The Fed should stand pat on further interest rate hikes at this week’s meeting: Inflation is easing even as the labor market remains strong

Inflation and all of its main drivers sharply decelerated in the last half of 2022. This was the case even though the pace of economic growth accelerated in the second half of the year and unemployment remained very low.

The Federal Reserve’s “dual mandate” is meant to balance the risks of inflation versus the benefits of fast growth and low unemployment. Right now, the benefits of low unemployment are enormous, and the risks of inflation are retreating rapidly. If the Fed lets the current recovery continue apace by not raising interest rates further at this week’s meeting, 2023 could turn out to be a great year for the economic fortunes of American families.

It is time for the Fed to stand pat on interest rate increases and wait to see how the lagged effects of past increases enacted in 2022 will filter through to the economy. Continuing to raise rates in the early stretches of 2023 will be a clear mistake and pose an unneeded threat to growth in the next year. In particular, the Fed should note the following:

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Historic job growth in 2022 reflects strong but uneven economic recovery: State and local lawmakers should prioritize rebuilding the public sector in 2023

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released state employment and unemployment data for December 2022, giving us a full picture of employment changes in the past year.

Nationwide, the U.S. economy added 4.5 million jobs in 2022, the second-strongest year for job growth in the past 40 years (after 2021), and a testament to the success of pandemic relief and recovery measures. Although the private sector has recovered quickly, public-sector employment—particularly in state and local government—remains weak. With billions of dollars in relief funds for state and local recovery yet to be spent, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine and rebuild the public sector. State and local lawmakers should seize it.

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The debt limit is the world’s highest-stakes horoscope: Not raising the debt limit would guarantee a recession

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced last week that the federal government had reached the statutory debt limit and that her department had begun “extraordinary measures” to meet required spending obligations. It is estimated that by July these extraordinary measures will no longer be able to keep some spending obligations from being missed.

The fact that the statutory debt limit can inject such chaos into the American political system and economy is truly odd. The debt limit measures nothing coherent and has no relationship to any serious measure of the economic burden imposed by the nation’s debt. It has as much relevance to the nation’s objective economic health as today’s horoscope. Yet if it’s allowed to bind, disaster would result. And if the price of convincing House Republicans to raise the debt limit is large cuts to federal spending, this still ensures grave damage to the economy and vulnerable families.

The debt limit—and particularly its relationship to the objective economic facts of the nation’s fiscal health—is poorly understood by too many. In this post, we make the following points about the debt limit in the current moment:

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A record share of earnings was not subject to Social Security taxes in 2021: Inequality’s undermining of Social Security has accelerated

Social Security payroll taxes are not collected on earnings over a set cap. In 2021, this cap was $142,800, so workers making more than this enjoyed the benefit of zero Social Security taxes on all earnings in excess of this cap.

However, rising income inequality is skewing this tax structure even further to the benefit of top earners and diminishing funding for the crucial retirement program so many Americans rely on.

Social Security’s payroll tax—of which employees pay 6.2% and employers 6.2% each—has a cap that rises with growth in the national average wage index compiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2023, for example, the cap is set at $160,200. But since wage growth for top earners continues to outpace average wage growth, a growing share of total earnings is spilling over the cap and escaping taxation, eroding Social Security revenues.

Significant reforms to Social Security made in 1983 set the cap at a level so that 90% of all earnings would be subject to taxes. Over time, rising inequality meant that this share shrank as more earnings for higher-wage workers spilled over the cap. In 2020 and 2021, the share of earnings subject to Social Security taxes hit the lowest levels since before the 1983 reform. In fact, by 2021, the share of earnings subject to Social Security taxes was at the lowest level in nearly 50 years (since 1972).

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The Department of Homeland Security took a positive step by clarifying and streamlining the process to protect migrant workers in labor disputes

Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a streamlined process that provides clarity on how migrant workers who are victims of, and witnesses to, labor and employment violations can come forward to request temporary protections, including protection from deportation through deferred action and employment authorization. This is a positive step that will protect the rights of workers to be treated and paid fairly and to organize and join unions, and allow them to assist labor standards enforcement agencies with their investigations.

