Exploring the myths and realities of America’s urban-rural divide
November 14, 2019 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Last year, Citylab presented a six-part series by Richard Florida: The Truth about the Urban-Rural Divide. 1) The Divides Within, and Between, Urban and Rural America -- Economic growth is not only uneven between urban and rural places—it is uneven within them, too. 2) Some Rural Counties Are Seeing a Job Boom, Too -- Economic growth is a mixed bag in urban and rural counties, large and small. 3) Some Rural Areas Are Better for Economic Mobility -- Kids from many rural areas have a better chance at upward mobility than those who grow up in urban areas, but it varies from place to place, and from neighborhood to neighborhood.

4) Wages Are Higher in Urban Areas, But Growing Faster in Rural Ones -- The picture of wages and salaries across the U.S. is not a simple one of urban success versus rural decline.

5) The Talent Dividend in Urban and Rural Areas -- Urban places have the largest numbers of college graduates, but rural counties are starting to see more growth.

6) Where the Creative Class Thrives in Rural America -- Although the creative class in the United States is largely urban, many rural counties also have high shares of knowledge, professional, and artistic workers.
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
One thing that impresses me about Richard Florida is that he seems to have looked honestly at what his famous predictions and cheerleading got dead wrong. He clearly still believes in the "creative class" but he now recognizes this group is neither as economically autonomous nor as socially benign as they may have seemed in the '90s.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:17 PM on November 14, 2019 [7 favorites]

I know that, as an editor for The Atlantic, Florida's job is to pretend that the reds and the blues aren't so different after all, but I'm not impressed. Despite his insistence that he's debunking the oversimplified image of growing urban vs. declining rural counties, all he's doing by conflating the growth of some urban counties with the growth of some rural counties is introducing a new kind of oversimplification. In Florida's framework, an urban county with multiple thriving industries that bring in tens of thousands of new hires every year is no more successful than a rural county where a few hundred people move in to work at the one or two big factories or oil wells or fracking plants that set up shop in the past few years.

Also, the way this guy writes concluding paragraphs reminds me of the essays I wrote in high school English:
But, there are winners and losers among all types of places across urban and rural America.
The narrative of successful urban places and declining rural ones belies a larger reality of winners and losers across all types of places.
When it comes to higher education, there are winners and losers among all types of places across the urban and rural spectrum.
When it comes to talent and the creative class, there are winners and losers among all types of places, up and down the urban-rural spectrum.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:23 AM on November 15, 2019 [14 favorites]

In conclusion, America is a land of contrast.
posted by migurski at 8:30 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's so infuriating. As ever, he's doing county-level analysis but completely failing to address that in light of the fact that the vast majority of Americans (including an even more overwhelming majority of Americans who are poor, nonwhite or LGBTQ) LIVE IN URBAN AREAS and that rural people are only 15% of the general population.

He even notes that fact and then blithely continues down his Center-Right Path of Assumptions that rural Americans are the population most worthy of analysis. (Except black rural Americans, I didn't notice anything in this series of glorified blog posts that discussed them.)

Just for my own sanity, I ctrl-F'ed "race" on all these articles to see if I'd missed some discussion of that while I hateskimmed them last night. Nope.

In conclusion, this is a garbage attempt at sociological analysis, which purports to give insight into poverty issues while actually just privileging a particular subset of poor people. Terms such as "creative class" are bandied about with only the fuzziest of explanation. Thus, Richard Florida should go away.
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:54 AM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thus, Richard Florida should go away.

Yeah. Dude is a walking TED Talk hot take.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:59 AM on November 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

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