A profile of union workers in state and local government

Source: Julia Wolfe and John Schmitt, Economic Policy Institute, June 7, 2018

Key facts about the sector for followers of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

The forthcoming Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 will likely have profound implications for the 17.3 million workers in state and local government across the country. The case involves a First Amendment challenge to state laws that allow public-sector unions to require state and local government workers who are not union members, but who are represented by a union, to pay “fair share” or “agency” fees for the benefits they receive from union representation. By stripping unions of their ability to collect fair share fees, a decision for the plaintiffs in Janus would hurt all state and local government workers by impeding their ability to organize and bargain collectively. This report provides a profile of the 6.8 million of these workers who are covered by union contracts, and it reviews some key long-term trends in unionization in state and local governments.

As this report shows:
• A majority (58 percent) of union workers (workers covered by a collective bargaining contract) in state and local government are women.
• African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up one-third of unionized state and local government workers.
• While teachers constitute the single largest subgroup of union workers in state and local government, union workers also include those serving the public as administrators, social workers, police officers, firefighters, and other professionals.
• On average, union workers in state and local government have substantially more formal education than workers in the private sector. Over 60 percent of state and local government union workers have a four-year college degree or more education, compared with one-third in the private sector.

Data on union membership trends shed light on why a Supreme Court decision affecting the unionized state and local government workforce has broad implications. State and local government workers constitute the largest subgroup (42.1 percent) of all union members in the country. Over a third (36.1 percent) of state and local government workers belong to a union, compared with just 6.5 percent of workers in the private sector nationally. This 36.1 percent share is down from the roughly 38- to 40-percent share sustained throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In the 2010s, state and local government worker union membership has been slowly declining as attacks on public-sector unions have ramped up.

The New Urban Success: How Culture Pays

Source: Desislava Hristova, Luca M. Aiello and Daniele Quercia, Frontiers in Physics, Vol. 6, 2018

Urban economists have put forward the idea that cities that are culturally interesting tend to attract “the creative class” and, as a result, end up being economically successful. Yet it is still unclear how economic and cultural dynamics mutually influence each other. By contrast, that has been extensively studied in the case of individuals. Over decades, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu showed that people’s success and their positions in society mainly depend on how much they can spend (their economic capital) and what their interests are (their cultural capital). For the first time, we adapt Bourdieu’s framework to the city context. We operationalize a neighborhood’s cultural capital in terms of the cultural interests that pictures geo-referenced in the neighborhood tend to express. This is made possible by the mining of what users of the photo-sharing site of Flickr have posted in the cities of London and New York over 5 years. In so doing, we are able to show that economic capital alone does not explain urban development. The combination of cultural capital and economic capital, instead, is more indicative of neighborhood growth in terms of house prices and improvements of socio-economic conditions. Culture pays, but only up to a point as it comes with one of the most vexing urban challenges: that of gentrification.

Why Retaining Older Women in the Workforce Will Help the U.S. Economy

Source: Amy Lui Abel and Diane Lim, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Knowledge@Wharton, June 6, 2018

In this opinion piece, researchers Amy Lui Abel and Diane Lim of The Conference Board explain why demographic and economic trends provide an opportunity for older women to expand their role in the labor market. Several female-dominated occupations — especially in health care services — face shortages that will only grow. But given the unique needs and circumstances of older women, realizing their full economic contribution will hinge on employers providing them with more flexible work environments. If companies do this, the greying of America could become an opportunity rather than a threat.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2018 Data and 10 Year Trends

Source: Gerald Young, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and the National Association of State Personnel Executives, May 2018

From the summary:
Since 2009, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence has partnered with the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives to conduct a study on state and local workforce issues. This year’s report contains both 2018 data on emerging issues like the gig economy and flexible work practices and longitudinal data on recruiting challenges, retirement plan or health benefit changes, hiring, and separations from service.

