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I spoke to Murtaza Baxamusa this afternoon, the director of research and policy for the Center on Policy Initiatives, the think tank that issued an analysis earlier today on the new U.S. Census numbers.

Baxamusa’s been reviewing the numbers all day and had some answers for my questions. How did we get from an hourglass economy to a teardrop one?

The hourglass designation still applies, Baxamusa said, when looking at wages — more jobs created in low- and high-income categories, with disproportionately few middle-class jobs being added. But as global competition threatens jobs in the high-tech sector, the primary drivers of the local economy are largely in the low-wage restaurant and retail sectors, creating the teardrop.

“You can always make that chart that the hourglass still holds for wages, but when you look by number of workers not just by the wages, what is happening is a bottom that’s bulging that we cannot really control,” he said.

Baxamusa said San Diego’s Gini ratio — a measure of income inequality ranging from 0 from 1 — was 0.451 in 2006, according to the new Census numbers. In that ratio, a 0 score marks perfect equality and 1 means one person has all of the income and everyone else has nothing.

That score compares to 0.466 for California and 0.464 for the country. Elsewhere in the state, the largest Gini was 0.497 for San Francisco County. Los Angeles County was among the highest with a Gini of 0.484.

“Essentially we are looking at a San Diego which is a mini-California and a mini-U.S.,” he said.

Baxamusa said the proximity of San Diego’s ratio to the rest of the state and country could confront the psychology of San Diego as a well-connected, familial county.

“In San Diego, we think of ourselves as a community of villages,” he said. “We don’t think of ourselves as L.A. We feel ourselves much more linked.”

Also: I just heard that the San Diego Institute for Policy Research, the think tank founded by Steve Francis, will have some analysis on the Census numbers tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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