Big or Small Cities? On city size and economic growth

Source: Susanne A. Frick, Andrés Rodríguez‐Pose, Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy, Volume 49, Issue 1, March 2018

From the abstract:
Policy makers and academics frequently emphasize a positive link between city size and economic growth. The empirical literature on the relationship, however, is scarce and uses rough indicators for the size of a country’s cities, while ignoring factors that are increasingly considered to shape this relationship. In this paper, we employ a panel of 113 countries between 1980 and 2010 to explore whether 1) there are certain city sizes that are growth enhancing and 2) how additional factors highlighted in the literature impact the city size/growth relationship. The results suggest a nonlinear relationship which is dependent on the country’s size. In contrast to the prevailing view that large cities are growth‐inducing, for a majority of countries relatively small cities of up to 3 million inhabitants are more conducive to economic growth. A large share of the urban population in cities of more than 10 million inhabitants is only growth promoting in countries with an urban population of 28.5 million and more. In addition, the relationship is highly context‐dependent: a high share of industries that benefit from agglomeration economies, a well‐developed urban infrastructure, and an adequate level of governance effectiveness allow countries to take advantage of agglomeration benefits from larger cities.

MLK’s vision matters today for the 43 million Americans living in poverty

Source: Joshua F.J. Inwood, The Conversation, April 2, 2018

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, while fighting for a 10-cent wage increase for garbage workers. These efforts by King were part of a broader and more sustained initiative known as the Poor People’s Campaign.

King was working to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement to include poverty and the end of the war in Vietnam. King and his leadership team planned to bring thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., where they would camp out on the National Mall until Congress passed legislation to eradicate poverty.

King was convinced that for the civil rights movement to achieve its goals, poverty needed to become a central focus of the movement. He believed the poor could lead a movement that would revolutionize society and end poverty. As King noted, “The only real revolutionary, people say, is a man who has nothing to lose. There are millions of poor people in this country who have little, or nothing to lose.”

With over 43 million people living in poverty in the United States today, King’s ideas still hold much power.

Related:
Martin Luther King Jr. had a much more radical message than a dream of racial brotherhood
Source: Paul Harvey, The Conversation, March 30, 2018

2017 Workplace Benefits Report

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, ARKRNPFQ, 2017

From the summary:
Bank of America Merrill Lynch works with employers across the country to help provide employee education, guidance and retirement plan solutions that help employees take charge of their financial lives. As part of this ongoing effort, we conduct an annual study — the Workplace Benefits Report (WBR) — to talk to employers and employees about retirement readiness and larger financial wellness topics. Our current report examines how employees feel about their financial situation and the role employers play in supporting their overall financial wellness.

On behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Boston Research Technologies conducted an online survey with a national sample of 1,242 employees between September 22, 2016 to October 7, 2016. Understanding the ever-evolving retirement landscape, monitoring and keeping abreast of these key indicators and opinions, helps us empower employers to stay ahead of the curve while helping meet the varied needs of their employees.

Related:
/2017_WBRInfographic_R6_060217.pdf”>Infographic Presentation
Millennials Supplement
Healthcare Supplement

The perk your employer is most likely to give you, and it’s not a raise
Source: Maria Lamagna, Marketwatch, March 27, 2018

Increased federal financial aid and research, funding is credit positive for universities

Source: Jared Brewster, Susan I Fitzgerald, Edith Behr, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, March 28, 2018
(subscription required)

The recently enacted federal spending bill provides funding increases for key financial aid programs and federal agencies that provide research grants. Financial aid programs receiving a funding bump include Pell Grants, the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program and the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program. Significant providers of research and development (R&D) grants with a funding boost include the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). These funding increases are better than we expected in our 2018 outlook for higher education and are credit positive for the sector overall.

Related:
Federal capital programs provide credit positive financing for some universities
Source: Jared Brewster, Susan I Fitzgerald, Edith Behr, Kendra M. Smith, Moody’s, Sector Comment, March 29, 2018
(subscription required)

Medians – Property values key to stability, but pension burdens remain a challenge

Source: Shannon Bibby, Daniel Simpson, Natalie Claes, Leonard Jones, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, March 30, 2018
(subscription required)

The 2016 medians data shows cities, counties and school districts continue to demonstrate stability underpinned by steady property tax growth, healthy reserves and solid liquidity, but credit pressure surrounding growing pension burdens remains.

