Category Archives: Compensation

The Unknown, Poorly Paid Labor Force Powering Academic Research

Source: Louise Matsakis, Motherboard, February 4, 2016

Many of Amazon’s least-paid workers aren’t in its warehouses, but online. They’re the workers of Mechanical Turk, (MTurk) Amazon’s marketplace where companies can request for individuals, referred to as Turkers, to complete micro-sized tasks, called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), in exchange for pennies a pop. The tasks vary widely, and can include transcription, writing, editing, and content moderation, among many other things.

But Turkers aren’t just helping to translate sentences or tag pictures on Instagram, they’re contributing to academia. As a post published Wednesday by Vanessa Williamson on The Brookings Institute’s TechTank blog points out, professors and researchers are increasingly turning to the platform to mine data for their studies. ….

…. The problem is, it’s not clear whether the data gathered via Turkers is valid in some circumstances, and there are questions as to whether it’s sourced ethically, since at least some people who work on MTurk are paid far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour….

Fighting for a Better Life: How Working People Across America are Organizing to Raise Wages and Improve Work

Source: AFL-CIO, January 2016

From the blog post:
Marking nearly one year since the first ever Raising Wages Summit, the AFL-CIO today released a new report detailing the successes, struggles and path ahead to raise wages for working people. The report, “Fighting for a Better Life: How Working People Across America are Organizing to Raise Wages and Improve Work,” finds that over the last year income inequality has shifted from a problem we discuss to a problem we can solve. The report points to clear and unequivocal steps for a path forward. Armed with the solutions outlined in the report, the central conclusion is that America is ready to move beyond the discussion of income inequality and is beginning to write new rules that will shape the economy….. The report goes well beyond direct wage increases, highlighting successes that demonstrate the all-encompassing nature of the raising wages agenda. Numerous organizing victories, paid sick leave laws in multiple states and municipalities and new protections against wage theft if five states are outlined as part of the effort to create an economy built on raising wages. The report also outlines hurdles to further victories, and challenges that remain as the raising wages agenda grows…..

Basic income for all could lift millions out of poverty – and change how we think about inequality

Source: Ralph Callebert, The Conversation, January 15, 2016

The idea of a basic income for every person has been popping up regularly in recent years. Economists, think tanks, activists and politicians from different stripes have toyed with the idea of governments giving every citizen or resident a minimum income off which to live. This cash transfer could either replace or supplement existing welfare payments. Pilot projects and feasibility studies have been run or are under way in the Netherlands, India, Canada, Finland, France and elsewhere. Even in the U.S., the idea finds support. Alaska, for example, already divides its oil revenues among its residents. Most arguments in favor or against basic income have focused on its feasibility, simplicity, promotion of personal independence or effectiveness at reaching those who fall through the cracks of the welfare state. However, the most important advantage of basic income may not be in its practical application but rather in how it could change the way we think and talk about poverty and inequality…..

Public-sector workers are paid less than their private-sector counterparts—and the penalty is larger in right-to-work states

Source: Jeffrey Keefe, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Economic Snapshot, January 14, 2016

State and local government employees already earn less than similar private-sector workers. The wage and compensation gaps between public- and private-sector workers are significantly higher in right-to-work states, which allow “free-riders” to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without paying their fair share of fees to support the union’s ability to negotiate on their behalf. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could effectively render the entire public sector right to work, pushing down wages for workers in the public sector and beyond….

The Bargaining Power of Health Care Unions and Union Wage Premiums for Registered Nurses

Source: Christopher K. Coombs, Robert J. Newman, Richard J. Cebula, Mary L. White, Journal of Labor Research, Volume 36, Issue 4, December 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
For the first time in its history, the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses in 2008 includes a question involving union status. This study utilizes data from this sample to estimate the union/non-union wage premium for registered nurses and among some of the occupational-, workplace-, and individual-specific characteristics. The study finds that standard union wage premium estimates for registered nurses are larger than what were revealed in other relatively recent studies. Upon inspection of various characteristics of registered nurses, the study finds a positive wage gap for union nurses as experience increases. With respect to characteristics of the workplace, there is statistical evidence in the sample that suggests a wage gap for registered nurses in the private- and public- sector, although more distinct in the private-sector. Finally, a positive wage gap is found for union nurses working in hospitals. The lattermost finding is particularly interesting given a specific change in labor law that occurred in the early 1990s that may have resulted in temporal differences in union wage effects within health care. The possibilities that unions “spillover” their bargaining power to help increase the wages of nonunion workers, or that perhaps employers are paying efficiency wages to remain “union-free” are also explored.

