Monday, March 31, 2014

Los Angeles Is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pittsburgh

Peak immigration to Los Angeles at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demographics.

Subject Article: "The Generational Future of Los Angeles: Projections to 2030 and Comparisons to Recent Decades."

Other Links: 1. "The International Trade of Talent."
2. "Post comment on 'The International Trade of Talent.'"
3. "Seasonally Adjested (Before 2000: CWIA, Since 2000: BLS) Pittsburgh MSA Labor Forde - Monthly January 1970 to September 2012."
4. "Not voting with their feet."
5. "Hell With the Lid Taken Off."

Postscript: What if a region's baseline "normal" is an aberration? Compared to the 1980s, the demographic decline of Los Angeles looks dramatic. Over the long haul, there isn't a reason to panic. Whatever your perspective, more and more places are going down the same demographic path Pittsburgh forged over the last century. Demographic decline is the new normal.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The International Trade of Talent

Net migration and international trade balance don't matter at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demographics.

Subject Article: "(Mis)leading Indicators: Why Our Economic Numbers Distort Reality."

Other Links: 1. "Peak Talent."
2. "Brain Drain or ‘Outward Mobility’?"
3. "Border Guard Bob Says, ‘Pittsburgh Is Dying’."
4. "The Diaspora Report: 'Come to Sunny Pittsburgh!' OK, it's a stretch. But we can try."
5. "Diverging Demography of Baltimore and Africa."
6. "Exposing inadequacies in emigration policy."

Postscript: I really wrote the post so I could quote,  “It is not possible for emigration from 21-century India to be managed under 20 century law inspired by a 19-century mindset.” Ironically, I had to force it in there given the meat of the Foreign Policy article. Given a chance to sleep on it, I can make more sense of the marriage today. But it all really came together minutes ago on Twitter. To archive the thought, population growth is the manufacturing economic development metric of the 19th century. Educational attainment is the innovation economic development metric of the 20th century. Migration is the legacy economic metric of the 21st century. Just floating that out there for now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The STEM Talent Shortage Debate

No STEM talent shortage at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: War for talent.

Subject Article: "The Myth of the Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage."

Other Links: 1. "The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage: American students need to improve in math and science—but not because there's a surplus of jobs in those fields."
2. "Peak Talent."
3. "Robert D. Atkinson: President Information Technology and Innovation Foundation."

Postscript: A headline from yesterday's (March 25th) The Vancouver Sun, "Mind the gap: Are you ready to compete for global talent?" The opinion piece warns about a looming "critical skills shortage" for British Columbia and all of Canada. Today's (March 26th) headline in The Vancouver Sun, "Canada is not facing labour or skills shortages: Findings question government's position that jobs are vacant due to lack of homegrown skilled employees." I'll take the word of a labor economist (latest headline) over that of The Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia who authored the op-ed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Talent Is the New Oil: OPEC of Tech

Extending the metaphor that talent is the new oil at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographic decline.

Subject Article: "Revealed: Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees."

Other Links: 1. "Checkmate for cheap unconventional gas: Shale reserves are not a miracle; they are a high-cost source of fuel."
2. "Work and the ‘problem of demographics.’"
3. "Peak Talent."
4. "Microsoft Vancouver responds to immigration woes: The company will open an office in Vancouver in order to retain foreign workers without being subject to H-1B restrictions."
5. "It’s the Birth Rate, Stupid."

Postscript: Presaging a forthcoming post, another problem to consider is declining geographic mobility:

“There has been a large downward trend in mobility that goes back at least a few decades and (it) has been there as prices go up and down,” he said.

Schulhofer-Wohl and his research partner see a bigger factor keeping workers from moving as much: local labor markets are growing more uniform and less specialized. There aren’t very many places like Silicon Valley boasting a strong concentration of one kind of job.

“The kinds of jobs you can get and the money you can earn varies less around the country than they used to,” he said. “There’s less reason to move because of the kind of job you can get.” ...

... Even as Americans are making fewer moves between states, Sinclair’s own research suggests workers are mobile in a different way: they’re willing to move to new professions. Sinclair saw a pattern when studying use of the online job website

“One of the dramatic things we’re seeing is that people are very keen to look at other occupations,” she said.

Emphasis added. Silicon Valley has niche thick labor market. You can move around within the industry easily. Startup failed? No problem, plenty of other tech jobs open for you in the Bay Area. In other regional job markets, there are more opportunities for a career shift. You don't have to stay a techie in Pittsburgh.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Peak Talent

Peak talent is the new peak oil at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographic decline.

Subject Article: "Slumping Fertility Rates in Developing Countries Spark Labor Worries: Birthrates Fall in Thailand, Raising Concerns about Aging Population."

