Economics and Finance

Econ Piggy

The Pew Charitable Trusts has released an informative short video that evaluates what makes economic development policies - particularly those related to business incentives like tax credits and grants - successful. According to the video, states have dramatically increased spending on incentives and each year states spend billions of dollars on these programs. The video then asks a critical quesion:"Are they worth the price?". Check out the video below to learn what questions your state leaders should be asking when evaluating incentive programs.

CSG Midwest

Nebraska legislators unanimously approved a bill this year that clarifies and solidifies state protections for pregnant workers. Signed into law in April, LB 627 requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for these workers — for example, periodic rest, modified work schedules and workloads, and job restructuring. This “reasonable accommodation standard” is already applied to individuals with disabilities, according to Unicameral Update, the newsletter of the Nebraska Legislature.

CSG Midwest
A year after voters approved a hike in the state’s minimum wage, South Dakota legislators have carved out a separate — and lower — hourly standard for workers under the age of 18. The state’s new minimum wage for youth workers is $7.50 per hour. That compares to $8.50 for adult workers.

The United States’ long-term economic growth will be determined by its ability to encourage the research and development that fosters innovation. In this FREE eCademy webcast, The Council of State Governments and Elsevier, a world-leading provider of information solutions, discuss their newly released report, America’s Knowledge Economy: A State-by-State Review, which analyzes the research strengths of the United States and demonstrates ways states can capitalize on their comparative advantages in research to foster innovation and economic growth.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the national average price for a gallon of gas on May 6 was $2.64, the highest it has been this year, up 61 cents from the low of $2.03 per gallon in January. AAA reports that this is the largest seasonal increase in gas prices since 2012. California has the highest average gas price at $3.71 per gallon, with Hawaii, Nevada, Alaska and Oregon rounding out the 5 states with the highest gas prices. The states with the lowest gas prices are South Carolina at $2.35 per gallon, and Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi at $2.39.

More than 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power resides outside the United States—that’s a lot of customers for U.S. businesses. More than one in five American jobs—38.1 million—depend on international trade. In addition, foreign-owned companies employ 5.3 million Americans.
Looking to the global marketplace for economic development and paying attention to export and import trends is no longer an option for state policymakers—it is a necessity.

The Council of State Governments (CSG) and Elsevier are proud to partner on this report to analyze the research strengths of the United States. Using a variety of data sources, including Scopus—Elsevier’s proprietary abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed research literature—this report assesses where states have a comparative advantage in research and how they can capitalize on those advantages to drive innovation, attract jobs, and foster economic growth.

CSG Midwest
The United States and Canada signed a preclearance agreement in March that will allow people traveling from one country to the other to be prescreened before they cross the border. When fully implemented, thisAgreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport will allow U.S. agents to be stationed in Canada (and Canadian agents in the United States) and to carry out immigration, customs and agriculture inspections of people entering the U.S. from Canada by any mode of transportation.
 
 
A preclearance program for airline passengers is already in place at eight of the largest Canadian airports; it will be expanded under the new accord.
 
CSG Midwest
Ask employers what their biggest challenges are, and one of the first responses will often be the difficulty in filling jobs with qualified workers. Ask policymakers what the biggest challenges facing their state’s economy are, and it won’t be long before they mention the need to build a trained workforce — one that can fill good-paying jobs and enable individual economic mobility.
 
This policy challenge is particularly acute in regard to middle-skill jobs — those requiring more than a high school diploma, such as an associate’s degree, certificate or other postsecondary credential, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. Last year, in fact, none of the 10 fastest-growing occupations required bachelor’s degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers could instead qualify for these jobs through such means as skills certificates, on-the-job training or apprenticeships.
 
In an effort to match state policy with these labor-market realities, new legislation is being introduced and innovative programs are being implemented across the Midwest that target middle-skill jobs and workers.
 
 
 
CSG Midwest
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employee Benefits Survey,” 76 percent of the nation’s part-time private-sector workers and 26 percent of full-time employees had no access to paid sick days in 2014. In the Midwest, 43 percent of all full- and part-time workers do not have paid sick leave — the highest percentage of any U.S. region.
 
In 2012, Connecticut became the first state to mandate paid sick leave. Under its law, which applies only to non-exempt workers in certain service occupations, employers with 50 or more employees must provide a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave per 40 hours worked (after an initial 680 hours of employment), with a maximum accrual of 40 hours per year. California and Massachusetts are the other two states with laws requiring paid sick leave. Their laws take effect July 1 and require an initial 90-day employment period before accrued sick leave can be used.
 

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