Category Archives: Compensation

New poverty, income, and health coverage analysis

Source: Jared Bernstein, Economic Policy Institute, Income Picture, August 26, 2008

The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual release of poverty, income, and health coverage held some good news for Americans, but drilling down below the surface reveals a continuing erosion of the economy for working people. Although median household income increased slightly and the poverty rate was essentially unchanged from 2006 to 2007, incomes for working families (as opposed to retirees) actually dropped. The drop was especially significant when compared to median income in 2000, which is a better comparison because–like 2007–it was the final year of a cycle of economic growth. Given current conditions, income levels will surely decline further in 2008. The biggest surprise of the release came in the area of health care coverage. The number of uninsured dropped slightly in 2007, but the decline was due to an increase in government-sponsored coverage for children. Meanwhile, the rate of employer-based insurance coverage continued its seven-year decline.
See also:
Overall health insurance coverage rises, but masks decline in private coverage

Value of Volunteer Time

VSource: Independent Sector, 2008

The estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $19.51 per hour for 2007.

The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.
See also:
Dollar Value of a Volunteer Hour: 1980-2006
Giving and Volunteering in the United States report series
Recent Studies on Giving and Volunteering
See IS Press Release

Wages For H-2B Workers Set Lower Than The Prevailing Wage

Source: Denice Velez, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, August 13, 2008

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sets the wage that must be offered to U.S. workers before employers can request temporary immigrant workers under the H-2B visa program. By law, the H-2B wage must be high enough so as not to adversely affect the wages of similarly employed U.S. workers, and so DOL regulations require employers to pay these immigrants the area’s prevailing wage.

However, examination of seven of the occupations most commonly filled by H-2B workers, including construction and grounds maintenance, in 15* states in 2007 shows that in almost every case, H-2B certified wages were lower than the prevailing wage reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 64% of cases, the DOL-certified wage fell below 75% of the mean hourly wage.

Occupational Pay Comparisons Among Metropolitan Areas 2007

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press release, USDL 08-1015, July 25, 2008

Average pay in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA metropolitan area was 19 percent above the national average in 2007, the highest among metropolitan areas studied by the National Compensation Survey (NCS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. In contrast, pay was lowest in the Brownsville-Harlingen, TX metropolitan area with a pay relative of 76, meaning Brownsville workers earned an average of 76 cents for every dollar earned by workers nationwide. Using data from the NCS, pay relatives-a means of assessing pay differences-are available for each of the 9 major occupational groups within 77 metropolitan areas, as well as averaged across all occupations for each area.

Pay relatives calculated for all occupations were significantly different from the national average in 67 of the 77 areas. Table A below lists higher and lower paying metropolitan areas among those studied in the NCS. Table B provides higher paying metropolitan area for each of nine major occupational groups. In addition, area-to-area comparisons have been calculated for all 77 metropolitan areas and will soon be available on the BLS website.

Campaign for American Workers

Source: Rockefeller Foundation/TIME, 2008

From the executive summary of the survey:
Why do 78 percent of Americans believe we need a new social contract? Time has released the landmark Rockefeller Foundation/Time Survey, a wide-ranging gauge of Americans’ perceptions regarding their economic security. This groundbreaking poll of 2,008 Americans highlights potential paths for resolving the current economic crisis.
Key findings:
A. Social Contract Disintegrating
– The social contract of the 20th century, an agreement between the government, employers and society that affords Americans with basic necessities of the American Dream appears to be unraveling
– With worsening economy, Americans are receiving less help from traditional sources
B. American Dream Slipping From Reach
– Pessimism deepening about economic security
– Economic issues seem to have caused Americans to take action
C. Generation Y
– Generation-Yers may become another Depression-Era generation
– Younger generations are most likely to have failed to pay a bill or gone without healthcare because of the cost in the past year
D. Calling for New Solutions
– Government assistance & more programs needed
E. Minorities Have Bleak Outlook
– Minorities being hit hard by economic downturn
– Minorities are more likely to have failed to pay a bill or gone without healthcare because of the cost in the past year
– Some of the top solutions include environmental solutions as well as economic security empowerment solutions like job creation and wage increases

Appendix:
– Concern Over Personal Economic Security Has Doubled in One Year
– Concern Over Losing Job on the Rise
– Health Coverage & Pensions Are Valued More Than High Salaries
– Not Enough Personal Savings for Emergencies
– Although Americans are Cutting Back on Non-Essentials It Is Still Not Enough
– Cut Backs & Hardships Greater for Lower Income & Younger Americans
– Concern About Losing Health Care Coverage Has Increased
– Health Care Coverage Obtained Through Employer or Union
– Less Than 1/3 Saving Enough for Retirement
– Economic Security for Americans Have Dropped

NCSL 50-State Legislative Tracking Web Resources

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, June 2008

At the request of NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) staff section, NCSL has developed this resource of 50-state compilations covering various issues that concern state legislators and legislative staff. Here you will find a topical, alphabetical listing of legislative and statutory databases, compilations and state charts/maps.

