such as Las Vegas, Louisville, Memphis,
Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, and
In the 1980s and 1990s, leading
manufacturing companies worked closely
with their suppliers to upgrade manufacturing jobs, pay blue-collar workers
more, and engage them in teamwork and
lean production—which led to higher
productivity and performance. Paying
better wages to service workers would
do for companies in the service sector
what it once did for manufacturing firms.
His job had been transformed by New
Deal policies that boosted the pay of manufacturing workers.
We can do this for service jobs today,
and we can start by lifting the wage floor.
If we were to set the minimum wage to
50 percent of the prevailing local median
wage, it would vary from city to city, rang-
ing from a high of around $15 an hour
in San Jose and Washington, D.C., to
roughly $14 in San Francisco, about $13
in Boston, New York, and Seattle, and
around $9.50 in less expensive places
Despite its creative energy and innova-
tive prowess, America’s tech industry has
generated a host of challenges for cities.
It’s time to put its tremendous resources,
talent, and skills to work helping cities
solve the urban crisis it helped to create.
Richard Florida is a university professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman
School of Management and the cofounder
of the Atlantic’s CityLab. His books include The Rise of the Creative Class and
the just-released The New Urban Crisis.
The tech startup boom has brought billions of dollars of venture capital into urban areas like San Francisco. It’s also driven out the middle class and
caused a wave of resentment, exemplified by the Google Bus protests of 2011.