Posts Tagged ‘recession’

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Oct 9th 2010 at 9:15am UTC

Suburban Renewal

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

This is the longer, unedited version of my column in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Remaking our sprawling suburbs, with their enormous footprints, shoddy construction, hastily put up infrastructure, and dying malls, is shaping up to be the biggest urban revitalization challenge of modern times—far larger in scale, scope and cost than the revitalization of our inner cities.

What a dramatic shift. Just a couple of decades ago, the suburbs were the locus of the American Dream. More than their sprawling, large-lot homes and big wide lawns, their shopping malls, industrial parks, and office campuses accounted for a growing percentage of the nation’s economic output.  A good many of them formed into Edge Cities—satellite centers where people could live, work, and shop without ever having to set foot in the center city.

With millions of homes underwater or in foreclosure, our suburbs and exurbs have taken some of the most visible hits from the great recession. In a stunning reversal, big cities like New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle have become talent magnets at the same time, drawing ambitious people, empty-nesters, young-families, and even a growing number of offices back to their downtown cores. As inner city neighborhoods are being gentrified, blight and intransigent poverty are moving out to the suburbs, where one third of the nation’s poor now reside—1.5 million more than in cities, according to a Brookings study. And suburban poverty populations are growing at five times the rate of those in cities.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Oct 8th 2010 at 1:15pm UTC

What Makes Women Rich

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Women make up the majority of the U.S. workforce and an even larger majority of knowledge, professional, and creative workers. In a provocative and controversial essay in The Atlantic, Hannah Rosin argues that the post-industrial economy is better suited to the types of skills and capabilities women possess. The current economic crisis has been dubbed a “mancession” by some - as men in blue-collar jobs have borne the brunt of layoffs and unemployment.

But economic opportunity for women varies widely across the globe, according to an important new measure, the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, released recently by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The Index provides an empirical gauge of the status and opportunity afforded women across 113 nations. Spanning 26 separate variables on women in the labor market, educational outcomes and opportunity, women’s legal and social status, access to finance, and the general business environment, it is drawn from data from the World Bank, the UN, the International Labour Organization, the World Economic Forum, and the OECD, along with a series of new indicators.

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Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat May 8th 2010 at 1:02pm UTC

Reset Not a Typical Recession

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Check out the graph above via Catherine Rampell at The New York Times Economix (blog). It compares job losses in the current downturn to five previous recessions going back to the mid-1970s. The patten of job loss is far, far deeper than in any previous period and has extended for more than two years. By the looks of the chart, it appears that deep job losses may have ended and the pattern may be ticking up. Let’s hope so.

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Apr 17th 2010 at 9:00am UTC

Recession, Recovery… Remodeling

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

The National Bureau of Economic Research says we’re not out of the recessionary woods yet, though some think the economy is looking up. Floyd Norris of the Times, for one, thinks the numbers are pointed in the right direction. (More over at The Atlantic Wire). Restaurants certainly seem to be rebounding.

Today, I stumbled across another intriguing indicator. It’s called the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity – LIRA for short. Produced regularly by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the index measures “national homeowner spending on improvements for the current quarter and subsequent three quarters,” and aims to track “future turning points in the business cycle of the home improvement industry.” The graph charts the trend. (more…)

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Apr 12th 2010 at 9:00am UTC

The Great Reset and America’s Rebound

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I had a great chat with Dan Gross, one of my favorite economics correspondents, last week about resets and American adaptive capabilities. Dan wrote a terrific Newsweek story and we got to team up for a nice segment on Newsweek Radio 9.

“We are the most adaptive, inventive nation, and have proven quite resilient,” says Richard Florida, sociologist and author of The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity. If these impulses are embraced more systematically and wholeheartedly, the U.S. can remain an economic superpower well into the current century.

