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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Seattle gains brainpower but the competition is rough

The business blogosphere is full of lists: Some worthwhile, others…well…

Richard Florida weighs in with solid research on the world’s leading centers for academic research. Or, as I would put it, here are Seattle’s serious competitors for talent, innovation and a high-wage economy. Seattle ranks 21st; not bad, but not good enough for where the world is heading. Florida writes:

For the time being, the U.S. remains in the lead, but foreign centers appear to be gaining ground. And this trend may be accelerated by the mounting budget problems facing many states and research universities as well as cutbacks in research funding and growing anti-immigrant sentiment in some quarters of the United States. Great Resets like the current one have given rise to significant shifts in the locus of scientific research talent in the past. And this was a large part of the reason the United States eclipsed Europe on this front during the last Great Reset.

But what’s even more striking about the map is the degree of geographic concentration on the East and West Coasts of North America, Western Europe, and just a few spots in Asia and Australia/New Zealand. The concentration of the knowledge and scientific assets in just three major mega-clusters — the East Coast/Great Lakes, West Coast of North America, and in Europe – is astounding. And it is likely to reflect significant geographic advantages in research and knowledge-generation for them.

I hope the search committee for the next UW president and the budget mavens in Olympia are paying attention.

Then there are the “huh?” lists, such as the Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities 2010:

Where Jobs Are Created and Sustained.” The press release says of the top 10, many in the Lone Star State, that “a business-friendly climate, a vibrant tech industry, and little exposure to the housing bubble and the financial services industry helped keep Texas cities and many of their peers on stable ground during the economic downturn.”

But then comes the list: Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas; Austin; Huntsville, Ala.; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; Kennewick-Richland-Pasco; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh, N.C.; Anchorage; El Paso, and Houston. All these metros are the sites of large-scale government spending amid a historic private-sector jobs depression. In addition, Houston, which saw its share of sprawl over-building, benefits from being a petro power. Killeen, No. 1 on the list, exists solely for the Army.

I know this organization was founded by the disgraced junk-bond king and its research leans to the political right. But McAllen, Texas, (No. 2 nationally with largest share of the population on food stamps) as a place where unemployed software engineers should move…?

Today’s Econ Haiku:

China hiked its rates

Why is anyone surprised?

China is booming

Comments | More in Great reset, Jobs/Unemployment, Universities/Knowledge economy


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