Category Archives: Statistics

The effect of pension accounting rules on public-private pay comparisons

Source: Andrew G. Biggs, Jason Richwine, ABA Journal of Labor and Employment Law, Volume 27, Number 2, Winter 2012
(scroll down)

From the summary:
….Because of the well-known tendency for public employers to be more generous with benefits than with wages, any analysis that attempts to settle the “overpaid” or “underpaid” question must include all forms of compensation in the comparison. However, this article is not an all-inclusive analysis. Instead, our goal is to correct a significant error in many existing public-private comparisons. Simply put, it is incorrect to assume that the amount that state and local governments set aside for pension financing is equivalent to the “pension compensation” that public employees receive. In fact, because of accounting differences between the public and private sectors, public defined benefit pension plans contribute far less for each dollar of future pension benefits than private plans do, potentially skewing comparisons of overall compensation….

U.S. Employer Benchmarks and Trends

Source: Truven Health Analytics, July 2012
(registration required)

From the summary:
With key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) now in effect for more than a year, we’ve assembled a compendium of data tracking the impacts of reform and other industry trends on employer healthcare costs.

The report, U.S. Employer Benchmarks and Trends, found that medical and pharmacy costs for employees and their dependents increased at a rate of 4.6 percent from 2010 to 2011 — the smallest increase in the last 5 years.
The relatively modest cost increase reflects the impact of PPACA and Mental Health Parity regulations effective in 2011, including:
• Extension of Dependent Coverage: The extension of dependent coverage through age 26 for unmarried children accounted for 1.4 percent of the overall 4.6 percent increase in employer healthcare costs.
• Preventive Services Coverage: The PPACA requirement to cover more preventive services has resulted in a 3.8 percent increase in physician’s office visits for preventive care.
• Mental Health Parity Regulations: Roughly 0.4 percent of the 4.6 percent healthcare cost increase was driven by an increase of 13.7 percent in Mental Health and Substance Abuse services.

1.3 Million Fewer People Were Uninsured in 2011: Young Adults Continue to Make Gains in Coverage as a Result of the Affordable Care Act

Source: Sara R. Collins, Karen Davis, and Tracy Garber, Commonwealth Fund blog, September 12, 2012

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today show that the number of people without health insurance declined by 1.3 million in 2011, falling to 48.6 million people. (Exhibit 1). This is excellent news–the number of uninsured has increased by 12 million people over the past decade, and the latest numbers suggest an important turning point in this upward trend. The decline in uninsured Americans in 2011 was the largest one-year drop in the past decade.

Young adults made strong gains in coverage, continuing a trend that began in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The percentage of uninsured young adults ages 19 to 25 without health insurance declined by 2.2 percentage points in 2011, to 27.7 percent, down from 29.8 percent in 2010 and 31.4 percent in 2009 (Exhibit 2).

Voter Turnout

Source: Michael McDonald, George Mason University, United States Election Project, 2012

Voter turnout rates presented here show that the much-lamented decline in voter participation is an artifact of poor measurement. Previously, turnout rates were calculated by dividing the number of votes by what is called the “voting-age population” which consists of everyone age 18 and older residing in the United States (the yellow line to the right). This includes persons ineligible to vote, mainly non-citizens and ineligible felons, and excludes overseas eligible voters. When turnout rates are calculated for those eligible to vote, a new picture of turnout emerges, which exhibits no decline since 1972 (the green line to the right). Indeed, turnout rates appear to have been restored to their earlier high levels as of 2008
Topics covered include: Turnout Data. Early Voting, Elections Blog, Related Publications, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Employer Health Benefits 2012 Annual Survey

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), September 2012

From the press release:
Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745 this year, up 4 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $4,316 toward the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey released [9/11/2012]. This year’s premium increase is moderate by historical standards, but outpaced the growth in workers’ wages (1.7 percent) and general inflation (2.3 percent). Since 2002, premiums have increased 97 percent, three times as fast as wages (33 percent) and inflation (28 percent).
See also:
List of Exhibits
Summary of Findings
2012 Supplementary Survey
Chart Pack
Technical Supplement: Standard Error Tables for Selected Estimates

Health Benefits in 2012: Moderate Premium Increases For Employer-Sponsored Plans; Young Adults Gained Coverage Under ACA
Source: Gary Claxton, Matthew Rae, Nirmita Panchal, Anthony Damico, Heidi Whitmore,
Kevin Kenward and Awo Osei-Anto, Health Affairs, Web First, September 2012
(subscription required)

Family Health Premiums Rise 4 Percent To Average $15,745 In 2012
Source: Chris Fleming, Health Affairs Blog, September 11, 2012

Reflections on This Year’s Four Percent Premium Increase
Source: Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation, September 2012

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011

Source: Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, Jessica C. Smith, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-243, September 2012

From the press release:
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2011, median household income declined, the poverty rate was not statistically different from the previous year and the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

