Thursday, May 30, 2013

Vancouver’s Livability Crisis

Latest blog post up at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Talent attraction versus talent development.

Subject Article: "Tens of thousands of Hongkongers return from Canada since 1996: Reverse exodus of tens of thousands of Hong Kong-born residents is the 'X-factor' in urban planning."

Other Links: 1. "From Hong Kong to Canada and back: the migrants who came home from home."
2. "Density Boondoggles."
3. "Reverse migration: why are Hong Kong's immigrants leaving Canada?"

Postscript: Digging deeper into other link #3:

The city makes a tremendous amount of money from the real estate industry, so it has a vested interest in keeping those cranes a-swinging; but to what end? Who will live in those apartments, and for how long will those units continue to sell?

The term I've used in the past was, "Vancouver's becoming a suburb of itself": Yan's take is a bit more nuanced. He wanted to be clear that Vancouver wasn't experiencing a "'Logan's Run' situation", but noted that young people are having increasing difficulties in putting down roots here: "This brings up an uncomfortable question about what kind of growth we’re encouraging here in Vancouver. Are we generating enough income and wealth on levels, scales, and distribution that can allow young workers to feel they have a secure place in the City? It's an interesting paradox: we're heading towards becoming a really expensive real estate market with surprisingly low local incomes."

Yan continues, "We don’t have a great tool for measuring the role of foreigners, no way to separate local speculators, outside investors, over-leveraged locals." This circles back to Yan's previous study-- often quoted and often misinterpreted-- that non-resident investment in Vancouver real estate leads to lopsided pricing and ghost-town neighbourhoods (*ahem* Coal Harbour *ahem*).

I'd go further and look at the most geographically mobile, foreign born or not. Some parts of the city are linked to economic globalization. Most parts aren't. Chicago is a good example:

“We’re not like Detroit, cordoning off sections of the city,” Benet Haller, Chicago’s principal adviser for planning and design, told me. “But we are like London or Jakarta, with a hyperdense core — a zone of affluence — and something else beyond.” What the housing crisis has revealed, in stark relief, is a Chicago that already looks increasingly like this vision of a ring city, with the moneyed elite residing within the glow of that jewel-like core and the largely ethnic poor and working-class relegated to the peripheries, the banlieues.

The globalized part of the city is thriving, world-class. "Something else beyond" is a Rust Belt nightmare of isolation and poverty. Richey Piiparinen and I noticed the same urban pattern emerging in Cleveland. Globalization is beginning to reshape that city. The question for planners, "What can be done about it?"

Friday, May 24, 2013

Geography of Aspiration

Late night comedy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Geography of the Talent Economy.

Subject Article: "Finding Yourself in American Cities."

Other Links: 1. "Why the Smartest People in the Midwest All Move To Chicago."
2. "About Silicon Prairie News."
3. "Boston Is Dying."
4. "What’s the Difference between Austin and San Francisco?"
5. "Rethinking human capital, creativity and urban growth."
6. "Do Big Cities Help College Graduates Find Better Jobs?"
7. "Philadelphia’s Reading Viaduct gets the ‘High Line’ treatment."
8. "The Rise of the Cupcake Class."

Postscript: Ambition and the opportunity to economically develop one's self is the attraction to Big City. Richard Florida's tolerance variable for luring the Creative Class doesn't make sense. It's a nice sentiment. But it doesn't help us model migration. Talent will run through brick walls such as intolerance. Immigrants aren't in the United States for well designed public spaces.

Migration Economies and Portland

Thursday morning meander at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: The perils of migration-fueled regional economic bubbles.

Subject Article: "What Workers Lose By Staying Put."

Other Links: 1. "Emigration Economic Stimulus."
2. "Regional Competitiveness and Quality of Life: The Case of Portland and Stuttgart."
3. "End Of Migration."
4. "Pittsburgh Migration of the Young, Single, and College Educated."

Postscript: Demographic trends are working against talent attraction strategies. A preview of a forthcoming post about Silicon Valley's migration economy:

“Human capital is sticky, and that’s really what drives economic growth in a region over the long term,” Berube said. “Silicon Valley relies on a lot of in-migration.”

Panelists who spoke after Berube from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Year Up and other educational groups said one untapped resource could help.

Gina Dalma, program officer for the Community Foundation, said Silicon Valley often gets so caught up in the global reach of its big companies that local would-be tech talent is overlooked.

“We need the message to be ‘where is our local talent?’” Dalma said.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Era of Dying Places

Tuesday evening ramblings posted at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: How demographic changes are restructuring the global economy with new winners and losers.

Subject Article: "Revenge of the Rust Belt."

Other Links: 1. "Illinois Labor History."
2. "Rust Belt Metro Educational Attainment."
3. "Local Area Unemployment Statistics for Pittsburgh MSA."
4. "Local Area Unemployment Statistics for Phoenix MSA."
5. "More Ascendant Pittsburgh."
6. "Pittsburgh’s “Brain Gain:” A Model for San Antonio?"

