Building for Long-Term Economic Recovery, Protecting Wage Standards, Positive Immigration Policy and Much More

Building for Long-Term Economic Recovery

  • Winning the Race: How America Can Lead the Global Clean Energy Economy - The United States must commit to developing a domestic manufacturing sector capable of meeting heightened demand for the parts, systems and components of the growing clean energy economy, according to this report by the Apollo Alliance and Good Jobs First.  Otherwise, clean energy investments will just end up subsidizing  growth of those activities in low-wage countries such as China.
  • Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio's Communities For the Next Economy -  In a model of interest to other states, this Brookings Institution study lays out some of the specific policy options that could help Ohioans restore the prosperity that the state once enjoyed.  The report recommends greater emphasis on understanding metropolitan regions as engines of economic growth, better partnerships between state, local and federal resources, and coordination between public investments and private sector business growth.

Broadband Adoption in Low-Income Communities - The Federal Communications Commission released findings prepared by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) that highlights the barriers to home broadband adoption in low-income and other marginalized communities.  Cost is an important factor but skills training and language are also significant barriers for many households participating in the digital world.  Libraries and other community organizations are increasingly under pressure to meet community demand for help in getting access.

Addressing State Fiscal Crises

  • State Tax Changes in Response to the Recession - In 33 states, tax changes are increasing annual revenues, relative to what they otherwise would have collected, by $31.7 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).  By taking such actions as eliminating tax exemptions, broadening tax bases, and in some cases increasing rates as well as raising a number of fees, these states are pursuing a balanced approach towards addressing state fiscal deficits.
  • Recession Threatens State Health Care Programs - Given state fiscal problems, states may cut hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of low-income Americans, from state programs and cast them into the ranks of the uninsured.  This CBPP report highlights the critical need for Congress to extend the temporary increase in federal support for state Medicaid programs that last year’s economic recovery legislation provided.

Protecting Wage Standards

  • Data Matters:  How the Nation’s Top Labor Cop Can Use Data to Drive Enforcement and Protect American Workers - Lack of data or poor data collection practices hinder enforcement of wage and hour laws, according to this report by the Center for American Progress.  This report highlights improvements urged for the federal government, but the recommendations on better recordkeeping by agencies, making the data public to increase accountability, and implementing reporting requirements on key data by the private sector all would strengthen state enforcement efforts as well.
  • Looking for Blame in All the Wrong Places - The Economic Policy Institute finds that recent federal minimum wage increases have not had a negative impact on part-time employment.

A Matter of Degrees: Preparing Teachers for the Pre-K Classroom -  Improving teacher quality is key to making investments in early education most effective, according to this Pre-K Now report.  The report concludes that educators with at least a bachelor’s degree coupled with specialized training in early childhood are best able to foster development of the cognitive, social and emotional skills children need to be ready for kindergarten.  The report also also highlights state models for increasing teacher quality.

2008 Ballot Measure Overview - This report by the Institute on Money in State Politics shows that special interests and businesses, not individuals, dominated the funding of 2008 ballot measures.  Special interests and businesses contributed 69 percent ($564.4 million) of the total raised to oppose or promote 274 measures that year.  Gambling-related measures received the most contributions, at $273 million, followed by $120 million given around measures that addressed same-sex marriage.

The Gender Wage Gap: 2009 - The Institute for Women's Policy Research tracks the disparity in median earnings of men and women since 1955 in this report.  They find that the gap narrowed slightly in 2009, but "the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings was 80.2" this past year.

How Positive Immigration Policy Strengthens Economies

  • Immigration Reform and Job Growth- A recent report from the Immigration Policy Center outlines how comprehensive immigration reform would generate 750,000-900,000 new jobs in the first three years after its enactment and also result in increased tax revenues of $4.5-$5.4 billion for the nation as a whole.  The report comes on the heels of another enlightening analysis from the University of Southern California (USC) that examined the effect of a large-scale legalization program on the California economy which found the state's undocumented immigrants lost out on roughly $2.2 billion in lost wages and salary income last year alone as a result of their lack of legal immigration status.  For its part, cash-strapped California lost the opportunity last year to receive $310 million in income taxes from its undocumented workers, who are often forced to accept lower wages from their employers due to their lack of legal status.  The USC study also found the state would gain an extra $16 billion annually  from a legalization program as undocumented workers were able to demand fair wages from employers, move into better-paid jobs, and exercise their increased power as consumers. 
  • How Expanding E-Verify Would Hurt American Businesses -  Two recent reports highlight the myriad problems with E-Verify, a federal program that seeks to identify undocumented workers and prevent them from joining the workforce.  The  first, from the Immigration Policy Center, details how the flawed pilot program, which is not mandatory in all states, only increases costs to American businesses and often erroneously prevents US citizen and legal immigrant workers from joining the workforce.  The E-Verify program cross-references employees' information with Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security - yet it cannot identify those who are using someone else's Social Security number to work in the US.  The second analysis,conducted by independent research company Westat for the Department of Homeland Security found the controversial federal program incorrectly screened 54% of undocumented workers who passed through its system, according to the Associated Press. Westat's analysis found E-Verify incorrectly cleared over half of the undocumented workers it screened - underlining the system's numerous inaccuracies.  The findings, buried on the Department of Homeland Security's website, bolster the arguments of those who argue E-Verify should not be used as a work authorization system - including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has voiced opposition to the system and is now drafting comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the Senate.  Immigrant rights and labor advocates have been pointing out the flaws in the E-Verify system for the last few years, and even the Social Security Administration has gone on the record to say its database was not designed  as a work authorization system. 

The 2010 Census: The Stakes of an Accurate CountAs the 2010 census prepares to survey homes nationwide in the next month, immigrant and Latino communities, concerns persist on how to reach the nation's undocumented and low-income residents, groups that are historically undercounted.