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CEPR News January 2014

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Written by Dawn Lobell   
Friday, 31 January 2014 14:08

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

CEPR on Paid Leave
CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum’s book “Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy” received a great deal of attention this past month. The book was featured in this New York Times Economix piece by Nancy Folbre. “The California experience holds significant consequences for the national debate. A new book by Ruth Milkman and Eileen Appelbaum, ‘Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy.’ summarizes many positive effects on children’s health, fathers’ involvement and maternal earnings,” wrote Folbre.

On January 30th, Eileen and Ruth participated in a congressional briefing titled "Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy". Eileen and Ruth discussed the effects of California's landmark paid family leave law on employers and workers. They also explored the implications of the state's decade-long experience with paid family leave for the rest of the nation, which is engaged in ongoing debate about work-family policies. In addition, the National Partnership for Women and Family's Rachel Lyons outlined the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, or FAMILY Act, a proposal introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for a national paid family and medical leave insurance program. The CA study was cited in this recent piece in favor of the paid family leave law the Huffington Post by Tom Nides, Managing Director and Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley.

Eileen and Ruth have also just completed a survey of business’ experiences with Connecticut’s Paid Sick Days law. The full findings will not be formally released until February. The preliminary results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of economists and have already received notable mentions in the press, including this piece in USA Today and this one in the Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis section, headlined “Connecticut Sick-Leave Law Has Little Impact on Employers: Study.” The study was also highlighted in this article in the Harford Business Journal as well as this one in the New York Business Journal.

The CT findings were also highlighted in this article for The Oregonian by David Sirota who writes: “In all, the study found that today ‘over three-fourths of (Connecticut) employers reported that they were very supportive or somewhat supportive of the paid sick days law.’” Sirota also mentioned the study in this article for PandoDaily. And former CEPR intern Teresa Kroeger wrote this CEPR Blog Post summarizing the findings.

CEPR’s much-cited paper “No Vacation Nation” [PDF] continues to receive attention. The paper, by CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt, former Research Associate Rebecca Ray, and Program Assistant Milla Sanes, was featured in this piece from Seattle radio station KPLU on a bill that would make Washington state the first in the nation to legislate paid vacations. The transcript starts with a link to CEPR’s paper and ends with a CEPR graphic. CEPR’s paper is also mentioned in this Huffington Post piece on the same topic.


CEPR on Unions
CEPR released its annual Union Membership Byte earlier this month. The brief, written by CEPR Research Associate Janelle Jones and John Schmitt, reported that the number of union members rose 162,000 in 2013, reflecting a drop of 118,000 in the public sector, which was offset by a rise of 281,000 in the private sector. Expressed as a share of the workforce, the union membership rate was unchanged in 2013, at 11.3 percent. The Union Byte was featured prominently in this article on the Wall Street Journal’s website as well as this one from the Associated Press. John was quoted in this NBC News piece as well as this article for The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Cleveland.com, while Janelle was quoted extensively in this piece that appeared in Black Enterprise.

…on the State of the Union…
CEPR also addressed the issues raised in President Obama’s State of the Union address. Prior to the speech, John was interviewed by Josh Eidelson for Salon on the minimum wage and inequality. In the interview, John praised the President's push for a higher minimum wage, but disagreed with the administration's view that it is technology and “globalization” rather than concrete --and reversible-- policies that are the main cause of rising inequality. (After the speech Eidelson tweeted about John’s “supernatural pre-buttal 2 SOTU”)

John also penned this pre-SOTU “Minimum Wage FAQ” for the CEPR blog, while CEPR Director of Domestic Policy Nicole Woo wrote this pre-SOTU CEPR Blog Post that included CEPR’s popular “SOTU Bingo” game. CEPR Co-director Dean Baker weighed in pre-speech with this op-ed on inequality for Truthout. And in the days before the SOTU, a McClatchy Tribune column by CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot that ran in over a dozen U.S. newspapers proposed five policy changes that could boost employment and reduce climate disruption.

