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A Taste of Chicago

by Andrew Holton on July 7, 2017

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by Andrew Holton on June 30, 2017

‘Following the Money’ in North Carolina

by Andrew Holton on June 23, 2017

This week's Friday@Five

Contextual Healing

There are several interesting demographic articles this week looking at population dynamics.

  • Rob Tracinski at Real Clear Future has a piece lamenting the weakening of the middle class in cities and offering certain policy steps cities can take to reestablish middle class presence. His policy solutions largely involve decreasing regulation on housing, small businesses, and city services. He goes beyond a knee-jerk anti-regulatory stance and provides interesting historical context for how regulatory policy has exacerbated other economic pressures in cities.
  • John Austin at Brookings looks at haves and have nots in the Rust Belt. He examines the economic success that the large cities like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee are enjoying, not to mention the university and college towns like Madison, Ann Arbor and Bloomington. He demonstrates how the 2016 voting results in many of these swing states went along lines of prosperity and posits how the success in rust belt boom towns can spill into the old company towns. His focus is the Midwest but the analysis easily transfers to North Carolina.
  • Stateline examines recent Census data and looks at small towns that are growing and tries to infer common characteristics.

For Your Consideration

At E21, Charles Hughes analyzed some data related to the federal government workforce. President Trump has said that civil service reform is part of his agenda, and Hughes pulls data from different sources to look at how the federal workforce compares to the private workforce.

The findings are what one might expect: federal workers have more job security and less turnover than the private sector. Hughes suggests that may be problematic and connects it to insufficient feedback loops between federal employers and employees.

The Other 49

Governing reports on a distinctive plan in Philadelphia to scale water rates to income. Delinquent water bills create hardships for the struggling individuals and for the utility providers who often have limited revenue sources for cash flow. Especially with small to mid-size water providers, failures to pay can have a meaningful impact on a utility’s fiscal health.

Philadelphia will experiment with a system that connects water rates to customers income level and allows for a sliding rates. The hope is that the city will get a handle on the 40 percent of customers that are delinquent and make a dent in the $242 million in uncollected revenue.

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