Labor and Employment

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed two bills: one that would have set up a required quarterly schedule for the state to make payments into its public pension fund and another that would have required making a $300 million lump payment into the fund for fiscal year 2016. Democrats argued that these measures were necessary to put the state’s pension fund on the right fiscal track. According to the Wall Street Journal, New Jersey’s pension system serves 773,000 current and retired state workers and is facing a funding shortfall of $37 billion. It also contributes to its fund at one of the lowest levels among all 50 states.

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 are a bigger part of the workforce in some states or localities than in others. In addition, not all STEM positions are created equal. Wages for STEM positions can depend heavily on which industry they are in or where they are located.

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 are a bigger part of the workforce in some states or localities than in others. In addition, not all STEM positions are created equal. Wages for STEM positions can depend heavily on which industry they are in or where they are located.

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.

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a new rule that could extend overtime protections to almost 5 million additional workers as early as 2016. Current law requires employers pay overtime for non-salaried workers. Salaried employees are defined by a set of criteria, including job duties and a salary threshold. The proposed new rule would more than double the salary threshold and tie it to inflation, which means more workers would qualify for overtime protections. The number of workers that would be affected by the changes varies by age, education level and state; middle-aged, educated workers would see the biggest impact.

The Department of Labor published a notice in the Federal Register today proposing a new rule that could extend overtime protections to almost 5 million additional workers as early as 2016. The law requires that employers pay overtime for non-salaried workers. Salaried employees are defined by a set of criteria, including job duties and a salary threshold. The new rules would more than double the salary threshold and tie it to inflation, which means more workers would qualify for overtime protections. 

The Department of Labor published a notice in the Federal Register today proposing a new rule that could extend overtime protections to almost 5 million additional workers as early as 2016. The law requires that employers pay overtime for non-salaried workers. Salaried employees are defined by a set of criteria, including job duties and a salary threshold. The new rules would more than double the salary threshold and tie it to inflation, which means more workers would qualify for overtime protections. 

Pages