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Census of Governments Public School Finance Data: FY 2012, 2002, and 1992

The U.S. Census Bureau released its public education finance data for FY 2012 last Thursday, along with this report which includes data by state and for the 100 largest school districts. http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/12f33pub.pdf I recommend paying attention to Table 11, per pupil revenues and expenditures by category, and Table 12, spending per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income by category, a figure that takes into account the relative cost of living and ability to pay in different states. Table 18 has per pupil amounts for the 100 largest school districts, albeit without such an adjustment. As usual I have downloaded and compiled more detailed data from the Bureau, including more data categories and data for every individual school district in New York, also aggregated into different regions of the state, and every school district in New Jersey. It took 10 hours to do this compilation, mostly because I repeated it for FY 2012, FY 2002, and FY 1992, three roughly economically comparable years that also approximately match the beginning and end of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations in New York City.

The data shows that in FY 2012 New York City spent $22,884 per student, somewhat lower than the average of $23,914 for the Downstate Suburbs but more than the $18,827 for New Jersey, the $18,815 for the Upstate Urban Counties, the $19,354 for the Rest of New York State, the $18,242 in Connecticut, and the $16,076 in Massachusetts. The U.S. average was just $12,295 per student. As usual I have adjusted some of these figures for the higher average private sector wage and cost of living in the Northeast. This reduces the NYC figure to $17,865 per child, still 45.3% higher than the U.S. average but below the average for Upstate New York. Moreover, on an unadjusted basis the city spent $13,627 per student on instructional (mostly teachers) wages and benefits in FY 2012. That is $272,540 for every 20 students and $163,500 for every 12 students – during a time when most New Yorkers were under stress from a weak economy and yet the NYC teacher’s union claimed teachers were underpaid and stoked their resentment and de-motivation. The spreadsheets may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”


Too often when I write about the Brooklyn political scene, I unnecessarily take a verbal-beating from folks unknown. No big thing; when you are a political writer in New York, you learn to absorb punishment. So here I come again with another column about the “hood”.


In recent years people have made a big deal of “Manahattanhenge,” the otherwise astronomically insignificant day when the rising or setting sun happens to line up with the Manhattan street grid. http://www.amnh.org/our-research/hayden-planetarium/resources/manhattanhenge But there is another street grid in this city that lines up with the rising and setting sun at a no less astronomically auspicious time than the summer and winter solstices. I’m referring to the street grid that begins on Garfield Place in Park Slope and extends down to Windsor Place/Sherman Street in Windsor Terrace.

The angle of the east-west streets is slightly different starting with Carroll Street to the north, and Prospect Avenue to the South. But those in between and on the Park Slope side of the terminal moraine will find the sun setting straight down the street on the summer solstice. For those on the Windsor Terrace side, the sunrise was right down the street on the winter solstice. It was about that time last year that I figured this out, following my curiosity and messing around with this site, and went out and checked. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/grad/solcalc/

Get Outta Town?

For the past year the State of New York has embarked on an advertising campaign to encourage the growing number of young New York City residents, many newly-arrived from other states and countries and unfamiliar with the rest of the state (unlike those of us who grew up here back when they actually taught state history in the schools), to visit Upstate New York. One sees signs on the subway, for example, and occasionally advertisements on television.

In one sense it is a fine idea. Upstate New York (and the New Jersey Shore) declined as tourist destinations in the Generation Greed era, since that generation took advantage of airline transportation and soaring consumer debt to travel further to more expensive destinations. Younger generations are poorer, any might be inclined to give their great grandparents’ vacation spots a chance if they knew about them. It would be a step up from a “staycation.” But there are some problems. Most of these young New Yorkers don’t have their own cars. Many don’t even have driver’s licenses. And most of the Upstate destinations they might choose to visit are not anywhere near an MTA transit line. So more than an advertising campaign will be required to connect New York City’s growing population of young adults with Upstate New York.

Why do we keep saying I'm fine, when we are not.

Why do we keep saying I'm fine, when we are not.