EPI has joined hundreds of other immigrant and worker rights organizations to call on DHS to clarify the process for how migrant workers engaged in labor disputes can request status protections. This will help workers and whistleblowers overcome their very rational fears about coming forward to report labor and workplace violations. EPI has also called for DHS to grant deferred action and parole to migrant workers in labor disputes with more frequency and regularity across a broad range of disputes, and in response to a broad swath of labor and workplace violations. This action by DHS deserves praise, and I look forward to its swift implementation.

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Workers are 46% more likely to make below $15 an hour in states paying only the federal minimum wage

The crisis of low pay is widespread throughout the United States and will remain so until federal and state policymakers prioritize the economic hardships of low-wage workers. Even after the rapid inflation of the past 18 months and the recent unprecedented wage growth for lower-wage workers, 21 million workers are still paid less than $15 per hour.

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State and local governments should use ARPA pandemic funds in 2023 to rebuild the public sector and support working families and children

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 created a $350 billion state and local fund to help fight the pandemic and support an economic recovery. Sadly, more than $150 billion remains unspent and is sorely needed to bolster public-sector employment and the care economy.

The ARPA dollars earmarked as part of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) have fueled transformative investments across the country, but there’s more to be done now.

As 2023 begins, state and local governments should prioritize spending relief funds on three critical areas that are incredibly important for the welfare of children and families:

  • rebuilding the public sector
  • expanding access to paid leave
  • bolstering our systems of care through increasing access to quality child care and elder care, and supporting the workers who perform that work.

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Job growth strong in December as wage growth slows

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 223,000 jobs added in December and wage growth slowing. 

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Proposed FTC rule would ban noncompete agreements and empower workers

Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a proposed rule that, if finalized, would ban noncompete agreements. EPI research has found that at least 36 million workers—27.8% of the private-sector workforce—are required to enter noncompete agreements, which are employment provisions that ban workers at one company from working for, or starting, a competing business within a certain period of time after leaving a job.

In response, EPI president Heidi Shierholz shared a Twitter thread applauding the proposed rule. 

From EPI president, Heidi Shierholz (@hshierholz):



Job openings remain significantly lower than 2022 peak

Below, EPI senior economist Elise Gould offers her initial insights on today’s release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for November. Read the full Twitter thread here.

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More than 8 million workers will get a raise on New Year’s Day: 23 states and D.C. will see minimum wage hikes ranging from $0.23 to $1.50 an hour

On January 1, 23 states and Washington, D.C. will increase their minimum wages, raising pay for an estimated 8.4 million workers across the country.1 In total, workers’ wages will increase by more than $5 billion, with average annual raises for affected full-time workers ranging from $150 in Michigan to $937 in Delaware. In addition, 27 cities and counties will increase their minimum wages on January 1, adding to the number of workers likely to see increased earnings.

The state with the stingiest increase is Michigan with a 23-cent raise bringing the total to $10.10 an hour, while the biggest hike of $1.50 an hour is in Nebraska, raising the rate to $10.50 an hour.2 Washington, D.C. will not increase its regular minimum wage, but will increase its tipped minimum wage by 65 cents to $6.00 an hour as a result of a ballot measure to eliminate the tipped minimum wage by 2027. When the New Year’s celebrations die down, Washington will be the state with the highest minimum wage of $15.74 an hour.

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Proposed New York state minimum wage legislation would boost wages for nearly 2.9 million workers: Minimum wages would range by region from $20 to $21.25 per hour by 2026

Key takeaways:

  • Proposed Raise Up New York legislation, sponsored by State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, would raise the minimum wage to $21.25 an hour in New York City and suburban Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk counties by 2026. It would also raise upstate New York’s minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2026. 
  • Starting in 2027, upstate New York would catch up to the statewide wage, and both would be adjusted each year to keep up with rising consumer prices and worker productivity.
  • We find that nearly 2.9 million workers—32% of the state’s workforce—would receive raises averaging $3,307 a year.
  • These minimum wage increases would be a vital support for low-wage workers in one of the most expensive states in the nation and arrive at a time when the purchasing power of workers’ wages has been eroded rapidly by recent price increases.

