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CEPR News January 2011

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 28 January 2011 16:00

The following highlights CEPR's latest research, publications, events and much more.

Haiti
On January 9th, CEPR released a paper titled “Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election” that described the results of an independent recount of all 11,181 vote tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28, 2010 presidential election.  CEPR’s review found that based on the number of irregularities in the tally sheets, it is impossible to determine who should advance to second round elections, and that if there were a second round, it would be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions. The paper received a lot of attention in the press from, e.g, the BBC, The Independent (UK), CBC, and AP and was featured in this article in the Toronto Globe and Mail. It has also been cited by prominent figures such as Rep. Maxine Waters and Haiti’s former Ambassador to the U.S., Raymond Joseph (in a Wall Street Journal op-ed).

On January 11, 2011, CEPR received a copy of a draft of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) “Expert” Mission of the election. CEPR then put out an issue brief that exposed flaws in the OAS Mission’s analysis. Both the initial paper and the issue brief had a great deal of impact in Haiti (Both the paper and the issue brief are available in English, Spanish and French). The U.S., France, UN, and EU have exerted pressure on Haitian President René Préval to accept the OAS recommendations regardless of the OAS Mission report’s flaws, and he has been using CEPR’s report to strengthen his arguments against accepting the OAS’ conclusions.

In addition, the General Secretary of the OAS backtracked on the importance of the report, clearly showing that CEPR’s analysis had an impact. CEPR’s analysis of the OAS Mission report has been cited in newspapers such as the Miami Herald, the Financial Times, AP, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, and The Guardian, among others. CEPR has also written various blog posts (CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Blog contains a detailed accounting of the recent events),  as well as op-eds and columns, including CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbot’s column in The Guardian that appeared in the print edition, as well as his McClatchy column. Mark and CEPR board member Danny Glover also discussed the reports in a press call with reporters on January 18.

CEPR's work continues to have a major influence on the debate over how Haiti should proceed with its elections. CEPR has been cited in numerous press reports, including several AP, Reuters and other newswire articles published in hundreds of papers. At the moment, the Haitian government and its favored candidate, Jude Celestin, continue to resist pressure from the US, Canada and France - who are using arbitrary recommendations by the OAS as a pretext - for him to drop out of the race. Check CEPR’s Haiti blog for up-to-date information on the election, as well as other Haiti news.

Union News
CEPR released its yearly “Union Byte” on January 21st , timed to coincide with the annual release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on union membership in the U.S. workforce.  This year, the BLS reported that the overall unionization rate dropped to 11.9 percent in 2010, from 12.3 percent in 2009. The private sector unionization rate fell to 6.9 percent in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2009. CEPR Senior Research Associate Ben Zipperer wrote the "Union Byte" and was quoted in a related article by the Associated Press. CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt was interviewed about the numbers for this article, which appeared in the New York Times.

CEPR also released an update to its 2009 paper on the union advantage for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers. The paper found that AAPI workers are, with Latinos, the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. workforce, Currently, about one of every 20 U.S. workers --up from one in 40 only 20 years earlier-- is Asian American or Pacific Islander. According to CEPR's analysis, unionized AAPI workers earn about 14 percent more than non-unionized AAPI workers with similar characteristics. The wage benefit was particularly true for low-wage occupations. The paper was mentioned in the AFL-CIO blog.

New Study on California’s Paid Family Leave Law

CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum co-authored a study with Ruth Milkman of the City University of New York that examined the effects of California’s Paid Family Leave Law. The report, “Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences With Paid Family Leave in California”, found that the lowest-paid workers benefited the most from having paid leave available -- mostly because they were least likely to have decent benefits. The researchers also found that employers encountered few problems with the leave policy, with almost 90 percent reporting positive or no effects on their operations.

Eileen and Ruth presented the findings at the 2011 Working Families Policy Summit  that was held in Sacramento, CA on January 12th. The following day, they traveled to Washington DC to present their findings at an event held at the Center for American Progress. The paper received (and continues to receive) a great deal of press, including this article in the Harvard Business Review.

Social Security Benefits for Senators (and the rest of us), and the State of the Union
In his State of the Union address, President Obama insisted on the need to protect Social Security and ensure that future generations can depend on it. Nevertheless, it appears that some in Congress are considering major changes to the program. CEPR continues to fight against efforts to cut Social Security. On January 26th, CEPR released an online calculator that estimates a family's monthly income during retirement. The CEPR Social Security Calculator helps users get a better picture of how much of their retirement income will come from Social Security benefits and allows them to compare this to other households in their county with similar demographics. The calculator was featured on the Today Show’s Life Inc. web site.

Earlier in the month, CEPR released a paper showing the scheduled Social Security benefit for each member of the Senate. The paper also shows the payable benefit, assuming that the projections for the program prove accurate, and Congress never makes any changes to Social Security. CEPR’s paper is in response to a statement made by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). In an interview on NPR, Bennet stated that as a 45 year old, Social Security would not “be there for him” when he retired.

CEPR Co-Director Dean Baker continued to write about the need to prevent cuts to Social Security and how it is not the main cause of the budget deficit, here, and here he explains how the Financial Speculation Tax (FST) should be included in any serious discussion of the long-term deficit problem, as it would generate a substantial source of money for the government while imposing very little burden on the average taxpayer. The paper was mentioned in an article on CNNMoney.com and in The Hill’s Finance and Economy blog.

CEPR on the Road

Eileen Appelbaum was in Denver in early January for the annual meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA). Eileen served as President of LERA last year, and she was program chair for the annual meeting that was held on January 6 – 9, 2011. The theme of the conference was “Employment Relations for Economic Recovery and Sustained Growth”. Eileen gave the presidential address, “Digging Out from the Great Recession”. You can view her power point presentation here.

Dean Baker was also in Denver for the meeting of the American Economics Association. Back in Washington, he participated a panel discussion on corporate power in the United States as part of the larger “For the People Summit” that was held in on Jan 20 – 22, 2011. He also recently participated in the Progressive Congressional Progressive Caucus Policy Summit held yesterday and today. And on January 29th from 5PM-7PM EST, he will host a Firedoglake Book Salon for Michael W. Hudson and his new book, THE MONSTER: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America--and Spawned a Global Crisis.

On January 27th, John Schmitt participated in a talk at American University titled “Table Talk: "Attack on the Debt & Deficit: Who Wins? Who Loses?" John was on a panel with Aaron Goldstein, American University student and president of the Roosevelt Institute; and Roger Hickey of Campaign for America's Future.

Mark Weisbrot will be in New Orleans tonight, participating in a panel discussion titled “Venezuela From the Neutral Ground”. The discussion will take place on the campus of Tulane University. You can RSVP here.

CEPR in the News
CEPR was mentioned a record 1,041 times in various media during the week of January 7 through January 13, 2011.  Our success wouldn’t be possible without the many supporters who have contributed to CEPR over the years - many thanks.
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