Pension Plan Freezes Slowing, Watson Wyatt Finds Most Firms Committed to Keeping Plans

Source: Watson Wyatt, July 23, 2007

From the press release:
The rate of pension plan freezes among FORTUNE 1000 firms has slowed, and the majority of companies with defined benefit plans are committed to keeping them. These are the findings of two new studies by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm. An analysis of pension plan sponsorship among FORTUNE 1000 companies shows that the share of plan sponsors freezing their plans dropped from 7 percent in 2006 to 4 percent in 2007. New freezes reached their highest levels in 2006, when 42 additional firms on the FORTUNE 1000 list had frozen plans.

Digest of Education Statistics, 2006

Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Sally A. Dillow, and Charlene M. Hoffman, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2007017, July 2007

The 42nd in a series of publications initiated in 1962, the Digest’s primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from prekindergarten through graduate school. The Digest contains data on a variety of topics, including the number of schools and colleges, teachers, enrollments, and graduates, in addition to educational attainment, finances, and federal funds for education, libraries, and international comparisons.

Child Health USA 2006

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Child Health USA 2006

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is pleased to present Child Health USA 2006, the 17th annual report on the health status and service needs of America’s children. The Bureau’s vision is that of a future nation in which the right to grow to one’s full potential is universally assured through attention to the comprehensive physical, psychological, and social needs of the maternal and child population. To assess the Bureau’s progress toward achieving this vision, MCHB has compiled this book of secondary data for more than 50 health status and health care indicators. It provides both graphical and textual summaries of relevant data, and addresses longterm trends where applicable and feasible.

All of the data discussed within the text of these pages is from the same sources as the information in the corresponding graphs (unless otherwise noted). Data are presented for the target populations of Title V funding: infants, children, adolescents, children with special health care needs, and women of childbearing age. Child Health USA 2006 addresses health status and health services utilization, as well as insight into the nation’s progress toward the goals set out in the MCHB’s strategic plan—to assure quality of care, eliminate barriers and health disparities, and improve the health infrastructure and systems of care.

Economic Mobility of Immigrants in the United States

Source: Ron Haskins, Economic Mobility Project, Pew Charitable Trusts, 2007

The idea of economic mobility in America often evokes a personal story. For many Americans, it is one of immigrant parents or grandparents, or even one’s own journey and arrival. In recent decades, immigration has been rising steadily, with nearly one million legal immigrants entering the country per year throughout the 1990s and in the early years of this century, compared to only about 300,000 per year in the 1960s. In addition to legal immigrants, it is estimated that about 500,000 illegal immigrants now arrive each year.

These numbers clearly show that the allure of the American Dream is alive and well. But is it actually working for today’s immigrants? How has immigrant economic mobility changed over time? And is immigrant economic mobility similar to that of U.S. citizens?

This report explains that the American engine of economic assimilation continues to be a powerful force, but the engine is incorporating a fundamentally different and larger pool of immigrants than it did in earlier generations. The shifting educational and economic profile of today’s immigrants is provoking difficult and important questions about the economic prospects for immigrants in America today.

See also:
Economic Mobility Fact Sheet

Older Americans Update 2006: Key Indicators Of Well-Being

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, May 2006

From the intro:
As the baby boom generation anticipates retirement, a growing proportion of older Americans are in fact remaining in the workforce. Labor force participation rates for older women have increased significantly since the mid-1980s, and for older men, since the mid-1990s, according to an updated report from the government’s Federal Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. The labor force statistics are among several updated facts and figures in the Forum’s databook series on aging.

The Forum is comprised of 13 federal departments and agencies which collect, provide, and use data on aging. It produces periodic chartbooks with key statistical indicators about older Americans, presenting data on the overall status of the U.S. population age 65 and over and monitoring changes in these indicators over time. The report is designed to serve policymakers, the media, and the public with an interest in information on the well-being of older Americans.

These newest entries are part of Older Americans Update 2006: Key Indicators of Well-Being and provide updated information on a variety of topics, including labor force participation, leading causes of death, health care use, and other important areas.

