Teacher Salary Lags Behind Inflation

Source: National Education Association

Despite the value of education to Americans, the National Education Association published figures today showing that investments in America’s public schools remain stagnant, as the average increase in teacher salary continues to trail behind the rate of inflation for 2005-06. No state has achieved adequate and equitable funding despite years of court cases and education reform proposals.

According to NEA’s publication, Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2006 and Estimates of School Statistics 2007, the average one-year increase in public schoolteacher salaries was 2.9 percent, while inflation escalated 3.9 percent. Over the past 10 years, the average salary for public schoolteachers increased only 1.3 percent after adjusting for inflation. Because of inflation and other economic factors, teachers have not been able to keep pace with basic household expenses.

Full report (PDF; 1.4 MB)

Economic Outlook 2008: Growth Slows in First Half, Picks up in Second

Source: Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s Economic Advisory Roundtable

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) Economic Advisory Roundtable today unveiled its predictions for 2008, forecasting that the pace of U.S. economic growth would slow in the first half of the year, but accelerate in the second half. In the year-end survey, the median forecast anticipates GDP to grow but at a below-trend pace of 2.1 percent in 2008 as the economy works through the housing sector contraction and the effect of credit market turbulence.

The Roundtable also expects the Federal Open Market Committee to reduce the target Fed funds rate by 25 basis points to 4.25 percent at the upcoming December 11 meeting. The consensus view among the Roundtable members was that the accompanying FOMC statement will emphasize risks to economic growth.

Full report (PDF; 98 KB)

State Tobacco Settlement Report

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Since the November 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement, we have issued regular reports assessing whether the states are keeping their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – expected to total $246 billion over the first 25 years–to attack the enormous public health problem posed by tobacco use in the United States.

This year, we find that the states have made important progress by increasing funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs by 20 percent to a total of $717.2 million in fiscal year 2008, which is the highest level in six years. However, most states still fail to fund tobacco prevention programs at minimum levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and altogether, the states are providing less than half what the CDC has recommended.

Complete Report (PDF; 5.7MB)
Individual state reports and supporting materials also available.

Survey Finds U.S. Healthcare Facilities Not Doing Enough to Curb MRSA

Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC)

From press release (Consumers Union):
U.S. healthcare facilities aren’t doing enough to protect patients from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, according to a new poll of infection control professionals released today.
The online poll conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) found that 59 percent of those responding said their healthcare facility has stepped up efforts to curb MRSA in the past six months. But 50 percent said their healthcare facility is “not doing as much as it could or should to stop the transmission of MRSA.”

Poll results (PDF; 92 KB)

2007-08 Holiday Season Shows Employers Demonstrating Unprecedented Generosity to Workers in the Form of Parties and Paid Leave, While External Charitable Giving Drops

Source: BNA

Employers are expressing gratitude in the form of more holiday parties and paid leave, while participation in charitable activities has dropped substantially from 2006 and 2005. Gift items are becoming rare, as cash and bonuses have replaced the traditional holiday turkey.

For more than two decades, BNA’s Year-End Holiday Practices Survey has offered an annual snapshot of companies’ plans for marking the year’s end and recognizing employees’ contributions with benefits like paid time off, special holiday work schedules, holiday parties and celebrations, employee gifts and bonuses, and holiday charity. This year’s results are based on the responses of human resources executives representing 210 U.S. employers.

Survey highlights include:
* Companywide holiday parties are enjoying unprecedented popularity and employer spending appears to be rising. Two-thirds of employers will sponsor a holiday party, tying the record set last year. Most employers will pay the full cost of these parties without contributions from workers.
* Fewer employers will be participating in charitable activities. Fifty-eight percent of all employers plan to be involved in community activities, such as toy, food or clothing drives. This continues a trend that saw a drop from 72 percent in 2004 and 2005 to 66 percent in 2006.

Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers

Source: Institute of Medicine/National Academies Press

From press release:
During an influenza pandemic, healthcare workers will be on the front lines delivering care to patients and preventing further spread of the disease. Protecting the more than 13 million healthcare workers in the United States from illness or from infecting their families or the patients in their care is critical to limiting morbidity and mortality and preventing progression of a pandemic. The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study on the personal protective equipment (PPE) (respirators, gloves, gowns, eye protection, and other equipment) needed by healthcare workers in the event of an influenza pandemic.

