Labor and Economic Development Committee Report

About the Committee Report

The Committee Report is a periodic publication of NCSL's Standing Committee on Labor and Economic Development.

Committee Staff

2009-2010 Labor and Economic Development Committee Officers

Representative Juan Zapata, Florida
Senator Bill Heath, Georgia
Senator Gary LeBeau, Connecticut
Senator Dave Pankonin, Nebraska
Senator Sharon Stewart-Peregoy, Montana
Representative Anna Fairclough, Alaska
Representative Julie Fisher, Utah
Representative Lana Gordon, Kansas
Representative Earl Hillard, Jr., Alabama
Representative James Johnson, Delaware
Immediate Past Chair:
Representative Brent Yonts, Kentucky

Legislative Staff
Staff Chair:
Andrea Wilko, Utah
Staff Vice-Chairs:
Martha Carter, Nebraska
Gilbert Loredo, Texas
Rkia Rhrib, Kentucky
Gwennetta Tatum, Mississippi


February 19, 2010
Vol. III, No. 2  

Pensions Webinar

On Friday, February 19, 2010, NCSL and the Pew Center on the States presented a webinar on the critical pension issues facing the states, including state pension liabilities and state actions to address them. The discussion included information from the Pew Center on the States’ hot-off-the press report on state pension liabilities and state actions to address them. If you missed the webinar or would like further information regarding state retirement issues or a copy of the Pew report, please visit the Labor and Economic Development Committee webpage in the coming days.

** Upcoming NCSL Webinars **

Unemployment Insurance: A Primer for States

Friday, February 26, 2010 - 3:00 Eastern/2:00 Central/1:00 Mountain/12:00 Pacific/11:00 Alaska/9:00 Hawaii
For more information and to register, visit:  
Learn how the unemployment insurance system is funded and what states are doing to cover claims in this free webinar for state legislators, legislative staff and members of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. The agenda includes an overview of unemployment system financing; state trust fund accounts, balances and loans; and federal funding options.
NCSL Contacts: Jeanne Mejeur, or 303-856-1467, and Diana Hinton Noel, or 202-624-7779

The Benefits of Broadband for Rural and Low-Income Families Webinar

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 2 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. CT/ Noon MT/ 11 a.m. PT
For more information and to register, visit:
Broadband is a key ingredient for economic success, and policymakers and businesses are exploring new strategies to make high speed access available to underserved areas. Learn about recent broadband incentive projects that improve the lives of rural community citizens, provide expanded on-line opportunities for children and create economic success stories for low-income families.
NCSL Contacts: Jo Anne Bourquard, or 303-856-1355, and Mary Fairchild, or 303-856-1396

NCSL 2010 Spring Forum

This year's Spring Forum will be held on April 7-10, 2010 at the Marriot Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. Committee officers have spent the past month developing a strong agenda for Spring Forum which is now available online at:

Committee Business Meeting:
The Labor and Economic Development Committee will meet to consider the following expiring policy resolutions (As selected by committee members at Fall Forum), Employment Security System Funding and Free Trade and Federalism and other lobbying interests on Friday, April 9, 2010 at 9:45 am during its business meeting. Please take time to review the polices and the NCSL policy and procedures page on the website before the meeting. Any new policies must be submitted by March 26, 2010 to be considered at the 2010 Spring Forum. If you have any additional questions please contact Diana Hinton Noel (202-624-7779 ; in NCSL’s Washington, D.C. office.


Housing help for unemployed, underwater borrowers
By Tami Luhby
February 19, 2010

NEW YORK -- Under pressure to do more for troubled homeowners, President Obama is expected to announce on Friday a $1.5 billion program to help borrowers in the five states hit hardest by the housing crisis.

The initiative calls for pumping money into state housing agencies in California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Michigan to fund programs to prevent foreclosure for people who are unemployed or who owe more than their homes are worth.

White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort
Washington Post
By Neil Irwin, Lori Montgomery and Alec MacGillis
February 18, 2010

The giant economic stimulus package enacted a year ago has helped stabilize the economy but has not made much of a dent in the nation's vast unemployment.

The Obama administration is acknowledging that its program of spending cuts and tax breaks has yet to ease joblessness, and White House officials are increasingly engaged in shaping the details of new legislation to boost job creation.

Unemployment Situation:

Unemployment Drops to 9.7% for January 2010

The national unemployment rate decreased to 9.7% for January 2010, down from 10.0 in December, 2009, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on February 5, 2010.

The retail trade and temporary service sectors added jobs in January, while construction and transportation/warehousing saw job losses.
The total number of unemployed dropped to 14.8 million workers. The number of involuntary part-time workers, those who can’t find full-time jobs, also fell in January, from 9.2 million to 8.3 million workers. Long-term unemployment continued to trend up, with 6.3 million workers having been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.

National unemployment figures for February, 2010, will be released on Friday, March 5, 2010.

