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Short Bits

SOCIAL SECURITY RECIPIENTS GET A 2% INCREASE

After two years with virtually no increase, Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 2% cost of living allowance (COLA) increase in 2018. This will raise the average Social Security monthly benefit for all retired workers from $1,377 to $1,404. Workers will see Social Security taxes disappear a little later, with maximum taxable income rising to $128,700.

HSA POPULARITY CONTINUES TO GROW

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found continued growth in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in 2016. Enrollment in high-deductible health plans (required to have an HSA) in 2016 was estimated to be 20.2–22.6 million policyholders and their dependents, covering nearly three in 10 employees. The average balance, including individual and employer contributions, was $2,532, up dramatically from $1,604 at the beginning of the year. HSAs allow rollovers from one year to the next.

HOURLY WAGES KEEP UP WITH INFLATION

Continuing a stubborn trend, U.S. real average hourly earnings remained almost stagnant. Adjusted for inflation, wages rose just 0.2% from September 2016 to September 2017. There was a 2.5% increase in average hourly earnings offset by a 2.3% rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

DON’T COUNT ON INCREASED LIFE EXPECTANCIES

The Society of Actuaries found that the U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate, a measure of the number of deaths per year, rose 1.2% from 2014 to 2015. That’s the first year-over-year increase since 2005, and only the second rise greater than 1% since 1980.

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