The Avenue

The release of new Census Bureau poverty data yesterday confirmed suspicions about the state of the economy for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens: even as GDP growth resumed in 2009, things continued to deteriorate at the bottom of the ladder. The U.S. poverty rate rose from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010, reaching its highest point since 1993. The news is a stark reminder that poverty is first and foremost a reflection of labor market conditions.

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Several pundits and writers have recently suggested that the green economy is small and unlikely to be a major source of job growth anytime in the near future. So, the argument goes, it’s not a worthy investment. As evidence for the first claim, some critics of green policies have cited the job growth figures from our recent “Sizing the Clean Economy” report while arguing that the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a solar photovoltaic manufacturer, illustrates both the failures of green policies and the weakness of the industry.

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The focus on infrastructure in President Obama’s jobs speech was much-anticipated and necessary. While much the attention is on increasing funding for fixing roads and bridges, the president also reiterated the call to improve the way the federal government invests in infrastructure. (“No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere.”) He also called for the kind of transformative infrastructure investments that made the U.S. an economic superpower.

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In his speech before Congress last night, President Obama argued to a somewhat skeptical public the role of the national government in responding to the continuing employment crisis.  To effectively address the crisis, however, it helps to start from a shared understanding of what the problem is. And on this count, there’s some disagreement, even among the experts. Some economists believe the fundamental problem is a mismatch between available jobs, and available workers.

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Yesterday, the World Economic Forum released its annual Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012, which compares the ability of 142 economies to produce quality growth.  A far-reaching endeavor, the report compares national economies based on a Global Competitiveness Index, a combination of 12 factors (expressed as 110 indicators) from institutions, infrastructure, and macroeconomic environment to market size, innovation and labor market efficiency.

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In the annals of Rose Garden speeches, the brief remarks by President Obama yesterday about extending the nation’s surface transportation law were, for the most part, unremarkable. He called on Congress to not let the current highway and transit authorization expire and then pressed for reforms in how we invest in transportation projects.

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Guest post by Andre Perry Over the last year, numerous organizations in New Orleans have released conflicting reports that use similar data to present different positions on whether or not public schools are improving. Some camps argue that schools haven’t improved beyond pre-Katrina rates, while others state that growth is undeniable. Ultimately, the battle over whose numbers are better only shows the contentiousness of the fight for the control of the public schools. One of the first lessons taught in research methods courses is that data paint pictures of reality. Data are not truths.

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My 4-year-old daughter started pre-kindergarten at a new school this past week. It was exciting and different for her, but at the same time, sort of old hat. Because both her mom and I work full-time, she’s been in some sort of institutional setting every weekday since she was 3 months old. That means for nearly two-thirds of her days on Earth, our daughter has been entrusted to someone else’s care. For all that, I admit to not knowing a great deal about the educational and experience backgrounds of the teachers who have minded Erica over the past three-plus years.

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Guest post by Jasmine Waddell Post-Katrina New Orleans is a case study in vulnerability, disenfranchisement, and stratification. The historical context echoes the same themes over many decades before the hurricanes hit. The result of this exponentially compounded deprivation was a vulnerable place and its people robbed of the opportunity to be resilient and restorative. After Katrina and Rita forcefully revised the social and physical landscape of New Orleans, Dr. Silas Lee and I worked with Oxfam America to re-imagine the landscape of opportunity for the people of the city.

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With job creation and the renewal of the moribund housing sector increasingly now at crisis levels of urgency, there seems to be a renewed push in Washington to inject new life into the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE)--a program that some had given up for dead after the Federal Housing Finance Authority created a major implementation hurdle last year. The newly introduced PACE Assessment Protection Act (H.R.

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