There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.
Here’s this week’s bundle:
The Columbian: Lobbyist to Vancouver leaders: Get ready to play defense
The city of Vancouver’s lobbyist — who represents the city’s interests in Olympia — told council members this week to get ready to start playing defense.
“We have been told that the (state) budget is likely going to be a ‘no new tax’ budget,” Mark Brown, the lobbyist, told councilors during a regular legislative update on Monday evening. “Any program, like shared state revenues or general funds and its funding source will be in harm’s way, because there is no other way you can address the budget pressures with existing revenues.”
Associated Press: Senate votes to repeal Obama rule on teacher training
The Senate has voted to repeal a key Obama-era regulation governing teacher training and evaluation.
Senators voted 59-40 on Wednesday in favor of rescinding regulations issued by the Department of Education in October. The bill now goes to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.
The regulations stipulated that federally funded teacher preparation programs must be evaluated based on the academic outcomes of those teachers’ students.
National Association of Manufacturers: Manufacturing Labor Productivity Rose Faster Than Originally Estimated in the Fourth Quarter
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturing labor productivity rose faster than originally estimated in the fourth quarter. Output per worker in the sector increased 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter, which was better than the 0.7 percent preliminary figure. It was the highest growth rate since the third quarter of 2015.
Despite the better numbers in the fourth quarter, manufacturing productivity rose just 0.3 percent in 2016, continuing a trend of soft growth since the Great Recession. For instance, manufacturing output per worker increased at a paltry 0.2 percent from 2013 to 2016, well below the 5.2 percent pace experienced from 2002 to 2008. Over the longer term, manufacturers have benefited from being leaner, but the recent sluggishness in productivity and output growth has meant that unit labor costs have risen 11.2 percent since the end of 2011.
For most of the past half-century, adults in the U.S. Baby Boom generation – those born after World War II and before 1965 – have been the main driver of the nation’s expanding workforce. But as this large generation heads into retirement, the increase in the potential labor force will slow markedly, and immigrants will play the primary role in the future growth of the working-age population (though they will remain a minority of it)….
But perhaps the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades will be the arrival of future immigrants. The number of working-age immigrants is projected to increase from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035, with new immigrant arrivals accounting for all of that gain…Without these new arrivals, the number of immigrants of working age would decline by 17.6 million by 2035, as would the total projected U.S. working-age population, which would fall to 165.6 million.
The Urban Institute has a new, alarming report that reveals big problems with teacher retirement plans. Almost every state is in trouble, including Washington. The report shows that 43 percent of new teachers here will not break even on their pensions. But that’s much better than in other states and U.S. territories.
Grading teacher-pension systems state-by-state for financial strength, among other benchmarks, the institute’s report rates Washington a “C,” alongside 32 other states. Massachusetts – long held out as a model for student outcomes – got an “F” on its teacher retirement plan. No state earned an “A.”
Associated Press: US adds 235k jobs, unemployment rate falls to 4.7 percent
U.S. employers added a robust 235,000 jobs in February and wages rose at a healthy clip, a sign the economy remains on solid footing after nearly eight years of recovery.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell to a low 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent. More Americans launched job searches, lifting the proportion of Americans working or looking for work to the highest level in nearly a year.
The healthy job growth, decent pay gains and falling unemployment rate will make the Federal Reserve even more likely to raise short-term rates when it meets next week.