Friday, September 25, 2015
Comments due by Oct. 2, 2015
The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. The HDI can also be used to question national policy choices, asking how two countries with the same level of GNI per capita can end up with different human development outcomes. These contrasts can stimulate debate about government policy priorities.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living. The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions.
The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth component of the HDI is calculated using a minimum value of 20 years and maximum value of 85 years. The education component of the HDI is measured by mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. Mean years of schooling is estimated by UNESCO Institute for Statistics based on educational attainment data from censuses and surveys available in its database. Expected years of schooling estimates are based on enrolment by age at all levels of education. This indicator is produced by UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Expected years of schooling is capped at 18 years. The indicators are normalized using a minimum value of zero and maximum aspirational values of 15 and 18 years respectively. The two indices are combined into an education index using arithmetic mean.
The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita. The goalpost for minimum income is $100 (PPP) and the maximum is $75,000 (PPP). The minimum value for GNI per capita, set at $100, is justified by the considerable amount of unmeasured subsistence and nonmarket production in economies close to the minimum that is not captured in the official data. The HDI uses the logarithm of income, to reflect the diminishing importance of income with increasing GNI. The scores for the three HDI dimension indices are then aggregated into a composite index using geometric mean. Refer to Technical notes for more details.
The HDI does not reflect on inequalities, poverty, human security, empowerment, etc. The HDRO offers the other composite indices as broader proxy on some of the key issues of human development, inequality, gender disparity and human poverty.
A fuller picture of a country's level of human development requires analysis of other indicators and information presented in the statistical annex of the report.
Copy this link into your browser to look at the HDI data:
Friday, September 18, 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015
Comments due by Sept. 18, 2015
For most Americans, paychecks determine living standards. Unfortunately, wages in America have long stagnated or declined for most working people, including college graduates.
The disappointing employment report for August — in which wage growth showed no sign of accelerating — only drove home that reality.
Worse, flat or falling pay is self-reinforcing because it dampens demand and, by extension, economic growth. In the current recovery, median wages have fallen by 3 percent, after adjusting for inflation, while annual economic growth has peaked at around 2.5 percent. At that pace, growth isn’t able to fully repair the damage from the recession that preceded the recovery. The result is a continuation of the pre-recession dynamic where income flows to the top of the economic ladder, while languishing for everyone else.
Policy makers should be focused on strategies to raise wages, but the opposite appears to be happening. Just as Congress enfeebled the economy by switching too soon from stimulus spending to budget cuts, Federal Reserve officials have all but vowed to begin raising interest rates this year. That move reflects a belief that the economy is returning to “normal,” but it would be premature, because today’s norm is an economy that is incapable of generating and sustaining broad prosperity.
In a healthy economy with upward mobility and a thriving middle class, hourly compensation (wages plus benefits) rises in line with labor productivity. But for the vast majority of workers, pay increases have lagged behind productivity in recent decades. Since the early 1970s, median pay has risen by only 8.7 percent, after adjusting for inflation, while productivity has grown by 72 percent. Since 2000, the gap has become even bigger, with pay up only 1.8 percent, despite productivity growth of 22 percent.
Why has worker pay withered? The answer, in large part, is that rising productivity has increasingly boosted corporate profits, executive compensation and shareholder returns rather than worker pay. Chief executives, for example, now make about 300 times more than typical workers, compared with 30 times more in 1980, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Other research shows far greater discrepancies at some companies.
For younger people, pay has actually declined. The average hourly wage for recent college graduates in early 2015 was $17.94, compared with $18.41 in 2000. That “loss” in starting pay, about $1,000, can carry over to diminished earnings for years to come. Young high school graduates have it even worse. Their average hourly pay was $10.40 in early 2015 versus $11.01 in 2000.
The Fed is a crucial player in reversing those trends, since one of its mandates is to foster full employment. Wage stagnation is a clear sign that the economy is not at full employment, which means it needs loose monetary policy, not tightening. An interest rate hike, by sending the wrong signal of economic health, could make it harder for labor groups and policy makers to assert the urgency of their efforts to raise pay.
In the past year, low-wage workers have successfully fought for minimum wage increases in states and cities. Congressional Democrats have championed legislation to raise the federal minimum wage and to fight wage theft and abusive worker scheduling. The Labor Department is moving ahead with a much needed new rule to update the nation’s overtime-pay laws.
In the midst of those efforts, it would be a setback for the Fed to act as if the economy is already near full employment. It’s not. The proof is in the paycheck.(NYT Editorial 9/7/2015)
Thursday, September 03, 2015
Comments due by Sept.11, 2015
New Orleans has spent the past decade clawing its way back to normality after Hurricane Katrina decimated much of the city, causing residents and businesses to flee. But as of late, it’s struggling to hold onto jobs.
