Where's the Beef?: The First Thing Obama Can Do By Himself to Create Good Jobs

Jul 25, 2013Richard Kirsch

The president's big economic address had some good lines, but he should back them up with real action through executive orders.

The president's big economic address had some good lines, but he should back them up with real action through executive orders.

I am of course glad to see President Obama focus the country on what he correctly identifies as the most pressing national problem, the crushing of the middle class. The solution he laid out in his address at Knox College, a middle-out economics which sees the middle class as the engine of the economy, is both good economics and a powerful political message. It is what progressives and Democrats need to keep emphasizing over and over again, both rhetorically and in their legislative agendas.

When it came to the broad foundations of policy, the president's outline of the pillars of a strong middle class was on point: good jobs, quality education and job training, affordable health care, good housing, retirement security, and strong neighborhoods.

Still, I found the speech disappointing. The president only nibbled at the biggest change in our economy, the relentless decline in good jobs. 

Not that the president didn't correctly identify the issue. Early in his address he explained, "The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed – the income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged." He went on to acknowledge that even as the economy recovers, the earnings of the average worker are down.

But when it came to further analysis or solutions, the speech was thin. He did repeat his call for an increase in the minimum wage and remind the public that the Affordable Care Act will provide coverage for people who don't get health insurance at work. However, his solutions made assumptions that ignore the profound changes in the economy that have undermined job quality.

A good lens for this is his discussion – really lack of discussion – about the role of unions, which he only mentioned by commenting, "It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class." A great example of using the passive voice to avoid explaining that unions were not decimated by an act of nature, but by a concerted attack by corporations and the right, backed by government policy.

The president pointed out that "The days when the wages for a worker with a high school degree could keep pace with the earnings of someone who got some higher education are over." But why did workers with just high school educations used to get paid well? Because they organized unions through which they fought together for better wages. 

Today, most of the new jobs being created are low-wage jobs with no benefits, which also don't require more than a high school education. If these workers were enabled – with the help of modernized labor laws and aggressive enforcement of the labor laws now on the books – to organize, they too could win decent wages and benefits. The president talked about global competition as an explanation for job loss, but that’s not an issue for the service industries that employ most low-wage workers.

It is also no longer true that another of the president's pillars, education, will mean more good jobs. The fact that a higher proportion of Americans have a college education than ever before has not stopped the deterioration of job quality. In the new economy, college grads have maintained low unemployment by taking jobs that they are overqualified for, upping joblessness among Americans who aren't college grads.

Even the president's assumption that creating more manufacturing and infrastructure jobs will mean more good jobs is not as solid as it has been in the past. While most of these jobs are decent, they pay less than before. For example, newly hired auto workers make a fraction of what the industry historically paid; it would take two new auto worker jobs to support a family at the same middle-class level as the workers paid at traditional rates. More broadly, the drop in unionization in manufacturing and construction, one cause among many of the overall downward pressure on wages, means job quality in traditional good job sectors is declining.

A middle-out economy must be anchored by good jobs. There are clearly huge legislative challenges to winning a good jobs agenda, which would include robust labor law strengthening, updated labor standards that guarantee paid sick leave and family leave, and enforcement of the labor laws already on the books. But the president doesn't have to wait for Congress to provide better jobs for millions of workers and set a new example for the country.

In his speech, Obama promised, "Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." That’s great. He can start with an executive order to boost job quality for at least 2 million workers whose pay is financed by the federal government. 

The federal government has a history, by legislation and executive order, of protecting wages for workers paid for with federal funds. However, the prevailing wage protections put in place over the three decades from the 1930s to the 1960s now cover only 20 percent of federally funded private-sector work. Even for those workers still covered, wage rates can be little higher than the federal minimum. According to a recent study by Demos, the federal government now funds over 2 million jobs paying under $12 per hour – more than Wal-Mart and McDonald’s combined – in such industries as food, apparel, trucking, and auxiliary health care.

In another report on the federal contract workforce, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) interviewed over 500 contract workers and found that 74 percent are paid less than $10 per hour and 58 percent receive no benefits from their employer. The NELP report includes one gripping story after another of workers like Lucila Ramirez, who, after 21 years as a janitor at the federally owned Union Station, earns $8.75 an hour.

