Labor and Employment

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and that has a big impact on jobs in the health care field. Employment in the health care field has grown significantly in recent years and will likely continue to grow at a strong pace in the next decade.

In May 2016, most states – 44 – saw nonfarm payroll employment grow over the previous year. Employment in five states (Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington) grew by more than 3 percent. In six states (Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming) year-over-year employment declined. Employment declined the most in North Dakota and Wyoming, each falling by more than 3 percent. Across all states and the District of Columbia, employment grew by 2.4 million (1.7 percent) from May 2015 to May 2016.

Researchers and politicians often say that small businesses are the economic engine of the U.S. economy – that these businesses are the job creators. While small businesses (generally defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees) are certainly integral to economic prosperity – they make up about half of all private sector employment – it is the age of the business, not the size, which often drives job creation.

Governors’ salaries in 2016 range from a low of $70,000 to a high of $190,823 with an average salary of $137,415. Maine Gov. Paul LePage earns the lowest gubernatorial salary at an annual rate of $70,000, followed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who earns $90,000 per year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has the highest gubernatorial salary at $190,823, followed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s salary of $187,500 per year, although Haslam returns his salary to the state. Governors in four states—Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Tennessee—do not accept a paycheck or return all or nearly all of their salaries to the state. 

On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage increased in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The total number of states with a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25/hour is 29, ranging from $7.50 in New Mexico and Maine to a high of $10.00 in Massachusetts and California and $11.50 in the District of Columbia. 

On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The minimum wage is scheduled to increase in Minnesota on August 1, 2016.

A recent report released by the Economic Innovation Group paints a lopsided picture of how the United States has recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-08.  According to the study, job growth and new business formation in the post-recessionary period has been heavily concentrated in roughly 70 counties and almost exclusively clustered in large metropolitan regions. Twenty counties, which account for less than one percent of roughly 3,100 counties in the U.S., were home to half of new business startups between 2010 and 2014. Likewise, half of the new jobs created in the same time period were located in only 73 counties.

by Kelly Samson-Rickert
Building a stronger workforce is a challenge for any state, but building and recruiting a workforce prepared to tackle a state’s information technology needs is a particularly complex challenge. In an effort to do just that, the Maine Office of Information Technology, or OIT, has developed a workforce development program—an effort to ensure that the state is equipped to provide the latest in information technology services not only today, but in the future as well.

While teens are less and less likely to work summer jobs, government programs focused on engaging disadvantaged youth recognize the opportunity summer employment provides to develop skills that will make young people more competitive when they enter the workforce fulltime down the road.

On May 17, President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced significant changes as to how employers will determine who is eligible for overtime pay in the future. The regulatory changes are to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and lift the salary threshold used as part of a two-fold overtime eligibility determination from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. According to the administration, this change will affect 4.2 million employees and increase payrolls $1.2 billion annually.

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