Other Links: 1. "Talent Is The New Oil."
2. "Shale Gas And Talent Geopolitics."
3. "Age Problem: Projected year of working-age population peak."
4. "Hong Kong Is Dying."
5. "Asia's Rise: Don't believe the hype about the decline of America and the dawn of a new Asian age. It will be many decades before China, India, and the rest of the region take over the world, if they ever do."
6. "Putin is violating a rule that was designed to prevent World War Three."
7. "Plugging China's talent pool."
8. "Can Chinese 'immigration deficit' be cut in future?"
9. "A Second American Century."

Postscript: I guess I'm hitching my wagon to the talent-is-the-new-oil metaphor. I already term places such as NYC "talent refineries". Universities are talent extractors, the energy companies. Places such as Pittsburgh are resource-rich fields where the good stuff is easy (i.e. inexpensive) to mine. The low-hanging fruit is pretty well picked over with demand ever-increasing as new markets develop economically. We've entered an era of difficult-to-extract talent, which requires considerable innovation and investment.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ironic Gentrification and the Migration of Globalization

Explaining urban Rust Belt gentrification at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Globalization and migration.

Subject Article: "Housing Affordability in New York State."

Other Links: 1. "Behind a Blue-Collar Cliché: 'The Office' and returning natives help Scranton, Pa., stage a comeback."
2, "Why New Yorkers Are Moving to Philly and What It Means for Our City."
3. "Extensive and intensive globalizations: explicating the low connectivity puzzle of US cities using a city-dyad analysis."
4. "Fleeing Greater Density for Lower Taxes."
5. "Economic Geography of Eds and Meds."
6. "Safeguarding against gentrification, city seeks to protect residents near Medical Campus before a spike."
7. "A Cost-Control Lesson From an Unlikely Source."

Postscript: If I am right about globalization and gentrification spreading via talent migration, then local policy won't do much to address the problem of housing affordability. I'm skeptical of calls for more liberal zoning regulations and increasing units of housing as way to mitigating residential displacement. I think the key is what kind of jobs are linked to a given neighborhood. This geography is largely absent from the debate about gentrification because it doesn't fit within preferred narratives (e.g. Neil Smith's "revanchist city").

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Connecting Neighborhoods, Not Nations: Small Geographic Scales of Globalization

The geography of globalization is quite small at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Globalization and migration.

Subject Article: "Small proves beautiful at boutique banks."

Other Links: 1. "America's 1,000 Richest Neighborhoods."
2. "The Dozen Regional Powerhouses Driving the U.S. Economy."
3. "Welcome to a new world of risk-aware globalisation."
4. "Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life."
5. "Geography of the Legacy Economy: Mapping the Next Boom."
6. "Urban Islands of Poverty and Bowling With Strangers."

Postscript: I figure the genesis for this post started with the book "Borderless Economics" by Robert Guest. Migrants become agents of globalization. Brain drain is a good thing. Isolation (i.e. no people movement in or out) means crushing poverty. For Guest, the lines of global commerce are the pathways of migrants that connect two places and unleash innovation. But Guest's geography is one of international migration connecting two countries. What about within a country such as the United States? Some places are isolated (e.g. Rust Belt cities). Even within the most globalized cities, neighborhoods are left behind. One doesn't move from Cleveland to New York City. One relocates from Shaker Heights to Greenpoint. Two neighborhoods are connected, enabling a back flow of globalization and, I contend, gentrification.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Geography of the Legacy Economy: Mapping the Next Boom

Legacy Economy reshuffling second tier of the US urban hierarchy at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demographics

Subject Article: "Las Vegas may be missing key aspects to attracting investors."

Other Links: 1. "Spare a thought for Silicon Valley’s rust belt: More cost-cutting to come at suppliers of corporate technology."
2. "Did Robots Save Pittsburgh?"
3. "Cities make use of legacy assets."
4. "San Francisco’s Detroit Moment."
5. "Wall Street to shift more staff out of pricey cities."
6. "The New Geography of Jobs."
7. "The slow death of Silicon Roundabout: Scattering Shoreditch's startups to the winds may not kill them all – but the creative energy that inspired them has gone."

Postscript: I could have done a post on Other Link #7. That story is about the gentrification of the start-up culture from Silicon Roundabout. The ironic gentrifiers, international students:

But in 2010, the council started approving the demolition of these buildings and their replacement with high-rise, commercial student housing that targets wealthy overseas students. The first major development inaugurated a welcome new alleyway that connected a former dead-end with East Road, with an unironic official street sign that read "Silicon Way".

The complaint is audacious in its naked xenophobia, much in the same way Spike Lee's complaints about the gentrification of his Brooklyn were.Still, what a fascinating indicator of the power of the Legacy Economy. London real estate is dear. Housing of international students rates as a good return on investment. Higher education is pushing out tech innovation from the urban core.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Warm Januaries and Cold Julys: Climate Doesn’t Affect Human Migration Patterns

Dispelling the myth of climate amenities migration at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demography.

