In this week’s Research Roundup:
Reports from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment on public sector unions and state budget deficits, Demos and Young Invincibles on the brutal economic realities faced by young adults, Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on corporate tax dodgers, Democracy Corps on effective messages to help win the economic argument, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies on how children pay the price for state budget cuts, the Fiscal Policy Institute on the positive effect that immigrants have on New York City’s economy, Families USA on the key role that Medicaid plays in providing access to health care for blacks and Latinos, the National Employment Law Project on job creation policies for cities and states, and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on the disparate effects of the Great Recession on both men and women.
The Wrong Target: Public Sector Unions and State Budget Deficits  — This new report from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley looks at the fundamental causes of the wave of budget crises hitting state and local governments — and concludes that public sector unions have little or nothing to do with them. By looking at compiled U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the report highlights how “ the size of the public sector workforce per thousand residents is not growing and previous studies have found that public sector compensation, as a share of public budgets, has not grown” and that “public sector workers are not compensated more highly than their private sector counterparts after taking into account level of education, experience and other important factors.” The authors conclude that the historic drop in housing crises had the largest impact on budget deficits in the states.
The State of Young America: Economic Barriers to the American Dream  — Demos and Young Invincibles released this extensive examination of the economic realities for young adults between the ages of 18-34, many of whom are just entering the workforce and facing obstacles that recent generations did not. Through analysis, individuals’ personal stories, new polling, and illustrative charts, the reports’ analysis reveals what its authors conclude is “the failure of public investment and public policy to provide young people with the means to achieve economic security and sustain the middle class” on jobs and the economy, college access, health care, cost of living, and raising a family. The report also recommends policy changes that could begin to address the state of young Americans, from protecting collective bargaining rights to increasing the federal minimum wage to providing paid family leave for all workers and childcare for all children.
Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010  — A new report by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy puts the spotlight 280 of the most profitable U.S. corporations, and reveals that they effectively sheltered half of their profits from federal taxes. Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice and lead author of the report, notes that companies they examined “received a total of nearly $224 billion in tax subsidies... wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.” Other findings in the report include the fact that 30 of these large companies averaged a less-than-zero tax bill in the last three years (and that 78 had at least one such no-tax year over the past three), that financial services companies received the largest share of federal tax subsidies over that same time period, and that American corporations with significant foreign profits paid a rate that was almost a third higher on those profits than they paid to the IRS.
Winning the Economic Argument  — This strategy memo based on new research by Democracy Corps highlights voters’ continuing urgent levels of concern about the economy and distrust of and dissatisfaction with their elected leaders. It urges progressives to focus on the middle class, and underscore what is wrong with the economy today: that those who did the right thing: are suffering the consequences while those who did not do the right thing continue to reap rewards. In addition, the memo spotlights this message — which proved the most resonant with voters, which echoes the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and which progressives can utilize to effectively frame the economic argument while standing strong for reform and accountability: “Our economy is upside down. The majority of America is in a recession, but Wall Street is doing better than ever. Regular people work harder and harder for less and less while Wall Street CEOs enjoy bigger bonuses than ever. If America’s economy isn’t working for the 99 percent, it’s not working.”
State Budget Cuts: America’s Kids Pay the Price, 2011 Update  — The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies issued this update to a 2010 report listing the impact of state budget cuts in 2010 on children. This update concludes that while the recession may be technically over, “the weak economy continues to fuel state budget deficit,” and shows exactly how, in attempting to balance their budgets, “states have been cutting a wide array of programs, many of which affect the lives of children such as child care, education, and health care.”
Immigrants Make up Half of All Small Business Owners in New York City  — This report from the Fiscal Policy Institute examines the growing positive impact that immigrants have on New York City’s economy. It concludes that immigrants now comprise 48 percent of all business owners living in New York City, including many small businesses — 84 percent of small grocery store owners, 69 percent of restaurant owners, and 63 percent of clothing store owners. Commenting on the report, David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative noted the contrast between New York and other localities and states pursuing economically damaging anti-immigrant laws: “I would say to states like Arizona or Alabama that are creating an environment that is increasingly hostile to immigration: look what you’re giving up. Immigrants can be an important part of a healthy and diverse economy.”
Medicaid: A Lifeline for Blacks and Latinos With Serious Health Care Needs  — This report from a coalition of many groups including Families USA examines the key role that state Medicaid programs play in providing access to health care for blacks and Latinos as well as the “heavy burden of chronic disease borne by these groups,” showing how Medicaid coverage can mean the difference between life and death for many. It looks at the numbers of subsets of those groups with conditions including cancer, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, stroke, who rely on Medicaid, and for whom Federal or state cuts to Medicaid would prove devastating.
Filling the Good Jobs Deficit: An Economic A Recovery Agenda for Our States and Cities  — This policy agenda from the National Employment Law Project outlines many job creation policies that cities and states can pursue in order to address the continuing critical need for good jobs across the nation in the face of inaction from Congress. The document highlights “innovative projects and financing tools to spur local ideas” as well as noting parallel actions federal lawmakers could be taking to support job creation. Among the projects outlined in the report are many that have the potential to spur short-term job creation as well as long-term efforts to grow jobs and state and local economies. Jobs policies in the agenda include: raising the minimum wage, strengthening enforcement of wage and hour laws, getting the long-term unemployed back to work, protecting against further layoffs through work sharing, and retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient.
Women and Men Living on the Edge: Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession  — This survey on economic security from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that the effects of the Great Recession have been “both broad and deep,” and examines the differing experiences women and men have had through the recession and its aftermath. It’s chief conclusion is that, on almost every measure, the recession has affected the economic security of women more deeply than it has men.