America’s Opportunity City: Lots of New Jobs and a Low Cost of Living Make Houston a Middle-class Magnet

By Joel Kotkin and...July 17 2014

Appearing in: 
The City Journal

David Wolff and David Hightower are driving down the partially completed Grand Parkway around Houston. The vast road, when completed, will add a third freeway loop around this booming, 600-square-mile Texas metropolis. Urban aesthetes on the ocean coasts tend to have a low opinion of the flat Texas landscape—and of Houston, in particular, which they see as a little slice of Hades: a hot, humid, and featureless expanse of flood-prone grassland, punctuated only by drab office towers and suburban tract houses.

Growth, Not Redistribution the Cure for Income Inequality

By Joel KotkinJuly 17 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

Ever since the publication this spring of Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st Century,” conservatives and much of the business press, such as the Financial Times, have been on a jihad to discredit the author and his findings about increased income inequality in Western societies. Some have even equated growing attacks on inequality with anti-Semitism, with at least one Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Tom Perkins, comparing anti-inequality campaigners to Nazis.

There Will Be No Real Recovery Without The Middle Class

By Joel KotkinJuly 11 2014

Appearing in: 
Forbes

What if they gave a recovery, and the middle class were never invited? Well, that’s an experiment we are running now, and, even with the recent strengthening of the jobs market, it’s not looking very good.

Over the last five years, Wall Street and the investor class have been on a bull run, but the economy has been, at best, torpid for the vast majority of the population. Despite blather about our “democratic capitalism,” stock ownership is increasingly concentrated with the wealthy as the middle class retrenches. The big returns that hedge funds, real estate trusts or venture capitalist receive are simply outside the reach of the vast majority.

Energy Preferences to Play Big Role in November

By Joel KotkinJune 30 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

The November election will be played out along all the usual social memes – from gay marriage, racism and immigration to the “war against women.” But what may determine the outcome revolves around one key economic issue: energy. This has all come to a boil now as President Obama has backed an Environmental Protection Agency effort to accelerate tougher emissions standards, something that could shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants and slow fossil fuel development across the country.

Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1%

By Joel KotkinJune 28 2014

Appearing in: 
The Daily Beast

When our current President was elected, many progressives saw the dawning of a new epoch, a more egalitarian and more just Age of Obama. Instead we have witnessed the emergence of the Age of Oligarchy.

The outlines of this new epoch are clear in numerous ways. There is the diminished role for small business, greater concentration of financial assets, and a troubling decline in home ownership. On a cultural level, there is a general malaise about the prospect for upward mobility for future generations.

The Cities Stealing Jobs From Wall Street

By Joel Kotkin and...June 27 2014

Appearing in: 
Forbes

When we think about American finance, the default image is of a pinstriped banker on Wall Street. But increasingly financial services is shifting away from the traditional bastions of money.

In an analysis of recent and longer-term employment trends, we have identified the large cities –those with over 450,000 jobs – that are gaining jobs in financial services, a sector that employs 7.9 million people nationwide.  Overwhelmingly, the fastest growth has been in cities not associated with high finance, but largely low-cost Sun Belt cities, which account for seven of the top 10 large metro areas on our list.

European Style Going Out of Fashion at Ballot Box

By Joel KotkinJune 24 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

The recent political earthquake in Europe has great implications for the United States, both internationally and domestically. The unpopularity of European Union institutions produced record-breaking votes for a motley assortment of anti-establishment parties across the Continent, suggesting it’s time to stop looking across the Atlantic for role models as Europe’s dismal prospects have inspired the lowest levels of political support in several decades.

America's New Industrial Boomtowns

By Joel Kotkin and...June 19 2014

Appearing in: 
Forbes

David Peebles works in a glass tower across from Houston’s Galleria mall, a cathedral of consumption, but his attention is focused on the city’s highly industrialized ship channel 30 miles away. “Houston is the Chicago of this era,” says Peebles, who runs the Texas office of Odebrecht, a $45 billion engineering firm based in Brazil. “In the sixties you had to go to Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. Now Houston is the place for new industry.”

California's Choice - Growth or Decline

By Joel KotkinJune 16 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

I’ve been friends with Charlie Sena for almost two decades. Charlie, a longtime entrepreneur, Democratic political operative and fundraiser for former Gov. Gray Davis, recently chided me about what he sees as my “negativity” about California and its future. My response was that, given its natural advantages, this region should not be in such a weakened condition. Decline, I suggest, is not an imperative here, but largely a choice.

Inland California Needs to Get in the Zone

By Joel KotkinJune 16 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

California’s dream is shrinking inexorably, and only radical steps can prevent the condition from becoming permanent. Compared with previous economic expansions, fewer state residents and communities are benefiting from this recovery, which has largely been restricted to the small coastal zone surrounding the Bay Area, as well as certain parts of western Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

Watch What You Say, The New Liberal Power Elite Won’t Tolerate Dissent

By Joel KotkinJune 07 2014

Appearing in: 
The Daily Beast

In ways not seen since at least the McCarthy era, Americans are finding themselves increasingly constrained by a rising class—what I call the progressive Clerisy—that accepts no dissent from its basic tenets. Like the First Estate in pre-revolutionary France, the Clerisy increasingly exercises its power to constrain dissenting views, whether on politics, social attitudes or science.

Shaking Off The Rust: Cleveland Workforce Gets Younger And Smarter

By Joel KotkinJune 05 2014

Appearing in: 
Forbes

In virtually every regional economic or demographic analysis that I conduct for Forbes, Rust Belt metro areas tend to do very poorly. But there’s a way that they could improve, based in large part on the soaring cost of living in the elite regions of California and the Northeast. And one of the rustiest of them appears to be capitalizing on the opportunity already: that perpetual media punching bag, Cleveland.

Pandering to the Minority Vote

By Joel KotkinJune 02 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

As they approach what could be a troublesome election season, Democratic party strategists have targeted two issues – inequality and race – as their primary means to prevent another shellacking in the mid-terms.

But given the growing dominance of wealthy and overwhelmingly white gentry liberals, the class issue could prove troublesome, particularly given the tepid performance of the economy.

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs 2014

By Joel Kotkin and...May 27 2014

Appearing in: 
Forbes

In the town of Verona on the rural fringes of Madison, Wisc., there’s a Google-like campus that houses one of the country’s most rapidly growing tech companies, and one of the least well known. Founded in 1979, the medical software maker Epic has grown to employ 6,800 people, most of whom work at its 5.5 million-square-foot headquarters complex, which sprawls over 800 acres of what was farmland until the early 1990s.

Three-headed Democratic Party

By Joel KotkinMay 26 2014

Appearing in: 
Orange County Register

As they face the midterm elections with the wind in their faces, Democrats increasingly stake their collective political future on the issue of inequality. The topic has great resonance, given the economy’s vast preponderance of benefits to the very rich and the almost obsessive focus on the issue by the mainstream media.

Joel on Reason.tv

Watch the full sized video at Reason.com.


Watch Joel in this feature on the role of central planning in Los Angeles. View large version.

Interview on Smartplanet.com

"Greenurbia is the suburbs of the future. The suburbs of the 1950s were bedroom communities for people who commuted into the city. Today, there’s much more employment in the suburbs, and the big change is the number of people working full-time or part-time at home. Having people commute from one computer screen to another doesn’t make sense."

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Praise for The Next Hundred Million

Kotkin has a striking ability to envision how global forces will shape daily family life, and his conclusions can be thought-provoking as well as counterintuitive. It's amazing there isn't more public discussion about the enormous changes ahead, and reassuring to have this talented thinker on the case. — Jennifer Ludden, NPR national desk correspondent

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