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Series:New England Public Policy Center Policy Reports  Bank:Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 

Demand for H-1B visas in New England: an analysis of employer requests for highly-skilled guest workers
This report finds that New England has some of the highest levels of demand for H-1B workers nationwide, relative to employment, due to significant demand from a few metropolitan labor markets in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This analysis also shows that there are various intended uses of the H-1B visa: it is not solely used to address a STEM-skills shortage nor is it used principally to outsource work to less costly locations. Finally, the report recommends developing a clearer policy goal for the H-1B visa program, which would support more coherent criterion for admitting highly skilled guest workers and provide a context within which to determine the desired admission levels of the program.
AUTHORS: Clifford, Robert
DATE: 2014-10-01

State highway funding in New England: the road to greater fiscal sustainability
Many of the region's roads and bridges are in need of significant repair and improvement. There is concern that current revenue sources are inadequate relative to the projected expense of maintaining and keeping New England's roads, bridges, and other transportation assets in good condition. How to address the projected gap in transportation revenues and expenditures is largely a policy choice. Most states rely on the motor fuel excise tax or "gas tax" but this revenue source is widely recognized as not fiscally sustainable. The tax does not automatically grow with inflation, whereas the costs associated with maintaining, constructing, and reconstructing roads tend to increase as prices and wages rise. And, as vehicle fuel efficiency increases, the gas tax will generate less revenue for a given amount of road use than in the past. This research compares existing gas taxes in the New England states and examines alternative tax structures that could improve fiscal sustainability. It simulates tax revenues under various alternatives and compares them to estimates of revenues generated by actual gas taxes in the New England states between 1993 and 2012. Forward-looking projections for selected alternatives are also provided.
AUTHORS: Weiner, Jennifer
DATE: 2015-08-01

The criminal population in New England: records, convictions, and barriers to employment
The portion of the U.S. population with a criminal record has been receiving mounting attention in recent years. While there is a significant amount of data about the criminal population under supervision, there is very limited linked data identifying how most individuals move through the criminal justice system. By analyzing multiple national and state data sources, this report aims to identify the size of the New England population with a criminal record and to describe the broad demographic characteristics of this population. The report illustrates that the size of the population in the region with a criminal record is significant: in 2014 there are 5.3 million individuals in criminal record databases in New England. Young men between 20 and 24 years of age account for a disproportionate number of arrests and convictions in New England, and most individuals with a criminal record committed a misdemeanor, not a felony. The report illustrates that the region's mid-sized cities often host a disproportionately larger share of ex-offenders. The report discusses the need for more complete and coordinated data systems that can accurately examine flows through the criminal justice system and the outcomes of all ex-offenders.
AUTHORS: Sullivan, Riley; Clifford, Robert
DATE: 2017-03-01

Why is state and local government capital spending lower in the New England states than in other U.S. states?
This report explores several hypotheses as to why state and local governments in New England have been spending less on capital investment than the national average, on a normalized basis. Census data show that state and local capital spending in all six New England states was well below the national average between 2000 and 2012, whether measured on a per capita basis, as a share of personal income, or as a share of state and local government spending. To explore why this is so, this report considers how capital spending has changed over time, how capital spending differs by state and across spending category, and the quality and quantity of capital stock in New England?s states. The report also considers the relationship between debt issuance and capital spending. The authors find that economic, social, and political characteristics used in previous research are insufficient to fully explain the observed normalized levels of state and local capital spending in the New England states relative to their rates in the national average of all U.S. states. The report does suggest that the relatively large role of state government in New England and government officials? concerns about debt levels may have contributed to lower capital spending.
AUTHORS: Fisher, Ronald C.; Sullivan, Riley
DATE: 2016-07-01

Exploring causes of and responses to the opioid epidemic in New England
The opioid epidemic remains rampant in New England, where, from 2015 through 2017, more than 10,000 people died from opioid overdoses. In 2017, each of the six states experienced an overdose-death rate that was greater than the national average. Beyond causing a high number of deaths, the opioid epidemic is costing New England productive workers. People with the most severe problems stemming from opioid-use disorder tend to be in the 25?44 age group, but no one is immune. The epidemic affects people of every type?all ages and all races, men and women, residents of rural areas and of urban areas. To better understand the factors behind the epidemic and the extent to which the crisis affects the region, this report investigates the relationships between opioid abuse and various economic indicators in New England counties over the last two decades.
AUTHORS: Sullivan, Riley; Manchester, Joyce
DATE: 2019-05-01