It was the only major metropolitan area to have lost jobs in July compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday. In the past year, 50 out of the 51 metropolitan areas with populations of one million or more saw a rise in employment, according to the Labor Department. But payrolls shrank by 3,800 in the New Orleans-Metairie area in July, with losses concentrated in construction and the manufacturing sector that includes oil refining.
The New Orleans-Metairie area steadily added jobs year over year from fall 2010 through February this year. Since March, the area has lost an average of 2,275 jobs each month compared with the prior year.
Meanwhile, with the overall national economic recovery, quality is uneven among the thousands of jobs that have come back since the hurricane. A recent in-depth analysis showed that many of the jobs created in New Orleans since the devastating hurricane are low-wage jobs in the hospitality industry, mainly in the city’s restaurants, for which it is renowned.
The area’s nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.4% in July from 6.7% in June, but is still well above the nonseasonally adjusted national average of 5.6% in July. The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate was 5.3% in July.
In the past three years, its monthly unemployment readings have swung between 7.9% and as little as 5%. So far in 2015, the unemployment rate has hovered between 6% and 6.9%.
Across the country, winners over the past year included the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, which added 164,400 nonfarm jobs between July 2014 and July 2015. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, in California, saw 157,500 jobs spring up in the past year. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, continued to add jobs to the tune of 121,700, even as the energy industry took a hit from falling gas prices.
Overall, 322 out of 387 metropolitan areas added jobs in the past year. Eleven were unchanged, and 54 lost jobs. (WSJ)
Friday, November 21, 2014
The Tenement Museum, on the Lower East Side, is one of my favorite places in New York City. It’s a Civil War-vintage building that housed successive waves of immigrants, and a number of apartments have been restored to look exactly as they did in various eras, from the 1860s to the 1930s (when the building was declared unfit for occupancy). When you tour the museum, you come away with a powerful sense of immigration as a human experience, which — despite plenty of bad times, despite a cultural climate in which Jews, Italians, and others were often portrayed as racially inferior — was overwhelmingly positive.
I get especially choked up about the Baldizzi apartment from 1934. When I described its layout to my parents, both declared, “I grew up in that apartment!” And today’s immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behavior, as my grandparents were — people seeking a better life, and by and large finding it.
That’s why I enthusiastically support President Obama’s new immigration initiative. It’s a simple matter of human decency.
That’s not to say that I, or most progressives, support open borders. You can see one important reason right there in the Baldizzi apartment: the photo of F.D.R. on the wall. The New Deal made America a vastly better place, yet it probably wouldn’t have been possible without the immigration restrictions that went into effect after World War I. For one thing, absent those restrictions, there would have been many claims, justified or not, about people flocking to America to take advantage of welfare programs.
Furthermore, open immigration meant that many of America’s worst-paid workers weren’t citizens and couldn’t vote. Once immigration restrictions were in place, and immigrants already here gained citizenship, this disenfranchised class at the bottom shrank rapidly, helping to create the political conditions for a stronger social safety net. And, yes, low-skill immigration probably has some depressing effect on wages, although the available evidence suggests that the effect is quite small.
So there are some difficult issues in immigration policy. I like to say that if you don’t feel conflicted about these issues, there’s something wrong with you. But one thing you shouldn’t feel conflicted about is the proposition that we should offer decent treatment to children who are already here — and are already Americans in every sense that matters. And that’s what Mr. Obama’s initiative is about.
Who are we talking about? First, there are more than a million young people in this country who came — yes, illegally — as children and have lived here ever since. Second, there are large numbers of children who were born here — which makes them U.S. citizens, with all the same rights you and I have — but whose parents came illegally, and are legally subject to being deported.
What should we do about these people and their families? There are some forces in our political life who want us to bring out the iron fist — to seek out and deport young residents who weren’t born here but have never known another home, to seek out and deport the undocumented parents of American children and force those children either to go into exile or to fend for themselves.
But that isn’t going to happen, partly because, as a nation, we aren’t really that cruel; partly because that kind of crackdown would require something approaching police-state rule; and, largely, I’m sorry to say, because Congress doesn’t want to spend the money that such a plan would require. In practice, undocumented children and the undocumented parents of legal children aren’t going anywhere.
The real question, then, is how we’re going to treat them. Will we continue our current regime of malign neglect, denying them ordinary rights and leaving them under the constant threat of deportation? Or will we treat them as the fellow Americans they already are?
The truth is that sheer self-interest says that we should do the humane thing. Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.
But speaking for myself, I don’t care that much about the money, or even the social aspects. What really matters, or should matter, is the humanity. My parents were able to have the lives they did because America, despite all the prejudices of the time, was willing to treat them as people. Offering the same kind of treatment to today’s immigrant children is the practical course of action, but it’s also, crucially, the right thing to do. So let’s applaud the president for doing it.