Check in Mail States Delay Tax Refunds

Some states may delay paying tax refunds again this year.  Taxpayers should call them the “Check In the Mail” States.

Last year Kansas, North Carolina, California and Missouri delayed tax refunds.  Taxpayers were not happy about it.  Tax refund delays are another sign of government mismanagement.  In response to last years fiasco, Missouri state house legislators this week passed a bill that if enacted will shorten the time period that the state can withhold payment without interest.  Missouri had to use stimulus money to pay its tax refunds.  See: Missouri State House Approves Quicker Refunds .

This year New York, Kansas, Iowa and Hawaii have already announced they may have to delay payments.  Taxpayers, who are entitled to refunds in these states, will unfortunately suffer.

Here are a few of the headlines and links to the state stories.

Hawaii will delay sending out tax refunds to balance budget

Hold It: Unpaid Parking tickets could delay Iowa tax refunds

NY Governor considers delays in paying tax refunds

Forbes recently published its “Special Report: The Global Debt Bomb.”  In one of its pieces,  United States of Debt , it ranks states according to financial health.  The metrics Forbes looked at for each state when building its ranking included unfunded pension liabilities, changes in tax revenue, credit agency ratings, debt as a percentage of Gross State Product, debt per capita, growth expectations for employment and the state economy, net migrations and a moocher ratio that compares government employees, pension burdens and Medicaid enrollees to private-sector employment.

The Worst States for Debt Trouble, according to Forbes, are Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey.

The States with the least Debt Problems are Utah, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia.  All states have significantly lower debt per capita than the Worst States.  The Best States also have lower unemployment than the U.S. average of 9.7% and lower than the Worst States with Debt Problems.  The Best States for Jobs will typically have better government management of debt.

Forbes also ran an analysis that shows that the states with the Worst Debt and Financial Problems are blue states i.e. states controlled by Democrats.  The piece attributed political unions and big spending by Democrats as the cause of the deepest fiscal holes.
See Political Litmus Test: Bluest States Spilling The Most Red Ink

Smoking States and Tobacco Producing States

Smoking has been on a long term decline in the U.S.

Total smokers in the U.S. according to Americas Health Rankings Assessment on Smoking have declined from 29.5% in 1990 to 18.3% in 2009.  Smokers as a per cent of the U.S. population have shrunk 38% since 1990.

Americas Health Rankings also does a great job in providing statistics for each of the states.  Smoking trends by State have some interesting aspects not quickly seen by observing the data.

The Best and Worst States 2009 Smokers by State map highlights high smoking and low smoking states.  It is listed below:

State Smoking Population Map

From the map it is readily apparent that the mid west and southern states have the strongest affinity for smoking.

The Best State for Non-Smokers, i.e. lowest smoking population, is Utah.  Only 9.3% of the Utah population smokes.  Additional Top States for Non-Smokers are California, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.

The Best State for Smokers, i.e. the highest smoking population, is West Virginia with 26.5% of its population smokers.  Over one in four people over 18 smoke in West Virginia.  Additional Top States for Smokers are Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.  Nevada had the highest smoking population in 1990 at 35.7% according to Americas Health.  Nevada’s smoking population has since declined to 22.1%, a dramatic decline.

The entire 2009 list of Smokers by State is published below.

The populations of tobacco producing states are above average smokers.  It seems logical.  If a state produces lots of tobacco,  its population is more likely to smoke.  The chart of Top Producing Tobacco States supports this contention.   North Carolina has the most tobacco acreage by far and ranks as the 14th highest smoking state.  Kentucky, the 2nd largest tobacco producer, ranks 3 in the nation for highest per cent of its population being smokers.  Virginia and Connecticut appear to be outliers.  Virginia is the third largest producer yet its population ranks 40th in the nation for smoking.  Connecticut is the 9th largest producer of tobacco yet its smoking population is 44th or ranked 7th lowest state for smokers.  All the other Top Tobacco Producing States have above average smoking populations.

The Top Ten Tobacco Producing States are listed below along with their Smoker Rank.

Top Ten Tobacco Producing States

List of Smoking Population by State

If you consider smoking or non-smoking an important aspect of lifestyle, this info may help you find a state that fits your needs.  It might help you determine your Best State to Live.

State Unionism Rankings: Do Highly Unionized States have Higher Unemployment?

Union employment in the U.S. continued to shrink this past year.  Nationwide union participation stands at 12.3% which is a slight decline from 2008.

The BLS 2009 Annual Union Affiliation by Statesurvey was recently published.  It has brought increased attention to the union movement. Union policy will further be in the spotlight this week as the Senate wrestles with the nomination of Craig Becker, a clearly pro-union candidate, to the National Labor Review Board.  See GOP’s Senate Gain Clouds Prospect of Obama’s Labor Board Nominee.  In view of this upcoming debate, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at state unionization and employment.


