Economics and Finance

The number of transactions conducted with credit and debit cards has grown steadily in the United States over the last decade. Electronic transactions conducted with credit cards and debit cards increased from 27 billion in 2001 to 105 billion in 2016, an annual increase of about 19 percent.

This trend has caused U.S. governments to encourage their agencies to use electronic payment methods even as the agencies continue to accommodate cash and check payments. During the CSG 2018 National Conference in Northern Kentucky – Greater Cincinnati Dec. 6-8, CSG will release a report titled Cash-less State Governments: Electronic Collections & Benefit Disbursements.

CSG Midwest
In North Dakota, two features of the state’s economy have persisted for years now: some of the lowest jobless rates in the nation, and workforce shortages challenging individual employers and entire economic sectors. 
“By most estimates, we have over 20,000 unfilled jobs,” notes North Dakota Sen. Brad Bekkedahl.
Would scholarships or a loan-forgiveness program — with some strings attached — help fix this mismatch between worker supply and demand? And which of these two options would work best? Those questions were explored during the legislative interim and will likely emerge again when lawmakers convene in early 2019.

During the 2018 National Conference, CSG will release the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAT/RTW) Toolkit. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability collaborated on the toolkit. It was designed to provide states with policy options, best practices and implementation strategies to aid efforts in increasing employment retention and labor force participation of employees who acquire, or are at risk of developing, work disabilities.

The repeal of net neutrality rules under the Obama administration has now been in effect for four months. During this time, states have re-enacted the rules at the state level, urged the federal government to reinstate the rules, and appealed the decision to a D.C. federal court. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers—including Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and others—should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The consortium of states participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice project recently began their second round of project meetings to discuss occupational license reform. The 11 states--Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin--are individually meeting to further review their licensure process, engage with policy experts and develop action plans. The state team meetings will culminate this year in the project’s second multistate learning consortium summit to be held Nov. 28-30 in Clearwater, Florida.

CSG Midwest

In September, South Dakota lawmakers met in special session to finalize a policy change that Gov. Dennis Daugaard said was “50 years in the making.” He signed two bills that allow the state to act on its new legal authority to collect taxes from remote and online sales.

Under SB 1, which takes effect on Nov. 1, South Dakota will enforce sales tax collections from online retailers who have at least $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions a year. A second bill approved in the recent special session (SB 2) requires online marketplace providers such as Amazon to attain a sales tax license and remit sales taxes on behalf of sellers that use their services.

CSG Midwest
Michigan is the first state in the Midwest with a law requiring employers to offer paid sick time to their workers. But after the legislative vote, it was unclear how long the new measure would stay on the books. The Earned Sick Time Act began as an initiative petition and was scheduled to be on the November ballot. However, the Michigan Constitution gives the Legislature the opportunity to consider proposed ballot initiatives. Legislative approval of paid sick time came in early September — meaning no statewide vote on the measure.
CSG Midwest
Following more than a year of negotiations, and many days when it seemed as though talks would fail, Canada, Mexico and the United States reached agreement on a trilateral trade pact on Sept. 30. The deal has a new name — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — and some new provisions, but also is notable for what it keeps in place.
“About 70 percent is the same [as the North American Free Trade Agreement],” notes Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University. “What this means is that the rules we have been playing under for the last 20-plus years have been reaffirmed, and this adds market certainty.”

Oct. 1 marks the start of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy began celebrating NDEAM in 1945. People with disabilities continually face unemployment rates much higher than the national average. Each year, October is designated to highlight the importance of developing an inclusive workforce of individuals with a variety of abilities.

In today’s data-driven environment, nearly every program and initiative is analyzed to determine its effectiveness and overall return on investment. In September, the State International Development Organizations, or SIDO, an affiliate of The Council of State Governments, issued a report on performance metrics for international trade programs.

“This best practice report will help federal and state policymakers better understand the role of state international trade programs and how to measure them,” David Mathe, export director for the state of Delaware and SIDO president, wrote in the report’s foreword.

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