A presidential executive order could directly help Lucila and the millions like her who manufacture uniforms for our military, care for our elders under Medicare, work as security guards at federally leased buildings, or are laborers on federally funded construction projects. The order would require that jobs financed by federal funds require living wages (not just minimum wage or prevailing wage in a low-wage sector), paid sick days, and prohibitions against employers fighting unionization.

I am looking forward to the president spending "every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in [his] term to make this country work for working Americans again." He can start by backing up great lines like that with an executive order for the millions of hardworking Americans whose pay comes from the government he leads. 

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

 

Barack Obama banner image via Shutterstock.com

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Daily Digest - July 25: Minimum Wage Doesn't Pay the Bills

Jul 25, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Barely Making Ends Meet (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren corrects commonly held misconceptions of the minimum wage. Half of minimum wage workers are over 25, and studies show that increasing the minimum wage will not affect employment.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

Barely Making Ends Meet (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren corrects commonly held misconceptions of the minimum wage. Half of minimum wage workers are over 25, and studies show that increasing the minimum wage will not affect employment.

The ‘Obamacare Is a Job Killer’ Myth (U.S. News & World Report)

Pat Garofalo argues that the employer mandate isn't harming employment, no matter how often the GOP makes that claim. Changes in employment practices would have been noticeable this year, but there has been no increase in part-time employment.

The Depressing Reality of ‘The Recovery’: Americans Aren’t Getting Jobs. They’re Retiring. (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews agrees with the Century Foundation's argument that the decrease in unemployment in the recovery is almost all due to retirement, not job creation. The employment-population ratio, which shows the proportion of working adults, hasn't changed.

Are the Suburbs Where the American Dream Goes to Die? (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien looks at the ties between sprawl, race, and income mobility. He argues that when suburbs sprawl, wealthy, mostly-white suburbanites have little desire to support public goods that help everyone succeed, like mass transit, due to racist fears of blacks in their neighborhoods.

More Americans Living in Others' Homes (WSJ)

Josh Mitchell looks at the increase in so-called missing households, which occur when adults do not own or rent their own homes. A large proportion of this phenomenon can be tied to Millennials who are living with parents, because it's just more affordable.

New on Next New Deal

Where's the Beef?: The First Thing Obama Can Do By Himself to Create Good Jobs

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch thinks that the President's speech ignored the structural changes that have caused a decline in good jobs. He suggests that Obama could starting by ensuring all federally subcontracted employees get a living wage, via executive order.

Yellen, Summers and Rebuilding After the Fire

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal looks at the important questions to consider in choosing a new Federal Reserve chair, and makes his own recommendation.

Why the Right Doesn’t Really Want Euro-Style Reproductive Health Care

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn points out that when right-wing pundits call for European-style abortion laws, they're forgetting that those come along with a full range of progressive reproductive health care policies.

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Brooks’s Recovery Gender Swap

Jul 17, 2013Mike Konczal

How are men doing in our anemic economic recovery? David Brooks, after discussing his favorite Western movie, argues in his latest column, Men on the Threshold, that men are "unable to cross the threshold into the new economy." Though he'd probably argue that he's talking about generational changes, he focuses on a few data points from the current recession, including that "all the private sector jobs lost by women during the Great Recession have been recaptured, but men still have a long way to go."

Is he right? And what are some facts we can put on the current recovery when it comes to men versus women?

Total Employment

Men had a harder crash during the recession, but a much better recovery, when compared with women.

Indeed, during the first two years of the recovery expert analysis was focused on a situation that was completely reversed from Brooks' story. The question in mid-2011 was "why weren't women finding jobs?" Pew Research put out a report in July 2011 finding that "From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%. 1 Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%."

How does that look two years later? Here's a graph of the actual level of employment by gender from the Great Recession onward:

If you squint you can see how women's employment is flat throughout 2011, when men start gaining jobs. Since the beginning 2011, men have gotten around 65 percent of all new jobs. That rate started at 70 percent, and has declined to around 60 percent now. So it is true, as Brooks notes, that women are approaching their old level of employment. But the idea that the anemic recovery has been biased against men is harder to understand. The issue is just a weak recovery - more jobs would mean more jobs for both men and women, but also especially for men.

