The COVID-19 crisis has confronted diverse communities across the country with similar challenges: treating and tracking the sick, making decisions to protect those who appear well as well as health care workers, and taking all possible steps to preserve the functioning of the local health care system.
But once the crisis has passed, what questions will local communities be asking? How might it change how we think about the challenges we were confronting, and new ones that emerge? Read more »
Education and healthcare are major sectors in New York State’s economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates 20% of all jobs and 15% of total income statewide are generated by these two sectors.
CGR recently concluded our economic impact analysis of New York State’s independent colleges and universities sector, the eighth in an annual series. The sector’s 100+ private, not-for-profit higher education institutions are spread across the state, and collectively contribute approximately $88.8 billion to New York’s economy. Our study breaks this impact into three categories. Read more »
The yield curve compares interest rates charged on long term and short term bonds—typically, 10 year v. 2 year U.S. Government treasuries. When the 10 year rate is lower than the 2 year rate, the yield curve is said to be “inverted” and may be “predicting” a recession.
The yield curve is nothing but a sophisticated investor confidence survey—if investors expect inflation will rise, then they will demand a higher yield (or interest rate) for longer maturity bonds.
Some of you may remember the TV series, Early Edition. Every morning the protagonist found tomorrow’s newspaper outside his door. Blessed (or cursed) by knowledge of the future, he spent the rest of the episode trying to fix things.
Suppose you found the Wall Street Journal from 2028 on your doorstep or in your email’s inbox and learned that inflation, 2% today, had risen steadily to 5%. To compensate for the loss in inflation-adjusted yield (the interest rate minus inflation), you would demand a higher interest rate for bonds with longer maturities.
On the flip side, if your “early edition” of the WSJ showed inflation to have stayed the same or fallen, you’d be willing to accept a lower yield (rate of interest). Read more »
My mother died in October at age 92. It has yet to become real to me—I reached for my phone to tell her how lovely her funeral had been. I’m sorry she missed it. One of my browser’s home pages remains set to our ongoing Scrabble game on Facebook. She’s winning. And always will be.
A child of the Depression, she’d tucked a newspaper clipping tucked into her papers that suggested ways to cut the cost of a funeral. When my sister & I sat down with the funeral director, I handed him the clipping and said, “We’re under orders!”
Read more »
I recently participated in a discussion of Governor Cuomo’s proposed $15 minimum wage on WXXI public radio’s Connections with Evan Dawson. A listener contacted the host, referred to the recently-passed increase for fast food workers, and said, “Hey, I’m a skilled machinist earning $18/hour. Why should someone at McDonalds earn nearly the same?” That’s an interesting question—it points out that the $15 minimum wage could have far more impact than we might think at first blush. First I’ll summarize what research tells us about the obvious and short run impacts, then tentatively explore the broader implications raised by this comment.
On the left, we’re led to believe that a minimum wage rise will significantly improve the well-being of the poor and that employment could actually increase as a consequence. The right declares that jobs for the most disadvantaged would disappear and that the increase might trigger a recession.
An across-the-board minimum wage increase to $15 an hour is very different from the incremental increase we’re experiencing right now in New York. The minimum wage statewide rose to $8.75 at the end of last year and is scheduled to increase to $9 on Dec. 31. The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25. Read more »
I’ve a weakness for dystopian literature (think Cormac McCarthy’s The Road). The premise of these books is a disaster that fundamentally alters the trajectory of the planet. The apocalypse is typically human-caused, some act that taps into our collective guilt about environmental degradation, warlust or technological hubris.
An economist’s dystopia is portrayed in Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. Instead of a despoiled planet or some biological or digital monster, Vonnegut’s first novel portrays a society nearly bereft of work. Set at a thinly disguised General Electric (where Vonnegut once worked), World War III prompts an acceleration in automation, allowing the U.S. to win the war. A decade later, automation has become near total. The only people needed are the very best engineers, who spend their days seeking new efficiencies, displacing yet more human involvement. They’ve been freed from work—utopia, right? Read more »
Remember the Fast Ferry connecting Rochester and Toronto? Although the idea failed in execution, connecting with the vibrant “Golden Horseshoe” economy made sense then—and still does today. When we compare Rochester to, say, Charlotte or Atlanta or Austin, we can always blame the snow. But that doesn’t work when we look across the lake. What’s their “secret sauce?”
We may be separated only by a bit of water and a line on a map, but it is clear that Canada’s Golden Horseshoe Region, powered by Toronto, has prospered while Upstate New York (defined here as Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse) has just held its own. Although these neighboring regions share much—that climate, access to markets, and transportation infrastructure—since 1996 the Golden Horseshoe added more than a third to its employment base and a quarter to its population. Read more »
Police service is often the most cherished and visible municipal service—and inevitably one of the costliest. When it comes to balancing local government costs and quality of life, law enforcement increasingly is part of the public conversation. Too often, the immediate reflex is to equate cost savings in law enforcement with compromising public safety. That need not be the case.
A dichotomy drives the challenge
First, there’s emotion involved. We like the sense of security that comes with knowing an officer is patrolling our street. Whether responding to emergencies and criminal activity or getting to know residents on a first-name basis, police form bonds and fill roles that many residents consider vital for their community. Recently I learned some youths in my own neighborhood had accosted one of my neighbors. When I found out how intimately the police officers know the community and possible perpetrators, I could turn my attention away from being fearful for my family and instead focus on community advocacy and intervention.
Second, there are dollars and cents involved. Local governments across the country are more constrained than ever by limited resources and rising costs. In New York and New Jersey, for example, pension and other negotiated benefits are driving mandated annual increases that result in many governments bumping up against their state’s 2% cap on the growth in the tax levy. Plus in New York existing police union contracts are further insulated from certain cost pressures by law (i.e., Taylor Law, Triborough Amendment) and unions can exercise a binding arbitration process that has historically produced favorable outcomes for their members.
Read more »
After my last column on hydrofracking, I was asked to participate in a forum at the University of Rochester sponsored by Phi Beta Kappa. In my intro, I quipped that I was the guy invited to defend the despoiling of the earth and destruction of the climate. Nobody laughed.
This issue has stirred a level of religious fervor that is reminiscent of both sides of the abortion debate. Yet common to most consequential policy questions, the hydrofracking issue (like Oscar Wilde’s truth) is neither pure nor simple. I understand the appeal of clarity and simplicity—we would prefer that fracking be either boon or bane. Complexity makes our heads hurt.
Let me make the case for complexity. Read more »
Higher education is a major contributor to our region’s prosperity. Home to 18 colleges and universities, total employment in the sector rose steadily during the recession and totaled nearly 35,000 last year, up 16% since 2007.
Yet Rochester higher ed stands out for more than just job and payroll totals. The community is home to a number of distinctive institutions that set the region apart. One of these, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute for Technology, may be better recognized outside Rochester than inside. NTID is the world’s first and largest technological college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Established by Congress in 1965, the first students entered in 1968.
A recent CGR study of NTID concluded that the Institute is responsible for more than 1,000 jobs, both direct and spillover, and over $50 million in labor income. Moreover, due to its national scope and reputation, it captured $84 million in outside funding (75% federal) over the 2006-11 period. NTID has done its part to strengthen higher ed in Rochester, boosting enrollment by 24% from 2007. Read more »