The IOM committee determined that there is an urgent need to address the lack of preparedness regarding effective PPE for use in an influenza pandemic. Three critical areas were identified that require expeditious research and policy action: (1) Influenza transmission research should become an immediate and short-term research priority so that effective prevention and control strategies can be developed and refined. The current paucity of knowledge significantly hinders prevention efforts. (2) Employer and employee commitment to worker safety and appropriate use of PPE should be strengthened. Healthcare facilities should establish and promote a culture of safety. (3) An integrated effort is needed to understand the PPE requirements of the worker and to develop and utilize innovative materials and technologies to create the next generation of PPE capable of meeting these needs. Increasing the use of field testing in the pre-market phase and conducting thorough postmarketing evaluations are vital to producing effective equipment, as is the creation of rigorous federal regulatory and testing requirements. The committee believes that improvements can be made so that healthcare workers will have PPE that provides protection against influenza transmission based on a rigorous risk assessment with solid scientific evidence. The recommendations provided in this report are intended to serve as a framework and catalyst for a national PPE action plan that is an integral part of the overall national plan for an influenza pandemic.

Read online.

Probation and Parole in the United States, 2006

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

From press release:
This report presents the number of persons on probation and parole at yearend 2006, by State, and compares the national totals to counts for yearend 1995 and 2000 through 2005. The report provides State-level probation and parole supervision rates at yearend 2006 and the percentage change in each population during the year. It presents probation and parole entries and exits, by State, and it provides national and State-level data on parole revocations. The Bulletin also includes a national description of the race, gender, and offense composition of these populations.
Highlights include the following:
• The number of adult men and women in the United States who were being supervised on probation or parole at the end of 2006 reached 5,035,225. In 2006 the combined probation and parole populations grew by 1.8% or 87,852 persons.
• More than 8 in 10 offenders under community supervision were on probation at yearend 2006. During 2006 the probation population grew by 1.7% which represented an increase of 70,266 probationers.
• At yearend 2006 a total of 798,202 adult men and women were on parole or mandatory conditional release following a prison term. The population grew by 17,586 parolees during the year or 2.3%.

Full report (PDF; 243 KB)

State Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Comparison and Analysis

Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Three primary variables drive a state’s human-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels: population, per capita income, and the GHG emissions intensity. GHG emissions intensity is a performance measure. In this report, GHG intensity is a measure of GHG emissions from sources within a state compared with a state’s economic output (gross state product, GSP). The GHG emissions intensity driver stands apart as the main target for climate change mitigation policy, because public policy generally considers population and income growth to be socially positive. The intensity of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions largely determines overall GHG intensity, because CO2 emissions account for 85% of the GHG emissions in the United States. As 98% of U.S. CO2 emissions are energy-related, the primary factors that shape CO2 emissions intensity are a state’s energy intensity and the carbon content of its energy use.

Energy intensity measures the amount of energy a state uses to generate its overall economic output (measured by its GSP). Several underlying factors may impact a state’s energy intensity: a state’s economic structure, personal transportation use in a state (measured in vehicle miles traveled per person), and public policies regarding energy efficiency.

The carbon content of energy use in a state is determined by a state’s portfolio of energy sources. States that utilize a high percentage of coal, for example, will have a relatively high carbon content of energy use, compared to states with a lower dependence on coal. An additional factor is whether a state is a net exporter or importer of electricity, because CO2 emissions are attributed to electricity-producing states, but the electricity is used (and counted) in the consuming state.

Full report (PDF; 197 KB)

Improving Correctional Officer Safety: Reducing Inmate Weapons

Source: U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Justice Programs

Our communications with prison facility personnel had one message in common: they are always on the lookout for homemade weapons and for materials that can be made into weapons. Our results provide guidance for identifying materials and/or objects that should be redesigned so they cannot be modified to inflict injury. In particular, objects such as razors and padlocks that are issued to inmates or purchased from the commissary deserve special attention because prisons have some control over the design and choice of such items. Further research such as that being conducted at the Applied Physics Laboratory should prove useful in eliminating materials that can be modified into weapons.

Full report (PDF; 1.2 MB)

The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments

Source: Congressional Budget Office

In preparing its analysis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviewed 29 reports published over the past 15 years that attempted to evaluate the impact of unauthorized immigrants on the budgets of state and local governments. (See the bibliography for a complete list of those reports.) CBO did not assess the data underlying those estimates or the validity of the models used to prepare them. The estimates — whether from formal studies, analyses of data on particular topics, or less-formal inquiry — show considerable consensus regarding the overall impact of unauthorized immigrants on state and local budgets. However, the scope and analytical methods of the studies vary, and the reports do not provide detailed or consistent enough data to allow for a reliable assessment of the aggregate national effect of unauthorized immigrants on state and local budgets…. After reviewing the estimates, CBO drew the following conclusions:
+ State and local governments incur costs for providing services to unauthorized immigrants and have limited options for avoiding or minimizing those costs.
+ The amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions.
+ The tax revenues that unauthorized immigrants generate for state and local governments do not offset the total cost of services provided to those immigrants.
+ Federal aid programs offer resources to state and local governments that provide services to unauthorized immigrants, but those funds do not fully cover the costs incurred by those governments.

Full report (PDF; 318 KB)