Source: Adam Weber and John Peterson, Economic and Budget Issue Brief, Congressional Budget Office, June 20, 2007
The consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) is the best-known official measure of inflation. Published monthly by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the CPI-U tries to approximate changes in the cost of living–that is, changes in the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living from one month to the next. To construct the CPI-U, BLS surveys the prices of thousands of goods and services (the index has more than 200 categories of items) in 38 regions, averaging the results to form a nationwide estimate of inflation. Over the past five years, the cost of living, as measured by the CPI-U, has varied but, on average, has risen by about 2-3/4 percent per year.
The purpose of this brief is to explain some of the methods used to construct the CPI-U and why, in some cases, the index’s estimates of inflation may differ from consumers’ perceptions of how much prices are rising.2 The brief focuses on six aspects of the CPI-U’s construction: averaging regional price indexes to create a nationwide index; estimating the expenditure weights that BLS assigns to the major categories of prices in the CPI-U to account for the categories’ relative importance; allowing for shifts in relative prices, a phenomenon known as economic substitution; adjusting for changes in the quality of various goods and services; measuring prices for medical care; and measuring prices for shelter.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2007
The Condition of Education 2007 summarizes important developments and trends in education using the latest available data and by presenting 48 indicators on the status and condition of education and a special analysis on high school coursetaking. The indicators represent a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available. The 2007 print edition includes 48 indicators in five main areas: (1) participation in education; (2) learner outcomes; (3) student effort and educational progress; (4) the contexts of elementary and secondary education; and (5) the contexts of postsecondary education.
Source: California Health Care Foundation, May 2007
The main source of health insurance for one in six Californians, Medi-Cal is the nation’s largest Medicaid program covering 6.6 million people. Medi-Cal pays for nearly half of all births in the state, two-thirds of nursing home residents, and brings in more than $20 billion in federal funds to California’s health care providers.
The third edition of Medi-Cal Facts and Figures provides the essential elements of this massive program, including new information on enrollment, benefits and cost sharing, program spending and cost drivers. It also features key trends and comparisons with other states, describes the important role that Medi-Cal serves in California’s health care system, and examines several challenges facing the program.
Source: Lee Hoffman, National Center for Education Statistics, NCES 2007353, June 19, 2007
This report presents national and state-level data about the number of regular school districts and other local education agencies, school district size, grades served, and the number of school districts in city, suburban, town, and rural locales.
+ Full Report, U.S. Department of Education, NCES 2007-353
Source: Internal Revenue Service, IR-2007-119, June 18, 2007
The Internal Revenue Service today announced the release of the spring 2007 issue of the Statistics of Income Bulletin. Highlights include articles on high-income individual income tax returns, taxpayers reporting noncash contributions, farm proprietorship returns, qualified zone academy bonds, international boycott reports and S corporations.
The article on farm proprietorship returns is the first published by IRS in more than 20 years. In addition, this issue of the Bulletin presents selected tax year 1990-2004 individual income tax return data that have been indexed for inflation and tax year 2005 individual income tax return statistics classified by state and size of adjusted gross income.
For tax year 2004, there were 3,021,435 individual income tax returns filed with adjusted gross income (AGI) of $200,000 or more and 3,067,602 returns with expanded income of $200,000 or more.
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Source: Paula Rasich, Hospitals & Health Networks, Vol. 81 no. 6, June 2007
The next evolution in quality reporting is here as outcomes data goes public.
As the number of public Web sites on hospital performance have flourished during the past couple of years, mortality data has been noticeably absent. That’s all changing. The question is: Are hospitals ready?
This month, the federal government’s Hospital Compare Web site, which posts data on how well hospitals meet performance measures, will for the first time publish 30-day mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure. Pneumonia will be added soon. Using Medicare claims data, the site will show whether a hospital’s death rate is better or worse than what is expected for a hospital’s patient population.
Source: Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes, April 23, 2007, Vol. 179 no. 9
Rankings by business costs, living costs, crime rate, college degrees, income, and jobs.
Source: Ruth Milkman, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 32 no. 1, March 2007
This article surveys unionization patterns and other workplace-oriented organizing among Mexican-born workers since the mid-1990s. Although the number of Mexican-born union members grew during that decade, the unionized proportion declined, especially among noncitizens. The decline reflects the large proportion of new immigrants in the Mexican-born population and the increased geographic dispersion of immigration in recent years away from highly unionized states such as Illinois and California. Another factor is that recent Mexican immigrants are underrepresented in the most unionized sectors (such as government employment). However, unions, especially in California, have effectively mobilized Mexican immigrants into electoral politics in the 1990s, and new community-based organizations with a focus on economic justice have also recruited low-wage Mexican immigrant workers in occupations such as day labor and domestic service, in which conventional unionism is rare.
Source: Elliot Williams, Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 129 no. 10, October 2006
The Bureau of Labor Statistics rounds the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to a single decimal place before it is publicly released. Because the actual changes in the CPI have been small recently (the rate of inflation has been relatively low), the small differences in rounding the CPI index before calculating an inflation rate can create a significantly misleading picture of monthly price inflation. This article demonstrates how such problems can arise and investigates how frequently there is a discrepancy between inflation rates calculated from unrounded indexes and those calculated from rounded indexes under different possible rounding policies.