The New Geography of Jobs

The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)

This book suffers from the same sorts of overly optimistic sweeping generalizations you find in books by fellow economist Thomas Friedman. For example, Dr. Moretti argues that college educations benefit everyone (not just the graduates) financially, and claims that because of this benefit, “state and local governments pick up most of the cost of educating their residents,” which is not true. He also pushes Richard Florida’s favorite hypothesis, that cities magically produce jobs by the interaction among their densely packed population of well-educated engineers and businesspeople. I am very dubious about the idea that “creative” people talk enough with their counterparts at other companies, about their work, during their off hours to make any economic difference. News flash: they talk about sports.

However, Dr. Moretti displays more common sense and compassion than most other economics professors. He recognizes that not all workers are mobile, and that regional differences in the cost of living further discourage relocation. He suggests that part of unemployment insurance checks should be converted to vouchers that enable workers to cover the upfront costs of moving to an area with better employment opportunities. He also points out that the same lack of upfront capital prevents many from investing in a college education that could pay off handsomely in job opportunities.

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