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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Too many English majors?

Here's a fascinating story about who's moving to Portland, and what they do for a living when they get here. Executive summary: Weird isn't working.

Comments (20)

Looks like the "young creatives" was another planner delusion.
Is there anything that city planners get right?


I thought they just retired when they got here?

Welcome to Portland. Home of the young, poor educated class. You too can live in a shared loft condo with your friends in what used to be Benson Polytechnic High School. Work weekend mornings at Starbucks for free latte's.

The solution is simple:

"People want great schools. They want great parks. They want great roads. And you need tax revenue to do that," said Sandra McDonough, president of the Portland Business Alliance. "People lose that connection. The only way we're going to get more money for schools is to grow the pot...

Alright everybody, start growing...

I have personal experience with this situation: when I moved to Portland in 1996, my now-ex immediately gravitated toward a job at Powell's flagship store. Although she had a full degree and several offers for real jobs once we got there, her only ambition, such as it was, was to work for an independent bookstore. Not only did this mean that she passed up management offers because she couldn't bring herself to work for a big bad corporation, but she then came home from work and cried because of the "Mean Girls" mentality at Powell's. (Most of that mentality, I need to add, only existed in her head: several times, we went to parties hosted by Powell's managers where she sat in the corner and literally cried the whole time because she wasn't the center of attention.) After extensive prompting, she finally quit Powell's, only to take an entry-level, minimum-wage job with a university press reseller with even less of a chance of advancement. I only finished paying off her unpaid bills from that period five years after we'd moved back to Texas, as she hid her debts rather than have me tell her to take a real job.

The finale was one quite common to parents and spouses of writer, editor, and publisher wannabes, and I heard it from other people over and over during my time in Portland. During her time at Powell's, my ex would come home and cry about the rude customers, the rude fellow employees, the bums out in front of Powell's, and the sheer unfairness of her working customer service. I finally asked her why she didn't take a job anywhere else, where she could put her degree to good use and get something approximating job satisfaction. That started up a whole new fight, with her crying, over and over, "But I wanna stay in the publishing business!" That, right there, is the delusion that keeps Portland weird.

TTF has it right, as usual.

It's FantasyLand out there for a lot of the creative class.

Executive summary: I wanna do what I wanna do and the pay and benefits should be what I want them to be.

Other Jimbo - you forgot this part:

"...and somebody else should pay for them."

"Mean Girls" mentality aka Portland Polite

What's you expect to draw when our claim to fame is Portlandia? Besides, even if we got trained ambitious young people where would they go to work - In Portland (not Hillsboro)?

Thank you. The really sad part is that I don't have any problem with the so-called "creative class" actually being creative. In fact, I welcome it. The problem I have with the Portland creative class is that so many will claim to be artists, writers, and whatnot, but won't get off their butts and do anything. Worse, they'll wait until someone else does the grunt work and then try to steal the credit and take over once the hard work is finished.

Shortly after I moved back in 1997, I ran into a fellow Portland expat who moved to Dallas because he wanted to get film work done without any interference. He coined the phrase "the Portland coma" to sum up the condition that I couldn't accurately articulate. Even more than I was, he was sick to tears of the dolts who wanted to be recognized and praised for being creative, but who were too lazy to pull their pants down when taking a crap, much less make those vague dreams of theirs happen. Instead, it was enough for them to wander around and hang out at the coffee shop, talking endlessly about the books they were going to write and the movies they were going to direct, once somebody else gave them a million-dollar contract before they started a lick of work.

All true, but this is exactly the demographic you'd want to have if you were an official and didn't want a lot people figuring out what you were up to behind closed doors.

What's scary is why there are less and less people with math and science apptitude per this article. Do the schools know how to recognize these students and promote it, or is everyone in school just waiting to be discovered by Hollywood for the big bucks?

Folks -

Can we hold the righteous indignation for just a minute. What that article says is that college-educated people making $55k / year on average - per person, not household - are the problem with Portland.

"Among white male college graduates, they found, metro Portland has an extra-large population of humanities majors, who earn an average of about $55,000 a year" (gasp)

Your contempt is duly noted. By every married family with children and a household income under $110,000. How much do my wife and I have to earn, exactly, to earn your favor?

