A couple of recent items at the Atlantic Cities have caught my attention. First, Richard Florida is doing a fairly cool thing by mapping the geography of class in major U.S. metros. He started with New York two weeks ago, Los Angeles last week and Chicago this week. Florida groups class in three categories, with his descriptions excerpted from the Chicago edition of the series:
The creative class includes people who work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture, media, and entertainment, law, and healthcare professions. The service class entails low-wage, low-skill workers who work in routine service jobs such as food service and preparation, retail sales, and clerical and administrative positions. Members of the working class are employed in factory jobs as well as transportation and construction.
Looking at census tracts within each metro area, he’s classified jobs within census tracts to get a sense of how people are sorted through metro areas. So far, he’s demonstrated that creative class jobs make up about 35% of the workforce in the big three metros, with service class jobs making up about 45% and working class jobs about 20%. The incomes, however, vary widely — generally averaging nearly $80,000 in salary for creative class jobs, about $30,000 annually for service jobs, and about $40,000 annually for working class jobs. What I find most striking, however, is the concentrations that Florida finds through his analysis — the creative clusters of Manhattan, Hollywood and the North Side in New York, LA and Chicago respectively; the service clusters through much of the rest of the cities proper. Generally I view it as another bit of evidence of how economically segregated our metro areas have become, and by extension our entire nation. It’s worth checking out.
The second piece is by Emily Badger, who points out how the information displayed on Internet maps is creating a world of haves and have-nots. My view? This is nothing new. All one has to do is look at tourist maps of any given city, and you can easily find that the map is covered on one side with all the attractions and amenities that tourists desire — the restaurants, the bars and clubs, the tourist spots, the museums. And the rest of the map may include a blank void with no such attractions, but usually represent the place where typical residents of said city might live. The extreme case of this might be in a place like Detroit, where you will find people who say that “no one” lives in Detroit anymore, because it has few of the markers that tell us that a place is important. But more than 700,000 Detroiters would beg to differ.