This is one of those charts that shows the power of great graphics. In this case, the information represented here clearly summarizes the jobs crisis in Los Angeles Country following the Great Recession.
The chart comes from the Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs' (PBI) 2011 Los Angeles State of the City Report. The individual circles provide a sense of scale for that industry — federal, state, and local government is a lot bigger than social services — while the two axis plot job growth or decline against wages. The dotted line demarcates what the PBI considers a sustaining wage, in this case $44,000 a year.
These are scary circles. Private education and health care are the only sectors that are complete above the zero level. Pretty much the entire remainder of the economy is below the line. And as you can see, there's a whole high-income cluster on the far right, the $80-100,000 region.
The President called for increased infrastructure spending in his speech last night, pointing to the many construction workers who are currently unemployed and, among other things, the need for upgraded schools. It's unclear how much of his $447-billion jobs bill would go toward this objective. But the argument for investing in infrastructure and investing now is strong. Here's the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
Because of the recession, construction materials are cheap. So, too, is the labor. And your borrowing costs? They've never been lower. That means a dollar of investment today will go much further than it would have five years ago -- or is likely to go five years from now. So what do you do?
Invest! I should reveal that Ezra made this recommendation almost a year ago, when the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was a 2.7 percent — quite a bit higher than today, when the yield fell to a record 1.89 percent before edging up to 1.93 percent.