The New Geography of Jobs
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We’re used to thinking of the United States in opposing terms: red versus blue, haves versus have-nots. But today there are three Americas. At one extreme are the brain hubs—cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Durham—with workers who are among the most productive, creative, and best paid on the planet. At the other extreme are former manufacturing capitals, which are rapidly losing jobs and residents. The rest of America could go either way. For the past thirty years, the three Americas have been growing apart at an accelerating rate. This divergence is one the most important developments in the history of the United States and is reshaping the very fabric of our society, affecting all aspects of our lives, from health and education to family stability and political engagement. But the winners and losers aren’t necessarily who you’d expect.
Enrico Moretti’s groundbreaking research shows that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to thrive in one of the brain hubs. Carpenters, taxi-drivers, teachers, nurses, and other local service jobs are created at a ratio of five-to-one in the brain hubs, raising salaries and standard of living for all. Dealing with this split—supporting growth in the hubs while arresting the decline elsewhere—is the challenge of the century, and The New Geography of Jobs lights the way.
"Moretti has written a clear and insightful account of the economic forces that are shaping America and its regions, and he rightly celebrates human capital and innovation as the fundamental sources of economic development."—Jonathan Rothwell, The Brookings Institution
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is now much more productive because she can use computers and the Internet on her job. American Pastoral, Philip Roth’s great novel about the shifting Zeitgeist of American society in the 1960s and 1970s, chronicles the rise and fall of a Jewish family in New Jersey. But almost as poignant as the unraveling of Seymour “Swede” Levov’s personal dreams is Roth’s description of the unraveling of Newark’s social fabric. In the story, Levov has inherited a small glove factory, a disappearing microcosm
States. This is a good deal for American workers. Those new jobs tend to be positions in research and development, marketing, engineering, design, and science. They command good salaries and offer significant potential for career advancement. One of the most comprehensive reports on offshoring in technical fields, produced by the National Academy of Engineering, agrees: “Offshoring appears to have contributed to the competitive advantage of U.S.-based firms in a variety of industries.”
San Jose, Raleigh, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Minneapolis—as well as smaller cities with large universities, such as Madison, Ann Arbor, Fort Collins–Loveland, and Lincoln. In these cities, almost half of the labor force is college-educated, and a significant fraction has a postgraduate degree. Portland, New York, and Denver are also in the top group. Table 2 shows the metropolitan areas that are at the bottom of the list. This group includes Vineland-Milville-Bridgetown, New Jersey;
Agglomeration of U.S. Ethnic Inventors.” In Edward L. Glaeser, ed., Agglomeration Economics, pp. 237–76. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Kissack, Andrea. “Electric Vehicle Companies Tap Silicon Valley Cash.” Morning Edition, NPR, October 13, 2010. Klepper, Steven. “The Origin and Growth of Industry Clusters: The Making of Silicon Valley and Detroit.” Journal of Urban Economics 61, no. 1 (January 2010): 15–32. Kline, Patrick, and Enrico Moretti. “Local Economic Development,