Postscript: I wish I had this post up prior to publishing "Portland is Dying." Demographic decline isn't the curse of a few losers. It defines the current post-recession economy. Migration boomtowns such as Phoenix and Portland may be out of luck. People are less mobile. Migrants are returning to Mexico. Robust population growth is increasingly rare. Pittsburgh has dealt with this reality for a few decades, fueling a quiet boom hiding under the pejorative of "shrinking city." I contend that a new economic paradigm was born in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gentrification in Buffalo

Latest post up at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Urban geography of the Talent Economy.

Subject Article: "Is Progress Pushing People Out in Buffalo?"

Other Links: 1. "Portland Is Dying."
2. "Sunburn Belt: Legacy Costs Of Sprawl."
3. "Urban Decline in Rust-Belt Cities."

Postscript: The Cleveland Fed uses a term I haven't encountered before, "reverse gentrification." It's normative. Gentrification is good. Reverse gentrification is bad. Are those the only two choices for neighborhoods?

Update: The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has the commentary back up. I previously linked to a cached version. I've updated the link at Pacific Standard, too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Portland Is Dying

Latest blog post is up at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Attempting to explain why Portland's labor force dropped by 25,000 people, year-over-year, after years of robust growth.

Subject Article: "Bureau of Labor Unemployment Statistics" for Portland, OR via Annalyn Kurtz.

Other Links: 1. "'Portlandia' Is No Joke: The City 'Where Young People Go To Retire.'"
2. "Seasonally Adjusted (Before 2000: CWIA,Since 2000: BLS) Pittsburgh MSA Labor Force - Monthly January 1970 to September 2012."
3. "Field Of Dreams Portland."
4. "Building Industry Clusters Via Brain Drain."

Postscript: The sensational claim of "x place is dying" stirs up controversy. That is unless we are discussing a Rust Belt city. We intuitively know those places are dying. The contrast between Pittsburgh and Portland is ironic. Concerning the metric of labor force, Portland (not Pittsburgh) is dying.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Geography of Isolation

Link to Pacific Standard magazine blog post.

Theme: Forget density, even educational attainment. Migration is what matters.


Other Links: 1. "How Migration Makes the World Brainier."
2. "Naypyidaw-on-Hudson: Isolated capitals are more corrupt."

Postscript: I'm toying with the idea that migration is more important than education. Knowledge transfer makes the world go round. Innovation is a function of geographic mobility.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Silicon Valley Decline

Latest post up at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: As the Innovation Economy diverges, more and more places effectively engage in the war for talent. That's bad news for talent attraction champion Silicon Valley.

Subject Article: "Montreal Is Growing Its Own High-Tech Workers."

Other Links: 1. "International Migration is Projected to Become Primary Driver of U.S. Population Growth for First Time in Nearly Two Centuries."
2. "Shrinking City Myths."
3. "Keep Pittsburgh Weird."
4. "Talent Attraction Crisis."
5. "New Findings: Seasonal Foreign Agricultural Workers Create American Jobs."
6. "The Brain Gain: The Rise of San Antonio’s Talent Economy."

Postscript: The contrast between Portland and Pittsburgh is instructive. For the Innovation Economy, Portland is a winner. It is a magnet for talent. For the Talent Economy, Pittsburgh is a winner. It is a magnet for businesses starved for innovative talent. Talent production is the name to today's game.

Suburban Chic

Tuesday post for Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Suburban brownfields are the new greenfields.

Subject Article: "In Poor Margins of Paris, New Recipe for Success Is Local."

Other Links: 1. "Cleveland's old Slovenian neighborhood eyes a popup revival."
2. "Our Story."
3. "Rust Belt Reboot Has Downtown Cleveland Rocking."
4. "Rust Belt Chic Paris."

Postscript: The "Soft City" has moved from London to the suburbs of Seattle. Whereas the urban environment has been suburbanized. The loss of the romantic Soft City ideal is lamented. If you want the urban frontier, you'll find it in places such as Lakewood.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Captive Labor Markets and Migration

Latest post over at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: How declining geographic mobility in the United States is creating captive labor markets.

Subject Article: "Why aren’t Americans moving anymore? Here’s a new theory."

Other Links: 1. "Rethinking post-national citizenship: The relationship between state territory and international human rights law."
2. "Parochial Pittsburgh Meets Global Pittsburgh."
3. "Assessing the Impact of Location on Women's Labor Market Outcomes: A Methodological Exploration."
4. "Benefits of Bowling Alone."
5. "Mobility Paradox."

Postscript: The most geographically mobile do not need labor unions to take on management. Migration economically empowers individuals, people. Whereas tethering a person to a place is social injustice. Policies aimed at plugging the brain drain are wrong.

Shrinking City Myths

Late Sunday night musings for Pacific Standard.

Theme: Making better sense of Rust Belt demography.

Subject Article: "Rust-Belt Reaches for Immigrant Tide."

Other Links: 1. "Mayor of Rust."
2. "Braddock."

