How will Fairfax County evolve?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:

The immediate future of my region thus appears to be a major demand shock to the stores, acceptable continuing employment for the upper middle class, and economic devastation for lower-income individuals. The traditional mix of government-connected employment and retail will swing heavily in the direction of government. In essence, the federal government will pay its employees to click on Amazon while working from home.


The ethnic dimension of Covid-19 in Fairfax County is especially noteworthy. Latinos make up 16.8% of the county’s population, but account for 62.7% of the diagnosed Covid-19 cases. And if you assume that perhaps lower-income Latinos are less willing or able to go to a doctor, the true percentage of the Latino cases may be higher yet.

I thus foresee a future where people are more reluctant to hire Latino immigrants for housework or for child care, and thus additional home responsibilities will fall on parents, probably disproportionately on women. In turn, I expect many Latinos to leave the area, at least temporarily, unable to afford the higher rents when there is little work. There may also be greater employer discrimination against Latino applicants, as unfair or unjust as that would be.

Those developments will lead to Fairfax County becoming whiter. (If you are wondering, blacks are a slightly lower Covid-19 case share in the county than population share).

Recommended, for all those who care.


I propose Fairfax County offer to pay for mass testing of the Hispanic population. Otherwise, who is going to mow the lawns, trim the hedges, and clean the houses.

The hedges will be left rotting in the fields!!!

But seriously, I wonder if Tyler is contractually obligated to write a "world ends, minorities and women hardest hit" column to maintain good standing in the Outer Party, or if he just instinctively knows he has to bend the knee to the SJWs every once in a while so they don't change the locks on the door to the faculty lounge.

The world’s not ending and group heterogeneities are a big part of understanding this virus—lots of ink has been spilled on theories of why Western countries seem harder hit and why Asian populations seem less impacted, not sure why asking the same questions about Latinos suddenly turns you into an “SJW.”

It's understandable that it would hit the underclass harder. It's just sad that in America we frame that in a racial way.

Speaking of which, I was really pretty shocked by our last census. It literally asked us one question. What race are you? And then put a bit of polish on it by asking for finer grain heritage.

Still it's kind of a WTF moment. It tells you all you need to know about America. If there was one damn thing they want to know about you, to know who you are, it's what race you put down.

[ ] American

American ancestry as it relates to the Census has a very specific meaning, one that is unlikely to earn your block any additional funding.

Here's the thing though, if conservatives really believed that, wouldn't they be the ones who wanted a one question census:

[ ] American?

At this point, knowing as we do it race does not have a biological meaning, it should be ripped out of all federal databases.

If you want to leave intersectionality behind, work seriously to create that post racial world.

As I noted above, it's the people who subscribe to your feel-good "I don't see race" bullshit who end up being put out by identity politics in America, not the people who eagerly want to identify their allegedly non-existent race.

You may recall that Orange Man was decried as racist for rolling back an Obama plan to include even more racial and ethnic groups, by the people those groups were supposed to represent.

As it turns out, people want to be identified as non-white in America, because they know that confers upon them additional benefits and advantages they don't get if they subscribe to your virtue-signalling.

I don't mind the gaslighting, but don't insult our intelligence.

That's really bizarre. You accuse me of gaslighting while implying the Democrats wanted that question on the census?

No one, including yourself, is talking about the citizenship question. Get your argument straight.

lol, now that is gaslighting!

I was delighted with this census-taking after the 2010 invasion of privacy.

It seems really odd to me to whine about not having immigrants for housework or for child care, to folks out here who could never afford to hire immigrants for housework or for child care. Are we supposed to feel bad for you or what?

I thought I saw a comment here a few days ago that people liked identifying as White because of the benefits it accrues. Which is it? Something about public vs private declarations?

Some people do make the argument that "more people should identify as White," but that strikes me as a pretty dirty deal with the Devil. After all, not everyone can.

I posted the same comment there that I am here: that's incongruous with the increasing number of racial/ethnic identifiers both on the Census and in American society in general.

The latest change that was to be on the 2020 Census was breaking out a group for Middle Eastern / North African descent, a group that right now might check the white box. Again, this was reversed by the Trump administration, against the wishes of several groups that represent MENA peoples.

