Reading Now -- The New Geography of Jobs / by Anne Kreamer

Enrico Moretti is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.  His research is supported by the National Sciences Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

"An unprecedented redistribution of American jobs, populations, and wealth is underway, and it is likely to accelerate in the years to come.  A new map is being drawn, and it's not about red versus blue or rich versus poor.  The rise of the American brain hubs is causing huge geographic disparities in education, income, life expectancy, family stability, and political engagement.  Dealing with this split -- encouraging growth in the hubs while arresting decline elsewhere -- will be the challenge of the century."

Here are a few excerpts:

"A growing body of research suggests that cities are not just a collection of individuals but complex, interrelated environments that foster the generation of new ideas and new ways of doing business.  For example, social interactions among workers tend to generate learning opportunities that enhance innovation and productivity.  Being around smart people makes us smarter and more innovative.  By clustering near each other, innovators foster each other’s creative spirit and become more successful.  Thus, once a city attracts some innovative workers and innovative companies, its economy changes in ways that make it even more attractive to other innovators.  In the end, this is what is causing the Great Divergence among American communities, as some cities experience an increases concentration of good jobs, talent, and investment, and others are in free fall.  It is a trend that is reshaping not just our economy but our entire society in profound ways.  It implies that a growing part f inequality in America reflects not just a class divide but a geographical divide."

"We spend the best part of our lives at work.  Every morning we say goodbye to our loved ones and rush to our offices, cubicles, counter, factories, labs, or whatever place we call “work.”  For most hours of the day, for most days of the year and for most years of our lives, our best energies are dedicated to our jobs.  Our jobs have become so important that in many cases they define how people perceive us and even how we perceive ourselves.  They determine our standard of living and where we live.  For some of us, our salary and work schedule determine what sort of family we have, how many children we can afford, and how much time we spend with them.  In short, our private and collective well-being depends on what kind of jobs are out there and what security they might offer."

"The geographical sorting of individuals with different educational and income levels is likely to exacerbate the longevity differences resulting from these disparities.  The reason is simple:  poorly educated individuals who live in a community where everyone else has low levels of education are likely to adopt less healthy lifestyles than poorly educated individuals in a community where there is a mix of educational and income levels."

"At the time of the Great Migration in the 1920s, when more than 2 million African Americans abandoned the South for industrial centers in other regions, less educated individuals were more likely than others to migrate in search of better lives.  Today the opposite is true:  the more education a person has, the more mobile she is.  College graduates have the highest mobility, workers with a community college education are less mobile, high school graduates are even less, and high school dropouts come at the bottom of the list. "