Capitol Comments

Econ Piggy

According to information released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the union membership rate continued to decline in 2014. The rate, defined as the percent of wage and salary workers who are members of a union, was 11.1 percent in 2014, down 0.2 percentage points from 2013. Since 1983, the union membership rate has fallen or remained the same every year except two - in 2007 and 2008, the rate increased slightly. In 1983, the membership rate was 20.1 percent.   

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, average gas prices in January 2015 are at the lowest point in over 5 years and are on track to dip below $2 a gallon by February 2015. Missouri has the lowest average gas price of any state at $1.77 per gallon while Alaska ($2.81) and Hawaii ($3.31) have the highest prices.

Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager for Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues in fiscal and economic development policy for 2015,  including job creations strategies, state innovations in health care spending, public pension solvency, and federal funding uncertainty. 

The 2014 midterm elections ushered in a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, which sets the stage for a more fiscally conservative approach in the federal government and increases the likelihood for the kind of political showdowns that led to the government shutdown in 2013. States will be faced with tightened federal purse strings and political instability; that could shift costs for some programs to states and localities.

See more: Top 5 Fiscal and Economic Development Trends for 2015

States have emerged from the recent fiscal crisis, but with recovery comes a set of new questions about fiscal direction: Should we shore up our savings or restore spending? State leaders in 2015 will be struggling with how to restore funding in critical areas cut during the downturn while making sure they have the resources to weather the next storm that comes along.

See more: Top 5 Fiscal and Economic Development Trends for 2015