Author Archives: afscme

People of color breathe more air pollution

Source: Jennifer Langston-Washington, Futurity, September 17, 2017

People of color are exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, and power plants than whites, a new 10-year study shows. Researchers estimated exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related pollutant—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)— in both 2000 and 2010, based on neighborhoods where people live and found that disparities in NO2 exposure were larger by race and ethnicity than by income, age, or education. Further, that relative inequality persisted across the decade. While absolute differences in exposure to the air pollutant dropped noticeably during that time period for all populations, the relative difference—or the percent difference between pollution levels to which white people and people of color were exposed—narrowed only a little…..

…..If people of color had breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites in 2010, it would have prevented an estimated 5,000 premature deaths from heart disease among the nonwhite group, researchers say…..

Related:
Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010
Source: Lara P. Clark, Dylan B. Millet, and Julian D. Marshall, Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 125 no. 9, September 2017

From the abstract:
BACKGROUND:
Disparities in exposure to air pollution by race-ethnicity and by socioeconomic status have been documented in the United States, but the impacts of declining transportation-related air pollutant emissions on disparities in exposure have not been studied in detail.

OBJECTIVE:
This study was designed to estimate changes over time (2000 to 2010) in disparities in exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in the United States.

METHODS:
We combined annual average NO2 concentration estimates from a temporal land use regression model with Census demographic data to estimate outdoor exposures by race-ethnicity, socioeconomic characteristics (income, age, education), and by location (region, state, county, urban area) for the contiguous United States in 2000 and 2010.

RESULTS:
Estimated annual average NO2 concentrations decreased from 2000 to 2010 for all of the race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status groups, including a decrease from 17.6 ppb to 10.7 ppb (−6.9 ppb) in nonwhite [non-(white alone, non-Hispanic)] populations, and 12.6 ppb to 7.8 ppb (−4.7 ppb) in white (white alone, non-Hispanic) populations. In 2000 and 2010, disparities in NO2 concentrations were larger by race-ethnicity than by income. Although the national nonwhite–white mean NO2 concentration disparity decreased from a difference of 5.0 ppb in 2000 to 2.9 ppb in 2010, estimated mean NO2 concentrations remained 37% higher for nonwhites than whites in 2010 (40% higher in 2000), and nonwhites were 2.5 times more likely than whites to live in a block group with an average NO2 concentration above the WHO annual guideline in 2010 (3.0 times more likely in 2000).

CONCLUSIONS:
Findings suggest that absolute NO2 exposure disparities by race-ethnicity decreased from 2000 to 2010, but relative NO2 exposure disparities persisted, with higher NO2 concentrations for nonwhites than whites in 2010.

Bankrupt Cities, Municipalities List and Map

Source: Governing, 2017

A select few cities and other public entities across the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy as they seek to pay off debts.

Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as additional municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.

Nationally, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection from 2008 through 2012. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities (not all states permit governments to file for bankruptcy) filed since 2008.

Detroit became the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy in 2013. The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known public authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country. In Omaha, Neb., more than a dozen sanitary districts have filed for bankruptcy, accounting for nearly a quarter of all Chapter 9 filings since 2010.

It’s also important to note that only about half of states maintain laws authorizing municipal bankruptcy. View our bankruptcy laws map for each state’s policies…..

Cassidy, Graham State Estimates Irrelevant to Assessing Their Health Bill’s Effects

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine, Edwin Park, Matt Broaddus, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 18, 2017

From the summary:
In rolling out their revised bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham released estimates purporting to show that most states would see large funding gains under their proposal. But these estimates do not compare states’ funding under the proposal to what states would receive under current law, the relevant comparison. Instead, they show how each state’s funding under the proposed block grant would change over time. In reality, the Cassidy-Graham plan would cut federal funding for coverage programs by about $80 billion in 2026 compared to current law, leading to cuts in most states, and would cut federal funding by about $300 billion in 2027, with funding cuts in all states.

