Daily Digest - July 3: America's Workforce is Still Segregated After All These Years

Jul 3, 2014Tim Price

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On the Civil Rights Act's 50th, Workplaces Remain Segregated (Colorlines)

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On the Civil Rights Act's 50th, Workplaces Remain Segregated (Colorlines)

Though the Civil Rights Act brought legal segregation to an end decades ago, people of color are still being pushed into lower-paying occupations, writes Rinku Sen.

  • Roosevelt Take: A new infographic from the Roosevelt Institute's Future of Work initiative outlines five policy proposals that would promote an inclusive workforce.

Domestic Care for Family Members Isn't Valued If Its Givers Are Exploited (Truthout)

In a book excerpt, Sheila Bapat cites research from Roosevelt Fellow Annette Bernhardt and others to show how domestic workers are shut out from standard labor protections.

We Know We Work Too Much. Now How Do We Stop It? (New Republic)

Bryce Covert looks at paid leave and vacation laws, health care reform, work-sharing programs, and other potential statutory solutions to America's oversized workweek.

Porsches, Potholes and Patriots (NYT)

The Fourth of July should prompt a celebration of America's great public investments -- and an acknowledgment that they depended on taxes, writes Nicholas Kristof.

Census: One-Quarter of Americans Now Live in "Poverty Areas" (Slate)

Data from 2010 shows that a growing number of Americans live in areas where more than 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line, notes Jordan Weissmann.

Yellen Drives Wedge Between Monetary Policy, Financial Bubbles (Reuters)

Fed chair Janet Yellen says monetary policy is the wrong tool to curb financial risk, report Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider. She sees no need to raise rates at present. 

New on Next New Deal

Graduated and Living With Your Parents? You May Be Luckier Than You Think.

Millennials forced to move home may have their economic futures determined by where they were born, writes Roosevelt Campus Network Operations Director Lydia Bowers.

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Graduated and Living With Your Parents? You May Be Luckier Than You Think.

Jul 3, 2014Lydia Bowers

Millennials who are being forced to move back home may have their economic futures determined by the affluence of their birthplace rather than their own ability.

Millennials who are being forced to move back home may have their economic futures determined by the affluence of their birthplace rather than their own ability.

If you could live in Westchester County, NY or Logan County, OH, which would you choose? What if you were young, college-educated, and just entering the workforce? Recent articles about the return of college-educated Millennials, “the boomerang generation," to their parents' homes focus on how income inequality has contributed to the phenomenon overall. But what is critically overlooked is how this situation stratifies inequality within the Millennial generation and reinforces generational economic privilege.

Compare Sarah and Jess. Both graduated from Notre Dame University in 2013 with degrees in English. Both have similar GPAs and campus activities, and as graduation neared, neither was able to find a job. But what makes them different is that after graduation, Sarah moved back in with her parents in Westchester County while Jess moved home to Logan County.  Westchester County has a per capita income of $48,385, an opportunity score (an aggregated score measuring the educational attainment, economic strength, and community health of a town or county) of A-, and is located within easy commuting distance of New York City – a major metropolitan hub with over 8 million residents that provides ample opportunity for job-hunting. Logan County has a significantly lower per capita income of $22,993, and an opportunity score of C+. The nearest metropolitan hub, Columbus, is over an hour away, requiring a burdensome commute for job-hunting. These two women, who were nearly indistinguishable on paper at graduation, have profoundly different economic outlooks after moving home.

Let's imagine both women have the national average amount of student loan debt, $24,301, averaging out to payments of $279.66 a month for the next 10 years. And let's be generous and assume both women are lucky enough to find jobs in their fields at the median per capita income for their respective towns. Sarah, with almost twice the income of Jess, is able to double her monthly loan payments, becoming debt-free five years earlier than Jess and saving over $4,000 in interest. This puts Sarah on the path to financial stability much sooner.

