Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Americans

Source: Emily Fazio, Regional Financial Review, Vol. 29 no. 9, May 2019
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Mortality in the U.S. is rising. As a result, life expectancy at birth has fallen every year since its peak in 2014. This paper discusses the rise in mortality and the influence of increased rates of suicide and fatal drug overdoses. It also looks at geographic differences in mortality. Third, this paper considers the impact of economic conditions on changes in mortality, suicide rates, and fatal drug overdoses.

Why Does Immigration Matter So Much?

Source: Dante DeAntonio, Regional Financial Review, Vol. 29 no. 9, May 2019
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Given the demographic hurdles facing the U.S. economy, it becomes more clear that increasing immigration should be seen as a net positive. Although the changing face of immigration may provide slightly less support in terms of combating an aging workforce, the benefits of stronger labor force growth and the potential to fuel birthrates with a robust first generation remain clear.

Will Trump Push Too Far?

Source: Ryan Sweet, Regional Financial Review, Vol. 29 no. 9, May 2019
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The trade war between the U.S. and China continues to dominate the geopolitical sphere and cloud the global economic outlook. In this article we assess the damage so far from the trade tensions between the U.S. and China. We examine whether the tariffs have had their desired effect and highlight their costs. Finally, we present two scenarios, Trade War Standoff and Trade War Conflagration, to quantify how trade tensions could play out.

Fiscal Survey of the States – Spring 2019

Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, June 2019

From the overview:
With data gathered from all 50 state budget offices, this semi-annual report provides a narrative analysis of the fiscal condition of the states and data summaries of state general fund revenues, expenditures, and balances. The spring edition details governors’ proposed budgets; the fall edition details enacted budgets.

Governors’ recommended budgets for fiscal 2020 reflect stable state fiscal conditions, calling for investments in key priorities while saving for future challenges. Proposed spending plans would increase general fund expenditures by 3.7 percent in fiscal 2020, with 47 states proposing spending increases and governors directing the majority of new money to education.
Other key findings from the report:
– Governors proposed appropriation increases totaling $30.8 billion in fiscal 2020, including $14.1 billion in new money for K-12 education and $3.6 billion for higher education.
– States estimate general fund spending grew 5.8 percent in fiscal 2019, the fastest annual growth rate since fiscal 2007.
– No states made mid-year budget cuts in fiscal 2019 due to a revenue shortfall, and only 3 states made small mid-year reductions for other reasons.
– 28 states reported fiscal 2019 general fund revenue collections exceeding projections, with this number expected to grow after accounting for April receipts.
– Governors’ budgets are based on forecasted general fund revenue growth of 4.0 percent in fiscal 2020.
– Governors proposed a series of revenue actions consisting mostly of tax increases, including a number of proposals directed towards transportation, with a net revenue impact of $8.1 billion in fiscal 2020.
– The median rainy day fund balance as a share of general fund spending reached 7.5 percent in fiscal 2019, a new all-time high.
– Medicaid spending from all funds is expected to grow 4.0 percent in fiscal 2020, with state funds increasing 3.1 percent and federal funds growing 4.5 percent.

Big city growth stalls further, as the suburbs make a comeback

Source: William H. Frey, Brookings Institution blog, May 24, 2019

As we approach the end of the 2010s, the biggest cities in the United States are experiencing slower growth or population losses, according to new census estimates. The combination of city growth declines and higher suburban growth suggests that the “back to the city” trend seen at the beginning of the decade has reversed.

These trends are consistent with previous census releases for counties and metropolitan areas that point to a greater dispersion of the U.S. population as the economy and housing market pick back up, perhaps propelled by young adult millennials who may be finally departing dense urban cores as they make a delayed entrance into marriage and the housing market.

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in Senators’ Offices, FY2001-FY2018

Source: R. Eric Petersen, Raymond T. Williams, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44324, June 11, 2019

Levels of pay for congressional staff are a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public. There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations, guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices, or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 16 staff position titles that are typically found in Senators’ offices. The positions include the following: Administrative Director, Casework Supervisor, Caseworker, Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Constituent Services Representative, Counsel, Executive Assistant, Field Representative, Legislative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Legislative Director, Press Secretary, Scheduler, Staff Assistant, and State Director.The following table provides the change in median pay levels for these positions, in constant 2019 dollars between FY2017 and FY2018

Staff Pay Levels for Selected Positions in House Member Offices, 2001-2018

Source: R. Eric Petersen, Raymond T. Williams, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44323, June 11, 2019

Levels of pay for congressional staff are a source of recurring questions among Members of Congress, congressional staff, and the public.There may be interest in congressional pay data from multiple perspectives, including assessment of the costs of congressional operations, guidance in setting pay levels for staff in Member offices, or comparison of congressional staff pay levels with those of other federal government pay systems.

This report provides pay data for 15 staff position titles that are typically used in House Members’ offices. The positions include the following: Caseworker, Chief of Staff, Communications Director, Constituent Services Representative, Counsel, District Director, Executive Assistant, Field Representative, Legislative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Legislative Director, Office Manager, Press Secretary, Scheduler, and Staff Assistant. The following table provides the change in median pay levels for these positions in constant 2019 dollars,between 2017 and 2018…..

