Morning Must Reads: Happy May Day, SNAP Asset Test to Cost PA $45 Million & Deaths from Falls

Happy International Workers Day! What's that, you ask? Historian Jacob Remes breaks it down for you.

Rachel Black at the New American Foundation puts the lost economic activity at $45 million a year for the Corbett administration's implementation of an asset test for food stamps, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Based on estimates by Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute, each $127,000 of spending in the economy generates 1 payroll job. By this estimate, the asset test will lead to the loss of just over 350 jobs in Pennsylvania over the next 12 months.

First, reinstating asset limits will hurt the state’s bottom line by reducing revenue and increasing cost. Since SNAP is almost entirely federally funded, the $2.7 billion a year that it brings in to the state is really the proverbial free federal money. Curbing the number of families who participate in the program will bring this down. If one percent of participants (8,000 families) are kicked off the program, as the Department of Public Welfare estimates, the state would lose $26 million based on current USDA data. The state would also lose the multiplier effect advantage of having that money spent immediately and circulate locally, which Economist Mark Zandi values at $1.73 for every $1 in SNAP benefit. So, Pennsylvania would actually be out $45 million in lost economic activity.

Not only will the state have less money coming in, it will have more money going out. The only portion of SNAP that is financed by the state is half of its administrative costs. Any savings to the state from reducing its administrative costs on one percent of its caseload will be eclipsed by the cost of newly verifying the assets of the remaining ninety-nine percent of families. In contrast, states that have gone the way of eliminating asset tests actually save money. Virginia, for example, has saved about $250,000 a year by getting grid of its asset test for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and Oklahoma has saved about $1 million by doing the same for Medicaid.

In sad news, there was a death from a fall on a construction site in Philadelphia on Monday.

Authorities said the 30-year-old unidentified Hispanic male came in contact with a live wire and fell to the ground while working on the third floor of a building under construction at 20th and Parrish streets.

The Center for Construction Research and Training has partnered with the National Institute Of Occupational and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to mount a campaign to prevent deaths from falls in the construction industry. As the center notes, Latino construction workers suffer a greater proportion of fatal falls than their non-Latino counterparts. Below are snapshots of an interactive map on construction fatalities which you can explore here.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training announced today the launch of a construction fall prevention campaign. It is a nationwide initiative to prevent falls at small residential construction sites. Falls continue to be the leading cause of work-related injury and deaths in construction.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 there were more than 10,000 construction workers in the private construction industry who were injured as a result of falling while working from heights on the job and another 255 workers were killed. Latino construction workers also bear a disproportionate amount of the burden, suffering a greater proportion of fatal falls compared to their non-Latino counterparts.


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