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Labor Market Policy Research Reports Through June 1, 2012 Print
Written by Eric Hoyt   
Friday, 01 June 2012 15:23

New labor market research from last week:

Center for Economic and Policy Research
Who’s (Still) Above the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap?
Nicole Woo, Janelle Jones, and John Schmitt

The Retirement and Savings Drain:  The Hidden and Excessive Costs of 401(K)S
Robert Hiltonsmith

Economic Policy Institute
Can Workers Offset Social Security Cuts By Working Longer?
Eric Kingson and Monique Morrissey

National Employment Law Project
Fact Sheet:  Phase Out of Federal Unemployment Insurance

Labor Market Policy Research Reports May 18 - 25, 2012 Print
Written by Eric Hoyt   
Friday, 25 May 2012 12:00

The following are the latest labor market policy research reports from the past week.

Center for Economic Policy and Research

Size and Characteristics of States’ Union Workforces
John Schmitt and Marie-Eve Augier

Economic Policy Institute

Labor force participation: Cyclical versus structural changes since the start of the Great Recession
Heidi Shierholz

Employment Policy Research Network

The Dismal State of the Nation's Teen Summer Job Market, 2009-2011, and the Outlook for the Summer of 2012
Andrew Sum and Walter McHugh

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Paid Time Off: The Elements and Prevalence of Consolidated Leave Plans
Andrea Linderman and Kevin Miller

Valuing Good Health in Massachusetts: The Costs and Benefits of Paid Sick Days
Kevin Miller and Claudia Williams

National Employment Law Project

Letter to USDOL: Changes to Florida Unemployment Program Cause Serious Decline in Access to Benefits
Christine Ownes

CEPR Long-term Unemployment Research Published in Outside Journals Print
Written by CEPR   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:14

Two CEPR papers by John Schmitt and Janelle Jones released earlier this year on long-term unemployed were published in the spring issues of Challenge and New Labor Forum. In the newest issue of Challenge, “Down and Out: Measuring Long-Term Hardship in the Labor Market” (behind a paywall here) proposes several ways to rethink our understanding of long-term unemployment. In New Labor Forum, “America’s “New Class”: A Profile of the Long-Term Unemployed” (behind a paywall here) uses the framework from the Challenge piece to paint a demographic portrait of those still suffering from long-term unemployment in the labor market.

The Challenge article is based on this January 2012 CEPR briefing paper. The New Labor Forum piece is based on this March 2012 CEPR briefing paper.

Unions in the States Print
Written by John Schmitt and Marie-Eve Augier   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 14:30

Unionization rates — and the gender and racial composition of unionized workers — vary widely across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In a newly released issue brief, based on an analysis of the Current Populations Survey, we give an overview of the size and basic demographics of the unionized workforce in each state. The brief is a partial update of some of the numbers that appeared in a 2010 release CEPR report called “Unions of the States.”

Size of the States' Union Workforces

The figure below (Figure 2 in the new brief) shows the average unionization rate in each state over the years 2007-2011. We define a unionized worker as anyone who is a member of a union or represented by a collective bargaining agreement.

In 2007-2011, the 13.3 percent of the U.S. workforce was unionized. New York state had the highest unionization rate, at 26.4 percent. Alaska (24.3 percent) and Hawaii (24.0 percent) followed closely. Only one other state had a unionization rate above 20 percent and that was Washington (21.2 percent). The rest of the top ten most unionized states were Michigan (19.2 percent), New Jersey (18.8 percent), California (18.5 percent), Connecticut (17.6 percent), Oregon and Rhode Island (17.4 percent each), and Nevada (17.3 percent). Eight states had a unionization rate that was less than half of the national average: Tennessee (6.2 percent), Texas (6.1 percent), Arkansas and Louisiana (5.9 percent each), South Carolina (5.7 percent), Virginia (5.3 percent), Georgia (5.1 percent) and North Carolina (4.4 percent).


See the full brief for data on the number of union workers and their racial and ethnic background, by state.

Labor Market Policy Research Reports May 14 - 18, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 18 May 2012 13:00

The following are the latest labor market policy research reports from the last week.

