Missing Workers, NC Budget and Tax Center

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the NC Division of Employment Security released data on the state of North Carolina’s labor market. While the decline in the official unemployment rate may have generated headlines, the reality is the labor market continues to provide too few job opportunities for those who seek work.

The number of missing workers, which estimates who would be in the labor market if job opportunities were stronger, provides additional insight into the state of North Carolina’s labor market.  As of April 2014, there are an estimated 242,164 missing workers in North Carolina.  Again, these are North Carolinians who would be seeking work if jobs were available. If these workers were included in the official unemployment rate that rate would be nearly twice the official unemployment rate: 11.4 percent rather than 6.2 percent.

BTC - Missing Workers April 2014

NC Budget and Tax Center

The Governor’s budget irresponsibly jeopardizes North Carolina’s future economic prospects.

There are two main reasons: it uses one-time money that won’t be there in years to come, and it makes cuts in key areas that are the building blocks of a strong economy.

Self-inflicted revenue shortfalls resulting from the tax plan enacted last year mean fewer dollars to build a strong foundation for the state’s economy and improve the lives of all North Carolinians. The Governor’s use of one-time money and cuts to key areas, like higher education and health, are shortsighted and harmful to the state’s long-term stability and growth.

The Governor should put forward a responsible plan to pay for his priorities by stopping any further tax cuts from going into effect and urging legislators to re-examine the tax decisions made last year.  Next year’s financial gap has the potential to grow even larger as the costs of personal income tax changes are felt. State policymakers would do well to plan for that impact and its potential devastating effect on families and the state’s economy.

NC Budget and Tax Center

Note:  Based on more detailed data available regarding teacher pay schedules, it is possible that the Governor’s plan could cost $312 million.  By including all university personnel in the state employee figure, the cost would grow to $334 million. See the table provided below with explanation.

The key question that the Governor had to answer today went unanswered.  How will he pay for the critical investments he proposes in teachers and the classroom?

With revenues coming in under projections in the current fiscal year (and next fiscal year as well) and with the increasing likelihood that costs of the tax plan are actually even greater than revised projections suggest, the Governor has just proposed either to make the structural budget deficit in the state much bigger or to slash other critical services to fund public education.

Here is the basic math.

  • The Governor has proposed to make investments in teacher pay and classrooms that total roughly $280 million.  These are recurring expenses and will impact the state budget in future years.
  • The Governor has suggested in the past that there is $600 million available for this investment.  However, there is no sustainable revenue source available given what we know about revenue collections now and in the future.  This suggests that there would need to be cuts to other areas of the budget to make these investments, a move that would  not allow the state to achieve its goals.  After all children need to be healthy to learn, and need to have safe neighborhoods to thrive, and need to have the opportunity to continue their learning at the state’s institution of higher learning whether they choose community colleges or a public university.
  • There could be some money from reversions or other one-time sources but these would not provide the sustained revenue to support this kind of investment.

The Governor said that these investments will be a priority above all other new spending or tax cuts in 2016.  But what about tax cuts in 2015?  There could be $300 million available if the proposed rate reductions to the personal income tax and corporate income tax don’t go into effect as scheduled.

It, of course, also seems the fiscally responsible thing to do to assess the entire tax plan including the elimination of the graduated rate structure for the personal income tax and the corporate income tax rate cut that occurred without closing a significant number of loopholes.

Putting forward a proposal that costs $280 million should require a careful accounting of whether the funds will be there to sustain that investment in the current year and future years.  It appears, however, that fiscal responsibility is not the path North Carolina policymakers have chosen to tread.

BTC - No Revenue For Gov Education Plan

NC Budget and Tax Center

On late Friday, a consensus revenue forecast by the Fiscal Research Division and the Office of State Budget and Management was released which identifies a current year revenue shortfall of $445 million.  Next year, revenue is anticipated to be $191 million below projections.  These revisions mean policymakers will have to make immediate adjustments to the current fiscal year budget when they return next week as well as plan for fewer dollars than expected in the next year fiscal year as well.

While policymakers address the immediate challenge, they also should assess the damage of the tax plan passed last year which is now, and will continue to be, a primary driver of revenue shortfalls. Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

In a new report released by the Immigration Policy Center, researchers document the ripple effects of withholding driver’s licenses from unauthorized immigrants.  Similar to the report the Budget & Tax Center released a few weeks ago, their analysis finds that without a driver’s license, the ability to participate in economic and social life is restricted.

Among their findings are:

  • People who drive are more likely to find jobs, work more hours, and earn higher wages.
  • Lack of access to transportation may constrain upward economic mobility and contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.
  • In all measures of mobility available, recent immigrants—and Latino immigrants in particular—travel less than the U.S.-born population, in spite of having the same travel needs in terms of commuting to and from work, shopping and participating in local institutions.
  • A growing immigrant population offsets demographic and economic stagnation and decline in some places, contributing to economic vitality and entrepreneurial activity, providing needed labor in economic sectors transformed by changes in the global economy, and increasing the tax base and participation in social institutions.

Just some more evidence that without access to transportation by car, immigrants’ economic potential is not realized for their families, communities or the broader economy.