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How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay

October 22, 2014 Comments off

How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay (PDF)
Source: Perspectives on Psychological Science (forthcoming)

Do people from different countries and different backgrounds have similar preferences for how much more the rich should earn than the poor? Using survey data from 40 countries (N = 55,238), we compare respondents’ estimates of the wages of people in different occupations – chief executive officers, cabinet ministers, and unskilled workers – to their ideals for what those wages should be. We show that ideal pay gaps between skilled and unskilled workers are significantly smaller than estimated pay gaps, and that there is consensus across countries, socioeconomic status, and political beliefs for ideal pay ratios. Moreover, data from 16 countries reveals that people dramatically underestimate actual pay inequality. In the United States – where underestimation was particularly pronounced – the actual pay ratio of CEOs to unskilled workers (354:1) far exceeded the estimated ratio (30:1) which in turn far exceeded the ideal ratio (7:1). In sum, respondents underestimate actual pay gaps, and their ideal pay gaps are even further from reality than those underestimates.

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New From the GAO

October 22, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reissue

1. Individual Retirement Accounts: Preliminary Information on IRA Balances Accumulated as of 2011, by James R. McTigue, director, strategic issues, and Charles A. Jeszeck, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, to the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-14-878T, September 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-878T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665805.pdf

This statement was amended on October 22, 2014, to revise the estimated individual retirement account and defined contribution plan accumulations for our illustrative contribution scenarios with balances invested in an S&P 500 portfolio. The original estimates used a price index that did not include reinvested dividends. Table 2 and the text on page 8 have been updated to reflect total returns on the investments.

Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis (PDF)
Source: Stanford University and NBER

The financial crisis and ensuing Great Recession left the U.S. economy in an injured state. In 2013, output was 13 percent below its trend path from 1990 through 2007. Part of this shortfall — 3.0 percentage points of real GDP — was the result of lingering slackness in the labor market in the form of abnormal unemployment and substandard weekly hours of work. The single biggest contributor was a shortfall in business capital, which accounted for 3.9 percentage points. The second largest was a shortfall of 3.5 percentage points in total factor productivity. The fourth was a shortfall of 2.4 percentage points in labor-force participation. I discuss these four sources of the injury in detail, focusing on identifying state variables that may or may not return to earlier growth paths. The conclusion is optimistic about the capital stock and slackness in the labor market and pessimistic about reversing the declines in total factor productivity and the part of the participation shortfall not associated with the weak labor market.

New From the GAO

October 21, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Combating Terrorism: Strategy to Counter Iran in the Western Hemisphere Has Gaps That State Department Should Address. GAO-14-834, September 29.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-834
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666199.pdf

2. Federal Paid Administrative Leave: Additional Guidance Needed to Improve OPM Data. GAO-15-79, October 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-79
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666565.pdf

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class

October 21, 2014 Comments off

The Middle-Class Squeeze: A Picture of Stagnant Incomes, Rising Costs, and What We Can Do to Strengthen America’s Middle Class
Source: Center for American Progress

The American middle class is in trouble.

The middle-class share of national income has fallen, middle-class wages are stagnant, and the middle class in the United States is no longer the world’s wealthiest.

But income is only one side of the story. The cost of being in the middle class—and of maintaining a middle-class standard of living—is rising fast too. For fundamental needs such as child care and health care, costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades, taking up larger shares of family budgets. The reality is that the middle class is being squeezed. As this report will show, for a married couple with two children, the costs of key elements of middle-class security—child care, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement—rose by more than $10,000 in the 12 years from 2000 to 2012, at a time when this family’s income was stagnant.

As sharp as this squeeze can be, the pain does not stop at one family, or even at millions of families. Because of the critical role that middle-class consumers play in creating aggregate demand, the American economy is in trouble when the American middle class is in trouble. And the long-term health of the U.S. economy is at risk if financially squeezed families cannot afford—and smart public policies do not support—developing the next generation of America’s workforce. It is this workforce that will lead the United States in an increasingly open and competitive global economy.

This report provides a snapshot of the American middle class and those struggling to become a part of it. It focuses on six key pillars that can help define security for households: jobs, early childhood programs, higher education, health care, housing, and retirement. Each chapter is both descriptive and prescriptive—detailing both how the middle class is doing and what policies can help it do better.

U.S. Knowledge-Intensive Services Industries Employ 18 Million and Pay High Wages

October 21, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Knowledge-Intensive Services Industries Employ 18 Million and Pay High Wages
Source: National Science Foundation

The commercial knowledge and technology-intensive (KTI) industries play a big role in the U.S. economy. The larger component of KTI industries—the knowledge-intensive (KI) services industries—employed 18 million workers and produced 22% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012. The smaller component—the high technology (HT) manufacturing industries—employed 2 million workers and produced 2% of GDP in 2012. Although smaller than KI services industries, HT manufacturing industries have a greater concentration of workers in S&E occupations and perform a larger proportion of U.S. research and development. Both KI services industries and HT manufacturing industries pay substantially higher wages than the private-sector average.

Three KI services industries (business, finance, and information) and six HT manufacturing industries (aircraft; communications; computers and office machinery; pharmaceuticals; semiconductors; and testing, measuring, and control instruments) classified by the Organisation for Economic and Cooperation and Development are discussed in this report.[2] (Note: Because various data sources used in this report classify industries differently, different numbers may be reported for KI and HT industries.)

Labor Market Slack in the United Kingdom

October 21, 2014 Comments off

Labor Market Slack in the United Kingdom (PDF)
Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics

This paper examines the amount of slack in the UK labor market and finds the downward adjustments made by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to both unemployment and underemployment invalid. Without evidence to support its assessment of the output gap, the MPC reduces the level of unemployment based on its claim that long-term unemployment does not affect wages. The authors produce evidence to the contrary and present arguments on why the MPC’s halving of the level of underemployment in the United Kingdom is inappropriate. Bell and Blanchflower set out arguments on why they believe the level of slack is greater than the MPC calibrates. Consistent with that is the fact that real wages in the United Kingdom continue to fall.

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