San Francisco

Public Pensions: Reform, Repair, Reboot

Jerry Brown.jpg

Ill-informed chatter continues to dominate the airwaves when it comes to California public pensions. It’s a big, complex and critical issue for government at all levels in the Golden State. What makes debate so distorted is that public pensions actually differ from agency to agency — and advocates on the issue often talk past each other. Pension critics often point to outrageous abuses as if they were typical. On the other hand, pension defenders often cite current averages that understate long-term costs. All this fuels the typical partisan gridlock that Californians lament yet seem powerless to change in our state.

Credit Governor Jerry Brown for trying to overcome the polarization.  read more »

The Best Cities For Technology Jobs


During tough economic times, technology is often seen as the one bright spot. In the U.S. this past year technology jobs outpaced the overall rate of new employment nearly four times. But if you’re looking for a tech job, you may want to consider searching outside of Silicon Valley. Though the Valley may still be the big enchilada in terms of venture capital and innovation, it hasn’t consistently generated new tech employment.  read more »

California’s Jobs Engine Broke Down Well Before the Financial Crisis


Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.”  read more »

Back to the City?


The 2010 Census results were mostly bleak for cities, especially for those who believed the inflated hype about the resurgence of the city at the expense of the suburbs.  Despite claims of an urban renaissance, the 2000s actually turned out to be worse than the 1990s for central cities.  The one bright spot was downtowns, which showed strong gains, albeit from a low base.  The resurgence of the city story seemed largely fueled by intra-census estimates by the government that proved t  read more »

Major Metropolitan Commuting Trends: 2000-2010


As we indicated in the last article, solo automobile commuting reached an all time record in the United States in 2010, increasing by 7.8 million commuters. At the same time, huge losses were sustained by carpooling, while the largest gain was in working at home, which includes telecommuting. Transit and bicycling also added commuters.  This continues many of the basic trends toward more personalized employment access that we have seen since 1960.  read more »

The Golden State Is Crumbling


The recent announcement that California's unemployment again nudged up to 12 percent—second worst in the nation behind its evil twin, Nevada—should have come as a surprise but frankly did not. From the beginning of the recession, the Golden State has been stuck bringing up a humbled nation's rear and seems mired in that less-than-illustrious position.  read more »

Moving from the Coast


For years both government and media have been advancing the notion that   America's coastal counties are obtaining most of the population growth at the expense of interior counties. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in the 1990s: Coastal areas are crowded and becoming more so every day. More than 139 million people–about 53% of the national total–reside along the narrow coastal fringes.  read more »

California Wages War On Single-Family Homes


In recent years, homeowners have been made to feel a bit like villains rather than the victims of hard times, Wall Street shenanigans and inept regulators. Instead of being praised for braving the elements, suburban homeowners have been made to feel responsible for everything from the Great Recession to obesity to global warming.  read more »

The New State of Coastal California?


In 2009, former California legislator Bill Maze proposed dividing his state, hiving off thirteen counties as Coastal (or Western) California (see map). Maze, a conservative from the agricultural Central Valley, objects to the domination of state politics by the left-leaning Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas. The initial impetus for his proposal was the passage by state voters in 2008 of Proposition 2, requiring larger pens and cages for farm animals.  read more »

Growing a Productive Urban Economy


Suggestions that we can grow the Auckland, NZ economy by encouraging business into the central business district (CBD) in the interests of innovation do not reflect the weight of experience.  Sure, higher order professions have tended to concentrate there, and become relatively more important as manufacturing, retailing, and distribution have decamped.  And in Auckland, at least, tertiary education has become a major player in the CBD.  University employment has boosted the scientific as well as education sector.  read more »