I consider noted huckster and neologist Richard Florida to be something like the manlove-child of Thomas Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell, a bumptious popularizer of pseudosociological hooey that flatters his petite bourgeoisie readership by assuring them that they, their Volkswagens, and their attendant Trader Joes and Ikeas are the true engines of productive urban economies, which are in turn the fundaments of our now-passing national prosperity. That said, Will Wilkinson excerpts a fairly reasonable passage in which Florida notes that both the bailouts and the so-called stimulus seem designed (successfully or not, this remains to be seen) to prolong the life of a structurally unsustainable economy based on inflated home values, easy credit, and a massively, insanely overcapitalized financial sector.
On the other hand, I die a little bit when I read:
The creative class, which now accounts for some 40 million workers and about a third of the workforce is much more flexible and resilient. It is this changed economic class and occupational structure which are keeping us from Depression-level unemployment rates.This is pure and simple the class prejudice of the college-educated. Those 40 million workers mostly aren't involved in anything that could reasonably be described as a creative-productive endeavor. They're not writing code, doing research, running high-tech ventures. They're middle managers. They're Regional Junior Account Executives. They're End User Support Specialists. They're Spend Process Managers, Sourcing Specialists, Compliance Coordinators. They're the middle echelons of the service economy AKA the knowledge economy. They occupy a class of employment whose existence owes to the structurally deficient economy that Richard Florida is going to go on to criticize.
The idea that their supposed flexibility and resiliency prevent Depression-level unemployment is pure flattery, untethered from fact. What has so far prevented Depression-level unemployment is that the current "crisis" or "downturn" is not (not yet) as severe as the Depression. And should we see a rapid contraction in auto industry and financial sector employment, then even the jiggered official unemployment statistics will quickly move into the double digits. Now this may be inevitable. It may even be desirable for exactly the painfully necessary reasons that Florida outlines. But it is not directly related to a workforce tranche invented out of thin air as a coinage for a piece of pop social science.