Center for American Progress

The American Middle Class, Income Inequality, and the Strength of Our Economy: New Evidence in Economics
Heather Boushey and Adam Hersh

Center for Law and Social Policy

Paid Time Off: The Elements and Prevalence of Consolidated Leave Plans
Andrea Lindemann and Kevin Miller

21st-Century Public Benefits: Emerging Options, Great Promise, and Key Challenges
Stan Dorn and Elizabeth Lower-Basch

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Testimony Of Ladonna Pavetti, Ph.D. Vice President, Family Income Support Policy, Before The House Ways And Means Committee, Subcommittee On Human Resources, Hearing On “State Tanf Spending And Its Impact On Work Requirements”

Economic Policy Institute

The Ryan Budget versus The Budget for All: Exacerbating versus alleviating our serious economic challenges
Andrew Fieldhouse, Rebecca Thiess, and Ethan Pollack

Institute for Women’s Policy Research,
Social Security & Medicare Foundation and NOW Foundation

Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling: A Proposal to Modernize Women's Benefits
Carol Estes, Terry O'Neill, and Heidi Hartmann

Consumer Price Index Remains Flat in April as Price of Energy Commodities Falls Print
Written by David Rosnick   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 10:00

The Consumer Price Index remained flat in April as energy prices showed large declines, falling 2.6 percent, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports on the consumer price, U.S. import/export price and producer price indexes. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the core index of consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in the month and at a 1.9 percent annualized rate over the last three months.

With core consumer price inflation both low and stable and with little hint of price pressures coming from earlier stages of production, there can be little reason for inflationary fears. An increase in the rate of inflation would actually be welcome economic news, since additional deflation of nominal debts and lowering of real interest rates actually would help spur demand in the economy and induce additional hiring. This would be particularly important to the United States if the deflationary crisis in Europe should cause both a fall in demand for American exports compounded by a sharp rise in the dollar.

For a more in-depth analysis, check out the latest Prices Byte.

Labor Market Policy Research Reports, May 7 - 11, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 11 May 2012 13:45

Here is this week's roundup of labor-market policy research reports:

Center for Economic and Policy Research

States Could Save $1.7 Billion per Year with Federal Financing of Work Sharing
Nicole Woo and Dean Baker

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

What the 2012 Trustees’ Report Shows About Social Security
Kathy A. Ruffing

Are Low-Income Programs Enlarging the Nation’s Long-Term Fiscal Problem? : Programs outside Health Care Projected To Decline as Share of Economy
Robert Greenstein and Richard Kogan

Toomey Budget Similar To House-Passed Ryan Budget: Contains Deep Cuts in Low-Income and Non-Defense Discretionary Programs and Likely Tax Cuts for the Most Well-Off
James R. Horney, Chye-Ching Huang, Edwin Park, and Paul N. Van de Water

Testimony Of Stacy Dean: Vice President for Food Assistance Policy before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture

National Employment Law Project

Modernizing Unemployment Insurance: Federal Incentives Pave the Way for State Reforms

39 States Claim $4.4 Billion in Recovery Act’s UI Modernization Funds

Should We Cut Cancer Research to Pay for More Bombers? Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:45

This is the agenda of many Republicans as we start to get closer to the date where the sequestration rules from a 2011 budget agreement will actually bite. The deal was structured so that the immediate budget cuts were limited. The big hit was scheduled to take place in January 2013. At that point, spending on both the military and discretionary portion of the federal budget were scheduled to fall by roughly 10 percent.

There are good economic reasons for questioning the wisdom of cutting the federal budget while the economy is still saddled with high rates of unemployment and large amounts of excess capacity. While it would be great if the private sector would fill the gap, hiring the government workers who lose their jobs, there is no reason to think this would be the case.

Businesses hire people when they see more demand for their products, not because the government is laying off workers. It is more likely that these cutbacks will slow the rate of private sector hiring by pulling money out of the economy. The government workers who lose their jobs will not be spending as much money at restaurants, malls, and other places where their spending creates jobs. In a weak economy, this is likely to mean less hiring in the private sector.

Apart from the size of overall spending, there is also the division of the spending. Many Republicans are now upset about the deal they agreed to back in 2011 that provided for roughly equal cuts for the defense and nondefense portions of the budget. They would rather see more money come out of areas like government support for college and preschool education, the national parks, and even cancer research rather than allow the cuts to the military budget to go through as specified.

While the proponents of cuts to cancer research are trying to scare people into believing that the sequestration of the military budget will leave the country defenseless, this is not based on an analysis of the numbers. Even if the cuts go into effect, after adjusting for inflation, military spending will still be more than 20 percent higher in 2013 than it was back in 2000. This should leave us plenty secure assuming the budget is properly managed.

Of course the Defense Department has a long history of getting ripped off by private contractors who charge high prices for complex weapon systems of questionable value. When funding for these weapon systems is threatened with cuts, the contractors run to their friends in Congress for protection.

This is likely what we are seeing now. The issue is not defending the country, it is about defending defense contractors' profits.

