Middle Class

Taking Flight from Asia

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Viewed from a 50-year perspective, the rise of East Asia has been the most significant economic achievement of the past half century. But in many ways, this upward trajectory is slowing, and could even reverse. Simply put, affluence has led many Asians to question its cost, in terms of family and personal life, and is sparking a largely high-end hegira to slower-growing but, perhaps, more pleasant, locales.  read more »

There’s Real Economic Development Gold in El Dorado—Arkansas

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For centuries, explorers searched for the legendary golden city of El Dorado, seeking instant wealth in the jungles of South America. But today’s treasure trove may be found much closer to home; cities like El Dorado, Arkansas, for example, that have successfully linked their economic development strategy to improving the educational attainment of their residents.  read more »

Middle-Wage Jobs That Have Survived, and the States That Are Fostering Them

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Middle-skill jobs are in the same camp as green jobs, STEM jobs, and other groups of occupations that garner lots of attention: They can be defined many ways, by many rubrics. Regardless of the definition, however, it’s clear that middle-skill, or middle-wage, jobs have been in decline for years.  read more »

Twitter And The Real Economy Of Jobs

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With Twitter’s high-profile IPO, the media and much of the pundit class are revisiting one of their favorite themes: the superiority of the brash, young urban tech elite, who don’t need to produce much in the way of profits to be showered with investor cash.  Libertarians will celebrate the triumph of fast-paced greed and dismiss concerns over equity; progressives may dislike the easy money but will be comforted when much of it ends up supporting their candidates and causes.  read more »

Bipartisan Distrust of the Beltway

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Much has been written and spoken about the deep divide between “red” and “blue” America, but the real chasm increasingly is between Washington and the rest of the country. This disconnect may increase as both conservatives and liberals outside the Beltway look with growing disdain upon their “leaders” inside the imperial capital. Indeed, according to Gallup, trust among Americans toward the federal government has sunk to historic lows, regarding both foreign and domestic policy.

The debate over Syria epitomizes this division. For the most part, Washington has been more than willing to entertain another military venture. This includes the Democratic policy establishment. You see notables like Anne Marie Slaughter and the New York Times' Bill Keller join their onetime rivals among the neoconservative right in railing against resurgent “isolationism” on the Right.  read more »

California’s New Feudalism Benefits a Few at the Expense of the Multitude

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California has been the source of much innovation, from agribusiness and oil to fashion and the digital world. Historically much richer than the rest of the country, it was also the birthplace, along with Levittown, of the mass-produced suburb, freeways, much of our modern entrepreneurial culture, and of course mass entertainment. For most of a century, for both better and worse, California has defined progress, not only for America but for the world.  read more »

The Unrise of the Creative Working Class

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Scarcity leads to creativity out of necessity. That’s the pop culture meme at least. Think “starving artist,” or the survivors in Survivor. The thinking has penetrated the business culture as well. For example, in the shadow of the 2008 recession, Google founder Sergey Brin, in a letter to his shareholders, writes: “I am optimistic about the future, because I believe scarcity breeds clarity: it focuses minds, forcing people to think creatively and rise to the challenge.”  read more »

Democratic "Upstairs-Downstairs" Coalition at Risk

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Michael Bloomberg's passing from New York City Hall, and his likely replacement as mayor by a fire-breathing populist Democrat, Bill de Blasio, marks a historic shift, not just in urban politics but, potentially, also national politics. For 20 years, under first Rudy Giuliani and then Bloomberg, New Yorkers accepted a form of “trickle down economics” where Wall Street riches flowed into city coffers and kept Gotham, at least on the surface, humming and solvent.  read more »

The Next Urban Crisis, And How We Might Be Able To Avoid It

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Urban boosters are rightly proud of the progress American cities have made since their nadir in the 1970s; Harvard economist Ed Glaeser has gone so far as to proclaim “the triumph of the city.” Yet recent events — notably Detroit’s bankruptcy and the victory of left-wing populist Bill de Blasio in the Democratic primary of the New York mayoral election — suggest that the urban future may prove far more problematic than commonly acknowledged.  read more »

Inequality of the Largest U.S. Metropolitan Areas

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We earlier mapped inequality of the US states. Now I show the geography of inequality for metropolitan areas over 1,000,000.  These measures of inequality are gini coefficients, calculated by the US Census Bureau for 2005-2009. These indicate how amazingly severe inequality, or the concentration of income and wealth at the top, has become.  The gini is a measure of the departure of a curve of accumulated income, ranking from the poorest to the richest.  read more »