A Look at Jobs Growth

USA Today recently posted Moody’s Economy’s projections of job growth state by state. Indiana’s projection is at .4%, although you might be more interested to look at the sector breakdown, which accompanies the story.

Economic consulting firm Moody’s Economy.com has forecasted U.S. job growth by geographic region and by industry. This interactive was updated August 12, 2010. We will update it each month.
This graphic shows actual job growth through second-quarter 2010 and Moody’s Economy.com’s forecasted job growth for third-quarter 2010 through second-quarter 2014. It covers every state, the District of Columbia and 384 metro areas, broken down by fourteen industry sectors. The data are seasonally adjusted.

National, state and metro data through second-quarter 2010 are averages of monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey.

The CES survey tracks the number of people employed full and part time by industry. It excludes proprietors, self-employed people, unpaid family or volunteer workers, farmworkers and domestic workers. Government employment covers only civilian workers. Employees are counted where they work, not where they live.

The data for third-quarter 2010 through second-quarter 2014 are forecasted by Moody’s Economy.com. Demographic trends such as population growth, migration patterns, the age composition of populations, cost of living and business costs, and the global orientation of regional economies are key factors in its forecasts.

The forecasting model reflects the industry makeup of regions and the growth outlook for those industries. For example, the industrial Midwest takes into account the problems in the auto industry, and the relative success of the technology industry is reflected in forecasts for California’s Bay Area and Boston.

Moody’s Economy.com’s model also takes into account policy decisions made by the Federal Reserve and the specifics of government stimulus and assistance programs.

Pay for Federal Workers Not Jibing with Market Rates

Some people think public employees get paid too much. Some say too little. I’d imagine that really depends on the situation, though both examples can likely be found. However, a report from USA Today indicates federal employees may be getting seriously overpaid compared to going rates in the private sector. Public employee unions argue, however, that this is due to an increase in educational requirements to perform federal jobs. Not sure, but it’s tough to see these numbers and not think something is askew:

At a time when workers’ pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees’ average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row. The compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled in the past decade.

Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years…

What the data show:

  • Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government’s contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.

  • Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.

  • Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.

Are Computers the New Newsies?

It seems that while the newspaper industry continues to struggle to adapt to changing revenue models, news consumption in the U.S. remains fairly strong. This likely confirms what most thought, but it’s nice to put some numbers to the discussion, and hopefully serves as encouraging news for the industry itself:

Mediapost reports:

According to a new comScore release, more than 123 million Americans visited newspaper sites in May, representing 57% of the total U.S. Internet audience, as the New York Times Brand led the category with more than 32 million visitors and 719 million pages viewed during the month. The average visitor viewed 22 pages of content on the New York Times. Tribune Newspapers ranked second in terms of audience with 24.8 million visitors, followed by Advance Internet and USA Today Sites.

Jeff Hackett, comScore senior vice president, said "… even as print circulation declines, Americans are actually consuming as much news as ever… it’s just being consumed across more media," said. "The Internet has become an essential channel in the way the majority of Americans consume news content today… 3 out of 5 Internet users read newspapers online each month… as advertising rates for digital move closer… (to) traditional media, the economics of the news business… look(s) a lot more promising."

The study shows that among the top site categories where display ads appeared in April 2010, online newspapers accounted for 2.4% of impressions but a higher 6.7% of display advertising dollars. The average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) on online newspaper sites was $7, higher than each of the other top site categories and nearly three times the average CPM for the total U.S. Internet at $2.52.

Arizona & Its Hotel Industry Working to Enhance PR

Upon the announcement of its new immigration law a couple of months ago, Arizona incurred a firestorm from opponents, media and protestors that burned hotter than … Arizona in July. But now, the Grand Canyon State is working to rework its image via a new PR campaign partially funded by a hotel trade association. USA Today writes:

Arizona plans to spend $250,000 on a public relations campaign to counter concerns about its controversial, new immigration law and promote itself as "a safe and welcoming destination." The state’s hotel trade group will add another $30,000 to the effort, according to the Associated Press.

The PR campaign is one of the recommendations presented publicly yesterday by a tourism task force appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer to address the state’s tourism industry, the AP reports. The findings came as the ACLU on Wednesday issued "travel alerts" to Arizona visitors in advance of the Fourth of July weekend to inform travelers of their rights if stopped by police.

