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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 23, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Washington turns in Goldilocks growth over decade, still beats U.S. in recession

Top of the News: Washington grew 13 percent from 2000 to 2009, adding more than 770,000 people, according to new data from the Census Bureau.That compares with 9.1 percent for the nation. State growth slowed to 1.5 percent from July 2008 to July 2009 as the recession hit harder (U.S. growth 0.9 percent).

I”m not of the Sun Belt school that raw population increases are the prime measure of economic success. Obviously you don’t want shrinkage, as is happening in Michigan. But too much growth is very expensive on infrastructure, schools, etc. — often forcing stretched governments to push those costs into the future, digging a deeper hole.

Also, the quality of the growth matters. Young, educated, tech-savvy newcomers will give a place more of a boost than retirees (no offense). So Washington seems not too cold, not too hot, about right — although I’m sure too hot for natives and preservationists (I sympathize). Not bad for a place with such a “bad business climate.”

The Midweek Briefing: In the Stuff I Wish I’d Written Dept. is the best piece on understanding and addressing Pioneer Square’s challenges from Crosscut’s Knute Berger. Step No. 1: Stop whining. I hope Mayor-elect McGinn is paying attention.

— The un-Ho Ho Ho report of the season comes from Edward Harrison writing on the Ritholtz blog. He makes a compelling case of how debt will hold back recovery, even if you don’t buy the argument that it has produced what is in essence a depression.

— Economist Matthew Kahn looks into the advantages and challenges of “green cities” in this interview from the Cleveland Fed. Good reading for a place like Seattle.

— Sure to make heads explode at universities everywhere, Noam Scheiber in The New Republic asks, “Why can’t Americans make things? Two words: business school.” It’s a trenchant and persuasive piece on the takeover of American industry by short-sighted bean counters, and the dolorous results.

— Gallup looks at four key trends through the decade, two of them largely economic. Americans see the economy as the biggest challenge facing the country — and they’re not happy with the direction of the country.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Tim says don’t worry

Job growth will resume by spring

Maybe at Goldman

Comments | More in Midweek Economic Briefing

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