General Government: 2012 Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data

This post will complete my series on different government functions based on employment and payroll data from the Census of Governments, for 2012 and previous years. It includes data for the kind of general government and legal workers one might generally expect to find hanging around in city and town halls and county seats, reviewing applications, keeping records and doing inspections, rather than providing services. At the local government level the functions included are, as delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Health, Financial Administration, Other Local Government Administration, Judicial and Legal, and Other and Unallocable.

As has been the case in the past, I’ve found that for these categories combined the 384 full time equivalent local government employees per 100,000 residents in New York City was about the same as the 380 in the United States, and the 386 in the Downstate Suburbs. The 343 FTE local government workers per 100,000 residents in the Upstate Urban Counties, and the 355 in New Jersey, were somewhat lower. So there really aren’t that many differences to talk about, and this post will be shorter than the ones that preceded it. But in the name of comprehensiveness, you’ll find a series of charts and additional commentary on Saying the Unsaid in New York.

2014 Prime News Now Available

The 2014 issue of Prime News, our annual report of last year's NYC Election results will be mailed this week. It can also be downloaded at http://www.primeny.com/newsltr.14/prime-news-14-11.pdf

Which one are you?

Are you a cat OR a dog person? newscaster dominic carter's answer is  Beyonce & Dolce.

Parks, Libraries and Sanitation: 2012 Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data

One of the big news items in the new administration’s proposed budget is that it does not contain the usual “budget dance,” under which the Mayor proposes cutbacks in parks and libraries and then allows the City Council to play the hero by demanding that those services be restored. Given that the New York City tax burden is just about the highest anywhere, as I showed here, and the fact that space-challenged urban dwellers trade away private amenities like their own backyards, books and automobiles for public amenities such as public parks, libraries and transit, one wonders why elected officials felt free to threaten to take those shared amenities away to begin with. In fact as tax dollars have been shifted elsewhere, generally to retroactively enhanced pensions for powerful public employee unions and past debts run up by Generation Greed, New Yorkers have been told they need to “donate” to their parks and libraries, over and above those taxes, lest they lose them. And now they may be told that there will be a tax on those donations as well, so they’d better donate more.

How high, however, is the city’s local government employment in the Parks and Culture, Libraries, and Sanitation functions compared with other places? How well-paid are the local government employees who do that sort of work in NYC, compared with those doing similar work elsewhere? A series of charts that seek to answer those questions may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”

Infrastructure: Census of Governments Employment and Payroll Data

As I noted in my overview of all federal, state and local government activity, which you can read here, most people do not benefit from most government programs, activities and expenditures. These are instead limited to select eligible populations, based on age (public education, Medicare, Social Security), means or needs. But this post and the two after it will compare local government employment and pay levels for the sorts of general public services that could be used by anyone, some of which are used by everyone. Most of these services are provided by local governments, and are far more extensive in urban areas than in rural areas. This post is about public infrastructure – highways and streets, mass transit, and public water, sewer, electric and gas utilities along with related private sector activities. A series of charts on the subject comparing New York City with other parts of New York State, New Jersey, the U.S. average, and selected other areas may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”

Health Care, Social Services and Housing: 2012 Census of Governments Employment and Payroll

The health care, social services and housing functions will feature far more prominently in finance data from the 2012 Census of Governments, which will be released later this year, than in the employment phase, the subject of this series of posts. That is because although these functions, and health care and social assistance in particular, are substantially paid for by the federal, state and local governments, directly or (through tax breaks) indirectly, most of the actual work is not done by public employees. It is carried out by private, frequently non-profit, organizations and institutions. Moreover while local governments are often responsible for administering these programs, most of the money comes from, and most of the rules are set by, the federal and state governments.

That said, New York City’s local government public hospital, public welfare, and housing and community development employment is substantial enough to be a significant component of the city’s relatively high local government employment overall. And by including private sector employment data in related industries with substantial government funding and involvement, it is possible to get an impression of the full scope of public sector spending in these categories from employment data. A series of charts and commentary on that data may found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”