Do Incentive Programs Cause Growth? The Case of the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program and Community-Level Economic Growth

Source: Brian E. Whitacre, David Shideler, Randi Williams, Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 30 no. 1, February 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The academic literature on economic development incentive programs has generated mixed results, though most studies conclude that incentives do not lead to economic growth. Oklahoma has received high praise for its innovative Quality Jobs program, because it provides cash payments (not tax incentives) and emphasizes jobs with high wages and benefits. However, few evaluations of the program’s success in growing the state’s economy have been made. This study employs multivariate regression and mixed-pair analysis techniques and concludes that the economic growth between 1990 and 2005 was not statistically different between Oklahoma communities with businesses participating in the Quality Jobs program and those that were not participating. There was, however, a statistical difference in median household income growth when Oklahoma communities with participating businesses were compared with similar Kansas communities.

Mean Hourly Wages by State for Early Childhood Teachers

Source: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, 2016

The State of the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative is designed to sustain attention to persistently low pay and inadequate professional support for the early care and education workforce. The Initiative will provide state-by-state data and policy analysis on the status of early education jobs, track progress made, and chart innovative solutions for preparing, supporting, and compensating the educators of our youngest children now and in years to come.

Explore our interactive map to see the latest state-by-state variations in hourly wages for early education staff.

Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations

Source: Stella Fayer and Audrey Watson, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spotlight on Statistics, December 2015

Whether you are filling a prescription, trying to find relief for a toothache, or looking for advice on proper nutrition, you probably will turn to a healthcare professional. Healthcare occupations represent a significant percentage of U.S. employment and are essential to the country’s economic health. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare fields. This Spotlight on Statistics uses May 2014 Occupational Employment Statistics data to examine employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

The Effects of Collective Bargaining Rights on Public Employee Compensation: Evidence from Teachers, Firefighters, and Police

Source: Brigham R. Frandsen, ILR Review, Vol. 69 no. 1, January 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Widespread public-sector unionism emerged only in the 1960s, as individual states opened the door to collective bargaining for state and municipal workers. In this study, the author exploits differences in timing of legislative reforms across states to construct estimates of the causal effects of public-sector collective bargaining rights on pay, benefits, and employment for teachers, firefighters, and police. Perhaps surprisingly, estimates that allow for state fixed effects and state-specific trends show little effect on teachers’ pay, benefits, or employment, despite significantly increasing union presence among teachers. For firefighters, the results show a substantial positive effect on wages. For police, the wage effect was more modest but the workweek was significantly shortened.

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables

Source: Ida A. Brudnick, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, 97-1011, December 23, 2015

Congress is required by Article I, Section 6, of the Constitution to determine its own pay. In the past, Congress periodically enacted specific legislation to alter its pay; the last time this occurred affected pay in 1991. More recently, pay has been determined pursuant to laws establishing formulas for automatic adjustments. ….. This report contains information on the pay procedure and actions and freezes since the last pay adjustment in 2009. It also contains historical information on the rate of pay for Members of Congress since 1789; the adjustments projected by the Ethics Reform Act as compared to actual adjustments in Member pay; details on past legislation enacted with language prohibiting the annual pay adjustment; and Member pay in constant and current dollars since 1992…..
Salaries of Members of Congress: Congressional Votes, 1990-2015
Source: Ida A. Brudnick, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, 97-615, December 23, 2015

Money begets money: For many lawmakers, salary is secondary
Source: Sarah Bryner, OpenSecrets Blog, January 6, 2016

Year after year, data shows that Congress is a millionaire’s club. That’s true even though members make “only” $174,000 a year, largely because many of them are wealthy before they’re elected. In fact, salary isn’t the top source of income for a large group of these lawmakers: Their pay is outstripped by the interest and capital gains they collect on their bank accounts, mutual funds and other financial holdings….. Interested in how much your own member of Congress made from his or her money? Explore the data here. All numbers are minimums, because congressional financial disclosure forms require lawmakers to report their assets and liabilities in ranges rather than exact amounts. The actual totals may be larger…..