New York’s hold on its status as the country’s third most populous state is down to fewer than 100,000 people, according to figures released on Monday by the Census Bureau. And the trend is not in the state’s favor, as Florida, which is No. 4, gained residents at three times the pace of the Empire State over a year’s span.
The figures, estimates for July 2013, showed that New York had about 19.65 million residents, while Florida had 19.55 million, with Florida gaining more than 230,000 people from a year earlier. New York’s growth was more modest, with some 75,000 new residents.
Those numbers represent the continuation of longstanding trends in population, as new foreign-born immigrants and other transplants flock to Florida while New York’s growth continues to suffer under the weight of stagnant or declining populations in upstate areas.
Jan K. Vink, a specialist with the Program on Applied Demographics at Cornell University, which reviews Census Bureau estimates and supplies raw data to the agency, said the figures for July indicated that Florida would most likely surpass New York in early 2014, perhaps as soon as March.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
From The New York Times, "New York Stays Ahead of Florida in Population" by Jesse McKinley:
Posted 12/31/2013 04:00:00 AM
Monday, December 30, 2013
From Forbes, "Don't Believe The Pundits, Conservatives Are Bursting With Ideas To Replace Obamacare" by Grace-Marie Turner:
Competition could work if consumers were truly engaged as partners in getting better value for their health care dollars.Government needs to get out of the way, not build more barriers.
All of these ideas need to be explained in more detail, but here’s our basic checklist for a Step-by-Step Approach to Health Reform:
1. Provide those at the lower-end of the income scale a tax credit to purchase coverage, either on their own or through an employer
2. Allow those with higher incomes to deduct the cost of their health coverage, whether they receive it through their employers or purchase it on their own
3. Allow greater flexibility in health benefits: Consumers, not regulators, should decide what their health plans cover and not be forced into government-set benefit standards
4. Provide portability of health insurance and greater competition by allowing cross-state purchase of health insurance which will, in turn, incentivize states to lighten regulation
5. Allow states to develop or authorize pooling mechanisms where consumers can spend their credits or deductibles to find and enroll in the insurance that best meets their needs
6. Allow secure renewal of health insurance that is guaranteed so people who have health insurance can keep it and not see premiums soar if they get sick
7. Provide financial assistance to the states to create more functional high-risk pools or state risk-transfer pools that allow people with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance
8. Reform the medical malpractice litigation process at the state level.
9. Provide more options for Medicaid recipients, Medicare beneficiaries, and others on public programs to escape the restrictions that inevitably come from price controls
10. Protect and improve the Medicare Advantage program that gives seniors the option of private plans in Medicare
11. Allow people to escape Medicaid by allowing them to assign the value of their Medicaid benefit to private coverage of their choice
12. Provide more flexibility to the states in running their Medicaid programs so they can adjust payment rates to encourage physician participation and cut red tape that drains taxpayer dollars from delivery of care.
Posted 12/30/2013 08:55:00 AM
From The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, "What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels: Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers, and lifelong and renewable." by John H Cochrane:
There is an alternative. A much freer market in health care and health insurance can work, can deliver high quality, technically innovative care at much lower cost, and solve the pathologies of the pre-existing system.
The U.S. health-care market is dysfunctional. Obscure prices and $500 Band-Aids are legendary. The reason is simple: Health care and health insurance are strongly protected from competition. There are explicit barriers to entry, for example the laws in many states that require a "certificate of need" before one can build a new hospital. Regulatory compliance costs, approvals, nonprofit status, restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, limits on medical residencies, and many more barriers keep prices up and competitors out. Hospitals whose main clients are uncompetitive insurers and the government cannot innovate and provide efficient cash service.
We need to permit the Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Apples of the world to bring to health care the same dramatic improvements in price, quality, variety, technology and efficiency that they brought to air travel, retail and electronics. We'll know we are there when prices are on hospital websites, cash customers get discounts, and new hospitals and insurers swamp your inbox with attractive offers and great service.
The Affordable Care Act bets instead that more regulation, price controls, effectiveness panels, and "accountable care" organizations will force efficiency, innovation, quality and service from the top down. Has this ever worked? Did we get smartphones by government pressure on the 1960s AT&T phone monopoly? Did effectiveness panels force United Airlines and American Airlines to cut costs, and push TWA and Pan Am out of business? Did the post office invent FedEx, UPS and email? How about public schools or the last 20 or more health-care "cost control" ideas?
Only deregulation can unleash competition. And only disruptive competition, where new businesses drive out old ones, will bring efficiency, lower costs and innovation.
Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers; lifelong and guaranteed-renewable, meaning you have the right to continue with no unexpected increase in premiums if you get sick. Insurance should protect wealth against large, unforeseen, necessary expenses, rather than be a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses.
Posted 12/30/2013 08:46:00 AM
Sunday, December 29, 2013
From The Wall Street Journal, "Six Myths About Renewable Energy: The impact on jobs and other assumptions that don't hold up anymore" by Keith Johnson:
But renewable energy has not been the job creator that its boosters envisioned. While the amount of wind and solar power has more than doubled since President Obama took office, renewable-energy jobs have not.