50 Years After 1968, Can the Young Change Politics? A Striking New Poll Says Yes

Source: Richard Eskow, OurFuture.org, June 5, 2018

Fifty years ago, in the dust and fire of global youth activism, everything seemed possible. The political world was a cloud filled with chaos and opportunity, pain and promise. The young were a powerful force, even a world-changing one.

Could they become that force again?

As many Millennials vote for the first time today in state primaries from New Jersey to Iowa and California, a new poll of their views offers some intriguing glimpses into the future.

The survey finds that most Millennials want “a strong government” to manage the economy, and that most millennial Democrats have a favorable view of socialism.

What do this poll, and the past, say about our political future? ….

…. A new survey from the University of Chicago’s GenForward project suggests that these voters could pull the Democratic Party, and American politics, sharply to the left. The survey of 1,750 respondents found that “Majorities of Millennials across race and ethnicity believe a strong government rather than a free market approach is needed to address today’s complex economic problems.” ….

Related:
Political Polarization and Trust among Millennials: A summary of key findings from the first-of-its-kind bimonthly survey of racially and ethnically diverse young adults 18-34
Source: Cathy J. Cohen, Matthew Fowler, Vladimir E. Medenica and Jon C. Rogowski, GenForward, May 2018

Naming Our Desire: How Do We Talk About Socialism in America?
Source: Mark Engler, Dissent, Fall 2017

The millennial embrace of socialism has allowed a new generation to draw inspiration from a long legacy of struggle.

How to Make Sure Good Ideas Don’t Get Lost in the Shuffle

Source: Ella Miron-Spektor, Dana R. Vashdi, Teresa Amabile, Vered Holzmann, Harvard Business Review, June 6, 2018

…. Over the past three decades, we have researched how leaders motivate their employees to come up with creative solutions to organizational problems. We’ve studied stereotypically “creative” firms, like design, R&D, and information technology companies, but we’ve also researched stereotypically “uncreative” environments, like Golan’s manufacturing plant at Elop (which is part of Elbit ISTAR). As you might expect, our studies have revealed that encouraging creativity can backfire if employees lack the resources, support, or mechanisms to develop and implement their ideas. Indeed, when managers urge employees to invest extra effort in creativity, but then reject their ideas (often because they are single-mindedly focused on productivity and efficiency), employees become frustrated and their creativity wanes over time. As a result, innovation can stall. ….

96% of U.S. Professionals Say They Need Flexibility, but Only 47% Have It

Source: Annie Dean, Anna Auerbach, Harvard Business Review, June 5, 2018

Employers today know that employees want flexibility, and many companies say they offer it. But there are lots of people out there who need flexibility but don’t have access to it.

In our study on flexibility in the modern workforce, we set out to determine whether a gap exists between flexibility supply and demand. In other words, how many people need flexibility, and how many people actually have it? To find out, we surveyed 1,583 white-collar professionals representative of the U.S. workforce at large…..

Related:
The Future is Flexible: The Importance of Flexibility in the Modern Workplace
Source: Werk, 2018
(registration required)

From the summary:
Werk commissioned a professional research firm to conduct a comprehensive study on the state of flexibility in the U.S. workforce. According to our research, there is a significant gap between the supply and demand of workplace flexibility. This flexibility gap is impacting the workforce and its health and wellness, performance and productivity, and ability to care for others. Our study examines the demand for flexibility across flextypes, generations, genders, and more. Our research quantifies the impact of flexibility on organizational metrics like retention, engagement, and net promoter scores and provides a practical path forward for companies who are ready to make the leap towards a more flexible future.

The Overworked American

Source: Matt Bruenig, Jacobin, June 4, 2018

We already have too much work in the United States. Why not redistribute it? ….

In light of recent discussions, I thought it might be useful to refresh myself on how different work is in the US and Nordic countries, especially in more recent years after the effects of the Great Recession have started to wear off. In particular, I am interested to know how much the quantity of work differs in these countries. ….