Updated minimum wage legislation in the New York State Senate and Assembly (S3062D/A7503C) would secure much-needed wage increases for almost 2.9 million workers throughout the state. The proposed Raise Up New York legislation—which would index annual statewide increases to inflation and labor productivity—would help protect workers’ economic security as prices rise, and prevent inequality from widening as the economy grows.

A fair way of calculating the minimum wage

Currently, New York has distinct minimum wage schedules for three different regions in the state: New York City, the suburban counties of Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk, and the remainder of upstate New York. As shown in Table 1, New York City’s minimum wage is $15 per hour, where it has stood since 2018. Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk counties’ minimum wage reached $15 per hour at the end of 2021, while the minimum wage for the rest of the state is currently $13.20 with scheduled annual increases that will track nominal labor productivity (real productivity plus inflation) until it eventually reaches $15.00 per hour.

The proposed Raise Up New York legislation would increase the minimum wage for New York City and Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk counties to $21.25 through 2026, and then increase the minimum wage annually by nominal labor productivity. The tipped minimum wage would also increase while remaining two-thirds of the regular minimum wage as stipulated in New York law.1 The minimum wage for the rest of the state would reach $20.00 an hour in 2026 before catching up to NYC and the suburban counties in 2027.2 The inflation and labor productivity adjustments would follow the same formula that New York has already been using for state minimum wage increases in recent years.

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Beyond the numbers: What teaching shortages look like in practice

In a recent report, we reviewed the size and scope of the national teacher shortage using data from a wide range of public and private sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, the RAND Corporation, and others. The available data consistently point to a large and growing problem of teacher vacancies that looks unlikely to be filled without substantial efforts to increase job quality for teachers.

But in pulling together our report, we realized that the statistics we presented don’t fully capture what shortages actually look like—in practice—for school districts, teachers, and students. To convey at least a part of that missing texture, we’ve pulled together some recent journalistic and more granular accounts of how state and local school education officials have responded to the long-term rise in teacher vacancies. Unfortunately, almost all of these have proved to be less than ideal for teachers and students.

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EPI’s top charts of 2022: EPI’s most popular charts tell the story of how pandemic setbacks in income inequality were mitigated by pandemic relief

Rising CEO pay, a pandemic further undermining low and middle-income workers, and the growing gap between worker productivity and their pay continued to impede income equality.

Through it all, however, government pandemic stimulus programs gave a lifeline to many of those struggling to make ends meet, helping keep millions out of poverty.

All these important topics were among the Economic Policy Institute’s top charts this year.

Here’s a rundown on what saw the most engagement among EPI’s readers:

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Inflation is easing: Fed should slow rate hikes

Inflation numbers out Tuesday are encouraging, providing more evidence that any movement to continue raising interest rates at breakneck speed and potentially slow the economy needs to be squashed. The Consumer Price Index (CPI)—released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—rose 0.1% in November, and the all-items index increased 7.1% year-over-year. EPI research director Josh Bivens breaks down what the data tell us about rising prices.

“Inflation can normalize without taking a hammer to the head of the economy,” stresses EPI Research Director Josh Bivens, about the report and any steps by the Federal Reserve to push for steep interest rate hikes at its meeting this week.

“It was a very good report,” he explained. “The remaining inflation in this report was essentially food and shelter.” While rising food prices harm consumers, there’s no policy lever that the Fed has to usefully target these. These price increases are related, he added, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and global commodity markets more generally, not to any overheating of the U.S. economy.

“On shelter,” he continued, “the data strongly indicate that large rental inflation declines are on the way in 2023—they’ve already shown up in industry data, and these very reliably show up 6-12 months later.” 

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What’s at stake for state and local governments in the year-end government funding negotiations

As the clock ticks toward the end of the 117th Congress, legislators on Capitol Hill are reportedly still locked in negotiations on how to fund the government for 2023. Congress faces the deadline this week—December 16—to pass a plan for government funding, when the short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government will expire.

The federal appropriations fight has serious stakes for state and local governments. Democrats in Congress, in particular, are pushing to not merely pass another short-term CR to keep the funding as is, but to pass a comprehensive spending bill, or omnibus, that fully appropriates funding that meets the realities of the moment. The outcome of these negotiations will, as always, have real consequences for working people and our economic stability overall.

The appropriations debate has especially high economic stakes because of long-standing inaction on Capitol Hill to address the debt limit. The new House Republican majority in the 118th Congress has already signaled their willingness to once again use the debt ceiling to force harmful spending cuts.

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Top five EPI blog posts of 2022: Inflation and minimum wage increases among the most-read posts

Inflation concerns were top of mind for workers and their families across the country, but misinformation on the cause of rising prices was rampant. To figure out what was really going on, many readers turned to the Economic Policy Institute for research-based answers. 

The majority of EPI’s top blog posts this year dealt with inflation, including how corporate profits, not workers’ wages, were contributing to bigger price tags. 

But the top post in 2022 was on minimum wage increases in 21 states, a welcome pay hike for workers struggling to make ends meet. 

Here is a rundown of the top five posts: 

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Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment sets new bar for state worker power policy: Other state legislatures should seize the moment to advance worker, racial, and gender justice in 2023

On election day, Illinois voters approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing all workers organizing and collective bargaining rights, setting a new high bar for state labor policy at a moment when policymakers should prioritize empowering workers to address historic levels of income inequality and unequal power in our economy.

The Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment adds language to the state constitution affirming that “employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.” The new clause also specifies that “no law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively.”

The amendment’s expansive language creates a legal backstop against two persistent lines of state legislative attack on U.S. workers’ basic rights to unionize: 1) threats to repeal or erode public-sector workers’ collective bargaining rights, and 2) threats to constrain private-sector workers’ collective bargaining rights with so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) restrictions that prohibit unions and employers from negotiating union security agreements into union contracts. Just as importantly, the Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment opens up promising new pathways for additional groups of long-excluded workers to unionize and pursue collective bargaining with their employers.

Heading into 2023, state legislators in the Midwest and across the country should follow Illinois’ example by restoring workers’ rights after a decade under threat from extreme anti-union state legislation that has already suppressed wages and eroded job quality in many states. Long-overdue action to remove existing restrictions and affirmatively extend union rights to all workers is a first, essential policy step states can take to reverse growing inequality and end long-standing racist and sexist occupational exclusions in existing labor law.

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November jobs report a tale of two conflicting surveys: Payroll survey shows steady job growth, but household survey shows a continued decline in employment

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, and it was a tale of two conflicting employment surveys. The payroll survey—a survey of employers—showed 263,000 jobs added in November, but the household survey showed a decline in employment.

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Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey: Job openings declined in October

Below, EPI senior economist Elise Gould offers her initial insights on today’s release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for October. Read the full Twitter thread here. 

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Voters turned out for economic justice: A review of key ballot measures from the 2022 midterm elections

In this year’s midterm elections, voters showed a strong level of support for progressive ballot measures across the country. These victories were tempered by the defeat of worthwhile ballot measures in some states and the uncertainty of progress under a divided Congress. Nonetheless, voters across the country approved minimum wage increases, protected access to abortion, supported cannabis legalization, and approved measures to increase housing affordability and promote good union jobs.

Though much work remains to be done to enact a progressive economic agenda, this midterm election showed clear signs of support for a policy agenda that prioritizes economic, racial, and gender justice for working families.

Minimum wage

Nebraska: Voters approved Initiative 433, which will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2026.

Nevada: Voters approved Question 2, which will increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 in July 2024. The measure also removed a provision that allows employers to pay workers $1 less if they offer health insurance.

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Labor market showed more signs of cooling in October: Wage growth continues to decelerate

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 261,000 jobs added in October.

From EPI senior economist, Elise Gould (@eliselgould):

Read the full Twitter thread here. 

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Moving beyond fake education debates to focus on student success: Time to deal with lagging teacher pay, shortages, and rising stress among students and teachers

There are a great deal of systemic issues plaguing the public education system today that require systemic solutions. To do so, the nation needs to move beyond fake education debates and find ways to address the teacher pay gap, one cause of worsening shortages in education, and the growing stress among students and teachers, which has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

That was the consensus among a recent gathering of parent and educator experts, focused on what matters most for student success this school year and into the future.

A recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) webinar featured Becky Pringle, President, National Education Association; Randi Weingarten, President, the American Federation of Teachers; Ailen Arreaza, Co-Director, ParentsTogether; and Heidi Shierholz, President, EPI. During the virtual discussion, they focused on how we can come together to ensure student success in the classroom and beyond.

Below we include excerpts of their perspectives, including solutions that will drive student success. (You can also view the full webinar here.)

Heidi Shierholz

“How much less do teachers make than their peers? That pay penalty was large in 1979 at 7.1%, but it more than tripled to 23.5% over the following four-plus decades. So young people who may have gone into teaching knowing they would make just 7% less than their peers may understandably be unlikely to go into teaching when they know they will make 23.5% less than their peers.

“This problem is poised to get worse if nothing is changed. There’s been a large drop in the number of people completing teacher preparation programs over the last 15 years.

“What can be done?

  • Most immediately, COVID relief and federal relief and recovery funds, which include a substantial amount of aid to states and localities, can and should be used to raise pay for teachers and other education staff so that schools can attract and retain the staff that they need.
  • In the longer run, we need to change school funding so that, among other things, teachers and other education staff can be paid fairly.
  • Public-sector collective bargaining should be expanded in places where it’s restricted. Unions help bolster job quality for teachers and advocate for adequate school resources so teachers can teach effectively.”

Becky Pringle

“When we talk about a 24% wage gap for teachers, it’s gotten worse but it’s not new. So, as we think about the why, you know the systemic issues around the why, the fact that this is a predominantly overly super majority female profession, we can’t ignore that.

“When we think about the rising costs of higher education and the fact that we’re asking our young people to choose a profession that already has a wage gap and saddle them with all kinds of debt, especially for our Black and brown and indigenous students of color who we know don’t have that generational wealth that would allow them to choose teaching and stay in teaching.

“It’s not one issue with one solution. There are things that we can take steps on right away, but we’ve got to do it from a systemic place and we have to acknowledge that it is our shared responsibility, to make sure when we say every student is excelling, and everyone knows it; every educator is excelling, and everyone knows it; every school is excelling, and everyone knows it.

“That’s the story I would want them to tell so that we work toward those solutions. We know it has to be systemic, and it has to be sustained, and we have to collaborate to do it.”

Randi Weingarten

“There’s a whole bunch of investment things that can be done, but at the root what we need to do right now is reestablish relationships, confidence, and a sense of joy; and I don’t mean going back to a status quo. I mean a sense that people can work together, play together, learn together, want to be in school together, trying to create that hope that is the antidote to anxiety, that hope and transparency, which is the antidote to anxiety and to trauma.

“That’s why we have a mental health crisis right now. We had one before COVID, but the isolation exacerbated it. That’s why really being intentional about relationship building is really important.

“I’ll give you an example of one of the things we’re doing in Medina, Ohio. It’s simple but it’s pretty awesome. A teacher came up with this idea where she has had her students, 7th and 8th graders, read inspirational books. Some of them were about faith, and some of them were about other things. The adult reads the same book, the kids read the same book. They talked to each other.

