Policy Points

06.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on National Employment Report: Oct.

National Employment Report: Oct.

This morning, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the national employment report for the month of October.

Both the commissioner’s statement on the October payroll and household surveys and the full employment situation report are available for online viewing.

06.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Amtrak Costs: National + NC

Amtrak Costs: National + NC

It is no secret that the United States lacks a robust inter-city rail system, even in regions of the country where the population densities exist to support such services. Instead, the U.S. provides inter-city rail through Amtrak, a hodgepodge system made up of a higher-speed  rail line in the Northeast (Acela), a mix of state-supported regional services like North Carolina’s Piedmont, and a smattering of long-distance routes like the Sunset Limited running between New Orleans and Los Angeles).

Like all forms of public transportation in the United States, Amtrak’s routes require public subsidies to operate, thought the exact size those subsidies has proven controversial and difficult to compute. In response, Subsidy Scope,a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, has attempted to comprehensively measure those costs (though not any of the benefits, such as environmental impacts).

According to the study, when the costs of depreciation are included, 41 of Amtrak’s 44 routes lost money in 2008. The greatest losses, and therefore the greatest subsidies, were incurred by long-distance routes like the California Zephyr, which runs between Chicago and San Francisco and lost $193 per passenger in 2008. At the other extreme, the higher-speed Acela line running between Boston and Washington made $41 per passenger.
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05.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Strengthening Community Colleges

Strengthening Community Colleges

Writing in the November issue of The American Prospect, Thomas Bailey and Jim Jacobs of the Community College Research Center ask if community colleges can rise to their potential in the midst of a recession. Among those challenges is a need to pay more attention to non-credit occupational programs. Say Bailey and Jacobs:

Community colleges also need to clarify their role in the changing occupational landscape. What is the future role of a two-year occupational degree or a shorter-term certificate? At least colleges must improve the connections between credit and non-credit programs to widen opportunities for students in the booming non-credit work-force arena. And community colleges need to strengthen their relationships to four-year colleges to make transfer more effective. Some states are allowing community colleges to confer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees, and many colleges have invited four-year colleges to give courses on their campuses ….

05.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

Between November 5 and November 17, Policy Points will be updated on a reduced schedule. During that time, the blog will be updated once per weekday at approximately 8 AM. Posting will return to a three-per-weekday schedule on November 18.

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04.11.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Nov. 4

Around the Dial – Nov. 4

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest: