State & Local Finance Initiative

State Economic Monitor

Oct. 16, 2014

Unemployment Rates

Most states ended the summer of 2014 on a positive economic note. Up from 14 states a year earlier, 25 states reported August unemployment rates below 6 percent. Every state but Alaska added jobs within the last year. But some troubling signs remain. Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages declined or did not change in 26 states. The latest issue of the State Economic Monitor describes economic and fiscal trends at the state level, highlighting particular differences across the states in employment, state government finances, and housing conditions. This issue also includes a special section on state minimum wages.

Read the full report (PDF).

Explore interactive maps for data on all 50 states and DC.

State & Local Finance Initiative Blog Posts

Recent posts about state and local finance on Tax Vox (Tax Policy Center's blog) and Metro Trends (Urban Institute's blog).

All State & Local Finance Initiative Blog Posts

 
 
Publications for State and Local Issues

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Municipal Debt: What Does It Buy and Who Benefits? (Research Report)
Harvey GalperKim RuebenRichard C. AuxierAmanda Eng

This paper examines the incidence of the federal income tax exemption of interest on state and local bonds, applying a fixed-savings, simplified general equilibrium approach to estimate incidence effects on both the sources and uses of income. In contrast to traditional empirical work that allocates the benefit of tax exemption only to current holders of tax-exempt bonds based on current interest rates, we incorporate the fact that the existence of tax exemption causes the taxable interest rate to rise and the tax-exempt rate to fall. As a consequence, on the sources side, tax exemption can increase after-tax income for holders of both taxable and taxexempt bonds. On the uses side, consumers of both private and public goods are affected by the higher cost of funds to private and federal government borrowers, the lower cost of funds to state and local borrowers, and the lower cost of funds to private-sector entities with access to the proceeds of tax-exempt borrowing. Overall, higher income individuals remain the primary beneficiaries of tax exemption on the sources side with this new approach, but less so than under the traditional approach. On the uses side, households who consume a relatively large share of state and local public services, such as those with several school-age children, receive significant net benefits.

Published: 10/29/14
Availability: HTML | PDF


State Economic Monitor: October 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Richard C. Auxier

Most states ended the summer of 2014 on a positive economic note. Up from 14 states a year earlier, 25 states reported August unemployment rates below 6 percent. Every state but Alaska added jobs within the last year. But some troubling signs remain. Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages declined or did not change in 26 states. The latest issue of the State Economic Monitor describes economic and fiscal trends at the state level, highlighting particular differences across the states in employment, state government finances, and housing conditions. This issue also includes a special section on state minimum wages.

Published: 10/16/14
Availability:   PDF


Assessing Pension Benefits Paid under Pennsylvania's State Employees' Retirement System (Research Report)
Richard W. JohnsonBarbara ButricaOwen HaagaBenjamin G. Southgate

Pennsylvania’s pension plan for state employees receives a failing grade in the Urban Institute’s state and local pension plan report card, and ranks as the third-worst plan in the nation covering newly hired general state employees. The plan scores poorly because it is inadequately funded, it penalizes work at older ages by reducing lifetime benefits for older employees, and it provides few retirement benefits to short-term employees. Age-25 hires must work 32 years before they accumulate rights to future pension benefits worth more than their required plan contributions. Various pension reforms could distribute benefits more equitably across the workforce.

Published: 09/04/14
Availability:   PDF


Evaluating Retirement Income Security for Illinois Public School Teachers (Research Report)
Richard W. JohnsonBenjamin G. Southgate

The financial problems afflicting Illinois’s teacher pension plan have grabbed headlines. An equally important problem, though underappreciated, is that relatively few teachers benefit much from the plan. Long-serving teachers receive generous pensions, but only 18 percent of teachers remain employed for at least 25 years. Only 24 percent of those who complete at least five years of service receive pensions worth more than the value of their required plan contributions. Alternative plan designs, such as cash balance plans, could distribute benefits more equitably and put more teachers on a path to a financially secure retirement.

Published: 07/30/14
Availability:   PDF


State Economic Monitor: July 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Norton FrancisKim RuebenRichard C. Auxier

The latest edition of the Tax Policy Center's State and Local Finance Initiative's State Economic Monitor reports that states are still struggling to emerge from the lingering recession. The good news is that nearly all states experienced economic growth in 2013, and only one state has an unemployment rate above 8 percent. But few states have fully recovered from the 2007 downturn, and new problems are arising. State tax revenues were down in the first quarter, driven by a significant decline in income tax revenue, and a non-government forecast estimates that the revenue drop may become even more severe. The Monitor also reviews the health of other aspects of state economies such as total employment, real earnings, and housing. This edition’s special supplement highlights a new Urban Institute report on public pension plans.

Published: 07/09/14
Availability:   PDF


State Economic Monitor: April 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Norton FrancisBrian David Moore

The latest edition of the Tax Policy Center's State and Local Finance Initiative's State Economic Monitor finds the economic recovery continues to improve slowly. No state unemployment rate increased from last year in February but long term unemployment remains a problem and is above average in most states. The Monitor reviews the health of various aspects of state economies, including employment, housing, state finances, and economic growth. This edition also reports state general fund revenue forecasts for fiscal year 2015.

Published: 04/14/14
Availability:   PDF


A Comparison of State Minimum Wages  (Article/Tax Facts)
Norton FrancisYuri Shadunsky

This Tax Fact examines minimum wages across states. The current federal minimum wage, which applies to almost all employees, is $7.25 per hour — unchanged since 2010. The District of Columbia and 21 states set minimum wages higher than the federal rate.

Published: 04/01/14
Availability:   PDF


State Policy and EITC Expansion for Childless Workers (Article/Tax Facts)
Elaine MaagBrian David Moore

President Obama and others have proposed increasing the federal earned income tax credit for workers without qualifying children. That would automatically raise state EITCs in the 23 states that calculate a state-level credit for this group as a percentage of the federal credit.

Published: 03/20/14
Availability:   PDF


Exploring the Causes and Effects of Revenue Decentralization: Does Revenue Decentralization Increase or Reduce Economic Growth? (Research Report)
Kuralay Baisalbayeva

Although many developing and transition countries are pursuing fiscal decentralization reforms, the debate surrounding the relationship between revenue decentralization and economic growth has not yet been fully resolved. While proponents of decentralization suggest that local own source revenue collections are generally evidence of an effective local public sector, a contrasting view holds that revenues collected by weak and non-responsive local governments tend to negatively affect economic growth. Our analysis suggests that the relationship between revenue decentralization and economic growth differs considerably for different groups of countries, but does not find any evidence for the hypothesis that revenue decentralization suppresses economic growth.

Published: 01/31/14
Availability:   PDF


State Economic Monitor: January 2014 (Series/State Economic Monitor)
Norton FrancisYuri Shadunsky

The latest edition of the Tax Policy Center's State and Local Finance Initiative's State Economic Monitor finds the recovery still struggling for momentum. The unemployment rate has improved but remains over 40 percent higher than the pre-recession rate and public sector employment continues to contract, driven by federal reductions in employment. The Monitor reviews the health of various aspects of state economies, including employment, housing, state finances, and economic growth. This edition also examines research on Medicaid expansion in the states.

Published: 01/24/14
Availability:   PDF

1-10 of 165     Next>>

ABOUT

State and local governments provide important services, but finding information about them—and the way they are paid for—is often difficult. The State and Local Finance Initiative provides state and local officials, journalists, and citizens with reliable, unbiased data and analysis about the challenges state and local governments face, potential solutions, and the consequences of competing options. We will gather and analyze relevant data and research , and also make it easier for others to find the data they need to think about state and local finances. A core aim is to integrate knowledge and action across different levels of government and across policy domains that too often operate in isolation from one another.


 

TOOLS

Information about state and local tax rates, revenues, and expenditures.  Use our tables or make your own.

State Economic Monitor. A Quarterly publication examining economic and finance conditions in the states.

State by State Maps. State economic information in maps and charts.

State and Local Data:  Pre-made tables of tax rates, revenues, and expenditures.

State and Local Finance-Data Query System: Create your own tables of state and local government finance data with information going back to 1977.

Net Income Change Calculator: Examine how changes in hours worked or wages affect family welfare across all 50 states.

Welfare Rules Database: Explore welfare rules and regulations for all 50 states.

Childcare and Development Fund (CCDF) Policies Database. A comprehensive database of child care subsidy policies for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories and outlying areas.


 
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