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January 30, 2007

Richard Florida

New talent studies

« Davos does demography | Main | Dangerous politics of a spiky world »

I use the occupational statistics from the Bureau of  Labor Statistics all the time. But it's also worth noting that the Bureau's researchers produce some of the best research on regional trends and on talent shifts around.  Here are links to some of the best studies of the past year.

New report on the Washington DC regional economy
:  It shows how Northern Virgina has emerged as a second center and also how the region is less dependent on government employment, more diversified and the nation's leading concentration for business and professional services.

Manhattan's economy since 9/11

New Orleans economy after Katrina

Foreign-born workforce

Global labor market comparisons

Occupational changes since 1900

Workforce projections out to 2050

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Comments

Ryan Zelnio

I read the new report on DC article summarized in the Washington Post this morning and I had several problems with it.

First, the time frame was rather large in that there has been a large shift in government during that time period. Since 1990, we have seen the federal government move towards privatization of many of its functions especially under Clinton and then a small resurgence in federal hiring under Bush. This study would have been much more interesting if the data was trended on a yearly or even 5 year increments.

Along this same line of thought, with the shrinking of federal government you have many of the same functions now being performed by the private sector with their chief client being the government. Page 5 of this report identifies this even (which the post article did not) by pointing out that the largest growth area in Fairfax was in "Professional and business services" which is now doing the government's job.

With this in light, a more accurate statement is that the economy in Northern Virginia is less dependent on direct federal employment and is now more dependent on federal contracts. This is in sharp contrast to more creative economies like Silicon Valley and Boston which are pursuing more entrepreneurial activities outside of federal contracting.

Richard

Ryan - Nicely said. This is a general challenge in the Greater DC region. It is exacerbated by the lack of premier technical centers on the order of Stanford and MIT, though certain government institutions substitute for that to a degree. I also think that Northern Virginia faces tremendous challenges moving forward, with housing, shifts in household composition, and even more so with traffic congestion and eroding quality of life. The traffic there is a "nightmare" and from what I understand companies are beginning to relocate as a result; commercial real estate firms also say it is harder to rent space in NoVa then it has been. My sense is that this will drive higher density development back toward older inner-ring suburbs, like Arlington and into the District, as has been occurring. What amazes me most about all of this is the fractured and fragmented nature of governance in greater DC region, the lack of regional leadership and the unwillingness to develop strategy on a regional basis. Compare this for example to Silicon Valley. In recent months both Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Bay Area Council have issued major reports. These groups are back by their region's leadership and committed to analyzing and acting on regional trends and issues. Where did the Greater DC report come from--the federal government. It's high time for this region to grow up and start to face its problems and put resources and talent into this. Growth covers a lot of "sins" for the time being, that is.

DJM

Also, one wonders of NoVa will suffer from the passage of the a statewide gay marriage ban last november.

this one will take time to play out, but it will be interesting to watch... perhaps those who find this measure repugnant will move into DC or MD and continue working in NoVa.

could turn out to be a major 'cultural' issue that drives creativity and innovation out of NoVa?

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