Unfunded pension liabilities are a serious issue for state and local governments facing significant short and long-term financial challenges. Even North Carolina is not immune from the crisis, though the depth of despair is far greater in other states.
This summary by George Mason University researcher Veronique de Rugy, along with the chart, give us an idea of how significant employee pension liabilities now are. The potential, due to differences in accounting standards between the public and private sectors, that unfunded liabilities could be almost 8 times greater than currently reported forces local government professionals to consider the potential ramifications if States have to take severe austerity measures in order to reallocate resources to meeting their obligations.
More on this development, its uses and potential are featured in these comments by Robert Marske of the Census Bureau’s Office of Economic Planning and Innovation, posted at the Census Bureau Blog:
Right now, four economic indicators are included in the new tool: three monthly reports (international trade, wholesale trade, and manufacturers’ shipments, inventories, and orders), and the quarterly services survey. By the end of next year all twelve indicators will be included. We developed the new tool to provide a user-friendly web application — a one-stop-shop for data from all of the Census Bureau’s economic indicators. Easy enough for anyone to use.
The new tool will have many uses and users. Outside users (business analysts, the press, economic researchers) can use it for quicker access to the data they need for modeling, trend analyses, and other research. As a bonus, the Census Bureau’s own industry analysts are finding the tool makes it easier for them do specific kinds of analysis before releasing the data. That, in turn, means the new tool is improving the quality of the data we publish.
So far, feedback from data users has been very positive — and more important, sharp increases in web traffic over the last few months means more folks are relying on the Census Bureau’s data.
“The Beige Book” is published 8 times a year (January, March, April, June, July, September, October, and December) and is available online in HTML and PDF format. The Richmond District summary is something you can consider sharing with your senior staff and elected officials, as it is a combination of both statistical analysis and commentary from business owners surveyed to gauge other facets of economic activity.
Last month, the UNC School of Government MPA Class of 2011 presented their Capstone papers during their annual conference. I had the opportunity to attend this conference and was once again impressed with the professional research, investigation, and analysis provided by these students on a variety of topics pertinent to public administration and local government.