Articles on this Page
- 02/16/11--07:39: _Chicago Takes a Cen...
- 02/17/11--14:56: _The Evolving Urban ...
- 02/18/11--13:24: _Obama’s High-Speed ...
- 02/19/11--23:38: _Britain's Housing C...
- 02/20/11--21:38: _Dallas Charges Up f...
- 02/22/11--02:38: _The Still Elusive "...
- 02/23/11--02:38: _Census 2010: Urbani...
- 02/24/11--02:38: _The Millennial Mosaic
- 02/25/11--02:38: _Census 2010: A Texa...
- 02/25/11--10:59: _What The Census Tel...
- 02/27/11--01:38: _The State of Silico...
- 02/27/11--19:20: _Sputnik Moments, Sp...
- 03/01/11--01:38: _Can Common Sense, a...
- 03/02/11--02:38: _The Evolving Urban ...
- 03/03/11--02:38: _Is Nashville the Ne...
- 03/04/11--02:38: _From the Great Mode...
- 03/05/11--17:23: _High Speed Rail: Th...
- 03/06/11--21:39: _What India Hands to...
- 03/07/11--09:34: _The Protean Future ...
- 03/08/11--21:47: _New Jersey: Still S...
- 02/16/11--07:39: Chicago Takes a Census Shellacking
- 02/17/11--14:56: The Evolving Urban Form: Seoul
- 02/18/11--13:24: Obama’s High-Speed Rail Obsession
- 02/19/11--23:38: Britain's Housing Crisis: Causes and Solutions
- 02/20/11--21:38: Dallas Charges Up for the Electric Chevy
- 02/22/11--02:38: The Still Elusive "Return to the City"
- In each of the eight metropolitan areas, the preponderance of growth between 2000 and 2010 was in the suburbs, as has been the case for decades. This has occurred even though two events – the energy price spike in mid-decade and the mortgage meltdown – were widely held to have changed this trajectory. On average, 4 percent of the growth was in the historical core municipalities, and 96 percent of the growth was in the suburbs (Figure 1).
- In each of the eight metropolitan areas, the suburbs grew at a rate substantially greater than that of the core municipality. The core municipalities had an average growth from 2000 to 2010 of 3.2 percent. Suburban growth was 21.7 percent, nearly 7 times as great. Overall, the number of people added to the suburbs was 14 times that added to the core municipalities.
- 02/23/11--02:38: Census 2010: Urbanizing Indiana
- 02/24/11--02:38: The Millennial Mosaic
- 02/25/11--02:38: Census 2010: A Texas Perspective
- 02/25/11--10:59: What The Census Tells Us About America’s Future
- 02/27/11--01:38: The State of Silicon Valley
- 02/27/11--19:20: Sputnik Moments, Spending Cuts, and (Remember These?) Jobs
- 03/01/11--01:38: Can Common Sense, and maybe Mickey, Save Orlando’s Transit Mess?
- Trains can be good – for freight. There are already freight lines running between Tampa and Orlando. Getting the freight off of tractor-trailers and onto these freight lines, where it is vastly cheaper to move goods, should be a no-brainer for the state. Use some of the DOT money to modernize freight depots along the pathway, incentivize freight customers to move their goods onto trains, and this will vastly improve the situation.
- Tourists can drive – at a price. Our state should be treat itself with higher regard and also encourage a culture of sustainability for those visiting us. Higher taxes on rental cars should be charged, and the taxes placed in an environmental fund to remove some of the unsightly development that has defaced our region, and return it to the special place it once was.
- Give business travelers an alternative. If there were an affordable air shuttle between Tampa and Orlando, at the right price it would be full. Little Embraers (made in Melbourne, by the way) taking off from FBOs at Orlando Executive Airport, Sanford Airport, and Orlando International Airport and landing in Tampa airfields would be worth $100 a seat, if the time/cost tradeoff were analyzed. Ybor City for lunch, anyone?
- Give personal drivers an alternative. For the cost of less than 50 miles of new road, a totally independent alternative to I-4 is waiting out there. The first link of this road would connect Tampa’s Crosstown Express to Lakeland’s Western Beltway. The next link of this road would connect the Western Beltway to the Greenway at Celebration. Drivers will be able to go from downtown Tampa to downtown Orlando without their wheels touching I-4 even once. Nice.
- 03/02/11--02:38: The Evolving Urban Form: The Valley of Mexico
- 03/03/11--02:38: Is Nashville the Next Boomtown of the New South?
- Nashville is smaller than most of those places today, so it isn’t size
- It can’t be just because Nashville is in the south or a no income tax right to work state. Memphis in the exact same state and is hurting. Birmingham and Montgomery haven’t done much in right to work Alabama.
- Its college degree attainment of 31% is below many comparable Midwest cities, though it should be noted that Nashville is moving up the league tables fast. It was recently ranked the 4th biggest “brain magnet” in the United States.
- It has no particular unique industry or assets. It can cite its Music City USA image, which certainly drives tourism and money. But Midwestern cities have other equivalent things they can counter with. Plus, it was Music City USA all the time it was a sleepy state capital as well.
- Just being the state capital doesn’t explain it. Indy and Columbus are both in that role and are getting out paced by Nashville.
- Having a consolidated city-county government is not unique. Indy and Louisville are both consolidated, and Columbus is quasi-consolidated because of the ability of that city to annex most of Franklin County and even parts of several adjacent counties.
- There are mountains, but the geography does not appear to be particularly compelling.
- There are not fabulous historic districts in every region. In fact, while there are some nicer neighborhoods, much of the city is built out exactly like most Midwestern burgs of equivalent size. A lot of it is outright dumpy.
- Its cultural institutions are not as advanced as Midwestern ones. The Nashville Symphony isn’t going to take on the Cincinnati Symphony any time soon, that’s for sure.
- It doesn’t have some fortress home grown companies that are driving it.
- It has Vanderbilt University, but most Midwestern cities have a good school in them too.
- First, as I previously noted, is the extremely high ambition level. These guys are clearly looking at places like Atlanta, Dallas, Charlotte, etc. and saying “Why not us?” Their mission is to become one of America’s great cities. There’s no “era of limits” in Nashville. You see this come through, for example, in their convention center plans, which call for 1.2 million square feet. It comes through in their highways, which are being built 8-10 lanes with HOV lanes, as if getting ready to become the much bigger city they plan to be. It shows in the numerous residential high rise and midrise projects. It shows in how Nashville, unlike every comparable Midwest metro, already has a commuter rail line in service. Midwesterners recoil from change, and would view becoming the next Charlotte or Atlanta with horror. But Nashville is eager to move up to the premier league, so to speak.
- Second is the unabashedly pro-growth and pro-business stance. Every development in the Midwest is opposed by some group of NIMBY’s. Densification, even in downtown areas, is often anathema to influential neighbors. Not in Nashville. Huge tracts of inner city are being rebuilt from vacant lots or single family homes into multi-story town houses or condos. There are midrises all over the place. It does not appear that development has any problem getting approved there.
- Third is low taxes and costs. Tennessee does not have a state income tax. Electricity from the TVA is dirt cheap. Property taxes cannot be increased without a public vote. It remains to be seen if this environment can be sustained, but for right now, cost appears to be an advantage.
- Fourth is that they’ve embraced instead of rejecting their heritage. Rather than saying that country music is for hillbillies and an embarrassment to their new ambitions as a big league city, they’ve proudly embraced it. They updated the image with a glitzy, “Nashvegas” spin and made it the core of what Nashville is all about. Most Midwestern elites seem to view their existing heritage negatively. But great cities have to spring from the native soil in which they are born. Their character has to be organic. Import all the fancy stores, restaurants, sports teams, transit lines, etc. you want, but it won’t distinguish your city. Nashville learned this lesson well, probably from Atlanta. The southern boomtowns took their existing Southern heritage, dropped the negative items that needed to be changed, updated the core positive elements, and created the vision of the “New South”. This is something that can be embraced by the masses, unlike the elitist transformations that are often promulgated.
- Fifth is that, again, they appear to have studied the lessons of places like Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte, etc. They’ve seen the need for freeways. They’ve looked at the style of development and the neo-traditional urban form. I was very impressed to see that there while most condo developments and such were fairly undistinctive, I did not note any that exhibited poor urban design form. When I consider the poorly designed projects that are frequently implemented in, say, downtown Indianapolis, it is easy to see who gets out more. Nashville has done its homework.
- Sixth, Nashville is realistic and open to self-criticism without being self-flagellating. I posted my previous take on the city on a discussion forum dedicated to that city. Given the modestly negative tone contained in much of it, I expected to get crucified. Surprisingly, most of them basically agreed with it. Too many cities in the Midwest either engage in naive boosterism or wallow in woe-is-us. Perhaps because of the large number of newcomers, there’s a more realistic assessment of where Nashville stands. And this enables rational decisions about where it needs to go.
- 03/04/11--02:38: From the Great Moderation to the Great Stagnation
- 03/05/11--17:23: High Speed Rail: The Dream Scheme Scenario
- Privatize the corridor services between Boston and Washington, Chicago and St. Louis, and San Diego and Los Angeles. But mandate that at least two competing companies operate passenger service on the lines. If American railroads are not interested in the job, French or German national rail companies would bid on the service.
- Sell off the franchise rights to Amtrak passenger cars to mall stores, restaurants, and bars. A movie car could run between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and a discotheque (Pullman 54) could operate, for example, on the night train from New Orleans to Atlanta. I am sure the Outback restaurant chain would want some cars in the West. Who cares about speed if you are having fun or can use the time productively? I would happily ride the Barnes & Noble to Charlotte or the L.L. Bean to see my family in Maine. Why can’t Amtrak add a few FedEx Kinko cars?
- Auction off Amtrak’s sleeping car services to Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites or Motel 6. They know more than Amtrak does about making beds.
- Instead of catering to the gun lobby (Amtrak now allows passengers to pack heat), work with the car rental agencies to create a car-sharing alliance at Amtrak stations to solve the problem of getting anywhere from far-flung places like the Richmond station, which is located miles from downtown.
- Spin off Amtrak Vacations to Outward Bound, the American Youth Hostel Association, Carnival Cruises, the Boy Scouts, or the Green Tortoise (a hippie bus tour company), and let them offer rail cruises to national parks, jazz festivals, fall foliage, major league stadiums, and jamborees.
- Create Amtrak University, and outfit trains to take high school and college students to places like Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, Bunker Hill, the Grassy Knoll, Mark Twain’s museum in Hannibal, Missouri, and Marion, Ohio (where Warren Harding ran the local newspaper).
- Invent a clean steam engine that runs on scrubbed American coal, and market passenger railroads as green travel, locally grown.
- Retrofit some baggage cars to carry bicycles easily and cheaply, and develop a national network of “Rails and Trails,” so that passengers can have a seamless connection between the train and their bikes. At the moment, it’s easier to ship a gun on Amtrak than it is to take a bike.
- Deregulate passenger service, to encourage the flourishing short-line rail industry to carry passengers on some of their freight lines, as the Housatonic R.R. Is proposing to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
- Invest surplus funds in commuter rail projects, including the proposed Hudson River tunnels that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turned down. Commuter rail is a proven, if dreary commodity. High-speed rail dreams are the stuff of State of the Union addresses, but the top ten commuter systems together transport about 1.63 million passengers daily (Amtrak has 74,000 a day).
Most commuter systems need nicer stations, easier links to other lines and buses, and to provide comfort zones with better coffee (not a federal budget concern), clean restrooms, and Wifi. I love the coming Long Island Rail Road link to Grand Central and the new BikePorts of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
- 03/06/11--21:39: What India Hands to the World
- 03/07/11--09:34: The Protean Future Of American Cities
- 03/08/11--21:47: New Jersey: Still Suburbanizing
The Census results are out for Illinois, and it's bad news for the city of Chicago, whose population plunged by over 200,000 people to 2,695,598, its lowest population since before 1920. This fell far short of what would have been predicted given the 2009 estimate of 2,851,268. It's a huge negative surprise of over 150,000, though perhaps one that should have been anticipated given the unexpectedly weak numbers for the state as a whole that were released in December.
The American Community Survey data from last year show a clear improvement in items like college degree attainment (up 7.6 percentage points since the 2000 Census) and median household income (up 18%, which trailed the nation slightly, but beat Cook County and the state). These data points show the very real improvements that have swept over a portion of the city, the visible gentrification that envelops the greater core area has now been shown to have been unable to power overall population growth, or to restrain the rampant exurbanization in the region.
White and Black Flight
The non-Hispanic White Only population of the city actually declined by 52,449, or 5.78%. The “minority” population declined even further, -147,969 or 7.44%, meaning the city actually grew its white population share by 0.38 percentage points, perhaps indicating the early stages of the “Europeanization” of Chicago as the core gentrifies and disadvantaged groups and the white working class are pushed further to the fringe.
Indeed, the Black Only population plunged by 177,401 as blacks increasingly moved to suburbs, especially southern ones like Matteson, Lansing, Calumet City, Park Forest, and Richton Park, each of which added thousands of new black residents. Some indications are that a significant number of black residents left the region altogether. The traditional black magnet of Atlanta – which struggled through much of the decade – was a top five destination for people leaving Chicagoland over the past decade, and Chicago was the #2 source of in-migrants to Memphis, another black hub, according to IRS data.
Hispanic population was the bright spot for Chicago, as the city added Hispanic residents to the tune of 25,218, or 3.35%. Hispanics boosted their population share in the city by nearly 3 percentage points. But even this growth isn't that impressive. The city of Indianapolis, at less than a third Chicago's population, added over 45,000 Hispanics on a much smaller base.
Demographic Reality: Massive Exurbanization
Much has been made of Chicago's legitimate and real urban core renaissance, but the cold reality remains that this is one of America's most sprawling regions. Regional growth continued to be heavily focused not in the city or established inner suburbs, but the exurbs. Kendall County more than doubled in population, and counties like Grundy, Boone, and Kane also made the top five in the state. Cook County, which is about half made up of the city of Chicago, as a whole actually lost population. And traditional suburban powerhouse DuPage has flattened, while Lake County, Illinois fell just short of the national average in growth. During the last decade, a net of over 25,000 people moved from metro Chicago to metro Rockford, making that city the #2 destination for those leaving Chicagoland. Given that Rockford is hardly an economic mecca, clearly exurbanization is spreading far beyond traditional metro boundaries. Sprawl of the most intense kind is alive and well in Chicagoland.
The following map illustrates this, with a five bucket sort of 2000-2010 population percentage change, growing counties in black, shrinking in red:
The raw data on regional growth speaks for itself:
Core+Suburb vs. Exurb
Core + Established Suburb (Cook, DuPage, Lake Counties)
Exurb (Other IL Metro Chicago Counties)
This sprawl might be more understandable in rapidly growing cities like Atlanta and Houston that can both densify the core and grow outwards simultaneously. But the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville-IL Metropolitan Division (the full MSA is not yet available since Wisconsin hasn't been released yet) grew at less than half the national average. This means that the exurbanization trend in Chicagoland is almost entirely loss of population share by the core to the fringe.
