Institutional Features of Wage Bargaining in 23 European Countries, the US and Japan

Source: Philip Du Caju, Erwan Gautier, Daphne Momferatou,Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, IZA Discussion Paper, No. 3867, December 2008

This paper presents information on wage bargaining institutions, collected using a standardized questionnaire. Our data provide information from 1995 and 2006, for four sectors of activity and the aggregate economy, considering 23 European countries, plus the US and Japan. Main findings include a high degree of regulation in wage setting in most countries. Although union membership is low in many countries, union coverage is high and almost all countries also have some form of national minimum wage. Most countries negotiate wages on several levels, the sectoral level still being the most dominant, with an increasingly important role for bargaining at the firm level. The average length of collective bargaining agreements is found to lie between one and three years. Most agreements are strongly driven by developments in prices and eleven countries have some form of indexation mechanism which affects wages. Cluster analysis identifies three country groupings of wagesetting institutions.

Direct-Care Jobs & Long-Term Care: Untapped Engine for Job Creation & Economic Growth

Source: Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, Issue Brief, November 2008

PHI has released an issue brief called Direct-Care Jobs & Long-Term Care: Untapped Engine for Job Creation & Economic Growth that outlines how direct-care jobs are uniquely positioned to help repair and stabilize America’s economy.

The issue brief provides compelling facts and figures about the impact of the direct-care workforce that our nation’s leaders must take into consideration as they develop and implement strategies for economic recovery.

Key facts from the issue brief:

* In 2006, only two other industries employed more people than long-term care: elementary and secondary schools and general and medical surgical hospitals.
* Personal and home care aides and home health aides are the second and third fastest-growing occupations in the nation’s economy.
* Direct-care jobs are a $56 billion economic engine fueled by the personal income of 3 million workers who spend their money largely in their local communities.
* Investment in these jobs would benefit our economy in multiple ways: providing more income and greater economic opportunity to low-income workers while also strengthening health services for our aging and disabled populations.
See also:
* press release
* podcast

IMLS Publishes FY 2007 State Library Agency Report

Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services, November 26, 2008

From the press release:
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) issued its second library statistics report on state library agencies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for state fiscal year (FY) 2007. The State Library Agency Report for FY 2007 includes a wide array of information on topics such as libraries’ Internet access and electronic services, collections, staff, and revenue.

Variation in the Use of Federal and State Civil Money Penalties for Nursing Homes

Source: C. Harrington, T. Tsoukalas, C. Rudder, The Gerontologist, Vol. 48 no. 5, October 2008

From a summary:
In this study, researchers examined federal and state use of civil money penalties (CMPs) against nursing homes and found that CMPs are an underused tool for spurring improvement in the quality of resident care. Moreover, state enforcement varies widely from state to state.

States With More Health Care Spending Have Better-Quality Health Care: Lessons About Medicare

Source: Richard A. Cooper, Health Affairs, Web Exclusive, Vol. 28 no. 1
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Based on broad measures of health system quality and performance, states with more total health spending per capita have better-quality care. This fact contrasts with a previous finding that states with higher Medicare spending per enrollee have poorer-quality care. However, quality results from the total funds available and not from Medicare or any single payer. Moreover, Medicare payments are disproportionately high in states that have a disproportionately large social burden and low health care spending overall. These and other vagaries of Medicare spending pose critical challenges to research that depends on Medicare spending to define regional variation in health care.

In It for the Long Haul: The Investment Behavior of Public Pensions

Source: Christian Weller, Jeffrey Wenger, National Institute on Retirement Security, November 2008

A new NIRS report finds that public pensions exhibit prudent investment behavior, even during turbulent markets. The results are contained in the study, “In It for the Long Haul: The Investment Behavior of Public Pensions” released on November 24, 2008.

The analysis is based on U.S. Federal Reserve and U.S. Census Bureau data from 1993 to 2005 and concludes that public pension plans are prudent investors because they:

  • Actively rebalance investments in response to price changes.
  • Do not get caught up in a “herd mentality,” but rather follow the best investment practices in the industry.
  • Hold higher risk assets when funding levels are higher, and assess their financial situation before modifying the plan’s asset allocation.
  • Hold smaller amounts of stocks when employers face higher contribution rates.

Measuring Up 2008 – National Report Card on Higher Education

Source:The National Center For Public Policy and Higher Education, 2008

Measuring Up 2008 is the most recent in the series of national and state-by-state report cards for higher education that was inaugurated in 2000. The key findings this year reveal that the nation and most of the 50 states are making some advances in preparing students for college and providing them with access to higher education. However, other nations are advancing more quickly than the United States; we continue to slip behind other countries in improving college opportunities for our residents.

See also:
State Print Report Cards
Online State Report Cards

Unions and Upward Mobility for Women Workers

Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, December 2008

In 2007, women made up 45 percent of union members. If the share of women in unions continues to grow at the same rate as it has over the last 25 years, women will be the majority of the unionized workforce by 2020.

This paper uses the most recent data available to examine the impact of unionization on the pay and benefits of women in the paid workforce. The data suggest that even after controlling for systematic differences between union and non-union workers, union representation substantially improves the pay and benefits that women receive.

On average, unionization raised women’s wages by 11.2 percent – about $2.00 per hour – compared to non-union women with similar characteristics. Among women workers, those in unions were about 19 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and about 25 percentage points more likely to have an employer-provided pension.

For the average woman, joining a union has a much larger effect on her probability of having health insurance (an 18.8 percentage-point increase) than finishing a four-year college degree would (an 8.4 percentage-point increase, compared to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school diploma). Similarly, unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension by 24.7 percentage points, compared to only a 13.1 percent increase for completing a four-year college degree (relative to a high school degree).

For the average woman, a four-year college degree boosts wages by 52.6 percent, relative to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school degree. The comparably estimated union wage premium is 11.2 percent – over 20 percent of the full four-year college effect.

Access to Financial Services, Savings, and Assets Among the Poor

Source: National Poverty Center, Policy Brief, #13, November 2008

From the summary:
Low-income families are financially underserved. The eight commissioned chapters in this volume analyze the financial constraints and choices of low-income families, describe the ways in which they utilize financial services, and discuss policies that could spur better provision of financial services to them. The chapters in the first half of the book describe the financial lives of low-income households. The second half focuses on specific topics in financial decision making: policies to increase saving among the poor, Individual Development Accounts for long-term asset building, the costs and benefits of homeownership for lower-income households, the changing patterns of credit card use and debt burden, and finally, the unique experience of immigrants in the U.S. who may face even greater barriers to the formal financial sector than others.