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Is Traffic Congestion Growing Three Times As Fast As Economy? 187

cartechboy writes "Math watch time: For many traffic analysts, INRIX is considered the gold-standard. This week the company says traffic congestion surged in 2013 and grew over three times as fast as the American economy. The bad news: If true, this reverses two consecutive years of traffic declines with a six percent increase in 2013. (GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year.) The analysts then theorize links between economic growth and traffic congestion, which makes sense on the surface. (As the economy improves, more jobs are created, so more commuters on the roads) But INRIX's theory creates as many questions as it answers. For example, the U.S. GDP has been steadily growing since 2009. So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?"
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Is Traffic Congestion Growing Three Times As Fast As Economy?

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  • Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:46PM (#46422641)

    So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?

    The false equivalence between GDP and labor (and therefore commuting.)

    We're shedding workers. The labor participation rate is declining. GDP, like inflation, the unemployment rate, cost-of-living, etc. are political fictions derived from politically derived formulae.

  • Traffic? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:47PM (#46422647)

    Like the movie? Or Internet traffic? Or vehicular traffic?
    Thanks for the context in the summary, douchemonger.

  • Work from home (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:48PM (#46422661) Homepage

    companies are starting to get smart and letting their employees work from home.

  • GDP and employment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:54PM (#46422737)

    The article keeps trying to compare GDP with employment. GDP has been increasing but yet unemployment is stuck at about 7%.

    Why is that?

    Because the "recovery" is not happening to the average guy. We are seeing a gutting of the middle class, more folks are getting (sometimes multiple) lesser jobs, and yet, companies profits are at record levels.

    And in the meantime, the uultra-rich are getting ever more richer and scolding us peons that "we could be in India!" so shut the fuck up!

    Income and capital gains taxes at 1950s level is what we need.

  • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @04:59PM (#46422801)

    Or it could mean that local governments with a reduced tax base are now not taking care of roads. Or that they've cut back on public transportation and now people have to drive to work. Or that the people that have given up are now going to the beach instead. Or that people have given up on ever finding a new job, can't bear to think of the future and are jumping into traffic. Ot that the job situation is now is desperate that bosses can demand their employees not telecommute.

  • by emptybody ( 12341 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:13PM (#46422933) Homepage Journal

    as the economy has come back, people have been forced to take jobs further from their homes - wherever they can get one.
    with the housing market a mess, they also couldn't easily move closer to work.
    when they can sell their houses, and move closer, or there are more jobs closer, we will see an adjustment.

    personally, i want to see traffic hell. enough that we bring back light rail as a priority.
    its stupid that we do not have lines running down the center of most highways in the country.

  • by muhula ( 621678 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:19PM (#46422991)
    The great recession of 2009 became the justification of many companies to lay off workers despite healthy [] revenue [] and increasing [] profits []. While this may contribute to the GDP, it doesn't do much for employment.
  • Re:Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:27PM (#46423055)

    Yes, GDP, unemployment and pretty much every other measurement the government puts out is made up from whole cloth and has very little to do with reality.

  • Re:Obama (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:44PM (#46423227)

    We've equated job creation to economic growth. Not all jobs generate the same economic growth. The discrepancy mentioned in the article is a result of more people going to work to less productive jobs. This is a result of economic policies from republicans and democrats, but creating jobs is one of the reasons Obama was elected as president. Unfortunately that is only one side of the equation. The economy is a complicated system and any statement that overly simplifies it to create jobs and the economy will grow should be called into question.

    Politician are to blame on both sides of the isle, but we elected them, so we have only ourselves to blame.

  • by AndrewBuck ( 1120597 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:47PM (#46423265)

    He said return the rates to the 1950's. I don't know what the middle class rate would have been back then but I don't think it was all that dissimilar from the rates today. The top tax rate, however, was massively higher, like between 80 and 90 percent for income over (I think) $150,000. I assume this is what the GP was posting about.

    Of course the "job creators" (praise be upon them) will say that this will destroy jobs since we are taking money away from them that they could be investing instead. This is true to some degree, however there is another competing effect that they seldom mention. If your marginal tax rate is 90% on income you have very little incentive to take your pay as income. Instead you are far more likely to either leave that money in the business you own allowing the business to grow, or you are likely to take your "pay" as stock in the company, giving you a strong incentive to see the company viable in the long term.

    Of course the rich never tell you about this second effect because it goes against the argument of letting them take home millions of dollars in direct pay. I don't really know which of these two effects are stronger, but looking at only one whilst ignoring the other is a pretty lopsided argument. If they are so concerned about encouraging investment from the wealthy they should be advocating for an increase in the top income tax bracket and a decrease of the capital gains tax. They spend plenty of time arguing for lower capital gains but somehow forget the higher income tax, funny how that works.


  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @05:48PM (#46423275) Homepage Journal

    See, people are too stupid to realize a bus with 60 people that gets defunded means there are now 60 more cars crammed onto the same failed underfunded highway infrastructure.

    A 5 percent reduction in transit funding results in a 30 percent increase in traffic congestion and a 25-50 percent increase in commute times.



  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @06:49PM (#46423881) Homepage

    The federal government has been spending ever more money in order to prop up the GDP (remember that gov't spending is part of the GDP). In reality, the economy has been shrinking for some time except in Washington DC. And, no, we can't continue this forever or even much longer.

  • Re:Obama (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @08:42PM (#46424715) Homepage

    Agree, but I think part of the problem is that we're stuck on jobs as the means to obtain basic income.

    If you have a strong economic base, then you shouldn't really need jobs. Just tax the economic activity, and distribute the money to the population (either directly, or in the form of services/subsidies/etc). Of course there will still be jobs as well, but not everybody will need one.

    Paying to employ people who aren't actually necessary to the economy is just creating busywork and is wasteful. It would be more productive to just pay them to stay home, and let companies focus on whatever it is that they excel at.

    The problem is that we're stuck on an economic system that is based on the need for human labor, and that need has been declining (or to the extent that it is needed, it is only able to be performed by fairly few people).

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley