The ACA’s Effect on the Labor Force is Currently Foggy

The Congressional Budget Office reported today that the Affordable Care Act will shrink the American workforce by 2.5 million by 2024, not as a result of employers shedding jobs but because more people will choose not to work or "work fewer hours than they might have otherwise to obtain employer-provided insurance."

How the Digital Divide is Helping to Drive Inequality

The New Yorker's Joshua Rothman has an interview with our favorite (foodie) economist Tyler Cowen, who talks about his new book Average Is over, and why he thinks technology is one of the biggest culprits currently driving inequality in the U.S.

President Obama’s New College-Ranking System

President Obama is starting a two-day bus tour of college campuses today to talk about his proposal for making colleges more affordable. The gist of the proposal is a new college rankings system based on metrics like graduation rates and earnings of graduates and tying financial aid to the best performing colleges.

A Few People Got to Meet Bill Gates

"My annual letter this year makes the case for using a tool of business to improve the health and welfare of more of the world’s people." — Bill Gates

Turning Down an Opportunity for Free Genetic Testing

Tyler Cowen had the opportunity to try out 23andMe, the genetic testing company that uses a swab of your saliva to tell you things like inherited traits, genealogy and possible congenital risk factors. It's backed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and advertisements have been everywhere (you may have heard about it on a radio program, or on an internet ad). Cowen's main reasons for turning down the opportunity were "worry cost" (worrying about potential negative information he'd receive), and some privacy concerns (allowing a privately held company to store information about his genetic data).

The Empty Restaurant

My favorite foodie economist Tyler Cowen argues today that you shouldn't judge a restaurant that doesn't have long lines or tends to be empty because those two things are not always indicators that a place is actually good. I usually eat at places based on recommendations from friends or from reviews I've read, and those places have been generally busy. And dining in an empty restaurant can feel strange—Why is it so empty, you think or whisper to your dining companion, and then crack a joke about money laundering. I'm going to conduct an experiment in which I eat at one of the more empty restaurants in my neighborhood. I'm sure it'll be fine, maybe even great.

Tyler Cowen on Health Care Coverage Reform

Our health care system needs reforming—we can all agree on that. What we can't agree on is how to go about doing it. Tyler Cowen made a list of some options for health care coverage reform.

Why You Should Shop at Ethnic Grocery Stores

I’m here to convince you to shop at your local ethnic grocery stores.

I live in Philadelphia. The map above of where people of different ethnicities live in Philadelphia has red dots for whites, blue dots for blacks, and yellow dots for Hispanics. In the middle of the map, there’s a place in North Philadelphia where the north-south swath of Hispanic neighborhoods tapers down to a point and mixes with the black and white neighborhoods to the west and east. And right there, there’s a locally-owned grocery store called Cousin’s. Not surprisingly, it’s a fantastic place to shop for food.

It’s made even better by the fact that there’s a fairly strong Muslim community in North Philadelphia. So: Take a full service American supermarket, add two big aisles of Mexican/Spanish produce, meats and groceries (including all manner of hot peppers, salsas, queso fresco, chorizos, octopus, salt cod, all of those different kinds of beans and cornmeal, etc.), and then add a halal meat counter, Lebanese yogurt, and a whole aisle of Middle Eastern specialties (halva, tahini, sardines in spicy oil, etc.). It’s a dream to shop there. The prices are rock bottom, the selection is amazing, and the food quality is equal to or higher than any other major, regular-priced supermarket I’ve tried.

It’s become my favorite place to grocery shop, but I’ve had a tough time convincing any of my friends to give it a shot.

Chart: The Hollowing Out of Middle Class Jobs

Charts! We love them. We've talked a lot about how low wage jobs have overwhelmingly replaced the mid-wage jobs lost during the financial crisis. Data from the National Employment Law Project shows this, and new data from Goldman Sachs and the Department of Labor also supports this. More importantly the Goldman Sachs reports shows that the "hollowing out in the middle is real, it is not unique to the post-crisis period," which means that we can't just blame this on the financial crisis—there has been rapid growth in the low-wage sector since the booming '90s.

Tyler Cowen on the “But We Just Had Indian Food” Argument

Tyler Cowen, an economics blogger I enjoy reading and the author of An Economist Gets Lunch, has a post this morning about how he doesn't understand the following argument when people are trying to decide where to eat: "But we just had Indian food yesterday!"

40 Years to Live

Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen considers the following question: What if we all died at the age of 40?