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Can pro-growth policies lift all boats? An analysis based on household disposable income

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Can pro-growth policies lift all boats? An analysis based on household disposable income (PDF)
Source: OECD

In a majority of OECD countries, GDP growth over the past three decades has been associated with growing income disparities. To shed some lights on the potential sources of trade-offs between growth and equity, this paper investigates the long-run impact of structural reforms on GDP per capita and household income distribution. Pro-growth reforms can be distinguished according to whether they are found to generate an increase or a reduction in household disposable income inequality. Those that contribute to reduce inequality include the reduction in regulatory barriers to competition, trade and FDI, as well as the stepping-up in job search assistance and training programmes. Conversely, a tightening of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed is found to lift mean household income but to lower income among poorer households, thus raising inequality. Several other reforms have no significant impact on income distribution.

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The Rise of the Medical Scribe: Industry Implications for the Advancement of Electronic Health Records

December 19, 2014 Comments off

The Rise of the Medical Scribe: Industry Implications for the Advancement of Electronic Health Records
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

With federal meaningful-use incentives driving adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), physicians are increasingly concerned about the time spent documenting patient information and managing orders via computerized patient order entry (CPOE). Many perceive that the inefficiencies of EHRs are adversely affecting the quality of care, and because physicians see fewer patients per day, income may decline. Although physicians approve of EHRs in concept and appreciate their future promise, the current state of EHR technology has increased physician dissatisfaction. Poor EHR usability, time-consuming data entry, reduced patient care time, inability to exchange health information, and templated notes are central concerns. Physicians emphasize that EHR technology—especially user interfaces—must improve,1 and a new industry has emerged nationally to provide physicians with medical scribes.

Use of medical scribes—unlicensed individuals hired to enter information into the EHR under clinician supervision—has increased substantially. Scribes reportedly enable physicians to see more patients; generate more revenue; and improve productivity, efficiency, accuracy of clinical documentation and billing, and patient satisfaction.

New From the GAO

December 19, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Fair Labor Standards Act: Extending Protections to Home Care Workers. GAO-15-12, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-12
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667603.pdf

2. Federal Emergency Management Agency: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Oversight of Administrative Costs for Major Disasters. GAO-15-65, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-65
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667607.pdf

3. Department of Homeland Security: Continued Action Needed to Strengthen Management of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime. GAO-15-95, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-95
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667618.pdf

4. Tax-Exempt Organizations: Better Compliance Indicators and Data, and More Collaboration with State Regulators Would Strengthen Oversight of Charitable Organizations. GAO-15-164, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-164
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667596.pdf

5.   State and Local Governments’ Fiscal Outlook: 2014 Update. GAO-15-224SP, December 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-224SP
Podcast: http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667597

6.   Dodd-Frank Regulations: Regulators’ Analytical and Coordination Efforts. GAO-15-81, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-81
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667634.pdf

7.   Electronic Submissions in Federal Procurement: Implementation by the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. GAO-15-253R, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-253R

8.   Federal Food Safety Oversight: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Planning and Collaboration. GAO-15-180, December 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-180
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667657.pdf

National Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003–2013

December 19, 2014 Comments off

National Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003–2013
Source: Commonwealth Fund

Looking at trends in private employer-based health insurance from 2003 to 2013, this issue brief finds that premiums for family coverage increased 73 percent over the past decade—faster than median family income. Employees’ contributions to their premiums climbed by 93 percent over that time frame. At the same time, deductibles more than doubled in both large and small firms. Workers are thus paying more but getting less protective benefits. However, the study also finds that while premiums continued to rise through 2013, the rate of growth slowed between 2010 and 2013, following implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While families experienced slower growth in premium contributions and deductibles over this period, sluggish growth in median family income means families are paying more in premiums and deductibles as a share of their income than ever before.

Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments
Source: Center for State & Local Government Excellence

Key findings:

  • Workers who work a full career in their city or county can expect a retirement income of between 45 and 80 percent of their pre-retirement income.
  • Career employees of local governments who participate in Social Security can expect retirement income replacement rates of 20 to 30 percentage points higher than employees whose governments do not participate in Social Security.
  • These and other variations mean that many local workers will need to be disciplined about participating in savings plans, outside of their primary plans, to meet their retirement security goals.

In the Shadow of the Great Recession: Experiences and Perspectives of Young Workers

December 19, 2014 Comments off

In the Shadow of the Great Recession: Experiences and Perspectives of Young Workers (PDF)
Source: Federal Reserve Board

Young adults in the United States have experienced higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labor force participation than the general population for at least two decades. The Great Recession exacerbated this phenomenon. Despite a substantial labor market recovery from 2009 through 2014, vulnerable populations—including the nation’s young adults—continue to experience higher rates of unemployment.

Meanwhile, changes in labor market conditions, including globalization and automation, have reduced the availability of well-paid, secure jobs for less-educated persons, particularly those jobs that provide opportunity for advancement. Furthermore, data suggest that young workers entering the labor market are affected by a long-running increase in the use of “contingent” work arrangements, characterized by contracted, part-time, temporary, and seasonal work.

In light of these trends, in 2013, the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs began exploring the experiences and expectations of young Americans entering the labor market. Staff reviewed existing research and engaged external research and policy experts to identify the potential economic implications of these labor market trends on young workers.

This initial exploration raised several questions about the experiences of young workers that were not fully explained by existing data. In response, the Federal Reserve conducted a survey, the Survey of Young Workers, in December 2013 to develop a deeper understanding of the forces at play.

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond

December 19, 2014 Comments off

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Countries’ competitiveness, productivity, and growth depend largely on their ability to acquire and use new knowledge and constantly upgrade the skills of their workforces. Many countries do not, however, have the educational systems necessary to cultivate the kind of workforces they need, and in developing countries it is common for the most highly skilled workers to emigrate for job opportunities abroad.

Over the past decade, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, began to tackle these issues directly. In 2007, ASEAN Member States agreed to fast-track the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, which is meant to transform the region into a single market and production base characterized by, among other things, a free flow of skilled labor. In response to the mounting evidence that migrants in the region lack the skills recognition required to put their knowledge and training to use in destination countries, ASEAN Member States are taking steps toward better qualifications recognition to prevent the resulting waste of human capital.

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