Scene in Passing: Ponder potpourri; match dollars & scents

These are the dog days of winter, yet it seems like Sochi without Olympians.

So what? So stop and smell the roses, or at least consider that you will smell them soon enough as February hits the downward slope. Spring is barely more than a month away. Before you know it, June will be bustin’ out all over. So it’s time for a potpourri column. What’s that, you ask? It’s nothing, it’s anything, it’s musty stuff to sniff at.

For the record, potpourri is a collection of flowers, herbs and spices in a jar used to scent a room — or, a secondary definition is a miscellaneous collection of things. Now to my smelly collection.

News that Nevada trailed only Florida in the rate of January foreclosures amounts to a glass-half-full/half-empty kind of conundrum. It’s seen here as half-full. A state-by-state comparison is relatively meaningless, real estate markets being local. Secondly, though the rate jumped 28 percent from the previous month, it was down more than one-third from January 2013.

As this scrivener repeats regarding economic data, a month means nada. A year might. A business cycle, say four years, clears the crystal ball. Still, talking peak-to-trough and back toward peak, the housing recovery is on the upswing but won’t get near the previous peak before 2016. If then. Slow growth, however, is sustainable growth.

Jobs ride a similar, if not the same, roller coaster. Housing and jobs often are what economic observers call lagging indicators. This pair trails in the upswing. So let’s toss out a potpourri-style yet rare observation regarding Carson City’s 9.3 percent jobless rate mentioned this month during Mayor Robert Crowell’s State of the City speech.

Nevada’s consolidated city-county is a tiny geographic unit. Jobs here are government-oriented, service sector, retail and light industry. Let’s call them mid-range white-collar professional jobs for this analysis. Generations of such people have chosen suburban living. How many folks working here do you know who prefer to live outside the city? Think about that vis a vis employment and unemployment.

Speaking of jobs and people without them, the conservative Cato Institute has a study showing the District of Columbia and 33 states — Nevada among them — provide more in welfare than people making minimum wage earn. In 12 states and D.C., it says, welfare provides more than $15 hourly.

Such a study should be taken with a grain of sodium from a shaker, given the preferences of said Cato Institute, but you still have to note the salt goes on food for thought.

By the way, Nevada was 14th on the list, so the study shows people earning $15 hourly in the Silver State outstrip those on welfare. But just barely, potpourri fans.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


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