Category Archives: Websites/Databases/Blogs

OnLabor

Source: OnLabor, 2013

On Labor is a blog by Benjamin Sachs (a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School) and Jack Goldsmith (the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School) devoted to workers, unions, and their politics. We interpret our subject broadly to include the current crisis in the traditional union movement (why union decline is happening and what it means for our society); the new and contested forms of worker organization that are filling the labor union gap; how work ought to be structured and managed; how workers ought to be represented and compensated; and the appropriate role of government – all three branches – in each of these issues.

Location Affordability Portal

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation, 2013

Housing and transportation costs combine to take up almost half of the average household’s budget. While housing expenditures are usually easy to determine, transportation costs are much less transparent. The Location Affordability Portal seeks to bridge that information gap in order to help consumers, researchers, and policymakers better understand the impact of transportation costs on affordability.

The Portal features two cutting-edge new tools — the Location Affordability Index and My Transportation Cost Calculator—that illustrate from different perspectives how housing and transportation costs impact affordability. In addition to these decision-support tools, the Portal provides access to supporting resources that offer a wide range of information on current research and practice aimed at understanding, and ultimately reducing, the combined housing and transportation cost burden borne by American families.

Labor and Employment

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013

Labor and employment issues are covered by a combination of state and federal laws and are important to workers, businesses, labor organizations and governments. NCSL’s resources on labor and employment issues are arranged around six topic clusters: Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Employee Leave, Personnel Issues, Unemployment, and Wage and Hour. Hot issues for the 2013 legislative session include minimum wage, prevailing wage, right-to-work, unemployment, work-share programs, and collective bargaining. Click below for a list of NCSL labor and employment resources.
Sections include: Unemployment rates, State minimum wages, Employee misclassification, Working families, and three searchable legislative bill tracking databases on key labor and employment issues (collective bargaining, unemployment, workers compensation).

Fiscally Standardized Cities (FiSC) database

Source: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2013

From the press release:
As Detroit faces bankruptcy and many other cities across the U.S. address an ongoing crisis in municipal finance, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has created a new interactive database that for the first time allows meaningful comparisons of city finances – from spending on schools, police, and public works to revenues from the property tax and other sources.

The Fiscally Standardized Cities (FiSC) database allows users to compare local government finances for 112 large U.S. central cities across more than 120 categories of revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. Based on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, the FiSC database provides 34 years of data (1977-2010), with additional years to be added as the data become available.

Until now, it has been virtually impossible to make meaningful fiscal comparisons among the nation’s central cities because of major differences in how cities deliver public services, with some city governments providing a full array of public services while others share the responsibility with a variety of overlying independent governments.

The unique methodology of the Fiscally Standardized Cities (FiSC) database accounts for these differences in local government structure by adding together revenues and expenditures for each city municipal government and an appropriate share for overlying governments, including counties, independent school districts, and special districts. Thus FiSCs provides a full picture of revenues raised from city residents and businesses and spending on their behalf, whether done by the city government or a separate overlying government.

The FiSC database allows for apples-to-apples comparisons of local government finances at the city level, whereas comparing the finances of city governments alone is like comparing apples and oranges and thus is completely misleading. Two examples illustrate the importance of the FiSC estimates:
— Using city government data, Baltimore spends three times more per capita than Columbus, Ohio. The FiSC estimates, however, show that per capita spending in the two cities is nearly identical. This contrast exists because in Baltimore nearly all public services are provided by the city government, while in Columbus many public services are provided by the overlying county government and independent school districts.
— City government data suggest that the most important source of tax revenue in Tucson is the sales tax. In Buffalo, almost all of the city government’s tax revenue comes from the property tax. The FiSC estimates for these two cities tell a very different story. Because the county government in Tucson relies mainly on property taxes, Tucson residents actually pay more in property taxes than residents of Buffalo, where the county government relies on sales taxes…..

Affordable Care Act Resource Roundup

Source: varied

Health Reform Frequently Asked Questions – Kaiser Family Foundation

To search Frequently Asked Questions about Health Reform, enter your search terms in the box to the right. While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

What Obamacare Means For You – Kaiser Health News

We’re here to help you navigate your way around what the new health law will mean for you, your family and what health care — and insurance — will cost you.

Affordable Care Act – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Official Affordable Care Act website www.healthcare.gov

Obamacare: Understanding the Affordable Care Act
– Washington Post

Obamacare facts: How will the law affect you? – Christian Science Monitor

Social Mobility Memos

Source: Brookings Institution blogs, 2013

Brookings scholars and occasional guests post regular short pieces on the challenges of promoting greater social mobility and opportunity.

