Friday Update: Rent control, job growth, urban paychecks, and infrastructure

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s (and last week’s) bundle:

Seattle Times: Rent control in Seattle? Bill to repeal statewide ban in the works?

State Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, said Tuesday she will introduce a bill in the upcoming session to repeal Washington state’s ban on rent control, which dates to 1981. She has the support of officials in Seattle, where the City Council has been asking the state to repeal the ban for years.

Wenatchee Valley Business World (Johnson op-ed): Rewarding, good-paying careers await hands-on workers

I recently traveled to Switzerland with the governor and a group of business leaders and education experts from across the state to look at the country’s successful and robust apprenticeship programs, which are geared toward engaging 16-19-year-olds in meaningful work…

At our annual Manufacturing Summit in October, AWB held a panel discussion focused solely on the role apprenticeships play in attracting the next generation to the workplace. This is an incredible growth area for employers and can be a great tool to build a skilled workforce from the ground up.

New Geography: The Cities Where a Paycheck Stretches the Furthest

The widening divergence in housing costs — an issue which has occupied much of the recent tax reform debate — is becoming an increasingly determinative factor in the evolution of metropolitan economies. The largest cost difference in goods and services other than rents among the 107 metropolitan areas is 35%. The spread from lowest to highest in rents is 255%. The biggest gap, however, is in the cost differences for purchasing the average-priced house – a whopping 624%, nearly 2.5 times the differences in rents. This drives the overall cost of living difference up to 124% between the least and most expensive metropolitan areas.

As we have seen some areas — notably San Jose, Boston and Seattle — have been able to cope with higher costs because industries there are able to offer relatively fat paychecks. But even these storied areas may face challenges as the cost gaps rise. Already growth has slowed, and even gone into reverse in the Bay Area, a downturn at least somewhat tied to bloated housing costs.

National Association of Manufacturers: Infrastructure is Critical for Both Rural and Urban Shop Floors

Shop floors are commonly located in rural areas and rely on the same vital infrastructure needs as manufacturers in urban areas.  Manufacturers look forward to a 2018 infrastructure package that advances and invests in energy, water, broadband and transportation infrastructure projects.  Regardless of whether its a rural or urban area, if ports are clogged, trucks are delayed, power is down or the internet has a lapse, productivity and customer service are impacted.

That said, rural infrastructure faces different challenges in funding and delivering projects given low population levels. They are often not suited to public private partnerships.

New York Times: Job Growth Signals Robust Economy, With Gain of 228,000

The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for November on Friday morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy.

• 228,000 jobs were added last month. Wall Street economists had expected an increase of about 200,000, according to Bloomberg.

• The unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, unchanged from October, when it was the lowest since 2000.

FiveThirtyEight: The Jobs Report is Overhyped, Here’s Why That’s a Problem

A little secret of the economics trade is that the jobs data is the statistical equivalent of a best guess. The 150,000 non-farm companies that are surveyed is an acceptable sample size from a statistical perspective, but it’s capable of providing only an approximation of reality. According to the BLS, the actual monthly change in the number of jobs likely falls somewhere in the range of 120,000 more or 120,000 less than its estimate. That means you can be confident that job numbers grew in a given month only if the change in monthly hiring is 120,000 or greater…To be extra clear: None of this is meant to suggest that the BLS is guilty of bad statistics, only that there are limits to a methodology designed to deliver monthly snapshots of a massive, diverse economy…

Rather, the point is that most journalists and many analysts are guilty of bad, or at least short-attention-span, reporting. And if you pay attention only to the initial hiring estimate that most mainstream media outlets blast out every month, you are operating with a skewed impression of what’s really going on in the economy.