Source: Ted Mellnik and Annie Gowen/The Washington Post.
The above chart from the Washington Post article "Tree canopy’s density indicates wealth of D.C. neighborhoods" attempts to illustrate a correlation between tree coverage and income in D.C. In many ways this article states the obvious--wealthier neighborhoods tend to have more trees. The authors quote environmentalists' arguments about the benefits of trees and briefly mention real estate advantages. However, I think this issue deserves deeper explanation. This is an interesting research topic. Does tree coverage matter?
The Atlantic Cities posted "America's Most Post-Industrial Metros" listing the top 20 metro areas with populations over 1 million that score highest on the ratio of services to goods in America's continuing transition to a post-industrial economy.
The overall ratio of services to goods for the U.S. economy is approximately 3 to 1. The post-industrial economy is most prevalent in the Northeast corridor (Boston to Washington, DC). The Washington metro area is the highest with a ratio of 11.17. The New York metro follows with a ratio of 9.86. Interestingly, the Miami metro area follows with a ratio of 7.75.
The DC and NYC metro areas have a higher concentration of professionals, but I would guess that Miami has a higher ratio of service jobs in comparison to professional jobs. It would be interesting to compare income levels with the services to goods ratio to also consider rising inequality in post-industrial metro areas.
Sprawling and struggling: Poverty hits America's suburbs by Allison Linn
From NBC News -- "Poverty in Plain Sight" series:
"The number of suburban residents living in poverty rose by nearly 64 percent between 2000 and 2011, to about 16.4 million people, according to a Brookings Institution analysis of 95 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. That’s more than double the rate of growth for urban poverty in those areas.
'I think we have an outdated perception of where poverty is and who it is affecting,' said Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the research. 'We tend to think of it as a very urban and a very rural phenomenon, but it is increasingly suburban.'"
The post features a mother and daughter in Connecticut--however, I am interested in the statistics for the Washington, D.C. area. I suspect that this is happening in the suburbs of the DC Metro area despite local news stories commending the area economy and low unemployment rate.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to ban her Yahoo employees from telecommuting has sparked a media firestorm. Her decision, especially as a working mother, has angered her employees, many working mothers, feminists, and policy makers working towards work-life balance. She has also been praised by journalists and business insiders that argue that the boundary between work and home is becoming too porous. Mayer's public declaration that she is not a feminist and decision to build a nursery (with her own money) next to her office has stoked the fire.
Why the strong and contradictory response to Mayer's decision? My dissertation research examines the social construction of the private sphere and the history of work in the home. Working within the home has a complicated history and associations with issues of class. Mayer's decision reveals the problem of class privilege and asks us to question where work belongs? The answers are not simple and too complicated to go into detail here. However, I believe some important points can be addressed in this blog post.
Marissa Mayer's position of power as CEO and financial means allow her to bring her baby to work, a privilege not available to her employees. Mayer clearly believes that work should be first when considering work-life balance for herself and her employees. Productive work belongs in the workplace. In building the nursery, she has brought "home" or "life" to work. However, the angry response to Mayer's decision also reveals the problem of work-life balance and privilege on the part of her employees. For the middle and upper-middle class Yahoo employees working at home means flexibility and placing more emphasis on "life." Productive work can exist within the private sphere. The ability to work at home is also a privilege that is increasingly more associated with socioeconomic status. Mayer's decision threatens a new form of cultural capital that has become increasingly important to knowledge (or what Richard Florida refers to as the Creative Class) professionals.
From Atlantic Cities:
San Francisco Chronicle:
New York Times:
Interesting post from the New Republic:
By Inga Saffron
"It turns out that the old complaint against gentrification, that it drives out minorities, is far too simplistic. Instead, we should be worrying about a different concern: It hasn’t built the diversity that Jacobsian urbanists envisioned, and that cities need."
Source: Business Week. Death of the McMansion Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
McMansions may not be as popular after the Great Recession of 2008, but Americans still want larger homes. The National Association of Home Builders recently released their nationwide 2011 survey "What Home Buyers Really Want." NAHB surveys new and potential homebuyers preferences for "home type and size, room layout and design, kitchen and baths, windows and doors, accessibility and outdoor features, electronics and technology in the home, energy efficiency, choosing a community, and trade-offs buyers are willing to make."
Thank you to The Urban Land Institute for providing an overall summary of the data.
Some interesting findings:
1) The average new single-family house is now over 2,500 sq. ft. and continuing to trend larger.
2) This trend reflects the preferences of higher-income families that can afford large downpayments and financing in a tight mortgage market.
3) According to the NAHB most buyers aspire to own a home with a median of 2,226 sq. ft.
4) The majority of people surveyed want 3 to 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.
5) Most interesting: apparently 6 of 10 people surveyed would go without a living room.
While revising the final chapter of my dissertation I came across some interesting data on income segregation by the Pew Research Center. Although Pew's research covers the entire United States (see 2012 report, "The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income") for this post I will focus on Washington, DC (where I currently reside).
The above map represents the Pew's Residential Income Segregation Index (RISI) for Washington, DC. RISI is calculated by adding the rate of lower-income households living in a majority lower-income tract and the rate of upper-income households living in a majority upper-income tract. Red represents lower income tracts and blue higher income tracts. Washington's score is 47 (the maximum score is 200) in comparison to the highest scoring metro areas, Houston and Dallas that have a RISI score of 61 and 60, respectively. Between 1980 and 2010, the Washington DC metro area population increased 78%, but the RISI scored only increased by 4.
The reports states that "the typical upper-income household is more likely to live alongside other upper-income households, more than two-thirds of the neighbors of the typical upper-income household in 2010 were either middle income or lower-income households." Although Pew did not report detailed data on the DC metro area, further research on gentrification in the District in comparison to the surrounding area may explain why the DC metro area has a relatively low RISI score.
It is worth noting that residential segregation by race is still more prevalent than income. The report states that "[i]n 2010, 42% of blacks lived in a census tract that was majority black, compared with 28% of low-income households living in a majority low-income tract and 18% of upper-income households living in a majority upper-income tract." This is still the case in the DC metro area. Yale Professor Bill Rankin's map illustrates the point:
Source: Radical Cartography Project
I watch a lot of HGTV--especially "House Hunters." I am always curious if the houses they feature all over the country represent the typical American home. Also, is the demand depicted on the show for the ideal home featuring at least two bathrooms, a home office, and a "bonus" room or man cave representative of the actual market? Fortunately, some of these questions can be answered examining the US Census Bureau's 2011 American Housing Survey released this month.
Out of curiousity I decided to compare the 2011 data to 1985 (the Housing Survey dates back to 1973). In 1985, the median square footage of a single detached home was 1,636. In 2011, the median square footage has increased to 1800 (providing the average household an additional 100+ sq. ft. per occupant). The majority of homes in 1985 had 4-5 rooms versus 2011 with the majority of homes having 6 or more rooms (not including bathrooms). The most significant change is the number of bathrooms per home. Since 1973, the average home had 1 bathroom. Now, the average home has at least 2 bathrooms. What is that about? Lifestyle changes, privacy, aspirational?