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Tags: Terror | Threat | Greatest | at-Northern-Border | 27 Million in U.S. Underemployed | Raising the Minimum Wage | 2013 Slowest Hurricane Season Since 1982

Terror Threat Greatest at Northern Border; 27 Million in U.S. 'Underemployed'

By    |   Sunday, 01 December 2013 02:59 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Raising the Minimum Wage Has 'Unintended Consequences'
2. DHS: Northern Border Now Poses Biggest Terrorist Threat
3. At Least 27 Million Americans 'Underemployed'
4. 2013 Slowest Hurricane Season Since 1982
5. Heritage: Infrastructure Spending Won't Produce New Jobs

1. Raising the Minimum Wage Has 'Unintended Consequences'

Raising the minimum wage would not necessarily reduce the $7 billion a year that fast-food workers receive in government benefits.

A widely reported study by university researchers, released in October, asserted that at least 52 percent of fast-food workers receive benefits from one or more government programs: Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program; Earned Income Tax Credit; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps); and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The study fueled renewed calls for a significant increase in the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour at the federal level.

"Because pay is low and weekly work hours are limited, the families of more than half of the workers in the fast-food industry are unable to make ends meet," according to the study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

They described the $7 billion as "the public cost of low-wage jobs in the fast-food industry."

But other researchers dispute that, maintaining that if fast-food restaurants raised their wages, that would not guarantee a decline in government benefits, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Some restaurants might increase automation and cut jobs, leading to increased benefits for the laid-off workers. In some cases, a worker's family members could remain eligible for benefits even if wages were increased.

In other cases, workers might reduce their hours in response to a salary hike, and wage increases would boost the earned income tax credit received by some employees, according to the Journal.

"There are unintended consequences associated with raising the minimum wage," said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The Journal also pointed out that the $7 billion is only about one-fifth or one-quarter as much as fast-food restaurants pay workers in wages and benefits, and it is less than 2 percent of the total benefits paid out by the four government programs.

UCLA economist Jerry Nickelsburg added that studies of the effect of minimum-wage increases are "all over the place."

The university study also disclosed that the restaurant/food services sector leads all industries in the share of workers with a family member enrolled in one or more public programs, 44 percent. Just 13 percent of fast-food workers receive health benefits from their employers.

In Louisiana, 73 percent of fast-food workers and their families receive benefits, the highest percentage in the nation. In California, 52 percent, or 227,000, get benefits.

Another analysis, by George Mason University senior scholar Antony Davies, estimates that raising the minimum wage in New Jersey by $1 an hour will increase unemployment by about 2 percent among workers without a high school education.

Editor's Note:

2. DHS: Northern Border Now Poses Biggest Terrorist Threat

A top official with the Department of Homeland Security warns that the "nearly unguarded" northern border has become the most likely point of entry into the country for terrorists.

Brandon Judd, president of Homeland Security's National Border Patrol Council, told a House committee on Nov. 20: "For the most part, when discussions on border security arise, the conversation tends to focus on the southwest border. In no way do I want to detract from the importance of securing the southwest border, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the ongoing threat of the nearly unguarded northern border to the safety of the American public.

"As far as I am aware, all recent threat assessments have pointed to the northern border as the most likely point of entry into our country for terrorists."

The U.S.-Canada border extends for about 5,500 miles, and there are more than 120 land points of entry — not to mention vast stretches of open prairie along the border.

Judd told the committee: "The northern border is ripe for the exploitation of not only alien and drug trafficking, but also for facilitating the illegal entrances of terrorists and those that would do this country harm.

"If we selectively limit manpower to current locations with high volumes of illegal crossings, all we have really achieved is shifting the point of illegal entry to a different location."

Editor's Note:

3. At Least 27 Million Americans 'Underemployed'

While the official unemployment rate last year was 8.1 percent, a far greater percentage of working-age Americans were "underemployed."

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the underemployment rate in 2012 was 14.7 percent, amounting to 23.1 million people.

Underemployed Americans include those who are officially considered unemployed, plus involuntary part-time workers and "marginally attached" workers — those who have not looked for work within the last four weeks but have sought a job within the last year and are available for employment.

About 2.5 million people were marginally attached workers last year, and 8.1 million were involuntary part-time workers.

