Category Archives: Statistics

Job Loss in the Great Recession and its Aftermath: U.S. Evidence from the Displaced Workers Survey

Source: Henry S. Farber, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w21216, May 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Great Recession from December 2007 to June 2009 is associated with a dramatic weakening of the labor market from which, by some measures, it has not completely recovered. I use data from the Displaced Workers Survey (DWS) from 1984-2014 to investigate the incidence and consequences of job loss from 1981-2013. In particular, the 2010, 2012, and 2014 DWSs provide a window through which to examine the experience of job losers in the Great Recession and its aftermath and to compare their experience to that of earlier job losers. These data show a record high rate of job loss in the Great Recession, with almost one in six workers reporting having lost a job in the 2007-2009 period, that has not yet returned to pre-recession levels. The employment consequences of job loss are also very serious during this period with very low rates of reemployment and difficulty finding full-time employment. The reduction in weekly earnings for those job losers during the 2007-2013 period who were able to find new employment are not unusually large by historical standards.

County Employment and Wages Summary – Fourth Quarter 2014

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-15-1163, June 17, 2015

From December 2013 to December 2014, employment increased in 319 of the 339 largest U.S. counties (counties with 75,000 or more jobs in 2013), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Weld, Colo., and Midland, Texas, had the largest percentage increases, with gains of 8.0 percent each over the year, compared with national job growth of 2.2 percent. Within Weld, the largest employment increase occurred in natural resources and mining, which gained 2,074 jobs over the year (19.6 percent). Within Midland, the largest employment increase also occurred in natural resources and mining, which gained 3,135 jobs over the year (14.9 percent). Atlantic, N.J., had the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment among the largest counties in the U.S. with a loss of 5.0 percent. County employment and wage data are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, which produces detailed information on county employment and wages within 6 months after the end of each quarter.

The U.S. average weekly wage increased 3.5 percent over the year, growing to $1,035 in the fourth quarter of 2014. Benton, Ark., had the largest over-the-year percentage increase in average weekly wages with a gain of 9.9 percent. Within Benton, an average weekly wage gain of $209, or 16.2 percent, in professional and business services made the largest contribution to the county’s increase in average weekly wages. San Mateo, Calif., experienced the largest percentage decrease in average weekly wages with a loss of 20.4 percent over the year….

2014 Statistical Profile on Certified Physician Assistants

Source: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), 2014

There were approximately 74,777 certified PAs at the end of 2009; the profession grew 36.4% over the next 5 years reaching 101,977 certified PAs at the end of 2014.Mississippi and Arkansas experienced the highest percentage growth between 2013 and 2014 (25.0% and 17.8% respectively). … The median age of certified PAs was 38 in 2014. In 1974, 16% of PAs were female (Perry, HB, Physician Assistants: An empirical Analysis of Their General Characteristics, Job Performance, and Job Satisfaction). Today 66.6% of all certified PAs are female….
Income from Physician Assistant Positions by Principal Clinical Position: A Supplement to the 2013 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants
2013 Statistical Report on Recently Certified Physician Assistants
2013 Statistical Profile on Certified Physician Assistants

Examining the New Income Measures in the Current Population Survey

Source: Craig Copeland, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), EBRI Notes, Vol. 36, No. 5, May 2015

From the abstract:
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) is a primary source of income data for those whose ages are associated with being retired. In response to research showing that the survey has misclassified and underreported certain types of income, the 2014 CPS included a redesigned set of questions aimed at better capturing income from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)-type plans, among other goals. This paper provides a comparison of the income levels from the redesigned questions with those from the traditional questions. The focus in this paper is on the income of those ages 65 or older and on the income categories associated with retiree income to see the impact of the changes in the questions on sources of income in retirement. Particular emphasis is given to the income from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)-type plans, as this appears to be the income type with the most underreporting, given the lump-sum nature of the payments typically found from these plans, instead of regular annuity payments traditionally received from pensions. This analysis finds the new measure of income in the CPS identifies significantly more income (and a much larger percentage of income) coming from IRAs and 401(k)-type plans. Compared with the estimated amount under the traditional-income questions for 2013, the redesigned questions have resulted in an estimated total annual income 9.1 percent larger for those ages 65 or older, an aggregate amount of almost an additional $133 billion. Retirement income is 27.9 percent larger, an aggregate difference of almost $71 billion. However, Social Security remains the overwhelmingly predominant source of income for those ages 65 or older. The redesigned CPS still finds that over 60 percent of individuals in the two lowest-income quartiles receive more than 90 percent of their total income from Social Security.

Characteristics of the Population with Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005-2014

Source: Paul Fronstin, Anne Elmlinger, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), EBRI Notes, Vol. 36, No. 5, May 2015

From the abstract:
This paper examines the population with a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) and how it has differed from the population with traditional health coverage. Data from the 2005-2007 EBRI/Commonwealth Fund Consumerism in Health Care Survey and the 2008-2014 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey (CEHCS) were used for the analysis. Differences between the populations with traditional coverage and those with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) were also examined. The populations of adults within consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and traditional health plans were each split about 50-50 between men and women in 2014. CDHP enrollees were less likely than those with traditional coverage to be between the ages of 21 and 34 in 2014, and more likely to be ages 45-54. CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to be in households with $150,000 or more in income in every year except 2006, 2009, and 2010. They were also more likely to be in households with $100,000-$149,999 in income in most years. They were roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have college or postgraduate educations in nearly all years of the survey. With the exception of 2007, the survey has never found differences in self-rated health status between HDHP enrollees and individuals with traditional coverage. In contrast, in nine out of 10 years of the survey (2009 was the exception), it was found that CDHP enrollees were more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to report excellent or very good health. In the earlier years of the survey (2005-2009), the CDHP population was more likely than the population with traditional coverage to have that coverage through small employers (between two and 49 employees). More recently (2010-2014), there were few statistically significant differences by employer size between the CDHP population and the population with traditional coverage. When comparing HDHP enrollees with traditional-plan enrollees, it was found that, in all years of the survey except 2007, HDHP enrollees were less likely than traditional-plan enrollees to work for large employers (500 or more employees). They were more likely to work for small employers in all years of the survey except for 2010.

