New York City’s $15 Minimum Wage and Restaurant Employment and Earnings

Source: Lina Moe, James Parrott, Yannet Lathrop, Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and the National Employment Law Project, August 2019

From the press release:
Five years after New York State passed the first of several laws to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, New York City’s restaurant industry continues to thrive, with strong growth in restaurant industry employment, wages, and the number of establishments around the city, according to a new report released today by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School and the National Employment Law Project.

The report’s findings of a prospering restaurant industry are in sharp contrast to the “sky is falling” rhetoric of industry lobbyists who warned of massive job losses, $20 Big Macs, and shuttered restaurants. The report offers a first-of-its-kind assessment of restaurant employment and earnings over the entire period of the city’s historic minimum wage increases, during which the wage floor rose from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour.

The restaurant industry has the highest proportion of workers affected by the minimum wage of any industry. Researchers analyzed comprehensive employment, wage, and restaurant establishment data between 2013 and 2018 to assess the impact of the higher minimum wage on New York City’s restaurant industry. They found that during this period, New York City saw a strong economic expansion of the restaurant industry, outpacing national growth in employment, annual wages, and the number of both limited- and full-service restaurant establishments…..

When Robots Make Legal Mistakes

Source: Susan C. Morse, Oklahoma Law Review, Vol. 72, 2019

From the abstract:
The questions presented by robots’ legal mistakes are examples of the legal process inquiry that asks when the law will accept decisions as final, even if they are mistaken. Legal decision-making robots include market robots and government robots. In either category, they can make mistakes of undercompliance or overcompliance. A market robot’s overcompliance mistake or a government robot’s undercompliance mistake is unlikely to be challenged. On the other hand, government enforcement can challenge a market robot’s undercompliance mistake, and an aggrieved regulated party can object to a government robot’s overcompliance mistake. Especially if robots cannot defend their legal decisions due to a lack of explainability, they will have an incentive to make decisions that will avoid the prospect of challenge. This incentive could encourage counterintuitive results. For instance, it could encourage market robots to overcomply and government robots to undercomply with the law.

Voter Purge Rates Remain High, Analysis Finds

Source: Kevin Morris, Brennan Center for Justice, August 1, 2019

Using data released by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in June, a new Brennan Center analysis has found that between 2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties.

This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018.

Before the Shelby County decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit proposed changes in voting procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval, a process known as “preclearance.”

After analyzing the 2019 EAC data, we found:
– At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, similar to the number we saw between 2014 and 2016, but considerably higher than we saw between 2006 and 2008;
– The median purge rate over the 2016–2018 period in jurisdictions previously subject to preclearance was 40 percent higher than the purge rate in jurisdictions that were not covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act;
– If purge rates in the counties that were covered by Section 5 were the same as the rates in non-Section 5 counties, as many as 1.1 million fewer individuals would have been removed from voter rolls between 2016 and 2018.

Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico

Source: Mercedes Martinez and Monique Dols, Labor Notes, August 15, 2019

In the two months leading up to the uprising which ousted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló, educators celebrated hard-fought victories against the privatization of their education system. Struggles by teachers and families against school closures and charter schools helped pave the way for July’s unprecedented outpouring of protest (see box).

By the end of the school year in June, it became clear that the struggle to stop charterization had largely won. There is only one actively functional charter school on the island.

Then in July, teachers and families who had fought pitched battles against the closing of 442 public schools by ex-Secretary of Education Julia Keleher were vindicated when Keleher was arrested on corruption charges.

As the new school year starts in August, educators are still fighting to fully fund and staff the schools, reopen those shuttered under Keleher, and keep the charters out. In the weeks and months to come, expect educators to keep playing a critical role in the struggle for democracy, against austerity, and for the dignity of the working class in Puerto Rico….

Comparing disability and return to work outcomes between alternative and traditional workers’ compensation programs

Source: Katherine Schofield, Andrew D. Ryan, Kim N. Dauner, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 62, Issue 9, September 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
The Union Construction Workers’ Compensation Program (UCWCP) was developed in 1996 as an alternative workers’ compensation arrangement. The program includes use of a preapproved medical and rehabilitation network and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and prioritizes a quick and safe return‐to‐work. The aim of this study is to determine if differences in recovery‐related outcomes exist between UCWCP and the statutory workers’ compensation system (SWCS).

Methods:
Claims data from 2003 to 2016 were classified as processed through UCWCP or SWCS. Outcomes included: temporary total disability (TTD), vocational rehabilitation (VR), claim duration and costs, and permanent partial disability (PPD). The relative risk of incurring TTD, VR, and PPD in UCWCP vs SWCS was calculated using log‐binomial regression. Linear regression examined the relationship between programs and continuous outcomes including costs and duration. Estimates were adjusted for age, sex, wage, and severity.

Results:
The UCWCP processed 15.8% of claims; higher percentages of UCWCP claimants were older and earned higher wages. Results point to positive findings of decreased TTD incidence and cost, lower risk of TTD extending over time, higher likelihood of VR participation, and less attorney involvement and stipulation agreements associated with UCWCP membership. Differences were more apparent in workers who suffered permanent physical impairment.

