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  • Author: Alan Berube
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The early years of the twenty- first century marked a period of change in both the labor market and in public policy for the nation's low-income working families. Most prominently, employment conditions deteriorated after 2000. The nation's unemployment rate climbed from 4 percent in 2000 to 6 percent in 2003. The unemployment rate for workers with less than a high school education rose to nearly 9 percent in 2003. Real hourly wages continued to increase slightly for most workers during this period, but the weak labor market reduced the number of hours worked, along with overall earnings and family incomes. The steady rise in labor force participation among low-income families during the 1990s, spurred in part by the 1996 welfare reform law and other policies to “make work pay,” gave way to a decline after 2000.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Steve Holt
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the nation's largest antipoverty program for working families, plays an important role in the economic life of America's low- income households and communities. It increases the ability of workers in lower paying jobs to support themselves and their families. It represents a large inflow of resources into local economies. It magnifies the importance of the annual tax filing process. The federal EITC turned 30 years old in 2005. During the past 20 years, many states and localities have enacted versions of the federal credit to benefit their own residents. Meanwhile, a new generation of local leaders has emerged to publicize the availability of the EITC and related tax credits for lower-income families and neighborhoods, and to argue for progressive federal tax policies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Robert L. Axtell
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Recently discovered facts concerning the size distribution of U.S. firms are recapitulated—in short, these sizes are closely approximated by the Zipf distribution, a Pareto (power law) distribution with exponent of unity. Interesting consequences of this result are then developed, having primarily to do with formulae for the distribution's moments, and difficulties of reasonably characterizing a 'typical' firm. Then, a leading candidate explanation for these data—the Kesten random growth process—is assessed in terms of its realism vis-á-vis actual firm growth. Insofar as it has fluctuations that are quite different in character from actual firm size variability, the Kesten and related stochastic growth processes qualify more as fables of firm growth than as credible explanations. Finally, new explanations of the facts are proposed by considering firms to be partitions of the set of all workers. Assuming all partitions to be equally likely, the observed distribution of firm sizes is hypothesized to be the distribution of block sizes in the most likely partitions. An alternative derivation of this distribution as a constrained optimization problem is also described. Given that these calculations involve unimaginably vast magnitudes, it seems just short of fantastic to consider them relevant empirically.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This brief describes a new information tool developed by the Urban Markets Initiative to quantify, for the first time, the impact of transportation costs on the affordability of housing choices. This brief explains the background, creation, and purpose of this new tool. The first section provides a project overview and a short summary of the method used to create the Affordability Index. The next section highlights the results from testing the index in a seven-county area in and around Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. To demonstrate the usefulness of this tool at a neighborhood level, the third section projects the effect of transportation and housing choices on three hypothetical low- and moderate-income families in each of four different neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. The brief concludes with suggested policy recommendations and applications of the new tool for various actors in the housing market, and for regulators, planners, and funders in the transportation and land use arenas at all levels of government.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas W. Sanchez
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Among the most important transportation reforms initiated by the federal government in recent decades was the increased focus on metropolitan areas and the devolution of greater responsibility for planning and implementation to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). 2 By empowering MPOs to play a more active and authoritative role in transportation planning and programming, these reforms created a policy framework for increased local and regional decisionmaking. By requiring sustained and meaningful public involvement, they also demanded increased sensitivity to the community effects of large-scale public investments.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government, Migration
  • Author: Martin E. Robins, Anne Strauss-Weider
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: All the products consumers use and all the products businesses use get to market via America's freight system. And though Americans are utterly dependent on the freight system and its carriers, there is little understanding of the system's impact on our daily personal and business lives on either the macro level—as the gate- way to the global economy—or the micro level—as deliverer of e-commerce purchases. Freight also affects the nation in other ways. U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) statistics show that truck traffic makes up more than 30 percent of the traffic on about 20 percent of Interstate System mileage and is expected to grow substantially over the next 20 years. 2 And the dynamics related to some freight businesses have, in many locations, consumed inexpensive greenfields on the suburban fringe, lengthening trips, and exacerbating existing congestion problems.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Johannes F. Linn
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Increased cooperation among the Central Asian republics stands to produce big gains for the people of the region. The benefits from reducing trade costs, increasing remittances from migrant workers, and more efficient use of water and energy resources could generate a regional economy twice as large and well off 10 years from now. The price of non-cooperation could also be large, a heavy toll extracted from the spread of disease, lost economic opportunities, natural disasters and environmental destruction, as well as conflict and insecurity. Both costs and benefits will be felt most among the region's poorer populations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Central Asia
  • Author: Jennifer S. Vey
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In 2003, the Brookings Institution released a report on how to enhance Pennsylvania's economic competitiveness. “Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania” called for the state to rejuvenate its many distinctive cities, towns, and older suburbs and to invest in the high quality service industries often located there. The Commonwealth's institutions of higher learning are among those industries.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: Pennsylvania
  • Author: Ed Lazere, David Garrison
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: A 2003 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the District of Columbia faces a large structural budget imbalance—that is, a persistent gap between its ability to raise revenues and the cost of providing basic services. DC's imbalance stems largely from its being a "city without a state" and from revenue limitations caused by the federal presence. The most logical solution to this problem would be an annual contribution from the federal government to help address the challenges that arise from DC's unique status as the nation's capital.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Eugenie L. Birch
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Over the past few decades, public and private officials have tried to re-invent their downtowns with a variety of tactics. One of the most popular—and arguably most successful—strategies of recent years has been downtown residential development. In this effort, creating a vibrant, “24-hour” downtown has become the mantra for injecting life into struggling main streets and business districts.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Demographics, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: New York, Asia, Los Angeles, Chicago