A college degree used to be a ticket out of a predetermined economic destiny based on your location of birth. In a country where the likelihood that a child raised in the bottom fifth income level will rise to the top fifth can range from 4 percent to 25 percent depending on county of residence, college was traditionally viewed as the equalizer – a chance to escape the economic limitations of your hometown. But, for the one-in-five people in their 20s and early 30s currently living with parents, this is no longer the case. With the rising costs of rent in almost every major metropolitan area, many unemployed or underemployed college graduates will find moving home their only option. And if they are fortunate to have a home in an economically robust area, they will have leverage over their counterparts elsewhere. And as most children who come from economically robust areas come from financially privileged families, this is an example of income inequality growing starker through generational privilege.

College graduates aren’t looking for special treatment, but simply the chance to define their own economic destiny. Policies that work in tandem to address the rise in student loan debt, the affordability of housing in urban areas, and the economic growth needed to create jobs for young graduates are part of the solution. But ultimately, we need to address inequality and acknowledge that for some graduates opportunity is not based on potential but hometown. And that a familial zip code matters more than personal ability should be a rallying cry for anyone concerned about the future of a country once viewed as the "land of opportunity” for all.

Lydia Bowers is Operations Director for the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network.

Image via Thinkstock

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The Supreme Court's One-Two Punch Against Women's Health: McCullen and Hobby Lobby

Jul 2, 2014Andrea Flynn

The Court's rulings place more barriers, both physical and financial, between U.S. women and basic health care.

The Court's rulings place more barriers, both physical and financial, between U.S. women and basic health care.

In the last week the Supreme Court announced two decisions that could dramatically change the landscape of women’s health access in the United States. It will be some time before we know the full impact of McCullen v. Coakley and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, but in the short term two things are for sure. The decisions will make it more difficult and less safe for many women to get the care they need, and they will undoubtedly embolden a conservative movement that hardly needs fortification.

The last three years brought record setbacks to women’s health and rights. More abortion restrictions were enacted between 2011-2013 (205) than in the entire previous decade (189). Today nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider and more than 56 percent of U.S. women live in a state hostile to abortion. In many states the procedure has essentially been regulated out of existence. But it’s not just abortion rights that are under attack. The days of conservatives being “anti-abortion” but pro-family planning are long behind us. Today’s conservatives view birth control as the gateway drug to abortion, and regulate it with the same zeal they once saved for abortion.

Restrictions to Title X funding are closing publicly funded clinics around the country. Those clinics serve to provide reproductive health services to low-income and young women, and the majority do not even provide abortions. There is reason to fear that other conservative states are following the lead of Texas, where thousands of women are dealing with the consequences of a complete lack of access to basic health care thanks to lawmakers who have closed a record number of clinics. 

Making matters worse, today 24 states are not participating in the Medicaid expansion originally mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving two-thirds of poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of low-wage workers uninsured.

It’s against this backdrop that we have McCullen and Hobby Lobby, two decisions that are effectively a one-two punch to U.S. women. They allow employers to erect financial barriers to contraceptive choice and embolden protesters to serve as physical and emotional barriers to women’s basic health care. 

In McCullen, the Court struck down as a violation of free speech a Massachusetts law that provided a 35-foot “buffer zone” around clinics that provide abortion. The law was created to protect patients entering clinics, and many states have similar regulations in place. It’s unclear what will happen to those other buffer zones. It’s also more than slightly ironic that the Supreme Court, the very body responsible for upholding freedom of speech, has a 100-foot buffer zone that is still intact.

Protesters will feel vindicated in their attempt to persuade, intimidate, threaten, and terrorize women from accessing care to which they are constitutionally guaranteed. Last weekend the Boston clinic at the heart of the McCullen case saw a threefold increase in protesters. That’s just in Massachusetts. Clinics in more conservative states regularly see hundreds of protesters on a given day.

Hobby Lobby was just one of more than 50 companies (supported by organizations like the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty) that took issue with the ACA’s “contraceptive mandate,” the requirement that all employer-based health plans fully cover, without cost sharing, all FDA-approved methods of contraception. These companies filed claims against the mandate, arguing that intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and emergency contraception (EC) constitute abortion and therefore being required to provide coverage for those methods was a violation of their religious liberty. Never mind that by all accepted medical standards those methods prevent, not terminate, pregnancy. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, allowing “closely held” companies – generally understood to be those having more than 50 percent of the value of their stock owned by five or fewer individuals – to refuse coverage of certain contraceptive methods.

So, what happens now? Well, most women who work for Hobby Lobby and other such companies will no longer have access to the contraceptive method of their choice. They will have to decide if they want to pay for those methods out of pocket or go to a clinic where they can receive subsidized care, if they are lucky enough to have access to one. This will place additional and unnecessary pressure on an already embattled public health infrastructure.

The majority claimed the Hobby Lobby ruling was narrow and would not have the sweeping consequences suggested in Justice Ginsburg’s scathing and on-point dissent. I’m not convinced. According to Harvard Business Review, 90 percent of U.S. companies are considered closely held, and those companies employ more than 51 percent of U.S. workers. There are already at least 80 other cases waiting to follow in Hobby Lobby’s footsteps. Given conservatives’ strategic organizing and employers’ willingness to carry the anti-reproductive rights, anti-Obama, anti-ACA banner, others will surely join the cause.

For the time being, the ACA – and the mandate – remain intact, even if somewhat fractured. We should continue to fight for the full implementation of the ACA, a historic – and by all measures successful – piece of legislation that is advancing the vision FDR articulated more than 70 years ago when he called for a Second Bill of Rights. That vision included medical care to allow all Americans to achieve and enjoy good health.

In falsely pitting freedom of speech and religion against women’s rights – as if women don’t also have rights to those same freedoms – the Supreme Court has given momentum to an already fast-moving train. Conservatives will only have more resolve to continue tearing down the building blocks of women’s health and rights. It’s going to take a lot to stop them. A lot of outrage, a lot of action, and a lot of engaged voters committed to standing up for women’s rights. Here’s hoping we can make that happen.

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

Image via Thinkstock

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Daily Digest - June 30: Inequality is a Choice We Can Stop Making

Jun 30, 2014Tim Price

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

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Inequality Is Not Inevitable (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that policies and politics have created America's economic divide, and only engaged citizens can fix it.

  • Roosevelt Take: For more on Stiglitz's plan to address inequality, read his Roosevelt Institute white paper on tax reform.

How Cities Can Take on Big Cable (Bloomberg View)

The Federal Communications Commission should preempt state laws that ban cities from building competitive fiber networks, writes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford.

Public Sector Unions Could Radically Change This Week (WaPo)

Today's Supreme Court decision on Harris v. Quinn could seriously weaken public employee unions if their compulsory dues are ruled unconstitutional, notes Lydia DePillis.

Will the Government Finally Regulate the Most Predatory Industry in America? (The Nation)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering new rules to protect the 12 million Americans a year who rely on high-interest payday lenders, reports Zoe Carpenter.

Why This Company Decided to Make Its Salaries Public to All Employees (Think Progress)

The CEO of data analytics company SumAll tells Bryce Covert that increased pay transparency has led to greater productivity and trust and less stress over compensation.

What Americans Think of the Poor (Prospect)

A new Pew poll shows that even many conservatives who agree that "poor people have it easy" also believe the economic system is unfair, writes Paul Waldman.

New on Next New Deal

Summer Vacation is Feeding the Achievement Gap

Students from low-income families face substantial setbacks without access to summer learning programs, write Roosevelt Institute Director of Operations Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove and policy intern Candace Richardson.

