Long COVID Is Keeping Significant Numbers of People Out of Work, Study Finds

Link: https://www.yahoo.com/news/long-covid-keeping-significant-numbers-125618654.html

Source of study: https://ww3.nysif.com/

Link to study (will download): https://ww3.nysif.com/~/media/Files/NYSIF_Publications/PDF/NYSIFLongCOVIDStudy2023.ashx

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Long COVID is having a significant effect on America’s workforce, preventing substantial numbers of people from going back to work while others continue needing medical care long after returning to their jobs, according to a new analysis of workers’ compensation claims in New York state.

The study, published Tuesday by New York’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, found that during the first two years of the pandemic, about 71% of people the fund classified as experiencing long COVID either required continuing medical treatment or were unable to work for six months or more. More than a year after contracting the coronavirus, 18% of long COVID patients had still not returned to work, more than three-fourths of them younger than 60, the analysis found.

“Long Covid has harmed the work force,” said the report, by the New York State Insurance Fund, a state agency financed by employer-paid premiums. The findings, it added, “highlight long Covid as an underappreciated yet important reason for the many unfilled jobs and declining labor participation rate in the economy, and they presage a possible reduction in productivity as employers feel the strains of an increasingly sick work force.”

Author(s): Pam Belluck

Publication Date: 24 Jan 2023

Publication Site: Yahoo (originally published at NYT)

Monopsony in Professional Labor Markets: Hospital System Concentration and Nurse Wage Growth

Link: https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/monopsony-in-professional-labor-markets-hospital-system-concentration-and-nurse-wage-growth

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PDF of working paper: https://www.ineteconomics.org/uploads/papers/WP_197-Allegretto-HospCons.pdf

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Rolling waves of consolidation have significantly decreased the number of hospital systems in the U.S., leading to dominant regional systems. Increased concentration potentially affects industry quality, prices, efficiency, wages, and more. Much of the consolidation research is focused on merger events and estimating effects on the merged entities. In contrast, our new working paper is not based simply on merger data but takes account of the overall increase in consolidation across the country without respect to cause.

Specifically, we use the intensity of changes in hospital system consolidation in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) over two periods to estimate its effect on the wage growth of higher-earning professional workers—in this case registered nurses. We focus on registered nurses as a homogeneous group of workers with some degree of industry-specific education and skills. Registered nurses represent the largest single occupational classification in hospitals and urgent care centers, representing one in four workers.

Understanding the dynamics of local healthcare labor markets is critical given the importance of the sector for the U.S. economy; even more so in the wake of the pandemic amid continued uncertainty around long-term effects (e.g., early retirements, career shifts, education delays). Moreover, labor shortages among hospital-based nurses, which may be a symptom of monopsony, have been endemic in the industry for many years. The wages of nurses were stagnant between 1995 and 2015 despite increasing demand for healthcare over the same timeframe even as it was the only sector that added employment during the Great Recession. Explanations for the stagnation of nurse wages—in one of the more highly unionized professional occupations in the country—are not readily apparent.

Author(s): Sylvia Allegretto and Dave Graham-Squire

Publication Date: 19 Jan 2023

Publication Site: Institute for New Economic Thinking

France: Over 1 million march against raising retirement age

Link: https://apnews.com/article/france-retirement-age-limit-protests-866eb86aea5cf0d39894b96d2888c26f

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At least 1.1 million people protested on the streets of Paris and other French cities Thursday amid nationwide strikes against plans to raise the retirement age — but President Emmanuel Macron insisted he would press ahead with the proposed pension reforms.

Emboldened by the mass show of resistance, French unions announced new strikes and protests Jan. 31, vowing to try to get the government to back down on plans to push up the standard retirement age from 62 to 64. Macron says the measure – a central pillar of his second term — is needed to keep the pension system financially viable, but unions say it threatens hard-fought worker rights.

Out of the country for a French-Spanish summit in Barcelona, Macron acknowledged the public discontent but said that “we must do that reform” to “save” French pensions.

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In a country with an aging population and growing life expectancy where everyone receives a state pension, Macron’s government says the reform is the only way to keep the system solvent.

Unions propose a tax on the wealthy or more payroll contributions from employers to finance the pension system instead.

Polls suggest most French people oppose the reform, and Thursday was the first public reaction to Macron’s plan. Strikes severely disrupted transport, schools and other public services, and more than 200 rallies were staged around France.

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Under the planned changes, workers must have worked for at least 43 years to be entitled to a full pension. For those who do not fulfil that condition, like many women who interrupted their career to raise children or those who studied for a long time and started working late, the retirement age would remain unchanged at 67.

Those who started to work under the age of 20 and workers with major health issues would be allowed early retirement.

Protracted strikes met Macron’s last effort to raise the retirement age in 2019. He eventually withdrew it after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Retirement rules vary widely from country to country, making direct comparisons difficult. The official retirement age in the U.S. is now 67, and countries across Europe have been raising pension ages as populations grow older and fertility rates drop.

Author(s): SYLVIE CORBET and JADE LE DELEY

Publication Date: 19 Jan 2023

Publication Site: Associated Press

More and Better Uses Ahead for Governments’ Financial Data

Link: https://www.governing.com/finance/more-and-better-uses-ahead-for-governments-financial-data

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In its lame duck session last month, Congress tucked a sleeper section into its 4,000-page omnibus spending bill. The controversial Financial Data Transparency Act (FDTA) swiftly came out of nowhere to become federal law over the vocal but powerless objections of the state and local government finance community. Its impact on thousands of cities, counties and school districts will be a buzzy topic at conferences all this year and beyond. Meanwhile, software companies will be staking claims in a digital land rush.

The central idea behind the FDTA is that public-sector organizations’ financial data should be readily available for online search and standardized downloading, using common file formats. Think of it as “an http protocol for financial data” that enables an investor, analyst, taxpayer watchdog, constituent or journalist to quickly retrieve key financial information and compare it with other numbers using common data fields. Presently, online users of state and local government financial data must rely primarily on text documents, often in PDF format, that don’t lend themselves to convenient data analysis and comparisons. Financial statements are typically published long after the fiscal year’s end, and the widespread online availability of current and timely data is still a faraway concept.

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So far, so good. But the devil is in the details. The first question is just what kind of information will be required in this new system, and when. Most would agree that a complete download of every byte of data now formatted in voluminous governmental financial reports and their notes is overwhelming, unnecessary and burdensome. Thus, a far more incremental and focused approach is a wiser path. For starters, it may be helpful to keep the initial data requirements skeletal and focus initially on a dozen or more vital fiscal data points that are most important to financial statement users. Then, after that foundation is laid, the public finance industry can build out. Of course, this will require that regulators buy into a sensible implementation plan.

The debate over information content requirements should focus first on “decision-useful information.” Having served briefly two decades ago as a voting member of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), contributing my professional background as a chartered financial analyst, I can attest that almost every one of their meetings included a board member reminding others that required financial statement information should be decision-useful. A key question, of course, is “useful to whom?”

Author(s): Girard Miller

Publication Date: 17 Jan 2023

Publication Site: Governing

Millions march in France against Macron’s pension cuts

Link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/20/fxax-j20.html

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Two million people struck or marched in protests yesterday called by union federations against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension cuts. Polls show around 80 percent of the population oppose the cuts, which would increase the minimum retirement age to 64 with a minimum pay-in period of 43 years. Strike calls were widely followed by rail and mass transit workers, school staff, and electricity and refinery workers, and 200 protest marches were held in cities across France.

Trade unions reported that 400,000 people marched in Paris, 140,000 in Marseille, 38,000 in Lyon, 60,000 in Bordeaux, 50,000 in Toulouse and Lille, 55,000 in Nantes and 35,000 in Strasbourg. Moreover, many smaller cities saw large turnouts that surprised police authorities. There were 25,000 in Orléans, 21,000 in Le Mans, 20,000 in Nice, 19,000 in Clermont-Ferrand, 15,000 in Tours, 13,000 in Pau, 10,000 in Chartres, 9,000 in Angoulême and 8,000 in Châteauroux.

Author(s): Alex Lantier, Anthony Torres

Publication Date: 20 Jan 2023

Publication Site: World Socialist Web Site

Traffic Safety Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Fatal Crashes Relative to Pre-Pandemic Trends, United States, May–December 2020

Link: https://aaafoundation.org/traffic-safety-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-fatal-crashes-relative-to-pre-pandemic-trends-united-states-may-december-2020/

PDF: https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/22-1339-AAAFTS_Impact-of-COVID-19_Research-Brief_r3.pdf

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A total of 38,824 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020, 2,570 (7.1%) more than forecast from models developed using data from 2011 through 2019 (Figure). In April 2020—the first full month of the pandemic—the number of fatalities was much lower than what would have been expected based on pre-pandemic trends. By May 2020, however, the actual number of fatalities was similar to historical levels. The number of fatalities greatly exceeded forecasts based on pre-pandemic trends for the remainder of 2020. In May through December collectively, there were a total of 28,611 traffic fatalities nationwide, which was 3,083 (12.1%) more than expected based on pre-pandemic trends.

The increase in traffic fatalities was not uniform across crash-, vehicle-, and driver-related factors. Scenarios present in greater than expected numbers in fatal crashes in 2020 included evening and late-night hours, speeding drivers, drivers with illegal alcohol levels, drivers without valid licenses, drivers of older vehicles, drivers of vehicles registered to other people, crash involvement and deaths of teens and young adults, and deaths of vehicle occupants not wearing seatbelts. In contrast, several crash types followed pre-pandemic trends (e.g., crashes in the middle of the day; crash involvements of drivers with valid licenses; pedestrian fatalities), and a few decreased (e.g., crashes of elderly drivers; crashes during typical morning commute hours).

Author(s): Brian C. Tefft, Meng Wang

Publication Date: December 2022

Publication Site: AAA Foundation

Incidence of COVID-19 Among Persons Experiencing Homelessness in the US From January 2020 to November 2021

Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2795298

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JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(8):e2227248. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.27248

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Question  How many cases of COVID-19 in the US have occurred among people experiencing homelessness?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study of 64 US jurisdictional health departments, 26 349 cases of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness were reported at the state level and 20 487 at the local level. The annual incidence rate of COVID-19 was lower among people experiencing homelessness than in the general population at state and local levels.

Meaning  The findings suggest that incorporating housing and homelessness status in infectious disease surveillance may improve understanding of the burden of infectious diseases among disproportionately affected groups and aid public health decision-making.

Author(s): Ashley A. Meehan, MPH1; Isabel Thomas, MPH1,2; Libby Horter, MPH1,3; et al

Publication Date: August 18, 2022

Publication Site: JAMA Open Network