One hundred and fifty years after twin defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg destroyed the South’s quest for independence, the region is again on the rise. People and jobs are flowing there, and Northerners are perplexed by the resurgence of America’s home of the ignorant, the obese, the prejudiced and exploited, the religious and the undereducated.
Our tepid economic recovery has been profoundly undemocratic in nature. Between the “too big to fail” banks and Ben Bernanke’s policy of dropping free money from helicopters on the investor class, there have been two recoveries, one for the rich, and another less rewarding one for the middle class.
Viewed in this light, the recent run-up in home prices, the biggest in seven years, offers some relief from this dreary picture. Home equity accounts for almost two-thirds of a “typical” family’s wealth (those in the middle fifth of U.S. wealth distribution); there is no other investment by which middle-class families can so easily grow their nest eggs.
This is the introduction to "Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century," a new report by Joel Kotkin. To read the entire report, download the .pdf attachment.
Over the past 60 years, financial services’ share of the economy has exploded from 2.5% to 8.5% of GDP. Even if you believe, as we do, that financialization is not a healthy trend, the sector boasts a high number of relatively well-paid jobs that most cities would welcome.
Yet our list of the fastest-growing finance economies is a surprising one that includes many “second-tier” cities that most would not associate with banking.
One of Orange County's top executives asked me over lunch recently why Southern California has not seen anything like the kind of tech boom now sweeping large parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. In many ways, it is just one indication of how this region – once seen as the cutting edge of American urbanism – has lost ground not only to its historic northern rival, but also to some venerable East Coast cities, as well as the boom towns of Texas and the recovering metropolitan areas of the Southeast.
In the wake of the post-2008 housing bust, suburbia has become associated with many of the same ills long associated with cities, as our urban-based press corps and cultural elite cheerfully sneer at each new sign of decline.
Conventional wisdom for a generation has been that manufacturing in America is dying. Yet over the past five years, the country has experienced something of an industrial renaissance. We may be far from replacing the 3 million industrial jobs lost in the recession, but the economy has added over 330,000 industrial jobs since 2010, with output growing at the fastest pace since the 1990s.
When Steve Jobs died in October 2011, crowds of mourners gathered outside of Apple stores, leaving impromptu memorials to the fallen businessman. Many in Occupy Wall Street, then in full bloom, stopped to mourn the .001 percenter worth $7 billion, who didn’t believe in charity and whose company had more cash in hand than the U.S. Treasury while doing everything in its power to avoid paying taxes.
A new, and potentially dominant, ruling class is rising. Today’s tech moguls don’t employ many Americans, they don’t pay very much in taxes or tend to share much of their wealth, and they live in a separate world that few of us could ever hope to enter.
A year or two ago, pundits and planners, in California and elsewhere, proclaimed – and largely celebrated – the demise of suburbia. They were particularly heartened by a report, financed by portions of the real estate industry, that predicted the market for single-family homes in the state was hopelessly flooded, with a supply overhang of up to 25 years.
The 2013 edition of our list shows many things, but perhaps the most important is which cities have momentum in the job creation sweepstakes. Right now the biggest winners are the metro areas that are adding higher-wage jobs thanks to America’s two big boom sectors: technology and energy.
Perhaps no idea is more widely accepted among urban core theorists than the notion that higher population densities lead to more productivity and sustainable economic growth. Yet upon examination, there are less than compelling moorings for the beliefs of what Pittsburgh blogger Jim Russell calls “the density cult,” whose adherents include many planners and urban land speculators.
The “silver lining” in our five-years-and-running Great Recession, we’re told, is that Americans have finally taken heed of their betters and are finally rejecting the empty allure of suburban space and returning to the urban core.
As a Truman-style Democrat left politically homeless, I am often asked about the future of the Republican Party. Some Republicans want to push racial buttons on issues like immigration, or try to stop their political slide on gay marriage, which will steepen as younger people replace older people in the voting booth. Others think pure market-oriented principles will, somehow, win the day.
The recent announcement that Jerry Brown is studying "fracking" in California, suggests that our governor may be waking up to the long-term reality facing our state. It demonstrates that, despite the almost embarrassing praise from East Coast media about his energy and green policies, Brown likely knows full well that the state's current course, to use the most overused term, is simply not politically and economically sustainable.