The average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower, according to a major survey.
Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association.
Leaders of the U.S.’s largest companies plan to ramp up hiring in the coming months, as management teams eye regulatory rollbacks and the possibility of a tax overhaul.
The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook’s employment measure, which gauges chief executives’ hiring plans, rose to 80.2 in the third quarter of 2017, the highest reading in more than six years.
. . . More the half of the CEOs questioned in the second-quarter survey said they would scrap current plans for hiring and investment if Congress doesn’t change the tax code, but, during the third-quarter survey announcement, Mr. Bolten wouldn’t give specific tax rates the Business Roundtable would want to see in a bill.
Government statistics paint an excessively grim picture of what is happening to real wages and the growth of real national income. Although most households’ take-home cash has been rising very slowly for decades, their standard of living is increasing more rapidly because those wages can now buy new and better products at little or no extra cost. The government’s measure of real incomes gives too little weight to this increase in what take-home pay can buy. The common assertion that middle-class households have seen no increase in real incomes for 30 years is simply not true. And contrary to a common fear, most members of the younger generation will have higher real incomes as adults than their parents had at the same age. The government’s growth estimates are excessively pessimistic for two reasons. First, government statisticians grossly understate the value of improvements in the quality of existing goods and services. More important, the government doesn’t even try to measure the full contribution of new goods and services.
The U.S. economy expanded at its most robust pace in more than two years in the spring and appears to have momentum going into the second half of the year, supported by solid consumer spending and a pickup in business investment.
Gross domestic product, a broad measure of the goods and services produced across the U.S., rose at a seasonally and inflation-adjusted annual rate of 3% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the strongest quarter in more than two years and some forecasters expect growth will remain around that pace in the third quarter.
The President has vowed to get economic growth back above 3% after the dreary slow recovery of the Obama “new normal.” What’s as sweet as the faster growth last quarter is the way it was achieved—with less spending by state and local governments but more consumer spending and rising business investment.
This last part is especially important. Lackluster business investment was a hallmark of the Obama era. And who could blame executives for being reluctant to pull the trigger on new plants and equipment? It was impossible to know what new intervention in the private economy regulators were dreaming up in Washington. When businesses don’t invest in new tools, workers have a hard time becoming more productive, which in turn means workers can’t demand higher pay.