San Jose

In 1906, James McKeen Cattell of Columbia University assembled a list of the 1000 most eminent American scientists of his day and published an analysis of their geographic distribution in the journal Science, including the 40 cities with at least five top scientists. Those cities correspond to 30 metropolitan areas today. Those metropolitan areas were home to 26 percent of 1900 U.S. population but 78 percent of the nation’s top scientists. Today, these metropolitan areas account for 24 percent of the U.S. population and 42 percent of U.S.

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What explains the wide range of economic growth and prosperity across U.S. regions, and why is it so hard for struggling metro areas to reverse multi-decade trends? These are the questions that urban economist Enrico Moretti addresses in The New Geography of Jobs. In his vision, innovative workers and companies create prosperity that flows broadly, but these gains are mostly metropolitan in scale, meaning that geography substantially determines economic vitality. To start, the book offers a hopeful interpretation of technological change and globalization.

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The rebound of manufacturing jobs has been one of the bright spots of an otherwise sluggish economic recovery.  The United States had 3.7 percent more manufacturing jobs in February 2012 than in February 2010, representing a more robust rate of growth than that for overall employment, which rose by only 2.7 percent during the same time period. The post-recession rebound of manufacturing employment has been a driver of economic recovery in a number of the nation’s major metropolitan areas, including several manufacturing centers.  The latest edition of Brookings’ MetroMonitor, which has tracked

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With national conversations about inequality and fairness in the air, I’ve been thinking about what economic justice might look like to regions. I find the late John Rawls to be the most insightful philosopher on the subject of justice, so I’ve been re-reading his great works. First of all, Rawls argues a just society must meet a minimum standard for civil liberties--basically, those specified by the U.S. Bill of Rights. Next, access to what he calls primary goods--things we value like influence, security, income, respect--should be openly available to all.

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In the last week, my attention has been taken up by two American crime films from the 1950s that have appeared in excellent DVD versions: Joseph Losey’s The Prowler (1951), restored and delivered by a combination of benevolent institutions, the Film Noir Foundation, the U.C.L.A. Archive, and the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, which means the exceptional patron of so many arts, David W.

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Yesterday, we noted the extreme concentration in just a few metropolitan areas of the leading-edge U.S. cleantech firms honored in the Global Cleantech 100 list of the most promising start-ups. We noted that a whopping 39 of the 58 U.S. firms included in the list are hyper-clustered in just four metropolitan areas—San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and Los Angeles, in that order.

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Ryan Lizza's New Yorker profile of Darrell Issa has to be read in its entirety. The main upshot is that Issa, the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform who is charged with exposing what he sees as massive corruption in the Obama White House, either has a lengthy history as a hardened criminal, or he's been the victim of an extraordinary series of coincidences.

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In the national conversation on trade policy, it’s rare to get beyond exchange rates and trade agreements. While these are certainly important topics in their influence on the volume and balance of trade, the focus relegates the debate to federal policy and misses a myriad of opportunities at the state, local, and metropolitan level to promote exports. So what do exports look like on the ground level?

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Nationwide, the economic recovery looks more fragile than it did just a few months ago. GDP is growing at a moderate pace but not nearly as rapidly as at the end of last year. Almost no private sector jobs were created in May. The unemployment rate dipped from 9.9 percent in April to 9.7 percent in May, but mostly because fewer people were looking for work. Nearly half the unemployed in May were out of work for more than six months.

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Last week Paul Krugman had a nice blogpost comparing income growth in the stagflation-ridden “old economy” of the 1970s and the bubbly “new economy” of the last decade. For the entire United States, it seems, inflation-adjusted median family income fell at a slightly slower rate between 1973 and 1981 than between 2000 and 2008. The old economy was better for the nation as a whole, at least as far as income growth goes. But what about metropolitan areas? In which places was income growth more rapid in what many people remember as the “bad old days”? The answer: 83 of the nation’s 100 largest me

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