November 6, 2012

After the Election, Let's Turn to Policy

No issue has dominated this presidential election like the economy, but the debate has often overlooked crucial differences between metropolitan areas and how they have fared in the Great Recession and recovery. MetroTrends has filled that gap with clear, succinct policy analysis and recommendations to the nation, the candidates, and policymakers everywhere.

Agonizingly slow job growth marks this recovery, and two MetroTrends series address the job market. The first analyzed a central Romney jobs proposal, suggesting five major improvements. The second highlighted the strengths and shortcomings of recent public workforce stimulation (see figure below), emphasizing important lessons learned. Another post posed tough questions about the returns to education and career choices over the coming decade.

 

Recovery in metropolitan housing markets has also languished, and NeighborhoodInfo DC and MetroTrends have zoomed in on Prince George’s County, a majority-black Washington, DC, suburb where one in every six homes has entered foreclosure proceedings in the past two years. Persistent mortgage relief scammers and a few large banks have exacerbated this strife.

Neither candidate has paid much (if any) attention to another critical economic issue: poverty. MetroTrends has, arguing that despite perspectives to the contrary, poverty matters and in fact is a growing national problem. Child poverty rates are up significantly since the beginning of the recession, as is participation in the national food stamp (SNAP) program, though this can be viewed as a success for our social safety net. MetroTrends also mapped levels and variation in poverty in the Washington, DC, area and in the nation’s top 100 metros.

These posts represent just a snapshot of our work, and we commit to providing this depth and breadth of analysis well into the next presidency: not just for specific policies but also for the policy process generally. For example, in an unprecedented era of painful budget shortfalls, who ought to receive the most expensive treatments and who needs just a small nudge into greater prosperity? Research’s “gold standard”, the random controlled trial, is expensive and may not always be the best approach for finding answers to these and other tough policy questions.

The Urban Institute’s research experts are uniquely able to provide this type of valuable perspective, and MetroTrends will be their outlet—stay tuned.

Until then, go vote!

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As an organization, the Urban Institute does not take positions on issues. Experts are independent and empowered to share their evidence-based views and recommendations shaped by research.