Prison employment and post‐traumatic stress disorder: Risk and protective factors

Source: Lois James, Natalie Todak, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Online First, June 12, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
To examine the prevalence of Post‐Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a sample of prison employees, investigate risk factors, and explore protective factors for PTSD.

We surveyed 355 Washington State Department of Corrections employees. The survey included the PTSD checklist for the DSM‐5 (PCL‐5), the Critical Incident History Questionnaire, and the Work Environment Inventory.

We found 19% of the sample met the criteria for diagnosable PTSD. Several risk factors were associated with a higher PCL‐5 score, including exposure to critical incidents, and having greater ambiguity in the job role. Being happy with job assignments and having positive relationships with supervisors and coworkers were associated with decreased PCL‐5 score.

Prison employees have a PTSD rate equivalent to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and higher than police officers, suggesting the importance of developing programs for promoting resilience to stress, incorporating the knowledge gained on risk, and protective factors.

Water Infrastructure Financing: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program

Source: Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, June 11, 2018

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program provides financial assistance for water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. Congress established the WIFIA program in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014, P.L. 113-121).

The WIFIA concept is modeled after a similar program that finances transportation projects, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. Proponents of the WIFIA approach, including water utility organizations, cite several potential benefits
• WIFIA provides credit assistance to large water infrastructure projects that may otherwise have difficulty obtaining financing.
• WIFIA provides credit assistance, namely direct loans, at U.S. Treasury rates, potentially lowering the cost of capital for borrowers.
• WIFIA assistance has less of a federal budgetary effect than conventional project grants that are not repaid, because only the subsidy cost of a loan (representing the presumed default rate on loans) is required to be appropriated.
• WIFIA support limits the federal government’s exposure to default, because projects must be found creditworthy with a revenue stream for repayment to be eligible for assistance.

On the other hand, opponents of the WIFIA approach, including organizations that represent state environmental agency officials, have cited several concerns
• Federal funding for a WIFIA program could have a detrimental effect on federal support for established State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs that provide the largest source of water infrastructure assistance today.
• If WIFIA funding resulted in a decrease in SRF assistance, smaller projects may face financing challenges.
• The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the future costs of a WIFIA program to the federal budget may be underestimated.

Resources for Key Economic Indicators

Source: Jennifer Teefy, Julie Jennings, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43295, May 30, 2018

An understanding of economic indicators and their significance is seen as essential to the formulation of economic policies. These indicators, or statistics, provide snapshots of an economy’s health as well as starting points for economic analysis. This report contains a list of selected authoritative U.S. government sources of economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), income, inflation, and labor force (including employment and unemployment) statistics.

Additional content includes related resources, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and links to external glossaries.

Exploring the Influence of Federal Welfare Expenditures on State-Level New Economy Development Performance: Drawing From the Diffusion of Innovation Theory

Source: Geiguen Shin, Jeremy L. Hall, Economic Development Quarterly, First Published June 6, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Functional theory suggests that each level of government expands in the arena in which it can best perform, reducing the price of federalism. Focusing on the functional pattern of American federalism, we suggest that increased federal welfare spending increases state government performance in the “new economy” development policy areas by helping states minimize welfare costs and divert more own-source resources into economic development. The central focus is on the direct and indirect empirical relationships between federal welfare spending and state new economy performance. The authors use an index of innovation capacity that reflects the cumulative performance of a myriad of overlapping and mutually dependent state policies intended to bring about new economy development; this index measures state new economy development performance by focusing on the observable outputs of such polices rather than the adoption, implementation, or substance of individual policy choices. Mediating variables, such as state fiscal comfort and administrative capacity, measure the indirect impact of federal welfare spending on state new economy performance. The authors find that federal welfare spending stimulates state new economy development directly, but also indirectly through its positive impact on both state fiscal comfort and administrative capacity. The findings suggest that federal intergovernmental transfers continue to be an important policy mechanism with spillover effects for state economies.

Postsecondary Enrollment Before, During, and Since the Great Recessionc

Source: Erik Schmidt, U.S. Census Bureau, Report Number: P20-580, April 2018

From the abstract:
Education is highly valued in the United States as a means to acquire skills and experience that allow individuals to realize greater earnings over the course of their working lives. The value placed on education is evidenced by the fact that 89 percent of people 25 years and older have completed high school, and 60 percent have studied beyond the high school level. The value placed on education is also seen in the increase in college enrollment over time, from 2.4 million students in 1955 to 19.1 million students in 2015. While enrollment has increased over the long run, enrollment has increased and decreased within this long-term increase. This report provides an overview of postsecondary enrollment during one of these periods, covering the years preceding and since the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, using data collected in the Current Population Survey (CPS). It examines the postsecondary enrollment of the adult population by demographic and social characteristics, such as age, sex, and race and Hispanic origin.

If Robots Steal Our Jobs, Maybe We Should Make Them Pay Tax

Source: Laura Paddison, Huffington Post, June 1, 2018

….The idea of a robot tax has bubbled up over the past couple of years, thanks to the backing of some high-profile figures, proposing it as a way of trying to prevent all the benefits of automation from flowing to a tiny slice of wealthy people.

Benoît Hamon — a socialist candidate in the French presidential elections last year — made a robot tax a plank in his campaign. Perhaps the most famous advocate is Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates. He told Quartz last year, “Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

He says he believes taxing machines could slow the pace of automation, giving people a chance to retrain and giving governments time to put in place policies to protect people from intensifying inequality…..

After Janus: A new era of teachers union activism

Source: Bradley D. Marianno and Katharine Strunk, Education Next, Vol. 18 no. 4, Fall 2018

…. Speculation about what a Janus ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will mean for teachers unions has been rampant. Many, if not most, of the analysts who follow education policy and organized labor believe that the ruling will result in decreased power for teachers unions. The logic behind this assumption is simple: teachers unions will lose dues revenue because membership will decrease and former agency-fee payers will cease paying fees for union services. With fewer resources, teachers unions will have less ability to exert their influence in local, state, and federal elections and at the bargaining table. Fewer members, less money, less power. Right?

Not necessarily. Agency fees have been challenged at the state level over the past decade, and two states recently stopped allowing unions to collect them: Wisconsin and Michigan. The passage of those Right-to-Work laws may have caught state affiliates by surprise, unlike the widely anticipated Janus ruling. Even so, a close look at Wisconsin and Michigan may provide important clues about the future of teachers unions in a post-Janus world. ….