Capitol Comments

While occupations in the science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—fields may not make up a huge portion of total jobs, those positions are growing quickly. STEM jobs make up about 6.2 percent of all employment (8.3 million positions) and grew at a rate of just under 10 percent from May 2010 to May 2014 while total employment across all occupations grew by 6 percent over the same period. In Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington state, at least 9 percent of total employment falls under a STEM category. That’s compared to just 3 percent of jobs in Mississippi and Nevada.  

Although most states establish their own minimum wages legislatively, federal minimum wage law supersedes state law. That means if the minimum wage established by a state is higher than the federal rate, the state rate applies. If a state’s minimum rate is lower than the federal rate, the federal rate applies. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009. As of August 1, 2015:

Raising the minimum wage to $15 is a hot topic in D.C. and in state capitols across the country. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, but 29 states have passed their own minimum wage laws that set the rate higher than the federal rate, ranging from $7.50 in Arkansas, Maine and New Mexico to $9.25 in Oregon and $9.47 in Washington.

Econ Piggy

The Census Bureau released data from its Annual Survey of Public Pensions today, which provides a financial overview of state- and locally-administered defined benefit pension systems. The report found that earnings on investments for those pension systems increased from $382.2 billion in 2013 to $537.5 billion in 2014 – a 38.6 percent jump. In 2012, earnings totaled just $96 billion.

A 2014 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law predicts that the legalization of same-sex marriage could have a combined economic impact across all states of $2.6 billion during the first three years, primarily due to increased spending on weddings by same-sex resident couples and their out-of-state guests. In addition, the report estimates that legalization will boost state and local sales tax revenue by $184.7 million and support more than 13,000 jobs. The potential economic and fiscal impact varies across states.