…and on the Minimum Wage
The new focus on efforts to raise the minimum wage has also focused attention on CEPR’s work on the topic. John Schmitt has written extensively on the minimum wage, and his work and CEPR’s reports were mentioned in several articles including this one for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, this one for Ring of Fire Radio, as well as this one on Cambodian workers for Asian Correspondent.com. CEPR’s statistics were also cited in this op-ed for the Bellingham Herald written by Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), a co-sponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act.

Dean, Eileen and John joined over 600 economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners and eight past presidents of the American Economic Association, in signing a letter to the president and congressional leaders in support of raising the minimum wage.

John was mentioned by name in this column by The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson, who wrote:

Economist John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, another left-leaning think tank, says that recent minimum-wage studies find that “modest increases” have “little or no employment effect.” [PDF] Businesses turn to other ways of absorbing the added costs rather than reducing payrolls or workers’ hours, he says. Better-paid workers mean less turnover. This cuts firms’ recruitment and training costs; it also raises workers’ productivity, because they’re more familiar with their jobs. Finally, firms adopt “small price increases.”

John also wrote several CEPR Blog posts on the minimum wage this past month. In two posts (here and here), John critiques several papers that show adverse employment effects of raising the minimum wage, while in this post he comments on a new paper by University of Massachusetts economist Arindrajit Dube on the impact of the minimum wage on the federal poverty rate.

CEPR Domestic Intern Jeffrey Gianattasio’s CEPR Blog Post looking at differences in wages and the minimum wage across metropolitan areas received a great deal of attention, including this featured post by Richard Florida in The Atlantic Cities.


CEPR on Haiti
CEPR marked the solemn occasion of the four-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti with this press release. CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot noted that while some 200,000 people are still stuck in internally displaced person (IDP) camps, and many others have been forcibly evicted onto the streets – and while under-funded sanitation and health care allow a cholera epidemic to continue to ravage the country -- many of the urgently-needed funds meant to assist the people of Haiti have gone instead into the pockets of contractors, or have been used to fund projects that benefit foreign corporations far more than they do Haitians. CEPR’s “Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch” blog marked the anniversary with this post titled “Haiti by the Numbers, Four Years Later.” Mark discussed Haiti in this interview for This is Hell radio (WNUR, Chicago).

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston further examined failings in the international response to the quake in an article for Boston Review. Titled “Outsourcing Haiti,” the article focuses on the lack of aid accountability, and the failure to deliver housing, and problems associated with the Caracol Industrial Park in particular. CEPR’s analysis was cited in publications including Al Jazeera, Global Post and Inter Press Service. Jake was interviewed by radio station CKUT in Montreal; a podcast is available here.


CEPR on NAFTA and the TPP
Dean and Mark both wrote op-eds examining the 20-year impact of NAFTA. Dean wrote this op-ed for Truthout comparing arguments for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to those used to pass NAFTA. As with NAFTA – which the TPP, being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 countries around the Pacific, is modeled on – the TPP would actually raise costly intellectual property protections, which Dean notes “would likely mean sharply higher drug prices in many countries.” It would also “overrule measures passed by national, state, and local legislative bodies” and include a NAFTA-style investor-state dispute mechanism allowing corporations to sue governments over perceived “barriers to trade.”

Mark examined NAFTA’s negative impact on the Mexican economy in a column for The Guardian, and discussed NAFTA’s record and the proposed TPP on NPR’s On Point. Economist David Rosnick was cited on the negative impact the TPP would likely have on U.S. workers’ wages in this article today in the New York Times. Dan weighed in with this post for CEPR’s Americas Blog which called back CEPR’s work around the 10th anniversary of NAFTA which had found errors – never corrected – in the World Bank’s research on Mexico’s economic growth under the trade regime.

And in an op-ed for the New York Times, former Representative David Bonoir cites CEPR’s research on NAFTA’s downward pressure on wages.


CEPR on Poverty

CEPR Senior Research Associate Shawn Fremstad penned this piece for The PBS NewsHour’s Business Desk on the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. Shawn has written extensively on poverty issues in the CEPR Blog, including this post critiquing a Brookings proposal to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Shawn’s critique was picked up by Mark Thoma in the Economist’s View, and the controversy was noted in this Washington Post op-ed (Shawn is the “not everyone” mentioned in the piece”). Shawn’s 2009 CEPR paper “Half in Ten: Why Taking Disability into Account is Essential to Reducing Income Poverty and Expanding Economic Inclusion” was cited by the Council of Economic Advisors in their report on the war on poverty.

