We're All Bankers Now

Finance isn't just Manhattan suits.

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Just finished Richard Florida's interesting take in The Atlantic on how the current crisis might alter America's geography (economic and otherwise). The whole thing is worth a read, so check it out.

One bit jumped out: New York may be America's financial capital, but it's not the only place with a relatively high concentration of finance professionals. A surprising number of cities now rely on banking as a major source of jobs, and that could mean more economic pain in more places as damage in the sector unfolds. Florida says:

Lean times undoubtedly lie ahead for New York. But perhaps not as lean as you’d think—and certainly not as lean as those that many lesser financial outposts are likely to experience. Financial positions account for only about 8 percent of the New York area’s jobs, not too far off the national average of 5.5 percent. By contrast, they make up 28 percent of all jobs in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois; 18 percent in Des Moines; 13 percent in Hartford; 10 percent in both Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Omaha, Nebraska; Macon, Georgia; and Columbus, Ohio, all have a greater percentage of population working in the financial sector than New York does.

He also points out that cities like New York have a much deeper variety of industries to support their local economy even if a big chunk (and there's no getting around just how big, in dollar terms, finance is in NYC) goes bust. In fact, the hardest-hit victims could be far outside of where the crisis originated. With declining populations and a continually shrinking Rust Belt factory sector, plus all those at-risk jobs caused by the bust in the Sun Belt where "much of the cities’ development came from, well, development itself," Florida says, "Sadly and unjustly, the places likely to suffer most from the crash—especially in the long run—are the ones least associated with high finance."

  • Kirk Shinkle

    Kirk Shinkle is a senior editor for U.S. News Money and manages the Best Funds portal. Follow him on Twitter @KirkS or email him at kshinkle@usnews.com.

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