Occupations

But maybe the issue is the occupations that men are now working. As Brooks writes, "Now, thanks to a communications economy, [men] find themselves in a world that values expressiveness, interpersonal ease, vulnerability and the cooperative virtues." This is a world where they either can't compete, or won't. The testable hypothesis is that men are doing poorly in occupations that are traditionally female dominated.

However the data shows that men are moving into female-dominated occupations, and taking a large majority of the new jobs there.

How has the gendered division of occupations evolved since 2011? Here is first quarter data from 2011 and 2013 of occupations by gender from the CPS. As a reminder, your occupation is what you do, while your industry is what your employer does. Occupation data is much noiser, hence us moving to quarterly data:

Ok that's a mess of data. What should we be looking for in this?

First off, men are moving into occupations that have been traditionally gender-coded female. Office support jobs, which Bryce Covert and I found were a major driver of overall female employment decline from 2009-2011, are now going to men. Men have taken 95 percent of new jobs in this occupation, one that was only about 26 percent male in 2011. We also see men taking a majority of jobs in the male-minority service occupations. Men are also gaining in sales jobs even while the overall number of jobs are declining. That's a major transformation happening in real-time.

(Meanwhile, it's not all caring work and symbolic analysts out there. There's a massive domestic energy extraction business booming in the United States, and those jobs are going to men as well. If you were to break down into suboccupations this becomes very obvious. Men took around 100 percent of the over 600,000+ new "construction and extraction" jobs, for instance.)

It'll be interesting to see how extensive men moving into traditionally female jobs will be, and to what extent it'll challenge the nature of both them and that work. Much of the structure of service work in the United States comes from the model of Walmart, and that comes from both Southern, Christian values and a model of the role women play in kinship structures and communities.

As Sarah Jaffe notes in her piece A Day Without Care, summarizing the work of Bethany Moreton, "Walmart...built its global empire on the backs of part-time women workers, capitalizing on the skills of white Southern housewives who’d never worked for pay before but who saw the customer service work they did at Walmart as an extension of the Christian service values they held dear. Those women didn’t receive a living wage because they were presumed to be married; today, Walmart’s workforce is much more diverse yet still expected to live on barely more than minimum wage."

How will men react when faced with this? And how will their bosses counter?

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:

  

 

How are men doing in our anemic economic recovery? David Brooks, after discussing his favorite Western movie, argues in his latest column, Men on the Threshold, that men are "unable to cross the threshold into the new economy." Though he'd probably argue that he's talking about generational changes, he focuses on a few data points from the current recession, including that "all the private sector jobs lost by women during the Great Recession have been recaptured, but men still have a long way to go."

Is he right? And what are some facts we can put on the current recovery when it comes to men versus women?

Total Employment

Men had a harder crash during the recession, but a much better recovery, when compared with women.

Indeed, during the first two years of the recovery expert analysis was focused on a situation that was completely reversed from Brooks' story. The question in mid-2011 was "why weren't women finding jobs?" Pew Research put out a report in July 2011 finding that "From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%. 1 Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5%."

How does that look two years later? Here's a graph of the actual level of employment by gender from the Great Recession onward:

If you squint you can see how women's employment is flat throughout 2011, when men start gaining jobs. Since the beginning 2011, men have gotten around 65 percent of all new jobs. That rate started at 70 percent, and has declined to around 60 percent now. So it is true, as Brooks notes, that women are approaching their old level of employment. But the idea that the anemic recovery has been biased against men is harder to understand. The issue is just a weak recovery - more jobs would mean more jobs for both men and women, but also especially for men.

Occupations

But maybe the issue is the occupations that men are now working. As Brooks writes, "Now, thanks to a communications economy, [men] find themselves in a world that values expressiveness, interpersonal ease, vulnerability and the cooperative virtues." This is a world where they either can't compete, or won't. The testable hypothesis is that men are doing poorly in occupations that are traditionally female dominated.

However the data shows that men are moving into female-dominated occupations, and taking a large majority of the new jobs there.

