U.S. Home Care Workers: Key Facts (2019)

Source: PHI, September 3, 2019

From the abstract:
This research brief provides the latest annual snapshot of the U.S. home care workforce, including key demographics and a variety of wage and employment trends. This year’s research found that nearly 2.3 million home care workers earn a median hourly wage of $11.52 and about $16,200 annually. One in six home care workers lives below the federal poverty line and more than half rely on some form of public assistance.

Key Takeaways:
– Nearly 2.3 million home care workers provide personal assistance and health care support to older adults and people with disabilities.

– From 2016 to 2026, the home care sector will need to fill 4.2 million home care worker job openings.

– With a median hourly wage of $11.52 and inconsistent work hours, home care workers typically earn $16,200 annually.

The Effects of Performance Audits on School District Financial Behavior

Source: Paul N. Thompson, Mark St. John, Public Finance Review, Online First, Published September 8, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Performance audits are a form of weak financial oversight intended to curb inefficient spending and help alleviate financial problems. This study examines the effect of these performance audits on school district finances in Ohio, where performance audits are used on their own and within the context of the state’s fiscal stress labeling system—a strong financial oversight system. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we find school districts do reduce expenditures as a result of these performance audits. These changes in financial behavior are found even for performance audits in nonfiscal stress districts, suggesting that weak oversight programs may be an effective means toward changing fiscal behavior. Despite the financial changes in nonfiscal stress districts that receive audits, there appears to be little impact on school district proficiency rates. These results suggest that audits may provide a useful mechanism for changing financial behavior of school districts without much associated efficiency losses.

How Local Economic Conditions Affect School Finances, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement: Evidence from the Texas Shale Boom

Source: Joseph Marchand, Jeremy G. Weber, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, August 29, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Whether improved local economic conditions lead to better student outcomes is theoretically ambiguous and will depend on how schools use additional revenues and how students and teachers respond to rising private sector wages. The Texas boom in shale oil and gas drilling, with its large and localized effects on wages and the tax base, provides a unique opportunity to address this question that spans the areas of education, labor markets, and public finance. An empirical approach using variation in shale geology across school districts shows that the boom reduced test scores and student attendance, despite tripling the local tax base and creating a revenue windfall. Schools spent additional revenue on capital projects and debt service, but not on teachers. As the gap between teacher wages and private sector wages grew, so did teacher turnover and the percentage of inexperienced teachers, which helps explain the decline in student achievement. Changes in student composition did not account for the achievement decline but instead helped to moderate it. The findings illustrate the potential value of using revenue growth to retain teachers in times of rising private sector wages.

Why Are Some Places So Much More Unequal Than Others?

Source: Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Economic Policy Review, Forthcoming [2019]

From the abstract:
This study examines the magnitude and sources of regional wage inequality in the United States. The authors find that, as in the nation as a whole, wage inequality has increased in nearly every metropolitan area since the early 1980s, though there is significant variation among places in both the degree of wage inequality and the pace at which it has risen. The most unequal places tend to be large urban areas that have benefited from strong demand for skill and agglomeration economies, with these factors leading to particularly rapid wage growth for high-skilled workers. The least unequal places tend to have seen weak demand for labor, largely as a consequence of technological change and globalization, and this weakness has led to lackluster wage growth across the entire wage distribution— particularly for middle- and lower-skilled workers. These findings suggest that a relatively low level of regional wage inequality is often the result of a weakening local economy, while relatively high regional wage inequality is often a consequence of strong but uneven economic growth.

How to Optimize Onboarding

Source: Dave Zielinski, HR Magazine, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

The right tools can make new hires more productive more quickly and save time for HR…

Good onboarding practices can reduce turnover and greatly improve new hires’ time to proficiency. But next-generation onboarding technologies can also eliminate much of the manual work, reduce the chance of problems or delays, and leave more time for HR and line managers to train and socialize new employees.

Using customized portals, today’s platforms allow new workers to complete essential digital forms, learn about teammates and begin developing short-term goals even before their first day on the job. Many also feature artificial intelligence (AI)-driven virtual agents to answer commonly asked questions. These portals can customize workflows to match an organization’s orientation needs and send automated reminders to ensure that all onboarding tasks are completed on time.

The stakes are high for choosing the right onboarding system, since nearly one-third of new hires grow dissatisfied and look for a new job within their first six months of employment, and those who stay take an average of eight months to reach acceptable levels of productivity, according to new research from Gartner. A recent Gallup study found that only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new hires…..

Making Onboarding More Effective
• Define your objectives. Determine the structure and content of your onboarding program. Give careful thought to what new hires need to know about the organization and their roles.
• Identify key players. Onboarding is more than an HR initiative. People throughout the organization need to take ownership of their part in the process by contributing content, serving as mentors and building connections with new hires.
• Stay engaged. Onboarding can last from a few weeks to more than a year. Develop timetables to ensure that new hires stay on track, and suggest resources to help them develop throughout their employment journey.
• Keep tweaking. Gather feedback from new hires about how the onboarding process worked for them and how it can be improved…..

Closing the Gender Pay Gap

Source: Tamara Lytle, HR Magazine, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

The gender pay gap has been stubbornly hard to close, but the tide may be turning.

…. These pay gaps are due to many factors, including women’s stepping out of the workforce for family obligations, the concentration of women in certain relatively low-paying “pink collar” occupations (such as teaching and hospitality), stereotypes that women aren’t tough negotiators on pay and plain old bias, whether conscious or not. ….