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Summer Vacation is Feeding the Achievement Gap

Jun 27, 2014Sarah Pfeifer VandekerckhoveCandace Richardson

Learning loss during summer vacation is far worse for students of lower socioeconomic status, making low-cost and free educational summer programming essential.

Learning loss during summer vacation is far worse for students of lower socioeconomic status, making low-cost and free educational summer programming essential.

New York City public schools begin summer break today. For many students, summer is a time to rest, travel and play, and a recent study even demonstrates the critical role of play in a student’s future academic and financial success. But extensive research shows that these few months away from the structured activities of school are particularly detrimental to the academic achievement of students of low SES (socioeconomic status) families. Without access and exposure to educational enrichment opportunities during the summer months, these students face substantial setbacks in their academic development.

Of course, all students experience some learning loss during the summer months. Research on the “summer slide” phenomenon shows that nearly all students perform worse on standardized tests taken at the end of summer vacation than the same test taken at the end of the previous school year and lose two months of math skills over the summer months.

For low SES students, however, summer slide does even greater damage to their academic achievement year over year, increasing the achievement gap as well as the likelihood that such students will drop out of high school or not attend college. Summer slide occurring during elementary school alone contributes to at least half of the SES achievement gap by the time students reach 9th grade.  In fact, low SES high school students are eight times less likely to attend a four-year college, compared with their high SES peers.

While only about 20% of students from low-income families participate in summer learning programs, high-income families can afford to expose their children to a variety of enrichment activities, including summer camp. In February, TimeOut published a list of upcoming academic summer camps in New York City that offer exciting sessions on robots, chemistry, reading, and math along with many educational field trips to museums and zoos, with the average cost of these camps totaling $2,176 per month.  For the seventy-eight percent of New York City’s 1.1 million students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch ($43,568 annually for a family of four) that’s nearly 60 percent of their family’s monthly income, meaning these academic summer camps are out of the question for the families whose kids need them the most.

Cost is only one of many barriers to summer program participation for low SES families. Accessibility plays a big role. For instance, the New York City Department of Education’s Summer Quest, a free, five-week enrichment program to combat summer slide, is only available at 22 of the city’s 1700 public schools. And while NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have strongly encouraged participation in summer enrichment programs, only about 55,000 low SES students will receive free programming this summer.

Despite the efforts to engage students in summer enrichment programs, New York City still has a long way to go.

About one-third of the achievement gap can be attributed to a child’s SES before they even enter kindergarten. Combatting the 31.4% child poverty rate in New York City through expansion of Home Visiting programs can go along way in getting students off on the right foot. This is just one of many policy solutions that arose at the Roosevelt Institute’s recent conference, Inequality Begins at Birth.

Of the 55,000 New York City students receiving free summer programming, De Blasio anticipates that 34,000 of those will be middle-schoolers. Increasing the engagement of elementary school children will mitigate substantial growth in the achievement gap, as early academic setbacks compound over time. The DOE can start by expanding NYC Summer Quest and other programs to target younger students, and over time the focus should be on engaging even more of the 850,000+ low SES students in New York City public schools.

Sarah Pfeifer Vandekerckhove is the Roosevelt Institute's Director of Operations.

Candace Richardson is a Policy Intern for the Four Freedoms Center.

Chart from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

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Daily Digest - June 27: NLRB Ruling is Politics as Usual

Jun 27, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

The Myth of America’s Golden Age (POLITICO Magazine)

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The Myth of America’s Golden Age (POLITICO Magazine)

Growing up in Gary, Indiana gave Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz early insight into inequality, which is a result of politics and not an economic inevitability, he says.

Presidential Appointments Were Already a Total Nightmare. They Just Got Worse. (MoJo)

Patrick Caldwell breaks down the NLRB v. Canning decision, and explains how it will increase obstructionism in Congress by reducing real recesses.

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (Supreme Court)

President's Obama's appointments to the NLRB in December 2011 occurred during a three-day adjournment, not a true recess, so the Supreme Court has ruled the appointments invalid. Justice Breyers delivers the Court's opinion.

