The Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction

Source: Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, 2008

From the press release:
Climate change will carry a price tag of billions of dollars for a number of U.S. states, says a new series of reports from the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER). The researchers conclude that the costs have already begun to accrue and are likely to endure.

Combining existing data with new analysis, the eight studies project the long term economic impact of climate change on Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Ohio. Studies on additional states are in the works.

Individual reports in PDF.

Revenues and Expenditures by Public School Districts: School Year 2005-06

Source: Lei Zhou, National Center for Education Statistics, July 2008

From the description:
This brief publication contains data on revenues and expenditures per pupil made by school districts for school year 2005-06. Median per pupil revenue and expenditure data are reported by state, as well as values at the 5th and 95th percentiles. Data for charter schools are reported separately. There are also discussions on the different types of school districts, and other resources that may be helpful in analyzing school district level data. Revenues and expenditures for the 100 largest school districts are included, as well as federal revenues by program. For total revenues and expenditures for public education made by states and the nation, readers should refer to the state-level “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2005-06″ (NCES 2008-328)

Think Again: Poor Coverage on Poverty

Source: Eric Alterman and George Zornick, Center for American Progress, August 7, 2008

Earlier this week, “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric told viewers that the state of California was planning to cut the jobs and wages of state workers. Of the more than 200,000 workers who were to be fired or see their wages reduced, a grand total of zero appeared or were quoted on Couric’s program. No discussion with those workers who are soon to be fired about their probable descent into poverty. No chat with those facing lower wages about what it will be like to struggle among the working poor. Nada.
CBS’s decision was of a piece with most media reporting of issues that affect poor people–to the degree that such issues are reported at all. The most recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show that one in eight Americans live below the poverty line. A study by the University at Michigan’s National Poverty Center reveals that one in three Americans will experience government-defined poverty within a 13-year period. And yet the only people less visible in our media today than the poor at home are our soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An Economic Strategy for Investing in America’s Infrastructure

Source: Manasi Deshpande and Douglas W. Elmendorf, Brookings Institution, July 2008

From the abstract:
Infrastructure investment has received more attention in recent years because of increased delays from road and air congestion, high-profile infrastructure failures, and rising concerns about energy security and climate change. The United States now has the opportunity to channel public concern and frustration into a national infrastructure strategy that promotes infrastructure as a central component of long-term, broadly shared growth. While increased spending on infrastructure is likely to be needed, this paper emphasizes the large gains that could be reaped by using existing infrastructure more efficiently and by making better decisions about how to invest in infrastructure.

For physical infrastructure, we recommend establishing pricing mechanisms such as road congestion fees and air traffic control fees to make users bear the costs of their infrastructure use more fully. At least part of the revenues from these fees should be used to offset their potential adverse distributional effects. The federal government can also promote better decisionmaking about new investments by removing distortions in its own policies and providing more flexibility in exchange for accountability by states and localities. For telecommunications infrastructure, we propose that the government make better use of the wireless spectrum by facilitating sales and leases of unused spectrum and by introducing more flexibility in its policy of interference prevention. Further, the government should consider targeted, cost-effective subsidies to encourage private firms to expand high-speed Internet access to unserved rural areas.
See also:
Bringing Broadband to Unserved Communities

New Hope for the Working Poor: Effects After Eight Years for Families and Children

Source: Cynthia Miller, Aletha C. Huston, Greg J. Duncan, Vonnie C. McLoyd, and Thomas S. Weisner, MRDC [Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation], July 2008

From the overview:
Conceived of in the late 1980s and implemented in 1994 in two inner-city areas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, New Hope was an innovative program designed to address problems in the low-wage labor market. Based on the simple premise that people who work full time should not be poor, New Hope provided full-time workers with several benefits: an earnings supplement to raise their income above poverty, low-cost health insurance, and subsidized child care. For those unable to find full-time work, the program offered help in finding a job and referral to a wage-paying community service job when necessary. During the demonstration project, each of these benefits was available for up to three years.

