A few weeks ago Richard Florida’s blog ran a whole series of charts showing (American) state-by-state trends in quality-of-life indices — physical health, GDP per capita, etc. — for what Florida has famously dubbed the Creative Class, vs. the Working Class.
In this series, though, Florida wasn’t touting the advantages of the creative class so much as he was worried by the outlook for the working class.
So maybe it’s time to think twice when we hear how important it is to save “good” working class jobs. Individually, that may well be the case. Some of these jobs pay very well, and lots of people who lose them may find it difficult, perhaps impossible, to find similar work at their pay levels
But from the point of view of society and economic development broadly, it’s important to recognize that states with large concentrations of working class jobs do very poorly in terms of wealth and well-being.
These findings distress me personally. Looking them over and over, I found myself thinking back to advice my father – who spent more then 50 years as a worker in a Newark eyeglass factory – gave my brother and I long ago. “Boys,” he said, “I do this so you won’t have to. That’s why you have to stay in school, study hard, and go to college.” I understand much better now what he was driving at.