To put an even starker view on the concentration of growth in Illinois as a whole, this map highlights only those counties that grew faster than the already anemic statewide average:
Other than a handful of counties, the group of fastest growing counties in the state is dominated by suburban and especially exurban Chicago and St. Louis counties.
For those of us who've chosen to plant our flag in the city, these results are most unwelcome news, no two ways about it. This is especially true as underfunded pensions and city budget gaps loom large, and where the per capita load only goes up as the population goes down. This report should be a call to arms to the next mayor and the city as a whole to make the promise of revitalization a reality, and bring growth and prosperity to the city as a whole, not just a the upscale core. Cities like Chicago have to become more aspirational; places of upward mobility to broad sections of the middle and working classes. The city and Cook County can't afford another decade like this one.
Aaron M. Renn is an independent writer on urban affairs based in the Midwest. His writings appear at The Urbanophile.
Photo by Gravitywave
Based upon the preliminary results of the South Korea 2010 census, Seoul has become the world's third largest metropolitan area. The jurisdictions making out the metropolitan area, the provincial level municipality of Seoul (which is the national capital), the province of Gyeonggi and the provincial level municipality of Incheon now have a population of approximately 23.6 million people. This is third only to Tokyo – Yokohama, which has a population of approximately 40 million and Jabotabek (Jakarta), which is approaching 30 million. While international metropolitan area population estimates should be taken with a "grain of salt," (Note 1: Metropolitan Areas) the rise of Seoul is nearly unprecedented in the high-income world. Further, many more people are projected to move to the Seoul metropolitan area as the trend of rural and smaller area migration to larger urban areas continues.
A Difficult History: However, any analysis of Seoul and its progress must begin in the context of the overall economic progress of South Korea and its difficult history.
Seoul was a major battleground in the Korean War of 1950 to 1953. During 1950 alone, military control of the municipality of Seoul changed hands four times. Today, despite the precariousness of the political situation on the Korean Peninsula, the northern suburbs of Seoul are as close as four miles (seven kilometers) from the demilitarized zone, which forms the border with North Korea.
Strong Economic Growth: A very poor country even before the war, South Korea has been an economic success story. Based upon data produced for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by the late economist Angus Maddison, South Korea had a gross domestic product per capita (purchasing power parity) of less than $1300 (2010$) in 1950. It had peaked, as a Japanese colony, somewhat above that level before World War II, but never approached one quarter of the GDP per capita of the United States and averaged less than one third of then high income Argentina.
After the Korean War, initial economic progress was slow. As late as 1965, South Korea's GDP per capita was less than that of Mozambique. Since that time, South Korea's GDP per capita has risen from approximately $2000 to $30,200 in 2010 It exceeded Argentina in the 1980s.
South Korea today has a higher GDP per capita than Spain and New Zealand and less than 10 percent behind the European Union, on which it is gaining quickly. As the capital, the Seoul is a prosperous metropolitan area in a prosperous country.
South Korea's prosperity is also considerable contrast to that of North Korea's. South Korea's GDP per capita is more than 15 times that of North Korea (Figure 1). This would make any future reunification far more expensive for South Korea then Germany's unification was for West Germany, because the economic disparity, though substantial, was much less.
The Urban Area: Growing and Dense: The Seoul urban area (area of continuous development) includes the municipality of Seoul and also includes the urbanization of Incheon, to the west and substantial suburban development in the province of Gyeonggi on the other three sides (Note 2: Urban Areas). Based upon an analysis of data from the 2010 census, we have estimated the Seoul urban area population at 22.5 million. The next edition of Demographia World Urban Areas: Population & Projections (current edition) will show Seoul to be the world's third largest urban area, trailing only Tokyo-Yokohama and Delhi (which recently passed Mumbai to become India's largest urban area). Jakarta, the second largest metropolitan area, ranks as the fourth largest urban area, though will soon pass Seoul, because of much stronger growth. Among high income world urban areas, Seoul's population growth has been greater than that of any other since 1950 except for Tokyo-Yokohama. Seoul added more than 20 million people, while Tokyo-Yokohama added more than 25 million people. By comparison, New York added less than 10 million people and Paris added 4 million people.
Seoul’s population density is among the highest of the world’s affluent urban areas. With population density of 27,000 people per square mile (10,400 per square kilometer), Seoul ranks second in the high income world among urban areas of more than 5 million people, trailing only Hong Kong, which is more than twice as dense. Thus, Seoul is more than twice as dense as Tokyo-Yokohama, three times as dense as Paris and four times as dense as Los Angeles or Toronto, the densest urban regions in North America.
With the exception of Hong Kong, no first world urban area has the density of high rise condominium developments as are found in Seoul. While virtually all of the recent urban expansion in both population and geography has been in the suburbs, nearly all of the new residences are in high rise buildings.
Seoul is also the home to massive city real estate developments. For example, Ilsan, in Gyeonggi is a very large planned high-rise community to the north of the Han River (which bisects the urban area), west of Seoul and north of Icheon. Most of Ilsan was developed by the early 2000s. The high rise development of Songdo, four miles (seven kilometers) south of the core of Incheon is intended to be home to 75,000 people and 50 million square feet of office space.
Seoul's Han River is crossed by multiple bridges, including architectural icons. A new international airport (Seoul-Incheon) was opened in 2005, 43 miles (70 kilometers) away from the Seoul central business district. This airport, on an island west of Incheon is most remote international Airport among the world's megacities (urban areas over 10 million population), 8 miles further even than Narita International Airport from central Tokyo. Domestic flights continue to operate out of Gimpo Airport, which is halfway between the cores of Seoul and Incheon.
Distribution of Population Growth: The municipality of Seoul – the capital district – is one of the largest municipalities in the world, with nearly 10 million people (Note 3: Municipalities). However, like many core municipalities that have not expanded their boundaries, Seoul is losing population. The 2000 census shows the population to have declined 900,000, or nearly 10 percent, from 1990. The population loss during the 2000s was a somewhat more modest 200,000.
Since 1990, all the population growth in the Seoul metropolitan area since has been in the suburbs. The province of Gyeonggi has gained more than 5 million residents, while the municipality of Incheon has added more than 800,000 residents. During the 2000s, the province of Gyeonggi added enough population to exceed the municipality of Seoul as the largest provincial level jurisdiction in the metropolitan area (Table).
|Seoul Metropolitan Area Population: 1960-2010|
|Year||Metropolitan Area||Provincial Level Jurisdiction|
|Incheon created from Gyeonggi in 1981|
The Future? There is also some question about whether Seoul will remain the national capital. In 2004, the national government decided to move the capital to Gongju, 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of Seoul. The decision was both preceded and followed by considerable political jockeying and it appears that the government is backtracking on the capital move (though construction has begun).
Regardless of the eventual fate of the new capital, Statistics Korea projections indicated that the Seoul metropolitan area will continue to expand. The population of the municipality of Seoul is expected to decline through 2030 while the suburban jurisdictions of Incheon and Gyeonggi are expected to continue their growth. Further, more rapid growth is anticipated in North Chungcheon and South Chungcheon provinces as the metropolitan area, and perhaps even the urban area spreads further to the south. This larger metropolitan area is projected to grow to more than 31 million people by 2030.
Note 1: Metropolitan Areas: Metropolitan areas are the economic dimension of the urban form. They represent the labor markets (area from which people commute to the urban area) and thus include both the urban area and surrounding economically attached rural and exurban areas. There are no international standards for delineating metropolitan areas and most national statistical agencies have no such delineation. The nations that do giving me metropolitan areas have differing standards and even within nations there are substantial difficulties. The only serious attempt to define metropolitan areas based upon consistent standards was by urban expert Richard L. Forstall (who ran the Rand McNally "Ranally" international metropolitan area program), Richard P. Green and James B. Pick. The complexity of the research is indicated by the fact that their list is limited to the top 15 in the world. Other attempts to delineate metropolitan areas generally rely on complete second or third level jurisdictional boundaries, such as counties, states or provinces. This can lead to specious comparisons of densities, because the jurisdictions that are used vary so much in size. This is perhaps best illustrated by comparing Portland and Riverside – San Bernardino. In 2000 (latest available data), the Riverside – San Bernardino urban area had a densities slightly higher than that of Portland. Yet the metropolitan areas vary greatly in size, due simply to the size of the counties that comprise them. The two counties of the Riverside – San Bernardino metropolitan area cover four times as much land area as the seven county Portland metropolitan area.
Note 2: Urban Areas: urban areas are the structural dimension of the urban form (the "urban footprint"). Urban areas are the area of continuous urban development. They may also be called urbanized areas (such as United States, United Kingdom, France, India and Canada); urban centers (Australia) or urban agglomerations (United Nations). Canada will switch its terminology for urban areas to "population centres" in the 2011 census. The distinction between urban areas and metropolitan areas can be confusing and has led some internet – based lists to somewhat indiscriminately mix the two. Moreover, the term "urban area" has even been used to denote an area well beyond the continuous urbanization (more akin to a metropolitan area), such as in its definition by statistics New Zealand.
Note 3: Municipalities: international comparisons of municipalities (often called "cities," which is a term that can also be used for two substantially different concepts, metropolitan areas and urban areas) are generally invalid, because there is no geographic or population criteria between or even within nations by which municipalities are defined. This is illustrated by the fact that the world's largest municipality, Chongqing is largely rural, not urban, and covers an area approximately the size of Austria or Indiana. While the municipality of Chongqing (and virtually all other Chinese "cities") is larger than its metropolitan area, municipalities may be far smaller than their metropolitan areas. For example, the municipality of Melbourne ("city of Melbourne") has less than 2 percent of the metropolitan area population, while the municipality of Atlanta has less than 10 percent of the metropolitan area.
Note 4: The United Nations population estimates show the Seoul urban area to be limited to the municipality of Seoul which produces a far smaller estimate of less than 10 million people.
Photo: Suburban Seoul (by author)
Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life”
Perhaps nothing so illustrates President Obama’s occasional disconnect with reality than his fervent advocacy of high-speed rail. Amid mounting pressure for budget cuts that affect existing programs, including those for the inner city, the president has made his $53 billion proposal to create a national high-speed rail network as among his top priorities.
Our President may be an intelligent and usually level-headed man, but this represents a serious case of policy delusion. As Robert Samuelson pointed out in Newsweek, high-speed rail is not an appropriate fit for a country like the U.S. Except for a few areas, notably along the Northeast Corridor, the U.S. just lacks the density that would make such a system work. Samuelson calls the whole idea “a triumph of fancy over fact.”
Arguably the biggest problem with high-speed rail is its extraordinary costs, which would require massive subsidies to keep operating. Unlike the Federal Highway Program, largely financed by the gas tax, high-speed rail lacks any credible source of funding besides taxpayer dollars.
Part of the pitch for high-speed rail is nationalistic. To be a 21st century super power, we must emulate current No. 2 China. But this is a poor reason to indulge in a hugely expensive program when the U.S. already has the world’s most evolved highway, freight rail and airline system.
Also, if the U.S. were to follow the Chinese model, as some have suggested, perhaps it should impose rule from a Washington version of a centralized authoritarian government. After all, dictatorships are often quite adept at “getting things done.” But in a democracy “getting things done” means balancing interests and efficiencies, not following orders from above.
In China high-speed rail is so costly that the trains are too expensive for the average citizen. Furthermore, construction costs are so high the Chinese Academy of Sciences has already warned that its debts may not be payable. This experience with ballooning costs and far lower fare revenues have raised taxpayer obligations in Taiwan and Korea and added to heavily to the national debt in Japan.
The prospect of mounting and uncontrollable costs has led governors to abandon high-speed projects in Ohio, Wisconsin and most recently Florida, where a battle to save the Tampa-Orlando line has begun . In times of budget stress, the idea of building something new, and historically difficult to contain by costs, becomes a hard sell.
Oddly, the leaders of California, faced with one of the worst fiscal positions in the country, are determined to spend several billions on what Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters has dubbed a “train to nowhere” for 54 miles between Madera and Corcoran — two unremarkable and remote Central Valley towns. The proposal makes the former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ notorious ”bridges to nowhere” project seem like frugal public policy.
California’s train to nowhere has been justified as part of wider project to construct a statewide system. But the whole idea makes little financial sense: The University of California’s Institute for Transportation describes the high-speed proposal as based on an “inconsistent model” whose ridership projections are simply not “reliable.”
Equally suspect are cost estimates, which have doubled (after adjustment for inflation) from 1999 to $42.6 billion last year and. A new study says that the project could currently cost close to $65 billion. Costs for a ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco, originally pegged at $55 one way, had nearly doubled by 2009, and now some estimates place it at about to at least a $100 or perhaps much as $190 — considerably more than an advanced-purchase ticket on far faster Southwest Airlines.
There’s growing political opposition to the system as well, and not just among penny-pinching right-wingers. Residents and local officials in the San Francisco Peninsula, a wealthy and reliably liberal portion of Silicon Valley, largely oppose plans to route the line through their communities. This includes some prominent liberal legislators, such as San Mateo’s Assembly Jerry Hill, who has threatened to put high-speed rail back on the ballot if costs start to surpass initial estimates. Another Democrat, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer has doubts that the rail authority will be able to sell the deal to potential bond-buyers due in part to a lack of consistent estimates in ridership or cost.
So why is Obama still so determined to push the high-speed boondoggle? Largely it’s a deadly combination of theology and money. Powerful rail construction interests, notably the German giant Siemens, are spreading cash like mustard on a bratwurst to promote the scheme. Add to that construction unions and the ever voracious investment banks who would love to pocket fees for arranging to sell the bonds and you have interests capable of influencing either party.
Then there’s what might be called the “density lobby” — big city mayors, construction firms and the urban land owners. These magnates, who frequently extort huge public subsidies for their projects, no doubt think it grand to spend billions of public funds on something that might also increase the value of their real estate.
And finally there are the true believers, notably planners, academics, green activists and an army of rail fans. These are people who believe America should be more like Europe — denser, more concentrated in big cities and tied to the rails. “High speed rail is not really about efficient transport,” notes California transit expert and accountant Tom Rubin. “It’s all about shaping cities for a certain agenda.”
Yet despite their power, these forces face mounting obstacles. As transportation expert Ken Orski points out, the balance of power in the House now lies with suburban and rural legislators, whose constituents would not benefit much from high-speed rail. And then there are governors, increasingly Republican and conservative, very anxious not to add potentially huge obligations to their already stressed budgets.
The most decisive opposition, however, could come from those who favor transit spending but understand to the need to prioritize. High-speed rail is far more expensive than such things as fixing current commuter rail and subways or expanding both public and private bus service. Indeed, the money that goes to urban rail often ends up being diverted from other, more cost-effective systems, notably buses.
The choice between high-speed rail and more conventional, less expensive transit has already been presaged in the fight against expanding LA’s expensive rail system by organizations representing bus riders. These activists contend that rail swallows funds that could be spent on buses
Much the same case is being made the San Francisco peninsula. The opponents of high-speed rail on the San Francisco Peninsula are outraged that the state would spend billions on a chancy potential boondoggle when the popular Caltrain commuter rail service is slated to be curtailed or even eliminated.
