Workers in All 50 States Will Need $15 an Hour by 2024 to Afford the Basics

Source: Maya Pinto, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Fact Sheet, May 2017

From the overview:
Think the $15 minimum wage is just a New York and California thing? Cost of living data from the Economic Policy Institute shows that in all fifty states—in both rural and urban areas—$15 an hour is the minimum wage that a single adult working full-time will need by 2024 to cover basic living expenses—including rent, food, transportation, health care, and taxes. And workers in expensive regions, or workers with children, will need even more. The Raise the Wage Act would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.

Hourly Living Wage in 2024, Fifty States and the District of Columbia
In a new report, NELP Senior Researcher Maya Pinto charts projected hourly living wages by 2024 for rural and urban workers across the country, showing that living wages will be clustered above the $15 mark by the time the Raise the Wage Act would go into effect….

Why Eliminating the Subminimum Wage for Tipped Workers Will Address Inequality: A Resource Guide
Source: NELP & and Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), Fact Sheet, April 2017

There is growing national momentum for raising pay for the nation’s millions of tipped workers such as restaurant servers, food delivery workers, and many others at the heart of industries like tourism and hospitality. Under current federal law, their minimum wage has been frozen at a meager $2.13 per hour since Bill Clinton was president. While employers are supposed to make up the difference when tips are not enough to bring a worker up to the full minimum wage, in practice such tracking is difficult and compliance is spotty.

Why America Needs a $15 Minimum Wage
Source: NELP & the Economic Policy Institute, Fact Sheet, April 26, 2017

The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 and has not increased since 2009. The Raise the Wage Act of 2017 would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, lifting pay for tens of millions of workers and reversing decades of growing pay inequality.

Measures for Justice

Source: Measures for Justice (MFJ), 2017

Measuring justice, one county at a time.
Assessing and comparing the performance of the entire U.S. criminal justice system.

No one really knows how well our entire criminal justice system is working on the county level.

Measures for Justice gathers criminal justice data at the county level and uses them to populate performance Measures that address:
Public Safety, Fair Process, Fiscal Responsibility

The Measures track how criminal cases are being handled at the county level from arrest to post-conviction. They are designed to increase the transparency of local justice systems and enable more informed discussions.

All of our Measures and analyses present data at the county level and are available for free to the public on a web-based Data Portal. The Portal is searchable and can be configured to break down performance data across multiple factors including race/ethnicity, sex, indigent status, age, offense type, offense severity, court type, and attorney type. The Portal also allows for county-to-county comparison within and across states.

The State Effects of the Medicaid Cuts Being Discussed in the Senate

Source: Emily Gee, Center for American Progress, May 26, 2017

As the Senate begins discussions over the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a key point in the negotiations is federal funding for the Medicaid program. The AHCA proposes subjecting Medicaid spending to per capita caps, limiting the number of dollars the federal government will provide to states for each enrollee. While per capita caps themselves are a major departure from how Medicaid has traditionally been funded, the exact effect of caps depends on unpredictable trends in state Medicaid spending and how the caps are indexed to grow over time…..

State Tax Actions 2016

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, Special Fiscal Report, 2017

From the overview:
Following the same trend as in 2015, this past year saw net reductions in personal and corporate income taxes and increases across most other tax categories. This is a result of a continued phase-in of major tax reduction packages passed during previous legislative sessions. Increases in sales and use, health, tobacco, and motor-fuel-related taxes led to a $2.3 billion revenue increase across all reporting states. Illinois did not enact a FY 2017 budget during the 2016 legislative session, and some states—such as Texas, Montana and Nevada, where the legislature only convenes biennially—did not have significant tax changes to report.

This report includes tax actions taken during regular and special legislative sessions in 2016, as well as actions approved by voters during the November 2016 general election. Fifty states provided information, which was obtained through a survey of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices.

Highlights include:
– Collective actions taken by the 50 states resulted in a net tax increase of $2.3 billion, representing 0.3 percent of the prior year’s tax collections. This compares to relatively little activity in 2015 and a $3.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, decrease in 2014.
– Illinois did not enact a FY 2017 budget during the 2016 legislative session, but Pennsylvania, which did not enact a budget during the 2015 legislative session, passed an extensive tax package in 2016, increasing net tax revenue for the state by $633 million, or 1.9 percent.
– Across the nation, the multiyear trend of lowering personal and corporate income taxes continues. Tax increases included motor fuel taxes to fund state infrastructure projects, substantial sales tax increases in two states, increased health care provider taxes to offset insurance costs and tax increases on many tobacco products.
– Of the 50 reporting states, five—Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wisconsin—reduced net taxes by more than 1 percent. There were six states—Louisiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and West Virginia—that reported a net tax increase of more than 1 percent. Thirty-nine states made no significant net tax changes in 2016. see Figure 2 above.
– In addition to tax changes, states approved nontax revenue changes, including fee increases or decreases, revenue accelerations or decelerations, and tax compliance initiatives for a net increase of $426 million. This resulted in a combined total revenue increase of about $2.8 billion in 2016.
Executive summary

The Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends, 2010 – 2015

Source: Chris Mai and Ram Subramanian, Vera Institute of Justice, May 2017

From the overview:
From the early 1970s into the new millennium, the U.S. prison population experienced unprecedented growth, which had a direct influence on state budgets. In recent years, however, lawmakers in nearly every state and from across the political spectrum have enacted new laws to reduce prison populations and spending. This report, which builds upon the information found in Vera’s 2012 publication The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, found that 13 states were successful in reducing both population and spending. However, no single reason explains a rise or fall in spending; instead, a multitude of factors push and pull expenditures in different directions. Read the report and explore our interactive data visualization below to learn more.
Interactive Data Visualization
Fact Sheet

The Jobs That Weren’t Saved

Source: Sean Gregory, Time, May 18, 2017

…. If Trump’s Carrier deal was a reminder of how the bully pulpit could be used to make the private sector bend, Rexnord’s closure shows its limits–and offers a lesson in the challenges of reversing a global economic trend decades in the making. …. Some 19.5 million Americans held manufacturing jobs in 1979, an all-time high. By 1983, the figure was already down to about 16.7 million. By 2024, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 7.1% of Americans will work in manufacturing.
The reasons are many, but the prime culprits are globalization and automation. In 1991, China accounted for 2.3% of the world’s manufacturing exports. In 2001, the country joined the World Trade Organization, and by 2013, China’s share of global exports was 18.8%, according to a 2016 study in the Annual Review of Economics. Countries such as Mexico and the Philippines have also increased their exports. Labor in these markets tends to be substantially cheaper than in the U.S., and trade deals like NAFTA make it easy for American companies to produce goods in far-flung locales. To economists, however, America’s shrinking manufacturing jobs have less to do with free trade than with robots. ….

The United States Withdraws from the TPP

Source: Brock R. Williams, Ian F. Fergusson, Congressional Research Service. CRS Insight, IN10646, May 23, 2017

On January 23, President Trump directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement; the acting USTR gave notification to that effect on January 30. The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA), signed by the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific countries on February 4, 2016. The agreement requires ratification by the member countries before it can become effective. Implementing legislation, the vehicle for U.S. ratification, was not submitted by the President or considered by Congress, in part due to the contentious debate over the agreement. Because the TPP had not taken effect, U.S. withdrawal does not immediately affect U.S. tariffs or other trade commitments. The United States also has existing FTAs with six of the TPP countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Singapore), which this announcement does not affect.

TPP supporters argue that the withdrawal could damage U.S. negotiating credibility, undermine U.S. economic leadership in the region, hurt U.S. firms’ competitiveness abroad, and give China greater leverage to set regional trade rules. TPP opponents see the withdrawal as preventing greater U.S. import competition and potential job losses. Beyond the trade realm, some analysts also argue the withdrawal may signal declining U.S. engagement in the region and inability to assert leadership at a time when China’s rise and North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities are testing the U.S.-led rules system and challenging U.S. influence….

The Globalization of Production and Income Inequality in Rich Democracies

Source: Matthew C. Mahutga, Anthony Roberts, Ronald Kwon, Social Forces, Advance Articles, May 25, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite prominent and compelling theoretical arguments linking manufacturing imports from the global South to rising income inequality in the global North, the literature has produced decidedly mixed support for such arguments. We explain this mixed support by introducing intervening processes at the global and national levels. At the global level, evolving characteristics of global production networks (GPNs) amplify the effect of Southern imports. At the national level, wage coordination and welfare state generosity counteract the mechanisms by which Southern imports increase inequality, and thereby mitigate their effects. We conduct a time-series cross-section regression analyses of income inequality among eighteen advanced capitalist countries to test these propositions. Our analysis addresses alternative explanations, as well as validity threats related to model specification, sample composition, and measurement. We find substantial variation in the effect of Southern imports across global and national contexts. Southern imports have no systematic effect on income inequality until the magnitude of GPN activity surpasses its world-historical average, or in states with above-average levels of wage coordination and welfare state generosity. With counterfactual analyses, we show that Southern imports would have led to much different inequality trajectories in the North if there were fewer GPNs, and if the prevailing degrees of wage coordination and welfare state generosity were higher. The countervailing effects of GPNs and institutional context call for theories of inequality at the intersection of the global and the national, and raise important questions about distributional politics in the years to come.

State of Preschool 2016

Source: W. Steven Barnett, Allison H. Friedman-Krauss, G.G. Weisenfeld, Michelle Horowitz, Richard Kasmin, James H. Squires, National Institute for Early Education Research, 2017

From the summary:
The State of Preschool 2016 is the latest edition of our annual yearbook report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. NIEER’s State Preschool Yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality, such as the presence of a qualified teacher and assistant, small class size, and low teacher-to-student ratio.

This Yearbook presents data on state-funded preschool during the 2015-2016 school year and documents more than a decade of change in state preschool since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. The 2016 Yearbook profiles state-funded preschool programs in 43 states, plus Guam and the District of Columbia and provides narrative information on early education efforts in states and the U.S. territories that do not provide state-funded preschool.

Nationwide, state-funded preschool program enrollment reached an all-time high, serving nearly 1.5 million children, 32 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds. State funding for preschool rose 8 percent to about $7.4 billion, a $564 million increase. State funding per child increased to $4,976, exceeding pre-recession levels for the first time. Six state funded preschool programs met all 10 current quality standards benchmarks. Nine states had programs that met fewer than half; and seven states do not fund preschool at all.

Current benchmarks were designed to help states build programs, focusing on resources and policies related to the structural aspects of public preschool—elements needed for a high-quality program but not fully defining one. This year, NIEER is introducing major revisions to the policy benchmarks for the first time since the Yearbook was launched. The new benchmarks raise the bar by focusing on policies that more directly support continuous improvement of classroom quality. State profiles in the 2016 Yearbook include both current and new benchmark scores…..
Executive summary
State profiles
Yearbook contents