Explaining Southern California's economy

Visual Aid: (Almost) 100 years of government energy subsidies

This chart is from a lengthy analysis of government energy subsidies by Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey, published by DBL Investors. You don't have to a be math genius to unpack its message (which is backed up by numerous other charts and graphs in the report): renewable energy has been subsidized to a far lesser degree than oil and gas, nuclear, and even biofuels.

Over the period of time it's been subsidized, the renewables sector has cost about $395 million per year. Nukes, subsided for a much longer period, averaged $3.57 billion. And oil and gas averaged $4.91 billion. 

Before you get all shocked at the unfairness of it all, remember that oil and gas have always been so important to the economy that subsidizing both at such high historic levels made sense. The cheap energy provided built an economy measured in the multi-trillions. 


Unemployment: Is it ever gonna get better in Southern California?

Last week, unemployment claims edged above 400,000 again, after falling slightly below that number. Why is this a (potentially) big deal? Because 400,000 is a bit of a magic unemployment number: Fall below it, and you could be on the road to recovery; rise above it, and you could be looking at an economy headed for a stall. Or a double-dip recession. In any case, misery.

What does this mean in Southern California? Nothing good, given that our unemployment rate is running far above the national average of 9.1 percent. In Los Angeles County, it was at 12.4 percent in June, according to the latest batch of statistics released by the BLS.

Angelenos might want to consider themselves lucky, however. As the chart below shows, Riverside and San Bernadino counties have it much worse (the graphic comes from Google’s very useful interactive Public Data Explorer).