Let’s take a look at state unionization.

New York is the most unionized state in the nation with 27.2% of its population working for a union.  More than 1 in four workers are represented by a union in New York.  Hawaii at 24.3% is the second most unionized state at 24.3%, followed by Alaska at 23.6%.  Washington, Michigan, and New Jersey are heavily unionized states with about 20% union participation rates.

The least unionized state is North Carolina at 4.4%.  Only one in 23 workers in North Carolina are represented by a union, a sharp difference as compared to New York.  Additional states with low union participation rates are Arkansas at 5.0%, Virginia at 5.4%, South Carolina at 5.4% and Georgia at 5.9%

Twenty seven states had decreased union participation in 2009 as compared with 2008.  States with low union participation rates generally became less so in 2009 and those states with union growth were primarily already highly unionized.  There are 22 states with right to work laws in the U.S.  Right to work laws generally do not require employees to pay fees or join a union even if voted in.

A look at union participation and unemployment shows states with high union participation rates are closely associated with higher unemployment.

The five Worst States for Employment in 2009 were Michigan, Rhode Island, Nevada, California and South Carolina.  All but South Carolina are highly unionized states.  The Worst States for Employment in 2009 generally were highly unionized states.

Worst States for Employment and Union Participation

 

 

The Best States for Employment in 2009 were North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas. All but Iowa have unionparticipation rates below the U.S. average and would be classified asstates with low unionization.  If you are looking for a job, look at states with low unionization.  They tend to have less unemployment. See  Best and Worst States for Jobs: Will Jobs Improve in 2010 for the rankings of all states by employment.  The list of Best States for Employment and Union Participation follows:

Best States for Employment and Union Participation



The list of Unionism by State follows:

Unionism by State


Union membership has been in a long term decline since 1983 when BLS first started measuring it in a consistent way.  Union participation was 20.1% of the working population in 1983.  It is now approximately 40% lower at 12.3%.  For the first time in 2009, the majority of union members now work for the government and not for private, for profit entities.  These state workers are on average paid significantly more than private industry.  Making it easier for government workers to unionize will only push labor costs higher and cost the taxpayers more.  Political leaders should be trying to keep these costs in check. (The average federal worker’s pay is $71,206 as compared to $40,331 in the private sector and is growing above inflation rates) The Obama administration’s labor policy approach creates a conflict with its responsibilities to protect the taxpayer. Increased unionization will increase our cost of government.  If the Obama administration is serious about job creation and deficit control, it may want to reconsider this approach.  Unions and job creation generally do not have a positive correlation.  Watch the news this week as it relates to Craig Becker.  It will have implications for jobs and deficits.

One Year Of Obama and Stimulus: Job Openings down 5.48% , Unemployment Up to 10%

It has been one year since President Obama took office and announced a stimulus bill that was to improve jobs.  The data suggests that the job market continued to deteriorate this past year.  Unemployment is up to 10% from 7.4%.  Job Openings are down 5.48%

Job Openings, as measured on careerbuilder.com, have not improved from one year ago.  Nationwide, job openings at January 31, 2010 were 5.48% lower than January 29, 2009.  Total job openings stand at 222,189 as compared to 235,059 last year, a decrease of 12,870.  37 States have lower job openings as compared to last year.

 

 

Best and Worst States has been tracking Job Openings by State for the past year and has reported on movements.  For some of our previouslinks see November 2009, Job Stimulus Not Working  , Job Openings September 2009 and last year’s Best and Worst States for Job Openings January 2009.  While the drops early in the year have appeared to stabilize, the level of job openings is not robust enough to suggest significant improvements in employment soon.

The Best State for Job Openings is Indiana as measured by growth.  Indiana had the largest gain in job openings, 887, up 17.4% from a year ago. Best States for Jobs also were Kentucky, Ohio and TennesseeFlorida and Ohio were the best large states for job openings.  They were the only 2 states of the Top Ten Employment States to show increases in openings.  13 States had increases in job openings from a year ago.

The Worst State for Jobs was California.  It has 3,667 less job openings from a year ago, a decrease of 14.18%.  California also has the fourth worst employment rate in the nation.  Unemployment in California is now at 12.4%, up 3.7% from a year ago.  California is struggling on many fronts and an increasing jobless population will not help it turn around.  For more on California see California Jobs Shrinking

Additional Worst States for Jobs  are Texas, Illinois,Massachusetts and Arizona.  They each had large job opening losses and double digit declines in percentage terms.