How has the gendered division of occupations evolved since 2011? Here is first quarter data from 2011 and 2013 of occupations by gender from the CPS. As a reminder, your occupation is what you do, while your industry is what your employer does. Occupation data is much noiser, hence us moving to quarterly data:

Ok that's a mess of data. What should we be looking for in this?

First off, men are moving into occupations that have been traditionally gender-coded female. Office support jobs, which Bryce Covert and I found were a major driver of overall female employment decline from 2009-2011, are now going to men. Men have taken 95 percent of new jobs in this occupation, one that was only about 26 percent male in 2011. We also see men taking a majority of jobs in the male-minority service occupations. Men are also gaining in sales jobs even while the overall number of jobs are declining. That's a major transformation happening in real-time.

(Meanwhile, it's not all caring work and symbolic analysts out there. There's a massive domestic energy extraction business booming in the United States, and those jobs are going to men as well. If you were to break down into suboccupations this becomes very obvious. Men took around 100 percent of the over 600,000+ new "construction and extraction" jobs, for instance.)

It'll be interesting to see how extensive men moving into traditionally female jobs will be, and to what extent it'll challenge the nature of both them and that work. Much of the structure of service work in the United States comes from the model of Walmart, and that comes from both Southern, Christian values and a model of the role women play in kinship structures and communities.

As Sarah Jaffe notes in her piece A Day Without Care, summarizing the work of Bethany Moreton, "Walmart...built its global empire on the backs of part-time women workers, capitalizing on the skills of white Southern housewives who’d never worked for pay before but who saw the customer service work they did at Walmart as an extension of the Christian service values they held dear. Those women didn’t receive a living wage because they were presumed to be married; today, Walmart’s workforce is much more diverse yet still expected to live on barely more than minimum wage."

How will men react when faced with this? And how will their bosses counter?

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:

  

 

Business people armwrestling image via Shutterstock.com.

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Daily Digest - July 17: Wall Street's Election Day Fears

Jul 17, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Why Spitzer’s Return Terrifies Big Finance (Naked Capitalism)

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Why Spitzer’s Return Terrifies Big Finance (Naked Capitalism)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Thomas Ferguson argues that Eliot Spitzer as New York City Comptroller would be a threat to the political power of Wall Street. With control of the public pension funds, Spitzer could change how the city does business with the financial industry.

The Consumer Watchdog’s Work Will Last–For Now (MSNBC)

Adam Serwer speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal on why the Senate GOP spent so long opposing Richard Cordray's nomination to direct the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Mike says they opposed any nominee, in an attempt to weaken the CFPB.

Reminder: Don’t Pay Attention to Wall Street’s Whines About Regulation (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose looks at Wall Street bank profits over the past ten years, and concludes that we should ignore their complaints about regulation. It turns out that the financial industry is resilient and will find a way to increase profits no matter the restrictions.

McJobs Are the Future: Why You Should Care What Fast Food Workers Earn (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann refutes the claim that no one is making a career or supporting a family off a minimum wage fast food job. Most fast food jobs aren't minimum wage - but making another fifty cents per hour doesn't get a person above the poverty line.

OECD Doesn’t See Unemployment Falling Until Late 2014 (WSJ)

Paul Hannon reports that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that it will be some time before unemployment begins to drop. Like many others, it recommends avoiding austerity policies because they will slow growth.

Charles Koch on the Poor: Let Them Eat 'Economic Freedom' (The Nation)

Leslie Savan explains the problems with a new ad put out by Charles Koch that claims anyone making over $34,000 a year is part of the 1%. That's true on a global scale, but doesn't mean anything for people living in poverty in the U.S..

New on Next New Deal

Why Trayvon Is Inspiring America to Put Stand Your Ground Laws on Trial

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline DC chapter Director of Programming Naomi Ahsan argues that the Zimmerman verdict is a sign that Americans need to challenge Stand Your Ground laws. Beyond the collective anger at that decision, these laws contribute to systemic racism.

The Egyptian Coup Isn't the End of Democracy. It's a Demand for Justice.

Former Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Policy Director Reese Neader breaks down the current situation in Egypt. He explains why this is not the "death of democracy," but a push for better democracy than was achieved in 2011.

