SJSU Researchers Launch New COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley

A dashboard showing various charts that focus on different areas such as unemployment claims and open businesses.

COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley

Experts from the Department of Economics at San José State have developed a first-of-its-kind online tool to help Silicon Valley businesses analyze and respond to changing economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley provides visual insight into key economic indicators for the San José Metro area, including employment trends, housing supply and demand, and business closures due to COVID-19 restrictions. With near real-time updates, the dashboard can track the current state of the local economy and trends that show the impact of the pandemic on the Silicon Valley community.

Assistant Professor of Economics Justin Rietz and graduate student Ji An Lee, ‘21, MS Computer Science, with the support of the College of Social Sciences and College of Science, developed the dashboard for various users. “We have specifically targeted this tool to be useful for policymakers, researchers, government officials, business leaders and community members in the greater Bay Area,” said Assistant Professor Rietz.

The COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley is unique because it tracks data daily at the local level. Most economic data is tracked monthly or quarterly at the state and national levels.

“Given the economic volatility created by COVID-19, it is important to have data on a daily basis that shows sudden changes in economic conditions,” said Assistant Professor Rietz. “Also, as policies put in place to fight COVID-19, such as shelter-in-place orders, are often at the county level, an accurate picture of local economic conditions requires granular data that can parse out trends that might otherwise be lost in data aggregated at the state or national level.”

The timely and targeted insights provided by the COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley can also aid in local government policy-making regarding the pandemic, provide business leaders with a tool to help determine potential customer demand, and help inform personal and commercial real estate pricing decisions.

Celebration of Research

RF event

Please join us in congratulating the extraordinary achievements of professors Hamilton and Holian, two outstanding members of the San José State University faculty.

Assistant Professor Scott Hamilton from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, College of Science, and Associate Professor Matthew Holian from the Department of Economics, College of Social Sciences, have been chosen to receive the San José State University Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award for 2014.  Their selection has been made at the recommendation of the Early Career Investigator Subcommittee of the Research Foundation Board of Directors.

Please join us in congratulating the extraordinary achievements of professors Hamilton and Holian, two outstanding members of the San José State University faculty. They will be honored at the SJSU Celebration of Research on Monday, November 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. Both professors will present short talks on their research.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and carrying out other important scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their careers at SJSU. Our two recipients are excellent examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.

Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton

Scott Hamilton has been tremendously productive in his field of study, Ichthyology, and specializes in the ecology of coastal marine fish, their role in nearshore ecosystems, and the response of these ecosystems to environmental change and human impacts. Since joining SJSU in 2011, he has successfully competed for multiple grants, receiving over $165,000 in funding to date. These grants have come from the Regents of the University of California, California Sea Grant, and the Council on Ocean Affairs Science and Technology. He has co-authored two journal articles since arriving at SJSU, bringing his total to 14 publications, including an individual authorship and two conference proceedings. Looking into the life history traits and the reproductive function of the California sheephead, a kelp forest fish, Hamilton is also collaborating on exploring the effects of climate change on the vital kelp forest communities.

Matthew Holian

Matthew Holian

Matthew Holian has demonstrated an outstanding record of research and scholarship, making a name for himself in the field of transportation economics. Since joining SJSU in 2008, he has successfully competed for numerous grants, receiving $350,000 in funding to date. These grants have come from the California Debt and Investment Advisory Committee, the Charles Koch Foundation, along with federal and state sponsored research funding through the Mineta Transportation Institute. Since 2008, he has published nine journal articles, three of which he authored individually; research reports; and a book chapter. Holian’s research studies include Cities, Suburbs, and the Environment in India; Greenhouse Gas Emissions Generated by Urban Transportation and Land Use Patterns; and Integrating Highway and Transit Data into Benefit-Cost Analysis.

The SJSU Research Foundation established two Early Career Investigator Awards in order to encourage participation beyond those colleges where large numbers of faculty have traditionally participated in external funding pursuits. One award goes to a faculty member in the colleges of Science or Engineering and another is made to a faculty member from one of the other colleges. Each awardee will receive a cash award of $1,000 to be used at their discretion.

Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Global Impact


Assistant Professor Scott Hamilton will investigate the responses of juvenile rockfish to a marine environment that contains elevated levels of carbon dioxide and reduced levels of oxygen (image courtesy of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories).

Assistant Professor Scott Hamilton, Moss Landing Marine Labs, was awarded a multi-year $330,000 National Science Foundation grant to investigate the responses of juvenile rockfish to a marine environment that contains elevated levels of carbon dioxide and reduced levels of oxygen. How well the rockfish adapt will provide key information for fisheries and fishery managers. This research, incorporating both field and laboratory studies, builds on Hamilton’s previous scientific investigations of temperate marine fishes.

