[Emily Horton (research asst.) and Emma Sifre (budget intern) are colleagues of mine at CBPP. Just to mix things up a bit, I asked them to choose a figure from the new 2017 ERP and write a bit of text to go with it (I’m featuring figures from the ERP this week). I think they made excellent choices!]
I think my favorite charts are the ones on changes in labor force participation. These explain a lot about the striking divide between negative public perceptions of the labor market and the very low unemployment rate [and why we’re not really yet at full employment–JB]. It’s also (obviously) an important chunk of the narrative around recent political dynamics. [Yep–especially when you break the trends out by education level, as in the figure.–JB]
I also think this one on the quality of the US healthcare system is a real zinger. I hear the argument that even though we pay a lot for healthcare, we have a great healthcare system, and increasing the level of publicly provided health care hurts the overall system. This next chart is a great response to the assumption that our system was in any way superior to other countries’ pre-ACA.
Source: 2017 ERP
Figures 7-5 and 7-1 show that there is a compelling economic case to be made for reducing the United States’ environmental impact. The claim is often that economic regulations stifle firm productivity and overall economic growth, but Figure 7-5 shows the opposite: As energy and carbon consumption have decreased, GDP has grown steadily, indicating that emissions are not a necessary byproduct of strong economic growth.*
But not only is it possible to achieve robust growth while producing fewer harmful emissions, it also makes fiscal sense. Figure 7-1 shows that the number of extreme-weather events that have cost more than $1 billion in damages has risen markedly over the past three decades. Curbing emissions in an effort to reduce the frequency and intensity of these kinds of natural disasters could save the United States billions of dollars in the long-run. Together, these graphs make a clear economic argument that reducing harmful emissions can help reduce costs associated with climate change without placing undue strain on the economy.
[Word to that conclusion!–JB]
*A few complementary points here from JB: First, Figure 7.5 lacks a counterfactual. A stronger case requires a model-based estimate of how real GDP would evolve with more or less emissions. Second, a few figures down (7-7), CEA shows the decline in energy intensity per dollar of GDP, underscoring Emma’s point: “The fact that the U.S. economy is using less energy while continuing to grow reflects a decline in overall energy intensity that is due to both more efficient use of energy resources to complete the same or similar tasks and to structural shifts in the economy that have led to changes in the types of tasks that are undertaken.”
Thanks to E&E for their contributions. Note that I asked them each for one graph and I got two (Emily sent three!). Clearly, they’re not constrained by my instructions, implying that they’ll both go far!