As troubling as that may be, the actual figures are likely much worse, according to a report by Wendell Cox for NewGeography.com.

For instance, Gallup estimated that the nation's underemployment rate stood at 17.4 percent in August, meaning that there are more than 27 million underemployed workers.

Also, economists at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity have estimated that 48 percent of college graduates who are employed hold jobs that do not require a college degree. These are not included in the underemployment figures. If they were, the underemployment rate would soar.

Nevada had the highest underemployment rate during the year ending on June 30, 19 percent, followed by California with 18.3 percent. The lowest rates were in North Dakota at 6.2 percent and South Dakota, 7.8 percent.

"The productivity gap that results from underemployment constrains the U.S. economy at a time of unusually severe financial challenges," observes Cox, visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris and the author of "War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life."

"College graduates face not only a grim employment market, but have student loan repayments that require good jobs," he adds.

"Yet things could get worse. The soon to be implemented Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has a built-in incentive for employers to shift workers to part-time status" or to hire part-time workers to avoid the mandate to provide health insurance to full-time workers.

Editor's Note:

4. 2013 Slowest Hurricane Season Since 1982

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ended on Saturday, had the fewest hurricanes in 30 years, casting doubt on claims from climate change alarmists that global warming will lead to more frequent and stronger storms.

No major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin for the first time since 1994, thanks in large part to "persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean," according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Thirteen named storms formed in the Atlantic basin this year. But only two, Ingrid and Humberto, became hurricanes.

The average number of named storms is 12, but the average number of Atlantic hurricanes is six. On average per hurricane season there are three major hurricanes of Category 3 and above.

Tropical Storm Andrea was the only named storm to make landfall in the United States this season, bringing heavy rain and minor flooding to portions of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

This year ranks as the sixth least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, and was only the third below-normal season since 1995, when a high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began.

"A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons," said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

"This unexpectedly low activity is linked to an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that prevented the growth of storms by producing exceptionally dry, sinking air and strong vertical wind shear in much of the main hurricane formation region," he said.

NOAA and the U.S. Air Force flew only 45 hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic basin this year, totaling 435 hours — the fewest flight hours since at least 1966, NOAA reported.

Unlike the United States, Mexico was battered by eight storms, including three hurricanes. Five came from the Pacific Ocean and three from the Atlantic.

Editor's Note:

5. Heritage: Infrastructure Spending Won't Produce New Jobs

President Barack Obama and prominent members of Congress have called for a significant boost in infrastructure spending on roads and bridges to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

But a new report from The Heritage Foundation asserts that those calls "misunderstand" the nature of infrastructure construction work.

"Infrastructure projects are capital intensive, not labor intensive," James Sherk writes for the foundation.

Repair and replacement of traffic arteries require a relatively small number of highly skilled workers using advanced equipment, he points out.

Slightly more than 300,000 Americans nationwide work in highway, street, or bridge construction, and they comprise just two-tenths of a percent of all workers. So even doubling their numbers would have only a minor effect on overall employment.

The highly trained employees who work on infrastructure can require years of on-the-job training before they are fully trained. A structural ironworker, for example, needs three to four years and from 6,000 to 8,000 hours of training.

Therefore, few of the currently unemployed workers have the requisite skill and training to work on infrastructure projects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 13,500 unemployed cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers in the entire nation.

"Additional infrastructure spending would consequently employ relatively few unemployed workers," according to Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.

"Instead, federal construction contractors would hire the skilled workforce they need away from private construction projects," he said. "New jobs created would come primarily at the expense of other jobs in the private sector."

He concluded that the new spending called for by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and others "would do more to shuffle jobs around than reduce unemployment."

Footnote: America's infrastructure quality has actually improved significantly over the past two decades, and the number of structurally deficient bridges has fallen steadily since 1992.

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Raising the Minimum Wage Has 'Unintended Consequences' 2. DHS: Northern Border Now Poses Biggest Terrorist Threat 3. At Least 27 Million Americans 'Underemployed' 4. 2013 Slowest Hurricane Season Since 1982...
Terror,Threat,Greatest,at-Northern-Border,27 Million in U.S. Underemployed,Raising the Minimum Wage,2013 Slowest Hurricane Season Since 1982,Infrastructure Spending
Sunday, 01 December 2013 02:59 PM
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