Joint Economic Committee Annual Report on the State of the Economy and State Economic Snapshots

Source: Joint Economic Committee

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Vice Chair of the JEC, today released the Committee’s annual report. The President says his policies are working to make the economy strong and that all Americans are benefiting, but the facts show an economic record that has left the vast majority of American families behind. The JEC report concludes that the country needs a change in direction to get our economy back on the right track and to ensure that all American families share in our nation’s growing prosperity.

Highlights: The main indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy, GDP growth, has been anemic during this economic recovery. Since the last economic peak in the first quarter of 2001, the economy has expanded at an annual rate of only 2.6 percent, about a third less than the 3.7 percent average growth rate of the three prior economic cycles of similar length.

The 2007 Joint Economic Report – Report of the Joint Economic Committee of the United States on the 2007 Economic Report of the President Together with Minority Views. Report 110-251, December 2007 (234 pages, PDF)

DHS releases REAL ID grant guidance and application kits

Source: Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security released grant guidance and application kits for two grant programs totaling more than $35 million to help states prepare to implement REAL ID provisions that require a standard format for state-issued driver’s licenses. The REAL ID Demonstration Grant Program will provide $31.3 million in grants to the states to check motor vehicle records in other states to ensure drivers don’t have multiple licenses, and to verify immigration status against federal records. It will help standardize methods by which states may seamlessly verify an applicant’s information with another state and deploy verification capabilities that can be used by all states, while protecting personal identification information.

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 REAL ID Vital Events Verification State Project Grant Verification

EEOC and Retiree Health Benefits

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

From the press release:
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)…announced the publication of a final rule allowing employers that provide retiree health benefits to continue the longstanding practice of coordinating those benefits with Medicare (or comparable state health benefits) without violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The regulation, which safeguards retiree health benefits, was published in the December 26, 2007 Federal Register.

Final Rule: Age Discrimination in Employment Act; Retiree Health Benefits, Federal Register Notice, December 26, 2007

Questions & Answers about the EEOC’s Retiree Health Rule

New Laws Take Effect in 31 States in 2008

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

A host of new laws on topics ranging from allowing civil unions in New Hampshire to prohibiting text messaging while driving in Washington state become effective Jan. 1, 2008. Washington and Oregon will prohibit typing messages while driving. In Minnesota, bus cushions must meet new depths. Three states will issue license plates to veterans or family members of military personnel killed in combat. Illinois will allow pets to be included in protection orders. If you sell American flags in Minnesota, they will have to be made in the United States. The minimum wage will rise in New Mexico, and homeowners in Illinois will have new protections to avert foreclosures. Airline passengers will have a bill of rights in New York state. And bad news if you are an old light bulb in Illinois or mercury in Minnesota, you will see new restrictions. Parents of a newborn in South Carolina will have to watch a video on the dangers of shaking a baby.

Better Workers for Better Jobs: Improving Worker Advancement in the Low-Wage Labor Market

Source: Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

This paper proposes a new federal funding stream to identify, expand, and replicate the most successful state and local initiatives designed to spur the advancement of low-wage workers in the United States. In the Worker Advancement Grants for Employment in States (WAGES) program, the federal government would offer up to $5 billion annually in matching funds for increases in state, local, and private expenditures on worker advancement initiatives. To gain funding, states would have to develop local advancement “systems,” which would provide career-oriented education and training to youth, working poor adults and “hard-to-employ” workers. Partnerships would be developed between local training providers (like community colleges), employer associations, and intermediaries. Additional financial supports for the working poor—including child care, transportation, and stipends for working students—would have to be funded as well. Initially, the WAGES program would require states to compete for federal grants, which would ultimately be renewable. The program would generate a “learning system” in which states would have an incentive to innovate and use information from other initiatives. The federal government would provide substantial technical assistance and oversight. Performance measurement and rigorous evaluation would be required for program renewal; states achieving substantial worker advancement would be awarded major bonuses and more rapid renewal of funding.