States of Disclosure: Tracking the Private Interests of Public Officials

Source: The Center for Public Integrity, 2007

“The Center for Public Integrity researched state requirements on the filing of Personal Financial Disclosures by all three branches of state government — executive, legislative and judicial — to help the public hold officials accountable and determine the potential for conflicts of interest.” [Note: see the drop-down menu on the right hand side to view copies of reports filed by members of the executive, judicial and legislative branches in the 50 states.]

· Many States Fail Governors’ Disclosures Survey – Top grade eludes all but one.
· Governors’ Disclosure Ranking
· Governors’ Disclosure Comparison

2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book Shows Slipping Economic Conditions for Children, Focuses on the Critical Importance of Lifelong Family Connections for Youth in Foster Care

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2007

From the press release:
National trends in child well-being taken together have improved slightly since 2000, according to a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The 18th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book indicators show:

● Four areas of improvement: child death rate, teen birth rate, high school dropout rate, teens not in school and not working;
● Two areas of slight improvement: infant mortality rate, teen death rate; and
● Four areas have worsened: low-birthweight babies, children living in families where no parent has fulltime year-round employment, children in poverty, and children in single-parent families.

These national trends are not on par with the well-being improvements that were seen at the end of the 1990s, with economic indicators taking a downturn in 2005. The report also examines America’s child welfare system and challenges the country to make lifelong family connections for children and youth in foster care a national priority.

See also:
State Level Data
Profiles by State
County Level Data
City Level Data
City Level, County Level, Metropolitan Statistical Area, Congressional District Data

America’s Economy: Headed for Crisis: Realistic Approaches Are Essential

Source: Warren B. Rudman, J. Robert Kerrey, Peter G. Peterson, and Robert Bixby, The Brookings Institution, Opportunity 08: A Project of the Brookings Institution America’s Economy: Headed for Crisis 2, August 2007

From the summary:

An honest assessment of the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook almost makes one wonder why, in 2008, so many people are interested in being elected President. And why so little attention is being paid to a problem that budget analysts of diverse perspectives routinely describe as “unsustainable.”

One thing is clear: the status quo is not acceptable. The next President will inherit a fiscally lethal combination of changing demographics, rising heath care costs, and falling national savings. The public should take care not to buy the proposals of Presidential candidates that either ignore the magnitude of the long-term fiscal challenge or lock candidates into positions that make the problems insoluble. Improving the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook will require hard choices on spending and tax policy. Presidential candidates and their consultants might shy away from endorsing such choices on the campaign trail, but they should not rule them out.

The next administration must enter office with a mandate to act on this problem. Doing so will likely require a mix of options arrived at through bipartisan negotiations. The more options taken off the table through ironclad campaign promises, the more difficult it will be to find meaningful solutions once the campaigns are over and the time for governing begins. Candidates must acknowledge the magnitude of the problem, the need for trade-offs and the necessity for prompt action. Vague promises of “fiscal responsibility” give the public insufficient insight into how well candidates understand the task at hand.

Comprehensive solutions may take considerable time to develop, and once implemented, should be subject to periodic review. However, as a framework for action the next President should:

● Commit to a balanced budget

● Take every reasonable step to constrain the rising cost of heath care and retirement programs — Social Security and, most especially, Medicare

● Make clear to Americans that taxes cannot be cut over the long-term unless programs are cut commensurately, and

● Prevent total spending, taxes, or debt from reaching levels that could reduce economic growth and future standards of living.

Remaking Transportation Infrastructure

Source: The Brookings Institution, August 2007

Potholes, rough surfaces, and rusting bridges are manifestations of America’s deteriorating infrastructure, tragically demonstrated with the disaster in Minneapolis.

State and local leaders are already clamoring for more federal money to prevent future tragedies. But just two years ago, states got a mammoth $244 billion for transportation. But the bill also contained over 6,000 earmarks, many dedicated to new projects, and awarded with no coherent plan or national priority.

The Metropolitan Policy Program’s Transportation Reform Series, led by Fellow Robert Puentes, has broadly reassessed the nation’s transportation policies, providing options beyond the current hodgepodge of pet projects, to better address these critical needs.