One can of course expect that anti-spending conservatives will be the biggest cheerleaders for high-speed rail’s decline. But transit advocates may be forced to join the chorus of opposition, in order to steer transit spending towards more basic priorities as buses in Los Angeles, subways in New York or commuter rail in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In an era of tough budgets, and proposed cutbacks on basic services, setting sensible transportation priorities is crucial. Spending billions on a conveyance that will benefit a relative handful of people and places is not just illogical. It’s obscene.
This piece originally appeared in Forbes.
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and an adjunct fellow of the Legatum Institute in London. He is author of The City: A Global History. His newest book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, released in February, 2010.
British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade. Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.
Anyone expecting British house building to pick up soon will be disappointed, even as the housing market inflates into another bubble. Grant Shapps, the Coalition government’s Housing and Local Government Minister, is also hoping that house price inflation will not return to make the present housing predicament worse.
He will be disappointed, too. Shapps wants modest deflation and more houses to be built. However, he is powerless to make that happen while his government sustains the national denial of Freehold development rights that in Britain defines the planning system. By denying landowners the right to build on any land they own, the system works against significant levels of housing production.
The renewal of house price inflation
The low level of production all but guarantees renewed house price inflation. According to estate agency Savills, inflation-adjusted house prices grew by 68 per cent in the decade up to 2010, even after the British housing market finished wobbling during the sub-prime mortgage finance crisis. Savills told readers of The Telegraph that house prices will inflate by 40 per cent in real terms over the next decade.
Britain’s vast majority of home owners will be relieved. Most people have felt uneasy with financial dependency on the debt and equity in their home. For most British households wages and pensions are insufficient.
At the root of the problem lies the peculiar nature of Freehold in Britain. The government enjoys an effective national instrument in their effort to protect the housing market. An old innovation of the post-war planning system, this ensures cheap farm land can never come onto the market to allow the building of low cost homes in great volume, sufficient to precipitate a housing market crash worth having. Planning as a denial of development rights works very well to protect the members of the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
This keeps house building volume low. Britain’s former volume house builders have begun to make the painful adjustment to work within the Coalition’s planning system. It will not be easy for them.
The national denial of development rights is sustained, and in many ways the problem is worse under the Conservative-led coalition than under New Labour.
The house builders have been stripped of New Labour’s national target of 240,000 net additional homes a year, but that was an unmet and inadequate target. Even more troubled are plans to develop 50 proposed “eco towns” also proposed by Labour, itself a small, even deluded, enterprise that is pathetic compared to development elsewhere in the world.
Urban expansion and new settlements – whether in Britain or elsewhere – require land. And Britain, contrary to popular belief has land aplenty. The restraints placed on builders can best to described in the words of Sir Peter Hall, as a “Land Fetish”.
The planning system also is host to an eco-fetish that the Coalition appears willing to sustain regardless of housing need.
Inevitably some house builders will have subscribed to the idea that the environment is too precious to allow much land to be developed, but not all. This leaves no centralised attempt to satisfy the demand for new household formation following from population growth, the needs of immigrants, or to encourage the replacement of the worst housing stock. For greens of the more misanthropic persuasion, opposition to both population and production makes sense. They don’t want humanity to reproduce either biologically or industrially. They don’t want a world that is always about advancing human interests through industry.
Yet the need for new homes won’t so easily go away.
A three sided predicament
This contemporary British housing trilemma will not be easily resolved. The country seems to accept expensive, inadequate housing and mortgage debt as a fact of life.
Yet this leaves us with no solution for future needs.
Something needs to change. Hugh Pavletich and Wendell Cox publish as Demographia have found – for the seventh year running – increasing unaffordability of British housing.
The Solution: 250 New Towns
The only reasonable solution is to tear down the current planning structure. What we need is an audacious move to build some 250 new towns.
This movement would try to replicate past successes. In the brief inter-war period, 1918 to 1938, popular owner occupation flourished, with economically struggling farmers keen to sell their Freehold land to house builders.
How long will Britain live with low levels of construction, increasingly higher prices and consistently low levels of affordability? The increasing drag of house price inflation on household incomes and the acceptance of poor quality British housing in short supply cannot be sustained indefinitely.
How long will Britain sustain housing unaffordability as a financial opportunity, protected by a weak government?
The British collective obsession with inflating house prices must end sometime, unless we are to lose all sense of housing primarily as somewhere useful to live.
The freedom to build on your own land will deflate the housing market, dramatically in some locations. Giving all landowners their Freehold right to build will liberate the commercial construction industry from the burden of inflated land prices, allowing disruptive advances in industrial production.
If Britain faces the house price inflation projected by Savills in the next 10 years there are many home owners dependent on housing equity who will not object. Neither will the house builders object too much as they build a low number of luxury eco-homes, to the undoubted applause of the architectural press. They may enjoy the praise for their greenness. Farmers might subsist as environmentalists. Greens will be sufficiently deluded to imagine there was some point to all this. The City will make a healthy return.
The green zealots are conspicuous, and need to be confronted by industrialists with a sense of humanity. Now is no time to let them get away with their anti-humanism.
Britain certainly is capable of more than is currently being discussed. National housing output had peaked in 1968 at 413,714, more than twice the current rate.
We have to answer the question: Who will organise to better explain and end the housing predicament in low wage industrial Britain? We are hoping the 250 new towns club can start the ball rolling.
Note 1 - Marian Bowley, ‘Table 2, Numbers of Houses Built in England and Wales between January 1, 1919 and March 31, 1939’, in Housing and the State 1919-1944, London, George Allen & Unwin, 1945, p 271
Ian Abley, Project Manager for audacity, an experienced site Architect, and a Research Engineer at the Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Engineering, Loughborough University. He is co-author of Why is construction so backward? (2004) and co-editor of Manmade Modular Megastructures. (2006) He is planning 250 new British towns.
If they build it, will we come? Planners, utilities, auto industry execs, and retailers are hopeful that we will, as they get themselves ready for electric vehicles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky vision for the future. The reality is unfolding right now. In 2011, NRG Energy will install upwards of 70 car-charging stations across Dallas and Forth Worth. As the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt begin to penetrate the D/FW market, NRG aims to capture the revenue stream from charging car batteries here, just it is doing in Houston. NRG’s news comes on the heels of electric utility TXU Energy's announcement of its own installation of twelve public charging stations being allocated across Dallas and Fort Worth.
I’ve been watching the wave for several years as part of my work with emerging companies. At numerous conferences on electric vehicles, I've observed stakeholders - many of them in competition with each other - come together to swap ideas, network, and hammer out standards. It's been an education in the necessity of collaboration to foster sustainable development.
Cooperation hasn’t been guided by idealism so much as by the urge to survive in a market that, until recently, was practically non-existent. Start-ups that have failed to collaborate have fallen by the wayside. As one conference speaker joked, “We’ve got to build up the market before we tear each other down.”
Profit-making may be the motivation of electric-vehicle manufacturers, but others at the table have their own agendas for EV readiness. The city of Dallas, for example, is in Serious Nonattainment status for ozone pollution. The region risks losing funding if it doesn't clean up its air. “Seventy percent of air pollution in Dallas comes from on-road/off-road vehicles, so EVs can play a substantial role in resolving this,” said Jennifer Cohen, Executive Director for the North Texas Clean Air Coalition. Cohen was an organizer of the Electric Vehicle North Texas Electric Vehicle Showcase last September at the State Fair of Texas.
At the Electric Vehicle Showcase. Betsy del Monte, Director of Sustainability for Dallas-based construction giant BECK told a panel, “Mass transit alone cannot solve our problem. We also need to look at the broader picture in terms of development. Of the palette of materials that we have available, EVs are one of the tools we must come to rely on.”
Tom Reddoch, Director of Energy Efficiency for Electric Power Research Institute, agreed: “This is a success story. EPRI is connecting two giants, the electric industry with the auto industry.” To assist stakeholders with the information they need to build communities that can sustain a transition to electric vehicles, EPRI sees three keys: regionally-driven consumer attitudes, the installation of charging infrastructure in order to ensure a positive response for the drivers’ first experiences, and utility readiness. “We have plenty of capacity to go around, especially if people charge at night,” said Reddoch, “but there could be localized effects where cars cluster. The construction community, developers, and architects need to address this together.”
At a technical level, tools are emerging that can help integrate electric vehicles into the transportation landscape. “We’ve arrived at an interesting nexus between the power industry and the auto industry,” said Brad Gammons of IBM. “There is not going to be a dominant leader so we need standards across the value chain… Collaboration ensures that things happen efficiently.”
Not all collaboration requires complex software. Some of it is happening on the ground, person to person. The installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in D/FW is giving two cities with a long (if friendly) rivalry a chance to mutually benefit by working together. “To get the mayor of Fort Worth to travel to Dallas to talk about EVs is huge,” said Jim Greer of Oncor electricity.
Range anxiety continues to be a barrier to electric vehicle adoption, even though three-fourths of Americans commute less than 40 miles per day. “To handle range anxiety, we need to provide home-based charging capability,” said del Monte from BECK.
At the same time, Half Price Books unveiled Dallas’ first public charging station. Granted, there’s not a line around the block for the EV charger yet. But just having it at one of Dallas’ most popular bookstores sends a tangible signal to drivers that the future is here and now.
As the infrastructure falls into place, the question remains: Will drivers buy the cars? We’ll find out very soon. The Chevy Volt is scheduled to arrive on car dealers’ lots in Dallas-Fort Worth in March.
Photo of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric vehicle by IFCAR
Anna Clark is the author of Green, American Style and the president of EarthPeople. She lives in one of Dallas’ first residences to earn a Platinum-LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Metropolitan area results are beginning to trickle in from the 2010 census. They reveal that, at least for the major metropolitan areas so far, there is little evidence to support the often repeated claim by think tanks and the media that people are moving from suburbs to the historical core municipalities. This was effectively brought to light in a detailed analysis of Chicago metropolitan area results by New Geography’s Aaron Renn. This article analyzes data available for the eight metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population for which data had been released by February 20.
Summary: Summarized, the results are as follows. A detailed analysis of the individual metropolitan areas follows (Table 1).
|Metropolitan Area Population: 2000-2010|
|Historical Core Municipality||Suburbs||Metropolitan Area|
|Percentage Change: 2000-2010|
|Chicago excludes Kenosha County, WI|
|Washington excludes Jefferson County, WV|
|Indianapolis core municipality: Indianapolis & Marion County|
Analysis of Individual Metropolitan Areas: The major metropolitan areas for which data is available are described below in order of their population size (Figure 2 and Table 1).
Chicago:The core municipality of Chicago lost 200,000 residents between 2000 and 2010. Suburban growth was 546,000, adding up to total metropolitan area growth of 346,000 people. The suburbs accounted for 158 percent of the metropolitan area growth. The core municipality decline was stunning in the face of the much ballyhooed urban renaissance in that great city. Yet this renaissance was limited enough as to not lead to an expanding population.
The decline in the core municipality population represents a major departure from the 2009 Bureau of the Census estimates, which would have implied a 2010 population at least 170,000 higher (assumes the growth rate of 2008 two 2009).
Instead all of the growth was in the outer suburbs, beyond the inner suburbs of Cook County.
Dallas-Fort Worth: The historical core municipality of Dallas had a modest population increase of 9000, or less than 1 percent between 2000 and 2010. In contrast, the suburbs experienced an increase of 1.2 million, or 30 percent. Thus, approximately 1 percent of the metropolitan area growth was in the core municipality, while 99 percent was in the suburbs, most of it in the outer suburbs. The inner suburbs added 14 percent to their 2000 population, while the outer suburbs added 36 percent.
The population figure for the core municipality of Dallas – consistently among the strong core areas – was surprisingly low, at 9 percent below (117,000) the expected level. The suburban population was 1 percent (71,000) below expectations.
Houston: The historical core municipality of Houston had comparatively strong population growth, adding 146,000 and 8 percent to its 2000 population. However this figure was 8 percent, or 174,000 below the expected figure. By contrast, the suburban growth was 39 percent, more than five times that of the central jurisdiction. The suburban population growth was 1,085,000, more than six times that of the core jurisdiction. The suburban population was 4 percent or 144,000 higher than expected.
The core jurisdiction of Houston accounted for 12 percent of the metropolitan area growth while the suburbs s accounted for 88 percent. This was evenly distributed between the inner suburbs of Harris County and the outer suburbs. The inner suburbs added 38 percent to their population while the outer suburbs added 41 percent.
Washington:Reversing a decade's long trend, the historical core jurisdiction of Washington (DC) had a small population gain between 2000 and 2010. But the Washington, DC gain of 30,000 pales by comparison to the suburban gain, which was more than 20 times greater, at 700,000. The core jurisdiction accounted for 4 percent of the population gain, while the suburbs accounted for 96 percent.
More than 60 percent of the growth in the metropolitan area was outside the inner suburban jurisdictions that border Washington, DC (Arlington County and Alexandria in Virginia, together with Montgomery County and Prince George's County in Maryland), while the inner suburbs accounted for 36 percent of the growth. The population increase in the inner suburbs was 9 percent, compared to 37 percent in the outer suburbs.
Jefferson County in West Virginia was not included in the analysis because data is not yet available.
Baltimore: The historical core municipality of Baltimore, the site of another ballyhooed urban comeback, lost 30,000 people, or 5 percent of its 2000 population. Baltimore's 2010 population was 4 percent or 16,000 below the expected level. The suburbs experienced a 10 percent or 188,000 person increase. The region’s population increase was roughly equal in numbers between the inner suburbs and the outer suburbs, although the exurban percentage increase was nearly twice as large.
San Antonio:The historical core municipality of San Antonio experienced the largest population increase among the eight metropolitan areas, at 183,000, a roughly 16 percent population jump. The city of San Antonio accounted 43 percent of the growth while suburbs in Bexar County and further out accounted for a larger 57 percent. However, the suburban population increase was 248,000 or 44 percent. This is something of a turnaround in trends that favored the city of San Antonio in the past because of its vast sprawl and predominant share of the metropolitan population.
The city of San Antonio population was 5 percent or 65,000 people short of the expected 2010 level. The suburban population was 15 percent more or 104,000 more than the expected level.
Indianapolis:The historical core area of Indianapolis and Marion County (including enclaves within Indianapolis) grew 5 percent and accounted for 19 percent of the metropolitan area growth. In contrast, the surrounding suburbs grew 28 percent, representing r 81 percent of the metropolitan area growth. Overall, the core municipality added 44,000 people, while the suburbs added more than four times as many, at 188,000.
Austin:The historical core municipality of Austin experienced the greatest growth of any core jurisdiction in the eight metropolitan areas, at 20 percent. Even so, growth in the suburban areas was nearly 3 times as high at 56 percent. The city of Austin accounted for 29 percent of the metropolitan area population growth, while the suburbs accounted for 71 percent. Overall, the central municipality grew 134,000, while the suburbs grew 2.5 times as much, at 333,000.
