Pension Participation, Wealth, and Income: 1992-2010

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Wenliang Hou, Anthony Webb and Yinji Li, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, WP#2016-3, July 2016

From the abstract:
Using data from the 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), this paper compares pension participation, pension wealth, projected retirement income, and replacement rates attributable to past service, by pension type for households ages 51-56. The analysis includes workers’ pension coverage during both current and past jobs. Defined contribution (DC) wealth is simply the current account balance. DC income is calculated by projecting current plan balances to retirement, assuming no further contributions, and assuming that households then annuitize. Defined benefit (DB) wealth and income are calculated by apportioning projected benefits to past and future service.

This paper found that:
• Overall participation is significantly lower in 2010 than in previous waves; the increase in DC participation has not offset the decline in DB participation.
• Both mean and median pension wealth in 2010 were larger than in 1992, but lower than in 1998 and 2004.
• DC wealth is more skewed towards the top quartile than DB wealth. In 2010, the top quartile held 35 percent of DB compared to 52 percent of DC wealth.
• Because DC participants must purchase an actuarially unfair annuity and faced low annuity rates from falling interest rates, the shift to DC plans has produced a decline in the ratio of income to wealth.
• The decline in the income-to-wealth ratio would have been even greater if expected retirement ages had not increased.
• But, despite later retirement, the ratio of projected retirement income to the highest five years of 51-56 earnings declined substantially from 1998-2010 because earnings have risen.

The policy implications of this paper are:
• Employer-sponsored plans are providing less today than in the past, so policymakers should consider ways to improve coverage and outcomes.
• When restoring balance to Social Security finances, policymakers need to recognize that future retirees will be more dependent on Social Security than those in the past.

The Interconnected Relationships of Health Insurance, Health, and Labor Market Outcomes

Source: Matthew S. Rutledge, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, WP#2016-2, July 2016

From the abstract:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has greatly increased the proportion of non-elderly Americans with health insurance. One justification for the ACA is that improving individuals’ access to health insurance would improve their health outcomes, mostly by increasing the probability that they have a regular source of care. Another is that increasing the availability of health insurance outside of employment reduces the “job lock” that ties poorly matched workers to their jobs only because they want to maintain coverage. This study reviews the literature on the relationships between health insurance and health, between health and work, and between health insurance and labor market outcomes directly. The review uses evidence from recent policy expansions in Oregon and Massachusetts, and among Social Security disability beneficiaries and Medicare enrollees, to evaluate the extent to which expansions have the expected effects on labor market outcomes, indirectly and directly.

This paper found that:
• Health insurance generally improves health. The gains in mental health are the most consistent across studies, though most studies also find notable improves in physical health measures, including mortality.
• Greater health generally allows for increased labor supply, though the strength of this relationship depends crucially on whether the health measure is objective or subjective, the group under consideration, and the study’s strategy for accounting for the endogeneity of the relationship.
• Expanded access to health insurance increases transitions into self-employment and allows older workers to retire earlier, but the effect on labor force participation, employment, and job mobility is less clear.

The policy implications of this paper are:
• Coverage expansions, including the ACA, are likely to result in a healthier and more productive pool of potential workers, and this effect is likely to increase labor supply.
• But not many studies have examined the full chain of relationships directly, by following recipients of expanded coverage to see if their improved health causally increased labor supply, so further work is needed in evaluating coverage expansions.

Voter Access In 2016: Latest On Restrictions Across The Country

Source: Diane Rhem Show, August 2, 2016

The North Carolina voter ID law targeted African Americans with “almost surgical precision.” That’s according to a three-judge panel that decided Friday to strike down the law. Recent weeks have seen a slew of similar victories for challengers of voting restrictions: Federal courts also dealt blows to Republican-backed laws in Texas, Wisconsin and Kansas. Supporters of these laws say they address voter fraud and other issues at the polls. But is the tide now turning when it comes to voter restrictions? The latest on recent court decisions affecting voters, and what they could mean for the outcome of the presidential election.

How Not to Die Hungry: Turn Your 401(k) Into a Pension

Source: Ben Steverman, Bloomberg, August 2, 2016

The golden age of retirement is coming to an end. Now it gets complicated. …. Company after company has repudiated traditional pensions, pushing younger workers into 401(k)-style retirement plans. For diligent savers, a 401(k) can accumulate a big balance, but when the time comes to start using it, things will get a lot more complicated than it was for their parents. ….

Women in State Government, 2016

Source: Council of State Governments, Capitol Research brief, July 2016

From the summary:
With Hillary Clinton as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, it is noteworthy that women are still underrepresented in state government leadership positions. In 2016, women make up less than one-quarter of state legislators and statewide elected executive officers, and less than one-third of all state court judges. The percentage of female state legislators has largely stalled over the last 20 years, while the number of women elected to statewide executive offices has fallen. Only the number of female state judges has seen significant increases in recent years.
Download the Excel Version of the Table: “Women in State Government, July 2016”

Overpaid or Underpaid? Public Employee Compensation in the State of Alaska

Source: Mouhcine Guettabi and Matthew Berman, University of Alaska Anchorage, Institute of Social and Economic Research, ID: 1675, July 2016

From the summary:
Are state workers better paid than their counterparts in private industry? That question is likely to come up more often, as the state deals with a huge budget shortfall. The answer is generally no, but there are exceptions.

