Friday, October 18, 2013

China's Pittsburgh Moment

Demographic decline informs better policy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic economic development.

Subject Article: "Where Have All the Workers Gone? China's Labor Shortage and the End of the Panda Boom."

Other Links: 1. "The Brain Gain: The Rise of San Antonio’s Talent Economy."
2. "Chris Briem, Regional Economist, Urban and Regional Analysis."
3. "Post-Soylent Pittsburgh."
4. "A very brief history of Pittsburgh: The rise, fall and rebirth of the city that built America."
5. "The single biggest change in Pittsburgh since the 1980s......"
6. "Demographic Trends and the City of Pittsburgh."
7. "Maybe I need to issue a press release: City of Pittsburgh now 'younger' than the United States....."
8. "I don't even know how far back you have to go to find the last time that was true."

Postscript: A passage from the Foreign Affairs article about China's labor shortage that I wanted to write about but didn't fit the blog post:

The new generation of migrant workers, by contrast, hardly worked on the farm, if ever at all, and often never saw their parents doing field labor either. Recent studies from Chinese think tanks have shown that these new migrants are less motivated by simple financial opportunities than by their own career advancement and individual interests. Moreover, they tend to put a premium on social justice and fair treatment. These lifestyle considerations make living closer to home, family, friends, and a familiar dialect and culture (which range as much in China as do the modern-day variations of Latin spoken in different corners of Europe) as important as their salary, if not more so in some cases.

Every region in the United States is in the talent attraction and retention game. However, the strategies and tactics employed are divorced from actual studies of migration patterns. What do Millennials want? I sat across from a Columbus, Ohio real estate developer at the International Economic Development Council conference in Philadelphia. The roundtable discussion was titled, "They're Just Not That into You (But They Could Be): Attracting and Retaining Young Professionals." About half of the people there for the chat fit into that category and the real estate developer was keen to know what they wanted. What I heard is that cool amenities didn't matter. Big fish, small pond did. They wanted to make a difference. They would migrate in search of that opportunity. But that qualitative data doesn't fit into a real estate developer's model. Such is the current state of regional talent management in the United States.

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