Research Roundup: Minimum Wage and Economic Growth, Alabama's 'Shame,' and More

In this week’s Research Roundup, reports by: Connecticut Voices for Children on the economic effect of a minimum wage increase, Wider Opportunities for Women on the economic insecurity of older Americans, the Southern Poverty Law Center on the devastation caused by the anti-immigrant HB 56, Demos and USPIRG on the effect of the rise of Super PACs, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on how states with ‘high’ income tax rates are outperforming no-tax states, the Kaiser Family Foundation on mapping the effects of the ACA's coverage expansions, and an analysis by the Immigration Policy Center of data from the Pew Hispanic Center on how immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy.


Raising and Indexing Connecticut's Minimum Wage: Making Work Pay for All, for Good – A new report by Connecticut Voices for Children finds that, “adjusting for inflation, Connecticut's minimum wage workers have seen their wage decline in recent decades, while middle- and upper-income workers have experienced wage increases.” The report also notes that increasing the state minimum wage would stimulate the state's economy and create jobs, referencing a study by the Economic Policy Institute that “a two-stage, $1.50 per hour increase would create or support more than 1,500 jobs in Connecticut by injecting dollars and boosting demand in the communities where these workers live.”

Doing Without: Economic Insecurity and Older Americans – This 50-state ranking by Wider Opportunities for Women grades each state on the level of economic security for seniors and finds “widespread income shortfalls” for older Americans. Ranking states on their respective income gaps between median income and necessary expenses, the report finds that “more than one-half of elder households in the United States have incomes that do not cover basic expenses.”

Alabama’s Shame: HB 56 and the War on Immigrants – This collection of powerful personal stories released by the Southern Poverty Law Center highlights the devastation felt by families and communities in Alabama in the wake of the passage of the anti-immigrant HB 56. Recounting some of the stories gathered in part through over 5,100 calls to a hotline set up by the SPLC shortly after the law took effect, the document illustrates what the authors describe as “ the devastating impact HB 56 has had on Alabama Latinos, regardless of their immigration status, and “illustrate that HB 56 has unleashed a kind of vigilantism, leading some Alabamians to believe they can cheat, harass and intimidate Latinos with impunity.”

Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of Super PACs and the 2012 Election – A joint project from Demos and USPIRG, this analysis looks at Federal Election Commission data on Super PACs from their arrival in 2010 through the end of last year. Among other conclusions, the report finds that “for-profit businesses use Super PACs as an avenue to influence federal elections,” that Super PACs “provide a vehicle for secret funding of electoral campaigns, and that they are “a tool used by wealthy individuals and institutions to dominate the political process.” One statistic in the report shows just how much the very wealthiest individuals and corporations have used Super PACs to their advantage:  “93% of the itemized funds raised by Super PACs from individuals in 2011 came in contributions of at least $10,000, from just twenty-three out of every 10 million people in the U.S. population.”

"High Rate" Income Tax States Are Outperforming No-Tax States – This analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy takes a hard look at recent state tax analyses by controversial economist Arthur Laffer – the “long-time spokesman of a supply-side economic theory that President George H. W. Bush once called ‘voodoo economics’” – many of which Laffer has authored in partnership with the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council. The report finds that, contrary to Laffer’s conclusions, “residents of ‘high rate’ income tax states are actually experiencing economic conditions at least as good, if not better, than those living in states lacking a personal income tax.”

Mapping the Effects of the ACA's Health Insurance Coverage Expansions – This resource from the Kaiser Family Foundation maps in detail and by zip code “the share of the population in geographic areas across the U.S. who had family income up to four times the poverty level in 2010 and were either uninsured or buying coverage on their own,” and thus are eligible for the expansion of Medicaid or federal tax credits to afford health coverage provided for under the Affordable Care Act.

Pew Analysis Highlights Immigrant Integration and Economic Contributions – This analysis by the Immigration Policy Center of data from the Pew Hispanic Center takes a look at how immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy, highlighting how “most immigrants have been here for more than a decade, and the longer they have been here, the more likely they are to have become homeowners and learned English,” and noting that “growing numbers of immigrants are becoming U.S. citizens, which translates into growing political clout.”