Not In Labor: An Interview With Jenny Brown

Source: Liza Featherstone, Jacobin, April 23, 2019

In 2017, the birth rate in the United States reached an all-time low. In her new book Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work (PM Press), activist and author Jenny Brown argues that declining birth rates represent a work slowdown, or strike, in the face of the poor conditions for those who do the labor of bearing and raising children.

Like many of the classic texts of the Second Wave feminist movement, Brown’s book is her own, yet also a collective, intellectual endeavor, growing out of her organizing work with Redstockings and National Women’s Liberation, including those groups’ discussions and consciousness raising sessions….

Migration driven by jobs and demographic trends more than SALT deduction cap

Source: Marcia Van Wagner, Timothy Blake, Nicholas Samuels, Emily Raimes, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, April 8, 2019
(subscription required)

Domestic migration patterns offer no discernible signs yet that the federal cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions is causing residents to flee high-tax states, resulting in population loss (a social risk) and hurting states’ credit quality. Migration from high-tax states is lower than a decade ago and generally following the US as a whole, while many people are moving from one high-tax state to another. The impact of the SALT cap enacted in 2017 will be felt widely for the first time this tax season and possibly spur some out-migration, but jobs and demographic trends will continue to influence relocation patterns more than tax burdens….

Political Moderation and Polarization in the Heartland: Economics, Rurality, and Social Identity in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Source: Ann M. Oberhauser, Daniel Krier & Abdi M. Kusow, The Sociological Quarterly, Latest Articles, Published online: April 12, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The 2016 U.S. presidential election was a watershed event that signaled decreasing political moderation and increasing partisan polarization, authoritarianism, and ethno-nationalism. Iowa, located at the center of the American Heartland, swung to the political right more than any other state. Multivariate regression analysis of county-level data is used to determine the relative contribution of factors reputed to have caused voters to support Trump: rurality, economic distress, and social identity. We find that rurality and social identity, but not economic distress, were significantly correlated with Iowa’s swing to Trump. Polarization along these social divisions must be addressed if the Heartland is to return to political moderation.

What made voters flip parties in 2016?
Source: Angie Hunt, Futurity, April 22, 2019

Iowa had more counties flip from Democrat to Republican than any other state, and the reason why had little to do with economic anxiety, research finds.

Pensions and retiree healthcare challenge some of the largest mass transit enterprises

Source: Thomas Aaron, Timothy Blake, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, April 11, 2019
(subscription required)

Pensions and retiree healthcare pose a credit risk for some of the largest mass transit enterprises. Transit enterprises with material unfunded liabilities face budget challenges that can limit capital reinvestment, contribute to rising debt loads and/or lead to lower service levels.

2019 Annual Report Of The Boards Of Trustees Of The Federal Hospital Insurance And Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds

Source: Boards Of Trustees Of The Federal Hospital Insurance And Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, April 22, 2019

From the press release:
Today, the Medicare Board of Trustees released their annual report for Medicare’s two separate trust funds — the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, which funds Medicare Part A, and the Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund, which funds Medicare Part B and D. The report found that the HI Trust Fund will be able to pay full benefits until 2026, the same as last year’s report.  For the 75-year projection period, the HI actuarial deficit has increased to 0.91 percent of taxable payroll from 0.82 percent in last year’s report. The change in the actuarial deficit is due to several factors, most notably lower assumed productivity growth, as well as effects from slower projected growth in the utilization of skilled nursing facility services, higher costs and lower income in 2018 than expected, lower real discount rates, and a shift in the valuation period.

