The Disappearing Child Care Credit

Source: Elaine Maag, Urban Institute, October 11, 2007

There are two primary tax benefits parents use to offset childcare costs. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) provides a tax credit of up to 35 percent on up to $3,000 of expenses per child ($6,000 total), for a maximum credit of $1,050 per child ($2100 total). Or, employees can arrange with their employers to exclude up to $5,000 from their salary to pay for child care. While benefits from the CDCTC swamped those available from the exclusion in 2006; benefits from the child care credit are projected to decline dramatically, largely due to the increase in the number of taxpayers subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) beginning in 2008.

The Wage Impact of Trade Unions in the UK Public and Private Sectors

Source: David G. Blanchflower and Alex Bryson, Institute for the Study of Labor, IZA DP No. 3055, September 2007

This paper draws attention to an increase in the size of the union membership wage premium in the UK public sector relative to the private sector. We find the public sector membership wage premium is approximately double that in the private sector controlling for a full range of individual, job and workplace characteristics. Using data from the Labour Force Surveys of 1993-2006 the gap between the membership premium in the public and private sectors closes with the addition of three digit occupational controls, although significant wage premia remain in both sectors.

However, using data from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey of 2004, the public sector union membership wage premium remains roughly twice the size of the private sector membership premium having accounted for workplace fixed effects, workers’ occupations, their job characteristics, qualifications and worker demographics. Furthermore, the membership wage premium among workers covered by collective bargaining is only apparent in the public sector.

Landmark Study Puts Rail Infrastructure Needs at $148 Billion

Source: Lance R. Grenzeback, David T. Hunt, and Daniel F. Beagan, Association of American Railroads, September 2007

From the press release:
About $148 billion must be invested to expand the nation’s freight rail infrastructure over the next three decades to make sure that adequate rail capacity exists to meet future demand, according to the results of a first-of-its-kind study to measure rail capacity needs. Released today, the National Rail Freight Infrastructure Capacity and Investment Study explores the long-term capacity expansion needs of the continental U.S. freight railroads.

The study, conducted by Cambridge Systematics, paints a dire picture if freight rail capacity isn’t increased: “Without this investment, 30 percent of the rail miles in the primary corridors will be operating above capacity by 2035, causing severe congestion that will affect every region of the country and potentially shift freight to an already heavily congested highway system.”

The study highlights needed investment in new tracks, signals, bridges, tunnels, terminals and service facilities that railroads need to keep pace with demand for rail freight transportation, which is expected to almost double over the next 30 years.
Capacity Maps: Current and Future

New Census Bureau Data Reveal More Older Workers, Homeowners, Non-English Speakers

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CB07-CN.10, September 12, 2007

The U.S. Census Bureau today released annual data on key social, economic and housing characteristics for the nation, states, and geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more. Covering topics ranging from language to education, from family size to work commute, the American Community Survey (ACS) provides annual data that help decision makers and
planners better respond to change.
Direct to Tables

Federal Funding for Public Health Preparedness: Implications and Ongoing Issues for Local Health Departments

Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), August 2007

From http://www.naccho.org/press/releases/pr2007_09_10.cfm:
Federal funding received by local health departments for all-hazards emergency preparedness fell 20 percent last year, according to a new report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The report says that continued cuts in funding provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) threaten important, hard-won advances made in recent years in response planning to natural disasters, bio-terrorism events, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.
See also:
National Preparedness Month

Blurring the Line Between Charities and Businesses

Source: C. Eugene Steuerle, Urban Institute, October 09, 2007

The Washington Post, October 8, 2007–Do you ever wonder why more conflicts seem to flare between charities and businesses? Just last year, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee began investigating questions ranging from whether nonprofit hospitals were really charitable to whether corporate-size salaries for some foundation board members and charitable officers were excessive. In the District, fights continue over the pending sale of Greater Southeast Community Hospital–initially a nonprofit, now owned by a money-losing for-profit and seeking to sell itself to another for-profit. The deal depends on millions in local government subsidies.

Expanding The EITC For Childless Workers: An Important Step To Make Work Pay

Source: Aviva Aron-Dine and Arloc Sherman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 10, 2007

From the summary:
A number of bills currently before Congress would expand the component of the Earned Income Tax Credit available to low-income working adults who are not raising minor children. The most recent congressional proposal (H.R. 2951), introduced by Representatives John Yarmuth and Keith Ellison (and cosponsored by seven other representatives), is the most expansive of these proposals. Legislation to expand the childless workers’ EITC also has been introduced this year by Senators Barack Obama and Evan Bayh, and by Senator John Kerry and Representative Bill Pascrell.

See also:
A Majority Of States With Income Taxes Have Enacted State Earned Income Tax Credits

Towers Perrin Health Care Cost Survey Projects That Average Annual Per-Employee Cost for 2008 Will Exceed $9,300

Source: Health Care Cost Survey, Towers Perrin, 2007

From the press release:

STAMFORD, CT, SEPTEMBER 24, 2007 — As employers across the United States get ready to unveil next year’s health plan changes — and the costs associated with them to America’s workers and retirees, new data from Towers Perrin indicate that the average corporate health benefit expenditure in 2008 will be $9,312 per employee — an increase of 7% over 2007.

According to Towers Perrin’s annual Health Care Cost Survey, which for nearly two decades has offered the industry’s most in-depth, prospective look at the upcoming year’s health care costs for employers, employees and retirees, the 7% growth rate projected for 2008 is among the lowest of the last five years. While the trend is holding steady for the broad respondent group, the survey shows a significant cost differential for companies that are actively — and effectively — managing program performance. Those “high-performing companies” will see annual per-employee costs of about $1,500 less than low performers in 2008, a significant advantage in today’s intensely competitive markets.

Nevertheless, the cumulative effect of rising costs continues to produce record-high numbers for employer-sponsored health plans and employee contributions, and the burden is felt most acutely by lower-wage workers and those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare.

See also:
2007 Health Care Cost Survey

State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed

Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, Issue Brief, September 2007

The analysis, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed, compares child care assistance policies in 2007 to 2006 and 2001 in four key policy areas: reimbursement rates for providers, income eligibility, waiting lists for assistance and copayment requirements. States have made some progress since 2006 in the areas of income eligibility and waiting lists, the report found, but less progress was made in copayments, and almost no progress was made in reimbursement rates. Most states also continue to be behind where they were in 2001.