The Avenue

How Lost Wealth Undermines Economic Recovery
October 07, 2011

No event is more closely linked to our current economic disease than the collapse of the housing market. The Wall Street Journal’s S. Mitra Kalita illustrates that nicely in a new story out of Hagerstown, Md.--a community whose rise and fall was heavily tied to housing. As the president tours the country promoting his stimulus (Jobs Act) plan, stories like this provide clues as to why the economic rebound has come up so short and also point to why another stimulus bill and massive relief to homeowners is so necessary. Federal Reserve flow of funds data shows that U.S.

Creating New Pathways for Youth Success in D.C.
October 06, 2011

The Washington, D.C. region routinely ranks highly on measures of economic health, even though in these recessionary times, “economic health” sometimes means you’re still suffering, just not as badly as the guy down the road.  And averages mask all kinds of disparities.   For example, the city at the core of the region has both high average incomes and high poverty rates, and, as you can imagine, these figures do not refer to the same residents.  Let’s zoom in for a closer focus on a particular subset of Washington, D.C.

Benchmarking Buildings for Energy Efficiency
October 05, 2011

Knowledge may be power, but Seattle leaders are hoping that, at least for buildings, knowledge is less power. Under a new city ordinance that takes effect this month, all buildings over 10,000 square feet--both commercial and multifamily residential--must report their annual energy usage to the city. The goal is to create a baseline for energy efficiency investment decisions as well as to inform buyers and tenants of building energy costs.  The information may also be used to develop future city incentives.

A Traffic Congestion PSA
September 28, 2011

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on its Metro front page that the “D.C. area is No. 1 nationwide in traffic congestion, study says.” As we noted last year, this is most assuredly false. The annual Texas Transportation Institute study, housed at Texas A&M University, measures travel times at rush hour across the nation’s large metro areas.

Don’t Abandon Federal Clean Energy Lending
September 27, 2011

With the bankruptcy of the California solar-gear manufacturer Solyndra, the Department of Energy’s loan program has been excoriated for wasting tax payer money under suspicious circumstances. The program’s website refers to 63,000 jobs created with $38.6 billion of loans. Some, like those at the Washington Post, see this number and incorrectly conclude that the government has spent $600,000 per job.

Parsing U.S. Poverty at the Metropolitan Level
September 22, 2011

Last week’s data from the Census Bureau on poverty and income provided some hints as to the impact of the Great Recession in U.S.

Today in Miscellany
September 21, 2011

Ryan Avent’s new e-book, “The Gated City” is churning through the metro-oriented blogs.  Rob Pitingolo of Greater Greater Washington has one of the more interesting critiques. Speaking of the metro blog space, the Atlantic launched its “Atlantic Cities” site last week. Check Bruce Katz’ big picture essay on the “metropolitan moment.” The New York Times continues its torrid love affair with the “City of Roses” with this piece on Portland’s “bicycle-supported” development, both commercial and residential. Get a room, you two.

Beyond Solyndra: Partnerships for Clean Energy
September 19, 2011

co-authored with Lew Milford* If you’re tired of the acrimony and gridlock currently stymieing progress toward a lower-carbon future in the United States, perhaps you’ll want to check out the discussion underway today at the U.S. Patent Office in Alexandria, Va. There, the Metro Program along with the Patent Office, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, and the Clean Energy Group are hosting what should be a far more edifying discussion on clean energy than has been in evidence in recent weeks.

The Geography of Our Falling-Wage Recovery
September 16, 2011

Over the summer there was some concern in the media about falling wages during the current barely perceptible economic recovery. Nationwide, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that inflation-adjusted average hourly wages have been trending downward since late 2010. Similar wage declines occurred, starting at various times in 2009 or 2010, in most major industries. Because wages don’t usually fall even during the most severe recessions, this is (bad) news.  In the latest edition of Brookings’ MetroMonitor, I looked at where these wage declines were occurring. Using inflation-adjusted average