State, local infrastructure borrowing boom unlikely without greater federal funding

Source: Marcia Van Wagner, Coley J Anderson, Rachel Cortez, Baye Larsen, Timothy Blake, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, March 30, 2018
(subscription required)

US states, local governments and transit authorities’ funding constraints add a layer of difficulty to the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan. The proposal relies on municipalities’ ability to increase leverage, identify new revenue streams and attract private sector partners.

When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

Source: Paul Kiel, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

There’s ample evidence many people don’t file for bankruptcy simply because they can’t pay an attorney. It’s a fixable problem.

Related:
How the Bankruptcy System Is Failing Black Americans
Source: Paul Kiel with Hannah Fresques, ProPublica and the Atlantic, September 27, 2017

Black people struggling with debts are far less likely than their white peers to gain lasting relief from bankruptcy, according to a ProPublica analysis. Primarily to blame is a style of bankruptcy practiced by lawyers in the South.

TOO BROKE FOR BANKRUPTCY: How Bankruptcy Fails Those Who Need It Most
Source: ProPublica, 2017

Black Futures Lab

Source: Black Futures Lab, 2018

Black Futures Lab works with Black people to transform our communities, building Black political power and changing the way that power operates—locally, statewide, and nationally.

The problems facing Black communities are complex. The solutions to these problems will come from our imagination, our innovation, and experimentation. Changing our communities for the better requires changing a culture that takes Black people for granted and changing policies and laws that make us criminals and keep resources from our communities.

To get there, we work to understand the dynamics impacting our communities; we build the capacity of our communities to govern; and we engage and include Black people in the decisions that impact our lives.

There are three ways that Black Futures Lab is a different kind of project for change: our mission to engage Black voters year-round; our commitment to use our political strength to stop corporate influences from creeping into progressive policies; and our plan to combine technology and traditional organizing methods to reach Black people anywhere and everywhere we are.

Related:

Black Census
Welcome to the Black Census, a project of the Black Futures Lab. This survey was created for understanding the opinions of the Black community and will take about 20 minutes to complete.  Your participation is voluntary, and you may withdraw at any time and skip any questions that make you feel uncomfortable. All of your responses are confidential and only reported without information that could identify you.

Black Lives Matter cofounder launches biggest survey of the black population “after Reconstruction” Source: Aaron Morrison, Mic, February 26, 2018

Alicia Garza, cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement, said she is beginning a new chapter of her groundbreaking work in the modern struggle for black liberation. In an announcement Monday, Garza formally launched the Black Futures Lab, a broad effort to engage black people, legislators and grassroots organizations working to build political power and enact policies that make black communities stronger. The lab’s first major undertaking will be a national data collection effort that Garza is calling the Black Census Project. It will attempt to methodologically survey tens of thousands of black people in nearly two dozen states on issues that disproportionately affect them, according to the announcement…..

….Through an online survey and door-knocking operation, the Black Census Project wants to hear directly from 200,000 black Americans about issues of generational oppression, mass incarceration, police violence and inequities in access to health care and employment, the announcement stated. The survey will target 20 states and the District of Columbia, chosen for their concentration of black Americans, black LGBT communities and black immigrants, among other black demographics, Garza said…..

\….The states include Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Texas. The Black Futures Lab will dispatch field organizers who will conduct in-person surveys in March. The online survey will be available through August. Once compiled and analyzed, the data will be revealed by the end of 2018, according to the lab’s announcement…..

How occupational licensing matters for wages and careers

Source: Ryan Nunn, Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project, March 2018

From the summary:
Occupational licensing—the legal requirement that a credential be obtained in order to practice a profession—is a common labor market regulation that ostensibly exists to protect public health and safety. However, by limiting access to many occupations, licensing imposes substantial costs: consumers pay higher prices, economic opportunity is reduced for unlicensed workers, and even those who successfully obtain licenses must pay upfront costs and face limited geographic mobility. In addition, licensing often prescribes and constrains the ways in which work is structured, limiting innovation and economic growth…..

Economic justice was always part of MLK Jr.’s message

Source: Peter Kelley, Futurity, March 28, 2018

As the 50th anniversary of the murder of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approaches, historian Michael Honey reminds us in a new book that labor rights and economic justice were always part of his progressive message.

The book, To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, (W.W. Norton, 2018) comes out on April 3—the day before the 50-year anniversary of King’s assassination….