• Mar 2019: American's debt hits a new high last year at $13 trillion. To see how much debt—and of what types—Americans carry at every age, read the full article by Money, based on the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances.

  • Feb 2019: National Health Expenditures Forecast for 2017-2026 shows National health spending is expected to grow 1 percentage point faster than the GDP at 5.5% per year with the health share of GDP reaching 19.7% by 2026. By 2026, government-sponsored health care will represent 47% of total National health expenditures. Read the full report at CMS.gov, for more in depth data on our National health expenditures.

  • Oct 2018: Employer Health Benefits 2018 Annual Survey results are in. The annual premium for Employer-sponsored family health coverage is up 5% with annual premiums of $19,616 with workers paying 29% of the cost or an average of $5,547 per year according to the study by Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Education Trust. Single coverage came in at $6,896 per year an increase of only 3% over last year with worker contribution at only 18% of the total premium cost or on average $1,186 per year. Click here for the full report. Please note this report may take a few minutes to load.

  • Aug 2018: The Regional Economist published its 3rd Qtr 2018 "Economy at a Glance"for a graphical look at each economic sector of the United States Economy

  • Aug 2018: Medicare Set Aside Consulting services are now offered by our MSA Consultant certified through the International Commission on Health Care Certification. Please give us a call to discuss the ramifications of the MSP Act on your cases that involve Medicare beneficiaries or prospective Medicare beneficiaries.

  • Jun 2018: The Trade Partnership Worldwide recently published a brief on The Estimated Impacts of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum by Dr. Francois, L.M. Baughman, and D. Anthony. According to the authors' estimates, the tariffs will result in a short-term 0.2% annual reduction in GDP and a net loss of 400,445 jobs across the US economy with more than two-thirds in production and low-skill jobs.

  • Apr 2018: A NY Times article, Federal Budget Deficit to Top $1 Trillion in 2020, was published in reaction to the current CBO Budget and Economic Projections: 2018-2028. The article may include political opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this office. We encourage readers to review the CBO Projections independently and have provided a link to the CBO Excel Spreadsheet with the projections by year and category.

  • Dec 2017: Learn how to sort facts from fictions when dealing with economic policy debates. An economist explains how to do this in an article published in the NY Times. Click here to find out.

  • Oct 2017 ACS: American Community Survey's annual data release provides statistics on a variety of population and housing topics for the nation, states, and your community. Click here to get the latest statistics from the 5-year 2012-2016 American Community Survey for the United States or go to the American Fact Finder for data on specific locations.

  • Oct 2017: BLS Economic Projections for 2016-2026 The U.S. Dept. of Labor regularly forecasts the demand for various occupations. They also give the average wage and the educational requirements to help you determine if the education you are getting is in an area where the occupational demand is high and wages meet your expectations. The latest report was released in Oct 2017. This News Release provides some highlights of the report.

  • Sep 2017: Canada Letter: Health Care Comparisons, published in the NY Times stated that Canada was knocked out early due to long wait times in this head-to-head comparison of health care systems throughout the world; however, "longer wait times in Canada" was not due to the system's design but the lack of funding since Canada spends "about half of what the U.S. does for health care." According to the article, "wait times are most likely an economic decision, not one inherent to single-payer." Click here to read the full article.

 

Dr. Mellish is a specialist in the valuation of loss due to business damages, wrongful termination, personal injury and death. He has been qualified as an expert witness in the majority of the Circuit Courts in Florida and many Federal Courts in various states including FL, GA, AL, NY, TX, CA, US Virgin Islands, and others.