Generally it is fair to say that, so far, suburban areas are growing far faster than urban cores. In addition, most of the fastest growing core municipalities are those areas that are themselves largely suburban, particularly in relatively young cities like San Antonio, Houston and Austin.
Among the eight metropolitan areas analyzed, the older core jurisdictions (with median house construction dates preceding 1960) tended to either lose population or grow modestly. This is illustrated by the city of Chicago, with a median house construction date of 1945, Baltimore with a median house construction date of 1946 and Washington with a median house construction date of 1949 (Table 2). Generally, the central jurisdictions with greater suburbanization (with median house construction dates of 1960 or later) grew more quickly. For example, highly suburban central jurisdictions like Austin with a median house construction date of 1983 and San Antonio, with a median house construction date of 1970, grew fastest. So much for the long forecast, and apparently still elusive, “return to the city”.
|Historical Core Municipalities: Growth & Median House Age|
|Historical Core Municipality|
|Growth: 2000-2010||Share of Metropolitan Growth||Median House Construction Year|
Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life”
The first Census results for Indiana were recently released, painting a picture of an increasingly metropolitan state. Indianapolis continues to be the growth champion as its strong economy attracted people from the rest of the state, as well as increasingly diverse populations. Although the core of Indianapolis fell well below expectations, its population did not fall like that of Chicago. In a switch from some other regions, the outer suburbs also lagged expectations while inner suburbs boasted a robust performance.
Population Change in Indiana
The map below shows how Indiana's counties faired between Census 2000 and 2010, with counties gaining population in black, and those losing population it in red.
Many rural and small industrial counties either shrank or posted anemic population growth while most metro counties, especially suburban ones, were standouts. This is particularly illustrated by this map highlighting only those counties that grew faster than the statewide average:
This list features heavily counties in suburban Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Chicago, as well as areas near midsized cities like Fort Wayne and Evansville. Big Ten college towns Bloomington and Lafayette also did well.
Metro Indianapolis: Indiana's Growth Champion
But the clear population winner was metro Indianapolis, which grew at a rate 15.2%, nearly double the US average and well above that of the state:
The growth even extended even to the central city/county, with Marion County breaking the 900,000 barrier. The 231,137 people added by metro Indy was fully 57% of total statewide growth, even though that region only contained 25% of the state's population in 2000. Unsurprisingly, metro Indy added 15,000 jobs during the last decade while the rest of the state shed nearly 200,000 of them.
Indy Suburban Migration Missed Expectations, But No Core Renaissance Either
Indianapolis showed some of the same urban core patterns as Chicago, which bodes ill for the back to the city story at the national level. There is a city-county consolidation in effect which muddies the waters here, but the old township boundaries that are still reported by the Census Bureau as minor civil divisions can serve as a proxy for old boundaries. Center Township covers most of what used to be the old City of Indianapolis, while the remaining townships constitute the Inner Suburbs and the collar counties the Outer Suburbs.
Those of us who are urban boosters were excited that the Census Bureau estimates showed Center Township's decades long population slide ending and even hitting an inflection point during the 2000s. Alas, these Census results demolished that notion as Center Township was shown to have lost 24,268 people, falling well short of estimated population in 2009. Like Chicago, the inner city also featured a large black exodus.
But the Outer Suburbs didn't fare that well either, especially Hamilton County. Long ranked among the fastest growing in the entire United States, I had been waiting to see if growth there might have been slightly above trend as in the past and put them over the 300,000 mark. It turns out to be a very different story, as Hamilton County's 2010 population was 274,659, actually coming in below the 279,287 the Census Bureau had estimated in 2009. Still, the majority of regional growth was still in the Outer Suburbs, although less than estimated.
This of course means that the Inner Suburbs did better than expected, particularly the southern ones of Perry and Franklin Townships, which still have some greenfield development opportunities left. As in cities across the US, older Inner Suburbs of Indy have been experiencing their own problems as they aged. But this shows that the problems may not be as bad as feared. Though the economy doubtlessly affected this, nevertheless it still buys additional time for transformations driven by demographic growth and entrepreneurship among immigrants and a burgeoning black middle class to take root.
More Diversity, But Still Not That Diverse
Indianapolis and Indiana grew more diverse during the 2000s particularly with Hispanic immigration. But again the changes were concentrated in metro areas. And Indianapolis, long a very white city with a black minority, showed very strong growth in diversity, but still not enough to make this a truly diverse place in the manner of New York or Los Angeles.
As in Chicago, the core lost black-only population, but other than that it was a very different story. Metro Indy added 48,824 new blacks, a growth rate of 22.8% that outpaced overall growth. This boosted black population share by nearly one percentage point. Unlike Chicago, where local journalists are asking what happened to the city's incredible shrinking black population, leading Indy black talk show host Amos Brown issued a press related titled “Blacks Fueled Indy's Growth in 2010 Census Reports” to trumpet the black numbers there. One big reason might be: in contrast to Chicago, Indianapolis’ African-Americans did not have to flee south for jobs or affordable housing.
The black core population decline in Indy seems less driven by gentrification than the prosaic concerns that generally drive suburbanization, such as safer streets, better housing and schools. This migration pattern is very evident in places like the Inner Suburban Lafayette Square area, which in addition to becoming a thriving immigrant business district is also home to large numbers of black owned businesses that are helping to transform this once decaying area.
The state's black population as a whole remains heavily concentrated in large urban areas, with Marion and Lake Counties accounting for 62% of the state's total black population.
Indy's Hispanic growth surged as well, with 66,715 new Hispanics representing a 161% increase, though this is less than some expected. Hispanic population growth was more evenly spread, though from a total numbers perspective Indy and northern Indiana dominated the growth, as illustrated by the following chart of total Hispanic population growth in the last decade:
Indy's Asian population also more than doubled to almost 40,000.. Add this all up and the metro area non-Hispanic white-only population share dropped by six percentage points, but remains at 74.6%. The city of Indianapolis itself is pushing 40% minority, however. Regardless, this is still a material change and shows that metro Indy is a strong magnet not just for whites, but for pretty much everybody. Its challenge is to continue building on this for the future, while the state’s challenge will be to pull itself up to Indy's level of demographic and economic performance.
Aaron M. Renn is an independent writer on urban affairs based in the Midwest. His writings appear at The Urbanophile.
Photo by Carl Van Rooy
Esperanza Spalding, winner of the best new artist award at this year’s Grammys, personifies the ethnic trends reshaping America. She is a fresh-faced 27-year old jazz bassist whose very name portrays her mixed ethnic and racial heritage as the daughter of an African-American father and a Hispanic, Welsh, Native American mother. Spalding first gained her deep interest in music watching French-born Chinese American classical cellist Yo Yo Ma on “Sesame Street,” a TV program that has perhaps contributed to ethnic acculturation in the U.S. as much as any other institution. Spalding’s formal musical training was originally classical, but at age 15 she decided that her passion was jazz, itself a quintessentially American 20th Century fusion of black rhythms and the melodies of European immigrants.
The United States has gradually been becoming more diverse for decades, but Esperanza Spalding’s Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) is most radically altering the nature of that diversity. The entirely senior citizen Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) is 90% white. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Generation X (born 1965-1981) are a bit more diverse: 17% and 25% non-white respectively. In contrast, four in ten adult Millennials are either African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or of mixed race. Among all Millennials of high school age or younger, about half now come from what was once called a minority group. Moreover, according to the 2009 Census population estimates, the under 18 population of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas is majority-minority with Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York poised on the brink of that benchmark.
In 2008 the Census Bureau made these demographic trends “official” by forecasting that the United States will become a majority-minority country around 2040. By 2050, with an estimated 46% of the population, non-Hispanic whites will still remain the country’s single largest racial group, but Hispanics (30%), African-Americans (15%) and Asians (9%) will together comprise a majority of the U.S. population.
Generational theory, first developed by William Strauss and Neil Howe, offers important historical insights on what this new majority-minority America might look like. As we point out in our forthcoming book, Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America, we are in the midst of what Strauss and Howe have defined as a “fourth turning.” These periods have invariably been associated with the most intense social and political stress in US history: the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Great Depression. Civic generations, heavily populated by the children of large waves of immigrants, are more ethnically diverse than older generations, contributing to the ethnic and racial tensions that have existed during each of these time periods. At the same time, because civic generations are comprised of group- and team-oriented, conventional and institution building individuals, ethnic absorption and acculturation also increases during and just after fourth turnings as each civic generation matures. This is in sharp contrast to “idealist” generations, such as the Baby Boomers, that reject the mainstream culture and often form movements promoting ethnic separatism.
Ethnic tensions during previous similar generational changes rivaled those the country is experiencing today. In the run-up to the Civil War, the rabidly anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic American or Know-Nothing Party captured close to a quarter of the national popular vote in the 1856 presidential election,and more than a third of the vote that year in all of the states that eventually comprised the Confederacy. In the 1930s, as the civic GI Generation children of the Eastern, Central, and Southern Europeans who comprised America’s last previous great wave of immigrants came of age to help elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, his most virulent opponents claimed that the president was really a Jew named “Rosenfeld” and derided his program as the “Jew Deal.”
We see similar language in today’s discourse, at least on the fringes. Some extreme opponents of President Barack Obama accuse him of being foreign-born and a crypto-Muslim. In a more obscure way, if one searches Google for the seemingly innocuous phrase, “US majority nonwhite 2040,” two of the first three listings are from racist groups decrying this change and the third is from a liberal group advising the need to “understand” the fears of white people in a rapidly changing America.
Fortunately civic generation Millennials have many characteristics that lead to ethnic acculturation and absorption The Civil War generation was critical to absorbing the Irish into the American mainstream, in part through the role played by Irish detachments in the Union Army, something that helped the Irish overcome the charge that they were an alien Papist force set on undermining a free Protestant nation. Similarly, the GI Generation’s Poles, Italians, and Jews became acculturated during and after World War II, in part through their service in the armed forces or in the domestic war effort. In sharp contrast to the anti-Semitic charges leveled against FDR, commentators on all sides of the political spectrum describe America as a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” Foods like bagels and pizza, once available only in urban ethnic enclaves, became commonplace, sold by pizza chains started by Irishmen and Greeks, or bagels marketed by brands such as Pepperidge Farm.
In the current fourth turning, America’s newest ethnic minorities will also become acculturated and, in turn, shape the nation’s culture. A 2007 Pew survey indicates that while only 23% of first generation Hispanics speaks English “very well,” that percentage rises to 88% among those in the second generation and 94% within the third. At the same time, researchers at the University of California-Irvine and Princeton found that Latinos tend to “lose” their Spanish the longer they are in this country. This research indicates that although first generation Hispanics bring Spanish with them, by the second generation only a third of Latinos speak Spanish “very well.” By the third generation, that number drops to 17% among those with three or four foreign-born grandparents and to only 5% among those with just one or two foreign-born grandparents. ()
And, so as the United States endures the tensions and rancor of another generational fourth turning, it is important to realize that this too shall pass. Millennials will, as have other civic generations before them, redefine what it means to be an American in ways both more diverse and inclusive than older generations may be able to imagine or appreciate.
Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais are fellows of NDN and the New Policy Institute and co-authors of “Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics” and the upcoming “Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America.”
Esperanza Spaulding photo by Andrea Mancini.
If you want to get a glimpse of the future of the U.S., check out Fort Worth, TX. Never mind the cowboy boots, but you might want to practice your Spanish.
Texas is growing explosively and much of that growth is among Latinos. The latest Census Bureau figures show the Lone Star State grew by 20%, to over 25 million people, recording about a quarter of the nation’s overall growth. The rate of growth was twice the national average. The implications are huge politically, as Texas stands to gain 4 new Congressional seats from this expansion, and Hispanic leaders want in.
A majority of the Hispanic growth came from births to families already living here. While migration from other states and countries contributed about 45%.
The Texas story stands in contrast to the Rust Belt states and the Northeast, where overall growth is minimal. Texas’s Hispanic-fueled growth spurt out-paced the entire countries, helped brace our housing market and our economy.
A close look at Texas growth reveals much about American’s home-buying habits. Rural areas got smaller – few want to live in the boonies of far west Texas while it appears suburban areas won over the most transplants.
But arguably the biggest winner was Ft. Worth, or Cow Town as we call it. Fort Worth grew by a whopping 38.6%, the largest increase in the state, followed by Laredo’s 33%, Austin at 20.4%, and San Antonio at 16%. In contrast the city of Dallas, my home, grew by a scant .8% – a bit deflating to a city all puffed up about a $354 million arts center, a downtown park and greenway, and the $185 million Perot Museum of Nature & Science underway.
Houston remains the state’s largest metropolitan area but sustained growth of only 7.5%, though Harris County – mostly due to growth in the suburbs – grew by 20%. As in Ft. Worth and elsewhere, Hispanics have been the driver, and now comprise 41% of the Harris County population. The biggest growth took place in formerly rural towns just outside the big cities, one-shop stop farmer’s crossings or granaries.
Curtis Tally shakes his head at how fast little Justin, north of Fort Worth, has grown. Subdivisions sprouted up on what was once farmland around his Justin Feed Co. in southern Denton County. From 1891 residents in 2000, Justin has 3,246 today.
"We were selling seed for pastures; now we're selling seeds for lawns," Tally, 74, who has been in business in Justin since 1958, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
If you think that’s amazing, wait ‘till you get to Fate, Texas, 25 minutes east of Dallas on Interstate 30. Ten years ago you would have missed Fate, a town of 500 so small the utility invoicing was done on postcards if you blinked while driving. Today, Fate is the fastest-growing town in the state, with 6,357 residents – an increase of 1,179%! Residents who live there say it’s far enough away from Dallas to be in the country, but still close to the big city. Fate draws many first time homebuyers who are starting families (home prices range from $50,000 to $300,000) Here’s what Fate resident Tina Nelson told The Dallas Morning News:
“My kids can go ride bikes all day long and I don’t have to worry too much about where they are,” said Tina. “It’s like the 1950s (here) the sun goes down and everyone’s porch light comes on.”
On the western side of Lake Ray Hubbard, a few minutes from Fate and slightly closer to Dallas is Sunnyvale, another fast-growing little hick town where professionals are building $2 million dollar homes on a 124 acre family ranch turned into home sites called St James Park. They send their children to a two-year old, $50 million public school with the highest ratings in the state.
The young man building homes on the 49 two acre estate sites is Jojy Koshy of Atrium Fine Homes. At 31, Jojy holds a masters in business from the University of Texas and tells me, with pride, how his parents immigrated to the Dallas suburb of Plano in 1986 from India.
“My parents instilled a strong work ethic in us,” he says. “I know this market is challenging, but I believe that if I work longer, harder, and keep our clients completely satisfied, we will have a great business.”
It’s the same story across the state. The Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio filled in with development as the cities merged closer to becoming one big schizophrenic metropolis. The string of counties along the Rio Grande, anchored by Brownsville and McAllen have been growing, and may be beneficiaries of the crime wave south of the border. A sharp Dallas Realtor took out an ad in the Monterrey newspaper advertising homes for sale in Dallas and snagged several buyers. Even the wife of the Monterrey mayor moved to a Dallas suburb, escaping the cartel and seeking to be closer to her family here.