It's not really clear why, if identifying as white is beneficial, that people would actively seek out ways not to identify as white. The notion of public versus private doesn't make a lot of sense either. If the old boys' club doesn't think you're white, to rephrase the presumptive reasoning, showing them your Census form isn't going to change their opinion. But going out of your way to identify as MENA (for example) doesn't help either. And it especially doesn't make sense in a context like the Census (or a college application, etc.) where no one has the ability to override your answer with their own prejudices.

The pretty obvious answer is that being a minority group in America provides additional tangible/intangible benefits over identifying with the majority group. It's notable that people like our anonymous friend who claim we should all come together as Americans typically only apply this rhetoric in one direction.

Nah, not to leave intersectionality behind! Rather, push it to its limits: Individualism. :-)

That may be shocking to non-Americans, so let me be clear. After asking how many people of what age are in the household, that was the only question on our census.

Nothing on income, net worth, education levels, debt levels, health, happiness, whatever .. just race.

(I had heard there was a controversy about whether the race question would be on our "short" census, but I really thought our short census would ask like 10 questions. I didn't think it would have the bald focus on one.)

You may have noticed that the few times a year that he criticizes twitter orthodoxy, Tyler inserts plenty of disclaimers. But this is a good post that will at least make the shutdown fanatics face the consequences of their position. Old sick people in nursing homes are susceptible to coronavirus, so let's destroy the economy and kick the Latinos out of Fairfax! I doubt that the Vox crowd will feel any remorse.

That is actually a counter narrative.

You say stuff like that when you can't handle the truth. The truth is that many nations shut down the virus quickly and in good order. We didn't, and then you want you to complain that it's the old people's fault.

This is a case where government action, specifically good governance, proved their worth.

You wanted a good government which could act swiftly.

It's not "the old people's fault". They are the victims, if anything. The fault lies with the petty tyrants who took advantage of a manufactured crisis to fulfill their authoritarian fetish, in the process killing even more people through their shitty leadership skills, and a media/"expert" class that's more concerned with using it as an opportunity to get Trump than they are with honest and accurate reporting.

That's not actually the way it worked out, across the world.

It is how it worked out in the US. Across the world lockdowns don't seem to be more effective than making recommendations on social distancing or contact tracing.

There's a lot of state-by-state data here

Sparsely populated states have done well in general, but notice that when you flip the first map to cases per 100,000 South Dakota has more than California. California and Utah are pretty equal.

That means that California despite our early start locked down and kept control, while looser states caught up.

It worked out differently across the world because the people in most countries aren't occupied by an overlord class that's hellbent on making their lives as miserable as possible for fun and profit.

Why not move and get away from the overlord class here?

Is this an attempt at gaslighting?

We don't want a government with lockdown power at all, that power is ripe for abuse as seen in places like Michigan, NY, Kentucky, etc.

If the Latinos predominate at being nursing home attendants - well, that would be unusual in the South, and it would mean the Latinos kicked the black people out. No doubt possible, or inevitable; but my very sensitive friend still returns depressed from visiting her parents in a Baltimore assisted-living facility, because she finds the residents are generally white and the staff mainly black, and this divide troubles her.

> You wanted a good government which could act swiftly.

I would have preferred a government that shut borders much quicker, and cities that shut much quicker.

That said, we didn't run out of anything, which is pretty remarkable. The entire country could have been NYC, but it wasn't. And I'd take the response of Texas, CA and Florida any day over the response of Germany or Canada.

Germany had tests and masks. We had Cheerios.

To grab the bull by the tail:

Many American conservatives wanted the Swedish plan to work, because it would "prove" that the least government action was the most effective. That the least action would save the most lives.

That was the prior belief that American conservatives have schooled themselves in. Reagan's scary words. A government you can drown in the bathtub.

The world turned out completely opposite:

Will American conservatives learn from that, and adjust their priors? Dollars to donuts they will not.

Maybe we shouldn't draw conclusions on a story that refers to a time horizon of only one week?

As I've said in the past, I am all in favor of scatter plots.

We could categorize responses on a 1 to 10 scale, and plot them against deaths to date in 2020.

