Outcry over firefighters making up to $400,000 – Despite ever-tightening budgets, hefty paydays are actually becoming the norm for a lot of firefighters

Mar 4, 2017

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Despite ever-tightening budgets, hefty paydays are actually becoming the norm for a lot of firefighters.

In 2015, some firefighters with the San Ramon Valley Fire District were making as much as $400,000 a year in total compensation, CBS San Francisco reports. More than half of the full-time employees at the department make more than $300,000 in total compensation a year, according to data collected by the watchdog group Transparent California.

“Does it make sense that a battalion chief in San Ramon should earn $300,000 when our governor only earns $180,000 a year in compensation?” said Jack Weir, president of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association.

But one department said that paying out a lot of overtime is actually saving taxpayers money.

San Ramon Valley Fire Chief Paige Meyer says the $300,000 figure doesn’t tell the whole story. That number includes pension and benefits, so in reality, he says, firefighters take home about half of their total compensation.

“So, if someone makes $1, we ending up close to spending 90 cents for their pension, so that’s $1.90, roughly,” Meyer said. “And then we also have the costs of healthcare.”

Meyer said pension and healthcare obligations can mean it’s cheaper to pay a firefighter overtime instead of hiring someone new and adding an extra set of benefits costs.

“Saving can be upwards of 25 to 30 percent,” Meyer said.

Firefighters are guaranteed about 70 percent of their income after retirement in their 50s. In San Ramon, firefighters contribute close to 25 percent of their income to their pension.

Weir believes the system won’t work in the long run.

“It’s unreasonable, it’s unaffordable and most importantly, from a taxpayer’s perspective and from the perspective of the firefighters, it’s unsustainable,” Weir said.

But Meyer says San Ramon is an example of a fire district doing things right.

“We have a very sustainable system,” Meyer said. “We’re paying all of our unfunded liabilities. We’re actually one of the only agencies that I know of in the United States that pays extra money toward our unfunded liabilities in retired, medical and pension costs.”

Meyer also says a starting firefighter in San Ramon would make about $90,000 in salary alone.

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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/san-ramon-california-firefighters-making-up-to-400k/

Data analysis firm CoreLogic says that for every two homebuyers who moved to California from 2000 through 2015, five others sold their homes, packed up and moved out

Californians fleeing state’s high cost of housing

Nov. 14, 2016

California’s warm weather, sunny beaches and world-class schools have lured people to the Golden State for decades, but rising home prices are turning that equation around.

Data analysis firm CoreLogic says that for every two homebuyers who moved to California from 2000 through 2015, five others sold their homes, packed up and moved out.

Arizona and Texas were the top destinations for people moving out of California, CoreLogic reported. Only New Jersey had a higher ratio of fleeing homeowners during that period.

“California had the largest number of out-migrants in 2015,” CoreLogic Senior Economist Kristine Yao said in a blog post published Thursday.

The trend of out-migration was also noted in a separte trio of reports released earlier this year by Beacon Economics. Beacon noted that 625,000 more U.S. residents left California between 2007 and 2014 than moved into the state. The vast majority ended up in Texas, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington.

The search for more affordable housing is sending low- and middle-income workers out of the state, while higher-wage workers continue to move in, which argues against the theory that high taxes are driving people away.

“California has an employment boom with a housing problem,” said Beacon founding partner Christopher Thornberg. “The state continues to offer great employment opportunities for all kinds of workers, but housing affordability and supply represent a significant problem.”

Home prices and rents have been rising steadily for more than four years.

CoreLogic figures show Orange County’s median home price was up 42 percent in the four years ending in September. Prices were up 55 percent in Los Angeles County, 57 percent in Riverside County and 75 percent in San Bernardino County.

Although home sellers leaving California last year paid, on average, 36 percent less for their new homes out of state, they tended to end up in better neighborhoods, CoreLogic reported. Their purchase prices ranked in the 77th percentile for their new metro areas, while their sale prices ranked in the 62 percentile back home.

“Of the homeowners moving out of state, more of them sold in high appreciation, high cost areas and bought in lower appreciation, more affordable areas,” Yao wrote.

California home prices have risen in part because of a lack of inventory.

From 2005 to 2015, permits were filed for only 21.5 housing units per every 100 new residents in the state. That put the Golden State second to last behind Alaska, where only 16.2 housing permits were filed for every 100 new residents.

On the flip side, Michigan saw 166 permits filed for every 100 new residents.

Register staff writer Jeff Collins contributed to this report.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/home-735151-prices-state.html

JPMorgan: The odds of a recession starting in 12 months has hit a high On the heels of the disappointing jobs report, the risk of a recession within the next 12 months hits a new high

The probability of a recession occuring within the next 12 months has never been higher during the current economic recovery. This is according to the economists at JPMorgan.

“Our preferred macroeconomic indicator of the probability that a recession begins within 12 months has moved up from 30% on May 5 to 34% last week to 36% today,” JPMorgan’s Jesse Edgerton wrote. “This marks the second consecutive week that the tracker has reached a new high for the expansion.”

JPMorgan’s proprietary model considers the levels of several economic indicators, including consumer sentiment, manufacturing sentiment, building permits, auto sales, and unemployment.

This comes on the heels of Friday’s disappointing May jobs report. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US companies added just 38,000 nonfarm payrolls during the month. Economists were expecting 160,000. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in May from 5.0% in April, but this was largely a function of 458,000 workers dropping out of the labor force.

JPMorgan notes that nonfarm payrolls is actually not part of the model. But the unemployment rate is. Interestingly, a low unemployment rate can be considered an ominous sign.

“The unemployment rate enters the model in two ways,” Edgerton explained. “As a near-term indicator, we watch for increases in the unemployment rate that occur near the beginning of recessions. So this morning’s move down in the unemployment rate lowered the recession probability in our near-term model. But we also find the level of the unemployment rate to be one of the most useful indicators of medium-term recession risk. So the move down in unemployment raises the model’s view of the risk of economic overheating in the medium run and raises the ‘background risk’ of recession.”

Indeed, recessions begin when things are very good. It’s only when reports come in that the data has turned that we realize we’ve been in a recession.

Even Warren Buffett will tell you that a recession will inevitably come. For him, that won’t be for a while.

But if it turns out that the recent slew of disapppointing data becomes a trend, the bulls may be forced to change their tune.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/jpmorgan-recession-risk-new-high-160251309.html