Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Press Release, USDL-19-0079, January 18, 2019
The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was 10.5 percent in 2018, down by 0.2 percentage point from 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.7 million in 2018, was little changed from 2017. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
Highlights from the 2018 data:
–The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent). (See table 3.)
–The highest unionization rates were among workers in protective service occupations (33.9 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (33.8 percent). (See table 3.)
–Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.1 percent) than women (9.9 percent). (See table 1.)
–Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
–Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 82 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($860 versus $1,051). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
–Among states, Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates (23.1 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively), while North Carolina and South Carolina had the lowest (2.7 percent each). (See table 5.)
Source: Mark Siciliano, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published January 15, 2019
From the abstract:
Since the enactment of Say on Pay in January 2011, companies are required to disclose the amounts payable to named executive officers as a results of an acquisition. There have been 1,524 U.S. public takeovers from 2011 to 2017, which have disclosed golden parachute payments to executives. The author describes payments made by sector, payment types, triggering events and the propensity of voters to accept, or reject, golden parachute payments based some of the more concerning pay practices.
Source: Jill E Yavorsky, Social Forces, Advance Articles, Published: January 18, 2019
From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.
Source: Shilpa Phadke and Diana Boesch, Center for American Progress, January 18, 2019
…. This column reviews how women’s work is segmented and undervalued; how workers at the margins—such as domestic workers, farm laborers, part-time workers, and gig economy workers—face persistent barriers and inequality; and how policymakers must prioritize centering workers’ voices and holistic needs and experiences as they craft meaningful economic policy. While this column does not detail the myriad ways in which women often struggle to maintain their economic security to the detriment of their health, it is important to emphasize that women do not live their lives in silos, and access to a range of programs and policies, such as comprehensive reproductive health services, as well as access to affordable education and skills-based learning, are critical to women’s economic success. ….
Source: Ted Hampton, Thomas Aaron, Timothy Blake, Moody’s Investors Service, Issuer Comment, State government – Illinois, December 18, 2018
Illinois’ (Baa3 stable) pension funding slightly improved under our adjustments in the year ended June 30, 2018, despite higher unfunded liability figures that the state reported December 7 (see Exhibit 1). Rising interest rates that lowered liabilities, combined with favorable investment returns, drove down the state’s adjusted net pension liability (ANPL) by an estimated 2%-5% in the year. Nonetheless, Illinois’ recent pension funding gains lag those of other states, largely because of its weak contributions and rising payouts.
Source: David Levett, Rachel Cortez, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s Investors Service, Sector In-Depth, Local government – Illinois, December 14, 2018
Heavy pension burdens have weakened credit quality for many Illinois cities in recent years, but some Illinois municipalities have maintained exceptional credit profiles.
Source: Heather Correia, Roger S Brown, Naomi Richman, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s Investors Service, Sector In-Depth, Local government – New Mexico, December 18, 2018
Without changes to New Mexico’s two statewide cost-sharing pension plans, municipalities’ elevated pension burdens will intensify. Although pension contribution rates are set by state statute, if rates increase through legislative reform, local governments will likely be responsible for these cost hikes.
Source: Thomas Aaron, Timothy Blake, Moody’s Investors Service, Sector In-Depth, Local government – US, December 18, 2018
Adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPLs) reached new peaks for most of the 50 largest local governments (by debt outstanding) in fiscal year 2017 reporting, due to poor investment returns and low market interest rates. Most governments report pension funding with up to a one-year lag, so favorable investment returns in fiscal 2017 and 2018 will lead to a decline in ANPLs through many of those governments’ 2019 reporting. Nonetheless, pensions continue to drive historically high leverage and elevated annual costs for some governments, and risks from potential pension investment losses are significant…..
Source: S&P Global Ratings, January 9, 2019
Although 2019 is starting out with growing economic uncertainty in the U.S., S&P Global Ratings believes the U.S. local government sector remains stable and resilient for now. Local governments benefited from positive economic trends in 2018 (such as higher GDP growth and low unemployment), but 2019 already show some signs of slowing, including lower GDP projections and higher interest rates. (For more on our 2019 economic projections, see “The New Year Will Likely Ring In A Record U.S. Expansion; Could It Be A Last Hurrah?“, published Dec. 4, 2018, on RatingsDirect.)
Slower GDP growth and mounting fixed costs can start to put pressure on states before local governments, but local governments can feel the impact relatively quickly. (For more on our state sector outlook, see “U.S. State Sector 2019 Outlook: Caution – Slower Speeds Ahead,” published Jan. 8, 2019.) Should state revenue sharing decrease, other costs be pushed down from the state level, or other localized pressures stem from federal policy changes such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) or tariff increases, we believe some local governments will need to start showing their resilience and make difficult budget choices sooner rather than later, or risk credit deterioration.
Source: S&P Global Ratings, January 8, 2019
For the U.S. states, S&P Global Ratings’ baseline economic forecast of slower growth in 2019 holds the potential for renewed fiscal strain. Although now long in duration, the economic expansion that began in mid-2009 has been shallow. One consequence of this was the persistence of narrow fiscal margins for many states and, relatedly, an uncharacteristically high downgrade-to-upgrade ratio lasting through 2017. This changed in 2018 when, along with stronger economic growth, state fiscal health and credit quality stabilized. However, the higher GDP growth rate in 2018—while beneficial—was driven in part by an infusion of late-cycle federal fiscal stimulus (tax cuts and deficit spending). As the effect of this stimulus fades, and in light of the Federal Reserve’s ongoing tightening, we expect the pace of economic growth to decelerate in 2019. A protracted federal government shutdown would only accentuate the drag on growth emanating from Washington (see “A U.S. Federal Government Shutdown Won’t Immediately Threaten State Credit Quality, But It Sets An Ominous Tone For 2019,” published Dec 21, 2018).
Furthermore, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 may have caused some taxpayers to move income into (calendar) 2017. While this contributed to windfall tax collections in 2018, states can expect growth rates to decline in 2019 as revenues revert to trend.