This post originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report's Debate Club.

How An Investor's Gain Can Be Your Loss Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Monday, 07 May 2012 13:30

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Adam Davidson writes about Ed Conard, a friend of Mitt Romney's and a defender of extremely wealthy investors. Conard argues that investors contribute far more to society than their own bank accounts. In a guest post on NPR's Planet Money blog, Dean Baker disagrees.

In his new book, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, Mitt Romney's former business partner Ed Conard claims that for each dollar of wealth pulled in by investors, society gets up to $20. I took issue with this claim, saying that the ratio is closer to 5 to 1. However even this lower number caught many by surprise, thinking it to be an endorsement of Conard's view of the economy, albeit in a bit toned down form. It's worth clarifying what is at issue.

First, the 5 to 1 number is simply a reference to the ratio of labor income to capital income (after taxes). For example, in 2011 after-tax corporate profits were just under $1.1 trillion, while labor compensation was over $5 trillion. If we add the corporate tax revenue to the labor income side, the total is more than $5.5 trillion. The take-away from this is that when companies have productive investment and it actually leads to economic growth, then everyone can benefit.

Even when we talk about productive investment, much of the individual investors' gain is at the expense of other investors. For example in the case of Apple, perhaps the country's most innovative company, we would still have smart phones, tablet computers, and downloadable music if Apple never existed. The products just would not be quite as good. Much of Apple's profit would simply show up elsewhere in the tech sector if the company did not exist. While Apple's innovations have clearly benefited society it would be inaccurate to say that the benefit is five times Apple's profits.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, April 30 – May 4, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 04 May 2012 15:00

Here is this week's roundup of labor-market policy research reports:

Center for American Progress

Women and Obamacare: What’s at Stake for Women if the Supreme Court Strikes Down the Affordable Care Act?
Jessica Arons

Preparing All Teachers to Meet the Needs of English Language Learners: Applying Research to Policy and Practice for Teacher Effectiveness
Jennifer F. Samson and Brian A. Collins

Center for Law and Social Policy

Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization May Move Youth Development Field Back a Decade: Analysis of H.R. 4297 through a Youth Advocacy Lens
Linda Harris and Kisha Bird



April Jobs Numbers Continue Slowing Trend Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Friday, 04 May 2012 10:30

The economy added 115,000 jobs in April, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment report. While the March number was revised up to 154,000, the 135,000 two-month average is well below the 252,000 average for the prior three months. The economy needs 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with labor force growth

In spite of the slower job growth, the unemployment rate edged down again to 8.1 percent. However, this is not a case of the household survey showing a different picture than the establishment survey. As was the case last month, the drop in unemployment was entirely attributable to people leaving the labor force.

For a more in-depth analysis, check out the latest Jobs Byte.

Public Pensions as Stimulus and the Problem of Recession Deniers Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Friday, 04 May 2012 04:16

Most of the country is well aware of the fact that the United States is still suffering from the effects of the recession. The 8.2 percent unemployment rate is extraordinarily high. More importantly, the employment-to-population ratio, the percentage of people who hold jobs, is still almost 5 percentage points below its pre-recession level.

The fact that the country is still suffering from the recession is essential in assessing Andrew Bigg's dismissal of the idea that public pensions can provide stimulus to the economy. Biggs is a prominent conservative economist who served in the Bush administration and is now at the American Enterprise Institute.

Biggs ridicules the idea that public pensions can provide stimulus, deriding it as the "broken window" fallacy in economics. This is the idea that economic growth could be increased by breaking windows, because we would then have to spend money to repair the windows.

In fact, because the economy is still suffering from recession -- it has large amounts of unemployed workers and idle capacity -- breaking windows would in fact generate demand and employment right now. The main problem facing the U.S. economy at the moment is a lack of demand and anything that creates demand would in fact increase growth and jobs.



CEPR in the News April 2012 Print
Written by Dawn Lobell   
Monday, 30 April 2012 15:45

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

CEPR on Low-Wage Workers
A recent CEPR paper on the low-wage labor force finds that the average low-wage worker today is both older and much better educated than in the past.  The paper’s authors, CEPR Senior Economist John Schmitt and Research Assistant Janelle Jones, point out that the minimum wage has not kept pace with increases in workers’ educational levels. Their research was mentioned in this column by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post (the article also cites John’s March issue brief on the minimum wage). John’s January paper, “Low-Wage Lessons”, was featured in this recent piece on CBSNews.com’s Money Watch. 

