Local boy makes good: The New York Times has named its veteran scribe Joe Nocera – a Providence native, and one of my favorite business writers – as its newest Op-Ed page columnist.
The NYT Op-Ed page is perhaps the most valuable piece of real estate in all of print journalism, so this is quite an honor for the 58-year-old graduate of Classical High and Boston University. Coincidentally, Nocera will be here in Providence next month to receive an award from the Classical High School Alumni Association.
Back in 2006, Nocera penned a piece for The Times, “The Cufflinks That Went to China,” looking at the toll globalization has taken on Rhode Island’s industrial sector during his lifetime. Here’s an excerpt:
WHEN I was growing up in Providence, the city was known as the Costume Jewelry Capital of the nation. There were literally hundreds of jewelry factories, not just in Providence, but across the state. Many were tiny, but some had as many as 500 or 600 employees; at its peak, costume jewelry provided jobs for 40,000 to 50,000 people, and many more in satellite industries. In high school, having a summer job in a jewelry factory was practically a rite of passage.
“We thought it would be there forever,” recalled Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s Democratic senator. But the industry peaked sometime around 1978, and today, according to Rich Youmans of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, there probably aren’t more than 500 costume jewelry jobs left in the state. What jewelry-making still exists in Rhode Island resides in the higher-margin precious metals.
(photo: The New York Times/Fred R. Conrad)