Subject Article: "Is Chicago Too Cold to Compete With the South?"

Other Links: 1. "Randy Pausch's Last Lecture."
2. "Randy's Story."
3. "Figure 1. Temperature and State Growth, 1920-1980."
4. "Altered States: A Perspective on 75 Years of State Income Growth."
5. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel Makes First International Trip To Mexico City."

Postscript: Aaron Renn's summary of the impact of climate reputation on talent migration:

The reality is that the Midwest and Great Plains are already known for their lousy winters, and this particularly brutal one can’t be helping with near term recruitment. I don’t want to overstate the impact, but clearly it doesn’t help someone choose to live there vs. San Francisco, Austin, or even a Washington, DC.

I can imagine that someone given two choices for residence would pick the warmer January. Furthermore, people do move in hopes of finding paradise. But such migration is the exception, not the rule. Calgary, Alberta isn't booming because its climate beats Vancouver's. I live in the DC metro area. Traffic sucks. Housing is super expensive. Many people feel compelled to do insane commutes. And people keep moving here.

The positive correlation between warmer Januaries and robust population growth is strong. That doesn't mean that a better climate (or lower taxes) drives migration.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Demographically Speaking, Cleveland Is Outperforming Chicago

Future looks brighter in Cleveland than in Chicago at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Ironic demographics.

Postscript: Besides the replication problem, there are other issues with the Chicago/Cleveland comparison. Given how the brain drain/gain is counted in each newspaper story, Chicago is to Cleveland as apples are to oranges. However, the overall ironic brain drain in Cook County and ironic brain gain in Cuyahoga would seem to be valid. Richey is still sifting through the Cleveland data. The trends are shockingly good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What Talent Shortage? The Great American Brain Waste of Our Captive Labor Market

No talent shortage and no brain drain, only brain waste at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: War for talent.

Subject Article: "Women’s salaries dragged down by domestic demands."

Other Links: 1. "Purdue research: Lots of 'brain waste' among highly educated immigrants."

Postscript: Linking brain waste to my recent preoccupation with higher education demographics, Oregon State University making lemonade out of lemons:

Into Oregon State has a 12-person student care team that offers workshops and personal counseling on cultural issues that go far beyond the academic: dating etiquette, notions of personal space and privacy, driving and drinking laws, attitudes toward mental health, body language, and standards of interaction with peers, faculty members or even, if needed, the police.

The most prestigious American schools have no shortage of foreign applicants and have their pick of the best. But most colleges and universities are relatively unknown worldwide and lack the resources to do overseas recruiting. And while the supply of students abroad who want an American education is immense, the number who are actually prepared for it is much more limited.

A number of for-profit companies have stepped into that breach, offering recruitment services or college preparatory boot camps, but a handful offer something more ambitious, working with American colleges to create bridge programs for foreigners, a more common practice in Britain and Australia. Six years ago, there were no programs of that kind in the United States, but now at least 15 American universities have them, working with companies like Into and Study Group, both based in Britain; Navitas, an Australian company; and Kaplan Inc., with more scheduled to come on line.

Emphasis added. Essentially, there is a talent shortage of foreign born college students. Instead of blubbering to government about the lack of ready-to-work as corporations do, universities are assuming the risk of "training" in order to tap a larger available demographic. Stop whining about the shortage of talent and go about fix the problem yourself.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Border Guard Bob Says, ‘Pittsburgh Is Dying’

Intolerant Pittsburgh can't retain local graduates at Pacific Standard magazine.

Theme: Demographics and brain drain.

Subject Article: "How Pittsburgh can up its game in brainpower."

Other Links: 1. "The Era of Dying Places: Everyone Is Starved for Talent, but Migration Is a Thing of the Past."
2. "Atlanta Is Dying: Young, Smart People Are Fleeing Georgia’s Capital City."
3. "Mayor working to keep more Tech grads."
4. "The Business Journals' brainpower rankings for 102 major markets."
5. "Sic Semper Bob."
6. "How now brown town? A former steel city is now proclaiming its cleaner land and clever minds."
7. "Border Guard Bob comes out of retirement."
8. "The Robots That Saved Pittsburgh: How the Steel City avoided Detroit’s fate."
9. "Preventing a Brain Drain: Talent Retention in Boston."
10. "New startup conference aims to halt Boston brain drain."
11. "Boston Is Dying."

Postscript: Pittsburgh needs to retain more local college graduates because the educational attainment rate of the workforce is relatively low via national comparison. But the educational attainment rate of Pittsburgh is relatively low because of the demographic bomb that went off in the 1980s and 250,000 people left the region. Talent retention isn't a time machine. I'm disappointed in Mayor Peduto. The people of Pittsburgh deserve better leadership.