Category Archives: Economy

Response of the US Labour Movement to the Economic Crisis

Source: Jason Russell,Global Labour University, Conference Paper 2010

The American labour movement has, like progressive movements across the world, attempted to mount an effective response to the economic crisis that began in 2008. American unions and their allies have tried to promote a social and economic agenda that has emphasized the role of the state in protecting domestic jobs and social programs. This includes promoting state intervention to protect the manufacturing sector, and greater regulation of the financial sector. These efforts have often been pursued through the labour movement’s traditional political alliance with the Democratic Party. Labour’s agenda has borne decidedly mixed results.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish – Why Tackling Child Poverty During the Great Recession Makes Economic Sense

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Center for American Progress, September 16, 2010

From the summary:
Children who grow up poor in America end up worse off as adults than those who do not grow up poor along a variety of dimensions, including poorer health, lower education, and lower earnings.
See also:
Download the executive summary
– Download to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd

Middle-Class Mythology and the Houdini Disappearing Act: Health Care and Jobs Joined at the Hip

Source: Lynn Howard Ehrle and Robert W. Cleveland, International Journal of Health Services, Volume 40, Number 4, 2010
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Myths have long legs. Once they become integrated into the cultural ethos they are almost impossible to dislodge. The Middle Class Myth is a case in point. Spoken of in reverential terms, the conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. economy is driven by a vast middle class, anchoring its consumer-driven system of goods and services. But contrary to frequent statements by pundits, politicians, and many economists, the middle class has actually disappeared. Another commonly held myth–that the United States has the best health care system in the world–is perpetuated by medical leaders and the mainstream media. Despite huge worker layoffs causing 50 million to be without health insurance, and millions more who are underinsured, the myth persists. A third myth, one currently in vogue among media pundits and politicians, is that health care and jobs are two separate issues and policymakers can deal with them as unrelated to each other, when in reality they are inextricably interwoven–the connective tissue of a physically and mentally robust workforce. The authors use Census Bureau after-tax income and Federal Reserve data to demonstrate that the middle class has disappeared, leaving millions of Americans with little disposable income, meager savings, and no health care safety net.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Export Statistics: How Corporate Lobbyists Distort the Record of Flawed Trade Deals

Source: Travis McArthur and Todd Tucker, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, September 2010

From the press release:
U.S. Exports Grew More With Non-FTA Countries; New Study Also Exposes Flaws in Methodology Used in Widely Cited Corporate Reports Touting FTA Benefits

A new report from Public Citizen reveals that the growth of U.S. exports to nations with which the United States does not have Free Trade Agreements (FTA) has outpaced the growth of exports to the 17 U.S. FTA partners, with both services and goods FTA exports lagging. This comes as the corporate interests that dominate private sector representation on the President’s Export Council, which meets Thursday, have reframed their support for more NAFTA-style trade pacts as critical to promoting the president’s goal of doubling exports over the next five years to create two million new American jobs.

Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee

Source: Jeffrey H. Keefe, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #276, September 15, 2010

From the summary:
The research in this paper investigates whether state and local public employees are overpaid at the expense of taxpayers.

This research is timely. Thirty-seven states are struggling with substantial budget deficits. Several governors have identified excessive public employee compensation as a major cause of their states’ fiscal duress. The remedies they propose include public employee pay freezes, benefits reductions, privatization, major revisions to the rules of collective bargaining, and constitutional amendments to limit pay increases, each as a necessary antidote to the public employee overpayment malady.

Fiscal Stress and Cutback Management Amongst State and Local Governments: What Have We Learned and What Remains to Be Learned?

Source: Eric A. Scorsone and Christina Plerhoples, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 42 no. 2, August 2010
(subscription required)

Form the abstract:
The study of cutback management at the state and local levels, or the management of resources in times of fiscal decline, has evolved since its inception in the 1970s. Throughout this time, scholars have attempted to answer how and why cutback management takes place, as well as its implications for future economic development and fiscal health. However, a dearth of research exists on its use and implications across differing types of governments under differing circumstances. With a current crisis threatening fiscal health at all levels of government, understanding the effects of cutback management choices is more critical than ever. This essay reviews the evolution of the literature and proposes a future research agenda for cutback management analysis.

Why Is the Public Suddenly Down on Unions? – The Bad Economy’s to Blame–Support Should Recover When the Economy Does

Source: David Madland and Karla Walter, Center for American Progress, July 2010

Americans have expressed generally positive attitudes toward unions for as long as pollsters have been asking, and for decades public approval of labor unions has hovered around 60 percent. But starting in 2009 public opinion toward labor unions dropped precipitously. Why?

Labor Day by the Numbers

Source: Anna Turner, Economic Policy Institute, Fact Sheet, September 3, 2010

– Jobs Needed To Regain Pre-Recession Employment Rate: 11 Million
– Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
– States With Double-Digit Unemployment In July 2010: 11
– Change In Productivity 2002-07: +11%; Change In Median Compensation 2002-07: -0.6%**
– Overall Social Security Benefit Cut From Current Retirement Age Increase (65 To 67): 13%
– Unemployment Rate For Youth (16-24): 18.1%
– Annualized Rate Of GDP Growth, 2nd Quarter, 2010: 1.6%

Note that all numbers are current as of September 3, 2010. States numbers are current as of August 20, 2010.

Nevada Goes Bust

Source: Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, published online September 2, 2010

Most analysts believe that Nevada is facing a shortfall of about $3.4 billion for the coming two-year budget cycle–meaning it does not have the revenues to fund about 50 percent of its current obligations. The state thus confronts a crossroads moment: find ways to stabilize and increase its tax base to at least partially plug these holes or face a rollback of government services unprecedented in the modern era. The Silver State is constitutionally required to balance its budget and prohibited from imposing a state income tax; it does not have a stable, across-the-board business tax and is being buffeted by increasingly strong anti-tax winds from the Tea Party movement. For all these reasons, a 50 percent revenue shortfall means the state would face the fiscal equivalent of a St. Valentine’s Day massacre: line up large state programs, have them face the wall, mow them down….The situation is so brutal, says Mary Lau, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Nevada, that without new taxes Nevada’s decision-makers could eliminate all spending not related to education or health and human services–including all funding for police, prisons, highway patrol and the like–and still be left with a budget deficit.

Colorado Springs’ Do-It-Yourself Government

Source: Zach Patton, Governing, September 2010

The citizens of Colorado Springs must decide how much they want from their government, and how much they’re willing to pay for it.

…Times are tough in the Springs, as veteran residents call it. Like cities throughout the country, this town has been hit hard by the recession. But its fiscal problems are especially severe. The city is famously right-wing, and property taxes here are some of the lowest in the nation — in 2008, the per capita property tax was about $55. City revenue instead comes mostly from local sales taxes. As a consequence, Colorado Springs is feeling the downturn’s effects faster and more sharply than other cities. At the close of 2009, the city found itself facing a nearly $40 million revenue gap for this year.