Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NJ.COM: Wide support for raising NJ minimum wage in November ballot question

In my state, New Jersey, the minimum wage is only $7.25. In June of 2012, the NJ senate and house voted to increase the NJ minimum wage to $8.50. However, Gov. Christie vetoed the bill in January of 2013. Now  the legislature is proposing a constitutional amendment to raise the wage to $8.25 and index it to inflation. The amendment will appear on the November ballot.

A survey show that about 3/4 of the registered voters favored the initiative. NJ.COM has the story here.

Many states are planning initiaitve to raise the minimum wage. The department of labor has a map of the current minimum wage pay rates in the US. The DOL map is here. Some big Northeastern states like NY, NJ, PA and MD pay only the federal minimum wage rate.

Recent research has shown that minimum wage increases are employment neutral to employment positive because the people who receive the minimum wage spend almost 100% of their money. It also has less of an impact on small business since the majority of minimum wage employers are large companies.

Politically, the issue has gotten little attention and is expected to pass easily.  Christine, who has presidential ambitions, will mostly likely ignore the issue or make half-hearted arguments against it, to provide cover against the national Republicans.

The reason we noticed the issue was because of a group called  EPI -- The Employment Policies Institute has been running ads in New Jersey against the increase. NJ.COM has the ad for the group here. The Employment Policies Institue is a front for a convervative public relations company called Berman and Co. who's clients include companies in the low wage food and beverage industry.  You can read about Berman & Co. here and here.

EPI has two web sites opposed to raising the minimum wage.  One called EPI-Online is against raising the minimum wage and health insurance. The second called Minimumwage.com is purely against raising the minimum wage. Both sites have few facts or research based ideas and instead offer the standard convervative ideas on raising the minimum wage.

Gov. Christie refused to sign a bill during the summer of 2012 that would have raised the wage to $8.50. That led to the current ballot measure. It will interesting to see if he takes a stand on the popular issue. Opposing any minimum wage increase has become a test for republicans.

The ballot measure reads:

"Do you approve amending the State Constitution to set a State minimum wage rate of at least $8.25 per hour? The amendment also requires annual increases in that rate if there are annual increases in the cost of living. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hard work: President Obama's Speech on "A Better Bargin for the Middle Class" at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois

On July 24, 2013, President Obama gave a major economic speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

Here is the text of the President's speech.

What can you say ?  As good journalist you need to first layout the facts and as a blogger you must give your opinion.


Obama discussed the changing economy and the effect of the changes on the middle class in the United States. He discussed the economic environment that everyone is now aware of.  He reviewed the decline in manufacturing, the growth of the service economy, and flat wage growth.

He talked about the main policies that would help the middle class such as healthcare, expanded education opportunities and support for a secure retirement.


The presidents team has realized that the US economy is fundementally a middle class economy. However the middle class has long been disinterested in the US political economy. For the last 30 years, the US middle class had enough material comforts and distractions to not worry about larger issues.    Now, people are faced with a declining living standard not just for their children but themselves.  They are ready to listen.

Obama, is trying to use the opportunity to discuss sound economic and political values that will steer the country for the next 30 years. Some of the principles such as caring for the unemployed, poor, sick or elderly did not connect with an selfish public until enough of them faced a similar situation. Not they are ready to listen.

It's just hard work discussing a compliated, long-term topic with the American People.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

CEPR: Has Education paid off for Black Workers ?

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has a report on education not paying off for Black workers. The report called: "Has Education paid off for Black Workers ?".

Pew Reseach: 46% of African Americans believe there is a lot of discrimination

Pew Reseach has a report on African American perceptions of discrimination. 46% of blacks believe there is a lot of discrimination while only 16% of whites believe the same. The story called "For African Americans, discrimination is not dead" was publish in the fact tank section.

The Verge: Immigration hurts middle class tech workers but helps US businesses

Here is a story from "The Verge" by Ben Popper discussing the impact of H-1B visas on middle class tech workers. It is a called "Is Silicon Valley's immigration agenda gutting the tech industry's middle class ?"

The Global Decline of the Labor Share

Here is the inequality paper everyone is talking about.

The sad truth is here. The Global Decline of the Labor Share.

Wisconsin DWD: Minorities and Women in Construction Trade Apprenticeships 2010

The Wisconsin department of workforce development issued a report in 2010 on the small number of minority and women who participate in construction trade apprenticeships. Trade apprenticeships are one of the most effective ways for non-college youth to earn above market salaries, benefits and job security.

The summary is here: Report Highlights: Minorities and Women in Construction Trade Apprenticeships.

The full report is here: An Evaluation: Minorities and Women in Construction Trade Apprenticeships.

The report had three recommendations: 1) Centrally track the number of minorities and women who apply and participate in Construction Trade Apprenticeships, 2) require local trade committees to develop new affirmative action plans every 5-years, 3) monitor compliance with state requirements to use apprentices on state contracts and 4) give apprentices 180 days to sue for discrimination.

First, you have to admire Wisconsin for going even this far. They actual use the word "Affirmative Action".  And they did created the report which exposed the discrimination by the labor committees.  It is hard to imagine any sort of follow up now that Scott Walker-R is Governor of Wisconsin.

Minorities and Women have long been closed off from participating in these valuable apprenticeship programs. The lack of access is due to pure discrimination: both historical and current.

Few states and cities and been able to do much about the issue due to the "tyranny of the majority" (Tocqueville, Guinier). Essentially, certain types of policies require the support of the majority to be workable. Policies to reduce discrimination are frequently thwarted by a majority who believe minorities increase competition for jobs, lower wages, and steal jobs from non-minorities.  Many construction workers also have a sense of "entitlement to employment"  not seen in other job categories.

So, this is about three years to late, but hats off to Wisconsin's department of workforce development.