Last week, after Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that a cash flow problem caused by a deadlock in the state’s budget negotiations would force Illinois to delay its November pension payment, Fitch Ratings--one of the “Big Three” credit rating agencies--lowered the state’s bond rating. For many states, pension reform has been achieved only after long, and often contentious, battles across all three branches of government. To help state leaders better understand how their fellow policymakers are tackling pension concerns, CSG will host a public pension and retirement security policy academy on Thursday, Dec. 10, in conjunction with the CSG 2015 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The session will begin with Pensions 101, an overview of pension and retirement security issues facing states.

Nearly 5 million white collar workers who make more than $23,660 a year are not eligible for overtime pay. This includes convenience store managers, fast food assistant managers, or office workers who may be expected to work overtime, yet receive no compensation for the extra time. But under a proposal by President Obama, this would soon change. Obama hopes to double the current salary threshold for overtime pay for salaried workers by 2016.

 According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income remains below pre-recession levels in 37 states, when adjusted for inflation. In 2007, median household income was $57,357 (in 2014 dollars) - $3,700 more than in 2014. State median household incomes ranged from a low of $35,521 in Mississippi to $76,165 in Maryland in 2014.

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.

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Although Congress did not pass minimum wage legislation in 2014, a number of states have taken action and others likely will address this issue in 2015. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that from 2013 to 2017, about 7 million workers will benefit from minimum wage increases enacted by state and local governments.1

On Election Day 2014, voters in four states - Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota - will decide if minimum wage workers in their state should get a raise. If voters in all four states approve a wage increase, at least 57,000 minimum wage earners would be affected and would join workers in 16 other states who are scheduled to see a wage increase on Jan. 1, 2015.

CSG Midwest logo
At the start of this year, Minnesota was the only state in the Midwest that had a minimum wage lower than the federal requirement. Starting in August, it will have the region’s highest, as part of a gradual phase-in that will require the state’s larger employers (sales of more than $500,000 a year) to pay their workers at least $9.50 per hour by August 2016.
 ...

States in 2014 will be addressing increasingly difficult labor issues, including concerns over raising the minimum wage. President Obama and some members of Congress have called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, but some states already have taken action. Legislators and voters in five states decided to raise the minimum wage in 2013 and more states are likely to consider the issue in 2014.

State personal income continued to increase in 2012, growing by 3.5 percent over 2011. That growth rate was slower, however, than in 2011, when income grew by 5.2 percent over 2010. Personal income grew the most in North Dakota in 2012—by an impressive 12.4 percent—while personal income fell slightly in South Dakota—the only state to have negative growth over the period—falling by 0.2 percent.

Pages