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For Release — Wednesday, May 26, 2004

BUSINESS COUNCIL LAUNCHES COMP WATCH '04, A NEW SERIES OF
REPORTS DOCUMENTING THE CASE FOR WORKERS' COMP REFORM


ALBANY—The Business Council today introduced Comp Watch '04, a new series of reports that show how problems in New York's workers' compensation system have made comp costs here among the nation's highest.

The series will feature five reports on the state of workers' compensation in New York. Topics to be covered include the problem of lifetime benefits in New York State, the need for objective medical guidelines in the comp system, and how workers' compensation benefits should be affected by social security benefits.

The first in the series, "When does your business say 'Enough is enough?'", outlines the causes of New York's above-average workers' comp costs. The report is available in PDF format at www.bcnys.org/inside/wc/CW-Enough.pdf.

"New York already has the second-highest average claim cost in the nation," the report says. "We already have comp rates that are eighth-highest in the nation, $31.30 per $1,000 of payroll. We're one of only nine states in the country without a limit on how long an injured worker can collect benefits for a partial disability." New York is also one of only four states that does not require the use of objective medical guidelines when determining a disability, the report notes.

New York's cost of doing business is already far too high, the report added. "Yet the state Legislature continues its pattern of inaction-or worse yet, raises fees and taxes- but wonders why our economy is struggling and jobs are being sent elsewhere."

Workers' comp costs are especially important cost of business to manufacturers because comp costs are typically higher in that sector than they are in other sectors of the economy.

Upstate's economic travails have been especially pronounced in the manufacturing sector, The Public Policy Institute reported earlier this month. The "Big Six" Upstate metropolitan areas lost 31.8 percent, or nearly one-third, of their manufacturing jobs from 1990 to 2003—dropping from 18 percent of total jobs in the region, to 12 percent, in just 13 years. In the U.S. overall, manufacturing also lost ground—but only 17.9 percent.

The Public Policy Institute's report, Could New York Let Upstate Be Upstate?, is available from www.bcnys.org/whatsnew/2004/0517upstatepr.htm.

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