EPI News

‘Air toxics rule’ is no threat to job growth

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In the new briefing paper A Lifesaver, Not a Job Killer: EPA’s proposed “air toxics rule” is no threat to job growth, economist Josh Bivens finds that new regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in March on mercury, arsenic, and other toxic air pollution from power plants would have a significant positive impact on health and quality-of-life outcomes in addition to having a slightly positive impact on job growth in coming years.

Presenting a comprehensive review of the regulations known as “the toxics rule,” Bivens’ analysis counters the oft-repeated claims that regulations destroy jobs.

“The toxics rule would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015,” said Bivens.

The major health benefits (e.g., up to 17,000 lives saved and 11,000 fewer heart attacks) coupled with the resultant job growth underscore the importance of these new regulations. Along with promoting a clean energy economy, Bivens concludes that these regulations will generate great benefits at moderate costs and, along the way, likely create some jobs.

The job market deteriorates

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April report released on Tuesday June 7 offered no good news for jobseekers: The total number of job openings in April was 3.0 million, while the total number of unemployed workers was 13.7 million.  In her analysis, EPI economist Elise Gould explained that these numbers mean the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings deteriorated from 4.3-to-1 in March to 4.6-to-1 in April.

April marked the 28th consecutive month that the “job seekers ratio” has been substantially above 4-to-1, which means that there are still no jobs for 3 out of 4 unemployed workers.

In a larger context, Gould said that “the average number of hires per month in the first four months of 2011 is 27% below the average number of hires per month in 2006, though there are nearly twice as many unemployed workers.”

Simply put, job seekers still contend with a weak labor market that has a profound lack of opportunities.

Underemployed with a college degree

In this week’s Economic Snapshot, Lack of jobs, not lack of skills, explains underemployment rate, EPI researchers Andy Green and Josh Bivens debunk the “skills mismatch” theory, the notion that part of the reason the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high is that too many American workers lack the skills and education currently demanded by employers.

Underemployment—even among workers with a bachelor’s degree or more education—grew significantly from 3.9% in December 2007 to 8.4% in March 2011.  The high underemployment rate for the economy’s best-educated workers is more evidence of “a general lack of job growth rather than a deficit of skills or education among its workers,” the authors conclude.

Connecticut Paid Sick Days passes House and Senate

On June 4, a bill requiring the provision of paid sick days passed both the Connecticut House and Senate and is awaiting forthcoming signature by Governor Dannel Malloy. Leading to the bill’s passage, EPI provided key research in its paper, Paid Sick Days: Measuring the small costs for Connecticut businesses. EPI researchers Doug Hall and Elise Gould found that the cost of providing paid sick time to employees in Connecticut is extremely small relative to a company’s total sales.  Doug Hall shared these findings with the editorial boards of Connecticut newspapers and hosted a briefing call for state officials, including legislators and key staff people, members of the executive branch, the Governor’s Office, and the State Comptroller’s Office.  EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey also explained the bill’s importance during a public hearing.

EPI in the News

·         EPI economist Monique Morrissey and EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey contributed the opinion piece “No Pension, No Security” to the New York Times discussion forum that asked “Do Older Workers Need a Nudge?” They offered a succinct answer: “Most workers look forward to retirement. Therefore, the best way to nudge workers into retirement is simply to make it affordable. Policy makers should build a retirement system that combines the cost-effectiveness and security of traditional pensions with the portability and limited employer liability of 401(k)s.”

·         The Atlantic cited Heidi Shierholz on trends in age group and labor force participation.

·         EPI economist Josh Bivens was quoted in the Washington Post article Good for Obama’s jobs council, good for America? Describing the labor market’s slow return to pre-recession levels in contrast to corporate profits, he said: “In the last couple recoveries, and especially in this one, you’ve seen corporate profits improve and even reach their pre-recession levels much quicker than the labor market…[Multinationals] can latch on to a global economy where parts of it are doing much better than the U.S.”