Research Roundup: Gender Wage Gap, ALEC in Maine, Loopholes for Sale, and More

In this week's Research Roundup: Reports from the Institute for Women's Policy Research on the gender wage gap, Guttmacher Institute on the troubling trend in state reproductive rights policies, Maine's Majority Education Fund on corporate influence in Maine's legislature through ALEC, the Congressional Budget Office on employment-based insurance and the Affordable Care Act, Brookings Institution on immigrant workers in the U.S. labor force, National Low Income Housing Coalition on the "forgotten" housing crisis,  Citizens for Tax Justice and U.S. PIRG on campaign contributions by corporate tax dodgers, and Center for American Progress on how health reform is helping state-by-state.

The Gender Wage Gap: 2011 - A new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research: "The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly full-time earnings rose by one percentage point since 2010 and reached a historical high of 82.2 percent. The narrowing of the weekly gender earnings gap from 18.8 percent to 17.8 percent, however, is solely due to real wages falling further for men than for women. Both men and women’s real earnings have declined since 2010; men’s real earnings declined by 2.1 percent (from $850 to $832 in 2011 dollars), women’s by 0.9 percent (from $690 to $684 in 2011 dollars)."

Troubling Trend: More States Hostile to Abortion Rights as Middle Ground Shrinks - A new article from the Guttmacher Institute's Guttmacher Policy Review: "Over the last decade, the abortion policy landscape at the state level has shifted dramatically. Although a core of states in the Northeast and on the West Coast remained consistently supportive of abortion rights between 2000 and 2011, a substantial number of other states shifted from having only a moderate number of abortion restrictions to becoming overtly hostile. The implications of this shift are enormous. In 2000, the country was almost evenly divided, with nearly a third of American women of reproductive age living in states solidly hostile to abortion rights, slightly more than a third in states supportive of abortion rights and close to a third in middle-ground states. By 2011, however, more than half of women of reproductive age lived in hostile states. This growth came largely at the expense of the states in the middle, and the women who live in them; in 2011, only one in 10 American women of reproductive age lived in a middle-ground state."

Who is writing Maine's laws? A report on the Maine activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - A report from Maine's Majority Education Fund: "Since 1973, ALEC has brought conservative state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists together to craft and pass big business-friendly model legislation on the local level. Recent disclosure of thousands of internal ALEC documents has afforded new insight into ALEC's activities, and allowed us to better understand how this secretive organization has infiltrated Maine’s political discussions and influenced its public policy."

Estimates of the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the Number of People Obtaining Employment-Based Health Insurance - A new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office: "In CBO and JCT's judgment, a sharp decline in employment-based health insurance as a result of the ACA is unlikely and, if it occurred, would not dramatically increase the cost of the ACA."

Immigrant Workers in the U.S. Labor Force - A new analysis from Brookings Institution: "This short analysis provides data on immigrants in the labor force at the current time of slowed immigration, high unemployment, and low job growth and highlights eight industries where immigrants are especially vital."

Out of Reach 2012: America's Forgotten Housing Crisis - New report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition : "This year, as in years past, Out of Reach speaks to a fundamental truth: a mismatch exists between the cost of living, the availability of rental assistance and the wages people earn day today across the country. With the number of low income renters on the rise, the argument for sustaining affordable housing assistance is timely."

Loopholes for Sale: Campaign Contributions by Corporate Tax Dodgers - New report by Citizens for Tax Justice and U.S. PIRG: "Recent polls show a large majority of Americans, including small business owners, are convinced that profitable corporations are not paying enough in taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice and U.S. PIRG’s Loopholes for Sale pursues the intersection of corporate campaign contributions to members of Congress and the absence of Congressional action to close corporate tax loopholes and raise additional revenue from corporate taxes."

Interactive Map: How Health Reform Is Helping Your State - New resource from Center for American Progress: "On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, beginning a series of important reforms. Thanks to the act millions of Americans gained access to health care coverage, the quality of health care improved, and health care became more affordable. The Obama administration recently released updated data (from February 2012) demonstrating how health reform has helped Americans across the country over the last year. Select your state to learn more about how the Affordable Care Act has benefited your community."