How to Win a Contract in a Pandemic

Source: Audrey Massmann, Sam Klug, and Dennis M. Hogan, The Forge, October 5, 2020

…This past summer, The Forge’s Lindsay Zafir sat down with Sam Klug, an organizer with the Harvard Graduate Students Union (HGSU), and Dennis Hogan and Audrey Massmann, organizers with the Brown Graduate Labor Organization, to talk about the road to winning a union for graduate workers, how they waged a contract campaign during the pandemic, and their vision for building power across the ranks of the academic labor movement. This interview has been edited and condensed. …

COVID-19 Occupational Licensure Policy Responses

Source: Council of State Governments, 2020

While occupational licensing regulations provide certain public health and safety safeguards, the increased health care demands imposed by COVID-19 have compelled states to evaluate which regulations may impede response efforts.

In response, states have implemented executive orders/proclamations, legislation and administrative rulings that temporarily amend certain regulations to increase the supply of health care workers, lessen administrative burdens and comply with social distancing measures.

While many of these actions were made during the onset of the COVID-19 state of emergency and exist only temporarily, states may consider additional policy actions that may be needed in the event of subsequent rises in COVID-19 cases and future health emergencies.

The following information presents a collection of state actions, categorized by policy themes and types, to assist states with developing response plans.

Reward Preferences of the Youngest Generation: Attracting, Recruiting, and Retaining Generation Z into Public Sector Organizations

Source: Nana Amma A. Acheampong, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, September 18, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Generation Z is the youngest and newest entrants into the workforce. However, confusion about their characteristics, work values, and reward preferences hinders effort to attract, recruit, and retain this generational cohort into public sector organizations. Accordingly, this study investigates effective reward strategies for recruiting and retaining Generation Z into public sector organizations. I used an evidence-based research approach and an aggregative systematic review as the study methodology. The evidence curated from 32 studies reveals how the background and life experiences of Generation Z influence the importance they assign their work values, reward preferences, and how they prioritize rewards in terms of their employment decisions. Additionally, gender also influenced the importance Gen Z assigned to specific rewards. Overall, Gen Z’s strong attractiveness to specific extrinsic and intrinsic rewards makes public sector organizations a likely employer of choice and offers managers a viable strategy for attracting, recruiting, and retaining the youngest generational workforce.

Helping America’s distressed communities recover from the COVID-19 recession and achieve long-term prosperity

Source: Timothy J. Bartik, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, September 2020

From the summary:
Even before the COVID-19 recession, distressed communities across the United States lacked sufficient jobs. The pandemic’s effects will further damage these local areas, while pushing even more places into economic distress. Without intervention, even a robust national recovery may leave many communities behind. Communities’ responses will be hindered by a lack of resources, and their residents will suffer from lower earnings and increased social problems.

As a solution, this paper proposes a new federal block grant to create or retain good jobs in distressed communities and help residents access these jobs. The block grant would provide long-term flexible assistance to increase local earnings and ensure those gains are broadly shared.

How Public Officials Can Use Data and Evidence to Make Strategic Budget Cuts

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, Issue Brief, September 2020

From the overview:
Targeted spending reductions can help state, county leaders respond to shifting priorities amid pandemic. …. This issue brief provides a look at selected reforms officials made in the past, 10 years of revenue expansion that can be repurposed for more challenging fiscal conditions. The COVID-19 recession gives policymakers an opportunity to use these tools as they decide what services and programs to deliver and where to cut the budget in a more strategic way. ….

State and Local Government Pension Funding on the Eve of the COVID-19 Recession

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, August 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines the funding of public pension plans through 2019. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s Standard No. 68. It addressed (1) discount rates, (2) amortization periods, (3) asset valuation and smoothing, and (4) the actuarial cost method used. The combined effect of these measures has been to increase the amount of public pension underfunding significantly. The actuarial funded ratio of the 126 plans in the Public Plans Database went from 101.9 in 2001 to 71.9 in 2019, on the eve of the COVID-19 recession. It will no doubt continue to worsen in the years ahead. The extent of that likely worsening is also explored.

Public Sector Compensation: An Application of Robust and Quantile Regression

Source: Salomon Alcocer Guajardo, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, August 3, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study assesses whether the theoretical compensation framework used to explain differences in public sector pay among full-time federal and state employees may also explain differences in pay at a local government level. In doing so, this study uses ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to test the application of the theoretical framework to a specific local government. Robust and quantile regression models are used subsequently to validate the findings obtained by the OLS model. The findings reveal that the covariates used to explain differences in compensation among full-time federal and state employees have similar effects at a local governmental level. While the OLS statistical model explains 26% (R2 = .26) of the variance, the robust regression model explains 39% (R2 = .39) of the variance. The percentage of variation explained by the quantile statistical models ranges from 14% (pseudo-R2 = .14) to 50% (pseudo-R2 = .50).

The Role of Fines and Fees on Probation Outcomes

Source: Ebony Ruhland, Bryan Holmes, Amber Petkus, Criminal Justice and Behavior, October 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Individuals on probation are commonly assessed fines and fees. These monetary sanctions serve different purposes. Fines are primarily used for more punitive purposes, whereas fees are often used to recover the costs of services provided. Regardless of ability to pay, monetary sanction payments are often required as a probation condition. Nonpayment therefore can result in violations and potentially revocations. However, little is known about how fines and fees operate specifically within probation. This current study explored legal and extralegal factors that influence the total amount of fines and fees assessed in individual cases, as well as the influence of fines and fees on probation revocations. The implications of the findings concentrate on ways to improve probation policies as well as probation officer’s practices as they relate to the collection and enforcement of monetary sanctions.

The Unequal Commute: Examining inequities in four metro areas’ transportation systems

Source: Christina Stacy, Alena Stern, Kristin Blagg, Yipeng Su, Eleanor Noble, Macy Rainer, and Richard Ezike, Urban Institute, October 6, 2020

All people need high-quality, reliable, and safe transportation to reach jobs, resources, and services. But that kind of transportation is not equally accessible to all.

In many cities, white, highly educated, and high-income residents have greater access to public transportation, and wealth differences by race and ethnicity make it easier for white residents to purchase a car, allowing for increased access to jobs. Public transit that is inaccessible for elderly people and people with disabilities can leave transit-dependent residents stranded. And a lack of transit options, particularly at off-peak hours, means that people who work irregular schedules often have no safe or affordable way to get to work.

Policymakers can reduce disparities in access to opportunity through targeted investments, but many decisionmakers lack clear definitions and measures of equity needed to make these choices. To inform stakeholders making transportation decisions, we created a set of metrics analyzing transportation equity for neighborhoods — which we approximate with census block groups — within four metropolitan regions: Baltimore, Maryland; Lansing, Michigan;  Nashville, Tennessee; and Seattle, Washington. These regions represent four distinct types in terms of sprawl, fiscal health, transportation infrastructure, population growth, and housing costs.

For each, we calculated the time it takes residents across the metro area to get to opportunities such as jobs, schools, libraries, and hospitals via both public transit and automobile, and we used those times to create an access to opportunity measure. With these new metrics, we’ve highlighted disparities in access to jobs and analyzed how these opportunities differ by race and ethnicity and for night-shift workers.