Here, Shawn reports on Kevin Drum’s piece on Marco Rubio’s plan to end poverty. Here he takes on Rand Paul’s depiction of marital poverty in Kentucky. And Dean and Shawn both take on Robert Samuelson’s take on the war on poverty.


CEPR on the Eurozone
Mark penned several columns on the eurozone this month, including a Guardian piece that examines why Greece is likely to begin its long-awaited economic recovery this year. No, it’s not due to austerity finally paying off, although no doubt many will say it is once the growth gets going – it will be because of a significant economic stimulus recently passed by the Greek parliament. Mark discussed these themes in a radio interview with Tampa’s WMNF 88.5 FM.

In another Guardian column which was also published in Argentina’s Página/12, Mark examines why the eurozone has fared so much worse that the U.S. in its recovery from the Global Recession. He attributes this to the policies of the “troika” (the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the IMF), which he notes are aimed at extracting unpopular political reforms. Mark also responded to a feature discussion on the eurozone in Harper’s Magazine in an op-ed for Truthout. Dean, meanwhile, had a Guardian column examining moves by French President François Hollande to implement harmful spending cuts.


The Latest From the CEPR Blogsosphere:
The CEPR Blog
Nicole wrote this post on the release of the Shriver Report that included several citations of CEPR’s work. She also penned this post on work sharing.

Dean noted that 4th Quarter GDP growth was driven by consumption and he also asked “Does Cutting Unemployment Insurance Benefits Promote Job Growth”? (While you may already know the answer, Dean’s explanation is worth a read. Dean also addresses the issue in this Beat the Press post).

The Americas Blog: Analysis Beyond the Echo Chamber
The Americas Blog featured this guest post by Brian Mier on forced evictions in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and several posts by Dan Beeton including this one calling out the Brookings Institution for urging the Obama administration to support a potential coup in Venezuela, as well as this one on the DNI’s newly released worldwide threat assessment. Dan and CEPR Senior Associate for International Policy Alex Main penned this post on a house appropriations bill that would impose various restrictions on U.S. support for Honduras.

Beat the Press
Dean critiqued stories on Obamacare and age skewing (here, here, here and here). He also took on the usual suspects: David Brooks, Robert Samuelson, George Will, Thomas Friedman, Steven Rattner and the catch-all “right wing elites.” And he asks, yet again: “When is the NYT going to start putting budget number in context?”


In other CEPR News…
--On Friday January 10th, Dean joined AEI's Kevin Hassett at a national conference on "Averting Layoffs & Saving Jobs Through Work-Sharing." Convened by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), along with the Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP) and other allies, the conference brought together worker advocates, business, economists and government to consider work-sharing and its potential to reduce unemployment in the future.

-- In her opinion piece in the Miami Herald on Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy and today’s economy, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) cited a report on Black workers by John Schmitt and Janelle Jones

-- Dean also discussed work sharing on NPR.

-- Dean and Jared Bernstein’s new book “Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People” gets a plug by Mike Konzcal in the NewRepublic.

-- Eileen was a co-chair of the LERA/NEA/EPI Joint Welcome Reception and Plenary, Growing Good Jobs and Connecting Workers to Them: Challenges and Opportunities for Theory and Action, for LERA's economists meeting that was held in conjunction with the ASSA/AEA meetings. The meetings took place from January 3 – 5 in Philadelphia.

-- Mark wrote a McClatchy Tribune column, published by numerous U.S. newspapers, that called whistle-blower Edward Snowden “a hero” for what his revelations have done to help protect American democracy as well as privacy.

-- Alex was interviewed by Latin Pulse on what’s next for Honduras after the recent presidential elections.

--Dean penned this piece titled “Fiscal Policy, the Long Term Budget and Inequality” for the American Prospect.

Tags: CEPR | earned income tax credit | Honduras | income inequality | inequality | latin america | minimum wage | paid leave | paid family leave | unions

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