June 9, 2017

-ohio-talk-infrastructure-47882020″>recent announcement about infrastructure, the Cato Institute has produced a background piece called Who Owns U.S. Infrastructure.  Several interesting contextual data points:

  • Cato suggests that there is approximately $51 trillion of U.S. infrastructure, with $41 trillion being privately held, $10 trillion controlled by state and local governments, and $1.5 trillion controlled by the federal government. 
  • Of the government controlled infrastructure, here are the five largest by value:
    • $3.5 trillion – roads
    • $2.4 trillion – education
    • $804 billion – office
    • $759 billion – sewer systems
    • $712 billion – transportation

Making News

N.C. State’s work developing driverless cars was in the the news this week.  Here is video link from WNCN.

Food for Thought

Governing had two interesting pieces on the state of the suburbs: one looks at population shifts and the other suggestions that the suburbs are where innovation will happen.  Population Growth Shifts to Suburban America focuses on how suburban populations are growing in high-growth states.  Key point:  “(the) analysis shows that counties with medium population densities, those between 200 and 1,000 people per square mile, recorded on average the highest domestic migration rates last year.”

Why the Suburbs are Where Innovation Will Happen reminds us that “suburbs account for 79 percent of the population of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas,” and “that between 2010 and 2014, the number of suburban jobs increased by 9 percent, compared to 6 percent in urban areas.”  The article also suggests that the typically smaller bureaucracies in suburban communities enhances the potential for innovation.  

In the Weeds

The Aspen Institute released a report from its 2016 Economic Security Summit. The summit was titled, “Reconnecting Wealth and Work,” and included of national experts who spent two days discussing the wealth/work theme.  The summary report is not a light read, but here are two interesting policy ideas that stood out: 

  • “Employers such as Wal-Mart are also experimenting with innovative “earn and learn” models that integrate on-the-job training with internal advancement. For example, Wal-Mart’s internal “academies” include over 100 training facilities that are co-located with Wal-Mart stores for ease of access by employees. Wal-Mart expects to have 200 academies open by the end of 2017 and to train over 225,000 of its associates. The company also offers a “Pathways” program for entry-level workers that focuses on “soft” skills and workplace readiness.”
  • “(A)nother major priority discussed at the Summit was how to create new mechanisms for emergency savings that can complement and protect savings for retirement. For example, one option participants talked about was a flexible “sidecar” account that is connected to a worker’s 401(k) plan but that can be accessed more easily and with fewer penalties. According to summit participant Anne Lester, head of retirement solutions for JP Morgan Asset Management, one-quarter of Americans borrow from their 401(k) accounts every year, and the average amount of these loans is one-fourth the balance in a given worker’s account.”

Need to Know

On Tuesday, the NC State Data Sciences Initiative hosted the Triangle Smart Cities Summit which brought together “local city, industry, and academic leaders for engaged discussion and to share ideas to help make our region a smarter and more connected community.”  Here is the News and Observer’s coverage of the event and the full video for anyone interested in digging in. 


  • In Most States, a Spike in ‘Super Commuters’

    Stateline | 06/05/2017

  • Community Resilience: Some Practical Questions

    UNC School of Government | 06/06/2017

  • N.C. Rural Health Snapshot

    UNC Sheps Center |

  • Here's a Way to Make Homes 10 Percent More Affordable

    CityLab | 06/02/2107

  • Pennies on the Dollar: The Surprisingly Weak Relationship Between State Subsidies and College Tuition

    American Enterprise Institute | 06/02/2017

  • School Funding: Do Poor Kids Get Their Fair Share?

    Urban Institute | 05/31/2017