From Richard Florida’s Atlantic cover story:
Financial positions account for only about 8 percent of the New York area’s jobs, not too far off the national average of 5.5 percent. By contrast, they make up 28 percent of all jobs in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois; 18 percent in Des Moines; 13 percent in Hartford; 10 percent in both Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Florida’s article is provactive throughout; he says that New York’s density and velocity will serve it well in the creative industries which will end up powering future growth, even if they’re not financial. Certainly if a talented financial-industry professional wants to go off and do something completely different right now, the opportunity cost has never been lower. And New York is a center for many industries, not just finance:
Currid measured the concentration of different types of jobs in New York relative to their incidence in the U.S. economy as a whole. By this measure, New York is more of a mecca for fashion designers, musicians, film directors, artists, and–yes–psychiatrists than for financial professionals.
Such frippery makes Arnold Kling shudder:
I hate the Mets. I find the heavy-handed sensory overload of New York tiring and ultimately unpleasant, in the same way that I find Las Vegas or Disney World unpleasant…
I don’t think that the arts are all that important. To me, creative innovation that matters is somebody in a lab at MIT coming up with a more efficient battery or solar cell. It is somebody at Stanford coming up with a way to make computers smarter or cancer more preventable. I just can’t get excited about some frou-frou fashion designers and the magazines that feature their creations.
Florida does say that not only New York but also Boston and Silicon Valley will be winners in the new geography which will emerge from the current crisis. And "heavy-handed sensory overload" is something very closely related to Florida’s density-and-velocity.
What’s more, frou-frou fashion designers and the magazines that feature their creations are genuinely economically important. If Arnold Kling can’t get excited about them, that’s fine. But if "mattering" is judged in terms of value-added or jobs created, then the fashion industry matters a lot, and New York should be very grateful that a large part of it is based right here.
The artsier creative industries are also a huge comparitive advantage for New York over, say, Palo Alto. Someone with the skills of Sergei Brin is in high demand from Sao Paulo to Shanghai. But where will the next Stephen Sondheim head, if not New York?