Postscript: Shrinking cities in an age of global aging demographics should focus on quality instead of quantity. The obsession with population numbers is an artifact of another era, a dying mesofact.

Restaurant Talent Migration

Last Friday's post at Pacific Standard.

Theme: How migration and knowledge transfer have transformed Pittsburgh's dining scene.

Subject Article: "Replanting the Rust Belt."

Other Links: 1. "Chef appeal: Pittsburgh's growing restaurant scene attracts staff from bigger cities."
2. "Spoon, Salt land DC dining heavyweights."
3. "Warning: Your reality is out of date. Introducing the mesofact."
4. "Brain gain in rural Minnesota."

Postscript: Where am I going with this post? The diffusion of pork butcher technologies from Germany to England. Innovation depends on migration.

Cuba’s Talent Export Strategy

Catching up on my Pacific Standard blogging, leveraging Cuban brain drain.

Theme: Thinking about what a talent export economy looks like.

Subject Article: "Cuba's greatest export? Medical diplomacy."

Postscript: The Cuban example is troubling. Is medical talent able to come and go to Brazil? Captive labor? Slave labor? Human trafficking? Cuba doesn't own its talent. The country acts like it does.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Benefits of Bowling Alone

Latest blog post at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Too much social capital impedes geographic mobility.

Subject Article: "Study: Higher levels of homeownership can kill jobs."

Other Links: 1. "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community."
2. "Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown: Civic Infrastructure and Mobilization in Economic Crises."
3. "Adecco chief calls for EU jobseekers to be more ‘mobile’."
4. "What Workers Lose By Staying Put."
5. "Heliocentric America."
6. "Does High Home-Ownership Impair the Labor Market?"
7. "Chicago’s Yearning Years: A Conversation with ‘The Third Coast’ Author Thomas Dyja."

Postscript: The subject article link does not appear in the blog post. But that post did inspire my digression. I am building up to the thesis that economic globalization is only possible with less social capital. Globalization favors those who can operate in an environment with less social capital (i.e. migrants). Globalization punishes the parochial.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Third Coast Diaspora

Latest blog post at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic outmigration from global cities such as New York and Chicago.

Subject Article: "Chicago’s Yearning Years: A Conversation with ‘The Third Coast’ Author Thomas Dyja."

Other Links: 1. "Beware the 'Density Cult'."

Postscript: I think my references to the density cult are misunderstood because the impacts of urban density are uncritically accepted as the gospel truth. Chicago is not a great city because it is dense. Chicago is a great city because so many people living there hail from someplace else. To quantify it, read this paper about "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity."

Saturday, May 04, 2013

How the Internet Should Increase Geographic Mobility

Latest blog post at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: How is the Internet impacting human migration patterns?

Subject Article: "Move over: Falling labour mobility in America may reflect a more efficient market."

Other Links: 1. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."
2. "It’s Not the People You Know. It’s Where You Are."
4. "How the Internet is boosting marriage rates."

Postscript: Link #4 inspired this blog post. I'm riffing off of Tyler Cowen's thinking about the best of the internet revolution is yet to come and remembered the findings discussed in the subject article. I've discussed the subject article before, focusing more on Enrico Moretti's point about the disparity in geographic mobility between Europe and the United States. My theory is that too much social capital gums up migration. People are more risk averse. Cities, because they attract so many migrants, operate in an environment with much less social capital. Thus, they tend to be less risk averse and more entrepreneurial. It is migration, not density, that makes a city so productive.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Talent Retention Subsidies

Latest post at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: A look at the efficacy of policies designed to plug the brain drain.

Subject Article: "Michigan 'brain drain' bill would give tax credits to college graduates who stay in state, pay loans."

Other Links: 1. "Anatomy of an Ohio Brain Drain Boondoggle."
2. "Michigan Talent Economy."
3. "Talent Migration Models"

Postscript: The underlying issue for regional talent management is xenophobia. Local talent is better than talent from elsewhere. Generally, the opposite is true. Parochial talent pools are more risk averse, less entrepreneurial. A good example is the critique of Kansas Rural Opportunities Zones:

Program proponents say the incentives will improve the quality of rural communities and increase the labor pool. But state Sen. Marci Francisco says the program benefits people from outside the community while doing nothing to help those who have been there from the beginning.

Benefit locals first is really benefit locals only. Economic development is myopic. A focus on individual talent, instead of place, is more effective.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Talent Geography 101

My first post at Pacific Standard is up.

Theme: How talent migration explains the economic geography of energy industry clusters.

Subject Article: "From bog to bayou: Cities are bound by oil and gas" at Fuel Fix blog.

Other links: 1. "Children of the Congo who risk their lives to supply our mobile phones."
2. "Ernest George Ravenstein: The Laws of Migration, 1885."

Postscript: I didn't address other possible explanations for the economic geography of energy industry clusters. Also absent is a discussion of knowledge transfer and migration, which is the underlying theory supporting talent migration as the best explanation of economic geography. I will explore this more in future posts at Pacific Standard.