Tag Archives: New Jersey

American Community Survey Data: Falling Median Work Earnings by Educational Attainment

As I noted in my prior post,

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/the-american-community-survey-economic-changes-from-2005-to-2015/

the business cycle, with expansions and recessions, means that comparisons over time for data items such as work earnings and income are only meaningful if one compares economically similar years. The press reports an increase in inflation-adjusted work earnings from 2014 to 2015, but that is merely what should be expected in an economic upturn. A comparison between 2005 and 2015, on the other hand, shows falling median earnings over the business cycle.  As a follow up, with economic trends for U.S. men compared with women, and less educated workers compared with more highly educated workers, an issue in the Presidential election, I downloaded some additional American Community Survey work earnings data to see that the actual situation is – in the U.S., NYC, and nearby areas.

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The American Community Survey: Economic Changes from 2005 to 2015

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) data was released a couple of weeks ago, and I’m surprised how little coverage of its findings there has been in the media. Most of what I have read, moreover, compared 2015 with 2014, or with 2010, and finds that the economy is getting much better for many Americans.

That, however, is not a meaningful comparison if one is looking to the long term, or trying to explain why so many Americans feel so much worse off. One would expect that people would become better off in the recovery from a deep recession, or worse off in the aftermath of the peak of a bubble.   Politicians, seeking to make points for their sides, often base their talking points on data from such non-comparable years, but that is disingenuous. As it happens, there are enough economic similarities between the first year of American Community Survey data, in 2005, and the latest year, 2015, to make a comparison between them meaningful. What follows is a discussion, with 26 charts, of the economic trends I found most interesting from that comparison – for the United States, New York City, and New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut. Let’s take a break from the fantasy and deception of politics and look at some reality.

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Census Education Finance Data for FY 2014 (Compared with FY 2002)

The Census Bureau’s annual education finance data was released for FY 2014 on Friday June 11. The data shows that NYC spent $24,004 per student that year, slightly below the average of the Downstate Suburbs ($25,041) but far higher than the average for New Jersey ($19,636), Connecticut ($19,388), Massachusetts ($16,884) and Maryland ($15,812).   The Northeast Corridor is a generally high wage, high cost of living area. Even adjusting for this, however, New York City’s average adjusted expenditure per student, at $18,764, was nearly 50 percent higher than the U.S. average of $12,625. On an unadjusted basis New York City spent $14,665 per student on instructional (mostly teacher) wages, salaries and benefits alone, or $293,300 per 20 students and $175,980 per 12 students. And this was at a time when the contract for NYC teachers had been expired for years; spending has soared since, as a result of retroactive pay for past years including FY 2014.

One finds the same pattern for Upstate New York. There, spending averaged $19,428 per student in urban counties and $20,490 per student in rural counties. This compares with the U.S. average of $12,625, the Ohio average of $12,907, and the Pennsylvania average of $16,585, and the Vermont average of $20,488. Links to detailed spreadsheets with data for every school district in New York and New Jersey, and per-student revenues and expenditures by category of revenue and expenditure, follow a discussion of where the data comes from and how it was compiled. As is my custom, I’m going to provide the spreadsheets now, think about them for a while, and then provide my analysis and express my opinion. If you want the facts without the opinion, this is the post for you.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Bureaucracy, Judicial and Legal, and Public Health Employment and Payroll

I will once again end a tabulation of state and local government data from the U.S. Census Bureau with a brief discussion of the Financial Administration, Other Government Administration, Judicial and Legal, and Public Health functions. This will be a limited review, because there isn’t much to add to the more detailed employment and payroll data from the 2012, 2002, and 1992 Census of Governments, which I analyzed here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/general-government-census-of-governments-employment-and-payroll-data/

And the data from the government finances phase of the Census of Governments that I wrote about here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/bureaucracy-census-of-governments-data/

Because the level of employment and pay in New York’s courts has been an issue, however, I’m going to examine that more closely for March 2002 and March 2014.

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State and Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Infrastructure and Public Amenities

There are places in this country, generally rural areas, where people don’t get very much from state and local government other than schools, state police, and a road. Instead of public water and sewer, they have private wells and cesspools. Instead of municipal garbage pickup and disposal, they have to take their trash to the dump or pay someone else to do it. Instead of public libraries and parks, they have their own books and backyards. And, as in most of the country, there is no mass transit, no roads that are safe to bicycle or walk, not even many shared rides. Drive your own vehicle or be stranded.

New York City is, at least or based on its state and local tax burden and charges for services ought to be, the complete opposite of this. It has municipal water, sewer, solid waste pick-up, and mass transit. Highly developed at a high density, with most people having small or no private yards, city residents rely on public parks and related facilities for exercise and recreation. And the city has a network of public libraries, most within walking distance, even as most information shifts to the internet. One would, therefore, expect New York City’s public employment in these categories to be higher than the U.S. average. But how much higher? And is this fair value compared with what people could purchase themselves?

