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by SixFigureStart | February 18, 2009


While Americans anxiously await the trickle down effects of the president?s $787 billion stimulus plan, one fact seems clear: some of us will benefit more than others. Why? A lot depends on where we live.

In his cover story for the March issue of The Atlantic magazine called ?How the Crash Will Reshape America,? noted urban studies scholar Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class, Flight of the Creative Class, and others, turns his sights once again to the shifting fortune?s of the world?s cities.

Florida?s new list of the good, bad and ugly places to find work is derived from a theory he first set forth in 2002, when he proclaimed, somewhat controversially then, that cities rise and fall in proportion to their ability to attract highly skilled workers, artists and musicians. So where are we now that so many cities have simply fallen? According to Florida, only a few metropolitan clusters have attracted the stockpile of diverse and talented workers needed to sustain the kind of growth or ?urban metabolism? to buffer what many experts believe will be a lengthy economic downturn.

Thomas Friedman may see an economic landscape based on a flat world, but Florida, building upon an October 2005 piece he also wrote for The Atlantic titled ?The World is Spiky,? believes that we will see further consolidation of output, jobs and innovation in a handful of large cities and their surrounding regions. In fact, Florida asserts that it is imperative for President Obama to invest his stimulus dollars wisely; to make leading cities attractive and affordable not just to the creative class, but to lower-income Americans as well.

So, in the wake of a burst bubble, where does that leave you? Hopefully mobile enough to move where future jobs are. Here is Florida?s take on the prospects for a few of the nation?s major metropolitan areas:

The Good
New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin

While NYC was the epicenter for the financial crisis, its role as the hub for international finance won?t change any time soon. But New York?s true strength, says Florida, is that it, like Los Angeles, Boston and Austin, supports a diverse and innovative economy built upon creative industries like high tech, the arts and entertainment. Another hub for talent is Chicago, which been siphoning off finance, legal and industrial functions from smaller midwestern cities like Cleveland and Akron.

The Bad
Miami, Charlotte

Miami and Charlotte were two cities whose fortunes prospered and then plummeted along with the housing market. But not all is lost. Miami remains the commercial center for the entire South Florida mega-region ? and a key hub for Latin American finance. Charlotte, on the other hand, the nation?s second largest banking center, flirted with disaster before Wachovia, one of its biggest employers, was acquired by rival bank Wells Fargo. Residents will obviously be closely watching Bank of America, the city?s other major employer, to see if it can successfully digest its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in the coming years.

The Ugly
Detroit, Phoenix, Las Vegas

It doesn?t get much worse than Detroit. Cursed not only with the decline of the automobile industry, the city has also seen housing prices sink (to an average of $18,513) and jobless rates rise (to 21 percent in December). While it remains the 11th largest U.S. city, Florida speculates that it soon could become a ghost town. The largest declines in housing values, however, were in the ?Sun Belt? cities of Phoenix (32.7 percent) and Las Vegas (31.7 percent) ? two regions whose recent growth was fueled almost exclusively by the housing boom. With 21 percent of its residents older than 55, many of whom were hit hard by the financial crisis, Florida wonders what the future of the region will look like. One thing is clear: it will be different than it is today.

--Posted by Darren Dahl,

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