The hardest part of sizing up green jobs is figuring out what a green job is. The Bureau of Labor Statistics came up with an expansive definition: goods or services that benefit the environment or make a company more environmentally friendly. According to the most recent data from the BLS, the U.S. had 3.4 million green jobs in 2011. But the categories are generous, to say the least. Private-sector green jobs included petroleum and coal-products manufacturing (3,244 jobs); school and employee bus drivers (166,916); logging (8,837); paper mills (18,167); and iron and steel mills (33,812). The numbers get so fuzzy as to become all but meaningless as an indicator of employment potential from clean energy.
Direct-employment numbers from renewable energies are clearer. In 2012, the wind industry said it employed about 81,000, the solar industry employed about 119,000, and geothermal energy may have employed about 20,000. The Hydropower Association estimates the sector employs between 200,000 and 300,000 people today.
Not only are those numbers quite modest, but in broad terms they haven't increased much since 2008, before the recent strong growth in renewables. In 2008, the wind industry said it employed about 85,000 people. So while installed wind capacity more than doubled, wind employment shrank. Solar employment stood at about 93,000 in 2010. Two years—and a ninefold increase in solar power—later, solar employment had increased just 28%.
The contrast between the promise and the reality of green jobs becomes even clearer when compared with other energy sectors. Coal, for example, is shrinking as a share of the U.S. electricity mix. Nevertheless, total coal-sector employment of about 150,000 is the highest since the mid-1990s.
And, by far, the biggest jobs story in the energy patch has come from the oil and gas boom. According to a fresh study by energy consultancy IHS Cera, unconventional oil and gas production—hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas and tight oil—accounted for about 360,000 direct jobs.
Posted 12/29/2013 09:19:00 AM
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
From The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, "Trial Lawyer Protection Act: A new study shows that consumers lose in most class actions:"
Out of 148 federal class actions reported by two major litigation publications in 2009, none of the cases went to trial and won a judgment for the plaintiffs. Zero. Fourteen percent of the cases remain pending. Of the 127 cases that had been resolved by September 2013, 35% were voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff, 31% were dismissed on the merits by the court and 33% were settled.
***According to the study, only 33% of federal class actions settled compared with 67% for all federal cases.
It gets worse. Settlement details aren't always available, but in consumer class actions many class members don't collect their winnings at all and procedures to seek out class members and distribute the cash are rare. Mayer Brown says that "of the six cases in our data set for which settlement distribution data was public, five delivered funds to only miniscule percentages of the class: 0.000006%, 0.33%, 1.5%, 9.66%, and 12%."
Posted 12/24/2013 01:09:00 AM
Monday, December 23, 2013
From "Solar activity not a key cause of climate change, study shows" on ScienceBlog:
Climate change has not been strongly influenced by variations in heat from the sun, a new scientific study shows.
The findings overturn a widely held scientific view that lengthy periods of warm and cold weather in the past might have been caused by periodic fluctuations in solar activity.
Research examining the causes of climate change in the northern hemisphere over the past 1000 years has shown that until the year 1800, the key driver of periodic changes in climate was volcanic eruptions. These tend to prevent sunlight reaching the Earth, causing cool, drier weather. Since 1900, greenhouse gases have been the primary cause of climate change.
The findings show that periods of low sun activity should not be expected to have a large impact on temperatures on Earth, and are expected to improve scientists’ understanding and help climate forecasting.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh carried out the study using records of past temperatures constructed with data from tree rings and other historical sources. They compared this data record with computer-based models of past climate, featuring both significant and minor changes in the sun.
Posted 12/23/2013 01:49:00 PM
US Economy Rewards Workers' Literacy And Numeracy Skills More Than Other Countries: Increases In Unionization, Government Workers And Employment Protection Lower The Value Of Employee Skills
From National Bureau Of Economic Research, "Returns To Skills Around The World: Evidence From Piaac" by Eric A. Hanushek, Guido Schwerdt, Simon Wiederhold and Ludger Woessmann, Working Paper 19762:
[HT: Greg Mankiw]
1. IntroductionThe 22 countries in the comparison are: Austria, Belgium (albeit just Flanders), Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom (specifically England and Northern Ireland), and the United States.
***New international data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) dramatically changes the ability to understand how economies value skills. Using these data, this paper provides new insights into the value of skills in different economic settings by developing estimates of the earnings returns to cognitive skills across the entire labor force for 22 countries. ***Our results confirm that estimates based on early-career earnings underestimate the lifetime returns to skills, in our analyses by an average of about one quarter. Across the 22 countries, a one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with an average 18 percent wage increase among prime-age workers. Moreover, because of measurement errors in skills, these estimates should be thought of as lower bounds on the return to skill.
But this overall measure of returns to skill also masks considerable cross-country heterogeneity: Returns are below 15 percent in eight countries, including all four participating Nordic countries, and above 21 percent in six countries, with the largest return being 28 percent in the United States. Estimated returns tend to be largest for numeracy and literacy skills and smaller for problem-solving skills, although the relative importance of different skill dimensions varies across countries. Estimates prove highly robust to different earnings measures, additional controls, and various subgroups. Finally, exploiting the cross-country dimension of our analysis, we find that returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.
[HT: Greg Mankiw]
Posted 12/23/2013 12:39:00 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2013
From The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics, "Without Unemployment Extension, Which States Would Be Hit Hardest?" by Jeffrey Sparshott:
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Posted 12/21/2013 12:37:00 AM