Barry is a Senior Economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis, one of the most influential think tanks in America today.
The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. Topics include reforms in health care, taxes, Social Security, welfare, criminal justice, education and environmental regulation.
NCPA Motto - Making Ideas Change the World - reflects the belief that ideas have enormous power to change the course of human events. The NCPA seeks to unleash the power of ideas for positive change by identifying, encouraging, and aggressively marketing the best scholarly research.
Daily Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Daily Policy Digest
- More Workers Are Quitting Their Jobs
- 02 Sep 2014 07:00:58 CDT -
According to Janet Yellen, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, an important indicator of labor market health is the job quit rate: how many workers are voluntarily leaving their jobs?
As Rob Garver at the Fiscal Times explains, the idea that a high quit rate is a good thing is based in the notion that most workers would not voluntarily leave their jobs unless they felt confident that they could find another.
Quit rates have generally corresponded with ups-and-downs in the economy. For example:
- Prior to the recession, the quit rate per month for non-farm workers was above 2 percent.
- During the recession, that figure dropped to 1.3 percent - a low that had not been seen for a decade.
- While the recession officially ended in 2009, quit rates remained low until recently.
- Over the last two years, the quit rate has slowly risen, reaching 1.8 percent in the month of June.
Yellen spoke about this issue recently, saying that the economy has yet to fully recover but that the rising quit rate means that the economy is heading in the right direction. "[M]ore workers voluntarily quit their jobs when they are more confident about their ability to find new ones and when firms are competing more actively for new hires. Indeed, the quits rate has picked up with improvements in the labor market over the past year, but it still remains somewhat depressed relative to its level before the recession."
Source: Rob Garver, "People Are Quitting Their Jobs. That's Good News." Fiscal Times, August 28, 2014.
For more on Economic Issues:
- Why Are Doctors So Unhappy?
- 02 Sep 2014 07:00:57 CDT -
Doctors across America are disillusioned with their careers and the medical industry in general. In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, director of the Heart Failure Program at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, explains this growing, unfortunate trend.
What was once the hallmark of success has become a profession marked by discontent. Jauhar reveals some statistics:
- In a 2008 survey of 12,000 doctors, just 6 percent of respondents reported having a "positive" morale.
- A majority of those surveyed said that they would not recommend becoming a doctor to a friend or family member.
- The majority of physicians also reported not having enough time to spend with patients. Why? Too much paperwork.
- Half of those surveyed announced plans to reduce the number of patients they would see over the next few years, if not quit practicing entirely.
What is responsible for this change? Jauhar describes the mid-twentieth century as the "golden age" of American medicine, when life expectancy jumped and the field saw new advancements like the polio vaccine and heart-lung bypass surgery. Doctors set their own fees and hours, and the lack of a massive insurance market meant that they could work with patients on fee arrangements.
The introduction of Medicare in 1965 saw more people seeking medical care, which continued to push doctors' salaries upward. Eventually, people began to perceive doctors as making too much money. Health care spending began to grow faster than the rest of the economy, and concerns about fraud and waste within government health care programs rose. This led to the growth of health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the 1970s, which brought new controls to curb prices and reviews over the necessity of medical procedures.
With the development of so many new screening options and preventative services, doctors began finding it harder to spend quality time with patients, not to mention the headache that came with a large third-party-payer insurance system. Today, doctors spend $83,000 per year dealing with insurance company paperwork.
As Jauhar explains, physicians began to display less and less satisfaction in their careers. By 2001, almost 60 percent of doctors surveyed said that their enthusiasm for their jobs had fallen during the previous five years. Salaries have also fallen; while the average general practitioner salary was $185,000 in 1970, it was $161,000 in 2010 -- despite, Jauhar points out, that doctors see nearly twice as many patients today as they did in 1970.
For most doctors, says Jauhar, taking care of patients is the best part of their job. He writes that the United States needs to develop a health care system that restores the relationship between doctor and patient -- something that has been lost over the last several decades.
Source: Sandeep Jauhar, "Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession," Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2014.
For more on Health Issues:
- Federal Reserve Surveys Show Impact of Obamacare on Businesses
- 02 Sep 2014 07:00:56 CDT -
The New York Federal Reserve has issued the results of its Manufacturing Survey and Business Leaders Survey, and the results are not good for Obamacare. How exactly are businesses responding to the Affordable Care Act? According to the report:
- Both manufacturing and service firms reported that their health care costs had gone up in 2014, with manufacturers reporting a median 10 percent increase and service firms a 9 percent increase. Both expect a 10 percent increase in costs for 2015.