The task force was charged with finding ways to aid Arizona’s tourism industry as it grapples with fallout from the law that Brewer signed in April, the article says. The law is set to take affect on July 29 barring any legal action. The law has sparked boycotts and outright travel bans from cities large and small, school districts and other municipal bodies at a time when travel is gradually starting to rebound from a two-year downturn.

The state should hire a PR firm "to help manage the existing dialogue and clarify the facts" regarding the immigration law, the AP article says. That effort could include getting into editorials into U.S. newspapers and conducting interviews in key visitor markets.

Brewer two weeks ago approved the recommendations, which paves the way for state agencies and the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association to carry them out, the story says. The story did not detail what role the Arizona hotel group will play besides making a financial donation.

The recommendations also direct Arizona to "change the tone of the dialogue to reflect the true implications and tangible effects that boycotts have on the lives and families on the most vulnerable tourism employees," the AP reports.

The law requires that police enforce another law to ask people about their immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the people are in the USA illegally, the story says.

Feds See Increase in Six-Figure Salaries During Recession

So your business may very well be feeling the pinch these days. In the federal government, however, it seems business, and salaries, are booming. USA Today recently examined the situation that has one Utah Congressman up in arms, saying "There’s no way to justify this to the American people. It’s ridiculous." The USA Today writes:

The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.

Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.

Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector…

Key reasons for the boom in six-figure salaries:

Pay hikes. Then-president Bush recommended — and Congress approved — across-the-board raises of 3% in January 2008 and 3.9% in January 2009. President Obama has recommended 2% pay raises in January 2010, the smallest since 1975. Most federal workers also get longevity pay hikes — called steps — that average 1.5% per year.

New pay system. Congress created a new National Security Pay Scale for the Defense Department to reward merit, in addition to the across-the-board increases. The merit raises, which started in January 2008, were larger than expected and rewarded high-ranking employees. In October, Congress voted to end the new pay scale by 2012.

Paycaps eased. Many top civil servants are prohibited from making more than an agency’s leader. But if Congress lifts the boss’ salary, others get raises, too. When the Federal Aviation Administration chief’s salary rose, nearly 1,700 employees’ had their salaries lifted above $170,000, too.

In the article a government affairs director for the Federal Managers Association contends, "the federal workforce is highly paid because the government employs skilled people such as scientists, physicians and lawyers," adding that federal employees make 26% less than private workers for comparable jobs.

What do you think? Is this government spending careening out of control, or are these salary increases just?

Cato: Beware of Government Employee Burden on Taxpayers

A blog post by the Cato Institute raises an interesting question: What happens when taxpayers can’t afford to pay the salaries and benefits of the expanding government workforce? The obvious answer is, "Taxpayers can always afford it." We’ll just likely end up debating the meaning of the word "afford" as much as President Clinton debated the meaning of the word "is." At any rate, the post from Tad DeHaven (former deputy director of the Indiana OMB, btw) is worthwhile:

Dennis Cauchon of USA Today and Stephane Fitch of Forbes recently penned articles on the excessive nature of state and local government employee benefits and the threat taxpayers face as a result.

First, Cauchon reports that “State and local governments have set aside virtually no money to pay $1 trillion or more in medical benefits for retired civil servants…With bills coming due as Baby Boomers start to retire, states, cities, school districts and other governments may be forced to raise taxes, cut benefits or both — a task made especially difficult in an economic downturn.”

I would add that the task of cutting benefits for government employees is especially difficult because state and local politicians are generally beholden to the government employee unions. Even those policymakers not predisposed to carry water for the unions are hesitant to ruffle the feathers of a sizable voting block, not to mention a vocal one that still has a lot of regular citizens conned into believing government employees are underpaid, selfless, public “servants.”  Trust me, I’ve witnessed this game first hand.

Cauchon also spotlights the big picture problem: “These medical costs are part of a larger burden taxpayers face in providing health care for an aging population. The federal government has a $1.2 trillion unfunded obligation to pay medical costs for retired federal workers and military personnel. Medicare and Social Security push the nation’s unfunded promises above $50 trillion.”  He also notes that the same private sector employees who pay for these benefits via taxes are not so lucky: “Unlike private companies, most governments subsidize health insurance for retired employees.”