Category Archives: Compensation

Most Workers’ Wages Stuck In The Slow Lane

Source: Jared Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute, EPI Briefing Paper #195, September 3, 2007

From the press release:
In a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, the nation’s leading think tank on labor market trends, economists Jared Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel analyze the state of working America this Labor Day. Their report, Economy’s Gains Fail to Reach Most Workers’ Paychecks, shows the latest data on where workers stand and looks behind the numbers to the forces at work in an economy that doesn’t seem to be playing by the rules.

State Employee Salaries Still Trail Private Sector Despite Slight Increase

Source: American City and County, September 4, 2007

State employees’ salaries rose slightly from 2006 to 2007, but they still lag behind what the private sector pays for the same jobs, according a report by the Washington-based American Federation of Teacher’s (AFT) Public Employees division. The median increase of 5.7 percent for the 45 jobs included in the “2007 AFT Public Employees Compensation Survey” is the highest increase in the past five years.

The State of Working New York 2007

Source: Fiscal Policy Institute, Labor Day 2007

From the press release: (scroll down)
Four years into an economic expansion, New Yorkers finally got a slight raise last year, according to this year’s edition of The State of Working New York. In particular, the troubled upstate economy has experienced encouraging payroll growth, with Buffalo leading the way. But overall, these modest gains stand out against a backdrop of worrisome long-term trends.
See also:
Executive Summary
Recommendations

Unions and Upward Mobility for Low-Wage Workers

Source: John Schmitt, Margy Waller, Shawn Fremstad, and Ben Zipperer, Center for Economic and Policy Research, August 2007

From press release:
Unionization substantially raises wages and benefits even in typically low-wage occupations, according to “Unions and Upward Mobility for Low- Wage Workers”, a report released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Inclusion.

The report, which analyzed 15 of the lowest-paying occupations in the United States, found that unionized workers earned about 16 percent more than their non-union counterparts. Unionized workers in these same industries were also about 25 percentage points more likely to have health insurance or a pension plan.

For workers in these low-wage industries, unionization raised their wages, on average, about $1.75 per hour. In financial terms, the union effect on employer-provided health insurance and pensions was even larger.

Executive Excess 2007

Source: Sarah Anderson, John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, Institute for Policy Studies, and Mike Lapham, United for a Fair Economy, August 29, 2007

From press release:
With leading Presidential candidates turning up the heat on overpaid CEOs, a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy documents for the first time the extreme pay gaps that have opened up not just between U.S. business leaders and American workers, but between U.S. business leaders and leaders elsewhere in American — and European — society. CEOs of large U.S. companies last year averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, over 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, a calculation based on data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500 companies. The top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers, pocketed an average $657.5 million, Forbes magazine estimates. That’s 22,255 times the pay of an average U.S. worker. Workers on the bottom rung of the economy have just received their first federal minimum wage increase in a decade. But the inflation-adjusted value of the new minimum, despite the hike, stands 7 percent below the minimum wage level a decade ago. CEO pay, in that decade, has increased over inflation by roughly 45 percent.

Foreign-Born Wage and Salary Workers in the US Labor Force and Unions

Source: Chuncui Velma Fan and Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute, August 2007

Labor unions have departed from their historical skepticism of immigrant workers as the overall number of wage and salary immigrant workers and their proportion in the labor unions have increased. Instead, labor unions have become an important force in support of proimmigrant policies.

This Spotlight looks at the available data on immigrant workers and unions, highlighting variations in union representation rates of immigrant workers across industrial sectors.

U.S.: Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Declines, Number of Uninsured Up

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CB07-120, August 28, 2007

From the news release:
Real median household income in the United States climbed between 2005 and 2006, reaching $48,200, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the second consecutive year that income has risen. Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate declined for the first time this decade, from 12.6 percent in 2005 to 12.3 percent in 2006. There were 36.5 million people in poverty in 2006, not statistically different from 2005. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 44.8 million (15.3 percent) in 2005 to 47 million (15.8 percent) in 2006. These findings are contained in the Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006 report. The data were compiled from information collected in the 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). Much more summary material in this news release.

Related from the Census Bureau:
• Numerous Documents and Tables Can Be Accessed Here
Income, Earnings and Poverty in the United States: 2006

Other related items:
Number And Percentage Of Americans Who Are Uninsured Climbs Again: Poverty Edges Down But Remains Higher, And Median Income For Working-Age Households Remains Lower, Than When Recession Hit Bottom In 2001
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 28, 2007
More Americans, Including More Children, Now Lack Health Insurance
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 28, 2007
U.S. Uninsured Rate Climbs Again
Source: Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org, August 29, 2007
Number of Uninsured U.S. Residents Increases by 2.2M to 47M in 2006
Source: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, August 29, 2007

Keeping Score: A comparison of pay-for-performance programs among commercial insurers

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute, 2007

It is impossible to improve what cannot be measured or to measure what hasn’t been defined. Take, for example, the topic of healthcare quality. Everyone wants quality, but everyone’s keeping score differently. This conundrum was described in some detail in The Quality Conundrum, a book developed and distributed in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (HRI). It explores practical approaches to improving the quality of patient care from the perspective of patients, physicians, payers, and employers.

One of these approaches is pay-for-performance (P4P), which attempts to define, measure, and reward quality. This represents a radical departure from traditional payment methods, which pay providers the same regardless of differences in quality. P4P has gained traction, largely because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has told hospitals and physicians that future increases in payment will be linked to improvements in clinical performance. Commercial health plans are also responding to employers’ demands for quality improvement by developing “scorecards” that use quality metrics to grade care provided by hospitals and physicians. By tying providers’ scores to financial payments, non-financial rewards, and public reporting, both private and public payers intend to incent improvements in quality of care and outcomes.

The most mature P4P programs are more than 10 years old. However, among payers interviewed for this report, P4P programs are still evolving. As they’ve blossomed, providers have faced a host of new and varied reporting requirements-what some call a “virtual soup of different metrics.” This has caused some to question the value of P4P and whether the results are worth the administrative burden.
See also:
Pay-for-Performance: Will the Latest Payment Trend Improve Care?
Source: Meredith B. Rosenthal, R. Adams Dudley, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 297 No. 7, February 21, 2007 (subscription required)

Push For Merit-Based Teacher Pay Heats Up

Source: Hays Daily News, 8/26/2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A merit-based teacher salary plan proposed by Republican state lawmakers could cause teachers’ paychecks to vary dramatically depending on how well their students perform in the classroom.

Supporters say tying teacher pay to performance will lead to increased accountability and more innovation and effort in the classroom. But opponents say teachers would be forced to compete instead of collaborate. And tying raises or bonuses to student test scores is not the best measure of what constitutes a good teacher, many say.

1995 – 2005: Foreign-Born Latinos Make Progress on Wages

Source: Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Hispanic Center, August 21, 2007

Foreign-born Latino workers made notable progress between 1995 and 2005 when ranked by hourly wage. The proportion of foreign-born Latino workers in the lowest quintile of the wage distribution decreased to 36% from 42% while many workers moved into the middle quintiles, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Newly arrived Hispanic workers also were much less likely to be low-wage earners in 2005 than in 1995, in part because they were older, better educated and more likely to be employed in construction than in agriculture. Yet despite the clear movement into the middle range of the wage distribution, many foreign-born Latinos remain low-wage earners. Even though the share of Latino workers at the low end decreased, in absolute numbers this population grew by 1.2 million between 1995 and 2005.

Foreign-born workers in general did well during that time period, though there were significant differences among them. While Latino workers moved out of the low end of the wage distribution and into the middle, Asians significantly boosted their presence in the high-wage workforce.