Instead of venting your hard-won disdain for the damn kids, you might take a minute to examine the attitude that leads to outrage over anything other than that ridiculous premise, and the wholesale acceptance of it without comment.

My wife and I work less on purpose. We earn enough to provide for the present and save for the future. Do you righties condemn our choices because we're not exercising our liberties to your satisfaction? Or you lefties because we're not filling the tax coffers to our utmost potential?

Why such hostility?

TTR makes some great points. He has noticed the diffrences in folks in PDX and DFR. The people in Dallas (or most other places) are reasonably HAPPY. They know how to go out and have a good time with friends or their kids and enjoy life and their surroundings. For whatever reason PDX has become a mecca for unhappy, unfulfilled trolls. Instead of enjoying life and allowing their neighbors to enjoy their lives these idiots are out protesting or bitching about people having a good time. NO CARS CAUSE I LIKE BIKES BS.

I had the opportunity to get to work with some of the Rajneesh many years ago at a company that I worked for. I say opportunity because I learned a lot, these were for the most part some highly edgumucated and successful professionals however they were very unhappy and unfulfilled. Most of them were "lost" they had no meaning to their life as they knew it. Portland is full of these lost souls, they just don't wear the purple uniforms.

Portland the Island of MisFitt Toys!

BoBo, when people ask me about Portland, I tell them that the place resembles a horrible cloning experiment involving the main characters in the Britcom "The Young Ones," with far too many Ricks and Mikes and nowhere near enough Vyvians. Considering that the battle cry of the Portland hipster is "Hands up: who likes me?", it's the best assessment I can offer.

I find it interesting that it is noted now an abundance of creatives, artists, when on the other hand, we are told arts have not been available in the schools, and we need to have an art tax to provide more art.

What can we make of this, are the influx of artists coming from around the country?

Whatever, I recognize the value of art in schools, but will also say I was opposed as many of you know to the arts tax.

There are some I know in the art field throughout the years from this area, I can only think that if in fact it is the influx of creatives from around the county into this area, this must be difficult for those who were local artists now as it always was a small market to begin with and competitive. It would be interesting to hear from local artists how this movement into our area has affected their survival and business.

Well said R.

There is a chicken-and-egg aspect to the study, in that Portland has never had the financial industry, technology base or cluster of Fortune 500 companies that other urban areas have. For many finance and engineering graduates, the choice to stay in Portland becomes a self-imposed limitation on their careers. Perhaps those sectors would improve if more of those with math-heavy degrees stayed in Oregon and started companies, but the pressure to repay student loans and get started with life turns their attention elsewhere.

I'm surprised no one has commented on the math in the article.
1. The article says pay is lower in Portland by about 5%
2. Hours worked in Portland (per employed person) are also about 5% lower.
3. Pay for college educated (about 1/3rd of the work force here, though the article doesn't mention it) is about 10% lower than National average.

That all would tend to suggest workers in Portland who are NOT college educated are making significantly more per hour than the National average.

I doubt it. I think the numbers in the article are nonsense. Certainly the author doesn't appear to have done much more than parroting and drawing silly conclusions.

(For one thing, about hours worked: That's generally not reported for professionals. So it is only non-pro people working fewer hours than average? Lots of odd things like that in the article)

I could be an artist (and was, at one time, in the illustrator/graphic design/typesetting field) but learned pretty quickly that it's not possible to make a living as a pure creative unless you hit on something like a blue dog or a pet rock and make your fortune before the excitement dies down.

Friends coming to Portland from other cities, thinking they can make it doing what they did elsewhere: painting and showing in moderately-priced galleries, catering, etc. end up turning around and going home. And these were people with experience, sales and portfolio; they were good at what they did.

Anyone pursuing something as nebulous as a liberal arts degree at this time is seriously deluded. They're wasting their's (or their parents') money unless they are attending school for social reasons or to snag a rich spouse.

Incidentally, I'd be happy to be making $50,000 a year. That's far from minimum wage.

I read thru the comments and the article and was surprised that no one mentioned Measure 66 and 67 that increased the taxes on businesses and high income earners. Don't you think that someone who is planning a career designed to make money would look at how the taxes in Oregon and Portland have made the accumulation of money more difficult. Looking at the business climate setup by these taxes in Washington looks good. No one brings money to Oregon to start a small business.


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