Another measure of job openings, the Conference Board’s Help Wanted On-Line Data Series is also indicating year over year decreases in job openings. The Conference Board Data for 2009 annual average job openings stands at 3,357,000, 1.1million below the 4,481,000 annual average for 2008.  More importantly their average job opening number for 2009 is 2.4 million below the 2007 average job opening number.  These are not good numbers.  On an encouraging note,the Conference Board reported positive improvement in job openings in New York, Washington, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and New Jersey.

All 50 states saw their unemployment rates increase in 2009.  See Unemployment by State 2009 for the entire 2009 list and unemployment changes from a year ago. Job openings must increase significantly nationwide if unemployment is to improve to acceptable levels. It is going to take some time for this to occur.

 

Job Openings by State January 2010

 

Largest State
California Continues to
Show Shrinking Job Openings


Texas Jobs Not Growing

Florida Shows Small Increase

Illinois Jobs Down 10.64%

37 States Have
Fewer Job Openings

2 of 10 Largest States
Show Small Increase

Indiana Best State for Job Opening Growth

Job Openings Do Not Suggest
Employment Improvements

Best and Worst States for Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released state unemployment numbers for August 2009.  State Employment statistics show a continued worsening.  14 States and DC now have unemployment rates of 10% or greater.  North Dakota has the nation’s best state employment rate with 95.7% of its people employed.  All 50 State Unemployment rates are listed below.

The Best States for Employment were North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia.

The Worst States for Employment were Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, Oregon and California.


California has the most unemployed in the nation with 2.248 million people out of work.  The States with Most Unemployment are:

Unemployed Unemp Rate
1 California 2248.0 12.2
2 Texas 966.0 8.0
3 Florida 983.7 10.7
4 New York 834.9 9.0
5 Michigan 736.1 15.2

(Unemployed in thousands)
Source: BLS

List of State Unemployment August 2009

1 NORTH DAKOTA 4.3%
2 SOUTH DAKOTA 4.9%
3 NEBRASKA 5.0%
4 UTAH 6.0%
5 VIRGINIA 6.5%
6 MONTANA 6.6%
6 WYOMING 6.6%
8 IOWA 6.8%
8 OKLAHOMA 6.8%
8 VERMONT 6.8%
11 NEW HAMPSHIRE 6.9%
12 ARKANSAS 7.1%
12 KANSAS 7.1%
14 HAWAII 7.2%
14 MARYLAND 7.2%
16 COLORADO 7.3%
17 NEW MEXICO 7.5%
18 LOUISIANA 7.8%
19 MINNESOTA 8.0%
19 TEXAS 8.0%
21 CONNECTICUT 8.1%
21 DELAWARE 8.1%
23 ALASKA 8.3%
24 MAINE 8.6%
24 PENNSYLVANIA 8.6%
26 WISCONSIN 8.8%
27 IDAHO 8.9%
28 NEW YORK 9.0%
28 WEST VIRGINIA 9.0%
30 ARIZONA 9.1%
30 MASSACHUSETTS 9.1%
32 WASHINGTON 9.2%
33 MISSISSIPPI 9.5%
33 MISSOURI 9.5%
35 NEW JERSEY 9.7%
36 INDIANA 9.9%
37 ILLINOIS 10.0%
38 GEORGIA 10.2%
39 ALABAMA 10.4%
40 FLORIDA 10.7%
41 NORTH CAROLINA 10.8%
41 OHIO 10.8%
41 TENNESSEE 10.8%
44 DC 11.1%
44 KENTUCKY 11.1%
46 SOUTH CAROLINA 11.5%
47 CALIFORNIA 12.2%
47 OREGON 12.2%
49 RHODE ISLAND 12.8%
50 NEVADA 13.2%
51 MICHIGAN 15.2%

Are Pay Equity Studies Equitable? Are State Rankings Meaningful?

Are Pay Equity Studies Equitable?  Are State Rankings meaningful?

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) http://www.aauw.org recently published a state ranking of pay equity for college educated women as compared to men.

The report found that in the United States, the earnings gap between college educated men and women over 25 years of age and who work full-time year round was 71%, meaning these women make 29 cents less on the dollar nationally. They also reported the differences in pay equity by state.

While we do not dispute the numbers as put forth by the study i.e. women typically are paid less than men, we do question the validity of the issue and the reasons typically put forth for its existance.   We believe it presents a one sided argument in favor of legislation supporting the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”  The AAUW supports legislation that would close the gap with legislation.  The study has received significant publicity without some common sense rebuttal.

Why do we question the fairness and validity of this study?

We think many other factors also influence pay.

Should experience matter?  Would it be fair to require people with more experience to be paid the same as those with less experience?

Should training and knowledge matter?  Would it be fair to require pay to be the same for people with less training than others?

We believe training and experience should matter!!

The AAUW study neglects to point out that there are significant differences between men and women in the work place.

