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National News Roundup – May 1, 2024

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

tyre pressure

Areas of Land Sinking Across the Nation, Globe

Experts point to water demand, draining of underground aquifers.

The global population’s need for water is draining our underground aquifers and that is causing some cities to literally sink. For some, it could be catastrophic.

Aquifer depletion and fresh-water consumption is a worldwide problem as well as a local one. Nearly half of China’s major cities are suffering moderate to severe levels of “subsidence,” putting millions of people at risk of flooding especially as sea levels rise, according to a study of satellite data. Subsidence is the settling or sinking of Earth’s surface.

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study conducted in 1999 showed land settling or sinking impacts over 17-thousand square miles in 45 states. The problem has become worse in the ensuing 25 years.

Several U.S. coastal cities are measurably sinking each year and face a double-whammy of rising sea levels and subsidence. For example, most of the Gulf Coast, from Galveston, Texas, to Tallahassee, Florida, is sinking. New York City, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, all face increased flooding potential in the coming years.

Michigan and the Great Lakes are not immune to water depletion despite the seeming abundance of water in the Great Lakes.

A report by the Great Lakes Commission found that 37.5 billion gallons of water per day were withdrawn from the Great Lakes basin in 2021. Most of Michigan’s groundwater extraction is free of charge. Volume users have not had to pay for draining the aquifers.

Groundwater levels have been dropping in some parts of Michigan in recent decades due to overuse. In fast-growing Ottawa County, for example, groundwater demands exceed sustainable groundwater supply, according to two studies by experts at Michigan State University. Ottawa County has responded by preparing a groundwater sustainability plan.

Please go here to see the Great Lakes Commission report, which includes annual updates.

(Sources: Reuters, CNN, New York Times, Detroit Free Press, FLOW, Great Lakes Commission)

Survey: Wages More Valued than Retirement Funds

Health insurance, other factors also important to younger workforce.

As local and county governments across the nation scramble to compete with the private sector for new employees, some hiring professionals point to a shift in what matters most to those in the workforce. For example, one of the big selling points for government jobs had long been pension benefits. But the lure of a retirement package is losing its luster.

Generational changes and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced how long many workers stay with a single employer, a trend that applies to both the public and private sectors. Staffing turnover is a reality of the current workforce landscape.

A study that analyzed the careers of Missouri public school teachers found that pension enhancements led to earlier retirement, reducing retention.

Workers can do the math and see that adding more years to their late career, beyond retirement eligibility, has a diminishing impact on their ultimate benefit, which is a common feature of pensions. The practical effect is this provides an incentive for retirement, thus leading to a higher departure rate for the most experienced professionals.

A survey last September by the MissionSquare Research Institute of young public-sector workers (those aged 35 and under) reveals that only 23 percent ranked retirement benefits among the top three factors attracting them to public-sector jobs, placing these benefits seventh overall. Job security and satisfaction, salary levels, work-life balance, meaningfulness of work, and health insurance all held greater appeal.

Other recent research points to the same conclusion: younger workers’ decisions about remaining in a job are motivated by their paychecks and other quality-of-life considerations. For government managers grappling with tight budgets, this may mean “right-sizing” teams to afford the higher pay levels necessary to retain their skilled employees.

(Source: Governing)

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The above news items are provided for informational purposes and are not intended to reflect MMRMA opinions, coverage, or risk management recommendations.

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