Aside from escaping death in Mexico, what is driving people to Texas? Start with our rising star, Fort Worth. The city has both a cowboy pizzazz personality and a lower crime rate than Dallas. Fort Worth’s arts district has overshadowed Dallas’s for years, and the neighborhoods offer true community – places where the kids can still walk, not be bussed, to school. Rose Bowl winner Texas Christian University is on the upswing, downtown is charmingly vibrant, and an urban renaissance is taking hold on the city’s western edge called West 7th.
What are people seeking in Texas? I’d call it quality of life with room for upward mobility: affordable homes with mortgage payments that leave some money for recreation, good public schools for their kids and generally less onerous tax regime.
Yet with our many gains, Texas faces great challenges. The state has the third-highest teenage pregnancy rate in the nation, which is actually an improvement from last year, when we were number two. There are a rising number of children are living in poverty in Texas. Many of these children may be anchor babies born to illegal immigrants who cross the border to ensure their children and ultimately, themselves, citizenship. In 2006, 70% of the women who gave birth at Dallas County’s Parkland Memorial Hospital were illegal immigrants.
Increasingly, Latinos, illegal or not, take those babies home to the suburbs. Texas suburbs are no longer lily-white. This is true in working class places like Bedford, Texas, outside Fort Worth, where the black population has almost doubled. In affluent Southlake, the population this decade shifted from 95 percent Anglo down to 88 percent. Looking for a great selection of Asian food? You’ll starve (or go broke) in downtown Dallas. Go north to Carrollton, Texas where you’ll find a 78,000 square foot Super H Mart in what was once a Mervyns department store. Inside you’ll find seven types of gray, fuzzy, Chinese long, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, and kombucha squash eight food stalls said to rival any of those found in Seoul and Singapore, two cities known for their gourmet street food. Manduguk, anyone?
The new Texans are coming here not just to live, but to dig in economically.
In the end, we are seeing the birth of a Texas that is neither the white bread, big hair idyll of the cultural conservatives or the free market dystopia imagined by liberals. It is becoming more diverse, without losing its capitalist energy. With all its blemishes, the emerging Texas may well become the model for how America evolves in the coming decades.
Candy Evans is an independent journalist based in Dallas, Texas, She covers Texas for AOL's HousingWatch and blogs at secondshelters.com.
Photo by Rick
With the release of results for over 20 states, the 2010 Census has provided some strong indicators as to the real evolution of the country’s demography. In short, they reveal that Americans are continuing to disperse, becoming more ethnically diverse and leaning toward to what might be called “opportunity” regions.
Below is a summary of the most significant findings to date, followed by an assessment of what this all might mean for the coming decade.
Point One: America is becoming more suburban.
For much of the past decade, there has been a constant media drumbeat about the “return to the cities.” Urban real estate interests, environmentalists and planners have widely promoted this idea, and it has been central to the ideology of the Obama administration, the most big-city dominated in at least a half century. “We’ve reached the limits of suburban development,” Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan opined last February, “People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities.”
Donavan and others cite such things as the energy price spike in the mid-aughts as well as the mortgage crisis as contributing to the “back to the city” trend. Yet in reality the actual numbers suggest that Donavan and his cronies may need a serious reality check. The Census reveals that, contrary to the “back to the city” rhetoric, suburban growth continues to dominate in most regions of the country, constituting between 80% and 100% of all growth in all but three of the 16 metropolitan areas reporting.
This includes sprawling regions like Houston, “smart growth“ areas like Seattle and Portland (where suburbs accounted for more than 80% of all growth over the decade) and Midwestern regions like St. Louis, which like Chicago saw a sharp decline in the urban population. The only exceptions have been Oklahoma City, Austin or San Antonio, with vast expanses still allowing for much of new development to take place within the city limits.
To be sure, no one should pretend that urban fortunes have sunk to their 1970s nadir. Yet overall, central cities, which accounted for a 11% of metropolitan growth in the 1990s, constituted barely 4% of the growth in the last decade. Some core cities, notably Chicago, have shrunk after making gains in the ’90s. Indeed Chicago — the president’s adopted hometown and the poster child of the urban “comeback” — took what analyst Aaron Renn humorously dubbed “a Census shellacking,” losing some 200,000 people, while the outer suburban ring continued to grow and diversify their populations. The Windy City’s population is now down to the lowest level since the 1910 Census.
Point Two: America is becoming more diverse, and the diversity is spreading.
The racial reordering of America is proceeding apace. Nowhere is this more clear than in Texas, where Hispanic and Asian populations have driven much of the state’s demographic growth. Latinos alone now account for roughly 38% of all Texans. Immigration rates in Dallas and Houston are now higher than for Chicago, Washington, Seattle and Atlanta. Texas, notes long-time observer Candace Evans, is becoming the country’s premier laboratory for promoting a successful diversity.
There are other major shifts in ethnic demographics. For one thing, minorities continue to head to the suburban rings around most major cities. African-Americans and even Latinos may be fleeing places like Chicago, but they continue to move in large numbers to suburban locales in surrounding Illinois counties. , especially south of the city. Others appear to have headed to places like the traditional black-opportunity magnet of Atlanta and or other southern hubs, such as Nashville.
Another trend appears to be the migration of ethnic minorities to areas that, in the past, have been primarily white. This is clear in the thriving Indianapolis area, where the African-American population grew by 28% and the Hispanic population by 161%, or some 56,000 souls. Look for more minority growth in such areas which have the advantage of affordable housing, robust economies and better than average job growth.
3. The Shift to “Opportunity Regions”
As the economy slid in the last years of the decade, population growth slowed, particularly in some Sun Belt states, such as Florida and Nevada, that thrived during the bubble. In contrast newcomers flocked to places, notably in the Texas cities, that offered better prospects. Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth regions all grew by 20% or more over the decade.
The key here seems to be affordability and jobs. As economist Mark Sharpe has illustrated, Texas private sector job growth last year was 2.7%, compared with 1% nationally. Unfortunately, unemployment remains over 8%, since of this growth was absorbed by newcomers. In contrast, places with the slowest, or negative growth, tend also to be losing jobs. For example, although the residential population of Chicago’s loop tripled in the past decade to 20,000,the famed business district lost almost 65,000 jobs.
But it’s not just Sun Belt cities that are gaining on places like Chicago. Indianapolis has emerged as a different kind of “opportunity region.” It lacks the dynamism and diversity of the Texas cities, but it has continued to attract people from all over the country, including the surrounding rural or old Rust Belt parts of the state. Overall the Indianapolis region grew nearly 15% over the decade, roughly 50% higher than the national average, as much as Portland and more than Seattle.
In contrast, growth seems to be slowing in some formerly hot areas. Population increases for Seattle, Portland and Denver were around 14%, about half the rate of the previous decade. Part of this may have to do with high unemployment, particularly in Oregon, and high housing prices. Still, these three areas continue to grow much faster than regions such as Chicago, St. Louis or Baltimore where growth struggled in the single digits
Possible Long-term Implications
These shifts suggest that the Obama administration might want to rethink its high-density and urban-oriented strategy. Despite all the media focus on an imagined “back to the city” movement, Americans continue to disperse to “opportunity regions” and toward the suburbs. As a result, expect generally conservative-leaning suburbs and exurbs to gain more power after reapportionment and core city influence to decline further.
Yet the Census numbers also have some unsettling aspects for Republicans. The increasing minority population even in heartland states such as Indiana, not to mention Texas, could undermine GOP gains, particularly if the party listens to its strong nativist wing. Diversification in the suburbs could ultimately turn some of these areas to the center or even left.
The new American generation arising in the census will be increasingly diverse. A growing portion will consist of the children of immigrants, and they will be predominately English-speaking. This suggests a more active and engaged minority population, perhaps susceptible to a pro-growth GOP message and the economy of “opportunity regions” but likely hostile to overtly anti-immigrants posturing.
Whatever your politics or economic interests, the Census suggests that the country is changing in dramatic way– if not always in the ways often predicted by pundits, planners or the media. It usually makes more sense to study the actual numbers, than follow the wishful thinking of largely urban-centric, big-city-based and often quite biased analysts.
This piece originally appeared at Forbes.com
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and an adjunct fellow of the Legatum Institute in London. He is author of The City: A Global History. His newest book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, released in February, 2010.
Indianapolis Photo by IndySawmill
Every year, the top officials, policy wonks, and business managers convene at the annual State of the Valley conference to discuss and debate the health of the region. Over a thousand attendees trekked to San Jose, Calif., on Feb. 18 for the release of this year’s report. Published since 1995 by Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network and distributed for free, the new 2011 Index of Silicon Valley reported bleak indicators and a gloomy outlook.
The event provided Valley insiders a moment to reflect on the economic storm, and the mood was darkly optimistic. A persistent phrase tossed out was the “new normal,” old Wall Street jargon describing a repressed economic environment. Growth is too slow to bring down the unemployment rate, and government intervenes to save a struggling private sector.
Tally of the Valley
Certainly Silicon Valley has had its share of troubles suffering from poor state finances and severe global competition. Unemployment has hit nearly 10 percent, higher than when the recession started. The region’s population of three million, comprised of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, has continued to drop as talent leaves for opportunity in cheaper pastures. Foreign immigration, considered a critical factor in the region’s entrepreneurship, dropped by 40 percent to its lowest level in the last decade since 2009 and stayed flat through 2010.
Adding to the woe, Silicon Valley towns are facing budget shortfalls and downsizing their public services. San Jose faces a 10th straight year of red ink, adding up to a gap of $110 million in the next fiscal year. Caltrain plans to close up to 16 stations to survive a record $30.3 million deficit – about one-third of the commuter rail’s operating budget.
Education has also taken a big hit. The California college system is wheezing from tremendous budget cuts, calculated at $1.4 billion across the state, which hit all three levels of tertiary education. Foothill-De Anza Community College, one of the largest community college districts in the U.S., confronts roughly $10.9 million in cuts on top of drastic budget slashes from previous years.
Further, the local housing market remains stagnant, and 2010 marked, due in part to a tough regulatory environment, the third consecutive year that Silicon Valley was the least affordable California region for first-time home buyers.
In the Eye of the Beholder
It’s a dismal state of affairs if you ask the local old guard. Judy Estrin, former chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, grumbled that one problem was outsourcing. Too many startups were adopting the practice in her view, and she told the audience, “Don’t automatically go to China.”
Others were concerned that jobs were being shipped simply to towns east across the bay. Much ballyhooed and well-subsidized sectors, such as cleantech, would not produce enough jobs to be economically meaningful in the recovery. Attendees were fearful that the Valley has lost its edge.
If those who know Silicon Valley best are somewhat pessimistic, the Valley looks golden for many looking from the outside. The day before the conference, President Obama sought money and advice from the Valley’s tech elite, including Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Obama’s agenda was to push innovation, and aside from escaping the U.S. capital now and then, it is tellingly that he turned first to Silicon Valley.
The Valley has also inspired other city governments. New York City – which once boasted its own “Silicon Alley” was winning over the Valley’s decidedly suburban model – recently asked Stanford University to help train its urban talent. As one local reporter put it gleefully, New York is “hoping to replicate our Apple in The Big Apple”.
Although financial analysts once considered Apple washed up as a stock less than 10 years ago, the technology company is now lauded for transforming the mobile and entertainment industry and turning Silicon Valley into a mobile mecca. Goaded by Apple, mobile manufacturing giant Sony Ericsson is shifting all its product development from Sweden to Silicon Valley. Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, is also reportedly considering plans to relocate its executives to the Valley.
Growing Regional Value, Not Growth
The prevailing question remains: how will Silicon Valley sustain its lead in innovation. For some the response is to either raise taxes or cut public services as a matter of survival. At the State of the Valley conference, the overriding call to action was to unite 110 local governments through centralized regional leadership. However, the notion of a regional governing body had been introduced before in the 1990s and failed instantly in California state legislation.
So what might the future hold? Last year’s report card aside, financial analysts are cheery about the Valley’s prospects. Silicon Valley Bank’s Financial Group reports that technology spending is expected to grow by more than five percent in 2011. The majority of their clients finished 2010 in better financial shape than the prior year, and median revenues for all early and growth stage technology clients grew 50 percent from the year before.
The IPO market has woken from its slumber. Seven tech IPOs have already occurred this year, raising $700 million in total, with an average return of 26.5%, according to research firm Renaissance Capital. Even the international press is writing about the next boom being led by Silicon Valley.
For all the money being generated, Silicon Valley is not producing more jobs in the local economy. Many startups look to Facebook as a leader in the social media space. Its user base of 600 million has generated a massive population that dwarfs that of the U.S. Yet the company has only about 2000 employees. Facebook presents a conundrum. Is it an innovative global leader that has mastered the art of efficient scaling that is the beginning of a new era in Silicon Valley, or has Facebook become the antithesis of economic growth for the U.S. administration?
Similar to Facebook, Apple is also spurning growth – at least as defined by the conventional measure of new jobs. The company has redefined the tech industry by creating new technologies and new solutions, but not necessarily creating new growth for the region directly. While Apple employs just 30,000 people, the subcontractor that actually assembles its products employs over a million workers, all in China. Developers for Apple’s software applications and hardware accessories are scattered around the world. Instead, Apple has fostered an ecosystem whose heart resides in Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley is changing perceptions and practices once again. Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, Silicon Valley has at least several more transformations ahead.
Tamara Carleton is a doctoral student at Stanford University, studying innovation culture and technology visions. She is also a Fellow of the Foundation for Enterprise Development and the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium.
The stand-off in Washington over spending reductions has pushed aside serious discussion about a far more pressing issue: job creation.
Granted, the country is long overdue for action on spending cuts. There is much that our government does that we can live without. Bureaucracies’ programmatic lassitude and congressional appropriators’ adolescent-like lack of discipline have contributed to our nation’s fiscal imbalance.
To be sure, the federal deficit is heading into a crisis zone the likes of which the United States has never seen, and a fairly dramatic policy response is needed to fix it. But one overlooked way to improve the fiscal picture would be to spark economic growth. This is precisely what worked well in the 1990s, something for which both a Republican Congress and Democratic President could legitimately claim credit.
But the focus on jobs and economic growth has been lost.
Democratic leadership chooses to focus on a narrow, government-driven idea of job growth, deluding themselves – against the huge weight of evidence – that government can lead the job growth agenda through stimulus. Republicans have made spending cuts the backbone of their jobs growth strategy, and they have embarked on a campaign to convince voters that if we cut enough spending, investor confidence will return, employers will hire more people, and jobs will return.
President Obama’s Sputnik moment was truly the stuff of science fiction, or at least the Truman Show, in which we all drive our Priuses from our homes to the train station down the street on our way to work or the gym in a carefully planned world that will – voila! – create millions of jobs. Republicans, for their part, have been primarily focused on non-defense discretionary spending – that part of the federal budget that accounts for only a little more than a third of all spending and which, if you removed all of it, would still leave the entitlement programs intact that add most to our debt and deficit. After the work of the scalpel is done, Republican theory goes, enough space will be cleared up in the economy for Adam Smith’s invisible hand to start generating jobs in an Austrian school-like spontaneous order, which will generate jobs…and so on.
