Occupational Pay Comparisons Among Metropolitan Areas, 2006

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, USDL 07-1455, September 26, 2007

Average pay in the San Francisco metropolitan area was 19 percent above the national average in 2006, the highest among the 78 metropolitan areas studied by the National Compensation Survey (NCS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. In contrast, pay was lowest in the Brownsville, Texas metropolitan area with a pay relative of 78, meaning Brownsville workers earned an average of 78 cents for every dollar earned by workers nationwide. Using data from the NCS, pay relatives-a means of assessing pay differences-are available for each of the 9 major occupational groups within 78 metropolitan areas, as well as averaged across all occupations for each area.

Treasury Releases First in Series of Papers on Social Security Reform

Source: U.S. Treasury, September 24, 2007

The Treasury released today the first in a series of issue briefs that will discuss Social Security reform, focusing on the nature of the problem and those aspects of reform that have broad support.
Paulson Statement on Social Security Reform, September 24, 2007
Issue Brief No. 1 Social Security Reform: The Nature of the Problem, September 24, 2007

Charter Schools and Collective Bargaining: Compatible Marriage or Illegitimate Relationship?

Source: Martin H. Malin and Charles Kerchner, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 30 no. 3, Summer 2007

From the abstract:
The rapid increase in charter schools has been fueled by the view that traditional public schools have failed because of their monopoly on public education. Charter schools, freed from the bureaucratic regulation that dominates traditional public schools, are viewed as agents of change that will shock traditional public schools out of their complacency. Among the features of the failed status quo are teacher tenure, uniform salary grids and strict work rules, matters that teacher unions hold dear. Yet unions have begun organizing teachers in charter schools. This development prompts the question whether unionization and charter schools are compatible.

Can the President’s Health Care Tax Proposal Serve as an Effective Substitute for SCHIP Expansion?

Source: Linda J. Blumberg, Urban Institute, October 2007

Nearly 40 percent of a low-income family’s earnings will need to be spent on health insurance if a Bush administration proposal to use the tax system to subsidize coverage is enacted, a new Urban Institute analysis has found.

After receiving the proposed tax subsidy, a two-parent, two-child family with an annual household income of approximately $32,000 would pay 39 percent of its income on family coverage. Insuring this family’s children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) would have no cost to the family.

Economic Pessimism Grows as Nation’s Real Estate Slump Hits Wealthy Areas

Source: Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, October 11, 2007

From the summary:
Public assessments of the nation’s economy have fallen to a two-year low, and the nation’s economic outlook remains relatively gloomy. In particular, faced with a steady stream of negative news about the U.S. housing market, Americans are substantially less inclined than they were even a few months ago to say they expect home prices to increase over the next few years. People living in areas with the most expensive homes and middle-income Americans are particularly likely to say that future home prices will decline.

The Disappearing Child Care Credit

Source: Elaine Maag, Urban Institute, October 11, 2007

There are two primary tax benefits parents use to offset childcare costs. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) provides a tax credit of up to 35 percent on up to $3,000 of expenses per child ($6,000 total), for a maximum credit of $1,050 per child ($2100 total). Or, employees can arrange with their employers to exclude up to $5,000 from their salary to pay for child care. While benefits from the CDCTC swamped those available from the exclusion in 2006; benefits from the child care credit are projected to decline dramatically, largely due to the increase in the number of taxpayers subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) beginning in 2008.

The Wage Impact of Trade Unions in the UK Public and Private Sectors

Source: David G. Blanchflower and Alex Bryson, Institute for the Study of Labor, IZA DP No. 3055, September 2007

This paper draws attention to an increase in the size of the union membership wage premium in the UK public sector relative to the private sector. We find the public sector membership wage premium is approximately double that in the private sector controlling for a full range of individual, job and workplace characteristics. Using data from the Labour Force Surveys of 1993-2006 the gap between the membership premium in the public and private sectors closes with the addition of three digit occupational controls, although significant wage premia remain in both sectors.

However, using data from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2004, the public sector union membership wage premium remains roughly twice the size of the private sector membership premium having accounted for workplace fixed effects, workers’ occupations, their job characteristics, qualifications and worker demographics. Furthermore, the membership wage premium among workers covered by collective bargaining is only apparent in the public sector.

Landmark Study Puts Rail Infrastructure Needs at $148 Billion

Source: Lance R. Grenzeback, David T. Hunt, and Daniel F. Beagan, Association of American Railroads, September 2007

From the press release:
About $148 billion must be invested to expand the nation’s freight rail infrastructure over the next three decades to make sure that adequate rail capacity exists to meet future demand, according to the results of a first-of-its-kind study to measure rail capacity needs. Released today, the National Rail Freight Infrastructure Capacity and Investment Study explores the long-term capacity expansion needs of the continental U.S. freight railroads.

The study, conducted by Cambridge Systematics, paints a dire picture if freight rail capacity isn’t increased: “Without this investment, 30 percent of the rail miles in the primary corridors will be operating above capacity by 2035, causing severe congestion that will affect every region of the country and potentially shift freight to an already heavily congested highway system.”

The study highlights needed investment in new tracks, signals, bridges, tunnels, terminals and service facilities that railroads need to keep pace with demand for rail freight transportation, which is expected to almost double over the next 30 years.
Capacity Maps: Current and Future

New Census Bureau Data Reveal More Older Workers, Homeowners, Non-English Speakers

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CB07-CN.10, September 12, 2007

The U.S. Census Bureau today released annual data on key social, economic and housing characteristics for the nation, states, and geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. Covering topics ranging from language to education, from family size to work commute, the American Community Survey (ACS) provides annual data that help decision makers and
planners better respond to change.
Direct to Tables

Federal Funding for Public Health Preparedness: Implications and Ongoing Issues for Local Health Departments

Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), August 2007

From http://www.naccho.org/press/releases/pr2007_09_10.cfm:
Federal funding received by local health departments for all-hazards emergency preparedness fell 20 percent last year, according to a new report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The report says that continued cuts in funding provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) threaten important, hard-won advances made in recent years in response planning to natural disasters, bio-terrorism events, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.
See also:
National Preparedness Month