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Daily Digest - July 11: Corporate Profits Don't Want Living Wages

Jul 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Wal-Mart Plans to Exit DC Over 'Living Wage' Bill (All In With Chris Hayes)

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Wal-Mart Plans to Exit DC Over 'Living Wage' Bill (All In With Chris Hayes)

Chris Hayes speaks with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren about how Walmart has fought these laws in the past. Walmart presents itself as a provider of good jobs in urban regions, Dorian says, but its unwillingness to pay a living wage speaks otherwise.

Big Cable’s Sauron-Like Plan for One Infrastructure to Rule Us All (Wired)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains how cable monopolies want to charge everyone for access to specific pockets of data. With data consumption caps on the user side, the cable companies will dampen access for all.

The Recession That Always Was (TAP)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz speaks to Millennials in Milwaukee for whom the recession is just more of the same. For these low-wage workers, the only change is that the middle-class is finally noticing their struggle.

Do We Have the Will to Fight for the Jobless? (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel is concerned that Washington is ignoring the continuing jobs crisis. She has a list of policy suggestions that Congress could take up to get Americans back to work.

Wages Have Fallen Fastest In The Lowest Paid Jobs (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert reports that the lowest-wage jobs have seen the largest drops in compensation since 2009. Since low-wage jobs make up the bulk job growth right now, it's of particular concern.

The Beginning of the End of LGBT Workplace Discrimination? (MoJo)

Thomas Stackpole suggests that the time may have finally come when we can pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is still legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation in 29 states.

The Republican Plan to Cut Food Stamps Even More (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff thinks that separating farm subsidies and SNAP will allow House Republicans to introduce a food stamp bill with even more cuts. That would make conferencing the Senate and House bills more painful, since the gap would start even wider.

Student Loan Deal Reached In Senate Threatens To Raise Future Costs (HuffPo)

Shahien Nasiripour reports on a late-night bipartisan deal that ties interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note. It does place a cap on interest rates, but that cap is higher than the 6.8% legislators have been decrying while working on this deal.

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Daily Digest - July 8: Rebranding Doesn't Solve GOP Problems, or Workers'

Jul 8, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party? (WaPo)

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Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party? (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal thinks that the libertarian populist agenda that some are suggesting for the GOP is just a rebranding and doesn't help the working class or unemployed. A platform that fails to address the jobs crisis won't help in 2014.

Why Republicans Want to Tax Students and Not Polluters (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich is frustrated that the GOP is following the Koch brothers' lead and blocking climate bills with revenue increases, even as they support raising student loan interest rates. We shouldn't put lowering the deficit on people paying back student loans.

Oregon Lawmakers Pioneer Tuition-Free 'Pay it Forward, Pay it Back' College Plan (ABC News)

Susanna Kim reports on Oregon's brand new plan for financing public higher education: students attend tuition-free, but pay the state a small percentage of their income for twenty years following graduation.

The Legacy of the Boomer Boss (NYT)

Gar Alperovitz thinks that as business owners prepare to retire, the morally and economically sound option is to sell their business to the workers. It's a better legacy, he argues, then handing over your hard work to a corporation.

Congress Is Squandering the Opportunity of a Lifetime (TAP)

Jamelle Bouie says that it is time to take advantage of low interest rates and solve our jobs and infrastructure problems simultaneously. There won't be a better moment — Fed interest rates are already starting to rise.

The Jobs Report was Pretty Good! The Market Response Isn’t. (WaPo)

Neil Irwin sees the financial markets making all-or-nothing responses to every piece of data available, from statements by the Fed to Friday's jobs numbers. The problem is that one datapoint on jobs isn't enough to make informed predictions about our economic future.

A Good Jobs Report, but a New Low-Wage Reality (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm points out that while we created more jobs than expected in June, many were in low-wage fields, and the number of workers who work part-time because they can't find full-time work is still up. This is a problem that job creation alone won't solve.

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Daily Digest - July 5: Part-Time World

Jul 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Part-Timer Problem (TAP)

Harold Meyerson wonders if the employer mandate would really have helped many get health insurance in the first place, since full-time jobs have been on the decline for years. Saner, he thinks, would be to separate employment and health care entirely.