This office has a reputation for providing expert witness consultation at the highest standards. We assist attorneys in identifying areas of damages as well as calculating the present value of future losses including lost wages, benefits, the value of household services, the amount necessary to provide medical care in the future, hedonic damages (value of the loss of enjoyment of lifestyle issues) as well as punitive damages in cases that warrant it. In worker’s compensation cases, our reports are often made a part of the fee petition package. We have designed a computer-assisted format for presenting the results of our analysis in the worker’s compensation cases. We have also developed a computer-assisted format for calculating the present value of future medical care items required in a life care plan for catastrophic injury cases. These computer assisted formats allows us to keep billing to a minimum by reducing the amount of professional time needed. Please refer to our Services page for a detailed list of services provided.

What does it take to evaluate economic damages?

Quite often attorneys call us to quickly estimate the level of economic damages in an injury or death case. When the attorney can give us a short description of the nature of the injury, we can typically identify the probable damage elements:

  • Loss of income or support
  • Loss of value of services
  • Probable future medical expenses

We can usually provide an estimate in a 5 to 15 minute phone call. We do not charge for such brief consultations. By contrast, a written report requires documentation for underlying data. That is what takes the most time – and is billable. Business damages cases are different from personal injury cases when it comes to quick estimates. That said, we can usually describe the type of underlying data that will be needed to estimate business damages in a 5 to 15 minute consultation.

What's happening with the unemployment rate?

The latest BLS figures on the US employment situation for February 2019 shows the Unemployment rate declined to 3.8% and a slight net increase of 22,000 in nonfarm payroll employment with a 3.4% increase in wages over the past year. However, combined with December 2018 and January 2019 figures, job gains have averaged 186,000 per month for the past 3 months. These employment figures do not include the self-employed or farm sectors. Total employed persons from all sectors rose 255,000 from January to February 2019. The Labor Force (163,184) consists only of the Employed (156,949) and Unemployed (6,235) and will always equal the two figures presented for these two categories. A net reduction or increase in the civilian labor force can be age-related, education-related, health-related or economy-related (leading to discouragement). This can cause an increase in job creation to have less of an impact on the overall unemployment rate due to additional people being added to or leaving the labor force for these other reasons such as graduating from school or college, completing a rehabilitation program, being injured, early retirement, or simply reaching an age outside of the countable age for the Survey. The figures presented are the net change in these categories which includes in-flows to and out-flows from all categories. The flows into and out of these categories give a better picture of what is happening in the employment/unemployment situation. The following Flow Chart, shows the BLS reported total employment status changes for February 2019 (Flow Chart figures are in thousands).

Click on image for corresponding data table.

Source: BLS Labor Force Status Flows

The number of employed persons showed a net increase of 255,000 including 6.5 million new employed persons and 6.2 million leaving employment status. According to the BLS data presented in the above diagram, only 1.8 million persons returned to work from unemployed status and 4.7 new entrants into the Labor Force in February 2019. This was offset by 4.7 million persons leaving the Labor Force and 1.5 million becoming unemployed (retired, went back to school, became disabled, died, or gave up).

The number of unemployed persons declined by 300,000. This includes 3.3 million new unemployed persons and 3.6 million people leaving unemployed status. Only 1.8 million returned to work; the other 1.8 million left the Labor Force. The 3.3 million new unemployed persons is made up of 1.5 million persons from the employed sector and 1.8 million persons entering or re-entering the Labor Force.

The February 2019 unemployment rate of 3.8% showed a modest drop of .6% from 4.4% in Feb 2018 based on the most commonly used U-3 unemployment rate which reflects the percentage of those persons actively seeking work in the Labor Force and does not include those who have become discouraged and are no longer seeking employment or who are under-employed due to economic conditions. To get an accurate picture of the unemployment rate, it would be important to take a closer look at the Not in the Labor Force category. How many persons are in this category due to economic conditions? According to the BLS, the U-6 unemployment rate captures these persons and has decreased over the past year by 1.3% from 8.6% as of Feb 2018 to a current rate of 7.3% as of Feb 2019. This indicates an improvement in the economic employment sector not captured by the highly publicized U-3 rate.

Is Opioid use effecting the Labor Force?