Medicare’s fiscal outlook deteriorates as 2026 funding cliff looms, Trump administration says
Source: Jeff Stein, Washington Post, April 22, 2019

Medicare, Social Security face shaky fiscal futures
Source: Andrew Taylor, Associated Press, April 22, 2019

Managing the Conflicting Interests of Workers and Shareholders: Evidence from Pension-Assumption Manipulations

Source: J. Adam Cobb, ILR Review, Volume: 72 issue: 3, May 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Whereas research on corporate governance typically attends to the conflicting interests between shareholders and executives, in practice executives must frequently adjudicate the demands of multiple stakeholders. To investigate how executives cope with the divergent interests of workers and shareholders, the author examines how much firms claim they will earn on the assets in their defined benefit (DB) pension plans. In a DB arrangement, employees forgo wages in the present in order to receive postretirement income, and they rely on executives to properly fund and manage plan assets. Executives, however, can increase the amount they expect the firm to earn on plan assets, which increases firm earnings in the current period but may undermine workers’ retirement security if expectations do not match actual returns over time. The author shows that the influence and interests of employees and shareholders as well as the decision-making schemas of the CEO affect whether executives exercise this discretion.

State Collective Bargaining Laws and Public-Sector Pay

Source: Eric J. Brunner, Andrew Ju, ILR Review, Vol. 72 no. 2, March 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using the Public Use Microdata Sample from the 2005 to 2015 American Community Survey, the authors provide new evidence on how state collective bargaining laws affect public-sector wages. To isolate the causal effect of bargaining laws on public-sector pay, they examine wage differentials between otherwise similar public- and private-sector employees located in the same local labor market. They estimate difference-in-differences (DD) models that exploit two sources of plausibly exogenous variation: 1) policy discontinuities along state borders and 2) variation within states in collective bargaining laws in states where the majority of public workers are without collective bargaining rights. Findings show that mandatory collective bargaining laws increase public-sector wages by approximately 5 to 8 percentage points. Results therefore suggest that mandatory collective bargaining laws provide a formal mechanism through which public-sector workers are able to bargain for increased compensation.

Lower Nurse-to-Patient Ratio: Higher Patient Satisfaction

Source: Teresa Dousay, Bailey Childers, Madison Cole, Tara Hill and Charles Rogers, Morehead State University, (undated)

• Determine if lower nurse to patient ratio improved patient satisfaction
• To assess how nurse-to patient ratios and nurse work hours affect the patients hospital stay.
• To determine whether nurse staffing in California hospitals, where state mandated minimum nurse to patient ratios are in effect, differs from Kentucky with no mandated ratio

The issue of nursing care and patient staffing ratios is not new to medical-surgical nurses. It took national importance in 1996 with the release of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that evaluated nursing and patient safety. Patient’s conditions have become complex and require more nursing attention than before, yet, hospitals have become more economically focused and business oriented. Hospital nurse staffing is a matter of major concern because of the effects it can have on patient safety and quality of care. Nursing-sensitive outcomes are one indicator of quality of care and may be defined as “variable patient or family caregiver state, condition, or perception responsive to nursing intervention”. Most research has focused on adverse rather than positive patient outcomes for the simple reason that adverse outcomes are more likely documented in the medical record (Stanton, 2004, p. 2). This project focuses on positive nursing sensitive outcomes such as patient satisfaction, shortened inpatient length of stay and decreased hospital readmissions. The purpose of this paper is to reinforce the hypothesis that lower nurse-to-patient ratio results to higher patient satisfaction…..

Mandated Nurse-to-Patient Staffing Ratios: Benefits at the Bedside and Beyond
Source: Advanced Medical Reviews, February 28, 2019
….Adequate nurse staffing can reduce medical errors, patient mortality, length of stay, preventable events such as patient falls, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), pressure ulcers and central line infections. It also may reduce patient care costs by avoiding readmissions. ….

What do government unions do? Public sector unions and nonunion wages, 1977–2015

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, Patrick Denice, Social Science Research, Volume 78, February 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In this article we investigate the connection between public sector union memberships and nonunion worker pay. We leverage nearly four decades of Current Population Survey (CPS) data on millions of U.S. workers to test whether public sector union density, measured at the state-level, is associated with higher average wages among unorganized workers. We find stable and substantively large positive effects of state-level public sector union strength on nonunion public sector workers’ wages. These results are robust to the inclusion of a range of state-level controls, including GDP, average educational attainment, public sector size, and the strength of private sector unions. Analyses of public sector unions and nonunion private sector pay reveal a robust positive relationship – but one limited to women, revealing how occupational segregation interacts with pay-setting institutions to influence wage outcomes.