Okay, so it has been another one of those weeks - just when it seems the weather has slipped winter's grasp and it's all smooth sailing ahead, my household is beset with illness. Keeping up with the day-to-day has been a monumental task. So much so that I haven't been able to pick even the lowest hanging fruit. But today is Friday, recovery is almost complete, and I can do a quick recap of all the stuff I would have blogged about had I had time...
1) Oregons' job picture improved again in March. The state added a very healthy 7,500 jobs and the unemployment rate essentially heal steady at 6.9%. This last part is actually good news because a steady unemployment rate in the face of strong job growth means folks are coming back to the job market after dropping out.
2) A note on the Common Core standards which are now coming under attack in many localities, including Portland. I have many concerns about how standardized testing and such common standards impact curriculum but I will say, as an empirical researcher, that I do like the notion at least of a set of national standards. Why? Because these will provide real metrics to state policymakers and voters that I expect will show how poorly Oregon is doing relative to other states. I expect this because I believe that things like shorter school years and larger class sizes are bad for learning - there is enough evidence to be convincing. But it is one thing to say that other research points to a causal link and to have real comparators. I think this will lead to more investment in K-12 education in Oregon, which is a good thing.
3) The Long-Term Unemployment Insurance extension that is stalled in the Congress casts a spotlight on the persistent problem of the long-term unemployed in the US. Josh Lehner at the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has a nice discussion of the problem with colorful graphs.
4) Finally, soccer. The MLS announced its latest expansion franchise: Atlanta. To those of us old enough to remember when MLS started, this seems like a sad regression. An NFL owner with a big new stadium looking for more programming brings in MLS to play in a too big stadium on plastic. See: Kraft and the Revolution. On the other hand, apparently TV ratings are up significantly for the beginning of the season, so perhaps some momentum is building in that area and an Atlanta-based team will certainly help with the overall TV footprint.
Phew! Hopefully some more regular blogging next week.