One thing that struck me was how my working-class father instinctively understood the power of America’s capacity to rebound and reset its economy and society. Here is how I described his words in my book Flight of the Creative Class:

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Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Wed Nov 25th 2009 at 10:11am UTC

Four Recessionary Impacts on Knowledge-Economy Workplaces

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

OfficeChairSky

About 14 months into the downturn in Canada, about 20 months in the U.S.A., and I’ve been examining how the recession has affected workplaces and what some longer-term implications may be. Today, I offer a Canadian perspective. I invite you to add your own. Next week I’ll try to create an American list, or compare and contrast the recessionary experience in the two countries.

Four ways the recession may have changed creative class workplaces in Canada

  1. The rapid spiral from booming economy to downturn in the fall of 2008 both forced and allowed many companies to re-focus, fast. Many quickly removed employees not seen as having a long-term future with the firm; they also sharpened scrutiny on various business lines or projects, canceling those not deemed likely to be profitable in the short term. In Canada, economists now say the job shedding happened much faster than in past recessions.
  2. For some employees, the “golden hand cuffs” came off and they have had an opportunity to move. For staff with bonuses tied to the profits of particular projects or the company generally, a down year can mean you’re not leaving as much money on the table if you quit. The significant increase in self-employed workers is likely a consequence of this. People are going out on their own.
  3. The government “may” start to recognize that North American economic future is in knowledge-work, high technology, more than old-style industrial manufacturing. In Toronto there are now more jobs in the Finance Insurance Real Estate sector (FIRE) than manufacturing (324,000 vs 316,000), and by early 2010 there will likely be more in Professional Scientific & Technical Services as well (at 315,000 now).  Already, the financial services industry in Toronto has created an alliance to educate and lobby the government to provide a further boost to this successful sector.
  4. As in the U.S., women’s jobs have tended to be less affected by the recession, which hit manufacturing and resource industries harder than service and knowledge work. This may be the start of a big shift in how families with children live and work as well.

What else?

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Sep 28th 2009 at 8:34am UTC

“Free” Agency?

Monday, September 28th, 2009

As previously discussed on this blog, in Canada this recession has pushed a number of people into self-employment. In the U.S., the trend has been less pronounced. Yet I suspect one part of the trend is happening, or soon will, in America – the move by many firms to hire “contract” employees who technically are not employees in that no deductions are taken from their pay and no extended medical or dental benefits are offered.

In Canada, some of the newly self-employed are launching new entrepreneurial start-up businesses that eventually may hire dozens of people or more. Entrepreneurship seems to be doing better in Canada than it has in a while.

But many “self-employed” persons are working on contracts in positions that were formerly salaried. A corporate recruiter recently explained the trend in the Globe and Mail:

Jeff Aplin, Calgary-based executive vice-president with David Aplin Recruiting, has also noticed a shift to more temporary work. Across Canada, he’s seen a surge of demand for contract consultants in accounting, engineering or IT to work a fixed term with a fixed task. “There’s definitely more appetite for a flexible work force” he says.

Because the 21st century economy will likely require the ability to adapt and change quickly, successful companies will likely want a certain percentage of their staff to be on fixed term contracts. Contractors may be a larger part of the future workforce.

Just because employers prefer it doesn’t mean those with talent to “sell” will want it. (And the unemployment rate in many skilled areas isn’t that high so, even in this down time, employees have some power here). Presumably, contractors receive some advantages, such as increased pay to compensate for the lower benefits.

So, for contractors, what are the advantages? What will employers need to offer in the future to have a healthy pool of contractors to choose from when they need them?

Do you primarily work on contract, doing work that others are paid on salary for?

Do you like the freedom? Or would you prefer a salaried position with set vacation allotments, benefits, etc.?

David Miller
by David Miller
Thu Sep 17th 2009 at 12:38pm UTC

Why Is That Entrepreneur Smiling?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

From WSJ writer Sue Shellenbarger’s Work & Family column (sub):

In the broadest, most-comprehensive survey yet of how occupation affects happiness, business owners outrank 10 other occupational groups in overall well-being, based on the landmark survey of 100,826 working adults.

The piece goes on to describe why, even during a stress-filled recession, business owners are generally happier than other working adults.

