Category Archives: Economy

High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy

Source: Philip Mattera, Good Jobs First, February 3, 2009

From an article:
A study released on the eve of a national conference on green jobs says that emerging eco-friendly work must provide adequate pay and benefits — or risk damaging efforts to restore the economy and strive for environmental sustainability.

The study released yesterday, “High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy,” was conducted by the nonprofit resource center Good Jobs First and commissioned by organizations Change to Win, Sierra Club, the Laborers International Union of North America, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The researchers looked at pay and labor conditions for existing jobs in eco-friendly business sectors, including the manufacturing of components for wind and solar energy projects, green construction and recycling.

Researchers found that while some companies provide enough pay and benefits to adequately, if modestly, support a household of two adults and two children, other companies barely pay enough to keep that same family from sinking below the federal poverty wage line. Still other employers offer wages beneath the poverty wage standard of $10.19 an hour in household income for a family of four.

Tough Times for Mass Transit

Source: Dave Demerjian, Wired Magazine, February 03, 2009

With the economy shaky and gas prices still unpredictable, more Americans than ever using light rail, subway, and bus to get where they need to go. Which makes the service cuts, layoffs, and fare increases that are decimating transit systems across the country all the more painful.

Our seemingly bottomless recession is creating record budget shortfalls at the state and local level, and that has transportation agencies desperately cutting costs and raising revenue to stay solvent. They’re counting on money from the proposed federal stimulus package to keep things from getting worse, but today Senate Republicans shot down a Democrat plan to pad that bill with extra transit funding.

Older Americans in the recession: More are staying in the workforce, more are losing their jobs

Source: Emily Garr, Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #251, February 4, 2009

From the press release:
As the recession deepens, everyone who can is holding onto their jobs and income for dear life. Nowhere is this more apparent than among workers over 55, a rising number of whom are putting off retirement. According to a report released today by the Economic Policy Institute, older Americans’ labor force participation has reached a 40-year high.

A Break in the Levy

Source: Penelope Lemov, Governing, Vol. 22 no. 5, February 2009

Property tax revenue has kept localities solvent in many a recession. It won’t happen this time.

As state and local revenue sources go, the property tax always has been the steady one. Its cousins — the income and sales taxes — are more temperamental, rising triumphantly or falling tragically with the peaks and valleys of the economic cycle. When those latter two financial divas have stopped singing, because a local industry is in trouble or Wall Street is on a bear run, real estate properties have held their own, and the revenue based on that value has kept moving surely and quietly into local coffers.

The State of the USA

Source: The State of the USA, 2009

From a press release:
Policymakers, the media, and the public should focus on 20 specific health indicators as “yardsticks” to measure the overall health and well-being of Americans, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. By providing information that can be compared over time, these 20 indicators will also help Americans track the nation’s progress on improving our health and the effectiveness of public health and care systems, the report says.

The indicators are intended for the health section of a new Web site that the nonprofit State of the USA Inc. (SUSA) is building as a tool for measuring and monitoring the nation on several fronts. The site will aim to help people become more-informed and active participants in national discussions about important topics — such as health, education, and the environment — by giving them a way to measure national progress from year to year and to compare it to that of other countries. Until recently, only researchers and academics have had the capacity for this kind of analysis.

U.S. Metro Economies: The Engines of Economic Recovery

Source:  Global Insight, January 2009

The U.S. economy enters 2009 in crisis. The financial system meltdown of last Fall is unresolved. The economy is now in a deep recession, with all industries and regions suffering. A new administration is taking office with the promise of shoring up our economy, and is poised to propose unprecedented initiatives to do so. In this report we examine the state and fate of metro economies as we begin 2009, and discuss factors policy makers should consider as recovery plans relate to metro economies. We conclude that the Recovery and Reinvestment plan can best achieve its goal of jump-starting the economy and setting the stage for strong future economic expansion by explicitly targeting metro areas. 

Obama’s Job Creation Promise

Source: Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Levy Economics Institute, Policy Notes, January 2009

A Modest Proposal to Guarantee That He Meets and Exceeds Expectations

Job creation is once again at the forefront of policy action, and for advocates of pro-employment policies, President Obama’s Keynesian bent is a most welcome change. However, there are concerns that Obama’s plan simply does not go far enough, and that a large-scale public investment program may face shortages of skilled labor, put upward pressure on wages, and leave women and minorities behind. Both concerns can be addressed by a simple amendment to the Obama plan that will bring important additional benefits. The amendment proposed here is for the government to offer a job guarantee to all unemployed individuals who are ready, willing, and able to participate in the economic recovery–that is, to target the unemployed directly. 

Hispanics and the Economic Downturn: Housing Woes and Remittance Cuts

Source: Mark Hugo Lopez,  Gretchen Livingston, Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Hispanic Center, January 8, 2009

Like the U.S. population as a whole, Latinos are feeling the sting of the economic downturn. Almost one-in-ten (9%) Latino homeowners say they missed a mortgage payment or were unable to make a full payment and 3% say they received a foreclosure notice in the past year, according to a new national survey of 1,540 Latino adults conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center. Moreover, more than six-in-ten (62%) Latino homeowners say there have been foreclosures in their neighborhood over the past year, and 36% say they are worried that their own home may go into foreclosure. This figure rises to 53% among foreign-born Latino homeowners.

Current and Projected State Deficits: NCSL, NASBO and CBPP

Source: Elizabeth McNichol and Iris J. Lav, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 30, 2009

The three main organizations that track state fiscal conditions — the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of State Budget Officers and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — have found large and growing shortfalls in the vast majority of states.  There may be some confusion, however, about the ways in which these deficit estimates differ and whether they are in conflict. The Center has projected that states will face deficits of some $350 billion over the next 30 months, which appears to be very different than the $90 billion to $100 billion deficits being discussed by NCSL and NASBO.   The differences, however, can be simply explained by two factors:
* The freshness of the data. 
* Projections into FY 2011.

Temporarily Increasing Unemployment Benefits is Better Targeted and More Stimulative Than Suspending Taxation of Unemployment Benefits

Source: Sharon Parrott, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 27, 2009

Both the House and Senate recovery packages include a $25 per week temporary increase in unemployment insurance benefits.  Economists, including Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com, routinely rate increased unemployment benefits as among the most stimulative provisions under consideration.  Zandi estimates that every dollar spent on increased unemployment benefits increases economic activity by $1.63.