We could actually do two plots, one of official policy versus death, the other of observed patterns of behavior and death.

The scatter plot is necessary because there is a lot of luck involved. Countries that had the bad luck of superspreaders in early weeks fared worse.

“Many American conservatives wanted”

“Many people are saying”

More Trumpian every day. Keep fighting that culture war

For the youngsters in the audience,

And there's been very little in the 40 years since to prove him wrong.

Wouldn't you think?

Oh wait, not you. Someone who's not a partisan hack.

That Reagan quote was quite apt for the old folks living in nursing homes in NY under the reign of the Cuomo dynasty. Andrew Cuomo was just following in the footsteps of his dad, Mario: "We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need."

Fairfax County Health Department is going to be doing testing for the Latino community this weekend (May 23-24) and has put out a call for Spanish language translators.

They tried once in Springfield in March and very few people showed up.

Will Fairfax County earn a badge of honor?

So why do Latinos have an infection risk 8 times higher than non-Latinos? If we knew the answer, it would be valuable to help us figure out what's higher and lower risk.

Is it a huggy multi-generational culture like Italy? Is it just geographic clustering outbreaks? Or is it something else that we didn't know about?

Meanwhile, the blacks in Fairfax County do not have elevated levels of infection. Whereas in other areas they do.

The could be useful heterogeneity between different regions that could in theory be used to estimate what the true causal factors are: income, neighborhood effects, workplace conditions, social customs of the subpopulation, etc.

Or it might just be random noise. That is we could pattern fit, i.e. find some variable that explains the Latino and black anomalies in Fairfax County. If we look hard enough, eventually we'll find one.

And that might be a valid result. Or it might be another non-replicable research result, due to fitting a model to explain noise.

I read once that the African American community in Fairfax was the wealthiest in the U.S. That could play a role.

You took the riposte right out of my mouth.

I was going to say, blacks living in Fairfax are almost entirely likely to be private-sector professionals or government employees.

Higher rates of poverty and undocumentedness = more likely to have multiple people crowding together under the same roof to save on rent, more likely to keep going to work even if sick.

I suspect many Latinos live at least four to a room, 12+ in a nominally 3-bedroom apartment.
Decades ago when looking for a home in Florham Park NJ we were shown a modest suburban 3-bedroom home occupied by three Chinese families, with about 10 sewing machines in the basement. A small garment factory. Latino illegal immigrants would probably have packed even more people into it.

That’s part of it. The other part is that, as a group, they completely ignored it.

In March and April you could drive by any soccer field in Fairfax and you would see dozens and dozens of Latinos playing soccer. No masks. Having family picnics birthday parties etc.

This is what happens when you blow it off. You, your family, and friends catch it.

Simple as that.

1. Perhaps Latinos account for a larger percent of the population than Census data capture.

2. Did getting together for Cinco de Mayo activities account for some spread within the community.

3. Spread within a narrow community might suggest segregation or homophily much in he same was Orthodox Jewish community had spread within it.

4. did you control for income...there are poor whites and blacks in Fairfax as well....what is the incidence for those groups.

5. Do Latinos have occupations that are more forward facing and likely to capture covid from those whom they come in contact with. eg nursing home co-incidence.

They're overrepresented among building trades and essential retail. Also, the country has largely turned a blind eye to houses illegally subdivided to hold a crowd of undocumented day laborers and unlicensed day care arrangements.

Yup, and it will only get worse when the assembly does away with single family residential zoning next year. Families seeking to have a safe and pleasant environment to raise their families will move even farther out to developments without public transportation and even larger lots and lower density. But it will save them a bit in the end.

Without public transit, ie, roads, streets, highways, because tax and speed are job killing wasteful spending.

Clearly, these developments will be served by Elon Musk Boring Company tunnels with Elon buying 5000 hectares and putting in tunnels and stations and leasing the land for housing, retail, etc. A third tunnel will provide utility services like water and sewer, fiber to the home, and eldctrical cross connects between the mandated solar roof and Tesla Powerwall each building will be required to install. There will be no need for police as mandatory Neuralinks will provide AI enforced rational behavior.

