich places spend more, poor places less.
  • Some measure of the quality of the resources should be attempted, not just the proximity to libraries,  schools and universities, museums and art galleries. It’s much different having access to a world-class museum with rotating exhibits, instead of a small-town one-room museum with the usual few bones, muskets, baskets, and pottery (charming though they are.) Use annual attendance figures or budgets to estimate the quality of the experience, or average entrance scores to rank universities.
  • There are four major segments of the study, based on the type of learning – Knowing, Work Experience, Community, and Personal Development. These would best remain segregated. It’s appealing to combine them all into one super-score but, like mixing many colors together, insights are lost.

All in all, the CLI is a wonderfully ambitious attempt to quantify “learning” and provide a road map for the future. But a Swiss Army knife is rarely the best tool for the job, or even any job. By dividing the components of the study into more meaningful sections, better insights may be gained.

Have a look and tell me what you think. Do their rankings fit with your experience?

Best, Bert