Survey of Paid Parental Leave in the United States

Source: WorldatWork, May 2017

This report summarizes the results of a November 2016 survey of United States (U.S.) organizations to gather data about the use of paid parental leave programs that provide paid time off to new-parent employees, separate from other paid-time off programs (PTO, vacation, sick, etc.). This survey explored how much paid leave is given, eligibility requirements and the relationship to other paid time off programs.

The effects of occupational stress on cognitive performance in police officers

Source: Charles L. Gutshall, David P. Hampton Jr., Ismail M. Sebetan, Paul C. Stein & Thomas J. Broxtermann, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Vol. 18, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The occupational stress of police officers, and its’ effect on working memory and other psychological and behavioral factors over a two-week work period have been investigated. Cognitive performance and stress levels were examined at pre and post work cycles by using a memory test and several self-reporting surveys, each designed for a specific purpose and to gauge a particular set of behaviors and personality traits. The police officers were assigned to patrol duties at the time of the investigation and placed into three groups based on years of service (1–20 years). The results of the investigation identified a deficit in working memory in Junior, Veteran, and Senior Officers, based on the Ray Osterreith Complex Figure Scores at Baseline (pre-stress) vs. Test Day (post-stress). The other survey tools measuring stress impact on personality and behavior, did not demonstrate any statistical differences in the responding groups of officers in their survey performances.

Claims of employment discrimination and worker voice

Source: Keith A. Bender, John S. Heywood, Michael P. Kidd, Industrial Relations Journal, Early View, First published: 26 April 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using the U.S. National Study of the Changing Workforce survey, we show that claims of racial and gender discrimination emerge less frequently in workplaces with established worker voice mechanisms. This result accords with the hypothesis that participation enhances perceptions of workplace fairness. We show that while having a supervisor of the same race or gender is associated with reduced discrimination claims, the role of voice tends to be larger when the race or gender of the supervisor is different from that of the worker. This suggests that voice may be particularly important in heterogeneous workplaces.

The Nation’s Fiscal Health: Action is Needed to Address the Federal Government’s Fiscal Future

Source: Statement of Gene L. Dodaro – Comptroller General of the United States, United States Government Accountability Office, Testimony Before the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives, GAO-17-579T, May 3, 2017

From the Fast Facts:
The Comptroller General testified before Congress about the federal government’s unsustainable long-term fiscal outlook—the growing imbalance between revenues (money collected) and spending (driven by health care, Social Security, and net interest on the debt).

A plan is needed to put the nation on a sustainable long-term fiscal path. But in the near-term, Congress and executive branch agencies have opportunities to improve the government’s fiscal condition, including trying to address improper payments and the tax gap, as well as making changes where federal programs or activities are at high risk or fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative….

Why Unions in the United States will Die: American Labor Organizations in the Age of Trump

Source: Raymond L. Hogler, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 29 Issue 2, June 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This essay analyzes the effects of Donald Trump’s election as President on organized labor in the United States and, more specifically, on the demographic of workers responsible for his electoral college victory. The argument is that culture rather than economics explains Trump’s success in capturing key industrial states. His support depended on white middle-aged male voters without college degrees, the same cohort that makes up the backbone of unions in the United States. The likelihood is that Trump’s policies will further immiserate the American working class rather than reinvigorate it. In three key areas, Trump’s presidency will result in lower union membership density and higher inequality of wealth. The cultural orientation of Trump’s supporters outweighed politics, policy, and competence in selecting a national leader.

How Tax Policy Created the 1%

Source: Julia Ott, Dissent, April 18, 2017

….Debates about federal taxes tend to focus on the tax rates levied on ordinary earned income and on tax deductions taken mostly by wealthy households. But there’s another front in the battle for tax justice: the tax code’s preferential treatment of income from capital gains (that is, from profits on investments). This preference fuels inequality and financialization alike.

Thanks to this tax break for capital gains, households keep more of their income from investment after taxes than they keep from their wages and salaries. This is because income received from profits on the sale of investments is taxed at a lower rate than the same amount of income from salaries and wages. Because the wealthiest households earn the bulk of capital gains every year, the tax code’s preference for this form of income overwhelmingly benefits the rich…..

Workers Made Germany Into the World’s Best Economy

Source: Noah Smith, Bloomberg View, April 18, 2017

Let’s hope U.S. policy makers have woken up to the fact that the country is in a period of sclerosis, where its economic institutions seem to be inefficient along a variety of fronts. When things aren’t working, one good idea is to look around and see which countries are doing better. Right now, Japan is one such country. But in many ways, Germany looks like the most successful economy in the developed world….

….What is Germany doing right? The country has a very large state sector, generous welfare spending and a trade unionization rate almost twice that of the U.S. Though the country did undertake a few free-market reforms in the early 2000s, there has been no major wave of deregulatory mania. Nor did Germany escape the 2008 financial crisis or the Great Recession, both of which hit it hard. In fact, political and financial instability in the European Union probably was a drag on the country.

A new article by economists Christian Dustmann, Bernd Fitzenberger, Uta Schönberg and Alexandra Spitz-Oener proposes a theory for the German revival. Essentially, they say, it’s all about exports and unions…..
From Sick Man of Europe to Economic Superstar: Germany’s Resurgent Economy
Source: Christian Dustmann, Bernd Fitzenberger, Uta Schönberg, Alexandra Spitz-Oener, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 28, no. 1, Winter 2014

From the abstract:
In the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, Germany was often called “the sick man of Europe.” Indeed, Germany’s economic growth averaged only about 1.2 percent per year from 1998 to 2005, including a recession in 2003, and unemployment rates rose from 9.2 percent in 1998 to 11.1 percent in 2005. Today, after the Great Recession, Germany is described as an “economic superstar.” In contrast to most of its European neighbors and the United States, Germany experienced almost no increase in unemployment during the Great Recession, despite a sharp decline in GDP in 2008 and 2009. Germany’s exports reached an all-time record of $1.738 trillion in 2011, which is roughly equal to half of Germany’s GDP, or 7.7 percent of world exports. Even the euro crisis seems not to have been able to stop Germany’s strengthening economy and employment. How did Germany, with the fourth-largest GDP in the world transform itself from “the sick man of Europe” to an “economic superstar” in less than a decade? We present evidence that the specific governance structure of the German labor market institutions allowed them to react flexibly in a time of extraordinary economic circumstances, and that this distinctive characteristic of its labor market institutions has been the main reason for Germany’s economic success over the last decade.

The Employment Service-Unemployment Insurance Partnership: Origin, Evolution, and Revitalization

Source: David E. Balducchi, Christopher J. O’Leary, W.E. Upjohn Institute, Upjohn Institute working paper ; 17-269, 2017

From the abstract:
This study traces the origin and evolution of the partnership between the employment service and unemployment insurance programs in the United States. We examine objectives of the framers of the Wagner-Peyser and Social Security Acts that established these programs. Using primary sources, we then analyze early actions of the architects of social insurance to facilitate cooperation between the two programs to meet economic exigencies, grapple with political cronyism, and surmount legal barriers. We also discuss factors that caused changes in the employment service–unemployment insurance partnership over time. We identify reasons for the erosion in cooperation starting in the 1980s, and explain why ever since there has been a continuous decline in service availability. Reviewing evidence on the effectiveness of in-person employment services for unemployment insurance beneficiaries, we suggest ways to revitalize the employment service–unemployment insurance partnership. We explore the source of Wagner-Peyser Act funding, how it was formalized, then eroded, and how it can be renewed.