It’s doubtful whether more than a relative handful of Californians have heard of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It is, however, one of state government’s largest activities – and a case study in political mismanagement. Currently, California employers pay about $6 billion in payroll taxes into the UIF each year. And currently, the state Employment Development Department annually pays almost that much to jobless workers. Superficially, that would appear to be a sustainable equation, but in reality, it’s not. During periods of high payrolls and low unemployment, such as this one, the UIF should be building reserves that could cope with an economic downturn, when claims for jobless benefits increase. That’s the way it used to work – until political expediency and recession undid it.
Wages are supposed to track worker productivity, and from the end of World War II until 1973 they did. Then, something happened: Productivity kept rising but wages did not. Many on the left argue the link is now broken and redistributing income from the wealthy downward would help workers more than faster economic growth. But a new study co-authored by Harvard University economist Lawrence Summers says that’s wrong. He and Anna Stansbury, a doctoral student at Harvard, found a strong and persistent link between hourly productivity and a variety of wage measures since 1973. The problem, they conclude, is that the positive influence of productivity on pay has been overwhelmed by other forces pushing the other way.
Industries regulated under California’s cap-and-trade program reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5% in 2016, according to new data released by state officials. Richard Corey, executive director of the California Air Resources Board, said the numbers show the state is on track to meet its emission-reduction targets in 2020 and 2030.
From December 2016 to March 2017, gross job gains from opening and expanding private-sector establishments were 7.3 million, a decrease of 127,000 jobs over the quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over this period, gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 6.7 million, a decrease of 391,000 jobs from the previous quarter. The difference between the number of gross job gains and the number of gross job losses yielded a net employment gain of 654,000 jobs in the private-sector during the first quarter of 2017. (See tables A and 1.)
There is no firm estimate on the number of people who live in vehicles in Silicon Valley, but the problem is pervasive and apparent to anyone who sees RVs lining thoroughfares; not as visible are the cars tucked away at night in parking lots. Advocates for the homeless say it will only get worse unless more affordable housing is built. The median rent in the San Jose metro area is $3,500 a month, yet the median wage is $12 an hour in food service and $19 an hour in health care support, an amount that won’t even cover housing costs. The minimum annual salary needed to live comfortably in San Jose is $87,000, according to a study by personal finance website GoBankingRates. So dilapidated RVs line the eastern edge of Stanford University in Palo Alto, and officials in neighboring Mountain View have mapped out more than a dozen areas where campers tend to cluster, some of them about a mile from Google headquarters.