…. Big-Picture Questions on Pay Disparities

• Do women generally wait longer than men for promotions?
• Are female workers shunted into lower-paying jobs?
• Are performance reviews based on subjective factors that can be clouded by unconscious bias?
• Is the company culture welcoming to women?
• Are there gender differences in nonsalary compensation such as bonuses, overtime opportunities and stock options?

Building a Better Boss

Source: Dori Meinert, HR Magazine, Vol. 64 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

Bad managers can make or break your organization’s ability to achieve its goals. Here’s how you can help them improve. ….

…. Bad bosses—whether they’re on the front lines or in the executive suite—can make employees’ lives miserable. The behavior of a poor manager lowers morale and increases stress. Ultimately, research shows, organizations suffer from increased absences, lower productivity and higher turnover. ….

Great managers understand the impact they have on their team members’ work environment.
“Good managers consciously and deliberately choose to create an environment for the team where good things happen,” Deacon says. “A great manager will figure out what each individual can and should contribute, and what the collective ambition should be, and will be very clear on what that looks like.”
The best managers are constantly asking: How do they need my help? How can I help them grow? By encouraging their employees’ growth, they give them something to work for—and create a more productive team as a result, he says. ….

Lawmakers Target Anti-Poverty Programs After Paid Trips to Disney

Source: Jared Bennett, Center for Public Integrity, September 4, 2019  
This story was published in partnership with Vox.

A conservative think tank is pushing policies limiting food aid and other anti-poverty measures. After being wined and dined, Republican lawmakers are coming on board.

In December, the Foundation for Government Accountability hosted public officials from across the country in Orlando. The scene: Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort, an ocean-themed oasis with palatial fountains next to a lake lined with palm trees.

The FGA, a right-leaning think tank based in Naples, Florida, paid travel and lodging expenses for many of the conservative leaders in attendance, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and three White House aides.

Guests heard presentations such as “Stop the Scam: The Reality of Food Stamp Fraud.” Between sessions, the foundation treated attendees to catered desserts and a fireworks display from a terrace featuring a faux Eiffel Tower overlooking the Epcot World Showcase Lagoon, according to invitations obtained by the Center for Public Integrity through open-records requests.

The FGA aimed to send decision-makers back to their respective states, or the nation’s capital, with fresh zeal to restrict access to public assistance programs designed for low-income people, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The association even provided road maps for achieving this goal in the form of model legislation — suggested wording for laws and regulations that could serve as a template for like-minded policymakers…..

….The FGA and its 501(c)(4) nonprofit lobbying wing, the Opportunity Solutions Project, advocate for a variety of policy proposals, from reforming licensing requirements for workers set by state and local governments, to installing work requirements for Medicaid and blocking that program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare…..

Copy, Paste, Legislate

Source: Center for Public Integrity, 2019

How special interest groups achieve their goals by enlisting friendly lawmakers to quietly push ‘model legislation’ in statehouses nationwide.

Articles include:
They copied bills from corporations. These lawmakers say that’s OK.
Source: Matt Wynn, James Sergent, Aamer Madhani, Center for Public Integrity, July 18, 2019

Legislators agreed to carry copycat bills handed to them by companies, lobbyists and special interests seeking to write states’ laws in bulk.

The network behind state bills ‘countering’ Sharia law and terrorism
Source: Center for Public Integrity, July 18, 2019

For anti-abortion activists, success of ‘heartbeat’ bills was 10 years in the making
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 20, 2019

Women’s rights fighters take a page from the anti-abortion playbook
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 20, 2019

Adoption centers: the latest battleground for religious freedom
Source: Center for Public Integrity, June 10, 2019

Related:
Copy, Paste, Legislate: You elected them to write new laws. They’re letting corporations do it instead.
An investigation by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity
Soure: Rob O’Dell, and Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, June 19, 2019

….USA TODAY and the Republic found at least 10,000 bills almost entirely copied from model legislation were introduced nationwide in the past eight years, and more than 2,100 of those bills were signed into law. The investigation examined nearly 1 million bills in all 50 states and Congress using a computer algorithm developed to detect similarities in language. That search – powered by the equivalent of 150 computers that ran nonstop for months – compared known model legislation with bills introduced by lawmakers. The phenomenon of copycat legislation is far larger. In a separate analysis, the Center for Public Integrity identified tens of thousands of bills with identical phrases, then traced the origins of that language in dozens of those bills across the country…..

• Models are drafted with deceptive titles and descriptions to disguise their true intent. The Asbestos Transparency Act didn’t help people exposed to asbestos. It was written by corporations who wanted to make it harder for victims to recoup money. The “HOPE Act,” introduced in nine states, was written by a conservative advocacy group to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps.

• Special interests sometimes work to create the illusion of expert endorsements, public consensus or grassroots support. One man testified as an expert in 13 states to support a bill that makes it more difficult to sue for asbestos exposure. In several states, lawmakers weren’t told that he was a member of the organization that wrote the model legislation on behalf of the asbestos industry, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

• Bills copied from model legislation have been used to override the will of local voters and their elected leaders. Cities and counties have raised their minimum wage, banned plastic bags and destroyed seized guns, only to have industry groups that oppose such measures make them illegal with model bills passed in state legislatures. Among them: Airbnb has supported the conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which pushed model bills to strike down local laws limiting short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods in four states.

• Industry groups have had extraordinary success pushing copycat bills that benefit themselves. More than 4,000 such measures were introduced during the period analyzed by USA TODAY/Arizona Republic. One that passed in Wisconsin limited pain-and-suffering compensation for injured nursing-home residents, restricting payouts to lost wages, which the elderly residents don’t have…..