Most People Work in Services Everywhere

A blog about business and economics.
April 9 2013 11:02 AM

Most People Work in Services Everywhere

services_goods2

Richard Florida offers a map that I like primarily because of how little information it conveys. Putatively the idea here is to capture which metro areas are the most "post-industrial" by plotting the ratio of goods production to services production in each place.

The main thing that you see here is that in all metro areas people are primarily producing services. Services dominate in every rich country, and it's nice to see here that on a fairly granular level services also predominate in every particular place in the country. That's true even in places like West Texas and the Gulf Coast where commodities are big.

The other thing that you see is that lumping a bunch of stuff together as "services" doesn't tell you very much. This map tells you that Bangor and San Jose have similar economies because they're both dominated by services. But the San Jose metro area is the global center of the software industry, while Bangor is a regional health care hub with a lot of tourism. Post-industrial like San Jose means you're rich. Post-industrial like Bangor means you're poor.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.