School of Social Work Professor Laurie Drabble received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the rates of alcohol consumption, hazardous drinking patterns and illicit drug use among sexual minority women. One of the aims of the study is to identify individual, community and societal factors that contribute—positively or negatively—to substance use, including such factors as social support and psychological distress. A member of California’s Women’s Health Survey Committee, Drabble also serves as an affiliate associate scientist with the Alcohol Research Group in Berkeley.

Produced and directed by Department of Linguistics and Language Development Professor Rosemary Henze, the documentary “Just a Piece of Cloth” received a Making a Difference Award at the Toronto Community Film Festival in September. The film, featuring Bay Area Muslim women, has also had screenings at UC Berkeley’s Conference on Islamophobia, the Monterey Institute of International Studies and elsewhere.

Department of Sociology Lecturer and Center for Community Learning and Leadership Co-Director Michael Fallon helped organize the 2014 Silicon Valley Neighborhood Development Training Conference. The day-long, annual campus event brings together local neighborhood leaders and veteran community development practitioners to participate in workshops focused on public safety, health and neighborhood improvement. Among this year’s workshop topics: “20 Tips for Growing Healthy Neighborhoods,” “The Future of Transportation in Silicon Valley” and “Supporting and Working with Youth in Our Community.”

School of Information Director Sandra Hirsh co-chaired the fourth annual Library 2.014 Worldwide Virtual Conference, held October 8 and 9. Conducted in multiple languages in multiple time zones over the course of two days, the free online conference provided participants with the opportunity to learn about the issues impacting the information profession from an international perspective. Presentations addressed such timely topics as MOOCs, e-books, mobile services, green libraries and more. Keynote and session recordings are available on the Library 2.0 YouTube channel.

Department of Economics Professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel was one of a panel of experts asked by, a web-based personal finance resource, to weigh in on the challenge of creating a skilled and educated workforce. The site, which published a list of the most and least educated cities among the largest cities in the United States in 2014, ranked San Jose seventh in a field of 150. Hummel’s suggestion: “The most important step toward developing a more educated and skillful workforce would be to eliminate all federal involvement entirely.”

set up man 300

Writing as T.T. Monday, Professor Taylor spins a tale about a baseball player/private investigator that “succeeds as both a mystery and a baseball novel,” according to Publishers Weekly.

President Mohammad Qayoumi’s appreciation of Afghanistan’s new president, “Ashraf Ghani and Afghanistan’s future,” was posted on the U.S. Congress blog The Hill, a forum for lawmakers and policy professionals. Dr. Ashraf Ghani, Qayoumi’s roommate at the American University of Beirut more than four decades ago, was inaugurated as Afghanistan’s president this month. “If anyone can keep Afghanistan on a road to coherent self government and democracy, it is Ghani.  From his earliest years he has had total clarity of purpose, great vision, and an incandescent passion to serve Afghanistan,” Qayoumi wrote. 

Department of English Associate Professor and Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies Director Nick Taylor discussed his new thriller, “The Setup Man” (Doubleday), at the Menlo Park Civic Center on Oct. 4. Writing as T.T. Monday, Taylor spins a tale about a baseball player/private investigator that “succeeds as both a mystery and a baseball novel,” according to Publishers Weekly. Taylor is the author of two previous historical novels, “The Disagreement” (Simon & Schuster, 2008) and “Father Junípero’s Confessor” (Heyday, 2013).

Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Applied Learning

Ryan Carrington

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Ted Butryn and Associate Professor Matthew Masucci, Department of Kinesiology, spoke on February 26 at the King Library as part of the University Scholar Series on the topic of female triathletes’ awareness of doping and the anti-doping movement. Their research was funded by a two-year grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, received an Emerging Artist/Artist Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates. His art explores the theme of labor through gallery installations, performances and site-specific work. He holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and currently teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Emeritus Betty Chu, Department of Economics, was profiled last month in TheHuffington Post for her success in breeding Angora rabbits. One of the oldest kinds of domestic rabbit, the Angora rabbit, along with the Angora cat and the Angora goat, originated in Turkey. Chu holds the distinction of breeding the only Angora that has ever won the Open Best in Show award at the American Rabbit Breeder Association National Convention.

faculty notes

Asst. Prof. Kasuen Mauldin

Assistant Professor G. Craig Hobbs, Department of Art and Art History, and director of Learning and Games Consortium, organized and served as faculty advisor of Global Game Jam, held January 24-26 on campus. A competitive “hackathon” focused on game development, it was an event open to students from all majors and focused on collaboratively creating games under tight deadlines using computers, software and brainwave sensor technologies.