With trillions is additional national government debt, will there be pressure to cut national government employment? There's been a massive shift of financial resources from the public to the private sector, including to Amazon and Jeff Bezos. "In essence, the federal government will pay its employees to click on Amazon while working from home." You think Trump will tolerate this? Will he fire government employees who click on Amazon while working anywhere? The worst part about the pandemic and lock-down is that it has strengthened Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple while wreaking havoc on most other businesses.Will there be a price to be paid by them?

I know, right? It's terrible that companies that provide customers with products they want (aka as wreaking havoc on most other businesses) would be strengthened. We should come down on them hard, like say fire government employees (hahaha, oh you're serious, let me laugh harder) that use them. Bless your heart, rayward.

"There's been a massive shift of financial resources from the public to the private sector" Since it's the private sector that generates ALL of those resources, this would seem to be fair, no?

Tyler - I would LOVE to have a public debate with you on this. Not the kind of debates that people have now, but an intellectual debate - to tease out the issues. You'll recall that it was probably three weeks ago, in the middle of the night, that I wrote to tell you that Latino/Covid/Fairfax County would be a major issue. Where you see an economic issue, and its 'inevitable' outcome, I see a wholly avoidable set of political and institutional failures. But these are learning opportunities that should not go unremarked. Also, this is a SERIOUS issue, since this population doesn't actually have anywhere to go...

Start with why Fairfax whites never eat, shit, produce trash, shed and track dirt, birth children, eliminating the need for non-white low wage workers to do all the things white people won't do for $5 an hour.

"Those developments will lead to Fairfax County becoming whiter."

Tyler stop, these posts are embarrassing. You're just projecting current trends into the future, the mistake of any rookie futurist. The virus will be gone in 1-2 years, perhaps even earlier, and there's no particular reason to believe that it will lead to permanent changes in anything. The idea that wealthy Fairfax County residents will no longer demand cheap domestic labor once the virus ends is particularly laughable.

+1, the only permanent effects I foresee are the virus accelerating previous trends.

For America,

Movie theaters were already diminishing due to better quality home theater. So, they will probably not completely recover.

Working from home was already more efficient and increasing. So working in the office will probably never get back to it's previous level.

Wild life was already seeing a resurgence because of better habitat protection. This period will probably result in greater fish stocks. and protected species stocks.

The environment was steadily improving due to increased environmental controls. The period of reduced travel and industry will probably cause a one time step gain that will be the new baseline.

Also, I agree with Tyler with respect to the shopping:

Online shopping was already growing. This event will accelerate the growth of online shopping and result in permanently reduced demand for retailers. Again, this was already a trend it will just get a boost.

+5 i.p. to JWatts and to Hadur, for avoiding the fallacy of recency bias

If any mall is going to survive, it's Tysons. It's spacious, and was already more popular than nearly any mall in the country - one of the few that could be said to be thriving.

Tysons II (or Galleria) has always been emptier, but has higher-end, Rodeo-drive-type stores. They may survive by offering things like private showings and going even more exclusive.

From what I've seen, Hispanics are the local ethnic group least likely to be wearing masks. Asians in the DC Area had a contingent wearing masks in public well before COVID-19.

Absolutely. The same people on NextDoor who are endlessly complaining about little kids riding their bikes around without masks, have noisily self-congratulated on having paid their housecleaners to stay away for a few weeks .... but now: "I think this is a risk we can take, I've asked her to wear a mask and gloves, and we'll leave the house while she's there, and she'll disinfect everything ..."

Some of this assumes surface transmission, which has long been considered a low-level threat, something now confirmed by the CDC:

“ Recommended, for all those who care.”

Still my favorite blogger!!! Cheers mate-we shall survive the stupidity.

I think the big change will be the impact on telework for the federal government. My agency has basically said don't come back for 6 months. I have heard other agencies stake out the position of no return till there is a vaccine and are starting to entertain permanent duty changes for those that want them. If permanent telework becomes a norm within government (or for that matter within tech), the disruption to the area is only beginning. People will move out of the area to places where $700k buys your more than an hour long commute and less than 2000 sq ft. More broadly I wonder what this portends for real estate trends and if the big winners in the coming decade won't be small towns.

One needs to look at medicine as a career field where they could live in smaller towns/cities but have the problem that the local school system does not put the graduates on the path of being able to gain entry to an Ivy League School/Medical School.

