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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Shutdowns Cost Money

At NYT, Jim Tankersley explains why shutdowns cost money for taxpayers:

First, employees will get back pay for work that they could not do.
Paying employees for work they were not allowed to perform was the highest cost identified in a report the Obama administration commissioned that estimated the price of a 2013 government shutdown. President Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget estimated total compensation costs — pay and benefits — for workers affected by that shutdown at $2.5 billion. It lasted 16 days, which is shorter than the current shutdown.
Second, the government will miss out on collecting certain taxes and fees.

Third, it will owe other payments.
Laws called the Prompt Payment Act and the Cash Management Improvement Act require the federal government to pay interest on contracts, grants and other obligations that it is unable to fund during the shutdown. If, for example, NASA is unable to pay a contracting company on time during a shutdown, it will still have to pay that money once operations resume — plus some extra. The Prompt Payment interest rate for the first half of this year is 3.625 percent, according to the Treasury Department.
Finally, the shutdown will hurt the economy.
The longer the shutdown lasts, the faster the economy could fall. If the government stops issuing nutrition assistance for low-income families, if agencies can’t process federally backed home loans, if unpaid airport security workers call out sick en masse and air travel is strangled — that could add up to a major economic disruption.
Megan Cerullo at CBS:
Average weekly direct and indirect costs of the partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22, currently add up to $1.2 billion, according to Beth Ann Bovino, S&P Global's U.S. chief economist. Monday marked the start of the shutdown's fifth week, and the closure will have caused roughly $6 billion in damage to the economy if the government does not reopen by the end of the week, Bovino estimated in a recent research note.

And the average weekly cost of the shutdown is expected to grow as the damage to industries and consumers both widens and deepens. "The longer this shutdown drags on, the more collateral damage the economy will suffer," Bovino wrote.
Direct effects of the marathon shutdown include lost productivity from the hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers who haven't been paid since the Dec. 22 closure. While the precise impact has not been calculated, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that federal employees' lost hours during a 16-day shutdown back in October 2013 reduced fourth-quarter GDP by 0.3 percentage points.

Monday, January 21, 2019

International Students: Decline in New Enrollment

New foreign student enrollment in the U.S. dropped by 6.6 percent in the 2017-18 academic year, double the previous year’s rate of decline, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). While the total number of international students in the U.S. grew slightly, the drop in new enrollees is the biggest since 9/11, said Rachel Banks, public policy director at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The decline seems to be continuing this year, she said.
“Education—particularly higher education—is a major American export,” University of California, Santa Barbara economics professor Dick Startz wrote in a Brookings Institution blog post in 2017. “When we provide a service that leads to foreigners sending money into the U.S., that’s an export with exactly the same economic effects as when we sell soybeans or coal abroad.”

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Vets and College Inequality

From Ithaka S+R 
In November, Ithaka S+R and the College Board hosted “Improving Opportunities for Veterans.” This conference brought together leaders from higher education, the military, and veterans service organizations who share the goal of increasing the enrollment and graduation of veterans at colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates.
In our new report with Catharine Bond Hill and Martin Kurzweil, we investigate the underrepresentation of United States military veterans at colleges that graduate at least 70 percent of their students. The benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree are clear, but veterans rarely attend those colleges and universities where they have the greatest chance to succeed: only one in ten veterans using GI Bill benefits enrolls in a high-graduation-rate institution, while approximately one in three veterans using GI Bill benefits attends a for-profit institution.
These inequities are not the result of veterans not being talented enough to succeed at top colleges and universities; in fact, there are many indicators that student veterans can attend and be successful. Student veterans are 1.4 times more likely to earn a certificate or degree than adult learners overall, and student veterans have an average GPA of 3.34, compared to the average for traditional students of 2.94. While many community colleges and regional four-year publics have large enrollments of veterans and serve their needs well, high-graduation-rate institutions, those that also tend to have more resources, could do more.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Generation Z: Yea on Liberalism, Nay on American Exceptionalism

Kim Parker, Nikki Graf And Ruth Igielnik at Pew:
No longer the new kids on the block, Millennials have moved firmly into their 20s and 30s, and a new generation is coming into focus. Generation Z – diverse and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet – is moving toward adulthood with a liberal set of attitudes and an openness to emerging social trends...while majorities in Gen Z and the Millennial generation say government should do more to solve problems, rather than that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, Gen Xers and Boomers are more evenly divided on this issue. For their part, most Silents would like to see a less activist government.
Gen Z and Millennials see bigger role for government

And the younger generations are less likely to think that America is better than other countries:

  • Generation Z (born 1997-2005)
  • Millennials (born 1981-96)
  • Generation X (born 1965-80)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) 
  • Silent Generation (born 1928-45)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Union Membership in 2018

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.) 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

GoFundMe and Health Care

Rachel Bluth at Kaiser Health News:
Scrolling through the GoFundMe website reveals seemingly an endless number of people who need help or community support. A common theme: the cost of health care.
It didn’t start out this way. Back in 2010, when the crowdfunding website began, it suggested fundraisers for “ideas and dreams,” “wedding donations and honeymoon registry” or “special occasions.” A spokeswoman said the bulk of collection efforts from the first year were “related to charities and foundations.” A category for medical needs existed, but it was farther down the list.
In the nine years since, campaigns to pay for health care have reaped the most cash. Of the $5 billion the company says it has raised, about a third has been for medical expenses from more than 250,000 medical campaigns conducted annually.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

More Likely to Die From Overdoses Than Car Crashes

From the National Safety Council:
 For the first time in U.S. history, a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash, according to National Safety Council analysis. The odds of dying accidentally from an opioid overdose have risen to one in 96, eclipsing the odds of dying in a motor vehicle crash (one in 103). NSC unveiled the analysis on Injury Facts – the definitive resource for data around unintentional, preventable injuries, commonly known as “accidents.” The nation’s opioid crisis is fueling the Council’s grim probabilities, and that crisis is worsening with an influx of illicit fentanyl.
NSC analysis also shows that falls – the third leading cause of preventable death behind drug overdose and motor vehicle crashes – are more likely to kill someone than ever before. The lifetime odds of dying from an accidental fall are one in 114 – a change from one in 119 just a year ago.
To keep the public up to date on the latest injury and fatality trends, the Council has added “Poisonings,” “Older Adult Falls,” “Fire-Related Fatalities and Injuries,” and “Deaths by Transportation Mode” to Injury Facts. To demonstrate why Americans should be more concerned about preventable injuries than headline-grabbing catastrophes, the Council also added designated pages about airplane crashes, railroad deaths and consumer products – all issues that tend to spark nationwide anxiety but lead to far fewer fatal incidents than routine, everyday activities such as taking medication, driving or getting out of bed.
Preventable injuries are the third leading cause of death, claiming an unprecedented 169,936 lives in 2017 and trailing only heart disease and cancer. Of the three leading causes of death, preventable injuries were the only category to experience an increase in 2017, according to NSC analysis of the CDC data issued in December. A person’s lifetime odds of dying from any preventable, accidental cause are one in 25 – a change from one in 30 in 2004.
Additional new data on Injury Facts – digitized last spring after 98 years of hardcover publication – include: