Unemployment claims rise for second week in a row: Millions will lose federal unemployment benefits in December unless Senate Republicans act

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday this week, data on unemployment insurance (UI) claims—usually released on Thursdays—were released today. The data show that another 1.1 million people applied for UI benefits last week, including 778,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 312,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The 1.1 million who applied for UI last week was an increase of 22,000 from the prior week’s figures—the second week in a row that initial claims have risen. Further, last week was the 36th straight week total initial claims were greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still greater than the second-worst week of the Great Recession.)

Most states provide 26 weeks of regular benefits, but this crisis has gone on much longer than that. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 299,000, from 6.4 million to 6.1 million.

For now, after an individual exhausts regular state benefits, they can move onto Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is an additional 13 weeks of regular state UI. However, PEUC is set to expire on December 26th (as is PUA—more on these expirations below).

In the latest data available for PEUC, (the week ending November 7) PEUC rose by 132,000, from 4.4 million to 4.5 million, offsetting only about a third of the 414,000 decline in continuing claims for regular state benefits for the same week. Why didn’t PEUC rise more? Many of the roughly 2 million workers who were on UI before the recession began, or who are in states with less than the standard 26 weeks of regular state benefits, are now exhausting PEUC benefits, at the same time others are taking it up. More than 1.5 million workers have exhausted PEUC so far (see column C43 in form ETA 5159 for PEUC here). In some states, if workers exhaust PEUC, they can get on yet another program, Extended Benefits (EB). However, in the latest data, just 601,000 workers were on EB. That’s far less than half of those who have exhausted PEUC. Most are left with nothing.Read more

Racism and the Economy: Focus on Employment

Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, gave the keynote address at the Federal Reserve Symposium on Racism and the Economy. These are her remarks.

According to the Center for Assessment and Policy Development, racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.

In reality, statistical analysis often reveals that racial identity is a measurable, significant, and persistent predictor of labor market outcomes.  Let’s pause and think about that for a moment.  Why should racial identity—something as arbitrary and superficial as physical appearance (skin color)—be statistically correlated with one’s likelihood of being employed or how much they are paid for their labor?

As silly as that sounds, when we consider the origins of race as a social construct, the racial disparities we observe across any number of economic outcomes should come as no surprise.  Since this nation’s inception, race has been used to systematically exclude, marginalize, exploit, and generate unequal economic outcomes, while also being used to justify and normalize those unequal outcomes.

I’m going to start with a few graphical examples of what this looks like in the specific context of black-white inequality.  These images and statistics are probably familiar to many of you, so I’m going to run through them quickly in order to highlight a few key points.  Then, I want to spend most of my time talking about the historical context, policy relevance, and contradictory interpretations of racial disparity.  Finally, I’ll share what role I think the Federal Reserve and others play in addressing racial disparities in employment and wages.

  • Black workers are far more likely to be unemployed than white workers – typically twice as likely.  Even at the historically low rates of unemployment reached in 2019, this was the case overall and at nearly every level of education.  In practical terms, this means that black workers are not just twice as likely to be unemployed as similarly educated white workers but are often more likely to be unemployed than less-educated white workers.
  • Among the employed, black workers face large pay disparities relative to white workers.  These black-white wage gaps have grown over the last 40 years (1979-2019) and are largely unexplained by factors associated with individual productivity. In 2019, the average hourly wage of black workers was 26.5% less than that of white workers (dark blue line).  Relative to white workers with the same education, of the same age and gender, and living in the same geographic division, the gap was 14.9% (light blue line, regression-adjusted gap). In other words, less than half the observed black-white difference in average hourly wage is explained by the main factors presumed to determine pay.
  • The intersection of race and gender imposes a dual wage penalty on black women. In 2019, black women (dark blue line) were paid 33.7% less than their white male counterparts, which was a much larger gap than that faced by either white women (25.7% – light blue line) or black men (22.2% -red line). This is even after the sharp downward trend in the gender wage gap that occurred throughout the 1980s and essentially stopped in the mid-1990s.
  • There has been insufficient vigilance in fighting unemployment since the late 1970s – the same period of time that we have observed growing wage inequality overall and widening wage gaps between black and white workers.  This graph shows the actual rate of unemployment (dark blue) and estimates of the natural rate of unemployment (also referred to as the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment or NAIRU). Between 1979 and 2019, the actual unemployment rate exceeded estimates of the NAIRU by an average of roughly 0.8 percentage points each year.  I’m going to argue that the Fed’s monetary policy has been too contractionary in the decades since 1979 and this has had an adverse effect on closing the black-white wage gap. I’ll say more about this particular point later.

By now, we’ve all heard about the talk Black parents have with their children about how to conduct themselves during interactions with law enforcement.  This talk is based on the painful reality that being black means they are more likely to be judged as dangerous, suspicious or guilty, placing them at greater risk of suffering violence at the hands of police officers.

But there’s another talk that black parents have with their children. That talk goes something like this: You’re going to have to work twice as hard and be twice as good just to get the same recognition and opportunities available to your white colleagues. This talk is informed by painful first-hand experience with the outcomes shown in the slides.

The persistent racial disparities we observe in unemployment and wages arguably provide the most compelling evidence of structural racism in the labor market.

Unemployment disparities

One of the most defining features of the U.S. labor market is the large and persistent disparity in unemployment that exists between Black and white workers.  This disparity is well-documented in decades of official estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dating back to 1972 when the agency first began reporting rates of unemployment by race.  More than 45 years’ worth of data can be summed up in one simple ratio: 2-to-1.  It means black job seekers are about half as likely to secure employment during a consecutive 4-week period as are white job seekers.  This has been true across multiple periods of economic expansion and recession, and is observed for all age cohorts, at every level of education, and for men and women alike.

Over the last four and a half decades, only the most highly educated and most experienced black workers have approached anything near unemployment rate parity with their white counterparts, and only during periods of exceptionally low unemployment.

These empirical data are consistent with multiple field experiments revealing that black job applicants with equivalent, and sometimes superior, credentials to white applicants are less likely to receive job call backs.

Wage inequality

Another defining feature of racial inequality in the labor market are the large disparities in pay between black and white workers.  I remind you that racial pay gaps persist even after accounting for factors commonly associated with individual productivity (education or skills) and have in fact gotten worse over the last forty years.  One of the most troubling aspects of growing black-white wage gaps is the fact that they have grown most among college-educated workers; those presumed to have done all the “right” things, yet still receive lower returns on their investment in higher education than their white counterparts.

In 1979, black bachelor’s degree holders were paid an average hourly wage that was 86.4% of what white bachelor’s degree holders were paid.  The ratio between black and white advanced degree holders was 89.9%.  Fast forward to 2019, and the ratio between black and white bachelor’s degree holders was down 8.9 percentage points to 77.5%; the ratio for those with advanced degrees was down 7.5 percentage points to 82.4%.

These patterns are consistent with the fact that relative to their white counterparts, college-educated black workers are less likely to be employed in positions and industries that have seen the most wage growth in recent decades.  Only 3 percent of all chief executives are African American, and a disproportionate number of them are employed in the public or private nonprofit sectors, where salaries are lower and more likely to be capped than they are in the private for-profit sector where CEO pay has soared in recent decades.1  Moreover, in 2019, Black workers with a college or advanced degree were more likely than their white counterparts to be underemployed based on their skill level—almost 40% were in a job that typically does not require a college degree, compared with 31% of white college graduates.

Unlike unemployment rates that are characterized by a nearly constant 2-to-1 ratio, there have been 4 distinct periods of change in black-white wage inequality. These periods of change have often been consistent with distinctive shifts in policy.

For example, the narrowing of the gap from the late 1960s through the 1970s can be traced to the passage of important Civil rights legislation, and active enforcement of anti-discrimination and affirmative action policy which also contributed to narrowing of the educational attainment gap between Blacks and whites.

On the other hand, the widening of the gap since the 1980s is associated with retrenchment on anti-discrimination policy, in combination with policies and practices that fueled growing wage inequality, including failure to increase the federal minimum wage as the cost of living rose, a decline in union representation, and weaker macroeconomic conditions.

Since the 1980s, there has only be one very brief period of when the gap narrowed, and that occurred during the last five years of the 1990s economic boom.  Notably, the unemployment rate was consistently lower than the natural rate of unemployment for almost 4 years during that time, and without runaway inflation.

Since 2000, the black-white wage gap has widened amid sluggish economic growth, two jobless recoveries, the Great Recession and subsequent recovery that was needlessly hampered by premature fiscal austerity. Fiscal austerity has been especially harmful to black workers who are a disproportionate share of those employed in the public sector where they have historically been drawn by better job opportunities and greater pay equity.

I want to take a moment here to connect black-white wage inequality with the Fed mandate to maximize employment.  Between 1979 and 2019, the ratio of Black to white median wages fell by 8 percentage points (from .83 to .75). Recall that in the last slide I showed, the actual unemployment rate exceeded estimates of the NAIRU by an average of 0.8 percentage points each year during the same time.

In forthcoming work, we use a Phillips wage curve to estimate the relationship between wage growth and the level of unemployment and find that the coefficient for median Black wages is roughly 0.3 percentage points larger (in absolute value) than for median white wages. This indicates that relative wage growth for Black workers would have been roughly 0.25 percent higher each year over that time if, on average, the actual unemployment rate had been equal to the NAIRU instead of above it.  In other words, tighter labor markets (less contractionary monetary policy) could have stopped the deterioration of the Black-white median wage gap. If estimates of the NAIRU are actually too-conservative, and unemployment could have averaged 1 to 2 percentage points lower than that over the 1979-2019 period, the Black-white median wage ratio could have actually gone up, extending the progress made in narrowing the gap during the 1960s and 1970s.

We are now on the heels of the longest period of economic expansion in history. Yet, the ever-present legacy of racism and economic inequality continue to impose a needlessly heavy burden on the backs of black workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

One of the structures contributing to such racially disparate impacts is occupational segregation, characterized by overrepresentation of black workers, and especially black women workers, in low-wage occupations, and underrepresentation in higher-wage occupations. The COVID-19 crisis has popularized the term essential worker, drawing attention to the fact that black workers occupy a disproportionate share of lower-wage jobs in major frontline industries, often with unpredictable work hours (thus, unpredictable pay) and without paid leave or employer-provided health coverage.

Conclusion

In my view, these patterns of persistent racial inequality in the labor market are analogous to horrific videos capturing blatant disregard for black lives. Let me be clear. While losing a job comes nowhere close to losing a life, both are symptoms of the kind of racial injustice that sparked national and international protests this past summer.

Unfortunately, what should be overwhelming evidence of racial injustice gets filtered through our own experiences, perceptions and biases.  In other words, it is our interpretation of the evidence that determines if and how we respond.

Do we recognize these patterns as racial discrimination, and seek to dismantle the structures that assign a relative advantage to being born white and relative penalty to being born black? Or do we seek some other explanation that points to failure on the part of the individual with unfavorable outcomes?

I started with a definition of racial equity as the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted employment outcomes.

I want to end with this definition of racial justice. According to the Applied Research Center, racial justice is the proactive advancement and reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and action that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes for all.

  • Government institutions, and individuals each have a role to play in facilitating racial justice.
  • The Federal Reserve can create a stronger, more stable labor market through consistent full employment.
  • Institutions, such as labor unions, can help workers to have a stronger, collective voice with which to advocate for higher pay, better benefits, training and promotional opportunities, as well as protections against discrimination and harassment.
  • Lawmakers can pass a robust set of labor standards that supports those objectives, and advance fiscal policy that centers racial equity in employment.
  • Businesses can work in partnership with the EEOC to provide greater transparency in hiring, promotion and pay decisions, and to proactively comply with anti-discrimination laws.

In closing, if I could leave you with a simple takeaway, it would be this: Racial justice demands action. Racial equity is the goal. Passivity is not an option.

No improvement in initial unemployment claims as labor market gains falter

Another 1.1 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week, including 742,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 320,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The 1.1 million who applied for UI last week was an increase of 55,000 from the prior week’s figures. Last week was the 35th straight week total initial claims were greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still 3.3 times where they were a year ago.)

Most states provide 26 weeks of regular benefits, but this crisis has gone on much longer than that. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 429,000, from 6.8 million to 6.4 million.

For now, after an individual exhausts regular state benefits, they can move on to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is an additional 13 weeks of regular state UI. However, PEUC is set to expire on December 26 (as is PUA).

In the latest data available for PEUC (the week ending October 31), PEUC rose by 233,000, from 4.1 million to 4.4 million, offsetting only about 60% of the 383,000 decline in continuing claims for regular state benefits for the same week. This is likely due in large part to the fact that many of the roughly 2 million workers who were on UI before the recession began, or who are in states with less than the standard 26 weeks of regular state benefits, are exhausting PEUC benefits at the same time others are taking it up. More than 1.5 million workers have exhausted PEUC so far (see column C43 in form ETA 5159 for PEUC here). Last week, 634,000 workers were on Extended Benefits (EB), which is a program that eligible unemployed workers in some states can get on if they’ve exhausted PEUC.

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Learning during a pandemic: What decreased learning time in school means for student learning

One reflection of how much students have learned and developed since schools closed in March can be found in late Argentinian cartoonist Quino’s 2007 comic strip, in Manolito and his peers’ self-assessments of what they learned in school. When Manolito’s teacher asks, he replies: “From March to today, nothing.” (The implied message is: Others are learning, while he is stuck.)

Lavado, Joaquín Salvador, Quino. 2007. Toda Mafalda. Buenos Aires, Ediciones de la Flor.

As many parents and teachers have seen, these are the likely realities for students in 2020. Because learning time in school matters, and students’ learning and development tend to vary greatly even when schools operate in normal circumstances, challenges to learning were magnified when schools closed—due to prolonged cuts to learning time in school, the access to some “substitute” educational opportunities during the pandemic, and the many factors that influence out-of-school learning.

In this blog post, we review the consequences of reduced learning time in school settings during the pandemic, and what the evidence tells us to do about it when we begin to control the spread of the virus. (For a detailed review of the challenges COVID-19 brought to education and our policy recommendations, see “COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy: Lessons from pre-pandemic research to inform relief, recovery, and rebuilding.”)

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With unemployment benefits for millions of workers set to expire in December, Senate Republicans must stop blocking aid

More than 1.0 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits again last week, including 709,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 298,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of benefits for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like the self-employed. Without congressional action, PUA will expire on December 26 (more on that below).

The 1.0 million who applied for UI last week was a decline of 112,000 from the prior week’s figures. Last week was the 34th straight week total initial claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still more than 3.0 times where they were a year ago.)

Most states provide 26 weeks of regular benefits, but this crisis has gone on much longer than that. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 436,000, from 7.2 million to 6.8 million.

For now, after an individual exhausts regular state benefits, they can move onto Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is an additional 13 weeks of regular state UI. However, like PUA, PEUC is set to expire on December 26 (more on that below).

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Voters chose more than just the president: A review of important state ballot initiative outcomes

With enormous attention focused—understandably—on the outcome of the presidential and congressional races on November 3, it’s easy to forget that voters also decided on nearly 6,000 state legislative races and a host of ballot measures in states and localities, including many with important implications for workers, economic justice, racial equity, and the fight against climate change.

There were 120 statewide measures considered by voters across the country. In this post, we briefly highlight some of the notable measures that would have a meaningful impact on the welfare of workers, families, and communities; the power of workers and communities to have a voice in economic policy decisions; and the ability of all people to achieve economic security, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. We also call attention to the advocacy and research of Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) members in these states, whose work in many cases was critical in explaining the implications of the measures for workers, families, and communities.

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The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows declines in hires: As winter hits, the Biden administration will be facing a mounting, not waning, crisis

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, as of the middle of September, the economy was still 10 million jobs below where it was in February. Job growth slowed considerably over the last few months and the jobs deficit in October was easily over 11.6 million from where we would have been if the economy had continued adding jobs at the pre-pandemic pace.

Today’s BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reports job openings changed little at 6.4 million in September while hires and layoffs fell. While the slowdown in layoffs is promising from 1.5 million to 1.3 million, the softening in hires is a concern (6.0 million to 5.9 million). The U.S. economy is seeing a significantly slower pace of hiring than we experienced in May or June—hiring is roughly where it was before the recession, which is a big problem given that we have more than 11.6 million jobs to make up. And job openings are now substantially below where they were before the recession began (6.4 million at the end of September, compared to 7.1 million on average in the year prior to the recession). No matter how it is measured, the U.S. economy is facing a huge job shortfall.

One of the most striking indicators from today’s report is the job seekers ratio, that is, the ratio of unemployed workers (averaged for mid-September and mid-October) to job openings (at the end of September). On average, there were 11.8 million unemployed workers while there were only 6.4 million job openings. This translates into a job seeker ratio of about 1.8 unemployed workers to every job opening. Another way to think about this: for every 18 workers who were officially counted as unemployed, there were only available jobs for 10 of them. That means, no matter what they did, there were no jobs for 5.4 million unemployed workers. And this misses the fact that many more weren’t counted among the unemployed. The economic pain remains widespread with more than 25 million workers hurt by the coronavirus downturn. Without congressional action to stimulate the economy, we are facing a slow, painful recovery.Read more

What the next president inherits: More than 25 million workers are being hurt by the coronavirus downturn

Some of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten in the last few months are, “How many workers are being hurt by the coronavirus recession?” and “What kind of economy will the next president inherit?”

There is a huge amount of confusion about the number of workers impacted by this downturn because two major, completely separate, government data sets that address these questions are reporting very different numbers. Specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the official number of unemployed workers in October, from the Current Population Survey, was 11.1 million. But during the reference week for the October monthly unemployment figure—the week ending October 17—the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that there were a total of 21.5 million people claiming unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in all programs. The UI number is compiled by DOL from reports it receives from state unemployment insurance agencies.

What is going on? In a nutshell: The BLS official number of unemployed workers vastly understates the number of workers who have faced the negative consequences of the coronavirus recession, and DOL’s UI number overstates the number of workers receiving unemployment benefits.

Let’s first look at UI. One straightforward way that the weekly UI numbers are higher than the monthly unemployment numbers is that the UI numbers include both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and the monthly unemployment numbers include only the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The number of people on UI (regular state benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits) for the week ending October 17 was 294,000 in Puerto Rico and 4,000 in the Virgin Islands, for a total of nearly 300,000 UI claims outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Over a million people still filed initial unemployment claims last week with no COVID-19 relief in sight

Another 1.1 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week, including 751,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 363,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of benefits for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like the self-employed. Without congressional action, PUA will expire in less than two months (more on that below).

The 1.1 million who applied for UI last week was little changed (a decline of 3,000) from the prior week’s revised figures. Last week was the 33rd straight week total initial claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still 3.6 times where they were a year ago.)

Most states provide 26 weeks of regular benefits, but this crisis has gone on much longer than that. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 538,000, from 7.8 million to 7.3 million.

For now, after an individual exhausts regular state benefits, they can move onto Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is an additional 13 weeks of regular state UI. However, PEUC is set to expire in less than two months (more on that below).

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Older workers are voting with an eye on the economy

Recent polls have shown that older Americans and women appear to have turned against President Trump, and the reasons aren’t hard to grasp. The administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially deadly for older Americans, while women have borne the brunt of the economic downturn, with greater job losses and caregiving responsibilities.

One factor has received less attention: Older Americans, too, have been hard hit in the economic downturn. Senior women (women ages 65 and older) have seen a steep decline in employment—almost as steep as that of young women just entering the labor force (see Table 1). Senior men also saw a steep decline in employment early in the pandemic but rebounded faster than senior women.

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Heading into election day, at least 30 million workers are being hurt by the coronavirus recession

One of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten in the last few months is, “How many workers are being hurt by the coronavirus recession?” There is a huge amount of confusion about this because two major, completely separate, government data sets that address this question are reporting very different numbers. Specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the official number of unemployed workers in September, from the Current Population Survey, was 12.6 million (September is the latest data available; October numbers will be released this Friday). But during the reference week for the September monthly unemployment figure—the week ending September 12—the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that there were a total of 26.5 million people claiming unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The UI number is compiled by DOL from reports it receives from state unemployment insurance agencies.

What is going on? In a nutshell: The BLS official number of unemployed workers vastly understates the number of workers who have faced the negative consequences of the coronavirus recession, and DOL’s UI number overstates the number of workers receiving unemployment benefits.

Let’s first look at UI. An important way the numbers coming out of DOL are overstating the number of people receiving UI benefits right now has to do with delays in the processing of applications (delays caused by the overwhelming number of applications UI agencies have received during the COVID-19 crisis). When a worker’s benefits are delayed, they are paid retroactively. This is as it should be, but it causes reporting problems. Say a worker claims UI benefits not just for their most recent week of unemployment, but also for the six prior weeks. That worker will show up in the data not as one person who claimed seven weeks of benefits, but as seven claims. Nobody knows how extensive that problem is, but this New York Times article has good information on it. Another issue is that state UI agencies have been the target of fraud—not individuals filing one or two fraudulent claims, but sophisticated cyberattacks involving extensive identity theft and the overriding of security systems. Note: None of this negates the fact that the expansions of unemployment insurance in the CARES Act were an enormous success! These expansions have been a lifeline to millions and a crucial boost to the economy.

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Moral policy = good economics: What’s needed to lift up 140 million poor and low-income people further devastated by the pandemic

Seven months into a global pandemic, U.S. families are suffering: 225,000 lives have been lost, 30 million workers have lost either jobs or significant hours of work, nearly every state is facing sharp drops in revenue that will threaten even more cuts to essential social programs and jobs, and the U.S. economy remains deeply depressed, and a reentry into outright recession in coming months is highly possible.

There is no mystery about what has brought us to this point. The immediate cause of the economic crisis we face is the fallout of the pandemic and the Trump administration’s failed response. As social distancing measures were enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus, economic activity collapsed. A burst of new activity has accompanied some reopenings, but now, because the government has failed to curb the pandemic and failed to enact a just response, the economy is plunging deeper into crisis.

This all is taking place in a society that was already deeply unequal. Before the pandemic, 140 million people were poor or one emergency away from being poor, including approximately 60% of Black, non-Hispanic people (26 million); 64% of Hispanic people (38 million); 60% of indigenous people (2.15 million); 40% of Asian people (8 million); and 33% of white people (66 million).

The pandemic spread and deepened along the fissures of that inequality and the inadequate public policies that existed prior to the pandemic. It is no surprise that 8 million people were pushed below the poverty line in the past five months as COVID-19 economic disruptions continued.

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Senate Republicans have failed struggling families: It is cruel, and bad economics, to withhold stimulus aid

Another 1.1 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week, including 751,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 360,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like gig workers. It provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, but it is set to expire at the end of this year.

The 1.1 million who applied for UI last week was a decline of just 25,000 from the prior week’s revised figures. Last week was the 32nd straight week total initial claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still 3.7 times where they were a year ago.)

Most states provide 26 weeks (six months) of regular benefits, and this crisis has gone on much longer than that. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 709,000, from 8.5 million to 7.8 million.

Fortunately, after an individual exhausts regular state benefits, they can move onto Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which is an additional 13 weeks of regular state UI. However, in the latest data available for PEUC (the week ending October 10) PEUC rose by “just” 387,000 to 3.7 million, offsetting only 42% of the 921,000 decline in continuing claims for regular state benefits for the same week. The small increase in PEUC relative to the decline in continuing claims for regular state UI is likely due in large part to delays workers are facing getting onto PEUC, including workers either not being told about PEUC or not being told that they have to apply for it (states are required to notify eligible workers, but it may not be happening). Further, many of the roughly 2 million workers who were on unemployment insurance before this recession began, or who are in states with less than the standard 26 weeks of regular state benefits, are exhausting PEUC benefits.

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Counties that pivoted to Trump had lower wage growth than other counties

In the home stretch to next week’s election, a number of articles have attempted to rebut claims that the Trump administration has practiced “phony” populism. But the only piece of real-world evidence these articles cite to defend the Trump administration’s record in helping working-class voters turns out to be either false or highly misleading.

Specifically, one of the articles defending the Trump record, by Alan Tonelson, highlights wage growth in “pivot counties”—counties that voted for Obama twice but then voted for Trump—and claims that “Average annual private-sector pay in most of these [pivot] counties rose faster during the first three years of the Trump administration than during the last three years of the [sic] Mr. Obama’s presidency.”

In Tonelson’s telling, this wage growth justifies the vote-flipping in those counties between Obama and Trump because the Trump administration has done something that has boosted wage growth in these presumably blue-collar counties. But Tonelson’s analysis is wrong, for a number of reasons.

First, our calculations show that pivot counties didn’t see faster wage growth on average. As Figure A shows, between 2013 and 2016 average real annual pay in pivot counties grew by 4.3%, and between 2016 and 2019 these pivot county average earnings grew by just 2.2%. In all other (nonpivot) counties, the slowdown in earnings growth was smaller: Average earnings grew by 4.0% in the first period and then 3.1% in the second period.

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Latina Equal Pay Day: Essential Latina workers face substantial pay gap during COVID-19 pandemic

October 29 is Latina Equal Pay Day, marking how far into 2020—nearly 11 months—the typical Latina must work to make the same amount as the typical non-Hispanic white man was paid in 2019. Latina workers are paid just 67 cents on the dollar on an average hourly basis, relative to non-Hispanic white men with the same level of education, age, and geographic location.

Although this alarming and unacceptable pay gap persists even in better economic times, it is particularly outrageous during the current public health and economic crisis, when many Latinas are essential workers. The infographics below take a closer look at average hourly wages of Latinas and non-Hispanic white men employed in major occupations at the center of national efforts to address COVID-19. These occupations include front-line workers in health care and essential businesses like grocery stores, those who have borne the brunt of job losses in the restaurant industry, and teachers and child care workers who have been all but abandoned in the U.S. coronavirus response. We find that Latinas make 6% to 32% less than non-Hispanic white men in these occupations.

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Debunking the specious claims underlying Missouri’s anti–collective bargaining law

Next month, the Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case about collective bargaining for public-sector workers in Missouri. With collective bargaining rights enshrined in the state’s constitution, the case revolves around whether onerous restrictions placed on public-sector unions and collective bargaining in a 2018 law unconstitutionally infringe on those rights. EPI has filed a friend of the court (“amicus curiae”) brief in the case to debunk some of the specious claims used by proponents of the law and to show how the law will hurt workers, employers, communities, and the economy.

EPI’s brief shows how weakening collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers will worsen the pay gap that women workers and workers of color face when their wages are compared with those of white men. We cite a new study documenting that Wisconsin went from having no wage gap to having a significant wage gap after state legislators and then-governor Scott Walker weakened the state’s public-sector collective bargaining law. EPI’s brief also explains how weakening collective bargaining rights deprives workers of due process and a proven means for challenging arbitrary or discriminatory treatment.

One of the most problematic provisions in the Missouri law requires public-sector unions to be recertified every three years. A majority of the bargaining unit (not just a majority of voting bargaining unit members) would need to vote to affirm their support for the union. This requirement would force public-sector unions, already burdened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision, to expend scarce resources turning out members for a vote every three years.

The recertification requirement is unnecessary because under Missouri law, like other collective bargaining laws, workers have the right to file for a decertification vote if they want to initiate a vote on whether to keep their union. One pretext used by proponents of the recertification requirement is that the workforce in three years may not resemble the workforce today due to employee turnover. This argument ignores the fact that turnover in the public sector is roughly half that of the private sector. EPI’s brief includes these statistics and explains why the recertification requirement is unnecessary.

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Black, Hispanic, and young workers have been left behind by policymakers, but will they vote?

EPI research finds that Black, Hispanic, and young workers are among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 recession—facing unemployment rates higher than what white workers and older workers are facing, with fewer resources to fall back on. The resulting economic challenges—including food insecurity and the threat of eviction, among others—will compound if additional relief doesn’t come soon. In addition to economic threats, the health threats of the coronavirus pandemic have affected communities of color far worse than white communities.

Young adults and Black and Hispanic citizens have also been historically underrepresented at the polls, for a variety of reasons that we explore below. But could that change in 2020?

Historical voting trends among the Black, Hispanic, and young adult populations

Black voters have faced a 150-year struggle against voter intimidation and suppression tactics and the multilayered legacies of slavery. Black Americans are also disproportionately disenfranchised by state laws that ban convicted felons from voting—even, in some states, after they have served their full sentence. Given the U.S.’s high incarceration rate and systemic racism in the criminal justice system, this is just one more way the Black vote is suppressed.

Black voter registration and participation rose after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; while Black voting rates would continue to lag behind white voting rates, the gap had narrowed significantly—particularly in the South. In 2008, the gap essentially closed, and in 2012, Black voting rates exceeded white voting rates (Figure A). However, Black voting rates dipped below white voting rates in the 2016 presidential election, as reports of voter suppression and intimidation increased relative to previous elections.

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Curb your enthusiasm: Rapid third-quarter GDP growth won’t mean the economy has healed

On Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will release data showing the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2020. GDP is the broadest measure of the nation’s economic activity, and this is the last major data release before the presidential election, so it would be a big deal even in normal years.

But it’s obviously not a normal year, and the GDP data released on Thursday will be for a quarter following the single fastest contraction of GDP in history, when the economy shrank at an annualized rate of 31.4% in the second quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 shock. The third-quarter data will show historically fast GDP growth—it could conceivably even see growth at a 31.4% annualized rate, for example. Some might be tempted to take too much solace in this rapid growth, and if growth in the third quarter looks to match the pace of contraction in the second quarter, some might even be tempted to declare the economic crisis nearly over.

This post highlights some reasons to temper enthusiasm (some that overlap with points made in this excellent Vox post), even in the face of a very large third-quarter growth number. There are five main reasons that I detail further below:

  • The enormous contraction of GDP in the second quarter means any growth in the third quarter is coming off of a significantly smaller base of GDP.
  • The COVID-19 shock caused rapid contraction of the economy even in the first quarter of 2020—so it’s not just the record-setting contraction of the second quarter that needs to be clawed back.
  • It’s not just the level of pre-shock GDP that needs restored to make labor markets healthy; it’s the level this GDP would be at if it had continued to grow at its pre-shock rate.
  • Because the COVID-19 shock has been so centered in low-wage sectors, any given dollar value of GDP lost translates into far more people who have lost jobs.
  • Third-quarter growth was driven by the momentum of economic reopening and occurred with the tailwind of the generous recovery measures included in the CARES Act. Neither of these boosts will help in the future, absent radical policy change.

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Fact-checking resources for the 2020 presidential debates

Before the candidates take the stage for the 2020 presidential debates, EPI has compiled resources that could be helpful in fact-checking the economic and political claims that are made. We’ve broken down our research into several themes and have highlighted some of our most important research in each area:

Workers most hurt by COVID-19

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The passage of California’s Proposition 22 would give digital platform companies a free pass to misclassify their workers

On November 3, Californian voters will decide the fate of the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act, more commonly known as Proposition 22. This ballot measure would exempt “gig” or “digital platform” workers from Assembly Bill (AB) 5, a recently enacted law aimed at combatting the misclassification of workers. Instead of complying with the law, digital platform companies—namely Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart—have contributed over $184 million to ensure the passage of Proposition 22.

How a worker is classified has serious implications and high costs for workers. Most federal and state labor and employment protections are granted to employees only, not independent contractors. This includes basic employment protections such as a minimum wage, overtime pay, and access to unemployment insurance (as shown in Table 1).

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With millions of people out of work, the Senate’s inaction is not only cruel, it’s bad economics

Another 1.1 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week. That includes 787,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 345,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like gig workers. It provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, but it is set to expire at the end of this year. The 1.1 million who applied for UI last week was a decline of 47,000 from the prior week’s revised figures (revisions from prior weeks were substantial due to California having completed its pause in the processing of initial claims and updating its numbers).

Last week was the 31st straight week total initial claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. (If that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—because we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were still well over three times their pre-recession levels.)

Most states provide 26 weeks (six months) of regular benefits, and October marks the eighth month of this crisis. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by more than a million, from 9.40 million to 8.37 million.

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The Trump administration was ruining the pre-COVID-19 economy too, just more slowly

Key takeaways:

  • Long before the COVID-19 pandemic the Trump administration was squandering the pockets of strength in the American economy it had inherited.
  • Broad-based prosperity requires strength on the supply, demand, and distributive sides of the economy, and Trump administration policies were either weak or outright damaging on these fronts.
    • Demand: Most of the Trump tax cuts went to already-rich corporations and households, who tend to save rather than spend most of any extra dollar they’re given.
    • Supply: Business investment plummeted under the Trump administration, despite their lavishing tax cuts on corporate business.
    • Distribution: The Trump administration undercut labor standards and rules that can buttress workers’ bargaining power.

You don’t have to be an economist to know how the U.S. economy is doing today: It’s an utter shambles, with tens of millions of workers unable to find the work they need to get by, and with tens of millions of families facing extreme hardship and anxiety. These terrible conditions are mostly the result of the failure to manage and contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and the failure to appropriately respond in the economic policymaking realm.

President Trump, however, clearly wants voters to see the COVID-19 outbreak and fallout as nobody’s fault, and further wants to be graded on how the economy was doing pre-COVID-19. This is obviously absurd; the administration didn’t cause COVID-19, but it is responsible for the botched response to it.

Even besides this, however, it is far from clear that the pre-COVID-19 U.S. economy was evidence of good management or policy, a fact that voters seem increasingly aware of. In fact, Trump administration policies were squandering the pockets of strength in the U.S. economy that they inherited from their predecessors by using them to disguise the rapid erosion their policies were causing to U.S. families’ economic security.

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Policy solutions to deal with the nation’s teacher shortage—a crisis made worse by COVID-19

Some estimates have put the shortage of teachers relative to the number of new vacancies in classrooms across the country that go unfilled at more than 100,000—a crisis exacerbated by the pandemic. But policy changes can go a long way in addressing this shortfall.

We lay out those policy solutions in our just-released paper, A Policy Agenda to Address the Teacher Shortage in U.S. Public Schools: The Sixth and Final Report in the ‘Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market’ Series. It is part of an EPI two-year long project documenting the teacher shortage faced by U.S. public schools over the last few years and explaining the multiple factors that have contributed to it.

The culmination of this research coincided with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s education system, which threatens to make the teacher shortage crisis even worse.

The added challenges mainly arise from three sources.

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How much would it cost consumers to give farmworkers a significant raise?: A 40% increase in pay would cost just $25 per household

The increased media coverage of the plight of the more than 2 million farmworkers who pick and help produce our food—and whom the Trump administration has deemed to be “essential” workers for the U.S. economy and infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic—has highlighted the difficult and often dangerous conditions farmworkers face on the job, as well as their central importance to U.S. food supply chains. For example, photographs and videos of farmworkers picking crops under the smoke- and fire-filled skies of California have been widely shared across the internet, and some data suggest that the number of farmworkers who have tested positive for COVID-19 is rivaled only by meat-processing workers. In addition, around half of farmworkers are unauthorized immigrants and 10% are temporary migrant workers with “nonimmigrant” H-2A visas; those farmworkers have limited labor rights in practice and are vulnerable to wage theft and other abuses due to their immigration status.

Despite the key role they play and the challenges they face, farmworkers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the entire U.S. labor market. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it would not collect the data on farmworker earnings that are used to determine minimum wages for H-2A workers, which could further reduce farmworker earnings.

This raises the question: How much would it cost to give farmworkers a significant raise in pay, even if it was paid for entirely by consumers? The answer is, not that much. About the price of a couple of 12-packs of beer, a large pizza, or a nice bottle of wine.

The latest data on consumer expenditures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides useful information about consumer spending on fresh fruits and vegetables, which, in conjunction with other data, allow us to calculate roughly how much it would cost to raise wages for farmworkers. (For a detailed analysis of these data, see this blog post at Rural Migration News.) But to calculate this, first we have to see how much a typical household spends on fruits and vegetables every year and the share that goes to farm owners and their farmworker employees.

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Updated state-level unemployment claims data: Workers across the country need Congress to increase unemployment benefits

The most recent unemployment insurance (UI) claims data released today show that another 1.3 million people filed for UI benefits last week. However, trends over time should be interpreted with particular caution right now because California data are being imputed since they have temporarily paused their processing of initial claims.

For the past 11 weeks, workers have gone without the extra $600 in weekly UI benefits—which Senate Republicans allowed to expire—and are instead typically receiving around 40% of their pre-virus earnings. This is far too meager, in any state, to sustain workers and their families through lengthy periods of joblessness.

The president’s early August executive memo, intended to give recipients an additional $300 or $400 in UI, instead resulted in reduced benefits and extreme delays—and left many workers ineligible. In some states, even this inadequate additional benefit is still unavailable to workers. For example, New Jersey workers won’t be able to collect additional benefits until October 19. The mixed messages coming from the White House continued last week when President Trump announced, via Twitter, the end of stimulus negotiations with Democratic leaders. When the stock market declined sharply in response, the president backtracked.

These half-measures and empty promises simply will not do when we are facing a massive jobs deficit and an initial recovery that has already slowed substantially. The UI benefits cuts were the first big gash of austerity that will slow the economy’s recovery. The second will be the cutbacks to state and local government spending and employment that will occur without already long-overdue federal fiscal aid. To ensure a strong recovery, Congress must pass a substantial stimulus bill that goes well beyond the meager bill announced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday. The stimulus must include a sizeable increase to UI benefits and aid to state and local government.

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30 weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic and workers desperately need stimulus

Another 1.3 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week. That includes 898,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 373,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like gig workers. It provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, but it is set to expire at the end of this year. The 1.3 million who applied for UI last week was roughly unchanged (a decline of 38,000) from the prior week’s figures. Last week was the 30th straight week total initial claims were far greater than the worst week of the Great Recession, and if that comparison is restricted to regular state claims—since we didn’t have PUA in the Great Recession—initial claims last week were greater than the second-worst week of the Great Recession. However, trends over time in initial claims should be interpreted with caution right now because California initial claims data are being imputed because they have temporarily paused processing initial claims to address problems in their system.

Republicans in the Senate allowed the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly UI benefits to expire at the end of July, so last week was the 11th week of unemployment in this pandemic for which recipients did not get the extra $600. Hope for another stimulus bill before February is waning. The House passed a $2.2 trillion relief package earlier this month, but Senate Republicans balked at the $1.8 trillion relief package Treasury Secretary Mnuchin offered to Nancy Pelosi. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that the Senate will take up a very small relief bill next week, but it seems clear that getting something done with less than 20 days until the election will be exceedingly difficult. It is looking more and more like stimulus talks will fail, which means the extra $600 is not coming back anytime soon, and the economy will also not be getting other crucial stimulus measures it needs to bounce back, including aid to state and local governments.

Most states provide 26 weeks (six months) of regular benefits, and October is the eighth month of this crisis. That means many workers are exhausting their regular state UI benefits. In the most recent data, continuing claims for regular state UI dropped by 1.2 million, from 11.2 million to 10.0 million.

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau leaders should focus on racial and economic inequality

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should explicitly re-center its antidiscrimination mandate and address itself squarely to fostering racial and economic equity.

By doing this, CFPB leadership could realize the full Dodd-Frank Act mandate to listen and be responsive to traditionally underserved communities and consumers.

The agency needs to center the voices of marginalized communities as a necessary adjunct to promoting accountability under the statute. The recognition that racial and economic justice are linked and that the pandemic is amplifying and embedding existing racial disparities, demand that we move beyond the generalities of the statutory language. Poor, rural, and immigrant communities, across racial differences, are all both underserved and poorly served by financial institutions. Black people in particular have always been excluded from the financial mainstream in this country.

I am the founder of the Consumer Rights Regulatory Engagement and Advocacy Project (CRREA Project), and in our series on how the CFPB develops policy, and the inclusion of marginalized communities’ perspectives in that policy development, we’ve talked about the vision as set forth in Dodd-Frank, the reality of how the statutory structure was implemented, and changes to the organizational chart under the Trump administration.

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1.3 million people filed initial unemployment insurance claims last week: It is terrible economics to pause stimulus talks

Another 1.3 million people applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits last week. That includes 840,000 people who applied for regular state UI and 464,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is the federal program for workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, like gig workers. It provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, but it is set to expire at the end of this year.

The 1.3 million who applied for UI last week was a decline of 53,000 from the prior week’s revised figures, although trends over time should be interpreted with caution right now because California data are being imputed because the state has temporarily paused its processing of initial claims. It is worth noting that today’s data on initial claims do not include any workers who may have been laid off or furloughed in the wake of President Trump tweeting earlier this week that he was halting stimulus talks (more on that below).

Republicans in the Senate allowed the across-the-board $600 increase in weekly UI benefits to expire at the end of July, so last week was the tenth week of unemployment in this pandemic for which recipients did not get the extra $600. On Tuesday, President Trump announced he had ordered his negotiators to stop talks with Democratic leaders on another stimulus package. If that abrupt move holds, it means the extra $600 is not coming back anytime soon, and the economy will also not be getting other crucial stimulus measures it needs, including aid to state and local governments.

This is terrible economics. For example, the extra $600 in weekly UI benefits was supporting a huge amount of spending by people who, without it, have to make drastic cuts. The spending made possible by the $600 was supporting millions of jobs. Cutting that $600 means cutting those jobs—it means the workers who were providing the goods and services that UI recipients were spending that $600 on lose their jobs. The map in Figure B of this blog post shows how many jobs will be lost by state because of the expiration of the $600.

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What teaching is like during the pandemic—and a reminder that listening to teachers is critical to solving the challenges the coronavirus has brought to public education

As we mark this year’s World Teachers’ Day and reflect on this year’s theme, “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future,” we are especially reminded of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has added to teachers and to their jobs, as well as of the need to consider teachers’ expertise and judgment in the future of education. In this blog post, we offer a first-person account of what teaching and being a teacher during the pandemic are like, using Ms. Ivey Welshans’s remarks at a recent webinar, reproduced below. Welshans’s and her colleagues’ viewpoints, which are frequently unheard in policy, research, and the media, should be deemed more irreplaceable than ever on this occasion: Teachers are the closest witnesses of the challenges the pandemic has brought for their students, for themselves, and for their jobs, and their expertise and judgment are critically important to solving these challenges as the pandemic continues and in its aftermath.

Recently, we joined a webinar with EPI president Thea Lee, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, and special education teacher (and co-author of this blog post) Ivey Welshans, where we discussed the goals and key findings of our latest report, COVID-19 and Student Performance, Equity, and U.S. Education Policy: Lessons from Pre-Pandemic Research to Inform Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding.

During the presentation, we explained our goals as authors to describe what has been happening to students with respect to learning and development since the pandemic closed virtually all schools. We emphasized that we wanted to move from a focus on student outcomes—which tend to reflect underlying, systemic trends—to understanding the inputs that shape learning and development and developing relevant policy actions. We also presented some of the lessons learned from relevant research and explained how they inform our recommendations for policymakers regarding how best to address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on education and rebuild a stronger, more equitable public education system.

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The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows hiring failed to improve: Congress must act to fix massive jobs shortfall

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, as of the middle of September, the economy was still 10.7 million jobs below where it was in February. Job growth slowed considerably over the last few months and the jobs deficit in September was easily over 12 million from where we would have been if the economy had continued adding jobs at the pre-pandemic pace. Today’s BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reports job openings softened from 6.7 million in July to 6.5 million in August, while layoffs and quits both dropped. While the slowdown in layoffs is promising, the drop in quits is a concern. Hiring in August was on par with what we experienced in July. The U.S. economy is seeing a significantly slower pace of hiring than we experienced in May or June—hiring is roughly where it was before the recession, which is a big problem given that we have more than 12 million jobs to make up. No matter how it is measured, the U.S. economy is facing a huge jobs shortfall.

One of the most striking indicators from today’s report is the job seekers ratio, that is, the ratio of unemployed workers (averaged for mid-August and mid-September) to job openings (at the end of August). On average, there were 13.1 million unemployed workers while there were only 6.5 million job openings. This translates into a job seekers ratio of two unemployed workers to every job opening. Another way to think about this: For every 20 workers who were officially counted as unemployed, there were available jobs for only 10 of them. That means, no matter what they did, there were no jobs for 6.6 million unemployed workers. And this misses the fact that many more weren’t counted among the unemployed. Without congressional action to stimulate the economy, we are facing a slow, painful recovery.

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