- Thirty-five percent of manufacturers and 20 percent of service firms reported that the ACA increased their costs "a lot" in 2014. Fifty percent of manufacturers expect to see considerable cost increases in 2015, as do one-third of service firms.
- A majority of firms reported that their premiums had risen, with many businesses reporting that they were passing those costs along to their employees by requiring higher contributions.
- One-fifth of manufacturing and service firms reported reducing the number of workers on staff or raising the number of part-time employees. Another 20 percent said that they were reducing compensation to pay for the ACA, while 20 percent of manufacturing firms said that they were engaging in more outsourcing.
- Thirty-six percent of manufacturers reported raising consumer prices, as did one-quarter of service firms.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve found similar effects in its Business Outlook Survey for August. According to its survey of manufacturers:
- Eighteen percent of firms have increased the number of workers who are part-time due to the ACA.
- Thirteen percent of firms have increased the amount of work that they outsource to other firms in response to the ACA.
- Close to 29 percent of firms have increased the prices that they charge to consumers due to the ACA.
- Of the 51 percent of firms that have made changes to their health insurance policies, 88 percent increased their employees' premium contributions, 91 percent increased deductibles and 76 percent increased out-of-pocket maximums. Additionally, 26 percent reported reducing the size of their networks.
As NCPA Senior Fellow John Graham said of the report, "This is real evidence that Obamacare is harming our prosperity."
Source: "Supplemental Survey Report: Firms Assess Effects of Affordable Care Act," Federal Reserve Bank of New York, August 2014; "August 2014 Business Outlook Survey," Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, August 2014.
For more on Health Issues:
- College Students Build Innovative Apps
- 02 Sep 2014 07:00:55 CDT -
The New York Times reports that college students across the country are finding new ways to make college information systems easier to use, building apps that their classmates can access on their smartphones.
Ariel Kaminer reports that Rutgers University student Vaibhav Verma was getting annoyed that he could not sign up for his college's most popular classes. His response? He built a web application that constantly checks the school's class registration system for openings. As soon as someone dropped the class that Verma was interested in, the app sent him a message, allowing him to enroll before someone else snatched up the spot. In just one semester, Verma had 8,000 classmates using his tool.
Verma's experience is not unique, and many university students are finding ways to take school information systems and make them easier to access, sort and view.
- Students have built scheduling programs that allow students to search for classes at specific times and filter their results with a number of details, such as classes without prerequisites or those that go towards their major.
- Other apps have been built showing students the fastest way to get from one class to another across campus.
- At the University of California, students built a scheduling application that was so successful that the school decided to use it themselves.
Some of these programs have caused conflict with school officials, many of whom are wary of giving out course data, but others have been willing to collaborate with students. When Berkeley students Alex Sydell and William Li created a website called Ninja Courses, the college was so impressed that they paid them for the development.
Source: Ariel Kaminer, "Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two," New York Times, August 27, 2014.
For more on Education Issues:
- Sugar Industry Blames Mexico for Falling Sugar Prices
- 02 Sep 2014 07:00:54 CDT -
The U.S. sugar industry is seeking to limit Mexican sugar imports, claiming that Mexico is the culprit behind falling sugar prices in the United States. But Vincent Smith, visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that the sugar lobby is off-base.
The sugar industry is already the recipient of taxpayer aid, with an expensive subsidy program that sends funds to sugar farmers with incomes above the national average. Still, producers are blaming Mexican imports for a recent fall in sugar prices, insisting that Mexican sugar producers are causing harm to American farmers. But while sugar prices have fallen, Smith explains that the drop is due to global factors:
- American sugar prices peaked from 2010 to 2012, reaching 59.5 cents per pound. Today, the global price has dropped to 13 to 18 cents per pound, much more in line with historical prices.
- The high sugar prices from 2010 to 2012 were not typical, rather they were due to two major global events: poor weather in Central America and the Caribbean, which destroyed sugar crops, and Brazil's heavy use of sugar to produce ethanol. When those two factors returned to normal, sugar prices did too.