We analyzed the question in two ways, using different data sources for cash wages but the same assumptions about benefit levels. Using two sources helped us better answer the question, and each yielded the same broad conclusion: state workers are not on average paid more.

That’s true, whether we consider just wages, or total compensation—wages plus benefits. But there are significant differences in pay and total compensation of public and private workers in individual occupations. We did this research for the Alaska Department of Administration (see back page). Below we summarize our findings, and inside report more details…..

2016 State of Missouri Compensation & Benefits Study

Source: CBIZ Human Capital Services, July 29, 2016

CBIZ Human Capital Services (“CBIZ”) was engaged by the State of Missouri (“State”) to conduct a comprehensive compensation study for its employees, including a review of current compensation practices, an update of the compensation plan, and a benefits analysis.

In order to assist the State in implementing a compensation system that considers both market and internal factors, CBIZ matched the State’s positions to positions in the market, developed a new salary structure, and calculated the cost of implementing the recommendations. In addition to evaluating base salaries at the State, CBIZ assessed total cash compensation and competitive benefits levels.

As a part of this process, the employee data reflects the 2% general structure adjustment that took effect on July 1, 2016.

This report details CBIZ’s findings and recommendations, the summary of which indicates that the State’s current compensation practices are, in the aggregate, below market-competitive levels as evidenced by the following:

• Base salary is, on average, 10.4% below the recommended salary range midpoints, which approximates the published survey data market median. (See Exhibit 5A for additional detail.)
• Total cash compensation (the sum of base salary and incentives, the latter of which the State does not provide) is, on average, 12.6% below market. (See Exhibit 8 for additional detail.)
• The benefits offered by the State are 19.7% above market and improve the overall market position of the State. However, State employees remain 4.6% below market when totaling base salary, incentives, and benefits. (See Exhibit 8 for additional detail.)
• The cost to adjust compensation to the threshold of market competitiveness, identified as the minimum of the proposed pay ranges, is $13,690,388 as the result of 5,050 State employees being paid below the proposed pay range minimums. (See Exhibit 5A for additional detail.)
• Missouri ranks last among the 50 states in average employee pay. (See Exhibit 10 for additional detail.)

For reasons detailed later in this report, this analysis has limited utility. CBIZ focused on the broader market for most of the analysis.

The remainder of this report will explain the methodology and expand on this summary in order to clearly document the comprehensive approach taken to analyze the State’s current compensation practices and develop its new compensation plan.
Exhibits 1A-10
Exhibit 11

Job stress and needlestick injuries: which targets for organizational interventions?

Source: G. d’Ettorre, Occupational Medicine, Advance Access, First published online: July 31, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background: Needlestick injuries (NSIs) represent a major concern for the safety of health care workers involved in clinical care. The percentage of health workers reporting these injuries varies between 9 and 38% and the occurrence of NSI is most frequent among employees having close clinical contact with patients or patient specimens. These injuries appear to occur most frequently where organizational factors contribute to the risk.

Aims: To investigate the interactions between organizational level interventions focused on work-related stress (WRS) and the occurrence of NSIs among nurses employed in hospital departments, and to determine the impact of such interventions on the safety budget.

Methods Comparison of NSI occurrence among nurses employed in hospital health care departments in two 3-year periods, before and after interventions aimed at minimizing WRS. The economic cost of NSIs occurrence was calculated.

Results: The study group consisted of 765 nurses. The cumulative 3-year incidence of NSIs after the implementation of management stress interventions was significantly lower than the cumulative 3-year incidence observed before implementation (OR 0.60; 95% CI 0.43–0.83). A cost saving from managing fewer NSIs than during the first study period was found.

Conclusions: This study found a reduction in NSI occurrence and associated costs following an intervention to bring about proactive, integrated and comprehensive management of stress in the workplace.

Bail, Fines, and Fees: A look at how bail, fines, and fees in the criminal justice system impact poor communities in New Orleans

Source: Vera Institute of Justice, 2016

The New Orleans criminal justice system, like many other local systems across the country, operates significantly on funding generated from the people cycling through it—from bail and associated fees before trial, to fines and fees levied after conviction. These practices come with hidden costs to defendants—the majority of whom are poor and black—and taxpayers alike. Such “user fees” are often set without consideration of the defendants’ financial means and failure to pay can keep someone behind bars or land them back in jail. This perpetuates an overreliance on local incarceration that exacts significant unnecessary costs on individuals, communities, and taxpayers alike. This explainer video from the Past Due project sheds light on fines, fees, and financial bail in New Orleans.

The Financial Firm That Cornered the Market on Jails
Source: Arun Gupta, The Nation, August 1, 2016

Thousands of arrestees a year are forced into get-out-of-jail-broke cards that are loaded up with deceptive fees.