Living the life precarious
Hemp on the horizon
Three economists on the Columbia river
Retired Washington State University economist Norm Whittlesey is sitting at his kitchen table with two other retired economists, Walt Butcher and Ken Casavant. They are reminiscing about the collective 150 years they have worked on and around the Columbia River.
“We used to catch steelhead on the Snake River before the dam,” says Whittlesey. “I’ve got a picture of Walt with, what, a 25 pounder?”
Walt Butcher chuckles and says, “That fish might be up to 25 pounds by now.”
Casavant adds, “It’s been growing, even after being eaten.”
With a sweep of his hand across a map of the Columbia River watershed on the … » More …
Call it the Urban Extension
The massive Oso landslide killed 43 people, caused extensive flooding, and destroyed a key highway north of Everett in 2014, pushing the communities of Arlington and Darrington to their breaking point.
For months, grieving residents and community leaders remained so immersed in the search and recovery demands that nearly everything else had to be put on hold. That’s why, when they were invited to participate in a national competition that could funnel up to $3 million or more toward desperately needed economic revitalization efforts, Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert was practically on the verge of tears, again.
“It was this rare opportunity but we had no … » More …
Arun Raha ’91—The good, the bad, and the budget
When Arun Raha ’91 started work as the state of Washington’s chief economist three years ago, his new staffers welcomed him with a gift: an official Magic 8 Ball.
“I said ‘OK, great! Now I have a forecasting tool,’” he recalls.
If only it were that easy.
At 51, Raha is the E.F. Hutton of state government: When he talks, people listen. He speaks at more than 100 events a year, from universities to small-town chambers of commerce. His quarterly revenue forecasts are broadcast live on TV.
That’s because the forecast, once approved by a bipartisan council that Raha reports to, frames the state … » More …
Housing by the numbers
From his corner office in Johnson Tower in the midst of Washington State University’s Pullman campus, Glenn Crellin is far from the most populated parts of the state. Still, from his vantage, he contemplates rental rates around the Puget Sound, home sales in Spokane, and real estate in Moses Lake.
Crellin is the state’s real estate numbers guy and in mid-summer he’s just about to release a report that will stir up homeowners and real estate agents with news that home sales were showing some positive signs.
Crellin and his reports appear regularly in newspapers throughout the state. He’s also well placed in Washington where … » More …
How we eat is what we are
Prisons offer few economic benefits to small towns
Over the past three decades, many of the nation’s most depressed rural communities have vied to host new prisons, hoping that economic benefits would follow.
The trend grew in the early 1990s when an average of three 500-bed prisons opened around the country each week. Small towns courted new correctional facilities, sometimes offering free land or discounted municipal services to tempt them, believing they would get returns in new jobs and money.
But now they may be thinking differently about prisons, thanks to research led by Washington State University sociologist Gregory Hooks.
“We found no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth,” Hooks says … » More …
One heavily-loaded eighteen-wheeler can cause the same highway damage as 7,000 cars. Ken Casavant and other transportation economists are trying to make sense of the effects of trucks on the state's highways.» More ...