Full-text (40 pages)

Employment-Based Tax Credits for Low-Skilled Workers

Source: Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

Families in low-income communities face three interrelated problems: unemployment rates are high, incarceration rates of low-skilled men are high, and a large fraction of children in low-income communities are being raised in single-parent households. To address these interrelated problems, I propose a two-part policy designed to increase the return to work. The first part of my proposal is an expanded earned income tax credit that would apply to low-income, childless taxpayers. The second part of my proposal is a targeted wage subsidy for low-wage workers who live in certain economically depressed areas, whereby the federal government would pay subsidies of 50 percent of the difference between the worker’s market wage and a target wage of $11.30 per hour. The premise for adopting these policies is straightforward: increasing the return to work for childless low-skilled workers will lower unemployment rates and achieve the dual social benefits of reducing incarceration rates and increasing marriage rates, thus reducing the number of children being raised in single-parent households. The proposal would redistribute $10.4 billion to poor, working individuals. Based on empirical estimates from the literature, I expect employment to increase by 850,000 jobs and crime to fall by over one million incidents. Conservative estimates of the social cost of crime indicate that the social benefit from reduced crime could cover 8 percent or more of the cost of the proposal. Many estimates of the cost of crime would claim much larger cost saving. The proposal would also increase marriage and improve the environments in which poor children are raised.

Full-text (36 pages)

A Hand Up: A Strategy to Reward Work, Expand Opportunity, and Reduce Poverty

Source: Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

Poverty remains a pressing problem in the United States. Many of the 36 million Americans in poverty are working, but full-time work at the minimum wage does not provide enough income to escape poverty. This paper offers a three-part strategy to reduce poverty and strengthen growth across the income spectrum. First, the most effective antipoverty policy is to help people find a job that pays enough to support a family. This paper’s principal focus is on programs to reward and facilitate work. Second, a broader set of policies is necessary to prepare people to succeed, by investing in human capital and other critical needs. Finally, public policies should provide a more robust safety net and a set of social insurance policies to help people rebound if they do experience economic hardship, and reduce the likelihood of their falling below a certain economic level at any point. Together, these policies can raise the living standards of struggling families and allow everyone to share in our nation’s prosperity.

Full-text (36 pages)

New Hope: Fulfilling America’s Promise to “Make Work Pay”

Source: Brookings Institution, The Hamilton Project

Despite the political rhetoric of “making work pay,” in 2005 some 3.7 million households included a full-time worker and yet lived in poverty. Our paper makes the case for a national program offering the kind of work supports that were part of the New Hope program, a policy experiment that operated for three years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the mid- to late-1990s. New Hope was created by a coalition of community activists and business leaders. It provided a set of work supports for full-time workers—parents and nonparents, men and women—that would lift them out of poverty, ensure that they had access to quality child care and health insurance and, if needed, provide a temporary community service job to help get them on their feet.

A random-assignment evaluation of New Hope showed that the program reduced poverty, increased employment and, perhaps most importantly, boosted the achievement and positive behavior of children. We estimate that a scaled-up New Hope program would cost roughly $3,300 per participant per year and that, with reasonable assumptions regarding the valuation of child impacts, would yield benefits well in excess of costs.

Evidence from other states and two Canadian provinces suggest that New Hope could be implemented by states. Given the different ways in which states would likely implement the New Hope model to fit their unique needs and delivery systems, we propose a five-year demonstration and evaluation in five states.

Full-text (36 pages)

Projections of Education Statistics to 2016

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This edition of Projections of Education Statistics provides projections for key education statistics, including enrollment, graduates, teachers, and expenditures in elementary and secondary schools. Included are national data on enrollment and graduates for the past 15 years and projections to the year 2016, as well as state-level data on enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools and public high school graduates to the year 2016.

Direct to PDF and Other Formats

303.1 Million, U.S. Population Projection Announced; Nevada Once Again Fastest-Growing State; Louisiana Rebounds

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau today projected the Jan. 1, 2008, population will be 303,146,284 — up 2,842,103 or 0.9 percent from New Year’s Day 2007.

In January, the United States is expected to register one birth every eight seconds and one death every 11 seconds.

Nevada Once Again Fastest-Growing State; Louisiana Rebounds

From the report:
Nevada returned to the top as the nation’s fastest-growing state, with a population increase of 2.9 percent between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2007, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Arizona, fastest-growing between 2005 and 2006, slipped to second place.

Meanwhile, Louisiana began to rebound from its post-Hurricane Katrina population loss, gaining nearly 50,000 people from July 1, 2006, to July 1, 2007, for a total population of 4.3 million. The state lost 250,000 residents during the previous one-year period. Texas gained more people than any other state: Its 2006-2007 increase of almost 500,000 was ahead of runner-up California, which added slightly more than 300,000. California remains the most populous state with about 37 million people.

The Census Bureau also released a population estimate for Puerto Rico, which was 3.9 million on July 1, 2007.

Population Estimate Tables