09/21/2021

News

Gov. Brown Faces Rough Road in Quest to Repair State Freeways

After years of neglect, state officials estimate it will cost $59 billion to fix the now-crumbling roads and freeways that Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown championed more than five decades ago. And it’s up to his son, Gov. Jerry Brown, to find the money.

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San Diego Economy Sees Slower Growth

A report released Tuesday by the University of San Diego still points to gains in the job market, new residential construction and an overall improving national economy as factors behind the region’s expansion. However, local publicly traded companies did not fare well in May and consumer confidence dipped locally for the first time in 15 months.

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California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall–But Not by Much

Data released by the state on Tuesday show that California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases started falling again in 2013. The drop wasn’t much, just 0.3 percent. The state’s economy still pumped almost 460 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to the California Air Resources Board.

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Private Companies Added 237,000 Jobs in June vs. Est. of 218,000: ADP

Private companies in June created positions at the fastest clip this year, indicating a thaw in the labor market as summer began.

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Puerto Rico Shows the Danger of a High Minimum Wage

One point the report makes is worth considering for policymakers elsewhere in the United States. While labor organizers around the country along with most major Democratic politicians have said the federal minimum wage is too low, it seems clearly too high in Puerto Rico, at 77 percent of per capita income. That puts a lot of people with less education and fewer skills out of consideration for a job.

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SF Fed: Robin Hood Economic Policies May Not Boost Economy That Much

Authors Bart Hobijn and Alexander Nussbacher write “there is evidence that differences in propensities to consume this additional income across households are smaller than commonly assumed.” What’s more, the ability to borrow is important, and can “provide the opportunity for lower-income households to smooth their consumption and maintain it at an acceptable level even when their incomes decline, thereby providing an alternative source of economic stimulus,” they said.

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Bay Area Income Gap Now More Than $250,000 Between Top and Bottom

Key reasons include high-tech earners in Silicon Valley and the growing decline of middle-income households throughout the Bay Area.

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California Senate’s Liberal Agenda Faces Uphill Climb in Assembly

While also dominated by the Democratic Party, which traditionally aligns with organized labor, the Legislature’s lower house has a growing “moderate caucus” that is generally more receptive to the concerns of the business community. Those members helped kill or stall a number of union priorities before June’s deadline to pass bills out of their house of origin, including legislation to require two weeks’ notice for workers’ schedules.

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Environmental Benefits from Driving Electric Vehicles?

Electric vehicles offer the promise of reduced environmental externalities relative to their gasoline counterparts. We combine a theoretical discrete-choice model of new vehicle purchases, an econometric analysis of the marginal emissions from electricity, and the AP2 air pollution model to estimate the environmental benefit of electric vehicles. First, we find considerable variation in the environmental benefit, implying a range of second-best electric vehicle purchase subsidies from $3025 in California to -$4773 in North Dakota, with a mean of -$742. Second, over ninety percent of local environmental externalities from driving an electric vehicle in one state are exported to others, implying that electric vehicles may be subsidized locally, even though they may lead to negative environmental benefits overall. Third, geographically differentiated subsidies can reduce deadweight loss, but only modestly. Fourth, the current federal purchase subsidy of $7500 has greater deadweight loss than a no-subsidy policy.

Research & Studies
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Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program

Conventional wisdom suggests that energy efficiency (EE) policies are beneficial because they induce investments that pay for themselves and lead to emissions reductions. However, this belief is primarily based on projections from engineering models. This paper reports on the results of an experimental evaluation of the nation’s largest residential EE program conducted on a sample of more than 30,000 households. The findings suggest that the upfront investment costs are about twice the actual energy savings. Further, the model-projected savings are roughly 2.5 times the actual savings. While this might be attributed to the “rebound” effect – when demand for energy end uses increases as a result of greater efficiency – the paper fails to find evidence of significantly higher indoor temperatures at weatherized homes. Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits; the average rate of return is approximately -9.5% annually.

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The U.S. Stands Out on Labor Force Participation Rates

Among eight major advanced economies, all but one — the United States — show gains in labor force participation over the past 15 years, according to a new study by Maximiliano Dvorkin and Hannah Shell of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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Rapid Increases in Tropospheric Ozone Production and Export from China

We show that tropospheric ozone concentrations over China have increased by about 7% between 2005 and 2010 in response to two factors: a rise in Chinese emissions by about 21% and increased downward transport of stratospheric ozone. Furthermore, we find that transport from China of ozone and its precursors has offset about 43% of the 0.42 DU reduction in free-tropospheric ozone over the western United States that was expected between 2005 and 2010 as a result of emissions reductions associated with federal, state and local air quality policies. We conclude that global efforts may be required to address regional air quality and climate change.

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US Inflation Undershoots Fed’s 2% Target for 37th Consecutive Month

The personal consumption expenditures price index, which is the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% from April, the Commerce Department said Thursday. It was the biggest rise in more than two years and largely reflected increased prices for energy, including gasoline. Food prices were flat, and prices excluding food and energy ticked up 0.1%.

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State Water System Stretched to Limit, Officials Say

State and federal water regulators said Wednesday they’re struggling to hold California’s fragile water system together amid dwindling supplies and increasing anger from farmers, lawmakers, environmentalists and others

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California Climate Plan has Inland Condemning Coastal Elitism

The way inland California lawmakers see it, the only benefit to their constituents from Gov. Jerry Brown’s expansion of carbon pollution laws will be cleaner air to breathe as they wait at the unemployment office.

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