The growing shortage of affordable housing for the extremely low income in Massachusetts
This report identifies ways that the state?s policymakers and housing agencies and providers can more efficiently use limited resources to address the affordable housing needs of extremely low-income households. The first is to prioritize rental assistance in areas of the state where rents are low and the inventory of market-supplied housing is high. Doing so will take advantage of local market conditions that are favorable to rental-assistance subsidies while addressing these areas? high rates of rent burden. Tax-credit and other supply-oriented subsidies can be targeted more heavily to areas with less affordable housing stock overall. Building geographic considerations into program administration can help achieve this tailoring of resources. Second, preserving expiring subsidies in smaller cities and towns will ensure broader access to affordable housing throughout Massachusetts. The state?s increasing need to preserve affordable housing is widely acknowledged and supported. Many of these units are located in major cities and metro areas; however, smaller cities and towns, while accounting for a smaller share of the subsidized housing, are at risk of seeing most or all of their subsidized units expire by 2025.
AUTHORS: Chiumenti, Nicholas
DATE: 2019-04-01

The fiscal impact of the opioid epidemic in the New England states
The rise in the abuse of?and addiction to?opioids and the rapid increase in the number of fatal overdoses in recent years have made the opioid epidemic a priority for local, state, and federal policymakers. Understanding the epidemic?s direct fiscal impact is key to acknowledging its scope and magnitude. While opioid abuse has many direct and indirect fiscal costs, few studies quantify them. This report assembles available data on the impact of opioid epidemic on criminal justice, treatment, and related health expenditures in the New England states. The research finds that state governments in the region spend a higher percentage on total opioid-related costs and more per capita than the national averages. Across the region, treating opioid-use disorder?on both an emergency and a long-term basis?accounts for the majority of the costs. Estimates for medical treatment expenditures associated with opioid abuse reach as high as $340 million annually in Massachusetts alone. While providing new insight the author acknowledges that the costs considered in this policy report are incomplete. It?s plausible that the opioid epidemic?s impact on state revenues is also significant and could affect regional fiscal health. For example, individuals incarcerated for drug crimes or in residential treatment programs are not earning wages. Evidence also suggests that non-institutionalized individuals abusing opioids are more likely out of work than employed, likewise resulting in lost revenue (Krueger 2017). The author plans to conduct further research on opioid abuse?s impact on employment and labor force participation, which should contribute to a fuller understanding of the epidemic?s fiscal cost to the region. However, beyond the fiscal cost is the toll opioid abuse has taken on individuals, families, and communities. The costs analyzed in this report are just a small part of the greater damage inflicted across the region and the country.
AUTHORS: Sullivan, Riley
DATE: 2018-05-01

The supply of permanent supportive housing in Massachusetts: comparing availability to the chronic homeless population
Permanent supportive housing (PSH) has become an important resource for Massachusetts service providers working to address chronic homelessness in the state. Nationally, and in the Commonwealth, the number of PSH beds available for homeless individuals and families now exceeds the amount of emergency shelter beds and other, non-permanent, housing options. While PSH is acknowledged as an important tool, there has been little research into the inventory level needed to effectively house the state?s current chronic homeless population, and what, if any, local shortages exist. This report uses publicly available inventory and homeless population count data to estimate the number of PSH beds needed to effectively house the chronically homeless individuals and families living in Massachusetts. In addition, this report looks at the Continuum of Care service regions to examine how differences in homeless populations affect local shortages of PSH within the state. The report finds that Massachusetts has made marked progress toward increasing the state?s PSH inventory, with at least one PSH bed available per chronically homeless individual in 2016 and 2017. There remains, however, a statewide shortage in PSH beds for chronically homeless families. The situation may vary considerably across localities, with some areas experiencing PSH shortages while neighboring areas have surpluses. Finally, using incomplete data on planned additions to the PSH inventory shows that less progress has being made at alleviating these two differences in supply. There are still more individual beds than family beds being added, with inventory additions for both types of PSH decreasing, and only a handful of Continuums of Care planning new PSH beds for the coming years.
AUTHORS: Chiumenti, Nicholas
DATE: 2018-09-01




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