Read President Trump’s Budget Blueprint

Source: Dana Farrington, NPR, March 16, 2017

President Trump has released a budget blueprint outlining increased military spending and cuts across other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. Congress will still have to draft a formal budget, but the plan released Thursday by the White House indicates the president’s priorities. Read the full document below. Read more about the specific proposals and their implications here.

Facebook’s new ‘Town Hall’ feature helps you find and contact your government reps

Source: Sarah Perez, TechCrunch, March 14, 2017

In Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s nearly 6,000-word manifesto published last month, he laid out a number of global ambitions he had for the social network in the days ahead — including one where its users became more “civically-engaged” and voted more often. Now it seems Facebook has taken its first steps toward making that possible, through a new feature it’s calling “Town Hall.”

This latest addition has just popped up on the “More” menu in Facebook’s mobile app, and offers a simple way for users to find and connect with their government representatives on a local, state and federal level…..

2017 National Study of Employers

Source:Kenneth Matos, Ellen Galinsky and James T. Bond, Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2017

The National Study of Employers is a comprehensive look at employer practices, policies, programs and benefits that address personal and family needs of employees. The survey of more than 900 U.S. employers with 50 or more employees was conducted by the Families and Work Institute and is released by SHRM as part of the When Work Works initiative.

The study provides insight into how employers are responding to the changing demographics of the workforce over time and examines flexible work arrangements, paid and unpaid parental and other caregiver leave, and elder care assistance, among other practices. This is the sixth published study since the project was launched in 1998.

Key findings include:
• Small employers (50-99 employees) were more likely than large employers (1,000 or more employees) to offer all or most employees 1) traditional flextime, the ability to periodically change start and stop times (36% vs. 17%), 2) control over when to take breaks (63% vs. 47%) and time off during the work day to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (51% vs. 33%).
• Growth of workplace flexibility has been stable over the past four years. Out of 18 forms of flexibility studied, there were only four changes:
• An increase in employers that offer telework, allowing employees to work at least some of their paid hours at home on a regular basis (40% in 2016 vs. 33% in 2012).
• An increase in employers that allow employees to return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption (81% in 2016 vs. 73% in 2012).
• An increase in organizations that allow employees to receive special consideration after a career break for personal/family responsibilities (28% in 2016 vs. 21% in 2012).
• A decrease in organizations that allow employees to take time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (81% in 2016 vs. 87% in 2012).
Related:
Summary

235,000 Job Growth in February Is Good News for the Economy, But State and Local Government Job Growth Remains Weak

Source: Lucy Dadayan, Donald J. Boyd, Rockefeller Institute of Government, By The Numbers, March 2017

• Nationally, state and local government employment is 1.5 percent below its prior peak, while private sector employment is 6.4 percent above its prior peak.
• State government employment nationally is 2.5 percent below its peak level and local government employment is 1.3 percent below its peak level.
• State government non-education employment, for services such as corrections, hospitals and other health care, public welfare, and highways, has fared the worst among the government subsectors —- currently, 5.5 percent below its peak even though the population has grown 6.9 percent over the same period.
• Local government education and non-education employment are 2.0 percent and 0.8 percent below their respective prior peaks, while elementary and secondary enrollment has risen by more than 2.0 percent during the same period.
• The only subsector that has grown is state government education employment for universities, colleges, and similar services; here employment is up 1.2 percent above the prior peak, but still far weaker than in previous economic recoveries.
• Although state and local government employment did not decline as much during the Great Recession as private sector employment, it has been recovering far more slowly and has regained the jobs lost to the Great Recession.

Baby boomers in the United States: Factors associated with working longer and delaying retirement

Source: Xiuwen Sue Dong, Xuanwen Wang, Knut Ringen and Rosemary Sokas, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 60, Issue 4, April 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objectives: This study estimated the self-reported probability of working full-time past age 62 (P62) or age 65 (P65) among four cohorts of Americans born between 1931 and 1959.

Methods: Data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were analyzed. Respondents in four age cohorts were selected for comparison. Multivariable linear regression models were used to assess cohort differences in P62 and P65 while adjusting for covariates.

Results: P62 and P65 increased among boomers despite worsened self-rated health compared to the two preceding cohorts, with 37% and 80% increases among mid-boomers in construction trades. Cohort differences in P62 and P65 remained after controlling for covariates. Changes in pensions, income inequity, and education were significantly associated with work expectations, but SSA policy was not.

Conclusions: Baby boomers expect to work longer than their predecessors. Efforts to improve work quality and availability for older workers are urgently needed, particularly in physically demanding occupations.

Medicaid for State Policymakers

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), March 1, 2017

Overview:
Over its 50-year history, Medicaid has represented a critical and evolving issue for state policymakers, who care about Medicaid for many reasons.

– Medicaid provides health insurance for low-income people who have complex needs and require expensive care. Approximately 70 million—or one in five Americans— received health and long-term care coverage through Medicaid in 2015, making it the largest source of coverage for low-income individuals, including pregnant women, children, adults and people with disabilities and low-income seniors who are also covered by Medicare.

– The program is a federal-state partnership, and both the federal government and the states play important roles in ensuring that Medicaid is fiscally sustainable over time and effective in meeting the needs of the populations it serves.

– In 2016, Medicaid accounted for 21.5 percent of total expenditures from state general funds. Across the nation, state spending on Medicaid totaled $509 billion in 2015, of which 62 percent was financed by the federal government and 38 percent by states. ….

Tax is a feminist issue: Why national budgets need to take gender into account

Source: The Economist, February 23, 2017

Designing fiscal policies to support gender equality is good for growth.

….Like many rich-country governments, Britain’s prides itself on pursuing policies that promote sexual equality. However, it fails to live up to its word, argues the Women’s Budget Group, a feminist think-tank that has been scrutinising Britain’s economic policy since 1989. A report in 2016 from the House of Commons Library, an impartial research service, suggests that in 2010-15 women bore the cost of 85% of savings to the Treasury worth £23bn ($29bn) from austerity measures, specifically cuts in welfare benefits and in direct taxes. Because women earn less, rely more on benefits, and are much more likely than men to be single parents, the cuts affected them disproportionately…. For instance, if the British government diverted investment worth 2% of GDP from construction to the care sector, it could create 1.5m jobs instead of 750,000. Many governments treat spending on physical infrastructure as an investment, but spending on social infrastructure, such as child care, as a cost. Yet such spending also increases productivity and growth—partly by increasing the number of women in the workforce….