Trends in Work Supports for Low-Income Families with Children

Source: Sheila Zedlewski and Seth Zimmerman Urban Institute, Brief no. 4, June 2007

From the summary:
Low-income families in Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont received more than $4,000 in work supports per person in 2005, more than double what their counterparts in Idaho, Nevada, and Utah received, an Urban Institute analysis of data for 44 states reveals.

Nationally, federal and state governments spent $3,264 per person on the core work-support programs, which help nonworking parents get jobs and stay employed: Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Food Stamps, child-care subsidies, and the federal and state earned income tax credits (EITC). Medicaid, SCHIP, and food stamps are available to low-income families regardless of work status; child-care subsidies and the EITC specifically help working families.

+ Abstract and Introduction
+ Full Document

Neither Free Nor Fair: The Subversion of Democracy Under National Labor Relations Board Elections

Source: Gordon Lafer, American Rights at Work Report, July 2007

From press release:
American Rights at Work today releases “Neither Free Nor Fair: The Subversion of Democracy Under National Labor Relations Board Elections.” The report by University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., lays bare the realities of how unscrupulous employers undermine workers’ rights to freedom of association during government-administered union representation elections. “Anti-union employers are making a mockery of the principles governing American elections,” says Lafer. “Weak labor laws allow anti-union employers to manipulate the outcome of union elections in a manner that is inherently unfair and undemocratic.”

“Neither Free Nor Fair” details the strategies – both legal and illegal – that typically comprise employers’ efforts to deny their workers’ rights to form unions and collectively bargain. Says Lafer, “Unionbusting activity in the weeks leading up to the union election resembles practices that our government routinely denounces when performed by rogue regimes abroad.”

+ Executive Summary
+ Fact Sheet
+ Full Report

The FLSA Minefields Await the Unwary LTC Employer

Source: John E Lyncheski, Nursing Homes: Long Term Care Management, Vol. 56 no. 7, July 2007

Misunderstood or misapplied provisions of the Department of Labor’s regulations can have explosive consequences. The Department of Labor has long-term care in its sights for nonexempt employee overtime infractions.

Make It Real: Bringing the New Minimum Wage Home

Source: Beth Shulman, National Employment Law Project Board Chair and Catherine Ruckelshaus, Litigation Director, National Employment Law Project, July 24, 2007

Today, the nation’s low-wage workers will start to get the raise the country voted to give them as the federal minimum wage hike goes into effect. The pay floor will rise from $5.15 per hour to $5.85, and then to $7.25 in two years.

But will it really happen?

The hike sounds good on paper, and we might assume the new law will put more money into the pockets of the workers who need it most. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. First we need to make sure employers obey the law, since a. lot of low-road employers flouted the minimum wage law even at $5.15.

Law Enforcement Officer Deaths Rose Sharply During First Six Months of 2007

Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Concerns of Police Survivors, Research Report, July 2007

From the press release:
The number of law enforcement officers killed in the United States soared by 44 percent during the first six months of 2007, and for the first time in three decades, more than 100 officer deaths were recorded by the halfway point of the year, according to preliminary statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS).

The groups’ preliminary data indicate 101 local, state and federal law enforcement officers were killed between January 1 and June 30, 2007, an increase from the 70 officers who lost their lives during the same period of 2006. The last time the mid-year total was that high was 1978, when there were 105 officer deaths. By year-end that year, 213 officers had been killed in the line of duty. In 2006, the year-end total was 145.

Of the 101 officers killed during the first half of 2007, 45 died in traffic-related incidents. That’s an increase of 36 percent from the 33 traffic-related fatalities during the first six months of 2006. This year’s figure includes 35 officers who died in automobile crashes, six who were struck by automobiles while outside their own vehicles and four who died in motorcycle crashes.

U.S. Living Standards in an Era of Globalization

Source: Sandra Polaski, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Policy Brief no. 53, July 2007

from the abstract:
Domestic policy choices that favor corporations, the wealthy, and politically connected sectors of the U.S. economy have been the main cause of stagnating middle class incomes in the United States, says a policy brief from the Carnegie Endowment.

In U.S. Living Standards in an Era of Globalization, Carnegie Endowment Senior Associate Sandra Polaski argues that globalization revealed and exacerbated—rather than created—the unequal distribution of U.S. economic gains over the last three decades. Polaski further contends that reform of domestic labor laws, the tax system, and international economic policy are the policy tools needed to reverse stagnating incomes and the erosion of job security, health care, and pension plans. These policy changes would also sustain domestic demand in the U.S. economy.

The Impact of Medicare’s Payment Rates on the Volume of Services Provided by Skilled Nursing Facilities

Source: Congressional Budget Office Background Paper, Pub. No. 2761, July 2007

Rising costs in Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health-related programs represent the central long-term fiscal challenge facing the nation. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is therefore increasingly focusing on analyzing the causes of those rising costs and potential policy responses.

Medicare’s spending under the fee-for-service portion of the program depends on the rates that Medicare pays to medical providers and the volume of services that medical providers supply to beneficiaries. The Congress has periodically limited growth in Medicare’s payments to providers to reduce spending. The effect on Medicare’s spending of changes in Medicare’s payment rates depends on whether and to what extent the volume of services adjusts in response.

In this background paper, CBO examines changes in the volume of services provided by skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in response to changes in Medicare’s payment rates for SNFs. As with other CBO background papers, it is designed to make the agency’s analyses more transparent by explaining CBO’s methods and assumptions. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, nonpartisan analysis, this paper makes no recommendations.

Retirement Decisions: Federal Policies Offer Mixed Signals about When to Retire

Source: Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees, GAO-07-753, July 11, 2007

While many factors influence workers’ decisions to retire, Social Security, Medicare, and pension laws also play a role, offering incentives to retire earlier and later. Identifying these incentives and how workers respond can help policy makers address the demographic challenges facing the nation. GAO assessed (1) the incentives federal policies provide about when to retire, (2) recent retirement patterns and whether there is evidence that changes in Social Security requirements have resulted in later retirements, and (3) whether tax-favored private retiree health insurance and pension benefits influence when people retire. GAO analyzed retirement age laws and SSA data and conducted statistical analysis of Health and Retirement Study data.

Hike in Federal Minimum Wage Has Minimal Impact in Most States

Source: CCH/Wolters Kluwer, July 19, 2007

Workers in most states will not be affected by the upcoming increase in the federal minimum wage to $5.85, according to CCH, a leading provider of human resources information and software and part of Wolters Kluwer Law & Business (hr.cch.com). CCH has been reporting on federal wage and hour law since the enactment of the first federal minimum wage in 1938. That’s because 32 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the new federal level.

“Over the last ten years, while the federal minimum wage has been steady at $5.15 per hour, more and more states have set their minimum wages above that, and above the new minimum as well,” said Barbara O’Dell, JD, CCH workplace analyst.
+ Timeline of federal minimum wage rates 1938-2009

Kaiser Launches New Site on Health Policy Issues in 2008 Election

Source: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007

From the press release:
Menlo Park, CA – With health care emerging as the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential election, the Kaiser Family Foundation today launched a new website – health08.org – that will provide analysis of health policy issues, regular public opinion surveys, and news and video coverage from the campaign trail….

…The new health08.org website (http://www.health08.org) – which will be free of charge and not include advertising – will serve as a hub of information about health and the election, including original content produced by Kaiser and easy access to health-related resources from the campaigns, other organizations, and news outlets.