Poverty Among Seniors: An Updated Analysis of National and State Level Poverty Rates Under the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures

Source: Juliette Cubanski, Giselle Casillas, and Anthony Damico, Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief, June 2015

From the introduction:
Payments from Social Security and Supplemental Security Income have played a critical role in enhancing economic security and reducing poverty rates among people ages 65 and older. Yet many older adults live on limited incomes, and have modest savings. In 2013, half of all people on Medicare had incomes less than $23,500, which is equivalent to 200 percent of poverty in 2015. In recent policy discussions, some have proposed policies to strengthen financial protections under Medicare for lower-income seniors, while others would impose greater costs on beneficiaries along with other changes to scale back spending on Medicare, Social Security and other programs. This brief presents data on poverty rates among seniors, as context for understanding the implications of potential changes to federal and state programs that help to bolster financial security among older adults.

This analysis presents national and state-level poverty rates among people ages 65 and older, based on two measures from the U.S. Census Bureau, using data from the 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS) and pooled 2012-2014 CPS for state-level data: the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The SPM differs from the official poverty measure in a number of ways to reflect available financial resources, including liabilities (such as taxes), the value of in-kind benefits (such as food stamps), out-of-pocket medical spending (which is generally higher among older adults), geographic variations in housing expenses, and other factors. According to the Census Bureau, about one in seven people ages 65 and older (15%) have incomes below the SPM poverty thresholds, compared to one in ten (10%) under the official measure.

Key findings from this analysis:
● Close to half (45%) of adults ages 65 and older had incomes below twice the poverty thresholds under the SPM in 2013, compared to 33% of older adults under the official measure.
● The poverty rate was higher among women ages 65 and older than men in this age group in 2013 under both the official measure (12% versus 7%) and the SPM (17% versus 12%). Among people ages 80 and older, 23 percent of women lived below the SPM poverty thresholds in 2013, compared to 14 percent of men.
● The official poverty rate in 2013 was nearly three times larger among Hispanic adults than among white adults ages 65 and older (20% versus 7%) and two and a half times larger among black adults ages 65 and older (18%). Rates of poverty for all three groups were higher under the SPM, with 28 percent of Hispanic adults, 22 percent of black adults, and 12 percent of white adults ages 65 and older living below the SPM poverty thresholds in 2013.
● The share of seniors living in poverty is larger in every state under the SPM than under the official measure, and at least twice as large in 9 states: California (21% versus 10%), Connecticut (14% versus 7%), Hawaii (17% versus 8%), Indiana (13% versus 6%), Massachusetts (16% versus 8%), Maryland (16% versus 8%), Nevada (18% versus 9%), New Hampshire (14% versus 6%), and New Jersey (15% versus 7%).

State and Local Government Workforce: 2015 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, June 2015

From the summary:
This annual survey was conducted by SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives. Three hundred thirty-six (336) who are IPMA-HR and NASPE member human resource professionals took part in the survey, which was conducted in March and April 2015.
• 73 percent of respondents reported hiring employees in the past year.
• 54 percent reported hiring more than they did in 2012.
• 42 percent reported hiring contract or temporary workers.

At the same time, the pace of retirements quickened:
• 47 percent reported higher levels of retirement in 2013 than 2012.
• 13 percent reported employees had accelerated their retirement.

Changes to benefits continue:
• 53 percent reported their government made changes to health benefits for both active and retired employees.
• The most common changes were to shift more costs from the employer to employees (43 percent) and to institute wellness programs (24 percent).
• 29 percent reported their government altered retirement benefits over the last year.
• One-fifth required increased contributions to pensions from both current and new employees.

Looking ahead, the majority of respondents say their top concerns are:
• recruiting and retaining qualified personnel
• succession planning
• staff development
• competitive compensation packages
• retaining staff needed for core services
• employee morale
• employee engagement

Waging War on Poverty: Poverty Trends Using a Historical Supplemental Poverty Measure

Source: Liana Fox, Christopher Wimer, Irwin Garfinkel, Neeraj Kaushal and Jane Waldfogel, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 34, Issue 3, Summer 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and the March Current Population Survey, we provide poverty estimates for 1967 to 2012 based on a historical supplemental poverty measure (SPM). During this period, poverty, as officially measured, has stagnated. However, the official poverty measure (OPM) does not account for the effect of near-cash transfers on the financial resources available to families, an important omission since such transfers have become an increasingly important part of government antipoverty policy. Applying the historical SPM, which does count such transfers, we find that trends in poverty have been more favorable than the OPM suggests and that government policies have played an important and growing role in reducing poverty—a role that is not evident when the OPM is used to assess poverty. We also find that government programs have played a particularly important role in alleviating child poverty and deep poverty, especially during economic downturns.

A look at pay at the top, the bottom, and in between

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spotlight on Statistics, May 2015

Policymakers and the public have given much attention to economic inequality in the past few years. In general terms, inequality refers to the differences between people with the highest levels of wealth, income, or earnings and those with the lowest levels. How big are these differences? Have they grown over time? What other ways do these groups differ besides how much money they earn?

This Spotlight on Statistics looks at measures of earnings and wages. The Spotlight examines how these measures have changed over time and how they differ within a geographic area, industry, or occupation. The Spotlight also looks at how participation in employee benefit plans differs across wage categories. Finally, the Spotlight looks at how people in different income or earnings categories spend their time and their money.