The findings, psychologists say, reflect the importance of being free to choose the work you do and how you do it, the way you manage your time, and the way you respond to adversity. Regardless of occupational field, the survey suggests that seeking out enjoyable work and finding a way to do it on your own terms, with some control over both the process and the outcome, is likely for most people to fuel satisfaction and contentment.

Does this sound like what you are seeing from entrepreneurs around you?

Check out the press release for more data and information from the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index.

Wendy Waters
by Wendy Waters
Mon Jul 13th 2009 at 9:54am UTC

Divergent Self-Employment Trends for Canada and U.S.

Monday, July 13th, 2009

In Canada, the number of self-employed people has been rising month after month during this recession. Recently, the thousands going into business for themselves have mitigated many of the employment losses and made the Canadian job numbers look reasonably rosy in comparison to the declines happening in the U.S.

The Globe and Mail referred to this as “The Do-It-Yourself” recovery.

On the one hand, this seems logical in a recession – losing a job can be the spark that pushes people into business for themselves. Yet, on the other hand, the same phenomenon does not appear to be happening in the United States. So, what’s happening and what’s significant?

The divergent self-employment trends may be an indicator of different employment, economic, and workplace trends in the two countries.

It should be noted that some economists argue that self-employment is inferior to full-time, salaried employment and thus should be considered an indicator of economic weakness rather than strength in Canada. However, because the numbers of self-employed are growing so early – when collecting EI benefits would still be an option – it suggests this shift to self-employment is more of a deliberate choice than a move made in desperation.

Also, the 55+ age group has been the dominant demographic group shifting into this category in Canada – it may be that well-educated baby boomers are seeking more flexibility and the option to “cash in” on their years of experience and extensive contacts made over the years. Because basic health care coverage is universal in Canada, the aging baby boomers may feel more free to leave their large employer (or not seek another if their employer laid them off).

Implications:

Could this give the Canadian economy the productivity boost (to catch up to American levels) that has been lacking? That is, in pure economic productivity terms, would it be more efficient for many corporations to hire the talent they need when and as they need it via contracting the self-employed?

From the talent’s perspective, could this be the style that allows much better control over work and life balance?

Can salaried staff and free agents work together on teams (when the free-agents might be working on several projects simultaneously for different companies)?

Flipping the coin, does it matter that the U.S. self-employment rate is not growing?

Your thoughts?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Jul 2nd 2009 at 2:15pm UTC

The Reshaping of America, cont’d

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The economic crisis appears to be causing a slight but noticeable shift from the suburbs to the cities, according to an analysis of recent Census data by Brookings demographer William Frey, reported in the Wall Street Journal.

“The central-city population in U.S. metropolitan areas with more than one million people (excluding New Orleans …) grew at an annual rate of 0.97% between July 2007 and July 2008 …That compared with a growth rate of 0.90% in 2006-2007, and growth rates around 0.5% in the years between 2002 and 2005, when the robust real-estate market led to new jobs and new housing developments outside the cities, where open land is more plentiful … Population growth in the cities has translated to slower growth in the suburbs. U.S. suburbs in metro areas greater than 1 million people grew at a 1.11% annual rate in 2007-2008, the same as a year earlier and down from growth rates between 1.29% and 1.48% between 2002 and 2005.”

The combined effects of the recession, job loss, and the housing crisis have made it more difficult for many to sell their houses, in effect locking them in place and slowing rates of residential and geographic mobility. Frey points out that:

“This shows cities were reviving at the end of this decade, and they are also surviving a recession that has been a lot harsher for other parts of our landscape …Cities are big enough and diverse enough that they are able to survive these ups and downs in the economy a lot better.”

And this is especially true of the biggest and most diverse cities, like New York and Chicago, which are hubs of large mega-regions, as well as magnets like greater D.C. and Silicon Valley which continue to draw in highly skilled and ambitious people from the U.S. and the world. Large Rustbelt cities, like Detroit, continue to lose people, and rates of growth in housing-driven Sunbelt cities have slowed considerably.