Middle Class

There Will Be No Real Recovery Without The Middle Class

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What if they gave a recovery, and the middle class were never invited? Well, that’s an experiment we are running now, and, even with the recent strengthening of the jobs market, it’s not looking very good.

Over the last five years, Wall Street and the investor class have been on a bull run, but the economy has been, at best, torpid for the vast majority of the population. Despite blather about our “democratic capitalism,” stock ownership is increasingly concentrated with the wealthy as the middle class retrenches. The big returns that hedge funds, real estate trusts or venture capitalist receive are simply outside the reach of the vast majority.  read more »

Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Northeast Ohio

Go to sleep, Captain Future, in your lair of art deco
You were our pioneer of progress, but tomorrow’s been postponed
Go to sleep, Captain Future, let corrosion close your eyes
If the board should vote to restore hope, we’ll pass along the lie

-The Secret Sound of the NSA, Captain Future

As near as I can tell, the term “Rust Belt” originated sometime in the mid-1980s. That sounds about right.  read more »

Energy Preferences to Play Big Role in November

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The November election will be played out along all the usual social memes – from gay marriage, racism and immigration to the “war against women.” But what may determine the outcome revolves around one key economic issue: energy. This has all come to a boil now as President Obama has backed an Environmental Protection Agency effort to accelerate tougher emissions standards, something that could shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants and slow fossil fuel development across the country.  read more »

Dawn of the Age of Oligarchy: the Alliance between Government and the 1%

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When our current President was elected, many progressives saw the dawning of a new epoch, a more egalitarian and more just Age of Obama. Instead we have witnessed the emergence of the Age of Oligarchy.

The outlines of this new epoch are clear in numerous ways. There is the diminished role for small business, greater concentration of financial assets, and a troubling decline in home ownership. On a cultural level, there is a general malaise about the prospect for upward mobility for future generations.  read more »

Enterprising States 2014: Re-creating Equality of Opportunity

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This is the executive summary for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's 5th Annual Enterprising States report, authored annually by Praxis Strategy Group. View the interactive map with state-by-state data and download the full report here.

The growing skills gap is one of the most persistent challenges affecting thriving and lagging state economies—the disparity between the skills companies need to drive growth and innovation versus the skills that actually exist within their organizations and in the labor market. This disconnect, expected to grow substantially as the boomer generation retires, causes workers and companies to miss out on realizing their full potential. A sizable skills gap impacts virtually every aspect of the economy, thereby affecting our national competitiveness and, in turn, causing the economy to fall short of its potential.  read more »

Is Brazil Still the Country of the Future?

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Not long ago, Brazil was riding high. It was feted as one of the “BRIC” nations destined to be the next world economic powers. The commodities boom had its natural resources and agricultural sectors humming. The press – for example, Monocle magazine’s swooning over Brazil’s push to boost its diplomatic presence – was adoring. And Rio was awarded the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, two events that were intended to both serve as a catalyst for further development, and also as a coming out party of sorts for the country.  read more »

America's New Industrial Boomtowns

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David Peebles works in a glass tower across from Houston’s Galleria mall, a cathedral of consumption, but his attention is focused on the city’s highly industrialized ship channel 30 miles away. “Houston is the Chicago of this era,” says Peebles, who runs the Texas office of Odebrecht, a $45 billion engineering firm based in Brazil. “In the sixties you had to go to Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. Now Houston is the place for new industry.”  read more »

Let’s Make Kalamazoo’s Promise America’s Promise

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In 2005, in order to boost their city’s economy, a small group of donors in the city Glenn Miller made famous created the Kalamazoo Promise. It  offered any graduate of the city’s public schools a four-year scholarship covering all tuition and mandatory fees at any of Michigan’s public colleges or universities, provided those students maintained a 2.0 grade average in college and made regular progress toward a degree.  read more »

Inland California Needs to Get in the Zone

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California’s dream is shrinking inexorably, and only radical steps can prevent the condition from becoming permanent. Compared with previous economic expansions, fewer state residents and communities are benefiting from this recovery, which has largely been restricted to the small coastal zone surrounding the Bay Area, as well as certain parts of western Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.  read more »

What We Earn

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Discussions about housing affordability focus almost exclusively on the price of the real estate, movements in which are monitored by multiple organisations on a seemingly daily basis. There is comparatively little discussion about people’s incomes, which are equally as important as prices in determining what can and can’t be reasonably afforded. The income profile of what most Australian’s actually earn paints a sobering picture which could more often be taken into account in debates about housing and affordability.  read more »