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May 03, 2007

« Beyond the Third Place? | Main | Cities and Speed »

For this week’s “By the Numbers,” we’ve taken a look at which metros have at least 10% of the national employment for creative occupations. 

Granted, this approach leaves out medium and small-sized metros, but interestingly, you can start to see which major metros are controlling certain fields.   

Can you see a spiky occupational make-up?  Absolutely.   

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Advertising/ Marketing is dominated by New York in shear numbers.
  • LA and New York are the hotbeds for arts, media, and design.
  • Houston has a stronghold on engineering.   You can see this even more when the criterion is dropped to 8-9% of the national engineering workforce.
  • Washington, DC is a research town.   Boston is, not surprisingly, strong in biosciences.
  • Technology hotspots: Silicon Valley and Washington, DC.

You can download the full report with charts here: Download 10.pdf

What trends do you see?   Anything surprising?

(Special thanks to  Georgetown student Jim Kaminski for his assistance with this research.)

Next week... we'll take a look at occupational concentrations across the country.

posted by: steven


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Peter Christensen

I was a little surprised to see that Chicago, despite being the 3rd biggest metro, wasn't in the top 10% for any occupation. But I guess it makes sense since Chicago has a very balanced economy that mirrors the country as a whole, rather than being specialized like NY, LA, etc.


Peter -

I have been looking and thinking about these data Steven and Jim have generated for some time. I too was puzzled at first. But think of it this way. First off let me say I love Chicago: It is hands-down one of my favorite city-regions, But its growth seems to me to be predicated on its ability to absorb former headquarters and business service functions that use to happen in second and third tier cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit or even Dallas. Thus it is benefiting in this sense from globalization and the consolidation of the urban hierarchy. Also, in this sense, it is the last best old industrial economy city. It has not really generated any propulsive new industries of its own (that is in quite some time) nor has it developed specialization in leading edge sectors. That said, it is an employment region, one that is attracting talent, and unlike virtually every other older industrial city-region it has not become economically dependent upon education and health-care, which is a very good thing as these two sectors add little to regional wages or income.

But this does not mean it is diversified. It is simply not specialized. My sense of the way things are moving is that certain city-regions are coming to find diversity within specialization. Here I mean large global city-regions like New York or London or even San Francisco and LA. These city-regions are becoming leaders in more than one, or more than several key economic and occupational sectors. The specialized, global world is indeed becoming more spiky - something we all need to be aware of, if we are to even begin to cope with the massive economic and spatial inequality, and attendant social, cultural and political divides, it will continue to generate.

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