Category Archives: Uncategorized

Racial Income Inequality and Public Sector Privatization

Source: George Wilson, Vincent J. Roscigno, Matt Huffman, Social Problems, First published online: 4 May 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Social science accounts have only recently begun to recognize “new governance” shifts, including, but not limited to, privatization occurring in public sector institutions (e.g., education, prisons, the military) and in the functioning of federal and state sector jobs. This article, which presents unique analyses of wages across time using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and retested on similarly representative data from the Integrated Public Use Micro Sample (IPUMS) and the American Community Survey (ACS), examines the extent to which these changes have generated significant inequalities for African Americans relative to whites. Most important, our results show that the relative racial parity in wages that once existed in public sector employment has eroded in the face of new governance, and racial inequalities for both men and women have intensified. Supplementary and decomposition analyses further highlight the potential escalation of discrimination as a core mechanism under new governance. Along with discussing the short- and long-term implications, we conclude by suggesting an important corrective to stratification scholarship—a corrective that highlights what structural transformation may mean for inequality and that recognizes important shifts that have made the public sector, much like the private sector, a locus of contemporary racial disadvantage.

Women’s Work

Source: Heather Rogers, Slate, December 17, 2014

The jobs recovery was supposed to be great for women. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. … With so many aging boomers, demand for home health aides is expected to skyrocket. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an expansion of 48 percent between 2012 and 2022. New positions primarily in service occupations have allowed women to regain more jobs than they lost during the recession—and more than men have reclaimed. … Home health workers earn a median wage of less than $21,000 a year. That’s well below the median annual wage across all occupations, which is almost $35,000, and just above the federal poverty line for a family of three. Similarly low wages are common in other growing job sectors that employ mostly women, including retail and food service. Also common to low-wage, mostly female work: long hours, unpredictable schedules, and no sick days or benefits. …

Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results

Source: Council of State Governments Justice Center, National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), June 2014

From the summary:
In Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results, the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) highlights eight states that have achieved reductions in statewide recidivism in recent years: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. The report focuses on statewide recidivism data for adults released in 2007 and 2010 with a three-year follow-up period, offering a current snapshot of criminal justice outcomes in these states. The report also features examples of recidivism-reduction strategies and programs that the states have undertaken in this timeframe, as well as additional data on the state’s criminal justice populations through 2013.

New Data – Some Hospitals Set Charges at 10 Times their Costs

Source: National Nurses United Press Release, January 6, 2014

With growing national attention to hospital pricing practices, new data released by the nation’s largest nurses organization today showed that hospital charges continue to skyrocket with some U.S. hospitals charging more than ten times their cost – nearly $1,200 for every $100 of their total costs….

Key findings include:
• 14 U.S. hospitals charge more than $1,000 for every $100 of their total costs (a charge to cost ratio of 1,000 percent) topped by Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, NJ which has a charge to cost ratio of 1,192 percent.
• The 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals have a charge to cost ratio of 765 percent and higher – more than double the national average of 331 percent.
• Despite enactment of the Affordable Care Act, hospital charges recorded their single biggest jump, a 22 percentile point increase from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2011-2012 in the past 16 years for which the IHSP has analyzed the data.
• Six of the nine most expensive hospitals are part of two big chains, Community Health Systems, Inc. and Health Management Associates which are currently pursuing a controversial merger that critics charge would further drive up prices.
• For-profit hospitals continue to dominate the list of those with the highest charges. For-profit corporations average charges of 503 percent of their costs, or $503 for every $100 of total costs.
• By contrast, government-run hospitals, including federal, state, county, city, or district operated hospitals, with public budgets and boards that meet in public, exercise far more restraint than for-profit or non-profit corporate chains. Average charge ratios for government-run hospitals are just 235 percent of their costs.
• Public oversight or regulation seems to help constrain excessive pricing. Maryland, probably the most regulated state in the U.S., has the lowest average charges of all the states among its 10 most expensive hospitals. …

Top 100 most expensive hospitals by state
Most expensive hospitals in alphabetical order by state
Average charge-to-cost ratio by state

The GOP’s Poverty Denialism

Source: Michelle Goldberg, Nation, November 6, 2013

According to many conservatives, the poor have it easy. … Americans have always hated the idea of people getting something for nothing, but in a country where the ranks of the working poor are swelling and food stamps subsidize the low wages paid by behemoths like Walmart and McDonald’s, the notion of the indigent as coddled idlers has little currency outside the right-wing bubble. Polls, for example, consistently show majority opposition to cuts in food stamps. In such an environment, the war against the poor could be used against the GOP as effectively as the war on women was, at least if the Democrats are prepared to defend them….