What Happened When the City of Boston Asked Teenagers for Help With the Budget (Next City)

Hollie Russon Gilman reports that when 12-25 year olds were given responsibility for $1 million of Boston's budget, they funded parks, the arts, and educational technology.

To Get a Fair Share, Sharing-Economy Workers Must Unionize (AJAM)

Susie Cagle talks to Uber driver Ramzi Reguii about his work to organize his fellow drivers. They've already rallied together to prevent Uber from requiring some drivers to buy new cars.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Operations Director Lydia Bowers looks at how the sharing economy exploits unprotected workers.

More Than Three Quarters of Conservatives Say the Poor “Have it Easy” (WaPo)

Christopher Ingraham sees this widespread agreement among conservatives as the most striking result in the Pew Research Center's massive survey of American politics.

The Crisis of Student Loans is Real, No Matter What Pundits Tell You (The Guardian)

David Dayen says the Brookings student debt report fails by focusing on the average income of college graduates overall, which ignores how badly the job market has harmed recent graduates.

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Daily Digest - June 26: People Awaken to Find Wall Street is a Crooked Road

Jun 26, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Wall Street and Washington Want You to Believe the Stock Market isn't Rigged. Guess What? It Still Is (The Guardian)

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Wall Street and Washington Want You to Believe the Stock Market isn't Rigged. Guess What? It Still Is (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore says investment in the stock market isn't down due to low investor confidence, but because more people are realizing the system isn't equal for all investors.

A Cure for Bloated CEO pay (Fortune)

Dean Baker proposes a "Director's Roulette" provision, which would withhold directors' compensation if a CEO pay package they approve had been voted down by a shareholder Say-on-Pay vote.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow and Director of Research Susan Holmberg examines how Say-on-Pay begins to curb executive compensation.

Why did the White House Pass Up an Opportunity to Support a (Mostly) Good, Bipartisan Idea? (WaPo)

The White House rejected the proposed gas tax, needed to save the Highway Trust Fund that pays for infrastructure, but Jared Bernstein says an imperfect fix would have been better than nothing.

How the Government Subsidizes Wealth Inequality (CAP)

Harry Stein proposes that the U.S. government could reduce wealth inequality simply by changing tax policy for capital gains, since current subsidies give $2 trillion to the wealthy over 10 years.

How Connecticut’s Smart New Pension Plan Can Prevent Poverty in Retirement (The Nation)

Connecticut's new plan, which offers statewide benefits to private sector workers, will cost less than helping greater numbers of elderly poor down the line, writes Michelle Chen.

Ikea Plans to Increase Minimum Hourly Pay (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on Ikea's new wage structure, which sets minimum wages on a store-by-store basis based on local cost of living, with an average minimum wage of $10.76.

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Daily Digest - June 24: What We Talk About When We Talk About Poverty

Jun 24, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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21st Century Democrats: Konczal on GOP Misunderstanding Charity (America's Democrats.org)

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21st Century Democrats: Konczal on GOP Misunderstanding Charity (America's Democrats.org)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discusses his article on "The Voluntarism Fantasy," the false idea that private charity could provide for the needs of the poorest Americans.

Get Sick, Get Fired: America's Low-Wage Workers Push Back (TAP)

Sharon Lerner says the fight over paid sick leave is characteristic of larger fights over the nature of democracy, and whether the desires of the common people are being accounted for.

Washington is Making Inequality Worse (MSNBC)

A new study suggests that growing political polarization and rising income inequality are linked. Timothy Noah emphasizes that polarization stems from the GOP moving to the right.

Massachusetts Nannies and Housekeepers Now Protected From Long Days, Abuse, Sexual Harassment (The Nation)

Michelle Chen speaks to some of the workers who will benefit from Massachusetts's new Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which awaits the governor's signature.

