A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

Source: Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, December 15, 2017

The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation…..

Related:
Statement on Visit to the USA
Source: Philip Alston – United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, December 15, 2017

…..My visit coincides with a dramatic change of direction in US policies relating to inequality and extreme poverty. The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.  It is against this background that my report is presented.

The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty…..

Florida’s disposable workers: Companies profit from undocumented laborers, dump them after injuries

Source: Maria Perez, Naples Daily News, December 14, 2017

Florida law makes some immigrants in high-risk jobs disposable, allowing businesses and insurers to benefit from their work without covering injuries. …. Some Florida businesses profit from the labor of unauthorized immigrants after accepting phony identification when hiring them, and then the employers or their insurers report them after a work injury for using false documents, a yearlong Naples Daily News investigation found. ….

How Have Municipal Bond Markets Reacted to Pension Reform?

Source: Jean-Pierre Aubry, Caroline V. Crawford, Alicia H. Munnell, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, October 2017

From the summary:
This issue brief examines whether state and local borrowing costs have become more sensitive to pensions since the financial crisis.

The brief’s key findings include:
Rating agencies have begun to explicitly account for pensions in their methodologies;
Several governments have experienced downgrades attributable, in part, to their pension challenges;
Pension funded status can have a meaningful impact on the borrowing costs for a municipality; and
Adequate funding, monitoring, and management of public pensions should be an important component of state and local governments’ fiscal management.

State Economic Monitor

Source: Urban Institute, Updated November 2017

The State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor tracks and analyzes economic and fiscal trends at the state level. Its interactive graphics highlight particular differences across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment, earnings, housing, and taxes.

Sections
Each section is updated when new data are released. Updated November 2017
Employment
Earnings
Housing
Taxes
Historical

5 ways the U.S. workforce has changed, a decade since the Great Recession began

Source: Drew DeSilver, Pew Reserach Center, Fact Tank, November 30, 2017

Ten years ago, as Americans prepared for the winter holidays, few suspected that the U.S. economy was about to enter one of its steepest downturns in living memory. The Great Recession, as it came to be known, began in December 2007 and worsened considerably with the 2008 global financial crisis. Although people’s perceptions of their local job market have improved considerably in recent years, in many ways the U.S. labor force looks very different than it did at the beginning of the recession.

Here are five ways in which the U.S. workforce has changed since the onset of the Great Recession. (It’s worth noting that, in many cases, the slump intensified or accelerated longer-term trends that already were underway. Also, in order to highlight changes, in most cases we compare the most recent available economic data points with those in December 2007, when the economy started its big slowdown.)….

Dying on the Job in Mississippi: Lack of Adequate Protection for Injured Workers Hurts Families and Communities

Source: Deborah Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project (NELP), December 2017

From the introduction:
Every day, more than a million workers in Mississippi head to work to support their families and communities. They work in industries such as shipbuilding, catfish and poultry processing, steel mills, retail, construction, agriculture, healthcare, auto manufacturing, and furniture and wood products manufacturing. Many of these jobs can be dangerous—where job hazards cause serious injuries. In fact, Mississippi workers face one of the highest on-the-job fatality rates of any state in the nation. Furthermore, Mississippi workers suffer hundreds of severe injuries every year and face a workers’ compensation system where benefits are so low that injured workers and their families are at risk of falling into poverty.

Keeping State Lottery Revenue Alive

Source: Olivia Berlin and Jackson Brainerd, LegisBrief, Vol. 25, No. 35, September 2017
(subscription required)

Did you know?
– Education receives the majority of dedicated state lottery revenues.
– Lotteries were illegal in every state in the country until 1964.
– Instant scratch ticket games are generally state lotteries’ most popular product.

For the 44 states that have them, state lotteries represent a small but valuable source of revenue. On average, about 1 percent of state revenue comes from lotteries. Sometimes that money goes into the general budget, but most legislatures use it to fund certain projects, like schools, senior services or environmental protection. In crafting the current state budget, West Virginia lawmakers used some lottery money to fund Medicaid, rather than raise other taxes to cover that cost. …

Related:
State Revenues from Gambling: Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Disappointment
Source: Lucy Dadayan, Rockefeller Institute of Government, Blinken Report, April 2016

Violence against emergency medical services personnel: A systematic review of the literature

Source: Brian J. Maguire, Peter O’Meara, Barbara. O’Neill, and Richard Brightwell, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, November 27, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background
Violence against emergency medical services (EMS) personnel is a growing concern. The aim of this systematic review is to synthesize the current literature on violence against EMS personnel.

Methods
We examined literature from 2000 to 2016. Eligibility criteria included English-language, peer-reviewed studies of EMS personnel that described violence or assaults. Sixteen searches identified 2655 studies; 25 studies from nine countries met the inclusion criteria.

Results
The evidence from this review demonstrates that violence is a common risk for EMS personnel. We identified three critical topic areas: changes in risk over time, economic impact of violence and, outcomes of risk-reduction interventions. There is a lack of peer reviewed research of interventions, with the result that current intervention programs have no reliable evidence base.

Conclusions
EMS leaders and personnel should work together with researchers to design, implement, evaluate and publish intervention studies designed to mitigate risks of violence to EMS personnel.

Precarious schedules linked with workplace aggression in a high-risk occupation

Source: David A. Hurtado, Lisset M. Dumet, Samuel A. Greenspan, Miguel Marino and Kimberly Bernard, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, November 21, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Introduction
Night work and prolonged work hours increase the risk for workplace aggression, however, the risk related to precarious schedules remains unknown.

Methods
Cross-sectional study among Parole Probation Officers (PPOs) (n = 35). A precarious schedules index was created including the following indicators (a) experiencing one or more unexpected shifts during the last 4 weeks; (b) having minimal control over work hours; and (c) shifts notifications of less than a week. Generalized Poisson Regressions estimated the association between precarious schedules and self-reported client-based aggressive incidents (verbal, threating, property, or physical) during the last 12 months.

Results
Workplace aggression was highly prevalent (94.3%). PPOs who experienced precarious schedules (74.3% prevalence) had an adjusted rate of workplace aggression 1.55 times greater than PPOs without precarious schedules (IRR = 1.55, 95% CI 1.25, 1.97, P < 0.001). Conclusions Precarious schedules were associated with workplace aggression. Further research ought to examine whether improving schedule predictability may reduce client-based aggression.