A Contract Campaign from Virtual to In Their Face

Source: Dave Staiger, Labor Notes, September 1, 2017

When confronted with a concessionary demand at the bargaining table, what if you filled the room with rank-and-file members? What would happen?

Kalamazoo, Michigan, teachers received an urgent message in July from their union’s private Facebook account for members: in bargaining, the district was demanding a pay freeze.

Within an hour teachers began to arrive at negotiations; soon they packed the room and turned the bargaining process on its head. All told, 46 members showed up at the union office on a beautiful summer day. The rapid response dramatically changed the course of bargaining…..

How ‘dreamers’ and green card lottery winners strengthen the US economy

Source: Ethan Lewis, The Conversation, September 15, 2017

…The commonplace argument that increases in the volume of immigration, by themselves, lower wages and take jobs from Americans – an argument which Attorney General Jeff Sessions used to defend ending DACA – has neither empirical nor theoretical support in economics. It is just a myth.

Instead, both theory and empirical research show that immigration, including low-skill and low-English immigration, grows the pie and strengthens the American workforce…..

Hawaii Adds New Tool to Monitor State Pension Fund – Regular stress testing will help track fund’s fiscal health

Source: Greg Mennis and Tim Dawson, The Pew Charitable Trusts, September 11, 2017

Hawaii is the latest state to require regular analysis of the potential impact of future economic swings on its public pension funds. Known as stress testing, such calculations can help states monitor the fiscal strength and sustainability of these funds.

This spring, the Legislature unanimously approved a bill requiring the analyses, and Governor David Ige (D) signed it into law July 5. California, Virginia, and Washington already require extensive and routine sensitivity analyses on their public pension plans. Typically, these tests provide estimates of the future financial position of these funds under various economic and investment return scenarios. Interest among other states appears to be growing as well. ….

Social Security: The Trust Funds

Source: William R. Morton, Wayne Liou, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, RL33028, September 12, 2017

…. This report covers how the Social Security program is financed and how the Social Security trust funds work. It will be updated annually to reflect current projections of the financial status of the Social Security trust funds…..

Related:
Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?
William R. Morton, Wayne Liou, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, RL33514, September 12, 2017

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2016

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Press Release, Release Number: CB17-156, September 12, 2017

Real median household income increased by 3.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, while the official poverty rate decreased 0.8 percentage points. ….

….These findings are contained in two reports: Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016. This year’s income and poverty report marks the 50th anniversary of the first poverty estimates released by the Census Bureau in the Current Population report series.

Another Census Bureau report, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2016, was also released today. The supplemental poverty rate in 2016 was 13.9 percent, a decrease from 14.5 percent in 2015. With support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure shows a different way of measuring poverty in the United States and serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being. The Census Bureau has published poverty estimates using the supplemental poverty measure annually since 2011.

The Current Population Survey, sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, is conducted every month and is the primary source of labor force statistics for the U.S. population; it is used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate estimates. Supplements are added in most months; the Annual Social and Economic Supplement questionnaire is designed to give annual, national estimates of income, poverty and health insurance numbers and rates. The most recent Annual Social and Economic Supplement was conducted nationwide and collected information about income and health insurance coverage during the 2016 calendar year. ….

Living wages: a US perspective

Source: Stephanie Luce, Employee Relations, Vol. 39 Issue 6, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to provide background on the US living wage movement, with particular attention to recent victories, and also the ways in which the US movement differs from living wage movements in other countries. It begins with some technical distinctions of terms, then analyzes the campaigns and movement for higher wages, and considers some of the challenges the campaigns have faced. It will conclude with some discussion about the future of the movement.

Design/methodology/approach
This is a general review of living wage campaigns in the USA. This is based on a review of existing literature and the author’s own prior research and participant observation.

Findings
The author argues that the initial living wage movement that began in the early 1990s was limited in scope but successful in building coalitions and political power to launch a much more expansive movement to raise wages in 2012.

Originality/value
This paper is a general summary of the last 20 years of living wage campaigns. It does not include new research.