Corporate Close-Up: Should CEO Compensation Determine Corporate Income Tax Rates? (Bloomberg BNA)

Melissa Fernley reports on a new model for corporate income taxes being considered in California, which would scale tax rates based on CEO-to-median worker compensation ratios.

States Undo Food Stamp Felon Bans (HuffPo)

California and Missouri are giving more ex-offenders access to food stamps, reports Arthur Delaney. He says this is an opportunity to reduce recidivism by helping people feed their families.

Mankiw, Piketty, and Wealth Taxes (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein argues that economist Greg Mankiw fails to prove that allowing the wealthy to keep more of their wealth will be better for everyone else.

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Daily Digest - June 23: Weak Labor, Low Wages Feed Unstable Housing Market

Jun 23, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Housing Market Falters Amid Rising Prices, Lower-Paying Jobs (Bloomberg)

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Housing Market Falters Amid Rising Prices, Lower-Paying Jobs (Bloomberg)

Kathleen M. Howley reports on new, weaker forecasts for the housing market, and blames slow labor growth, which is primarily in low-wage jobs, and stagnant wages.

Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor (NBC News)

A new poll shows a major shift in how Americans perceive the causes of poverty since 1995, writes Seth Freed Wessler. Nearly half of respondents today blame structural causes.

The Economic Argument for Raising Women's Pay (Political Research Associates)

Mariya Strauss assesses the economic benefits of pay equity, which include increased economic growth and tax revenues, as well as a reduced need for public assistance programs.

Republicans Finally Admit Why They Really Hate Obamacare (NY Mag)

As the predictions of Obamacare skeptics are steadily debunked, Jonathan Chait says conservatives are forced to admit they just don't like transfer programs to help the poor.

The Big Lobotomy (Washington Monthly)

Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards look at how Republicans in Congress have cut the Congressional workforce, reducing expertise and capacity as well as limiting their own effectiveness.

Why Inequality Might Make Kids Drop Out of High School (WaPo)

A new study suggests that the "economic despair" caused by increased inequality is the reason for higher dropout rates, reports Matt O'Brien.

Finally! Big Investors Declare War on Big Banks (The Fiscal Times)

David Dayen reports on a new front in the post-financial crisis legal battle:  a group of investors sues the trustee banks that assembled mortgage bonds for abandoning quality standards.

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Daily Digest - June 19: Government Has the Power to End the Student Debt Crisis

Jun 19, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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College is Ruining Lives! How to Stop Student Debt’s Paralyzing Spiral (Salon)

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our Monday through Friday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

College is Ruining Lives! How to Stop Student Debt’s Paralyzing Spiral (Salon)

David Dayen calls for free tuition at public colleges and universities, and for the federal government to stop using private student loan servicers that put profits ahead of borrowers.

  • Roosevelt Take: Loan servicers lose money when student loans are paid off ahead of schedule, but Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that shouldn't concern taxpayers.

The Fed of Magical Thinking: Why is Janet Yellen Ignoring the Rest of Us? (The Guardian)

The Federal Reserve uses a measure of inflation that doesn't include food or gas, which Heidi Moore says leaves the central bank out of step with ordinary Americans' concerns.

Cutting the Poor Out of Welfare (NYT)

Thomas Edsall blames recent increases in extreme poverty on ostensibly anti-poverty policy shifts that support married and working adults over all other people living in poverty.

Obama: US Must ‘Strengthen Unions’ (The Hill)

Justin Sink reports on the President's statements on unions at a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh, where he credited organized labor with building the country's middle class.

Increasing Wages is an Effective Poverty Reduction Tool (TalkPoverty)

Elise Gould says that rising inequality is the flip side of nearly three decades of stagnant wages, and reversing this stagnation will require pro-worker labor policy.

Does Innovation Always Lead to Gentrification? (Pacific Standard)

Kyle Chayka argues that innovation districts, filled with new and growing businesses, should be built to benefit an economically diverse population instead of just young workers.

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