Richard Florida in the Financial Times on improving jobs

THIS is why I am still of fan of Richard Florida’s:

The key is to upgrade these jobs and turn them into adequate replacements for the higher-paying blue-collar jobs that have been destroyed. It has happened before. Yet the blue-collar jobs we pine for were not always good jobs: we made them good jobs. When my father came back from the second world war, his poorly paid factory job had been transformed. He was able to buy a house, put his two sons through college and participate fully in the American dream. Some of this was due to the power of unions. Most of it was because of the enormous improvements in productivity wrought by improved technologies and management techniques. The same thing can and must happen in the service sector. It is starting already. Companies such as Wegmans, Whole Foods, the Container Store, Best Buy and Zappos already account for a fifth of the top 100 best places to work in America. A typical hourly worker at the Container Store earns about $30,000 a year, not nearly as much as a GM factory worker but about 50 per cent more than the average for hourly-wage retail workers.

link: / Comment / Opinion – America needs to make its bad jobs better

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Time Lapse Geography of the Recession

HT to David Levinson

This a an animation from The American Observer on the Geography of the Recession. Go see it: unbelievable.

A student threw a very public tantrum the other day and blamed the fact that he was facing the “worse job market since the Great Depression”. This is only marginally and recently true; the thing about my generation, wedged between the very loud Baby Boomers and their equally loud Echo, is that nobody has paid any attention to us, Gen X. But the 17.5 percent rate reported by the New York Times has only *just* exceeded the 17.1 percent of the early 1980s, which I remember quite well. This was in Iowa, where farm loss was routine and which all of our parents feared more than death.

So I listen to people give talks now and they say “the younger generations have never known such hard times as these” and it just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe he doesn’t consider my group young, but it’s not as though there haven’t been poor people during these generations’ lifetime. It’s that we didn’t pay them attention except to treat them like crap, blame them for their own poverty, and use all of the above as an excuse to dismantle the social safety net.