Source: HR World Editors, June 17, 2008
While athletes’ contracts grab all the headlines, they can’t hold a candle to the most legendary corporate cash-outs, retirements, and bonuses. Here are 15 of the most astonishing retirement packages, severance payouts and bonuses that corporate America has ever seen.
Source: Nooshin Mahalia, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #215, July 8, 2008
From the press release:
Many state and local governments, for more than a century, have required private contractors on public works projects to pay wages and benefits on par with what is commonly paid to construction workers in the area. The federal government followed suit in 1931 with passage of the Davis-Bacon Act. The Act requires contractors to pay the prevailing wage, defined as the wage rate paid to at least 50% of workers in the industry in that area or, if no wage rate reaches the 50% mark, the industry average for the area.
The EPI report, “Prevailing Wages and Government Contracting Costs” by economic analyst Nooshin Mahalia, finds that the studies that prevailing wage opponents cite contain a critical flaw that makes their findings unreliable. They are based on hypothetical models which assume as a starting point that higher wages will necessarily raise contract costs, rather than testing whether, in practice, there is a relationship between wages and contract costs. Mahalia’s analysis shows that most researchers have found that prevailing wage regulations in practice do not increase government contracting costs.
Source: Congressional Budget Office, Pub no. 2996, June 2008
Changes in earnings and income are characteristic of a dynamic labor market, as people change jobs or careers, move between part-time and full-time work, or start or stop working.
Having that flexibility in the labor market is generally considered a source of strength of the U.S. economy overall. Nonetheless, that variability causes true economic hardship for some people.
This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) paper uses administrative and survey data to examine year-to-year changes in individual earnings and household income since 1984. It also examines variability in earnings and income by factors such as age, sex, and education.
Source: Heather Boushey and Shawn Fremstad, New Labor Forum, Vol. 17, Issue 2, Summer 2008
In the United States, low-wage work is commonly defined by referencing the federal poverty line. According to this definition, a low-wage job is one that paid less than $9.83 an hour in 2006. Yet, there is near-unanimous consensus among researchers and policy advocates that the poverty line is a deply flawed measure. Reflecting this consensus, economist Rebecca Blank recently wrote: “It is not too strong a statement to say that, forty-three years after they were developed, the poverty thresholds are nonsensical numbers.” … In this article, we look to establish firmer foundations than the poverty line to define low-wage work.
Source: Mckinley L. Blackburn, Industrial Relations, Volume 47 Issue 3, July 2008
From the abstract:
This paper addresses several estimation and specification issues in estimating union wage differentials in the United States over the last two decades. Estimates provide strong evidence of a decline in the differential for women. For men, the differential appears to have declined for a person with overall average characteristics, but not for a male with characteristics of the average unionized male.
Source: Andrew Sum and Paulo Tobar with Joseph McLaughlin and Sheila Palma
Challenge, May-June 2008
In case you wondered whether workers in securities firms and investment bankers have fared better than the rest of American workers, the answer is, resoundingly, “Yes.” Andrew Sum and his colleagues here present the most comprehensive evidence so far. It is eye-opening.
Typical full-time wage and salary workers in the United States achieved no increase in their weekly earnings over the 2002-2007 period. They gained no economic ground despite rising labor productivity and increasing aggregate employment opportunities over most of this five-year period. Second, the mean weekly earnings of the nation’s production or nonsupervisory workers rose by only $6 over this five-year period, barely enough to buy a premium six-pack of beer in most states or a grande latte and a scone at Starbucks.
The mean weekly earnings of workers in the nation’s investment banking and securities industries rose by $2,408 between the first quarters of 2002 and 2007, four hundred times higher than the mean weekly earnings gains of the nation’s 110 million frontline workers. The mean weekly earnings (including bonuses) of wage and salary workers in the investment banking and securities industries of Manhattan rose by $8,028 over the 2002 I-2007 I period. This mean weekly wage gain for Wall Street workers was 134 times higher than the mean weekly wage gain for all U.S. wage and salary workers, including executives, and 1,338 times higher than the mean weekly wage gain for all frontline workers in U.S. industries over this five-year period.
Source: Tamara Draut, Dēmos, Spring 2008
From the press release:
Today’s young adults are feeling the impact of a massive shift in the U.S. economy–changes that are documented in a new data report from Demos and an analysis of public opinion polling by The Center for American Progress.
The Demos report, “The Economic State of Young America,” is a comprehensive databook offering proof that a combination of declining incomes, growing debt, and high costs of education, homeownership and healthcare are conspiring to make this generation the first to not surpass the living standards of their parents.
The Progressive Generation: How Young Adults Think About the Economy
Center for American Progress
Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2008
From the summary:
A new report from CEPR shows that union membership increases the wages of all workers, with low-wage workers seeing the largest gains.
This report uses national data from 2003 to 2007 to show that unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker (one in the 10th percentile) by 20.6 percent compared to 13.7 percent for the typical medium wage worker (one in the 50th percentile), 6.1 percent for the typical high-wage worker (one in the 90th percentile). The paper also produces results for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Throughout the states, a similar pattern holds, with unionization raising the wages of the lowest-wage workers the most.
Source: State Health Access Data Assistance Center, University of Minnesota, April 2008
From the summary:
This article reveals how the cost of family health insurance nationwide is increasing dramatically for employees without anywhere near an equivalent increase in family income. If this trend continues, more workers are likely to become uninsured because of the expense.
- The amount workers pay for family coverage nationwide has increased by 30 percent from $8,281 in 2001 to $10,728 in 2005.
- Employee income has increased by only 3 percent in the same time period.
- The average cost employers pay for their share of family coverage has increased by 28 percent from $6,360 to $8,143.
Seventy-six percent of insured individuals in the United States receive health insurance from their own or a family member’s employer. It follows that the more employees and employers have to pay for that insurance, the more likely workers are to join the ranks of the uninsured. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation stated in a press release, “This study makes plain what every working parent knows–that providing insurance coverage takes a bigger bite from the family budget every year.”
Source: American Association of University Professors, March-April 2008
For many years now, colleges and universities have attempted to balance competing demands from students, legislators, and society at large. Students are enrolling in record numbers, legislators and employers are demanding greater skill levels from graduates, and higher education is increasingly being called on to do the work of economic development; at the same time, the share of institutional funding provided by state and federal governments continues to decline. Given these competing pressures on institutions, financial decision making has become a matter of determining priorities. In this year’s report, we call into question the apparent priorities demonstrated by trends in relative spending on salaries for faculty, football coaches, and senior administrators and by the shifts in staffing that have reshaped colleges and universities so dramatically over recent decades.