Assistant Professor Kasuen Mauldin, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received the 2014 California Dietetics Association Excellence in Research Award. Her research focuses on human metabolism and, more specifically, lipoprotein homeostasis. She will also chair the 2014 Center for Healthy Aging in a Multicultural Population (CHAMP) conference.

faculty notes

Asso. Prof. Cathleen Miller’s book

Creative writing Associate Professor Cathleen Miller and Professor Alan Soldofsky read and signed their most recent books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on February 12. Miller’s Champion of Choice (University of Nebraska Press) is a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, the first female director of a United Nations agency and a renowned advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. Soldofsky’s poetry collection, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press), takes Silicon Valley as its backdrop.

Professor David Parent, Department of Electrical Engineering, has been working with Silicon Valley employers Atmel, Texas Instruments and Linear Tech to secure internships and acquire donations of equipment for the department, including boards and chips. Atmel recently recognized SJSU as one of the top universities from which to acquire talented electrical engineering graduates.

Director of Film and Television Production Babak Sarrafan won the Broadcast Education Association’s Educational/Instructional Video Award of Excellence in the faculty video category. His “Green Ninja Episode 4: Styrofoam Man” is the latest in an ongoing series featuring an environmental ninja. “My aim is to make environmental responsibility entertaining,” he said. SJSU students also took home top prizes, including Best in Show for Always Learning, a feature-length film by Robert Krakower. The BEA is the largest association of Radio-TV-Film programs in the United States with 260 member institutions.

Assistant Professor Katie Wilkinson, Department of Biological Sciences, oversaw student teams competing in the American Physiological Society’s Phantasic Physiology Voyage: “Function Follows Form” video contest. To be considered, videos had to explore, for a general public audience, a specific physiological function in five minutes or less (including credits). Students Peter Luu, Lubayna Elahi, Laura Philbin and David Tatarakis received the Judge’s Award, which carries a prize of $750, for “Avian Surgery.”

faculty notes

Prof. Emily Wughalter

Professor Emily Wughalter, Department of Kinesiology, will receive the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at the AAHPERD national conference in April. The highest award bestowed by the organization, it recognizes Wughalter’s 33 years of distinguished service to her profession. A strong advocate for girls and women in sport, she previously received the Honor Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and served as president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In January 2014, she received a distinguished service award from the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE).


Economics Convocation: “Success Here And Now”

Economics Convocation: “Success Here And Now”

Economics Convocation

Each member of the economic department’s Class of 2013 was called to the stage and invited to offer thanks to friends, family, peers and professors. (Stan Olszewski photo)

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2013. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

The high acoustic ceilings of the Music Concert Hall resonated with the sounds of proud supporters Thursday night as guests of all ages found their way to comfortable seating at the Department of Economics convocation.

Chair Lydia Ortega opened the ceremony by welcoming friends, family and “cheerleaders,” and urging graduates to focus on success “here and now.”

Ortega’s talk was followed by a slideshow accompanied by Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.” In the presentation, grads gave thanks and expressed their appreciation for family and friends.

Special awards were then given to faculty and students for “keeping alive the vitality of the department and economic ideas.”

Leading Balanced Lives

In his keynote address, Lecturer Martin Kropelnicki opened by saying people who understand and maximize their skills lead the happiest and most balanced in lives.

Kropelnicki urged graduates to think rationally and learn how to solve problems. He emphasized the importance of obtaining moral fiber by “understanding boundaries,” “knowing how to act,” “being prepared for mental challenges” and “not compromising principles.”

He closed by listing the top 10 attributes business employers look for including ethics, ambition, optimism, communication and organizational courage.

Ortega and Associate Professor Jeffrey Hummel called each member of the Class of 2013 by name and provided everyone with the opportunity to offer thanks to friends, family, peers and professors.


In a recent survey, SJSU asked new grads if they would like to send a shout out to family and friends. Here are some of the responses we received from child and adolescent development majors. More will be shared at Commencement.

Tod Holland: “I want to thank my mother for the love and emotional support she gave me during my time here. She was my inspiration for going to college in the first place.”

Megan Swartzwelder: “Thanks to my family for all the love and support!!!”

Travis Tesarek: “To my wife Michele, I could not have done it without your love and support.”


A young man sitting in a conference room

Spartans at Work: At GGV Capital, I “Get to Meet Great Entrepreneurs”

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

(This summer, SJSU Today hits the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job across the country and around the world. Our Spartans at Work series continues with economics alumnus Andrew Manoske.)

Where will an SJSU degree take you? How about spotting the next big thing? San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley, where startup companies rely on venture capital to grow. Andrew Manoske, ’10 Economics, is in on the action as an associate with GGV Capital.

Based in Menlo Park with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore, GGV Capital works with U.S. and Asian companies that already have an established product, but want to take the next big step, including significant funding. This is known as expansion stage, and some of the firm’s prominent success stories include Alibaba, Pandora and Tudou (the Chinese YouTube).

