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August 31, 2007

Richard Florida

Bullies at Work

According to a new Zogby poll:

Half of working Americans (49%) have suffered or witnessed workplace bullying -- including verbal abuse, job sabotage, abuse of authority or destruction of workplace relationships, according to a new Workplace Bullying Institute/Zogby Interactive survey.

The study is here.

When I was a teenager in New Jersey, I took a summer job in a machine tool shop.  My job was cleaning the grease and metal chips off the floor, walls and machines. By days end, we were covered head to toe with grease and chips: Try scrubbing grease filled metal chips off your face sometime (ouch).  It was a rough place.  The machinists drank beer every break and smoked weed back out behind the factory. Fights were common. One day one of my high-school age peers, about 16 years old, was cleaning up around a machine and one of the machinists just hauled off and slugged him in the face, blood spewing everywhere. He broke his nose. I thought it was an isolated incident. I guess not.

For some insight into the reality of factory life, check out Ben Hamper's phenomenal Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line.

The Zogby study is disturbing showing how prevalent workplace bullying is: It is impossible for people to be creative in this kind of work environment.

Has this happened to you?

August 30, 2007

Richard Florida

A Nation of Immigrants

Charles Hirschman provides a solid history of immigration's impact on American society.Click here to download.

So, where does all that different firm productivity come from?  Why, from technology of course.  (It is the "canned" answer, but it does explain at least part of the difference.)  Both, me and my dissertation would argue that other innovations, including management skill, also plays an important role.

However, Stuart Elliot of the National Research Council’s Center for Education offers an interesting take on where the application of all this new technology is going to lead us....

To the displacement (nice way to say elimination) of 60% (yep, SIX-OH percent) of the current U.S. workforce (or at least the jobs they are doing).  In Projecting the Impact of Computers on Work in 2030, Elliot organized data on 93 of the 96 groups of occupations used in the Department of Labor’s Standard Occupational Classification system (information was not available for military-specific occupations). For each of these occupational groups, values were then provided on a seven-point scale for four types of skills: language, reasoning, vision and movement.

Using information about current artificial intelligence research and postulating on the exponential increase of computational processing power in the future, Elliot paints a picture of the functionality of computers in language, reasoning, vision and movement skills by 2030. As computers are able to complete certain tasks faster and more cheaply than humans, those tasks may shift from human performance to computer performance. For example, the study predicts that 90 percent of current office and administrative support occupations will be displaced by technology in this period. But not all occupations are expected to fair the same. Legal occupations, including lawyers, are only predicted to see 6 percent of their jobs displaced.

posted by Kevin Stolarick

Does the growing disparity in productivity rates of firms play a role in growing inequality? This study says yes (pointer via Tyler Cowen). Charlotta Mellander and I have been studying the  disjuncture between wages and income and their relation to human capital levels and creative occupations in our work on Sweden and the United States. This adds a new wrinkle to that conversation.

August 29, 2007

The Toronto Real Estate Blog puts it this way:

The market across Canada is hot-hot-hot, according to the Toronto Real Estate Blog. It quotes one real estate expert as saying, a "fiasco" like the US housing market can't happen, "because there is no sub-prime lending market here."

The full story is here, along with a related story on the white-hot market in Toronto.

What could account for such dramatically divergent patterns?

August 28, 2007

David Vickery writes:

So in a period of just six years America has transformed itself in the eyes of the creative class from the cool older brother who cound initiate you into what is new and exciting to the crazy drunk uncle, who you have to humor in order to minimize the damage he might cause.

The rest is here. Do you agree or disagree?

If you've been wondering what brought us to Toronto...

Last Tuesday, there was an event at the Rotman School to announce our new Prosperity Institute.  The Institute was spearheaded by the vision of Rotman Dean, Roger Martin, and underwritten with a generous $50 million gift from Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Province of Ontario, and a $10 million gift from Joe and Sandy Rotman. Additional fund-raising of an additional $50 million is underway I'll head the Institute with Kevin Stolarick as Associate Director.  Our goal is to make it the world's premier think-tank on place and prosperity.

Here's a story on the Institute's launch event Tuesday night. More - much, much more - to come.

We'd very much appreciate your thoughts on what might be the most novel and pressing areas for research, data development and projects?

August 27, 2007

Richard Florida

Consumer City


Graham Bowley

Cities may also be growing because individuals as consumers want to live there. In a discussion paper titled "Consumer City," Glaeser and co-authors Jed Kolko and Albert Saiz call this "the demand for density." People now want to live in dense areas because dense areas offer what people want to consume - opera, sports teams, art museums, varied cuisine. In France, for example, he and his fellow researchers found a robust correlation between the number of restaurants and the growth of cities.

The full story is here (pointer via Wendy Waters who has a bunch of great posts over at All About Cities). 

The conventional wisdom says homeownership is a growth spur. This was especially the case in the fordist mass production economy, where long-term employment was the rule for many and home-buying prompted purchases of automobiles, appliances and consumer durables.

Now, maybe not so much. That is, according to new analysis by Joe Cortright which suggests that homeownership may actually dampen economic performance in this highly mobile creative age.

More here (via CEOs for Cities.

Richard Florida

What Goes Around ...

Bill Fulton writes:

So I’ve finally had it with Joel Kotkin. ...Increasingly, it seems that the only thing we can count on him for – in newspaper op-eds, anyway – is to disagree with the conventional wisdom, no matter what it is. In fact, as time goes on, Kotkin – ever the contrarian – seems to spend more and more time disagreeing with planners and commentators who mostly agree with him.

It's a very thoughtful post and stays completely clear of any Kotkin-Florida debate issues, except perhaps indirectly.

The full story is here (pointer via Planetizen).