In this CEPR blog post, John and Janelle looked at the data by state, finding that this same educational upgrading is evident across all 51 states (including the District of Columbia). John and Janelle also wrote a blog post highlighting low-wage Latino workers, finding that while Latinos are over-represented among low-wage workers,  they are still only about one-fourth of the total in that wage range; and even after the increase in immigrants over the last three decades, Latinos are still much better educated today than they were in 1979. And CEPR Senior Economist Eileen Appelbaum wrote about the impact of low-wage jobs on the economic recovery in this piece for U.S. News and World Report.

CEPR on the IMF and the World Bank
It’s spring in Washington, and that means IMF and World Bank meeting time. In conjunction with the Spring Meetings, CEPR Co-director Mark Weisbrot debated the Deputy Director of the European Department at the International Monetary Fund, Mahmood Pradhan, on the role of debt, fiscal policy, and the European Central Bank in the current European recession. This was the latest in a series of CEPR debates with senior IMF officials on austerity and alternatives to austerity in the eurozone crisis. Video of this latest debate is here; videos of past debates with IMF officials are here. Mark also discussed the IMF meetings with WBAI’s Wake Up Call (in New York). CEPR Co-director Dean Baker weighed in with his thoughts on the ECB in this Guardian op-ed.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, April 23 - 27, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 27 April 2012 15:00

Here is this week's roundup of labor-market policy research reports:

Center for Law and Social Policy

Refocusing Adult Education on Career and Postsecondary Success: An Analysis of Adult Education (Title II) Provisions in WIA Reauthorization Proposals
Marcie Foster

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

President’s Budget Would Reduce Pell Grant Shortfall; Ryan Budget Would Nearly Triple It
Richard Kogan and Kelsey Merrick

House Bill Would Cut Medicaid Funding For Puerto Rico by About $5.5 Billion Through 2019
Edwin Park and Matt Broaddus

Recent Studies Find Raising Taxes on High-Income Households Would Not Harm the Economy: Policy Should Be Included in Balanced Deficit-Reduction Effort
Chye-Ching Huang



Growth in GDP Falls to 2.2 Percent in First Quarter Print
Written by David Rosnick   
Friday, 27 April 2012 10:50

Growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell to 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis' latest report. GDP had increased at a 3.0 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 1.8 percent in the quarter before that, but an across-the-board fall in government consumption and investment subtracted 0.60 percentage points from overall economic growth.

The weak growth in GDP combined with weak job growth makes it clear the economy is not performing especially well. The economy should be capable of higher-than-normal growth coming out of a deep recession. From recent lows, there may be an increase in the pace of nonresidential investment. However, with the recent good weather providing a temporary boost to both consumption and investment and continued drag in the public sector, there is not much promise for sustained growth in the immediate future.

For a more in-depth analysis, see the latest GDP Byte.


Austerity, the Path to Prosperity? Print
Written by Alan Barber   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:38

Rep. Paul Ryan sat down with Steve Forbes recently to have a "very serious" conversation about the U.S. economy. The architect of the House budget plan, Ryan stated in the interview that what America needs is “…prosperity, not austerity.” This is an interesting point for Ryan to make since austerity – deficit reduction via decreased government spending --  is exactly what the House budget calls for.

In the name of reducing deficits, Ryan’s budget calls for shrinking domestic discretionary spending – all categories of domestic spending outside of Social Security and health care -- to 3.75 percent of GDP by the year 2050. Since this includes defense spending, the plan has a bit of a problem. Defense currently makes up almost 4.0 percent of domestic spending. Since Rep. Ryan, has been extremely critical of even the minor cuts to the military in President Obama’s budget, it is safe to assume that any cuts to defense spending in his budget would be negligible at best.

Assuming the house budget only made a modest 1 percent cut to defense spending, bringing it to 3 percent of GDP, only about 0.75 percent of GDP would be left for funding the rest of the government (again, excluding Social Security and health care). That means less than one percent of GDP would be left to cover everything from Head Start to roads and bridges to Homeland Security. At the same time, the Ryan budget would slash taxes for the wealthiest while offering little or no relief for millions of low- and middle- income families who rely on many of the very programs being cut.

But of course this is done in the name of future prosperity. The thinking goes along the lines of ‘if we as a nation tighten our collective belt, cut back on spending and relieve ourselves of our debt burden, America’s economic engine will suddenly be reignited.’ Does it matter than we are in the midst of recovering from the deepest recession since the Great Depression? Well, yes, actually.



