Category Archives: Minimum Wage

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.

As Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s lawmakers took divergent paths, so did their economies – Since 2010, Minnesota’s economy has performed far better for working families than Wisconsin’s

Source: David Cooper, Economic Policy Institute, May 8, 2018

From the summary:
Since the 2010 election of Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota, lawmakers in these two neighboring states have enacted vastly different policy agendas. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature have pursued a highly conservative agenda centered on cutting taxes, shrinking government, and weakening unions. In contrast, Minnesota under Governor Dayton has enacted a slate of progressive priorities: raising the minimum wage, strengthening safety net programs and labor standards, and boosting public investments in infrastructure and education, financed through higher taxes (largely on the wealthy).

Because of the proximity and many similarities of these two states, comparing economic performance in the Badger State (WI) versus the Gopher State (MN) provides a compelling case study for assessing which agenda leads to better outcomes for working people and their families. Now, seven years removed from when each governor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by extension, which set of policies—delivered more for the welfare of its residents. The results could not be more clear: by virtually every available measure, Minnesota’s recovery has outperformed Wisconsin’s.

The following report describes how Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s economies have performed since 2010 on a host of key dimensions, and discusses the policy decisions that influenced or drove those outcomes.

Key findings include:
– Job growth since December 2010 has been markedly stronger in Minnesota than Wisconsin, with Minnesota experiencing 11.0 percent growth in total nonfarm employment, compared with only 7.9 percent growth in Wisconsin. Minnesota’s job growth was better than Wisconsin’s in the overall private sector (12.5 percent vs. 9.7 percent) and in higher-wage industries, such as construction (38.6 percent vs. 26.0 percent) and education and health care (17.3 percent vs. 11.0 percent).

– From 2010 to 2017, wages grew faster in Minnesota than in Wisconsin at every decile in the wage distribution. Low-wage workers experienced much stronger growth in Minnesota than Wisconsin, with inflation-adjusted wages at the 10th and 20th percentile rising by 8.6 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, in Minnesota vs. 6.3 percent and 6.4 percent in Wisconsin.

– Gender wage gaps also shrank more in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. From 2010 to 2017, women’s median wage as a share of men’s median wage rose by 3.0 percentage points in Minnesota, and by 1.5 percentage points in Wisconsin.

– Median household income in Minnesota grew by 7.2 percent from 2010 to 2016. In Wisconsin, it grew by 5.1 percent over the same period. Median family income exhibited a similar pattern, growing 8.5 percent in Minnesota compared with 6.4 percent in Wisconsin.

– Minnesota made greater progress than Wisconsin in reducing overall poverty, child poverty, and poverty as measured under the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. As of 2016, the overall poverty rate in Wisconsin as measured in the American Community Survey (11.8 percent) was still roughly as high as the poverty rate in Minnesota at its peak in the wake of the Great Recession (11.9 percent, in 2011).

– Minnesota residents were more likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in Wisconsin, with stronger insurance take-up of both public and private health insurance since 2010.

– From 2010 to 2017, Minnesota has had stronger overall economic growth (12.8 percent vs. 10.1 percent), stronger growth per worker (3.4 percent vs. 2.7 percent), and stronger population growth (5.1 percent vs. 1.9 percent) than Wisconsin. In fact, over the whole period—as well as in the most recent year—more people have been moving out of Wisconsin to other states than have been moving in from elsewhere in the U.S. The same is not true of Minnesota.