PAY & BENEFITS • Sep 2015 • Volume 4 / Number 12
This Beyond the Numbers article describes the prevalence with which people working for private employers in the United States are given the opportunity to enroll in health and retirement plans with various provisions—the extent to which they have access to those provisions.Read full article » | Download PDF
Defined contribution plans have become a major source of retirement savings for American workers as the number of employers offering defined benefit plans to employees has declined. There are a variety of defined contribution plan types available, including savings and thrift plans.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is widely used as a cost-of-living indicator. In some cases, its use is mandated by relevant statutes; in other cases, its use is a matter of contractual agreement or practice. For example, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are adjusted each year by an amount equal to the change in the CPI. Other payments adjusted by the CPI include federal tax brackets, rents, alimony payments, child support payments, and wages.
Throughout the first half of 2014, import petroleum prices rose 10.7 percent following a near 2-year low at the end of 2013. The 6-month advance returned import prices to levels last seen at the beginning of 2012. The second half of 2014 was a much different story. Beginning in July, prices began to fall, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) import crude petroleum index dropping 51.7 percent between June 2014 and January 2015. A confluence of factors exerted downward pressure on petroleum prices, leading to the most dramatic drop in petroleum prices since the sharp drop in prices at the end of 2008. This issue of Beyond the Numbers examines the price trends in import petroleum prices leading up to the plunge in prices in 2014. The article uses data from the BLS International Prices Program (IPP) and Energy Information Administration (EIA).