On Tuesday, Mr. Ballmer plans to make public a database and a report that he and a small army of economists, professors and other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth start-up over the last three years called USAFacts. The database is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments.
Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Friday, after a revised 0.3% decline in February. But over the last 12 months, retail sales have risen 5.2%, a sign that that the economy remains on stable footing.
Still, there are indications that consumers are growing more cautious even though the unemployment rate declined in March to a low 4.5%. Steady job growth as the recovery from the Great Recession nears its eighth year and a bump in consumer sentiment following President Trump's presidential election have yet to strengthen spending much.
Since the start of 2017, Americans have actually cut back on purchases at auto dealers and restaurants and bars, two major sources of sales gains in prior years. Sales dipped 1.5% last month at auto dealers and 0.6% at restaurants and bars. It was the second straight monthly drop in sales for both categories.
“As the state prison population comes close to exceeding a court-mandated limit, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is pursuing new regulations that aim to get more inmates paroled more quickly over time,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “The proposed rules, originating from voter approval of Proposition 57 in November and unveiled [March 24], would allow ‘nonviolent’ felons to first seek parole at the conclusion of the base term for their primary offense, before serving additional time for other charges and enhancements that can add years to their sentence.”
Police officers began making fewer arrests. The following year, the Los Angeles Police Department’s arrest numbers dipped even lower and continued to fall, dropping by 25% from 2013 to 2015. The statewide numbers are just as striking: Police recorded the lowest number of arrests in nearly 50 years, according to the California attorney general’s office, with about 1.1 million arrests in 2015 compared with 1.5 million in 2006.