Now, to their credit, Republicans have begun talking more seriously about introducing entitlement reforms this year that would address the more serious deficit issues. Given the bipartisan nature of President Obama’s debt commission, the plan should get the support of at least some Democratic members, even if the President and Democratic congressional leadership shove it aside.
But however much GOP congressional leaders might be wising up on addressing the deficit through fiscal restraint, they are AWOL on addressing it through job creation and growth, without which deficit reduction is much, much more painful.
Voters know this at some level. In a poll of self-identified conservative Republicans at ConservativeHome.com, a site I edit, respondents are eager to see deep spending cuts, but they also give Republican lawmakers low marks on job creation and economic growth. In a poll we conducted last week, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they thought Republicans had been doing a good job of pushing for spending reductions, but 69 percent said Republicans were not doing a good job of explaining what they were doing to create jobs. The party of growth and opportunity has not even convinced its most ardent supporters what it is doing on the economy.
Meanwhile, Gallup’s numbers this past week painted a troubling picture amidst slightly good news. While their survey showed an unemployment drop from 10.9 percent to 9.8 percent in the past year, this came mostly from gains among the most and least educated. Middle America remains pretty much stuck where it was. And then, as if to pour salt in a wound, Gallup released numbers three days later showing deterioration in jobs numbers in February compared to January.
We can’t keep going on pretending stimulus, on the one hand, and spending cuts, on the other, are a viable economic growth strategy. There needs to be a realistic plan put forward and the party whose candidate figures this out will win the White House in 2012.
The plan should consist of at least the following:
First, tax reform. The President’s debt commission put forward some really good ideas. The best idea winning the most bipartisan support is reforming the corporate tax code. Rather than being a giveaway to big business, lowering America’s ridiculously high rate is the most proven way to create jobs. The OECD, not some right wing group, has concluded this after studying the issue across a number of countries. Also, simplifying the tax code by getting rid of costly deductions would help.
Second, make it clear what being too big to fail means so investors will know, and start putting more capital into businesses that will create jobs. Luigi Zingales at the University of Chicago has a good idea about clarifying the current financial reform bill along these lines.
Third, make energy the central component of a growth strategy. The U.S. has the capacity to become a net exporter of natural gas and to re-start a generation of nuclear power production that would make us less dependent on nonrenewable energy. We would also be greener in terms of carbon emission and would create jobs.
Fourth, build more roads. Forget about those train tracks. We should be scraping together every unused stimulus dollar and wasteful penny of DOT funding to add lanes of highway to our most congested areas. Facilitating commerce and reducing lost revenue due to traffic congestion will also have the benefit of creating needed jobs.
This would be a start. Whether anyone will take up the challenge is another issue.
Ryan Streeter is Editor of www.ConservativeHome.com.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza.
The week’s debate about high-speed rail has once again polarized our populace, inflamed irrationality, and sent everyone back to their familiar corners. Little constructive debate is possible when major newspapers are flailing the governor for rejecting money and the seemingly global revolutionary fervor is gripping local citizens who rallied in protest Wednesday night around downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola. None of this will do any good for the service workers trying to get to their jobs in the theme parks or for downtown cube dwellers streaming to scattered office parks. With or without light rail the city inches closer and closer to the traffic hell of Atlanta, or worse even, DC. After all, both cities already have large rail transit systems.
What will do some good is a creative discussion of some real change that can occur to improve our commute.
We must recognize that we are stuck with our cars. They aren’t going away. We can’t wish them away. We have to make them better fast, because with changes blowin’ in the wind and with oil jumping back up over $100 a barrel.
The high-speed bullet train – a sort of latter-day interstate highway program – sounded like a great idea at first, a welcome alternative to the ardor of air travel and the gas-sucking monotony of driving. It has shortcomings, however, it will likely prove obscenely expensive, and once one gets to the destination, one is typically relegated to more driving.
Nor is this some form of effective industrial policy. The things will be built overseas – Germany, Japan or most likely China – a great jobs program for someone else. And tourists, who vastly prefer the freedom of car rental and driving, aren’t likely to use it except as a novelty for one of their visits to our wonderful place. Perhaps the bitterest part of the bullet train pill: it will indebt our children and grandchildren to pay off landowners giving up their land in eminent domain – which produces nothing – and the cost of complex machines made overseas. The bullet train ends up being a clumsy solution imposed from above, rather than a grassroots solution to our real problems.
Any frequent driver on Interstate 4 between Orlando and Tampa can tell you there are four basic kinds of traffic: tourists in buses or cars; freight, in the form of tractor-trailers: business travelers (who need the flexibility of a car on the other end): and personal travelers. Instead of targeting an expensive solution at just the smallest form of traffic, personal travel, a 4-part solution is suggested, all of which would add up to far less than $2 billion that minimally the high-speed line would have cost.
And now, for the big one. Right smack in the middle of the white-hot I-4 corridor lays a large, private entity, Disney, has been operating a private, train-based mass transit system for the last 40 years. High labor costs? Yes. Fossil fuel driven? Yes. This entity has been strangely silent over the entire debate.
If this entity were to wake up and seize the opportunity before it, one might see a true train that works. First of all, the monorail was planned with some sense: it connects dense areas together. If Disney were to offer to build, as a private development, extensions of its monorail reaching out to Tampa on one side and Orlando on the other, the air rights for this system could be along government-owned I-4 (no imminent domain costs). This entity is also highly encouraged to charge market rate and to make a profitable venture out of operating this system. And the taxpayers would not be stuck with the bill.
A vision for transit between Tampa and Orlando needs to be truly holistic, taking into account all types of traffic connecting the two regions. This vision also needs to be locally driven, taking advantage of local strengths and assets already in place. The high speed bullet train does none of this. Instead, a multi-faceted solution that provides flexibility at both ends, leverages our current strengths, and partners with the strongest player in the region has a chance of truly making a difference in the present tense and likely future budget climate This is what sustainability is truly about, and is what our future generations deserve.
Richard Reep is an Architect and artist living in Winter Park, Florida. His practice has centered around hospitality-driven mixed use, and has contributed in various capacities to urban mixed-use projects, both nationally and internationally, for the last 25 years.
The last 60 years of urban growth in the Mexico City area should dispel any belief that suburban dispersion is principally an American phenomenon or even limited to the high income world. Over the last 60 years, all of the population growth in what is now called the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area and urban area has occurred outside the urban core (See Map). In this regard, the declining population in Mexico City urban core mirrors that of other urban cores, such as the city of Chicago, the city of Copenhagen, the city of Paris and nearly all other urban cores in the high income world.
Map: Valley of Mexico Urban Area: Northernmost Urbanization Excluded
A New Name: the Mexico City metropolitan area is one of only two out of the world's more than 25 megacities (10 million or more population) that has adopted a name more reflective of geographical reality, shedding reference to the urban core, which is declining in influence virtually everywhere. The other name-changing metropolitan area is Jakarta where the name Jabotabek is an acronym composed of the beginning of four large municipality names. Mexico's national statistics bureau, the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI) has designated the Mexico City metropolitan area as the "Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México," which translates to the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area.
According to the broadest definition, the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area had a population of 21.4 million according to the 2010 census. The Valley of Mexico joins a lengthening list of metropolitan areas with more than 20 million people. No reliable world ranking of metropolitan areas is feasible, because of varying definitions by nations and other population estimating sources (Note: Metropolitan Ranking). It can be said with assurance that the world's largest metropolitan area is Tokyo – Yokohama, with approximately 40 million people and perhaps even that Jabotabek ranks second at nearly 30 million people. Other metropolitan areas making legitimate claims to having more than 20 million people include Seoul, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Delhi, Manila and New York (Note: New York).
The Valley of Mexico Urban Area
In the early 1980s, the Valley of Mexico was expected to become the world's largest urban area. A number of factors worked to keep that from happening, such as a falling birthrate and the devastating earthquake of 1985, which slowed growth and the simple problems created by the unmanageable scale of the region. This led to greater decentralization both to peripheral parts of the Valley of Mexico as well to other Mexican states.
In 2010, the Valley of Mexico urban area had a population of 19.4 million people. The urban area is estimated to cover 780 square miles (2,020 square kilometers), for a population density of 25,000 per square mile (9,700 per square kilometer). This makes the Valley of Mexico urban area approximately one-fourth the density of Dhaka (Bangladesh), the densest urban area in the world and similar in density to the Cairo urban area. The Valley of Mexico is less than three times as dense as the Paris urban area and less than four times the density of North America's most dense urban areas, Los Angeles and Toronto. The next edition of Demographia World Urban Areas: Population & Projections (current edition) will show the Valley of Mexico to be the world's ninth largest urban area.
The key issue here is a population growth rate that has plummeted since 1950. In the 1950s and the 1960s, the Valley’s population growth exceeded 5.5% annually. The rate fell to 4.0% during the 1970s, and dropped to 1.6% in the 1980s and 1990s. By the 2000s, the annual population growth rate had fallen to 0.8% (Figure 1).
Urban Core: Former Mexico City: In 1950, the core “delegations” constituted Mexico City – Cuahtemoc, Miguel Higalgo, Venustiano Carranza and Benito Juarez had 2.23 million people out of the urban area's 2.88 million. Mexico City covered a land area of 54 square miles (139 square kilometers). In 1970 the population rose to a peak of 2.85 million with a peak population density of 53,000 persons per square mile (20,500 per square kilometer). At this point a severe population decline began, with a drop of more than 1.1 million people to 1.68 million by 2005. This represented a 41 percent drop in population density, two 31,000 persons per square mile (12,000 persons per square kilometer). A modest increase to 1.73 million people occurred between 2005 and 2000 in the urban core.
In 1950, the urban core accounted for 78 percent of the urban area population. By 2010 this figure had fallen to under nine percent (Figure 2).
The Suburbs: As of the 2010 census, more than 90 percent of the urban area population lives in what has historically been the suburbs. Since 1950, the urban core has lost 500,000 residents; while suburban areas have added more than 17 million. Thus, the suburbs have accounted for more than 100 percent of the growth in the urban area over the past 60 years (Figure 1). During the 1950s, the suburbs accounted for more than 80 percent of the growth and in each decade since that time the suburbs have been 95 percent or more of the growth.
In the earlier decades, the suburbs inside the Distrito Federal (but still outside the urban core) accounted for most of the growth, 93 percent during the 1950s and 53 percent during the 1960s. However from the 1970s to the present the growth has shifted to the more distant suburbs outside the Distrito Federal. These suburbs have captured at least 70 percent of the growth, including between 80 percent to 90 percent over the past two decades.
Valley of Mexico Metropolitan Area
The trend of continuing dispersion is evident in the metropolitan area trends. As defined in 2005, the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area included the 16 "delegations" (boroughs) of Mexico City (the Distrito Federal), and 60 municipalities (municipios), 59 of which are in the adjacent state of Mexico and the last of which is in the more northerly state of Hidalgo. In the late 2000s, another 28 municipalities in the state of Hidalgo were proposed for addition to the metropolitan area (and are included in this analysis).
The metropolitan area is divided into five parts, the urban core (pre-1994 Mexico City), the urban balance of the Distrito Federal, inner ring municipalities, which are adjacent to the Distrito Federal, the outer municipalities before the proposed expansion and the 28 municipalities in the state of Hidalgo.
Between 2000 and 2010, the urban core of the former Mexico City added 38,000 people or two percent to its population but accounted for only two percent of total metropolitan area population growth. Thus, during the 2000s, suburbs (areas in the urban area outside the urban core) gained 98 percent of the population growth (Figure 3).
The vast majority of the growth took place either in the outer delegations – some 12 percent of growth –while the inner suburbs of the state of Mexico captured 9 percent of the growth. The "lion's share" of the growth was in the outer suburbs of the states of Mexico and Hidalgo, at more than 75 percent.
Clearly, the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area is prime example of the suburbanization and reduced urban densities that have occurred virtually around the world.
|Valley del Mexico Population: 2000 to 2010|
|Urban Core (Former Mexico City)||1.692||1.730||0.038||2%||2%|
|Balance of Distrito Federal||6.913||7.143||0.230||3%||13%|
Note: New York: according to US Census Bureau estimates from 2009, the New York metropolitan area had slightly less than 20 million people. However the Combined Statistical area (which includes the Connecticut suburbs) had a population of 22 million people. Because metropolitan areas are labor market areas, the extent of their transport systems is an important factor in delineation. In the case of New York, the extent of the highway and transit systems is sufficient to suggest the combined statistical area as more appropriate for international comparisons.
Note: Metropolitan Area Ranking: There is only one known research effort to consistently define and rank the world's metropolitan areas. Richard L. Forstall (who ran the Rand McNally "Ranally" international metropolitan area program), Richard P. Green and James B. Pick, produced that list, which was limited to the top 15 in the world. This small number, in relation to more than 750 metropolitan areas in the world with more than 500,000 people illustrates both the difficulty of obtaining sufficient data and the complexity of the research.
Note: Pachuca de Sota: the entire urban area is within the Valley of Mexico metropolitan area.
Photo: Cathedral, Mexico City (by author)
Wendell Cox is a Visiting Professor, Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, Paris and the author of “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life”
I traveled to Nashville for the first time in 2007, spending most of my time in the downtown area. I posted my impressions here, noting the high growth and high ambition level as well as the fantastic freeways, but also the generally unimpressive development and built environment.
I did another fly-by in April 2008. I made a conscious effort to try to get out and see different areas this time around. My tour guide was an Indy native who had spent the last decade or so in the northeast. He’d moved to the city about a year previously, so was seeing some of this for the first time himself. But it worked well, I thought.
I believe Nashville is an extremely important case study for metros in the Midwest to examine. Here is a city that was a sleepy state capital for many years while other southern towns such as Atlanta and Charlotte took off. Then it began heading on an upwards trajectory. It is not yet at such a high growth rate that it appears to be a completely different sort of place than the Midwest. Its population growth is only 1.9% per year, for example, not much higher than Midwest growth champion Indianapolis at 1.5%. But all the trend lines are accelerating. Corporate headquarters are flocking, in city development is booming, transplants from the north are arriving. It would not surprise me to see this city pop into a higher gear when the economy turns upwards again.
Nashville is a great case study because we can observe the inflection point in growth more or less as it happens. And also try to make sense of what is driving it. And to understand why Midwestern cities aren’t seeing it. I look at Nashville and ask myself: what does this place have on the Midwest? Compare it to Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, Kansas City, and Milwaukee and see if anything jumps out that would explain it. Some unique factor of Nashville. Consider:
I compare Nashville to the top performing Midwest metros and just scratch my head. Nashville’s arguably got nothing on the Midwest and in many ways is playing from an inferior position. So what is going on?
I’ll take a shot at explaining a few things I’ve noticed. I’m not saying these are necessarily the answers. But they are things to consider. If I were head of strategy for a Midwestern metro, I’d be conducting an extensive peer city comparison of Nashville to try to figure it out in more detail. But here are some thoughts:
If anyone else has observations to share, I would love to hear them.