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The Part-Timer Problem (TAP)

Harold Meyerson wonders if the employer mandate would really have helped many get health insurance in the first place, since full-time jobs have been on the decline for years. Saner, he thinks, would be to separate employment and health care entirely.

Job Creation and the Affordable Care Act Have Little to Do with Each Other (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein argues that the Affordable Care Act should not effect job growth, and in fact could lower the cost of labor. Besides that, he thinks we should judge the bill as a health care bill, because it isn't a jobs bill.

The GOP’s Endless War on Obamacare, and the White House Delay (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich suggests that the delay in implementing the employer mandate will only give Republicans more time to attempt to convince Americans that they don't want this law that will help to reduce health care inequality.

As Sequestration Cuts Bite, Congress is Content with Recrimination (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore sees the lack of action to fix sequestration as a sign of the larger problem of Congress's unwillingness to actually pass a budget or any other major legislation. She thinks the window for that work will close as soon as midterm campaigns begin.

How the Sequester Savages the Long-Term Unemployed (The Nation)

George Zornick reports that as sequestration continues, cuts to Emergency Unemployment Compensation are putting the long-term unemployed in an even tighter spot. His interview subject points out that meanwhile, Congress is still drawing a full salary and benefits.

Four Years Into Recovery, Austerity’s Toll is At Least 3 Million Jobs (Working Economics)

Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz look at data that demonstrates just how much austerity has cost job growth over the past four years, and suggest that ending austerity policies, starting with sequestration, is the most logical next step.

Rosy Data Suggest Faster Job Growth (WaPo)

Ylan Mui explains why some groups are saying that the jobs numbers being released this morning will be higher than recent months. Others think it is more likely that job growth will prove to continue at the same slow and steady pace.

 

 

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Daily Digest - July 2: Staying in Small Town, USA

Jul 2, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Roosevelt’s Legacy, Burning Brightly (NYT)

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Roosevelt’s Legacy, Burning Brightly (NYT)

Edward Rothstein reports on the newly renovated Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. The overhaul, the first since FDR dedicated the library in 1941, has been open to the public since Sunday.

Bright Kids, Small City (TAP)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz speaks to Millennials who have chosen to live in Harrisburg, PA on why they are staying in the Rust Belt, reversing a fifty-year trend of young people moving away. A risk-averse approach to money is central to that decision.

Washington Shrugs as Student Loan Rates Double (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm explains why no one in Congress seems to be doing anything about yesterday's student loan interest rate hike. Congress feels no urgency when the next set of loans won't be taken out until August, so they’re taking a break for the holiday instead.

We Must Hate Our Children (Salon)

Joan Walsh can't come up with any other reason that we would accept the idea that incurring massive amounts of debt for school is a necessary part of starting out in life.

Don't Blame Unemployment Insurance for Our Jobs Crisis (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien looks at a study that shows that the labor market is just broken, and collecting unemployment insurance doesn't stop people from looking for jobs. Cutting benefits just keeps people from being able to pay their bills, which doesn't exactly help the economy.

War on the Unemployed (NYT)

Paul Krugman questions why the benefit cuts in North Carolina and other actions against the unemployed aren't getting more attention. Punishing the unemployed won't increase economic growth, which means it won't help anyone get a new job faster.

Non-Union Federally-Contracted Workers Will Stage Second Strike Today (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson continues to report on the strikes organized by Good Jobs Nation to pressure the federal government to raise labor standards for federal contractors. Strikers report violations of minimum wage and overtime laws by contractors who work in federal buildings.

The Truth About Immigration Reform and the Economy (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich counters three myths about how immigration reform will affect the economy. Our economic struggles, both short-term and long-term, could actually be nicely solved by a large increase in young workers paying into the system.

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Daily Digest - June 26: The Costs of Climate Change

Jun 26, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Helping the Economic Climate (U.S. News & World Report)

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Helping the Economic Climate (U.S. News & World Report)

David Brodwin disagrees with those who argue that we cannot "afford" to fight climate change. There are immense money-saving options built into climate change plans, and a broad-based carbon tax could be the best solution.

  • Roosevelt Take: Former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson was honored at this month's Roosevelt Institute Distinguished Public Service Awards for her work on climate change in the Obama Administration. Watch our video honoring her here.

