Labor and Employment

It’s a slim labor market out there. With overall unemployment rates hovering around 9 percent, it’s getting harder for teens to find jobs. The latest teenage unemployment rate is 25.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means more than a quarter of teens who want a job can’t find one.

Unemployment rates remain high and people are unemployed for longer, exhausting state unemployment trust funds quickly. More states are borrowing from the federal government to cover costs, which could have an impact on future fiscal stability.

Originally Published on the Huffington Post, August 11, 2010

The House of Representatives rushed back to Washington this week to send $26 billion in budget relief to beleaguered state capitols by extending stimulus payments for Medicaid and state education programs. The funding arrives at a critical juncture, with the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers, and other public employees on the line.

This week the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a survey that indicated that local governments would be forced to slash over 500,000 jobs if Congress does not pass a $75 billion local jobs bill. 

According to a new report by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, state government employment continued its slow slide in June.  From April 2009 to June 2010, state government employment decreased in 28 states, while private employment decreased in 44 states over the same time period. 

In those states with declines, rates varied significantly from a drop of 6.9 percent in Idaho to 0.2 percent in Tennessee, South Dakota and Mississippi.  In 20 states, state government employment increased, ranging from an increase of 0.2 percent in Utah to 3.5 percent in Massachusetts.  Two states – Rhode Island and Wyoming – had no change in employment.

During this same period, private employment decreased in all but six states with decreases ranging from a high of 3.2 percent in Nevada to Hawaii with a decrease of 0.1 percent. The six states with increases in private employment were Alaska (3%), Utah (0.4%), New Hampshire (0.5%), Kentucky (0.6%), Indiana (0.7%) and North Dakota (1.2%). 

e-Newsletter, Issue #51, July 22, 2010

Colorado expected its state retirement fund to go broke in 30 years. And that’s if the fund’s investments generated the expected 7 percent annual return.

The state made changes in 2004 and 2006 to the benefit structure for new hires, said Meredith Williams, chief executive of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement System. “We knew we had issues; we didn’t think we would fail,” he said.

That...

As the national unemployment rate hovers around 9.5% and with state unemployment rates as high as 14.2%, states are hemorrhaging money from their unemployment trust fund accounts - the funds states use to pay unemployment benefits. Every month, more states are forced to borrow from the federal government to keep those trust funds afloat and last week, the tab for states hit just over $39 billion.  

June unemployment figures were released today and states are looking a little better than they were in May.  Thirty-nine states experienced a small decrease in unemployment over last month, while five states had increases and six states reported no change in their rates.  New Hampshire had the biggest month-over-month drop, falling .50% from May to 5.9%, while Nevada and Louisiana had the biggest increases, each jumping .20% in a month. 

The fiscal impact of sustained high unemployment rates is painfully clear to all state policymakers. The length of time individuals are unemployed is also having a hugely detrimental impact on state and federal bottom lines and will likely continue to impact state fiscal stability long after the recession has passed.

Where Americans are Moving

Immigration may be getting the big headlines, but probably more impactful for cities and states is the migration within the United States - both of people and of wealth. Forbes.com has a new interactive map detailing county-to-county migration patterns across the country...in many cases down to the person. How many poeple moved into or out of your community? Where did they come from or where did they go?

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