New Hope’s designers expected that its combination of benefits and services would have the direct effects of increasing parents’ employment and income and their use of health insurance and licensed child care. These effects, in turn, might influence the well-being of these adults and their families. MDRC, along with researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, Northwestern University, and the University of North Carolina, examined New Hope’s effects in a large-scale random assignment study. This report, the final one in a series, summarizes the program’s implementation and effects over eight years — the first three years while the program operated and five years after it had ended. The findings show that work supports can have a range of positive effects on low-income families and their children. Although the economic effects on employment and income lasted for most families only during the three years in which New Hope operated, some effects on children lasted into the longer term…

Occupational Pay Comparisons Among Metropolitan Areas 2007

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press release, USDL 08-1015, July 25, 2008

Average pay in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA metropolitan area was 19 percent above the national average in 2007, the highest among 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-Harlingen, TX metropolitan area with a pay relative of 76, meaning Brownsville workers earned an average of 76 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 77 metropolitan areas, as well as averaged across all occupations for each area.

Pay relatives calculated for all occupations were significantly different from the national average in 67 of the 77 areas. Table A below lists higher and lower paying metropolitan areas among those studied in the NCS. Table B provides higher paying metropolitan area for each of nine major occupational groups. In addition, area-to-area comparisons have been calculated for all 77 metropolitan areas and will soon be available on the BLS website.

Volunteering in America’s Largest Cities

Source: Corporation for National & Community Service, Office of Research and Policy Development, 2007

Volunteering in America: 2007 City Trends and Rankings uses volunteer data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2004-2006. It ranks and includes profiles for 50 of the largest cities including the volunteer rate; the types of organizations through which residents serve; their main volunteering activities, the average hours per year and volunteer rates for age and gender demographic groups, and key trends and highlights. The report also analyzes social and demographic trends affect city volunteer rates and finds that there are four key drivers of volunteering: community attachment; commuting times, high school graduation levels and poverty; and the prevalence of nonprofits and their capacity to retain volunteers from year to year. The information on volunteering at the local level can help local governments, community leaders, service organizations, and volunteers nationwide develop a volunteer growth strategy, set goals to increase the level of individual engagement in volunteer activities, and build the infrastructure of nonprofits and communities to support more volunteer opportunities.
Executive Summary
Main Website

Slow-Motion Recession: What Congress Can Do to Help

Source: Eileen Appelbaum, Dean Baker and John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, July 2008

From the summary:
This report presents several proposals designed to address the nation’s current economic slowdown. To blunt the effects of this downturn and provide immediate relief, the authors suggest a second stimulus package. Proposals for the package include an expanded tax credit for homes and businesses to make energy conserving renovations, subsidies for state and local governments to reduce fares on public transportation, matching grants to state and local governments to invest in energy conserving renovations, grants to state and local governments so that they will not be forced to raise taxes and/or layoff workers and cut services in the middle of a downturn, additional payments to low- and moderate-income households through programs such as Food Stamps, School Lunches and the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program to make it easier for families to cope with rising food and energy prices, modernization of the unemployment insurance system and further extension of the benefit period. To promote continued, sustained growth, the paper suggests policies that will require restructuring the U.S. economy to protect homeowners, reel in financial markets, and to restore some balance to our work and family commitments

Employee Benefits In The United States, March 2008

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 7, 2008

Two-thirds of private industry and State and local government workers (defined in this survey as civilian workers) had access to retirement benefits and nearly three-quarters to medical care in March 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Access and participation in retirement and medical care benefits were greater in State and local government than in private industry. The data are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, and incidence and provisions of employee benefit plans. For the first time, this release includes data on benefits for civilian workers. Farm and private household workers, the self-employed, and the Federal government are excluded from the survey.

More information can be obtained by calling (202) 691-6199, sending e-mail to NCSinfo@bls.gov, or by visiting the BLS Internet site. Regional Information offices, listed on the Internet site, also are available
to answer any of your questions.

Saving for Health Care in Retirement: The Use of Health Savings Accounts

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Notes, Vol. 29, No. 8, August 2008

From the executive summary:
• Use of HSAs: Health savings accounts (HSAs) are tax-favored individual accounts that can be used to cover health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for health care services, and a possible vehicle for funding future retiree health care costs.

• HSA potential is limited: Statutory contribution limits make it unlikely that these accounts will play more than a minor part in savings for health care costs in retirement. The maximum savings that can be accumulated in an HSA will be far from sufficient to fully cover the savings needed in retirement for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, especially since individuals can (and may need to) use HSA assets to pay for health care services during their working years or to pay COBRA premiums and insurance premiums during periods of unemployment.