According to a report by CNBC, “How the opioid crisis is hindering US labor participation”, States with the highest opioid use had the lowest labor force participation rate in 2018. Even though the report suggests a correlation between the opioid use and work participation rates, there is no evidence of causal relationship. Correlation is not causation. There can be a correlation between two variables without a causal relationship between those two variables if other causal variables can be identified. The report does not identify the number of people on opioids just the number of prescriptions being written in that State. This can be misleading as an individual could have more than one prescription. In calculating economic damages in litigation, it is important to establish a causal relationship between the diminished income or value and the alleged wrongdoing. In this specific case, there are many other variables that can be tied to the lack of work force participation and the increase in opioid use in each State. Disability as a percent of population and legalized marijuana status by State are only a couple of variables that could impact the figures in this report. According to Figure 7 of the 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report and the Business Insider's report on legalized marijuana status by State, the States with the 3 highest participation rates also have the lowest disability rates (7.9%-9.3%) among the working age population (18-64) and all have legalized medical marijuana which is an alternative to opioid use. The States with the 3 lowest participation rates have the highest disability ratings (12.6%-17.8%) and only 1 state has legalized medical marijuana. A causal relationship has not been established. Opioid use is not necessarily the cause for low participation rates; but rather a result of the underlying cause of low participation rates such as disability and the lack of non-opioid pain management alternatives. See the table below for actual figures:


Sources:
https://disabilitycompendium.org/sites/default/files/user-uploads/2017_AnnualReport_2017_FINAL.pdf
https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/12/how-the-opioid-crisis-is-hindering-us-labor-force-participation.html

Are interest rates on the rise?

After a long hiatus by the Federal Reserve, the Federal interest rate has continued on its upward swing into 2019 with the current rate being 2.5%. However, the end is in sight according to Mr. Bullard, the Federal Reserve Bank President, who was quoted by Reuters as stating that the Fed is "at the 'end of the road' on rate hikes". For a better understanding of the Fed Funds Rate, check out this article by Kimberly Amadeo with The Balance.

How does this affect the present value of future economic losses?

When the interest rate or discount rate is low, the present value of future economic losses will be higher. However, the other element in the present value calculation is the growth rate in wages, or in future medical expenses. When interest rates are low, these other two elements of the present value calculations will also be low. Therefore, the present value will not be substantially different than in a period of high interest rates.

Economic Forecasts:

According to Bankrate.com’s survey of economists in 2017, they predicted the Fed Rate hike in December 2017. The full results of their 1-year prediction poll is shown below:



Click on image to enlarge.

Source: Bankrate's Economic Indicators Survey, Q3 2017

In 3rd Quarter 2017, economists predicted unemployment to drop slightly, 10-yr treasury bills to rise and jobs added per month to decrease within the year. Let's take a look at the figures for 3rd Quarter 2018 and see if they were right:



Click on image to enlarge.

The Bankrate survey predictions were correct in the direction but off a bit on the degree of change with unemployment being below predicted levels and 10-year treasury yields, fed rate and jobs added per month all higher than predicted. Jobs created continued to climb to 312,000 added in December according to the December 2018 CES Report, released in January 2019; however, the unemployment rate was closer to the predicted rate at the end of 4th Quarter at 3.9% albeit a couple months later than predicted. The 10-year treasury yield continues to surpass the predicted rate according to the US Treasury with the current rate at 2.6%. The Federal Reserve has consistently raised the Fed Rate throughout 2018 with the current rate at 2.5%. If you want to discuss how these economic indicators effect you and your cases, please give me a call.

Looking forward, below are Bankrate's survey predictions for next year:




Click on image to enlarge.
Source: Bankrate.com.

On the lighter side, check out some humorous Videos from an economic standpoint on our

Humor & Interest Page


You can also find interesting links to information such as the current gas prices and what makes up the gas price as well as Tax Facts 2018 and proposed tax policies for 2019 on our Humor & Interest Page.