Grayson Announces Bill to Let Workers Personally Sue Bosses Who Retaliate (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson explains how Congressman Grayson's bill addresses weaknesses in the National Labor Relations Act, expanding workers' legal recourse to include civil cases against the individual instead of the corporation and significantly increasing related fines.

Employers Still Dodging Minimum Wage Law 75 Years After Its Passage (HuffPo)

According to Saki Knafo, 26% of low-wage workers report being paid less than minimum wage, and 76% report being denied overtime pay, primarily due to incorrect classification as contractors. These violations are so widespread that the Department of Labor can't handle all the cases.

The Best Argument for Studying English? The Employment Numbers (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann suggests that people are too hard on humanities majors when they say such degrees are useless for finding a job, because English and history majors have unemployment rates that are on-par with other fields that are not pre-professional.

Paul Ryan Focusing More on Hurting the Poor (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait lays out Paul Ryan's strategy for poverty these days: cutting benefits wherever possible. Ryan seems to think that the best way to help the un- and underemployed is to cut their food stamps, because hunger is a great motivator.

Spielberg Test: Why the One Percenters Don’t Deserve Twice as Much (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah argues that if even Steven Spielberg's market value has not consistently increased over the past forty years, then there is no reason to assume that the 1% inherently deserve their doubled income share in that time.

Foreclosure settlement a billion-dollar bust (USA Today)

Julie Schmit reports on the inadequacy of a recent settlement orchestrated by the government for victims of foreclosure abuse. Two-thirds of the payouts are only $300, which is clearly not sufficient to make up for the lose of a house.

New on Next New Deal

Can the Taper Matter? Revisiting a Wonkish 2012 Debate

As Ben Bernanke tests the waters for changes to the Fed's stimulus policies, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that monetary policy is about more than just expectations.

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Daily Digest - June 21: Changing Definitions, Unchanging Realities for Workers

Jun 21, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Is it Time to Tweak Obamacare? Sen. Joe Donnelly Thinks So. (WaPo)

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Is it Time to Tweak Obamacare? Sen. Joe Donnelly Thinks So. (WaPo)

Sarah Kliff speaks to the Senator, who wants to change the definition of full-time hours in the Affordable Care Act from 30 to 40. He wants to prevent part-time workers from getting their hours cut due to employers who don’t want to offer health insurance.

Who Killed Equality? (Bloomberg)

Ezra Klein says that the usual arguments on economic inequality ignore the power of government to set the rulebook, drawing on the work of Dean Baker. The current set of rules exacerbate income inequality, but they don't have to stay on the books.

The Economy Can’t Recover If the Workers Don’t (Campaign for America's Future)

Robert Borosage is concerned by the Fed's changing tone on the economic crisis and recovery, because as far as most Americans are concerned, we're still in the middle of the crisis. Stock market improvements are not average worker recovery.

Cutting Wages Won’t Create Jobs (The Hill)

Jack Temple argues that when we don't raise the minimum wage, we're effectively cutting it due to inflation, and that isn't helping unemployment. In fact, an increase in the minimum wage would serve as a major stimulus for the economy.

The Unpaid Internship Racket (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah considers the moral failings of unpaid internships, which go alongside their frequent illegality as shown by last week's ruling against Fox Searchlight. Beyond the inequality and abuse, there's the simple formulation that interns are workers, and workers get paid.

Profits Without Production (NYT)

Paul Krugman suggests that the biggest difference between today's economy and the past's is the growth of monopoly rents, or profits tied primarily to market dominance. This depresses perceived return on investments and wages, contributing to our weak recovery.

Bank of America Whistleblowers Allege Rot at the Core of the Mortgage Industrial Complex (HuffPo)

Ray Brescia reports on some of the most serious charges revealed in affidavits filed in litigation against Bank of America. If this is Bank of America's way of reforming its foreclosure practices, then it is clear that more oversight is necessary.

New on Next New Deal

One More Day for Women's Equality in New York

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn writes on New York Governor Cuomo's Women's Equality Act, which contains one of the most progressive pieces of abortion legislation in the country. But the legislative session ends today, and the State Senate seems unwilling to take a vote on the issue.

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