The Social Security Administration http://www.socialsecurity.gov reports that women typically work 13 years less than men during their lifetimes.  13 years of less work experience for any person is meaningful.  You would expect those with less work experience regardless of sex to be paid less on average.

Women typically also leave the workforce to raise children.  One study has measured the average time women leave the workforce for child rearing at 11.5 years.  Women work less work years.  This typically also leads to less training and development of computer and other specific job skills that are part of the pay criteria.  Much of this is learned on the job.  It is common sense to expect people with less training and less experience to be paid less.

While we highly respect the important contributions that women make to our world, we do not believe the AAUW study should be considered as an important fact to support pay fairness.  Many women as matter of choice, happily leave the workforce.   We hope for the benefit of fairness that this study and the “Pay Fairness Act” do not become accepted wisdom and law.

The chart below is from the Urban Institute  The Urban Institute recognizes and charts the differences in male/female work experience. Men work significantly more years than women.
Cumulative Distribution of Work Years
The “Best and Worst States for Pay Equity” are listed below.  Read them with caution.  Interestingly we could not find any obvious conclusions from the listings.

The “Best State for Pay Equity” is Vermont.  Nearby New Hampshire is one of the “Worst States for Pay Equity.”  Does this suggest that employers in Vermont are more “fair” to women than in New Hampshire?  Why?

Are employers in Wisconsin or Montana fundamentally more “fair” than nearby poorly ranked Iowa?  Are there factors other than male/female pay discrimination that are more influential that create lower average pay for women in Iowa?  For example, do families in Wisconsin have a lower value for child rearing resulting in more work time for women and thus more pay?  We think that would be a meaningless conclusion.

There are many factors that influence differences in pay between the sexes.  We think state by state rankings offer limited insight and create numerous questions for understanding why.

Best States for Pay Equity

1) Vermont 87%
2) Hawaii 83%
3) Delaware 80%
4) New York 78%
5) Montana 77%
6) Wyoming 77%
7) New Mexico 77%
8) Wisconsin 76%
9) Oregon 76%
10) Nevada 75%

Worst States for Pay Equity


42) Utah 69%
43) Michigan 68%
44) Arkansas 68%
45) Iowa 68%
46) New Hampshire 68%
47) Oklahoma 67%
48) Virginia 67%
49) Mississippi 67%
50) West Virginia 67%
51) Louisiana 65
%

Finally, the AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE, said “Our analysis is quite disturbing, especially when you consider how more and more families are depending on a woman’s paycheck as the primary source of income in these tough economic times. Consequently, the issue of pay equity takes on an added sense of urgency. This is just one of the reasons why we’re urging the Senate to join the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,”

We disagree.

The “Paycheck Fairness Act” would be unfair if it punishes experience and training. Fairness requires that all people regardless of sex should be paid on the basis of experience and training as well.

Best and Worst States for U.S. Presidents, Virginia has Most

In What States were Presidents Born?

Virginia is the Best State for Presidents with 8 Presidents born in its state.  Ohio is second with 7. Massachusetts and New York with 4 are ranked third.  Many states have no Presidents.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison were all born before the U.S. became a country.  Their colonies later became states and are reflected as such in the table.

Happy Presidents Day!

U.S. President Birth States
1. George Washington (1789-97) Virginia
2. John Adams (1797-1801) Massachusetts
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) Virginia
4. James Madison (1809-17) Virginia
5. James Monroe (1817-25) Virginia
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-29) Massachusetts
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-37) South Carolina
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-41) New York
9. William Henry Harrison (1841) Virginia
10. John Tyler (1841-45) Virginia
11. James K. Polk (1845-49) North Carolina
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-50) Virginia
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-53) New York
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-57) New Hampshire
15. James Buchanan (1857-61) Pennsylvania
16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) Kentucky
17. Andrew Johnson (1865-69) North Carolina
18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) Ohio
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-81) Ohio
20. James A. Garfield (1881) Ohio
21. Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) Vermont
22. Grover Cleveland (1885-89) New Jersey
23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-93) Ohio
24. Grover Cleveland (1893-97) New Jersey
25. William McKinley (1897-1901) Ohio
26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) New York
27. William H. Taft (1909-13) Ohio
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) Virginia
29. Warren G. Harding (1921-23) Ohio
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) Vermont
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-33) Iowa
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) New York
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-53) Missouri
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61) Texas
35. John F. Kennedy (1961-63) Massachusetts
36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69) Texas
37. Richard M. Nixon (1969-74) California
38. Gerald R. Ford (1974-77) Nebraska
39. Jimmy Carter (1977-81) Georgia
40. Ronald Reagan (1981-89) Illinois
41. George Bush (1989-93) Massachusetts
42. William J. Clinton (1993-2001) Arkansas
43. George W. Bush (2001-2009) Connecticut
44. Barack Hussein Obama (2009-) Hawaii

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