Category Archives: Benefits

The Labor Market Impact of Employer Health Benefit Mandates: Evidence from San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance

Source: Carrie Colla, William Dow, and Arindrajit Dube, NBER, Working Paper No. 17198, July 2011
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From the abstract:
A key issue surrounding employer benefit mandates is the incidence on workers through wages and employment. In this paper, we address this question using a pay-or-play policy implemented in San Francisco in 2008 that requires employers to either provide health benefits or contribute to a public option health plan. We estimate the impact on employment and earnings for the private sector overall, as well as for high impact sectors: retail and accommodation and food services. We develop a novel approach for individual case studies by combining both spatial discontinuity in policies and permutation-type inference using other MSAs. We find that, compared to control counties, employment and earnings patterns in San Francisco did not change appreciably following the policy. This was true for industries most affected by the mandate, as well as for overall private sector employment. The results are generally robust to inclusion of different control groups, county-specific time trends, and varying pre-periods. In contrast to the small effects on the labor market, we do find that about 25% of surveyed restaurants imposed customer surcharges, with the median surcharge being 4% of the bill. These results indicate that while little of the burden of the mandate fell on San Francisco workers, approximately half of the incidence of the mandate fell on consumers.

Paid Sick Days and Employer Penalties for Absence

Source: Kevin Miller, Robert Drago, Claudia Williams, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR # D297, July 2011

Paid sick days laws include anti-retaliation provisions that protect workers from being penalized for using paid sick days. However, most employees in the United States have no such legal protection and may face retaliation for taking time off when sick. An IWPR fact sheet provides new findings on the extent to which employees fear retaliation from employers for the use of paid sick days.

Under Attack: Wisconsin’s Middle Class And The Jobs Crisis

Source: Dēmos & Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Future Middle Class Briefing Paper, June 27, 2011

From the summary:
Working alongside unions, the middle class grew more robust as public servants enacted government policies that supported homeownership and made a college education accessible to a new generation through affordable tuition and financial aid. Public servants also protected labor organizers, invested in public health, nearly eradicated the class of destitute elderly, and promoted infrastructure and local businesses.

But all of this is changing. Wisconsin has been caught in a long downward spiral that mirrors unfortunate national trends. Before the Great Recession even began, “construction and manufacturing were already on the decline, the job market was shrinking, and family incomes were falling” in Wisconsin. And not only did the state then lose more than 250,000 jobs because of the Great Recession, but the economic effects of those lost jobs reverberated to all corners of the state, particularly the already-strained finances of the state government. We estimate that the jobs lost due to the recession have cost Madison over $300 million annually in direct lost sales and income tax revenues, on top of other revenue losses from the recession, putting thousands more middle-class jobs at risk. If the state’s unemployment rate were at pre-recession levels, those lost hundreds of millions would return to the state government’s coffers, and could be used to help thousands of young people attend college, maintain dozens of state parks, or hire, for example, as many as 4,000 teachers or 3,300 nurses.
See also:
Under Attack: New York’s Middle Class and the Jobs Crisis
Source: Dēmos & Drum Major Institute, Future Middle Class Briefing Paper, June 30, 2011

Closing the Gap: Understanding and Managing State Pension and Retiree Health Care Benefits

Source: Pew Center on the States, June 2011

Policy makers from 25 states explored the long-term challenges posed by their public sector retirement costs at the Pew Center on the States’ conference, “Closing the Gap: Understanding and Managing State Pension and Retiree Health Care Benefits.” The event covered the financial risks posed by gaps in state and local pension and retiree health benefit funding, options to address public sector retirement costs and the effects of those changes on the state workforce..”

Robert H. Attmore, chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), discussed likely changes to accounting and financial reporting standards that would affect all state and local public sector pension plans.

Several state officials discussed how they are confronting pension issues, including Gina Raimondo, general treasurer for the State of Rhode Island, and officials from Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

Sessions included:
– Gauging the Risks–Public Sector Retirement Liabilities
– Gauging the Risks–State Case Studies
– Bending the Curve–Long-term Pension Cost
– Bending the Curve–State Workforce Retention and Recruitment
– Bending the Curve–Retiree Health Care and Other Non-pension Benefits
– The National Significance of State and Local Public Sector Retirement Issues
– The State-Local Balancing Act
– Looking Forward: Striking the Right Balance

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime

Source: C. Eugene Steuerle, Stephanie Rennane, Urban Institute, June 20, 2011

From the abstract:
How much will you pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes over your lifetime? And how much can you expect to get back in benefits? It depends on whether you’re married, when you retire, and how much you’ve earned over a lifetime.

These tables provide estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels. The “lifetime value of taxes” is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The “lifetime value of benefits” represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits.

tables in PDF format
tables in Word format

Tracking Health Insurance Coverage by Month: Trends in Employment-Based Coverage Among Workers, and Access to Coverage Among Uninsured Workers, 1995-2009

Source: Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, Vol. 32 No. 6, June 2011

From the abstract:
HEALTH COVERAGE ON A MONTHLY BASIS: This analysis examines employment-based health benefit coverage rates on a monthly basis from December 1995 to December 2009, to allow for more accurate identification of changes in trends, and to more clearly show the effects of recessions and unemployment on changes in coverage.

RECESSION PERIODS: The recession officially started in December 2007 and ended in December 2009. Between December 2007-August 2009 the percentage of workers with coverage in their own name fell from 60.4 percent to 55.9 percent. After August 2009, there appeared to be what might be the beginning of a recovery in the percentage of workers with employment-based coverage. By December 2009, 56.6 percent of workers had employment-based coverage.

Changes in Premiums and Employee Contributions for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance, Private Industry, 2001-2009

Source: Beth Levin Crimmel, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Statistical Brief #325, June 2011

Highlights:
• For each coverage type-single, employee-plus-one, or family-the change in employee contributions over the 2001-2009 period was greater than the change in premiums.
• Family coverage premiums were up 73.5 percent, more than either single or employee-plus-one premiums, in 2001-2009.
• Employee contributions for employee-plus-one coverage increased 120.8 percent, which was much greater than the rise in employee contributions for single or family coverage.

The Impact of the 2007−2009 Recession on Workers’ Health Coverage

Source: Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Issue Brief #356, April 2011

In yet another measure of damage from the recent economic recession, new data from EBRI show that 2009 marked both the sharpest one-year decline in employment-based health coverage for working-age Americans, and also the first time in recent history that less than 60 percent of individuals under age 65 had health benefits through their job.
See also:
Executive Summary