Recent posts include:
Will Less Incarceration Mean More Social Mobility?
Kim Howard and Richard V. Reeves | September 5, 2013 10:29am

Putting Social Mobility on the Corporate Agenda
Richard V. Reeves | September 3, 2013 10:59am

Elites Protect Their Own Against Downward Social Mobility
Richard V. Reeves | August 30, 2013 11:45am

Low Wage Americans Lose Faith in Social Mobility
Richard V. Reeves and Joanna Venator | August 29, 2013 2:45pm

The Other American Dream: Social Mobility, Race and Opportunity
Richard V. Reeves | August 28, 2013 10:00am

Responsible Budget Reporting

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), July 2013

From the press release:
Every day, articles are written about government spending, often using enormous numbers but very little context. For example, readers are told that a certain program costs $760 billion, which seems like a lot of money. However, they are not told that this cost is spread over a 10-year budget window or that over those 10 years, the program will only amount to 1.7165 percent of the budget. Expressing spending as percentages of the budget and explaining how many years an amount covers conveys much more information than a number alone and can make that number much less scary.

A new budget calculator from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) does just that. Users will be able to enter a dollar amount and the period of time the amount covers. A simple click of the button gives the cost of the program as a percentage of the budget. Users can toggle to the advanced calculator to see numbers expressed per capita, as a percent of total revenue, as a percent of discretionary spending or as a percent of the unified budget. The CEPR budget calculator gives some much needed perspective to the costs of government programs and spending cuts.

The United Front Against Austerity

Source: United Front Against Austerity, 2013

From about UFAA:
…Occupy Wall Street named the right enemy, but lacked the methods and will to defeat them. Our methods are simple: 1) A United Front representing a defined set of broadly popular demands; 2) A Program of economic demands, starting with a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax and Nationalization of the Federal Reserve System; 3) Leadership and an Organization that continually develop as the United Front grows.

Who will be the victims of this crisis – poor and working families, or the financial parasites who stole our jobs, our homes, our government and our future? The choice is yours. The United Front Against Austerity has the methods, program and resources you need. Spread the word – No Austerity, Make Wall Street Pay!

Pages include:
Organizing Reports
Articles and Podcasts
Meetups
Downloads

Programs include:
1. Emergency Measures
2. National Banking
3. Economic Protections
4. Economic Rights

What Families Need to Get By: The 2013 Update of EPI’s Family Budget Calculator

Source: Elise Gould, Hilary Wething, Natalie Sabadish, and Nicholas Finio, Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief, #368, July 3, 2013

From the summary:
The income level necessary for families to secure an adequate but modest living standard is an important economic yardstick. While poverty thresholds, generally set at the national level, help to evaluate what it takes for families to live free of serious economic deprivation, the Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) Family Budget Calculator—recently updated for 2013—offers a broader measure of economic welfare and provides an additional metric for academics and policy experts looking for comprehensive measures of economic security. The basic family budgets presented in this report, as well as those presented via the Family Budget Calculator itself, measure the income families need in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard where they live by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes….

…This issue brief begins by explaining in greater detail the advantages of EPI’s basic family budgets as compared with the federal poverty line and the Supplemental Poverty Measure. It then illustrates the budgets’ most important feature—their high degree of customizability by family type and community—by demonstrating how family budgets vary significantly depending on family size and geographical area.

The following is a sample of findings from the 2013 update of EPI’s Family Budget Calculator:
– The basic family budget for a two-parent, two-child family ranges from $48,144 (Marshall County, Miss.) to $93,502 (New York City). In the median family budget area, Newaygo County, Mich., a two-parent, two-child family needs $63,238 to secure an adequate but modest living standard. This is well above the 2012 poverty threshold of $23,283 for this family type.
– For a two-parent, two-child household, housing ranges from 10.8 percent to 25.6 percent of a family’s budget. Housing for this family type is most expensive in Hilo, Hawaii ($1,833 per month), and is least expensive in both Macon and Smith counties, Tenn. ($570 per month).
– Across regions and family types, child care costs account for the greatest variability in family budgets. Monthly child care costs for a two-parent, one-child household range from $334 in rural Mississippi to $1,318 in Washington, D.C. However, in the latter, monthly child care costs for a two-parent, three-child household are $2,114—60 percent higher than for a two-parent, one-child household.
– Even in the best of economic times, many parents in low-wage jobs will not earn enough through work to meet basic family needs. Annual wages for one full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker total $15,080, far below what is necessary for a one-parent, one-child family to live in even the least expensive family budget area….
See also:
Press release