The Portland metro area's young college-educated white men are slackers when it comes to logging hours on the job, and that's one reason people here collectively earn $2.8 billion less a year than the national average. ...
... The study seeks to explain why the metro area's per-capita income has fallen 5 percent below the national average as of 2010, down from 5 percent above it in 1997.
It finds that metro Portlanders tend to choose majors, careers and work hours that lead to low pay. It portrays greater Portland as populated by humanities majors, designers, artists and teachers who work and earn less than in the vast majority of metropolitan areas.
Thems fightin' words. The barbs aside, Portland does have a problem. The region attracts talent for the sake of attracting talent. All that clever placemaking isn't paying off in the realm of economic development. People will take less pay to live in a cool place.
Cool is not an economic development strategy. Portland is a beautiful city. It's lousy at developing people. The focus on urban amenities is great for real estate developers. That's about the extent of the benefits. In exchange, you get gentrification and depressed wages.See Brooklyn and 15 interns crammed into a closet, all dependent on one roommate's trust fund.
But New York City develops people, perhaps better than any place on earth. The labor market is thick. No such ROI for the oblomovshchina in Portland. Not that they care. Economic opportunity isn't the draw.
PDX doesn't have to be NYC in order to thrive economically. In fact, throngs of slackers may not be such a bad thing after all. Austin and the Goldilocks Hypothesis:
Lets create a different standard to measure our cities along a spectrum of intensity, because I think that’s where they key differences between Austin and SF are.
Start at one end with Portland, “the city where young people go to retire,” then place Austin somewhere right in the middle, and then have San Francisco be on the other end, the super intense end.
Portland is a city that I cannot spend more than a few days a time in. I can’t stay too long because I know if I stayed a day too long in Portland, I’d suddenly be happy to embrace the slow pace of the city and stop working my ass off. I’d end up getting sleeping real late every day, drink some coffee, maybe write some poetry on my porch (or not), and then find a part time job selling cigars like I had in college.
Emphasis added. Point taken. From now on, I'll distinguish between slackers and the oblomovshchina. Austin is a college town, a place of personal economic development. Portland is a dream. Build it and they will come ... and do nothing.