What Workers Really Want—and Need

Source: Carl E. Van Horn, HR Magazine, Vol. 58 No. 10, October 2013

In his new book Working Scared, a Rutgers University professor documents the decade-long causes of workers’ dwindling engagement and satisfaction. …

…In the early 21st century, many U.S. workers occupy two unwelcome worlds. Millions are unemployed, fighting for a job and suffering personal and financial agony. Among those still employed, many live in a state of constant anxiety as they desperately try to hang on to jobs. These people are “working scared” because, to them, it seems that virtually every job is temporary, threatened directly or indirectly by technological change or global competition.

With no certain routes to stable employment, U.S. workers scramble for the education they need to remain employable and provide for their families. A college degree no longer brings automatic success. In Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), I present findings based on more than 15 years of research that will help citizens, policymakers and educators, as well as business, union and community leaders, reach sounder business and policy decisions.

Working Scared draws on nearly 25,000 random interviews with employed, unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens between 1998 and 2012—one of the most volatile periods in U.S. economic history. People from all regions, ages and occupations were interviewed. The book examines the transformation of the U.S. labor market in the first decade of the 21st century—a time when the experiences, beliefs, aspirations and concerns of working men and women were buffeted by the changing nature of work in a volatile, global, knowledge-driven economy….

Effects of the Minimum Wage on Employment Dynamics

Source: Jonathan Meer, Jeremy West, Texas A&M University, July 2013

From the abstract:
The voluminous literature on minimum wages offers little consensus on the extent to which a wage floor impacts employment. For both theoretical and econometric reasons, we argue that the effect of the minimum wage should be more apparent in new employment growth than in employment levels. In addition, we conduct a simulation showing that the common practice of including state-specific time trends will attenuate the measured effects of the minimum wage on employment if the true effect is in fact on the rate of job growth. Using a long state-year panel on the population of private-sector employers in the United States, we find that the minimum wage reduces net job growth, primarily through its effect on job creation by expanding establishments.
Related:
Meer and West on Minimum Wage
Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), September 27, 2013

…The new paper will, I am sure, be cited by opponents of current proposals to increase the federal and various state minimum wages. But, there are important reasons to be skeptical about the findings. …
Two Red Flags
The first red flag is that the negative effect of the minimum wage estimated by Meer and West applies to the entire workforce (not just workers affected by the minimum wage) and appears to lie well outside the range of almost all earlier research on the minimum wage. …

Nonstandard Work Schedules and the Well-being of Low-Income Families

Source: Maria E. Enchautegui, Urban Institute, July 2013

Forty percent of full-time workers toiling outside the traditional daytime weekday schedule bring home paychecks that put them in the lowest wage quartile, an Urban Institute analysis of 2011 Census Bureau data shows. Among all full-time employees with very low wages, 25 percent work most of their hours on a nonstandard schedule. The consequences of nonstandard work hours (6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and anytime on weekends), such as child care and transportation problems, marital conflict, family instability, and health stresses, lie heavily on low-income families, Maria Enchautegui explains in “Nonstandard Work Schedules and the Well-Being of Low-Income Families.” And while nonstandard-schedule workers share some of the same challenges with daytime low-wage employees — including working on employer-controlled schedules, limited paid time off, and unpredictable hours — they confront special difficulties carving out time for family, keeping to household routines, and helping children with schoolwork.

A Profile of Older Americans: 2012

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging, 2013

Highlights
• The older population (65+) numbered 41 .4 million in 20 11, an increase of 6.3 million or 18 % since 2000.
• The number of Americans aged 4 5 – 64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 33 % during this period.
• Over one in every eight, or 1 3.3 %, of the population is an older American.
• Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.2 years (20.4 years for females and 17. 8 years for males).
• Older women outnumber older men at 23.4 million older women to 17.9 million older men.
• In 2011, 21 .0 % of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations — 9% were African – Americans (not Hispanic), 4 % were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic), less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan (not Hispanic), and 0.6 % of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7% of the older population.
• Older men were much more likely to be married than older women — 72% of men vs. 45% of women (Figure 2). 37 % older women in 2012 were widows.
• About 28% (11.8 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8. 4 million women, 3.5 million men).
• Almost half of older women (46 %) age 75+ live alone.
Related:
Previous profiles