Here are some photographs I took while there. First, a view of the Tennessee capitol building across a green space I believe is called the Bicentennial Mall.
A street scape in Hillsboro Village, a small commercial district near Vanderbilt University.
The Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village, a breakfast place of high local repute. I was initially skeptical but the food was actually pretty darn good. This place is huge and there was still a line out the door at 10am on a Friday morning. Pretty crazy.
The storefronts are a nice urban touch, but if you look behind this building you see a gigantic parking lot. This is perhaps an example of faux-urbanism. Putting the parking lot in the back doesn’t make it any less a strip mall. It is a difference in form, not function.
One of the many vacant lots with a “condos coming soon” sign.
The main road heading west of out downtown, West End Avenue, is developed at very high densities. I haven’t seen much in the way of this in most Midwestern cities. Midrises line both sides of the road basically from downtown to the interstate loop. It’s a six lane mega-street that moves tons of cars, but appears to have great bus service as well.
Here is another one under construction.
A proposed, but I believe not yet funded, high rise development. Indianapolis readers will no doubt recognize one of the towers as a clone of the proposed Intercontinental hotel for Pan Am Plaza that lost out as the convention center anchor hotel.
If you continue out to the west from here, you run into neighborhoods like Green Hills, which is where the most premier shopping in the area is found, and the suburb of Belle Meade, which serves as Nashville’s mansion district. Unlike traditional Midwestern mansion districts, this one is more rural in nature, with large estates that wouldn’t be out of place in a plantation. I did not take pictures of these areas, however.
Back closer to downtown is a nearby area known as the “Gulch”. It is not too far from Nashville’s Union Station.
This appears to be some seedy industrial district that is being transformed all at once by a series of large developments. It also has several clubs and restaurants. I ate at a seafood place called Watermark that was surprisingly good. I believe most of the places are upscale chains, though I’m not sure if Watermark is or not. Here’s a picture of some of the development.
North of downtown is a small historic district called Germantown. This was rather unimpressive if you ask me. I didn’t see much that was German about it. It sure isn’t Columbus’ German Village, that’s for sure. There were some restaurants there. I had lunch at one of them which, fortunately for them, I can’t remember the name of because it was terrible. This area is mostly older single family homes.
The amazing thing about this area is that almost every vacant or industrial parcel was being redeveloped as condos. This really brought home to me the difference between Nashville and the Midwest. Were this, say, the Cottage Home area in Indianapolis, the local neighborhood association would use their historic district status to keep developments like these out. In Nashville, they are seen as a positive. Here are some examples.
More condos with retail space. Sorry for the very blurry pic but it was raining as you can see.
More condos being built, and still more proposed.
You get the picture. Also, note from all these photos the lack of design disasters. These are all workmanlike structures. The challenge for Nashville is that while there is a ton of new development, all of it is in a relatively generic, undistinguished style that could be in the downtown of almost any city. I did not get a strong sense of any type of vernacular style emerging. That is something I’d be looking for if I were them.
Lastly, here’s one suburban example that shows something I pointed out last time. Namely that even in brand new, upscale subdivisions they aren’t putting in sidewalks on both sides of the street. I find this very odd. While I noticed some bike lanes this time around, Nashville’s definitely got a long ways to go when it comes to pedestrian and bicycle friendliness.
Nashville is definitely a city that is on an upward trajectory. The volume of urban development and the business attraction success are impressive. It is exceeding even the best performing Midwest metros in that regard. However, it still lags the top southern and western metros. The current rate is very healthy, but probably isn’t sufficient to realize the civic ambitions. It remains to be seen whether Nashville can put it in another gear and take its place among the boomtowns, or whether it will merely stay on its current growth path. Either path is possible or a valid civic choice. While always possible, the likelihood that Nashville is going to take a major downtown does not appear high in the short term.
Aaron M. Renn is an independent writer on urban affairs based in the Midwest. His writings appear at The Urbanophile, where this piece originally appeared.
For much of the past decade, I was a proponent of the thesis that that the American economy had entered a “great moderation,” where expansions lasted longer and recessions were fewer, shorter and milder. Productivity had seemingly reached a permanently high plateau; inflation seemed tamed. The spreading of financial risk, across institutions and around the world, seemed to have reduced the odds of a crisis.
Events of the past 30 months have put that thesis to rest. I gave my mea culpa in Growth Strategies #1039 (October 2009), and also explained why we would instead be experiencing slow growth, high unemployment, low productivity growth, and higher taxes for the foreseeable future. That future has come to pass, and will continue to play out for years to come.
Where does the economy go from here? Profits are up, the markets are up. Inflation and interest rates are still tame. How to reconcile rising profits, a robust stock market, and other positive indicators with unprecedented bankruptcies, foreclosures, underwater mortgages, business failures, unemployment and underemployment? The “working” economy has decided to move ahead and do fine and just leave millions behind. The future would be bright for many, okay for some and dark for many, and recommend being in the first group.
What about the overhang of debt and toxic assets? We seem to have opted for a long and slow process of rationalization, rather than a short, sharp and fast one. That means years of mixed messages and mixed trends: the good, bad and ugly.
The Shattered American Dream
A national survey of workers who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, conducted by two professors at Rutgers University, paints a gloomy view of the economic prospects for ordinary Americans.
More than 15 million Americans are officially classified as jobless. The professors at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers have been following their representative sample of workers since the summer of 2009. The report on their latest survey, just out this month, is titled: “The Shattered American Dream: Unemployed Workers Lose Ground, Hope, and Faith in Their Futures.”
Over the 15 months that the surveys have been conducted, just one-quarter of the workers have found full-time jobs, nearly all of them for less pay and with fewer or no benefits. As the report states: “The recession has been a cataclysm that will have an enduring effect. It is hard to overstate the dire shape of the unemployed.”
Nearly two-thirds of the unemployed workers who were surveyed have been out of work for a year or more. More than a third have been jobless for two years. With their savings exhausted, many have borrowed money from relatives or friends, sold possessions to make ends meet and decided against medical examinations or treatments they previously would have considered essential.
Older workers who are jobless are caught in a particularly precarious state of affairs. As the report put it:
We are witnessing the birth of a new class — the involuntarily retired. Many of those over age 50 believe they will not work again at a full-time “real” job commensurate with their education and training. More than one-quarter say they expect to retire earlier than they want, which has long-term consequences for themselves and society. Many will file for Social Security as soon as they are eligible, despite the fact that they would receive greater benefits if they were able to delay retiring for a few years.
There is a fundamental disconnect between economic indicators pointing in a positive direction and the experience of millions of American families fighting desperately to fend off destitution. Some three out of every four Americans have been personally touched by the recession — either they’ve lost a job or a relative or close friend has. And the outlook, despite the spin being put on the latest data, is not promising.
No one is forecasting a substantial reduction in unemployment rates next year.
Carl Van Horn, the director of the Heldrich Center and one of the two professors (the other is Cliff Zukin) conducting the survey, said he was struck by how pessimistic some of the respondents have become — not just about their own situation but about the nation’s future. The survey found that workers in general are increasingly accepting the notion that the effects of the recession will be permanent, that they are the result of fundamental changes in the national economy.
Fundamental changes in the American workforce are taking place, and they hold tremendous implications for employers and employees alike. According to an Annual Workforce Trends Study commissioned by Yoh, a human resources firm, 80% of employers expect the size of their non-employee workforce (defined as consultants, independent contractors, temporary employees, and project teams) to stay the same or increase within the next year, even as the economy regains its footing.
This new, temporary workforce presents issues for employers who will need to manage, compensate, and motivate workers who no longer view themselves as employees committed to a single employer. At the same time, for employees, this new workforce ushers in a new era of free agency, and holds vast implications for how they will build careers in a flexible work environment, where knowledge and skill trump seniority and security.
Employers’ protracted reliance on a non-employee workforce as the US emerges from a severe recession represents a marked change from past economic recoveries when employers would add temporary talent before transitioning to full-time employees. Historically, temporary employment has served as a bellwether for permanent hiring, but these findings suggest that something much more substantial is occurring to overall workforce composition. Employers are saying that the recent recession has fundamentally changed their employment strategies and led to a “just-in-time” hiring strategy that will make temporary employees an even greater pillar of the American economy.
The transformation of the workforce composition will have significant implications for both employers and employees. Employers now have the flexibility to quickly adjust the size of their workforce depending on project load.
Employees, meanwhile, will have to overcome the stigma associated with “temporary talent.” Now that it’s here to stay, “temporary” workers might find themselves engaged in projects for longer periods of time, frequently transitioning into new opportunities and gaining access to jobs that were perhaps previously filled with full-time employees.
The Great Stagnation
Tyler Cowen of George Mason University is author of the e-book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better. Cowen argues that in the last four decades, the growth in prosperity for the average family has slowed dramatically in the United States relative to earlier decades and time periods. Cowen argues that this is the result of a natural slowing in innovation, and does not expect a return to prosperity until new areas of research dramatically improve productivity growth.
Part of Cowen’s core point is that up until sometime around 1974, the American economy was able to experience rapid growth by harvesting low-hanging fruit. There was cheap land to be exploited. There was the tremendous increase in education levels during the postwar world. There were technological revolutions occasioned by the spread of electricity, plastics and the car.
But that low-hanging fruit is exhausted, Cowen continues, and since 1974, the United States has experienced slower growth, slower increases in median income, slower job creation, slower productivity gains, slower life-expectancy improvements and slower rates of technological change. Cowen argues that our society, for the moment, has hit a technological plateau.
Is Cowen right? In my view he overlooks the growth of government over the last 40 years as an economic drag. Creative individuals and companies would be a lot more innovative if taxes were lower, regulations fewer, and the system of patents more reasonable.
If stagnation is to be the new normal, we just can't afford it. We are a nation, an economy, a society, based on growth. America needs to grow We must therefore constantly replace, replenish, invent, create, innovate.
For a long time I have been worried that the US was going the way of Europe: slow growth, high taxes, overregulation, high unemployment and underemployment, debt, deficits and little prospect of change. But perhaps we may have to worry instead is going the way of South America: an oligarchy of prosperous elites, and a great mass of the undereducated, under-skilled and underemployed, with little prospect of hope, change or opportunity.
If you think I overstate the case, consider the disconnect between the people and governing classes. Only a minority of Americans express confidence in major institutions, according to Gallup. Only a minority of Americans believe that the federal government has the consent of the governed (Rasmussen). In my view this disconnect may be an even bigger issue than stagnation.
Dr. Roger Selbert is a trend analyst, researcher, writer and speaker. Growth Strategies is his newsletter on economic, social and demographic trends. Roger is economic analyst, North American representative and Principal for the US Consumer Demand Index, a monthly survey of American households’ buying intentions.
Photo by Martin Deutsch
Ever since Jay Gould, Leland Stanford, and Cornelius Vanderbilt acquired their first legislatures, railroads have been best understood as political networks, rather than as transportation lines. The Obama administration is hyping high-speed rail (HSR) with a $53 billion proposal not because the president is a trainspotter or because he collects back copies of the Official Guide of the Railways (like I do). Rather, it's because politicians understand that the states blew their money on generous pension plans, pretentious sports stadiums, and bridges to nowhere, and now need billions to plug their budget deficits. It's easier to funnel money into tapped–out state capitals under the smoke and mirrors of a feel-good rail project than it is to announce that the federal government stands behind states’ subprime debts. The Government Accounting Office estimates unfunded state liabilities at $405 billion, which is probably what HSR would, in the end, cost. Think of it as the Stimulus Express.
The high-speed scheme is a dream of superfast trains, traveling at 150 m.p.h., linking Portland, Maine, and Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago with St. Louis and Kansas City; the Orlando corridor in Florida (which the governor there has rejected); and express trains in Texas and California. Another way to look at the proposed HSR network is to imagine it connecting the cities and states that Obama needs to carry if he is to have a chance of winning the 2012 election.
Along the high-speed tracks-to-be are stops in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, which are key 2012 electoral contests. Red states west of the Mississippi, by contrast, will have to wait for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief to arrive three hours late in Dodge City.
Before the U.S. goes into hock over HSR, it might consider making a virtue of low-speed rail. Slow food has it followers. Why not the same for slow trains, since that’s the best that Amtrak can offer? Herewith are ten ideas that will get more (fare-paying) Americans back on the (less-than-perfect) rails. Implementing them wouldn't cost anywhere near $53 billion. Done right, they would even make money.
Had the United States integrated high-speed rail into the Interstate Highway system — imagine tracks in the median strips — the idea might have worked. Imposed on a society addled with cars and planes, it has the risk of becoming a cost-overrun nightmare of $82 million a mile versus $2.4 million for traditional rails.
Much of the infrastructure is already in place to develop a national revival of low-speed rail, at a fraction of the costs of subsidized HSR. The trains we have can be privatized, franchised, hot spotted, double-bedded, and showered, and no one will care about the engine speed. To save billions, if not to make money, why can’t the U.S. subscribe to the words of author Paul Theroux: “Better to go first class than to arrive.”
Photo by Jeramey Jannene of train tracks right outside of Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Matthew Stevenson is the author of Remembering the Twentieth Century Limited, a collection of historical essays. He is also editor of Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing from Harper's Magazine.
Yoga. Mantras. Bollywood. Henna tattoos. Once unique to India, each of these has now become commonplace in households across the globe. As a first generation East Indian American, I've had an opportunity to contrast the world my parents experienced with the one I inhabit. When my parents first settled here in the 1980s Indian cultural influences were not this prominent, but the increases in America and around the globe have been dramatic.
Any gym is bound to teach a yoga class. Popular exercise regimens such as Pilates have been influenced by ancient Indian spiritual exercises. During a recent study abroad trip to Goiania, a medium sized city in the Brazilian countryside, I was surprised to encounter yoga classes, and many of my Brazilian classmates wanted to learn Yoga from me.
Bhangra, a North Indian folk dance, has been incorporated into gym workouts. Sarina Jain, the Indian American creator of The Masala Bhangra Workout, says she’s "the first to bring Indian dance to the U.S. fitness industry at a global level.” The DVD has been named one of the five hottest workouts by America Online.
Meditation, similarly, has become widely popular. This ancient Vedantic technique to reach inner peace has been popularized by Indian gurus who have spread the practice throughout the West; one transcendental meditation organization claims to have taught more than 50,000 students across the United States, Latin America and Africa during the past two years alone. The bestselling book (and then film) "Eat, Pray, Love" has further popularized the use of meditation to tame the mind. Julia Roberts, who plays the protagonist in the film, even identifies herself as a Hindu who regularly meditates.
Other Vedantic influences on daily life include reciting mantras, and the popularization of words such as “guru” and “pundit” to describe people with expertise. The idea that all of your actions, whether good or bad, produce consequences that shape your future is a common theme in many cultural value systems, but the term "karma" captures that concept in one word and has become used throughout the English-speaking world, as well as elsewhere.