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, April 16 – 20, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 20 April 2012 13:15

This week’s LMPRR features reports from CEPR, CLASP, CBPP and EPI:

Center for Economic and Policy Research

First Time Underwater: The Impact of the First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit
Dean Baker

Center for Law and Social Policy

Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act: The House Workforce Block Grant Bill Heads in the Wrong Direction
Evelyn Ganzglass and Neil Ridley

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Provision In House Reconciliation Bill Would Cause 350,000 People To Forgo Health Coverage And Could Jeopardize Health Reform
Judith Solomon and Robert Greenstein

OUT OF BALANCE: Cuts in Services Have Been States’ Primary Response to Budget Gaps, Harming the Nation’s Economy
Elizabeth McNichol

Economic Policy Institute

Public Investment: The Next ‘New Thing’ For Powering Economic Growth
Josh Bivens

Mr. Arithmetic Meets Mitt Romney and His Budget Cutters Print
Written by Dean Baker   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 09:16

It seems that Mitt Romney and his team are revving up for another big battle over the stimulus. They want to tell the story that the economy would be off to the races if only President Obama had not tried to boost growth with his stimulus package of spending increases and tax cuts. In their story all we have to do is cut wasteful government spending.

At this point, we might think the game was over. There has been extensive research on the impact of the stimulus on the economy by independent analysts.  The vast majority of it is consistent with the Obama administration's predictions that the stimulus created between 2-3 million jobs. (Of course we needed 12-13 million, but that is another story.)

For example, the Congressional Budget Office came up with an estimate along these lines in 2010. Using an entirely different methodology, last year two Dartmouth professors found job estimates that were consistent with the 2-3 million jobs number.

But Mitt Romney and his crew apparently want us to believe that we would be better off if the government had just stood back and let the economy continue to sink. Its main support for this claim is a series of studies by Harvard professor Alberto Alesina. These papers purport to show that governments that reduced their budget deficits had more rapid growth. Alesina found that the boost to growth from deficit reduction was strongest when the deficit reduction was accomplished by reducing spending rather than raising taxes. Alesina’s takeaway is that cutting government spending is the quickest route to recovery.

There are two important problems with Alesina’s work. First, he did not distinguish clearly between deficit reduction that was the result of economic growth and deficit reduction that was the result of deliberate policy. Second, he did not distinguish between deficit reduction that was carried through when an economy was operating near its potential and deficit reduction that took place when an economy was badly depressed, as is the case with the U.S. economy at present.



Krugman, CATO, and Inequality in Latin America Print
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 17:18

Paul Krugman has kicked off a debate in the blogosphere about the historic decline in inequality in Latin America over the last decade and the role of left-of-center governments.  This is a topic I have looked at in quite some detail and so naturally welcome any debate.  Citing a paper by Giovanni Andrea Cornia, Krugman tells us that:

"The region moved left politically circa 2000, partially turning its back on the Washington Consensus — and there has been a dramatic reversal in inequality trends."

It is clear that on average inequality has fallen in Latin America.  Krugman links to a graph from Cornia that shows average regional inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, decreasing during the last decade.

Well, as it turns out, Juan Carlos Hidalgo from the Cato Institute is none too pleased with Krugman’s analysis, claiming he has a “tortuous relationship with the facts.” 

Hidalgo starts off by asking if we can “assign the recent decline in inequality in Latin America to any specific ideology?” and cites a recent paper that argues “there was no strict correspondence between declining inequality and either the ideological profile of national governments or any specific redistributive initiatives.”

Yes, inequality has decreased in most Latin American countries, not just countries with left-of-center governments.  But what matters isn’t if centrist or rightwing governments haven’t reduced inequality while left-of-center governments have.  The relevant question is: have left-of-center countries reduced inequality more than the rest?



Labor Market Policy Research Reports, April 9 – 13, 2012 Print
Written by Marie-Eve Augier   
Friday, 13 April 2012 14:00

The following papers are highlights this week in labor market policy research:

Center for American Progress

Protecting Workers and Their Families with Paid Family Leave and Caregiving Credits: Why Social Security Should Guard Against 21st Century Economic Insecurities
Ann O’Leary

The Effects of Paid Family and Medical Leave on Employment Stability and Economic Security
Heather Boushey and Sarah Jane Glynn

The State of Communities of Color in the U.S. Economy: Still Feeling the Pain Three Years into the Recovery
Christian E. Weller, Julie Ajinkya, and Jane Farrell

Center for Economic and Policy Research

The Impact on Inequality of Raising the Social Security Retirement Age
David Rosnick and Dean Baker

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chartbook: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food On The Table


Marking Time: Black Board Participation in New York City, 2.0
John Morning

Economic Policy Institute

Medicaid Cuts in Ryan Budget Would Cost Jobs In Every State
Ethan Pollack

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