Mexico has in fact increased its sugar production, as sugar export constraints were lifted in 2008, allowing Mexico to increase its sugar shipments to the United States. Though Mexican sugar imports have risen, total sugar imports into the United States have fallen from 2012 to 2013, making it unlikely that the Mexican imports are responsible for the fall in prices. In fact, Smith writes that the world began to produce more sugar, driving prices downward.
Additionally, Smith notes that Mexico's own sugar consumption has fallen, because the high sugar prices from 2010-2012 pushed food processors to use high fructose corn syrup instead of real sugar to sweeten foods and drinks. Significantly, Mexico gets that high fructose corn syrup from the United States.
Smith calls farm lobby arguments the "Alice in Wonderland world of economic logic."
Source: Vincent H. Smith, "A subsidy for the rich that will have you clutching your head," American Enterprise Institute, August 27, 2014.
For more on Economic Issues:
- Americans Pessimistic about U.S. Economy
- 29 Aug 2014 07:00:53 CDT -
Americans are not optimistic about economic recovery in the United States. The recession officially ended in June 2009, yet the majority of Americans do not see the economy as having improved.
A study from researchers at Rutgers University chronicles the nation's attitude towards the labor market. Ten million private-sector jobs have been added to the U.S. economy during the last four years, and the official unemployment rate has reached 80 percent of pre-recession levels. Yet, the researchers note that the job growth the United States has not created enough full-time jobs, and a deeper look at the economy reveals some not-so-positive statistics:
- 9.7 million Americans were unemployed in July 2014.
- Job growth in this recovery has largely been in low-wage occupations (something that NCPA Senior Fellow Pam Villareal recently pointed out in an interview with Fox News), while many of the jobs that were lost during the recession were high- and middle-wage jobs.
- Wage increases have not kept up with inflation.
- The labor force participation rate is at its lowest level in 30 years, and long-term unemployment is above pre-recession levels in at least 40 states.
- More than one in six men of prime working age are unemployed or have given up on finding work.
- The economy needs an additional 7 million new jobs, at minimum, to reach full employment. According to the Brookings Institution, if the economy continues to grow at its current rate, it will not be until 2019 that it will be able to accommodate new workers and be in the position that it was in prior to the recession.
As a result, 71 percent of Americans believe that the recession has brought permanent, lasting changes to the American economy (up from just 49 percent who believed this was the case in November 2009 and 60 percent who believed this in January 2013). Moreover:
- Just 16 percent of the public believe that job and employment opportunities will be better for the next generation -- down from 56 percent in July 1999.
- When asked how long it will take the economy to recover from the recession, 36 percent report believing that the economy will never fully recover. Another 24 percent expect recovery to take an additional six to 10 years, while 30 percent expect to see recovery in three to five years.
According to the report, 42 percent of Americans believed that government could help to deal with the United States' economic situation in January 2013, while 59 percent believed that the government could do little to help. But as of August 2014, just 22 percent of respondents expressed optimism that the government could help to fix the economy, while 78 percent believed that the government could do little, if anything.
Source: Cliff Zukin, Carl Van Horn and Allison Kopicki, "Unhappy, Worried, and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession," John J. Hendrich Center for Workforce Development, August 2014.
For more on Economic Issues:
Health Policy Digest
Provided courtesy of: http://www.ncpa.org/
Consumer Driven Health Care
- Health Care Reform Tax Will Hurt Franchisees
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - When the employer mandates go into effect in 2014, many franchised businesses will be motivated to reduce the number of locations and move workers from full-time to part-time status...
REAL CLEAR MARKETS
- Saving Jobs from Health Reform's Harmful Regulations
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - If the rate of health care cost growth had not exceeded general inflation, a typical family would have had $545 more per month in spendable income instead of $95 -- a difference of $5,400 per year...
- Does Health Insurance and Seeing the Doctor Keep You Out of the Hospital?
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - Gaining health insurance and using more primary care services leads to more hospitalizations as a result of physicians' discretionary decisions regarding aggressive and intensive treatment...
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE
- The Case for Competition in Medicare
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - A well-functioning marketplace would set in motion the forces needed to transform American medical care into a model of efficient patient-centered care...
- Potential Effect of Health Care Reform on Emergency Department Utilization Not Clear
- 04 Oct 2011 12:43:58 GMT - In 2010, 71 percent of emergency physicians said that they expected emergency department visits to increase due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act...
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
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