Also, the problem with telecommuting is whether both spouses can do it from the same small town.

I also wonder if this won't amplify the call to move parts of the federal government out of D.C. What difference does it make if remote workers are located in Arlington, Va., or Arlington, Texas.

I believe that this was tried with the Dept of the Interior and virually no one moved since it limits their career paths. The same thing happened around 2005 with the BRAC and the DoD moved some offices outside of DC. Usually, relocation is just another term for lowering headout due to no one moving.

There is a lot of truth to relo's resulting in attrition. I don't know if that is a feature or a bug. Part of the career upside in dc is abetted by massive grade inflation. There are tons of GS-15s and 14s that have effectively no responsibility. Not to mention a proliferation of dubious SES's. Traditionally, a 15 denoted a division director and a 14 was a branch chief. When you relocate an organization you are generally going to have 1 ses and that will enforce some rigor in the designation of the positions below. Most of the workforce will ultimately be locals and they will be among the top tier of the locals as a gs-13, 14 is excellent money in places like WV, AL, or even Colorado. This has particular relevance with IT because you can actually get feds that are competent in an IT field as opposed to having to contract out IT program management responsibilities.

Most of the Interior employees are already outside the National Capital Region in regional admin areas, near the national parks and so on. I knew a guy who desperately wanted one of those jobs, but most of the announcements gave preference to America Indians.

But in DoD--the original BRAC and the largest Federal employer--it worked out pretty well. My own organization, NAVAIR, relocated to NAS Pax River--only about an hour's drive from its previous location in Crystal City--and the organization went from 3000+ employees to fewer than 2000.

Needless to say there were a lot of downgrades involved, although I believe most of those affected benefited from the "save-pay" system, where a downgrade only affected your grade and they compensated you with steps.

I had to take a voluntary downgrade from a GS-15 Step 6 (IIRC) to a GS-14 and wound up as a GS-14 Step 10, the max. Still got cut a few hundred per annum but that was nothing.

The Straussian reading is Tyler is arguing to his wife that they don't have to sell their house.

Seriously - and I say this with all respect - does anyone actually know any Latinos in Fairfax who don't do work for you? This is a really complex issue, and as I glance through the responses I see a lot of issue avoidance. BTW I'm a business guy, and so I actually mean this with all due respect (Oh, and I'm married to a Latina, and speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese, so insightful rather than biased)

> The ethnic dimension of Covid-19 in Fairfax County is especially noteworthy

There is no ethnic dimension. The virus doesn't know, it doesn't care. You might instead look at the "living arrangements dimension." I cooked through college, and the dishwashers all lived together and worked an insane numbers of hours per week--full time at 2 restaurants. And they lived 4 to a room in a nearby apartment. And just about all the money went back to Mexico.

It's the same with the meat packers that recently got so sick the plants shut down. They didn't get sick at work. They got sick at home where they similar living arrangements.

It's hilarious to see the "racism!" crown trying their damnedest to show why their preferred groups suffer the most in this. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with choices.

True. The poor get sick. Maybe because they need to work to survive. Maybe because they don't know of any better way.

I don’t read TC’s Bloomberg columns because paywall and too an aversion to this kind of punditry. A corrective would be if he would publish an annual column reviewing these kinds of predictions, showing which were off base and why, like Slate Star Codex does. This would also inject some modesty into the convo as well.

One slight quibble about the federal workers and government contractors having an easy time working at home-- that's not quite true in the case of those with government clearances, but in any event they're well taken care of with all their salaries guaranteed, even the contractors, in the CARES Act.

I know of people who have re-hired hispanic workers who have recovered from Covid-19, as they are unlikely to become re-infected.

The article under-sells substantially the tech industry repositioning to Nova - it’s not just a government story. Next to Austin, Nova is the likeliest beneficiary of the transition away from California for mature tech companies given the rare mix of business climate and highly educated workforce.

“Latinos... Those developments will lead to Fairfax County becoming whiter. (If you are wondering, blacks are a slightly lower Covid-19 case share in the county than population share).“

Neither Hispanics nor blacks are the largest non-white group in Fairfax.

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