Conclusion:
Findings suggest that the defining programmatic elements of the UCWCP, including its medical provider and rehabilitation network and access to ADR, have been successful in their aims. Claims with increased severity exhibited more pronounced differences vs SWCS, potentially due, in part, to greater use of programmatic elements.

Assessing the impact of health and safety training: Increased behavioral change and organizational performance

Source: Ruth Ruttenberg, Carol Rice, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, August 5, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Background:
Annual health and safety refresher training is mandated for workers in a number of employment sectors and also is used to maintain and enhance skills when not legally required.

Methods:
One year following training, hazardous waste worker training participants were asked if the training had been applied at their work or in the community, corresponding to Kirkpatrick levels of training evaluation. Likely response themes were drafted by the authors using qualitative data coding.

Results:
Of the 1,726 refresher participants, 1,094 (63%) provided an entry. Eight theme categories were adapted from the originals, spanning the activities trainees reported as applications of their training: events, actions, awareness, emergency response, equipment, planning and standard operating procedures, training, and use of written resources.

Conclusions:
Asking participants to reflect on how training has been applied provides an opportunity to describe workplace changes made during the past year. Participants documented that training resulted in actions to protect them from hazardous exposures. Specific events where training was used and where actions were taken to improve health and safety represent Kirkpatrick Levels III and IV applications of training. Collecting similar data may be useful to others wishing to identify impacts of training and can be integrated into routine program assessment.

The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow

Source: Susan Lund, James Manyika, Liz Hilton Segel, André Dua, Bryan Hancock, Scott Rutherford, and Brent Macon, McKinsey Global Institute, July 2019

From the summary:

…..A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, The future of work in America: People and places, today and tomorrow, analyzes more than 3,000 US counties and 315 cities and finds they are on sharply different paths. Automation is not happening in a vacuum, and the health of local economies today will affect their ability to adapt and thrive in the face of the changes that lie ahead.

The trends outlined in this report could widen existing disparities between high-growth cities and struggling rural areas, and between high-wage workers and everyone else. But this is not a foregone conclusion. The United States can improve outcomes nationwide by connecting displaced workers with new opportunities, equipping people with the skills they need to succeed, revitalizing distressed areas, and supporting workers in transition. Returning to more inclusive growth will require the combined energy and ingenuity of business leaders, policy makers, educators, and nonprofits across the country…..

Professional certifications and occupational licenses: evidence from the Current Population Survey

Source: Evan Cunningham, Monthly Labor Review, June 2019

This article uses data from the Current Population Survey to analyze the role of professional certifications and occupational licenses in the U.S. labor market. It discusses the prevalence of these credentials among the employed by age, gender, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and occupation. This analysis also explores the relationships between certifications, licenses, and earnings. Finally, the article presents new data on certification and licensing by detailed occupation and whether the credential is required for one’s job.

Undercounting Hispanics in the 2020 Census will result in a loss in federal funding to many states for child and family assistance programs

Source: David Murphey, Dana Thomson, Lina Guzman, Claire Kelley, Child Trends, Issue Brief, August 14, 2019

This brief examines the potential reduction in funding to states for five critical federal programs that could result from an undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 Census. More than 300 federal programs allocate funding based on Census-derived data. The five programs we examine serve children and families and account for almost half of all federal funding to states. Hispanics are the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the United States and are especially at risk for being undercounted a problem which research indicates may be exacerbated by ongoing concerns about efforts to link citizenship status to Census respondents. ….

….. The interactive maps and tables below illustrate low, medium, and high estimates of potential losses of federal funding to states for five programs: the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid, children only), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Title IV-E Foster Care, Title IV-E Adoption Assistance, and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The low-estimate scenario is based on published research by the Urban Institute, and assumes a Census count that proceeds as planned by the U.S. Census Bureau. The medium and high estimates (based on research published by the Census Bureau and Harvard University researchers, respectively) assume that participation will be reduced due to data-privacy and other concerns resulting from federal efforts to determine the citizenship status of Census respondents. …..

…. Under existing federal funding formulas, a total of 37 states will forfeit a portion of federal funds for the five aforementioned child and family programs as a result of a Hispanic undercount in the 2020 Census. ….

The Wage Gap: No One’s Responsibility, But Everyone’s Problem

Source: Lori Allen Ford, Bryan J. Deptula, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, Published August 7, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Wage inequality in America is ballooning. The issue is receiving significant attention in the public discourse but to what avail? It is an issue that affects the entire economy although the suffering thus far has focused primarily on the lower 90% of wage earners. The long-term impacts, however, may be even more encompassing. Regardless of the potential costs, under the currently understood societal roles of corporate leaders and politicians, the issue of wage inequality is currently no one’s specific responsibility to address, but everyone’s problem. We examine the current wage status of the economic classes, the compensation practices that contribute and potential societal and economic costs if no action is taken. Finally, we consider the roles that potential players currently perform and should consider in the future to strategically address this issue.