Category Archives: Minimum Wage

Women and the Minimum Wage, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center, August 23, 2018

Women represent more than six in ten minimum wage workers in the U.S., and close to three-quarters of minimum wage workers in some states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, but in most states, the minimum wage still leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level. See our interactive map to view the share of minimum wage workers in your state who are women.

Living in the Shadows: Latina Domestic Workers in the Texas-Mexico Border Region

Source: Linda Burnham, Lisa Moore, Emilee Ohia, A.Y.U.D.A. Inc., Comité de Justicia Laboral, Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center, National Domestic Workers Alliance, 2018

In 2016, three community-based organizations that operate in the Texas–Mexico border region collaborated on a participatory research project. A.Y.U.D.A. Inc., Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center and Comité de Justicia Laboral/Labor Justice Committee trained 36 women from the local communities as surveyors. The surveyors, most of them domestic workers themselves, interviewed 516 housecleaners, nannies and care workers for people with disabilities or for the elderly who work in private homes. The survey was conducted in Spanish and was composed of a standardized set of questions focused on work arrangements, working conditions, the impact of low pay on workers’ lives, injuries and abuse on the job and citizenship status.

This report, the result of the surveyors’ hard work knocking on doors, gaining trust and gathering data, is the very first quantitative study of a sizable number of domestic workers in the Texas–Mexico border region. The data provides us with a fact-based portrait of the difficult conditions domestic workers in the region face. The report findings will be used to shape ongoing organizing and advocacy to improve conditions and end workplace abuse. Our hope is that it will also shape the thinking of policy makers and encourage further research about working conditions along the border.

Related:

The Price of Domestic Workers’ Invisible Labor in U.S. Border Towns
Source: Sarah Holder, The Atlantic, June 25, 2018

Do We Need a Universal Basic Income? A Debate.

Source: Matt Bruenig, rebuttal by Rohan Grey and Raúl Carrillo, In These Times, June 2018

Getting free money from the government is popular. But would it prop up capitalism?

Related:

Do We Need a Federal Jobs Guarantee? A Debate.
Source: Rohan Grey and Raúl Carrillo, rebuttal by Matt Bruenig, In These Times, June 2018

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders have all proposed a job guarantee. But would it be drudgery?

Regional Impacts of a Minimum Wage Hike: A Pennsylvania Case Study

Source: Shannon Brobst, Regional Financial Review, May 2018
(subscription required)

Eighteen U.S. states and 20 cities rang in 2018 with increases in their minimum wage, bringing back into the spotlight the debate about whether to raise the federal minimum, which has remained at $7.25 since 2009 (see Chart 1). The question of whether it should be increased receives many different answers from Republicans, Democrats, economists and non-professional observers. Some argue that increasing the cost of labor hurts the economy because it could lead to jobs cuts for low-paid workers. Raising the minimum wage increases businesses’ labor costs, and thus, the cost of producing a good or service. Higher production costs may cause employers to lay off workers in order to contain costs and remain profitable, and could cause marginally profitable small or struggling businesses to close. Others counter this argument stating that a higher minimum wage helps the economy by boosting incomes and does not materially affect employment. This paper examines the positive and negative effects of raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 and $15 in Pennsylvania and discusses policy implications at the local and federal levels.

The erosion of the federal minimum wage has increased poverty especially for black and Hispanic families

Source: Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, June 13, 2018

Higher wages were a key plank of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign to reduce poverty. But over the last five decades the real (inflation-adjusted) value of the minimum wage—a key tool in the fight against poverty—has steadily eroded. Minimum wage increases have been too infrequent to keep up with inflation, let alone raise the real value of the minimum wage above where it was in 1968. While a full-time minimum wage worker in 1968 would have earned $20,600 a year (in 2017’s dollars), a worker paid the federal minimum wage in 2017 could only earn $15,080 working full time. Figure A compares these full-time minimum wage incomes to poverty thresholds for different family sizes and shows that, today, a single parent of one child would be consigned to poverty if that parent earned the federal minimum wage.

Grand Theft Paycheck: The Large Corporations Shortchanging Their Workers’ Wages

Source: Philip Mattera, Good Jobs First and Jobs With Justice Education Fund, June 2018

From the press release:
A new report finds that many large corporations operating in the United States have boosted their profits by forcing employees to work off the clock, cheating them out of required overtime pay and engaging in similar practices that together are known as wage theft.

The detailed analysis of federal and state court records shows that these corporations have paid out billions of dollars to resolve wage theft lawsuits brought by workers. Walmart, which has long been associated with such practices, has paid the most, but the list of the most-penalized employers also includes Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other large banks and insurance companies as well as major technology and healthcare corporations. Many of the large corporations are repeat offenders, and 450 firms have each paid out $1 million or more in settlements and/or judgments….

Related:
Spreadsheet version of Appendix A: Parent companies with $1 million or more in wage theft penalties
Spreadsheet version of Appendix B: 100 largest wage theft lawsuit settlements or verdicts
Spreadsheet version of Appendix C: Wage theft lawsuits with confidential settlements
Spreadsheet list of all lawsuits and enforcement actions analyzed in the report

United Way ALICE Project

Source: United Way, 2018

The United Way ALICE Project provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of the growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities, a population called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Scroll down to view the percent of households in each state – and county – that lived below the ALICE Threshold in 2016. The ALICE Threshold is the bare-minimum economic survival level that is based on the local cost of living in each area.

Hover over the U.S. map below to view state data, click on any state to see a county-by-county analysis of financial instability, and scroll further to compare all states.

Mapping State Interference

Source: Partnership for Working Families, 2018

What is State Interference? While attention focuses on Washington, aggressive corporate and special interests are systematically working at the state level to close critical avenues of power-building for poor people, people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants. Their strategy: targeting local governments, which provide essential hubs of innovation, protection and progressive political power. The Koch Brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the architect of this strategy, has moved state legislators and courts to gut the ability of local governments in a vast number of states to alleviate unemployment, poverty and residential displacement and to protect their residents from threats to their health, safety and civil rights. In many cases such state interference laws are being used as a tool through which largely white state legislatures both deny cities of color of self-determination and preserve longstanding racial inequities.

To help shed light on this development, we created the interactive map below. Click on any of the nine issues to see which states block local standards and laws on that issue. Click on a state to see whether local authority has been preserved or preempted across all nine issues. For further information, you can click through to the actual text of the statute.

Our partners at Grassroots Change have a companion map that covers issues related to public health. Please visit that site to learn more.