Five interesting stories (and one research piece) from the week that was…
“Satisfaction with fed customer service worst ever” (Colby Hochmuth / Federal Computer Week)
Pull Quote: “According to ACSI Director of Research Forrest Morgeson, websites were the favorite avenue of interaction with the federal government, although, government websites showed no improvement after declining a year ago — the website score remained unchanged at 72.
“There’s a significant margin. They are happier when services are done through a website,” Morgeson told FCW. “We use that as an explanation for why websites are going to be part of the solution to improve customer service. If cuts are going to be made to the people delivering the services, more attention should be paid to the website, Morgeson added.”
“How Did Politics Get So Personal?” (Thomas B. Edsall/ New York Times)
PQ: “The result, according to Iyengar, is that “since inter-personal contact across the party divide is infrequent, it is easier for people to buy into the caricatures and stereotypes of the out party and its supporters.”
Iyengar’s findings are backed up by a 2014 Pew Research Center study that revealed that “the level of antipathy that members of each party feel toward the opposing party has surged over the past two decades.” Fully 36 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats believe the opposition party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” Pew found.”
“The Debt: Mission Unaccomplished” (Ruth Marcus / RealClear Politics)
PQ: “Yes, the presidential math is correct: The deficit has shrunk from its jaw-dropping heights ($1.4 trillion in 2009) to a projected $468 billion this year. A pile of money, to be sure, but eminently manageable as a percentage of the economy — 2.6 percent, about the historical average, compared with 9.8 percent in 2009. But this column isn’t about the deficit — it’s about the debt, the lingering, and potentially dangerous, hangover of years of spending beyond our means, plus the hammer-blow of the financial crisis.
The CBO put the ugly picture of the trajectory of federal debt on the cover of this year’s report, and for good reason. At the end of this fiscal year, debt held by the public (the most relevant measure of federal debt) will be 74 percent of gross domestic product.”
“States Where the Middle Class Is Dying” (Thomas C. Frohlich and Alexander Kent / 24/7 Wall St)
PQ: “Based on average pre-tax income earned by the third quintile, or the middle 20% of earners in each state, middle class incomes in California declined the most in the country. Incomes among middle class Californian households fell by nearly 7% between 2009 and 2013, while income among the state’s fifth quintile, or the top 20% of state earners, grew by 1.3%. Based on an analysis of household incomes among America’s middle class, these are the states where the middle class is suffering the most.”
“Confirmed: Starbucks knows the next hot neighborhood before everybody else does” (Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries / Quartz)
PQ: “But as it turns out, Starbucks correlates with something else, too: rising home values. To explore exactly how closely the two correlate, we compared a database of Starbucks locations with Zillow data. And since Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle is located just a few miles down the road from Zillow, we also took the opportunity to pay our neighbors a visit, and to pick the brains of Starbucks’ own real estate analytics team—the whizzes who determine where to put that next Starbucks location. Here’s what we can tell you: Starbucks equates with venti-sized home-value appreciation. Moreover, Starbucks seems to be fueling—not following—these higher home values.”
Research: “Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis” (Pew Charitable Trusts)
Data Points: CA: 5th in Revenue Volatility / 50th in Long-term Debt