Billions of people around the world also value the concept of ahimsa — non-violence — as popularized by Mahatma Gandhi. His ideas strongly influenced Martin Luther King Jr. Ahmisa also explains why many Hindus and Jains are vegetarians The belief that what you eat affects your behavior, and that a vegetarian diet can help tame the mind, has been popularized worldwide by Indians, who are known for their exquisite vegetarian cuisine.
Worldwide, flavorful Indian spices and seasonings have increased the appeal of vegetarian food. India produces over four million tons of spice, and exports around 180 spice products to over 150 nations. The Indian Spice Board is currently planning to set up three promotional centers in, respectively, Dubai, Chicago and Europe.
Spices are also of special interest in the alternative health community, where they are viewed as anti-inflammatory agents, that can help the aging brain and play a role in cancer prevention. Turmeric and several other spices are part of the Indian Ayurvedic system. Ancient Indian epics like The Ramayana reference Ayurveda, a holistic approach to health that fuses the forces of mind, body, senses and spirit. Today, about thirty companies are leading the way, with a million dollars or more per year in business to meet the growing demand for Ayurvedic medicine. The larger Ayurvedic medicine suppliers have also moved into the businesses of toiletries —soap, toothpaste, shampoo — which use traditional herbal ingredients.. For example, L’Oreal has been reported to be looking into purchasing an Indian Ayurvedic skin care brand, and companies like Estée Lauder have created their own Ayurvedic spa treatments.
But even more wide-spread is India’s music and dance scene. The sitar, first popularized in the US by Ravi Shankar, has been used by artists from the Beatles to Janet Jackson. The most powerful Indian cultural export, though, has long been its film industry, nicknamed Bollywood, which is generally believed to produce the largest number of feature films in the world. Bollywood makes more ticket sales than Hollywood does, though revenue figures are much higher for the latter Sometimes dubbed in local languages, these films, filled with colorful costumes, dances, music, and love stories are watched in Kuwait, Nigeria, Russia, Scandinavia, the Caribbean and even Fiji.
Through television, Brazil has been particularly touched by India. Brazil’s 2009 Emmy Award-winning telenovela (soap opera), Passage to India, introduced Indian culture there on a broad scale. As an Indian traveling through Brazil, almost every person I met asked whether I watched the show. Even in Cavalcante, a remote area, a truck driver knew that the cow is considered sacred in India, and was newly aware of the Indian custom of arranged-marriage.
Another result of the show's popularity has been that Brazilians are now fascinated by Indian clothing. I noticed malls consistently had at least one Indian themed store selling kurti tops – Indian style blouses which are popularly worn over skinny jeans or tights. I also saw men wearing t-shirts with pictures of Indian Gods and Goddesses, and saw them printed on swim suit cover ups. Of course, you rarely see Indians wearing this kind of garment, since, many consider these displays on clothing to be somewhat offensive.
There are many other aspects of Indian culture that have spread on a global scale. From curries to computer programs, self-realization to the arts, and well beyond, we are seeing its influence. The popular Indian art of using henna to create beautiful body designs and patterns only temporarily affects the surface of the skin. But the influence of India is likely to leave a permanent — and positive —impact on the world.
Photo from Travelscope
Sheela Bhongir is an undergraduate student at California State University, Northridge studying Urban Studies and GIS. She is working as an intern on Legatum’s new map of the world project.
The ongoing Census reveals the continuing evolution of America’s cities from small urban cores to dispersed, multi-polar regions that includes the city’s surrounding areas and suburbs. This is not exactly what most urban pundits, and journalists covering cities, would like to see, but the reality is there for anyone who reads the numbers.
To date the Census shows that growth in America’s large core cities has slowed, and in some cases even reversed. This has happened both in great urban centers such as Chicago and in the long-distressed inner cities of St. Louis, Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., and Birmingham, Ala.
This would surely come as a surprise to many reporters infatuated with growth in downtown districts, notably in Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and elsewhere. For them, good restaurants, bars and clubs trump everything. A recent Newsweek article, for example, recently acknowledged Chicago’s demographic and fiscal decline but then lavishly praised the city, and its inner city for becoming “finally hip.”
Sure, being cool is nice, but the obsession with hipness often means missing a bigger story: the gradual diminution of the urban core as engines for job creation. For example, while Chicago’s Loop has doubled its population to 20,000, it has also experienced a large drop in private-sector employment, which now constitutes a considerably smaller share of regional employment than a decade ago. The same goes for the new urbanist mecca of Portland as well as the heavily hyped Los Angeles downtown area.
None of this suggests, however, that the American urban core is in a state of permanent decline. The urban option will continue to appeal to small but growing segment of the population, and certain highly paid professionals, notably in finance, will continue to cluster there.
But the bigger story — all but ignored by the mainstream media — is the continued evolution of urban regions toward a more dispersed, multi-centered form. Brookings’ Robert Lang has gone even further, using the term “edgeless cities” to describe what he calls an increasingly “elusive metropolis” with highly dispersed employment.
Rather than a cause for alarm, this form of development simply reflects the protean vitality of American urban forms. Two regions, whose results were released last week, reveal these changing patterns. One is the Raleigh region, which has experienced a growth rate of 42%, likely the highest of the nation’s regions with a population over 1 million. This metropolitan area, anchored by universities and technology-oriented industries, is among the lowest-density regions in the country, with under 1,700 persons per square mile, slightly less than Charlotte, Nashville and Atlanta.
Unlike the geographically constrained older urban areas, Raleigh’s historical core municipality experienced strong growth, from 288,000 to 404,000, a gain of 40%. This gain was aided by annexations that added nearly 30% to the area of the municipality (from 113 to 143 square miles). The annexations of recent decades have left the city of Raleigh with an overwhelmingly suburban urban form. In 1950, at the beginning of the post-World War II suburban boom, the city of Raleigh had a population of 66,000, living in a land area of only 11 square miles.
Even here, however, the suburbs (the area outside the city of Raleigh) gained nearly two-thirds of the metropolitan area growth (65%) and now have 64% of the region’s population. Over the last ten years, the suburbs have grown 43%. It is here that much of the economic growth of the Research Triangle has taken place, as companies concentrate in predominately suburban communities such as Cary.
Yet in most demographically healthy urban regions, the growth continues to be primarily in the suburban centers. One particularly relevant example is the Kansas City area, a dynamic region anchoring what we have identified as “the zone of sanity.” Like most American regions, the Kansas City area is growing, but in ways that often do not resemble the fantasies of urban density boosters.
KC’s growth pattern is important and could be a harbinger of what’s to come in this decade. Along with Indianapolis, this resurgent Heartland region is expanding faster than the national average. It is also attracting many talented people, ranking in our top ten list of the country’s “brain magnets,” a performance better than such long-standing talent attractors as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Boston. Between 2007 and 2009, the Kansas City region’s growth in college-educated residents was more than twice the rate of our putative intellectual meccas of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.
But despite the wishes of some in Kansas City’s traditional establishment, this cannot be interpreted as meaning that the “hip and cool” are being lured en masse to the city’s inner core. Over the past decade, as in most American regions, Kansas City has expanded far more outward than inward. Despite a modest increase in the city’s population of some 18,000 — much of it in the city’s furthest urban boundaries — the city’s population remains below its 1950 high. On the other hand, some 91% of its 200,000 population increase occurred in the suburban periphery.
Critically, it is important to note that this expansion reflects not so much the growth of “bedroom” communities, but a dramatic shift of employment to the periphery. By far the most important center for this new suburban growth in jobs and people lies across the river in Johnson County, Kan.. Over the past decade, Johnson County has accounted for roughly half of the region’s total growth.
Johnson County – which boasts among the highest levels of educated people in the country — also has become the primary locale for many technology and business service firms, with more people commuting into the area than out. This reflects an increasingly suburbanized economic base. Over the past decade the urban core of Jackson County has lost 42,000 jobs, while the surrounding suburbs have grown by 20,000, with the biggest growth in largely exurban Platte County.
So what does this tell us about the future of the American urban region? Certainly the expansion of relatively low-density peripheral areas negates the notion of a ”triumphant” urban core. Dispersion is continuing virtually everywhere, and with it, a movement of the economic center of gravity away from the city centers in most regions.
But in another way these patterns augur a bright future for an expansive American metropolis that, while not hostile to the urban center, recognizes that most businesses and families continue to prefer lower-density, decentralized settings. The sooner urbanists and planners can accommodate themselves to this fact, the sooner we can work on making these new dynamic patterns of residence and employment more sustainable and livable for the people and companies who will continue to gravitate there.
This piece originally appeared at Forbes.com
Joel Kotkin is executive editor of NewGeography.com and is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and an adjunct fellow of the Legatum Institute in London. He is author of The City: A Global History. His newest book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, released in February, 2010.
Kansas City skyline photo by Tim Samoff
The state of New Jersey virtually defines suburbanization in the United States. New Jersey is not home to the core of any major metropolitan area but, major portions of the nation's largest metropolitan area (New York) and the fifth largest metropolitan area (Philadelphia) are in the state (See map). These two metropolitan areas comprise 17 of the state's 21 counties. Another county (Warren) is in the Allentown, Pennsylvania metropolitan area, while Atlantic (Atlantic City), Cumberland and Cape May are single-county metropolitan areas. No one, however, should make the mistake of imagining that New Jersey is wall to wall suburbanization. In the 2000 census, more than 60 percent of the state's land area was rural, with urban areas (areas of continuous urban development) making up less than 40 percent of the state's land area, while 94 percent of the 2000 population was urban (which includes suburban).
Map courtesy of Passaic Public Library
The recently released 2010 census data indicates that the dispersion of New Jersey population, which was underway by 1900 and continued apace in the last decade.
New Jersey's Larger Municipalities: This is not to suggest that it was a bad decade for the larger municipalities in the state. However, the 20th century was not kind to New Jersey's largest municipalities. At some point during the century, six municipalities reached a population of 100,000 or more. Four of these municipalities were near the city of New York and were eventually engulfed by its suburbanization (Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Elizabeth). Another, Camden, was engulfed by Philadelphia’s expansion and the last, the state capital Trenton, is midway between the cores of the two metropolitan areas and has more recently become a part of the New York metropolitan area.
The new decade started out better for these municipalities. Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth and Camden gained population between 2000 and 2010. However, even after the population gains, Newark's population remains 165,000 (37 percent) below its 1930 peak. Jersey City remains 70,000 (22 percent) below its 1930 peak, despite the growth of a new financial district just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. Camden remains approximately 35,000 (37 percent) below its 1950 peak. Of the four municipalities gaining population, Camden did the best, adding 6.9 percent to its population, a full 50 percent above the statewide increase of 4.5 percent.
Paterson and Trenton posted small population losses. Trenton remains nearly 45,000 (33 percent) below its 1950 peak (Table 1).
|New Jersey Municipalities Achieving 100,000 Population|
|Balance of State||7,466,484||7,826,940||360,456||4.8%|
Elizabeth and Paterson however have been far more successful in retaining their population than other older municipalities, both in New Jersey and around the nation. Both Elizabeth and Paterson have become majority Hispanic and have a sizeable African American community. They also have a large immigrant community. In Elizabeth, 45 percent of the population is foreign born, almost four times the national rate. Paterson has an immigrant population of 25 percent.
The Older Suburban Counties: Nonetheless, even with the modest population reversals in four of the five municipalities in the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, their corresponding older suburban counties grew slower than the rest of the state in the 2000s. Combined, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties – fast growing suburbs of the early 1900s – grew at a rate of 1.6 percent, compared to the statewide growth rate of 4.5 percent, capturing 12 percent of the statewide growth. (Table 2).
|New Jersey County Population Growth by Area|
|Area||2000||2010||Change||% Change||Share of Growth|
|5 Older Suburban Counties||2,923,130||2,969,617||46,487||1.6%||12.3%|
|Balance of NY & Phila Metropolitan Counties||4,887,467||5,184,873||297,406||6.1%||78.8%|
|Outside NY & Phila Metropolitan Area||603,753||637,404||33,651||5.6%||8.9%|
|Note: 5 Older Suburban Counties Include Camden, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union|
The Newer Suburban Counties: The bulk of New Jersey's growth has taken place, as in the rest of the country, in more newly suburbanizing counties of the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas (Note 1). The growth rate in these counties was 6.0 percent, well above the statewide growth rate of 4.5 percent. Overall, the outer suburban counties accounted for 73 percent of the state's population growth during the 2000s. The strongest growth was in Ocean County, which is at the furthest distance (fifty to one hundred miles) from New York City. Ocean County grew 13 percent, adding 66,000 people to its population, nearly one-fifth of the state population gain. Gloucester County, in the Philadelphia area also grew 13 percent, adding 33,000 to its population. Ocean and Gloucester accounted for more than one-quarter of New Jersey's population growth. Only one other county added more than 50,000 people, Middlesex, which is adjacent to the New York City borough of Staten Island in New York, much of which is made up of postwar suburbanization.
Counties Outside the Large Metropolitan Areas: The counties outside the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan area, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Warren added 5.6 percent to their population and nine percent of the state's population gain. The largest growth was in Atlantic County (8.7 percent) and Cumberland County (6.1 percent), both adjacent to counties of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Cape May County had the largest population loss in the state, at 4.9 percent (Essex County, where Newark is located, lost 1.2 percent, the only other county to lose population).
Small Area Analysis: The dispersion of the population is also illustrated by "place" data, which includes incorporated municipalities (Note 2) and "census designated places."
Generally, newer housing reflects the distance of suburbs from the urban core. Gaining a larger share of population growth, this demonstrates a primarily suburban, rather than urban core oriented, expansion. An analysis of the more than 500 places (municipalities and "census designated places") indicates that the greatest share of New Jersey's growth is in new suburban areas.
Among places in which housing has a median construction date of 1945 or earlier, there was a 0.8 percent reduction in population. The growth rate then rises with each 10 year increment, reaching 4.0 percent in places with a median construction date of 1976 to 1985 and 11.1 percent for places with a median construction date of later (though this is the smallest category).
However, the growth in these places accounts for only 18.5 percent of the state's population gain. The other 81.5 percent was outside the incorporated municipalities and the census designated places. This population is generally in the state's townships, some of which are older (such as North Bergen or Woodbridge), but most of which are much newer. However, much of the growth in the townships was in newer areas, with 84 percent in areas with median construction dates of 1966 or later (Note 3)
Thus, all-metropolitan New Jersey is becoming more suburban, while older, major municipalities such as Newark, Jersey City and Camden are enjoying a welcome respite from their generally steep declines.
Note 1: These counties include Bergen, Burlington, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Salem, Somerset and Sussex.
Note 2: New Jersey township officials have been engaged with the Census Bureau in a dispute over whether New Jersey townships should be considered incorporated. This analysis uses the "non-incorporated" status as defined by the Census Bureau, without taking a position on the nature of the disagreement.
Note 3: The Census Bureau routinely makes changes to "census designated places" between censuses. As a result it is not possible to reconcile the township and place totals to the state total. There is a discrepancy of approximately 1.5 percent. This discrepancy is small enough to make the township figures generally reflective of the median construction dates.