Urban Issues

The U.S. Cities Where Manufacturing Is Thriving

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Perhaps no sector in the U.S. economy generates more angst than manufacturing. Over the past quarter century, manufacturing has hemorrhaged over 5 million jobs. The devastation of many regional economies, particularly in the Midwest, is testament to this decline. If the information sector has been the golden child of the media, manufacturing has been the offspring that we pity but can’t comfortably embrace.  read more »

Southern California Still Best place to Get Creative

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Over the past decade, Southern California has lagged well behind its chief rivals – New York and the Bay Area, as well as the fast-growing cities of the Sun Belt – in everything from job creation to tech growth. Yet, in what the late economist Jack Kyser dubbed “the creative industries,” this region remains an impressive superpower.

By creative industries, we mean not just Hollywood’s film and television complex, which remains foundational, but those serving a host of other lifestyle-oriented activities, from fashion and product design to engineering theme parks, games and food. We may be lagging Silicon Valley in technology and New York in finance or news media, but when it comes to entertaining people, and defining lifestyle, the Southland remains a powerful, even primal, force.  read more »

Dublin Facing Another Housing Bubble?

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In a recent column in the Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest weekend newspaper, one of Ireland's leading economists, Colm McCarthy of University College (Dublin) raised the prospect another housing bubble in Dublin, Ireland's leading weekend newspaper. Dublin is the nation's capital and home to approximately 40% of the population.  read more »

What Happens When There’s Nobody Left to Move to the City?

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Following up on the Pew study that found many states will face declining work age populations in the future, I want to highlight a recent Atlantic article called “The Graying of Rural America.” It’s a profile of the small Oregon town of Fossil, which is slowly dying as the young people leave and a rump population of older people – median age 56 – begin to pass on.

Like the Pew study, this one has implications that weren’t fully traced out.

There’s a lot of urban triumphalism these days, as cities crow about Millennials wanting to live downtown and such.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Detroit

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Probably no city in the high income world evokes impressions of urban decline more than Detroit --- and for good reason. The core city of Detroit has lost more of its population than any developed world city of more than 500,000 since 1950. The city's population peaked at 1,850,000 residents in 1950 and at its decline rate since 2010 could drop below 650,000 residents by 2020 census.  read more »

The Cruel Information Economy: The U.S. Cities Winning In This Critical Sector

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Arguably the most critical industry in the new economy, information is also often the cruelest. It is the ultimate disruptor of jobs and growth, blessing some regional economies but leaving most in the dust. Overall, the sector accounts for almost 3 million jobs, but it has only added a paltry net 70,000 jobs over the last five years.  read more »

Cars or Trains: Which Will Win the Commuting Future?

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Infrastructure investment is a hot topic and the focus of that discussion tends to lean towards transport infrastructure over other categories (like energy or water for example). When it comes to transport, trains seem to feature prominently on the wish lists of big investment or ‘nation building’ projects. But how far could billions of dollars in new rail infrastructure actually go in improving congestion across our cities?  Will cars inevitably win? If so, why?  read more »

Luxury Urban Housing, Built on a Myth, Is About to Take a Big Hit

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From steamy Miami to the thriving cores of cities from New York, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, swank towers, some of them pencil thin and all richly appointed. This surge in the luxury apartment construction has often been seen as validation of the purported massive shift of population, notably of the retired wealthy, to the inner cities. Indeed with the exception of a brief period right after the Great Recession, there was slightly greater growth in core cities than the suburbs and exurbs. It was said that we were in the midst of a massive “return to the city.”  read more »

Finally! Great New Affordable Bay Area Housing!

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These are highly educated well paid workers at a San Francisco tech company. They’re mostly young. Some are single. Some are newly coupled. Some are married with young children. There are exceptions, but they tend to want to live in a vibrant urban neighborhood with a short commute rather than a distant suburb.  read more »

Best World Cities for Traffic: Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City, Indianapolis and Richmond

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The 2015 Tom Tom Traffic Index shows that Dallas-Fort Worth has the least overall congestion among world (urban areas) with more than 5,000,000 population. The Tom Tom Traffic Index for Dallas-Fort Worth is 17, which means that, on average, it takes 17 percent longer to travel in the urban area because of traffic congestion.  read more »