U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Press Release (February 5, 2010)

State Unemployment Rates for December, 2009 *

Unemployment figures released for December 2009 show the economy continues to struggle. Forty-six states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia posted higher unemployment figures. Four states saw decreases.

Among the states, Michigan again led the nation with the highest unemployment rate, at 14.6 percent for December. Nevada had the next highest rate, at 13.0 percent, followed by Rhode Island, at 12.9 percent, South Carolina, at 12.6 percent and California at 12.4 percent. Puerto Rico posted a 15.0 percent unemployment rate, while D.C. saw a 12.1 percent jobless rate. In all, 16 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia had unemployment rates higher than the national average of 10.0 percent posted for December.

Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent. North Dakota and South Dakota shared the next lowest rates, at 4.7 percent. Eighteen states had unemployment rates of less than 8.0 percent.

The Western region of the nation experienced the highest unemployment at 10.7 percent, while the Northeast showed the lowest regional rate at 9.2 percent.

State unemployment figures for January 2010 will be released on Wednesday, March 10, 2010.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Press Release, January 22, 2010.

* Preliminary figures released January 22, 2010

Department of Labor Grants Announced

In the past month the Department of Labor announced grant recipients for the final two of six competitive grants for employment and training in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In late January DOL divided $190 million among 34 state workforce boards for State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants. The awards, ranging from $2 million to $6 million, are intended to assist states in training workers in emerging industries, including energy efficiency and renewable energy. Click here for a link outlining the grant recipients. Last week DOL awarded the final $225 million in ARRA discretionary grants for education and training to community colleges, community-based organizations, state workforce agencies and other public entities to deliver training in health care and high growth industries. A complete list of grant recipients can be accessed here.


NCSL Reports

State Government Subsidies for Retirement Plans Sponsored by Local Governments
Ronald Snell
January, 2010

In many states, city and county governments, independent school districts, and other governments maintain retirement plans that are legally and functionally independent of the statewide plans for public employees, teachers and other state and local government employees. The most recent comprehensive report on local government retirement plans is the Bureau of the Census report, 2002 Census of Governments: Employee Retirement Systems of State and Local Governments. It provides a state-by-state count of statewide plans and local government plans, and lists the larger state and local plans in each state along with statistical data. Most states have relatively few locally-sponsored plans; Hawaii, Maine and Montana have none. A few states have more than 100 local plans. Illinois is reported as having 365, and Pennsylvania as having 928, as of 2002.

Sustaining State Retirement Benefits: Recent State Legislation Affecting Public Retirement Plans, 2005-2009
Ronald Snell
January 2010

Since 2007, investment losses and the weakness of state and local government revenues have produced extraordinary stress for public retirement funds in the United States. This stress magnified the funding issues retirement funds encountered because of the recession at the turn of the century. Policymakers' responses are occurring in the context of an additional issue, that of providing for the commitments state and local governments have made for retiree health insurance and other post-employment benefits. These obligations have accumulated gradually for many years. Current accounting rules now require recognition of them. State government liabilities, aside from any local government amounts, have recently been estimated to be as much as $560 billion.

GAO Reports

Employment and Training Administration: Increased Authority and Accountability Could Improve Research Program
GAO-10-243, January 29, 2010

Status of the Small Business Administration's Implementation of Administrative Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
GAO-10-298R, January 19, 2010

Department of Labor Guidance

UIPL 13-10 -- Tax Performance System Handbook Updates

UIPL 24-04, Change 4 -- Unemployment Insurance (UI) Information Technology (IT) Security – Additional Information

TEN 29-09 -- Energy Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative

TEGL 13-09 -- Contracting Strategies That Facilitate Serving The Youth Most In Need

TEN 28-09 -- Announcement of Employment and Training Administration’s New Video and Information Brief on Promoting the Employment of Disabled Veterans Through the One-Stop Career Centers

TEGL 12-09 -- Joint Guidance for States Seeking to Implement Subsidized Work-Based Training Programs for Unemployed Workers

TEN 27-09 -- Continued Availability of UC Modernization Incentive Payments

UIPL 12-10 -- Social Security Annuities and Federal Civilian Pensions

UIPL 11-10 -- Federal Military

TEN 26-09: Monitor Advocate Training at the 2010 Midwest Association of Farmworker Organizations (MAFO) Conference.

TEN 25-09 -- Release and Availability of Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Occasional Paper 2009-22: Think Entrepreneurs: A Call to Action – Integrating Entrepreneurship into the Public Workforce System Throughout America

UIPL 10-10 -- Web-Based Software for Modifying Module 3 of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Data Validation (DV) Handbook

Congressional Budget Office Reports

The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2020

S. 2869, Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act of 2009
Cost estimate for the bill as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on December 17, 2009

S. 2862, Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act of 2009
Cost estimate for the bill as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on December 17, 2009