I've still got a number of schools to hear from, but since almost all of the higher-ranking ones have sent out significant numbers of offers at this point, I think it's time to start debating the options on the table. My interests are in applied micro, especially development, natural resource economics, and public/urban economics topics.
Davis has a great reputation in the ARE world, and a group of people doing really interesting applied micro development research. There is significant access to UC Davis Econ resources, and the micro and metrics cores are shared between the two departments. However, their academic placements are almost entirely in lower-ranked ARE departments, mostly in the Western states.
Washington seems to have had a few really strong placements recently. They're strong in environmental economics, but I don't believe they have much if any micro development work.
Michigan State ranks the highest by far in EconPHD rankings, though its USNews ranking is about the same as UW. They don't list much placement history on their website. The schools ranks well in development, but a substantial amount of that is in their applied department. walt526 is probably gonna be there.
In general, Seattle > Davis > East Lansing. In particular, I have personal reasons to significantly prefer living in Seattle (friends and hobbies not lovers). However, I have substantial experience with both the upper Midwest and with lake effect snow.
I'm waitlisted for funding at MSU (doesn't sound like they've extended TA funding to anyone yet, I heard they've got financial issues), and I'm still waiting on transcripts to arrive at UW to hear officially whether I get funding there, but let's play in the hypothetical world where I'm funded everywhere. Thoughts?