How to Adjust the Official Poverty Measure

Source: State Policy Reports, Vol. 37 no. 10, May 2019
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A recent request by a federal agency is purportedly intended to gather information to inform a future decision, but some observers see a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Related:
Trump May Redefine Poverty, Cutting Americans From Welfare Rolls
Source: Justin Sink, Bloomberg, May 6, 2019

• OMB says in regulatory filing it may recalculate poverty level
• Switch to so-called chained CPI would slow growth of poverty

FAQ: The Trump Administration’s Proposal to Lower the Federal Poverty Line
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 30, 2019

On May 6, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a notice requesting comments on changing the methodology for updating the federal poverty line for inflation. The notice floats the idea of updating the Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds using an alternative, lower measure of inflation than the traditional Consumer Price Index (known as the CPI-U) — either the “chained” CPI or the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index. This would result in lower poverty thresholds, with the gap between the current and proposed methodologies increasing each year….

‘Can’t pay their bills with love’: In many teaching jobs, teachers’ salaries can’t cover rent

Source: Erin Richards and Matt Wynn, USA TODAY, June 5, 2019

New teachers can’t afford median rent almost anywhere. Our city-by-city analysis validates a theme in teacher strikes. But that’s not the full story.

Related:
Low relative pay and high incidence of moonlighting play a role in the teacher shortage, particularly in high-poverty schools
The third report in “The Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market” series
Source: Emma García and Elaine Weiss, Economic Policy Institute, May 9, 2019

What this series finds:
The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers.

What this report finds:
The perceived financial hardships in teaching are real. This report adds to the compelling evidence in Sylvia Allegretto and Larry Mishel’s recent research showing that teachers are paid a lot less than other comparable college graduates. After accounting for education, experience, and other factors known to affect earnings, teachers’ weekly wages in 2018 were 21.4 percent lower than their nonteaching peers. In 1996 that weekly wage penalty was 6.3 percent. Our report identifies other indicators that teacher pay is too low and declining. For example, in the 2015–2016 school year, 59.0 percent of teachers took on additional paid work either in the school system or outside of it—up from 55.6 percent in the 2011–2012 school year. A majority of moonlighters (44.1 percent) were taking on second jobs within the school system, such as coaching, student activity sponsorship, mentoring other teachers, or teaching evening classes; 18.2 percent were working outside of the school system; and 5.7 percent were receiving compensation based on student performance. For these teachers, moonlighting makes up a substantial 7.0 percent share of their combined base salary and extra income. Financial stress is greater for teachers in high-poverty schools. Relative to teachers in low-poverty schools, teachers in high-poverty schools are paid less ($53,300 vs. $58,900), receive a smaller amount from moonlighting ($4,000 vs. $4,300), and the moonlighting that they do is less likely to involve paid extracurricular or additional activities for the school system that generate extra pay but also help them grow professionally as teachers (data are for 2015–2016). Data suggest a relationship between low salaries and quitting. Teachers who ended up quitting before the 2012–2013 school year had lower base salaries ($50,800 vs. $53,300) and were more likely to be supplementing their base pay with work outside the school system in the year before they quit (18.4 percent vs. 16.3 percent).

Unlocking Access to Health Care: A Federalist Approach to Reforming Occupational Licensing

Source: Gabriel Scheffler, Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2019

From the abstract:
Several features of the existing occupational licensing system impede access to health care without providing appreciable protections for patients. Licensing restrictions prevent health care providers from offering services to the full extent of their competency, obstruct the adoption of telehealth, and deter foreign-trained providers from practicing in the United States. Scholars and policymakers have proposed a number of reforms to this system over the years, but these proposals have had a limited impact for political and institutional reasons.

Still, there are grounds for optimism. In recent years, the federal government has taken a range of initial steps to reform licensing requirements for health care providers, and these steps have the potential to improve access to health care. Together, they illustrate a federalist approach to licensing reform, in which the federal government encourages the states to reform their licensing regimes, while largely preserving states’ control over the system. These steps include: (1) easing federal licensing restrictions for health care providers in certain areas where the federal government possesses regulatory authority; (2) creating incentives for states and professional bodies to experiment with reforms; (3) intensifying the Federal Trade Commission’s focus on licensing boards’ anti-competitive conduct; and (4) generating additional pressure for state-level reforms through expanding health insurance and promoting delivery system reforms under the Affordable Care Act.

This article argues that a federalist approach represents the most promising path toward reforming occupational licensing in health care. Federal intervention in licensing is necessary, due to states’ lack of incentives to experiment with licensing reforms, the externalities of their licensing regimes, and their inability to resolve their own collective action problems. Nevertheless, large-scale federal preemption of state licensing laws is unlikely, due to a combination of interest group politics, Congress’s tendency toward incrementalism, and its reliance on the states to administer federal policies. A federalist approach also has functional advantages over outright federal preemption: it allows for more experimentation in constructing new licensing regimes, and it enables the federal government to take advantage of states’ institutional expertise in regulating occupations. Finally, this approach presents a model for how the federal government can play a constructive role in occupational licensing in other fields besides health care, and in other areas of state regulatory policy.