For Manoske, a typical day at the office is outside the office. He regularly meets with clients, the people who “spend every waking moment thinking about how we can use technology to change the world.”

“Every day, I get to meet great entrepreneurs and other venture capitalists that are just really charged, excited, passionate about what they do,” he said.

Manoske, who minored in Computer Science, feels inspired by the people he works with on the job. He also felt inspired by the people and atmosphere of SJSU when applying to this university.

“San José State made hackers,” he said. “They made people who could take very, very little and make amazing, wonderful things out of it, and that was something that really appealed to me. ”

The Economist: Professor Comments on U.S. Government Default

Could the American government default?

Posted by The Economist Buttonwood’s Notebook blog Feb. 20, 2012.

WHILE Greece continues to inch its way towards a deal with its EU partners, the creditors of a much-larger debtor, the US government, appear to be untroubled. Ten-year Treasury bonds still yield just 2%. But the issue of how the US addresses its long-term fiscal problems is, as yet, unresolved. A series of papers from the Mercatus Centre at George Mason University in Washington DC, called “Tipping Point Scenarios and Crash Dynamics” attempts to address the issue. The academics seem to agree that the long-term position is unsustainable – that not all of the promises made by the government will be met. But in terms of the actual outcome, you pays your money and takes your choice.

Peter Wallison takes the (fairly widespread) view that a government with debt denominated in its own currency and with access to the printing press will not default on its debt. But he can still envisage a crisis in which repeated failure by politicians to tackle the debt burden means that investors eventually conclude that the debt will be inflated away. This will lead to a weaker dollar, higher prices for commodities and other real assets and a wage-price spiral. Foreign creditors may only be willing to lend to the US in renminbi, rather than dollars. Such a crisis will finally push Washington into putting its finances in order.

Garett Jones thinks that neither outright default nor inflation is likely, in paper because the markets would see such an outcome coming and push interest rates up to prohibitive levels. Furthermore, Americans will be able to see the messy state of Europe and will resolve to avoid the same outcome. Thus a massive deficit-cutting deal will be achieved although Mr Jones thinks this is more likely under the Democrats than the Republicans, because of the latter’s anti-tax philosophy.

“Bondholders, concerned about principal, not principle, will see the GOP as the key political barrier to repayment.”

In contrast, Arnold Kling argues that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be willing to compromise because of the effect on their electoral prospects. However, a negotiated default would bring in the IMF to broker a deal, which would inevitably involve both tax rises and spending cuts.

“The external guidelines would give both (parties) political cover to vote for compromises that would otherwise anger their bases.”

Perhaps the most provocative paper comes from [San Jose State University Associate Professor] Jeffrey Rogers Hummel who reasons that default is virtually inevitable because a)federal tax revenue will never consistently rise much above 20% of GDP, b)politicians have little incentive to come up with the requisite expenditure cuts in time and c)monetary expansion and its accompanying inflation will no more be able to close the fiscal gap than would an excise tax on chewing gum. Most controversially, he argues that

“The long-term consequences (of default), both economic and political, could be beneficial, and the more complete the repudiation, the greater the benefits.”

Why does he take this view? Once allows for the Treasuries owned by the Fed, the trust funds and foreigners, total default could cost the US private sector about $4 trillion. In contrast, the fall in the stockmarket from 2007 to 2008 cost around $10 trillion. In compensation, however, the US taxpayer would no longer have to service the debt; their future liabilities would be lower.

“If Ricardian equivalence holds even approximately, then the decline in the value of Treasuries should be mostly offset by an eventual rise in the total value of both privately issued assets, such as shares of stock and corporate bonds, and expected future wage income.”

I am not so sure about this. If the US government defaults, most US borrowers will surely face higher borrowing costs especially as the banks are relying on an explicit and implicit guarantee from the government on their liabilities. Mr Hummel refers to the relatively short-lived effects of widespread defaults in the 1840s (after a canal-building boom). While I am all in favour of learning from history, the financial system was rather less sophisticated (and less leveraged) at that point.

But Mr Hummel doesn’t stop there. The 1840s defaults were followed by greater fiscal discipline at the state level. Default would also be a good thing, he argues since government would be forced to renege on its social security and Medicare promises.

“Reliance upon these government promises constitutes a particularly egregious form of fiscal illusion….The best way to alleviate future suffering is to repeatedly and emphatically warn the American people that these programs will go under. The more accurately people anticipate this inevitable outcome, the better prepared they will be.”

So there are your choices. Default on the debt in real terms via inflation, default in nominal terms or break the promises made to future benefit recipients. Not an appealing menu but an indication of the likely political battles over the next 10-20 years.