[NOTE: Some of these tracking services are currently out of date. PLEASE NOTE THE DATE of the item you are reviewing].

Labor & Employment

At-Will Employment
Day Laborer Laws (statutes)
Drugtesting in the Workplace
State Divestment Legislation
Equal Pay (statutes and legislation)
Family/Medical Leave Laws (statutes)
Living Wage (legislation)
Medical Donar Leave Laws (statutes)
Minimum Wage Laws (legislation and chart)
Minors – Employment Laws (statutes)
Non-compete Agreements (statutes)
Overtime Laws (statutes)
Sick Leave Laws (statutes)
Telecommuting (statutes and legislation)
Whistleblowers (statutes)
Workforce Development (legislation and resources)

Weekly Paychecks Take Hit As Job Market Deteriorates

Source: Jared Bernstein with research assistance from James Lin, Economic Policy Institute, Jobs Picture, July 3, 2008

The U.S. job market continues to weaken, as payroll contracted for the sixth straight month and unemployment remained at 5.5%, according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Weekly paychecks for most workers over the past year are up only 2.8%, well below the growth of inflation.

The number of jobs in America has now fallen every month this year, and is down 438,000 since it peaked last December. Also, in another sign of expanding weakness, the BLS revised employment counts down for April and May by 52,000 jobs. It also helps to look only at what is happening in the private sector. Since government jobs are less sensitive to the business cycle, private sector employment is a more telling indicator of the impact of market conditions. Having peaked in November of last year, non-government payrolls are down 578,000, including 91,000 in June.

The Fair Labor Standards Act: Continuing Issues in the Debate

Source: William G. Whittaker, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL34510, May 28, 2008

On May 25, 2007, the President signed into law changes in the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): P.L. 110-28. Although the wage issue may now have been momentary settled, the act includes other provisions that have been subject to legislation through the years and may again become the focus of legislative consideration. Examples include the following issues.

• A youth sub-minimum wage, instituted in 1996, was not included in the 2007 amendments, and is $4.25 per hour.
• The cash wage employers of ‘tipped employees’ must pay, last updated in 1996, is $2.13 per hour.
• In 1989, the ‘small business exemption’ was restructured to exempt from minimum wage requirements qualifying firms with an income of under $500,000; but, as administered, exemptions have only been available for employees not involved in interstate commerce.
• In 2001, the Clinton Administration proposed restructuring of the ‘companionship exemption’ under the FLSA; in 2002, the measure was withdrawn. The issue has recently been the subject of a Supreme Court ruling (2007) and of proposed legislation (H.R. 3582 and S. 2061).
• Through nearly a century, some economists (and, later, some Members of Congress) have proposed, in various formats, indexation of the federal minimum wage — an issue that still sometimes arises.
• In 1986, Section 14(c) of the act was amended to remove any specific minimum wage floor for handicapped workers, replacing it with a negotiated wage ‘commensurate’ with the worker’s productivity. It has been contested through the years.
• In 2003, a proposal was issued dealing with overtime pay for persons classified as ‘executive, administrative, or professional’ employees under Section 13(a)(1) of the act. At that time, the issue was extremely contentious. How has it worked out in practice?
• Industry has threatened to leave American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were the full FLSA to be made applicable there, as it would be under P.L. 110-28. What will be the impact upon those islands?
• Increasingly, the states (now 34 in number) have moved to provide minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. What implications can be expected, both in economic and political terms?

This report will be updated as the need may arise

15 of the Most Astonishing Retirements, Bonuses and Cash-Outs in Corporate America

Source: HR World Editors, June 17, 2008

While athletes’ contracts grab all the headlines, they can’t hold a candle to the most legendary corporate cash-outs, retirements, and bonuses. Here are 15 of the most astonishing retirement packages, severance payouts and bonuses that corporate America has ever seen.