Friday, May 2, 2014

Kansas and Missouri at a Crossroads

Illuminating piece in the KC Star pointing out the politicians who want to perpetuate endless highway construction in the faulty assumption that it creates job growth and prosperity.  Perhaps only for the builders and those with hands in that trough.  Meanwhile, they're struggling to figure out how to pay for it under the rhetoric of tax cuts.  I guess they haven't realized most taxpayers don't realize what kind of debt you can run up and get out of the door before it's too late and they catch on.  They could learn a thing or two from the Texas Miracle.

Here's what we do know:

StL and Kansas City have some of the highest highway capacities per capita in the country.  Further, they under-perform other urbanized areas in wage growth.  Proportionally, cities have been losing jobs (not to degree of these areas), but also gaining in wages (these places are left behind).

Within city proper:


We also know their urbanized counties have been under-performing in terms of job and wage growth.  Thanks to an astute St Louisian (?), I needed to add StL city to my chart of job/wage growth of urbanized counties since the city is carved off from the county.  Here's how it now looks with call outs for the DeKalb half of ATL as well as StL city and StL city/county combined:

I mean, they're still doing better than Detroit, but is that something the Convention and Visitors Bureau is going to use in their marketing?  "Come to Missouri! Not as bad as Detroit!"

What's interesting is that while most urbanized counties in the country out-performed their surrounding counter-parts in wage growth, the areas with the most highway capacity (KC, StL, Dallas, Detroit) under-perform.  The urbanized areas, *should* be gaining in wages in proportion, but these places are not.  I sense this is a function of companies following the form of subsidies towards sprawling, cheaper land made available via this unsustainable highway building.  It makes sense now, until that bill comes due for the second generation of the infrastructure.

**Note:  Again, Houston/Harris County is the exception to this model as pointed out previously.  This is believed to be due to the sheer size of Harris County that encompasses the majority of their MSA.