Real median household income in the United States in 2011 was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from the 2010 median and the second consecutive annual drop. The nation’s official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.0 percent, with 46.2 million people in poverty. After three consecutive years of increases, neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the 2010 estimates. The number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50.0 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011, as did the percentage without coverage – from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011.
See also:
Tables & Figures
Detailed Tables
Historical Tables
Source and Accuracy

Where the Money Goes: State-by-State General Expenditures by Function

Source: Jennifer Burnett, Council of State Governments, Fiscal Brief, August 2012

From the summary:
State government general expenditures totaled $1.59 trillion in 2010, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2009.1 When adjusted for inflation, however, the increase from 2009 to 2010 is less than one-half of a percent. On a per capita basis, state general expenditures in 2010 were $5,150, little changed from 2009 when per capita spending was $5,068. When per capita spending is adjusted for inflation, expenditures actually decreased from 2009 to 2010 by 0.4 percent.

Collectively, nearly 73 percent of state general expenditures go to three major categories by function: education, public welfare, public health and hospitals, with education and public welfare making up nearly 65 percent of spending in 2010. The next three largest areas for spending were health and hospitals (7.8 percent), highways (7 percent) and governmental administration (3.4 percent).
See also:
Excel spreadsheet

The State of Working America, 12th Edition

Source: Lawrence Mishel, Josh Bivens, Elise Gould, and Heidi Shierholz. Economic Policy Institute, September 2012

From the press release:
Low- and middle-income workers and their families would have had far better income growth over the past 30 years if economic policies had not directed the fruits of economic growth to the highest-income Americans, a new Economic Policy Institute book, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition” finds. For example, had there been no growth in income disparities since 1979, annual income for a middle-income household would have been $88,875 in 2007, $18,897 higher than the $69,978 it actually was. The median household lost wealth between 1983 and 2010 and had just $57,000 in net worth in 2010, rather than the $119,000 it would have had if wealth had grown equally across all households over this period….

…”The State of Working America, 12th Edition” explains that economic policies, including policymakers’ actions and failures to act, have undercut the ability of workers to benefit from economic growth in the United States. Its primary findings include:
– America’s vast middle class has suffered a “lost decade” and faces the threat of another…
– Income and wage inequality have risen sharply over the last 30 years….
– Rising inequality is the major cause of wage stagnation for workers and of the failure of low- and middle-income families to appropriately benefit from growth….
– Economic policies caused increased inequality of wages and incomes….
– Claims that growing inequality has not hurt middle-income families are flawed….
Inequalities persist by race and gender….

…”The State of Working America, 12th Edition” includes new and compelling data on:
Income, Mobility, Wages, Jobs, Wealth, Poverty…

Per Pupil Costs for Large U.S. Districts, 2010

Source: Govistics, Center for Governmental Research (CGR), 2012

From the press release:
Of the largest school districts in the U.S., the District of Columbia, Newark, NJ and Buffalo, NY spent the most per pupil in 2010, according to an analysis by Govistics of recently released U.S. Census of Governments data. Per pupil spending was about $29,400 in D.C.; $28,600 in Newark; and $26,900 in Buffalo….At the other end of the scale, the 10 districts with the lowest per pupil costs spent less ─ in some cases significantly less ─ than one-third the amount spent per pupil in 2010 in D.C., Newark or Buffalo, the Govistics analysis found. Govistics ( is a web-based product of the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) and provides interactive access to key government data on U.S. school districts and local governments.

Govistics examined total spending (e.g., instruction, administration, capital costs) for the 285 districts with enrollments of 25,000 or more students….
See also:
Excel Tables

2012 Census of Governments

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, August 2012

From the press release:
The U.S. Census Bureau today released preliminary counts of local governments as the first component of the 2012 Census of Governments. In 2012, 89,004 local governments existed in the United States, down from 89,476 in the last census of governments conducted in 2007…

…Conducted every five years (for years ending in “2” and “7”), the census of governments provides the only uniform source of statistics for all of the nation’s state and local governments. These statistics allow for in-depth trend analysis of all individual governments and provide a complete, comprehensive and authoritative benchmark of state and local government activity.

The census of governments measures three components: organization, employment and finance. These components provide statistics on the number of governments that exist, the services they provide, the number of their employees and their financial activity. In addition to the information provided for states, cities, counties and townships, the census of governments also provides information on special districts and school districts.

Among the key findings in the 2012 Census of Governments preliminary counts:
– Illinois leads the nation with 6,968 local governments — approximately 2,000 more
– Hawaii has 21 local governments, the fewest of any state.
– Texas remains first in the nation with the most independent school districts at 1,079. Closely behind is California, with 1,025 independent school districts.
– Seventeen states had more special districts compared with 2007, and 29 had fewer. Five states (including the District of Columbia) had no change.
– Ten states had fewer townships because of mergers and consolidations. Kansas decreased the most, moving from 1,353 in 2007 to 1,268 in 2012, a decrease of 85.