Wages rise at 2.6 percent in 2017 despite Q4 slowdown

U.S. workers’ wages and benefits grew 2.6 percent last year, the fastest 12-month pace since the spring of 2015. The 12-month gain in wages and benefits came despite a slight slowdown at the end of last year with wages and benefits rising 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, a tiny dip from a 0.7 percent gain in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Still, the 12-month gain was an improvement from a 2.2 percent gain for the 12 months ending in December 2016. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Donald Trump touted the rise in wages as an accomplishment of his economic program. The gain in the employment cost index showed that wages and salaries were up 2.5 percent for the 12 months ending in December while benefits such as employer contributions to health insurance and pension plans rose 2.5 percent. Wages and salaries make up about 70 percent of compensation costs while benefits

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On a better savings course: US retirement score rises

According to a survey by Fidelity Investments, Americans’ retirement savings are in the best shape they’ve been in more than a decade. The survey looked at more than 3,000 working households that have started saving for retirement. After tallying up how much they’re saving in their 401(k) accounts, their expected Social Security benefits and other assets, Fidelity said that the typical saver is on track to have 80 percent of the income they’ll need to cover retirement costs. That’s the highest score since Fidelity’s surveys began in 2005, when it was at 62 percent. Much of the improvement is due to workers saving more of their pay each year. The typical savings rate is now 8.8 percent, more than double the 3.6 percent rate in 2006. The surging stock market, which has more than quadrupled since early 2009, has also helped to increase the value of 401(k) and Individual Retirement Accounts. READ MORE HERE

NAM: Monday Economic Report

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that the U.S. economy grew by an annualized 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, according to preliminary data. This was somewhat lower than the consensus estimate of around 3 percent, and it represented an easing from the 3.1 percent and 3.2 percent gains seen in the second and third quarters, respectively. Overall, the latest report found solid growth in consumer, business and government spending, but headline growth was pulled lower by both net exports and inventory spending. To illustrate the impact of those various components, real GDP growth would have been 4.35 percent absent the drag from net exports and inventories, which subtracted 1.8 percentage points from the top-line growth figure. Personally, I would not be surprised to see the growth rate revised up in the coming weeks. In 2017, real GDP increased by 2.3 percent, up from 1.5 percent in 2016. Since the end of the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has expanded by 2.2

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Greitens seeks 10 percent cut to Missouri income tax rate

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called Monday for 10 percent cuts in personal income tax and reductions in corporate taxes as part of what he has described as the “boldest state tax reform in America,” promising that the cost would be offset by eliminating deductions and incentives elsewhere. Associated Industries of Missouri President and CEO Ray McCarty praised the plan to cut corporate and individual taxes. “Lowering Missouri’s corporate income tax rate to a level that is one of the lowest in the United States will make Missouri a more attractive place to locate new and expand current operations.  By also lowering the individual income tax rate, the more than 90% of businesses that report their income taxes of their individual income tax returns (sole proprietors, partnerships, LLC’s, LLP’s etc.) will also see a significant tax relief.  When combined with the lower taxes provided in the federal income tax cut, this state-level income tax cut will help boost our Missouri economy

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It’s time to bring our roads and bridges into the 21st century-By David Farr

By: David Farr, NAM Board Chair & Chairman and CEO of Emerson. One year ago, President Donald Trump gave his first address to Congress. He spoke of a new chapter for our country, a renewal of American prosperity and rising optimism. Now, on the eve of his second address, there is no denying that manufacturers in America are as confident as ever: 94.6 percent feel positive about their companies’ outlook according to a recent National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) member survey. President Trump and congressional leaders can take credit for boosting our industry’s prospects and giving manufacturing workers the attention and action they deserve. In year one, they helped rev up the economy by delivering policies that help make America fiercely competitive in the global economy, such as regulatory and tax reform. In year two, the best way to keep that momentum going is by focusing on more initiatives that take manufacturing in America to new heights. For our industry, a bipartisan infrastructure

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Sales are up for companies, and so are wages, survey says

Sales and profits picked up for companies at the end of last year, and more say they’re paying their workers higher wages and salaries in the latest signs that the U.S. economy continues to improve. The encouraging signals come from a survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics of more than 100 members at companies and industry groups. After years of recovery following the Great Recession, the job market and the economy have become so healthy that businesses say finding skilled workers is the most difficult it has been in nearly a decade. The responses fit with recent government reports that show the economy grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the last three months of 2017 and the unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. In the survey, 47 percent of respondents said their sales rose over the past three months, up a tick from 46 percent three months earlier. Fewer companies said their sales

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Bills allowing enforcement of arbitration agreements and dealing with asbestos claims heard in Committee

Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) supports three bills that are advancing in the current legislative session. HB 1512 (Corlew) allows enforcement of arbitration agreements between at-will employees and their employer. The bill has cleared the initial House committee and needs approval from a House rules committee before advancing to the House floor. A companion bill, SB 578 (Romine) has been heard in a Senate committee and could advance next week. Both bills would allow the issue of whether an arbitration agreement between the employee and employer is valid to be settled by the mutually-selected arbitrator, in accordance with national standards and procedures for arbitration proceedings. “These bills allow enforcement of arbitration agreements and will stop plaintiff’s attorneys from invalidating those agreements and moving issues into civil court,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of AIM. “We fully support these bills and are working hard on their passage.” Another bill, HB 1645 (DeGroot) would allow the fact that a plaintiff bringing

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Congress pushes broadband access ahead of Trump infrastructure proposal

Congress is making a push to get rural internet access projects funded through President Trump’s promised $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan. Lawmakers representing rural areas have argued that many of their constituents are losing out on economic and educational resources due to a lack of broadband access. And as the president teases an infrastructure plan, members are stepping up their calls for increased funding. “Rural communities must have adequate broadband infrastructure to attract and retain businesses and human resources, close the homework gap for students and teachers, open innovative and convenient pathways to telemedicine for seniors and providers, and help farmers increase efficiencies in their barns and on their land,” the House members wrote in a letter. Details are still light. A leaked draft outline of the infrastructure plan showed that broadband access projects were included as part of the 25 percent of dollars set aside for rural infrastructure spending. Lawmakers are still looking for assurances that internet access will receive

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US economy grew at solid 2.6 percent rate in fourth quarter

The U.S. economy grew at a solid rate of 2.6 percent in the final three months of last year. The fourth quarter advance in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, followed gains of just above 3 percent in the second and third quarters, the Commerce Department reported Friday. For all of 2017, the economy grew 2.3 percent. Business investment in new plants and equipment rose at a 6.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter, while spending on home construction rose at a rate of 11.6 percent after two quarters of declines. Economists expect even better growth this year, propelled by Trump tax cuts. READ MORE HERE

MAP to Mayors: misguided litigation not the answer to climate change

Post from the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) kicked off its winter meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, and they have plenty of policy issues on their plate: crime, immigration, housing, the environment and the economy. On these last two issues, MAP would like to caution the nation’s mayors: political lawsuits against manufacturers won’t strengthen our environment; they sabotage our economy. Unfortunately, eight cities and counties in California and New York have already decided to take the approach of filing lawsuits to impose legal liability for climate change on manufacturers.  In their haste to make headlines seven of those municipalities now are facing scrutiny for contradictory statements in their legal filings and their bond offerings to investors. In short, they did not disclose in those bond offerings the same climate-related risks they detailed in their lawsuits. Not only does this call into question the real intent behind the lawsuits but also the integrity of their bond offerings.

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