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Local Government Employment in 2002 and 2014: Public Schools

Relative to population and even, in some places, in absolute numbers, state and local government employment has fallen in recent years as the cost of retired public employees has soared and tax bases have stagnated. Although many states and localities tried to shield elementary and secondary schools from the fiscal impact of past decisions as long as possible, in the wake of the Great Recession the schools have not been immune.

There are other factors, however, that have offset falling employment. First with the large “Baby Boom echo” generation exiting school age, school age children are a shrinking share of the population. In fact the number of children age 3 to 17 enrolled in school has fallen in the U.S. in absolute numbers from 2002 to 2014. And second, private school employment is rising in many places including New York City, where it was relatively high to begin with.

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State and Local Government Employment: Census Bureau Data for FY 2014 Compared With FY 2002

In 2014 and 2015, I compiled extensive data, and published a bunch of posts, based on Census of Governments data from the U.S. Census Bureau.   One can find that data on this page.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/the-latest-public-finance-spreadsheets/

While Bureau only conducts a Census of Governments every five years, it conducts surveys of state and local government employment and finances every year. The survey size is generally large enough to produce estimates of the totals for the U.S. and all the states, except for some years when budget cuts prevented the work from being done. This year data for FY 2014 will be made available, and I intend to compile it for comparison with FY 2002.

The first analysis, based on recently-released data on state and local government employment and payroll, is described below. As is my custom, while the spreadsheet with the tables is linked at the end of this post, my analysis and understanding of what it means will be presented in a later post. What I’d like is for people to read the background information presented below, download the spreadsheet, look at the tables, and make up their own minds before reading what I have to say about it.

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Some Notes About New York from the Bureau of Economic Analysis

Local Area Personal income data has been released for 2014, and I’ve downloaded it to see if some of the trends I’ve observed in the past have continued. While there are many positive trends for New York City, it isn’t all good news. In Downstate New York, the mean earnings (including non-wage benefits) of private sector workers outside the high-paid Finance and Insurance sector fell 1.4% from 2001 to 2014 when adjusted for inflation. Which is actually better than I would have expected, and better than in many parts of the U.S. The mean earnings of those in the Finance and Insurance sector, while still sky high, fell 13.6%. But the mean earnings of those employed in state and local government increased 17.6%. No wonder the serfs can afford fewer of them, with larger class sizes and more crowded subway trains among the results.

Some charts with this and other data follow.

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Updated Long Term Pension Data for New York And New Jersey: The Large Plans for Most Public Employees

Note, I recently posted an updated analysis of Census Bureau data through 2016 here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/long-term-pension-data-for-new-york-and-new-jersey-to-2016-the-large-plans-for-most-public-employees-with-commentary-on-hedge-funds/

Read that one, rather than the one below with data through 2013.

New York City and New Jersey, like most places, have separate pension plans for teachers, police officers, and firefighter, and large plans for everyone else. This post is about updated Census Bureau data, for the years 1957 to 2012, for the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), which also covers New York City transit workers, the New York (state) Public Employees Pension and Retirement System, which also covers local government workers (including police officers and firefighters) in the rest of New York State, and the New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System.

In general the findings are the same as they were in this post last year, since one year of data isn’t going to make a big difference for something as slow moving and inexorable as pension funding.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/pensions-for-non-teachers-a-slightly-different-road-to-ruin-in-new-york-city/

Unless there is a big retroactive pension increase, and its cost is actually admitted to. One big thing that did happen in 2012: there was a huge increase in taxpayer contributions to the New York City Employees Retirement System, balanced by a reduction in contributions to the New York City Teachers Retirement system. And one thing I learned this year: there have been more early retirement incentives in the crippled New Jersey public retirement system than I was previously aware of. Further discussion, and a spreadsheet with a series of charts follow after the break .

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Update: Teacher Pensions in New York and New Jersey

Note:  a new post has been written with updated data on NYC teacher pensions through 2016.  It is located here.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/long-term-pension-data-for-new-york-and-new-jersey-to-2016-teacher-pensions/

Read that one, rather than the one below, which only has data through 2013.

Late last year I downloaded and arranged all the data the U.S. Census Bureau had collected since 1957 on currently active public employee pension plans in New York and New Jersey. I used the data in a series of posts: one on the teacher pension plans, one on police and fire pension plans, and one on the pension plans for everyone else. To say the posts are popular is an understatement. Since I started “Saying the Unsaid in New York,” last year’s post on teacher pensions has the most views, with the police and fire pension post second and the general pension post fifth. Even during the last 90 days, long after the posts were written (and a period when I put up three series of other posts based on three other databases I compiled), the old teacher and police/fire pension posts have been first and third in views.

The Census Bureau has now updated his information for FY 2012 (and for the NYC police pension plan, which lags, for FY 2011), and I have added the new information to the spreadsheets with the charts. Not much changed between FY 2011 and FY 2012, though I have added a few additional charts to better show what I already showed last year. So the reader may find much of what will follow duplicative. What is worthy of additional comment, however, is the political reaction to the public employee pension disaster over the past few months. The updated charts and commentary for teachers may be found below.

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