04/20/2018

News

The Ivy League Students Least Likely to Get Married

People care about matrimony for good reason. Society has been profoundly shaped by what academics call assortative mating: the tendency of people to marry others resembling themselves. Educationally assortative mating rose for decades after World War II, as more people went to college and more good jobs were reserved for college graduates. Income inequality is […]

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California Housing Problems Are Spilling Across Its Borders

Net annual departures from California slowed to about 20,000 after the recession, but have climbed back to more than 100,000, according to the Census Bureau. “A lot of people feel like they want to get out while those markets are hot,” said Jaime Moore, a real estate agent based in Reno who is with Redfin, […]

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Boom and Gloom: An Economic Warning for California

The United States is on track to achieve the second-longest economic expansion in its history. Unemployment is at a 17-year low. And California’s state budget has a multibillion-dollar surplus. So why is its longtime governor, Jerry Brown, issuing prophecies of doom? . . . Mr. Brown’s statements highlight California’s distinction as a state of high […]

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Tucked Into the Tax Bill, a Plan to Help Distressed America

A little-noticed section in the $1.5 trillion tax cut that President Trump signed into law late last month is drawing attention from venture capitalists, state government officials and mayors across America. The provision, on Page 130 of the tax overhaul, is an attempt to grapple with a yawning hole in the recovery from the Great […]

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Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’

If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order.

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U.S. Climate Change Policy: Made in California

Even in California, some critics challenge the expansive powers of a board of unelected officials with the authority to set environmental policy. All but two of the board’s 14 voting members are appointed by the governor, and today include a doctor, an almond farmer and a paint company executive. Over the years, CARB has expanded its reach, regulating products as diverse as lawn mowers and bulldozers, air fresheners, paint thinners and even hair and bug spray. It has sent inspectors to Tokyo and Stuttgart, Germany, to monitor the testing of cars manufactured overseas. And it oversees a system of air-quality management districts across California that issue and enforce their own local regulations. The agency is insulated even from state budgetary and legislative pressures. Its $956 million budget comes from user fees, like permits paid by polluters or the fees paid by car owners for smog certification, instead of from the state’s general fund.

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How Did Marriage Become a Mark of Privilege?

Marriage, which used to be the default way to form a family in the United States, regardless of income or education, has become yet another part of American life reserved for those who are most privileged.

Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.

Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class and education.

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Opinion: How Local Housing Regulations Smother the U.S. Economy

Land-use restrictions are a significant drag on economic growth in the United States. The creeping web of these regulations has smothered wage and gross domestic product growth in American cities by a stunning 50 percent over the past 50 years. Without these regulations, our research shows, the United States economy today would be 9 percent bigger — which would mean, for the average American worker, an additional $6,775 in annual income. For most of the 20th century, workers moved to areas where new industries and opportunities were emerging. This was the locomotive behind American prosperity. Agricultural workers moved from the countryside to booming cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit. In the Great Migration, some six million African-Americans left the South for manufacturing jobs in cities like Chicago and Buffalo. Today, this locomotive of prosperity has broken down. Finance and high-tech companies in cities like New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco find it difficult to hire because of the high cost of housing. When an unemployed worker in Detroit today finds a well-paying job in San Francisco, she often cannot afford the cost of housing there.

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Program to Spur Low-Income Housing Is Keeping Cities Segregated

A review of federal data by The New York Times found that in the United States’ biggest metropolitan areas, low-income housing projects that use federal tax credits — the nation’s biggest source of funding for affordable housing — are disproportionately built in majority nonwhite communities. What this means, fair-housing advocates say, is that the government is essentially helping to maintain entrenched racial divides, even though federal law requires government agencies to promote integration.

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Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove

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.

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Is American Retail at a Historic Tipping Point?

The profound reordering of New York’s shopping scene reflects a broad restructuring in the American retail industry.

E-commerce players, led by the industry giant Amazon, have made it so easy and fast for people to shop online that traditional retailers, shackled by fading real estate and a culture of selling in stores, are struggling to compete. This shift has been building gradually for years. But economists, retail workers and real estate investors say it appears that it has sped up in recent months.

Between 2010 and 2014, e-commerce grew by an average of $30 billion annually. Over the past three years, average annual growth has increased to $40 billion.

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When Solar Panels Became Job Killers

But economists and business groups warn that China’s industrial ambitions have entered a new, far-reaching phase. With its deep government pockets, growing technical sophistication and a comprehensive plan to free itself from dependence on foreign companies, China aims to become dominant in industries of the future like renewable energy, big data and self-driving cars.

With solar, it has already happened. China is now home to two-thirds of the world’s solar-production capacity. The efficiency with which its products convert sunlight into electricity is increasingly close to that of panels made by American, German and South Korean companies. Because China also buys half of the world’s new solar panels, it now effectively controls the market.

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Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs

The researchers said they were surprised to see very little employment increase in other occupations to offset the job losses in manufacturing. That increase could still happen, they said, but for now there are large numbers of people out of work, with no clear path forward — especially blue-collar men without college degrees.

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Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

The jobs that have been disappearing, like machine operator, are predominantly those that men do. The occupations that are growing, like health aide, employ mostly women. . . But while more than a fifth of American men aren’t working, they aren’t running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less.

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Dallas Stares Down a Texas-Size Threat of Bankruptcy

What is happening in Dallas is an extreme example of what’s happening in many other places around the country. Elected officials promised workers solid pensions years ago, on the basis of wishful thinking rather than realistic expectations. Dallas’s troubles have become more urgent because its plan rules let some retirees take big withdrawals.

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