Our economic attention is currently riveted on domestic politics, with rising risks of a deadlock on the debt limit and debates over inflation versus recession. But economic prosperity also depends on state, regional and local politics, and now there’s a free guide to some of the best thinking in the field at the last edition of the Economic Development Quarterly (EDQ).
EDQ is a leading journal supervised by the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. It brings together practitioners and scholars through the “advocacy of evidence-based economic development and workforce development policies, programs, and practices in the United States.” (I am a member of the editorial board and also a contributor to this new issue).
The new issue asked experts associated with the journal “what are the key research and policy questions facing economic development and workforce development today?” In order to reach a broad audience, including policymakers, academics, journalists and the public, the edition is free for a limited time.
There are 15 articles in the issue, and their variety and excellence make it impossible to summarize. Some focus on businesses and firms, including how entrepreneurs can be included in economic development, what policies and programs are most effective in supporting business and job creation. Others look at how public economic development and workforce professionals in the field can be more effective in our complex and tangled systems.
Several articles examine the changing dynamics of the workforce. How can policies engage with macro trends like globalization, rising housing costs, and changes in commuting and working from home? Can greater inclusion of the labor force be part of an effective economic development strategy? What would economic development look like if it paid more attention to environmental, racial equity, and family and home issues?
My contribution is based on my new book, Inequal Cities: Overcoming the Anti-Urban Bias to Reduce Inequality in the United States. The book describes how America depends on cities for innovation, growth, and productivity, but also how our political systems—regional, state, and national—are biased against cities.
This widespread bias slows down both productivity and regional and national growth. And it perpetuates racially stratified inequality in jobs, economic growth, housing, and education.
The wealthy (and predominantly white) suburbs capture most of the urban economic growth without paying their fair share of the costs. That persistent and structural racial bias is perpetuated over time by our fragmented metropolitan public policies and governments. This, in turn, makes it very difficult for cities to address these issues on their own.
I argue that hypermathematized models in the urban economy divert energy from a more empirical engagement with our economic and labor problems. We need a multidisciplinary analysis of politics, with special attention to how seemingly neutral policies create racial and other inequality. And we must recognize how our metropolitan fragmentation and segregation hold back shared economic prosperity.
Although there is a wide range of policy views in the EDQ topic, all authors use research and analysis to help improve the places where we live. That sets this work apart from much of mainstream urban economics, which is skeptical of place-based politics. The standard urban economy favors individual-based approaches that emphasize education and skills, and encourage the mobility of businesses and individuals.
Of course, education and skills development are essential components of a sound policy, and several of the EDQ articles suggest how to improve it. But in the real economy, experts like those of the Economic Policy Institute show that the bias of our policy towards individualized and company-focused approaches has not led to shared prosperity.
Instead, as surveillance analysts like good jobs first To point out, all too often we see wasted tax subsidies going to businesses that don’t need them, without the good jobs and other benefits that were promised in exchange for tax breaks. Public education reflects the uneven fragmentation of regional governments, with suburbs creating better education from their higher wealth and property tax bases, while central cities struggle to generate adequate education funding.
So if you are interested in economic and employment development, national, regional and city prosperity, and how equity and growth can be combined in public policy, get your free broadcast of Economic Development Quarterly. I am proud to be in such a distinguished company, and there is much to learn from them.
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