Metro Policy

Getting the State Role Right on Regions
June 16, 2011

States don’t often get the state-metro relationship right on economic development, as Kenan Fikri and I observed recently in a paper on the potential of state industry cluster strategies. Sometimes states ignore or stiff their regions, thanks to the dynamics of rurally oriented legislatures.

The Motor City? How About the Motor Region
June 15, 2011

The Detroit Free Press recently published an article summarizing the ongoing financial and jurisdictional debate surrounding regional mass transit.  Metropolitan Detroit primarily relies on two major transit agencies—DDOT and SMART—to offer commuting and general mobility to the region’s 4.4 million residents. The major problem is that the dual agencies create higher costs for both, leading to less service and lower quality for riders, plus the potential to miss out on federal funding opportunities. Even more troubling is the inconsistent jurisdictional buy-in for the suburban SMART system.

Standing Up to the Feds on Immigration
June 14, 2011

Last summer, just as higher temperatures set in, immigration policy-making at the state level also heated up. With still no comprehensive, federal immigration reform happening, this year looks to be even hotter than last. What do Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia have in common? What about Illinois, New York and Massachusetts? These two triads have taken bold--but contrasting--stances related to their immigrant populations. The first three, citing federal inaction, have passed tough laws to “crack down” on illegal immigration, beginning with Arizona last year.

Clustering for Cleantech Innovation
June 13, 2011

Matt Stepp of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has a good post up now over at CommentVisions on speeding up the largely under-scaled, poorly structured world energy innovation system--a hobby-horse of ours here at the Metro Program. Matt raises all the right themes: the need to pile onto STEM education; the need to build new physical infrastructure, from grid upgrades to EV charging stations; the imperative of increasing global RD&D investment by 200 to 500 percent from present levels, something we’ve been talking about for years. But what I like best (predictably!) is

Hot Air: The Claim that Gas is Greener than Solar and Wind
June 10, 2011

Is natural gas energy “greener” than solar and wind? That is the surprising and unfounded contention made by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute in a recent NYT op-ed. As it happens, our team at Brookings will be releasing a major report on the clean economy, and like scholars at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we decided to count jobs in solar and wind energy as part of the clean economy, while excluding natural gas related employment. Are we all wrong to do so?

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?
June 09, 2011

In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.

A Deeper Look at Unemployment
June 08, 2011

Last Friday’s jobs report brought some glum news. The unemployment rate remained pretty much the same from April to May of this year and the economy had added fewer jobs than needed to achieve a meaningful recovery anytime soon.

Will Congestion Pricing Ever Catch On Here?
June 07, 2011

Those of us who drive to work in metropolitan areas across the U.S. know from experience that congestion hardly ever improves. Now a couple of researchers from the University of Toronto have reaffirmed what my colleague Anthony Downs has been saying for fifty years: “traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.” In a forthcoming article in the American Economic Review (Google documents version via The Infrastructurist) Gilles Duranton and Mathew Turner examine new data on city level traffic from 1983 to 2003 and find that building more roads leads to more traffic. Why, you might ask?

Can the Private Sector Close the Gap in Suburban Transit?
June 06, 2011

Our much-discussed report Missed Opportunities demonstrated how, even when given a generous 90 minutes to do so, the nation’s public transit systems have great difficulty connecting low-income people to jobs—even when those people live in relatively densely populated areas. The intuitive policy response might be to try to allocate more resources to transit routes that connect the places where low-income people reside, particularly in suburbs, to places where they work. However, this would be misguided.

America’s Cities and Suburbs Becoming Safer
June 03, 2011

Last week the FBI’s report on crime in 2010 showed that both property and violent crime rates had fallen to their lowest levels in 40 years. A recent post by Richard Florida raised some interesting points about the latest numbers, particularly in parsing the trends in big cities versus smaller communities and pointing to what demographics might tell us about these changes. Steven Raphael and I recently took a look at crime trends in the nation’s largest metro areas to figure out how the large national declines in both violent and property crime rates since the 1990s have played out across cit