Jared Bernstein on how officials in RI can help fix the economySeptember 24th, 2012 at 2:57 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Jared Bernstein was Vice President Biden’s chief economist and economic adviser during the financial crisis, and is now a fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. Matt Bai’s recent New York Times Magazine story examining who deserves credit for the Ohio economy’s rebound got him to thinking about what state and local officials can and can’t do for their economies acting alone.
Bernstein argues total employment growth nationwide is “largely driven by macro and global trends,” but says state and local officials can make a difference in whether their jurisdictions are the beneficiaries – that is, whether their locales get a fair share (at least) of the jobs being created. He says tax breaks and special deals à la 38 Studios aren’t the right approach, instead offering these two ideas:
First, what matters more to thriving businesses is the quality of public goods, including physical infrastructure and the quality of the workforce. Yes, the tax base matters, but the success stories are not the places that offered the most sugar in terms of tax cuts. It’s the ones that offered solid communities with world class infrastructure – the roads, airports, schools, and skilled workforce that businesses need to succeed. …
The second thing I think we know about the role of sub-national politicians in job creation has to do with regional aggregation or clustering effects that are often very important to local job growth. Cities can develop as research hubs with a quality university at the core; a port city can develop transportation infrastructure that creates lots of new opportunities, and so on. These clusters can develop organically, like the old railroad and river-confluence cities, but these days such developments tend to be more strategic.
Read my February interview with Bernstein for more.
• Related: Robitaille: 38 Studios lesson is don’t pick winners and losers (May 15)