Posts Tagged ‘states’

state min wage

Here, based on a study by Arindrajit Dube [pdf] is a chart designed by Alissa Scheller (for the Huffington Post) of what each state’s minimum wage would be if it met the minimum standard of being equal to one-half the median wage in each state.

As Dubit explains,

A natural target is to set the minimum wage to half of the median full-time wage. This target has important historical precedence in the United States: in the 1960s, this ratio was 51 percent, reaching a high of 55 percent in 1968. Averaged over the 1960–1979 period, the ratio stood at 48 percent. Approximately half the median full-time wage is also the norm among all OECD countries with a statutory minimum wage. For OECD countries, on average, the minimum wage in 2012 (using the latest data available) was equal to 49 percent of the median wage; averaged over the entire sample between 1960 and 2012, the minimum stood at 48 percent of the median (OECD 2013). In contrast, the U.S. minimum wage now stands at 38 percent of the median wage, the third-lowest among OECD countries after Estonia and the Czech Republic.


Special mention

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Map of the day

Posted: 28 February 2014 in Uncategorized
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The map above indicates the net loss of federal funds by 2022, in millions, for the 20 states choosing not to participate in Medicaid expansion, assuming all other states participate.

As the Huffington Post explains,

Following a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that made Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act optional for states, 20 states have opted out of the reform, rejecting billions of dollars of federal funding for low-income residents. Texas and Florida will lose more than $9 billion and $5 billion, respectively.

See, also, Al Madrigal’s lambasting of the states that rejected expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Chart of the day

Posted: 22 February 2014 in Uncategorized
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United States

As Jon Queally explains,

  • In four states (Nevada, Wyoming, Michigan, and Alaska), only the top 1 percent experienced rising incomes between 1979 and 2007, and the average income of the bottom 99 percent fell.
  • In another 15 states the top 1 percent captured between half and 84 percent of all income growth between 1979 and 2007. Those states are Arizona (where 84.2 percent of all income growth was captured by the top 1 percent), Oregon (81.8 percent), New Mexico (72.6 percent), Hawaii (70.9 percent), Florida (68.9 percent), New York (67.6 percent), Illinois (64.9 percent), Connecticut (63.9 percent), California (62.4 percent), Washington (59.1 percent), Texas (55.3 percent), Montana (55.2 percent), Utah (54.1 percent), South Carolina (54.0 percent), and West Virginia (53.3 percent).
  • In the 10 states in which the top 1 percent captured the smallest share of income growth, the top 1 percent captured between about a quarter and just over a third of all income growth. Those states are Louisiana (where 25.6 percent of all income growth was captured by the top 1 percent), Virginia (29.5 percent), Iowa (29.8 percent), Mississippi (29.8 percent), Maine (30.5 percent), Rhode Island (32.6 percent), Nebraska (33.5 percent), Maryland (33.6 percent), Arkansas (34.0 percent), and North Dakota (34.2 percent).



In February of this year, 15 percent of the U.S. population—47.6 million people—were on food stamps.

Mississippi was the state with the largest share of its population relying on food stamps (22 percent), although the nation’s capital was even higher (at 23 percent). One in five residents in Oregon, New Mexico, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky also was a food-stamp recipient.


Special mention

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interactive map

The 50 U.S. states are facing, in the midst of the Second Great Depression, a profound fiscal crisis.

That much is clear from a new report by the State Budget Crisis Task Force, chaired by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker. Their argument is that the current fiscal crisis will persist long after (or if) the national economy rebounds as the states confront rising health care expenditures, underfunded pensions, ignored infrastructure needs, eroding revenues, and expected federal budget cuts. While the authors of the report fail to propose any real solutions (apart from the need for more “transparent, accountable state government finances”), they do include two important observations.

First, while state government education—related primarily to public higher education—has continued to rise, states have been shifting the costs of this employment. They have cut back substantially on appropriations for higher education, and public colleges and universities have been forced to respond by raising tuition and, as reported by Reuters, recruiting financially secure foreign students.

Second, states have been cutting non-education employment sharply—in prisons, hospitals, institutions, courts, and state agencies. In the view of the authors,

This is a fundamental shift in the way governments have responded to recessions and appears to signal a willingness to “unbuild” state governments in a way that has not been done before.

The fact is, neither mainstream political discourse nor mainstream economic theory has anything substantial to offer in terms of making sense of the conditions and consequences of this fiscal crisis of the states. What is missing, in particular, is a class analysis of the current tax debate, which by his own admission James O’Connor failed to fully explore in his seminal 1973 book, The Fiscal Crisis of the State.

And yet our current discussion of tax policy is drenched with class. On one hand, we hear Keynesian calls to lower taxes on the middle-class, because the economic system needs people to spend more money. On the other hand, there’s the chorus to lower the tax burden on the rich—the so-called job creators—because the economic system needs more savings and investment. And then there are the poor, who are presumed to want to supply more labor power only if they receive less money from the state via cut in welfare benefits.

What we need to do is pick up where O’Connor left off and examine the class conditions and consequences of the current fiscal crisis of the states.

OK, 2 maps. . .

Both maps indicate that, according to a new Pew Center on the States study [ht: ja], most states are falling further and further behind in terms of funding employee retirement systems, both pensions and retiree health care.

Thus, for example, in 2010, only Wisconsin had fully funded its pension plan and 34 states were below the 80 percent threshold. By the same token, seventeen states did not set aside any money to fund their retiree health care liabilities, and only seven states had funded at least 25 percent of healthcare liabilities.

The response is, if anything, even uglier: nearly every state has moved to reduce its retirement bill in the last three years.

The most common actions included asking employees to contribute a larger amount toward their pension benefits; increasing the age and years of service required before retiring; limiting the annual cost-of-living (COLA) increase; and changing the formula used to calculate benefits to provide a smaller pension check.

Much the same, of course, is true in the private sector.

What this means is that, in the midst of the Second Great Depression, employees in both the public and private sectors are under assault—while they’re working and even when they retire.

Only four states—Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana—have created enough jobs since the recovery to get back to where they were prior to the recession. A couple more, New York and West Virginia, are expected to return to their prerecession peak later this year.

However, according to Steven Frable of IHS Global Insight, the majority of states still won’t get there until after 2014.

Eighteen states still are more than 5% below their 2007 employment levels, and the two worst-hit states — Nevada and Michigan — are still more than 10% off their peaks. Frable estimates those two states, as well as Rhode Island which has seen sluggish job growth, won’t return to prerecession peaks until sometime after 2017.

Clearly, in the midst of the Second Great Depression, it’s going to be a long and winding road back to peak employment in many of the United States.