“What’s happening now is that it has rippled through this whole Medina School District, a rural and pretty conservative school district. They are really doing all the social emotional work. As others are saying, ‘we don’t want teachers to talk to each other or talk to kids about emotional work,’ here you have this really conservative school district where they’re doing it.”

Ailen Arreaza

“When it comes to schools, parents are really concerned about adequate funding, and they’re concerned about safety and security in schools.

“You’ll notice that I didn’t say anything about banning books or censoring what teachers are talking about in the classroom. That’s really not what parents care about. We think that is a strategy that is being used to try to divide and distract parents at a time when parents are feeling really stressed and anxious.

“It’s been two years of COVID, closed schools, and economic insecurity. So these made-up controversies about book bans and censoring history are just a ploy to try to get us distracted from the things that really matter.

“What parents are telling us that they’re feeling anxious about is how to provide for their families. The solutions that they need are things like expanding the child tax credit, for example, and adequately funding schools, and having their kids feel safe in schools.”


Job openings increased in September, partially offsetting the sharp drop in August

Below, EPI senior economist Elise Gould offers her initial insights on today’s release of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) for September. Read the full Twitter thread here. 

Recent data indicate that a “soft landing” is still in reach—the Fed should try to secure it: Ignoring disinflation signs heightens risk of recession

Last week’s release of data on gross domestic product (GDP) and employer costs are sending a message to the Fed as it meets to set interest rates: There is substantial disinflation in the pipeline that will allow inflation to normalize in coming months even if the labor market remains strong. But securing this “soft landing” will require patience.

  • In the most important markets for normalizing inflation, the housing and labor markets, there are signs of noticeable disinflation happening.
  • Further, the Fed has not been the only source of macroeconomic policy tightening this year—the fiscal contraction in 2022 has been highly significant and underappreciated. This contraction has, in turn, contributed to the very slow pace of demand growth over the past year.
  • Combined, these facts give the Fed some breathing room to slow the pace of rate hikes, even if these disinflationary trends have yet to show up in the consumer price index (CPI). In short, the “soft landing,” wherein inflation normalizes without sabotaging today’s strong labor market, is still possible and the Fed should try hard to secure it. 

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Victory on overtime for New York farmworkers

After a long and hard struggle, farmworkers in New York State recently won the right to overtime pay after a 40-hour workweek. There is still, however, a long path to economic fairness for these critically important workers.

Without a doubt, the overtime pay increase is a substantial victory that was a long time coming. Once fully phased in, it will give farm laborers a raise of $34 to $95 per week

Overtime pay will also nudge farm owners onto the economic high road, as Immigration Research Initiative and Economic Policy Institute have argued. By raising wages, it will reduce turnover and save significantly on recruiting and training costs. Where farm owners have the option, it will also nudge them toward more effective use of work time and investments in equipment that increase productivity, making farming in New York more sustainable in the long run. 

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Not So Free to Contract: The Law, Philosophy, and Economics of Unequal Workplace Power

Note: This blog is cross-posted to the Law and Political Economy blog.

Running through the fields of employment law, philosophy, political science, and economics is the pervasive assumption that employers and employees share equal power. This assumption, which distorts employment law so as to undercut worker protections, contradicts common sense, and evidence as well as any reasonable interpretation of recent history. Despite notable gains in worker power over the past two years, the erosion of worker power and the suppression of wages during the preceding four decades is welldocumented. Substantial evidence shows that employer power is pervasive, especially relative to those without college degrees, minorities, and women—in other words, the vast majority of workers.

This blog post draws upon and serves to introduce a new issue of the Journal of Law and Political Economy, which aims to elaborate the role that the equal-power assumption plays in employment law and policy, and to provide new social science evidence challenging that assumption. The essays contained in this issue, as I describe below, demonstrate that the power to quit does not prevent worker exploitation and that the circumstances that inhibit workers from quitting contribute to substantial, systematic employer power over wages and working conditions. They also show that restricting the power of management—through minimum wage policies, collective bargaining, and codetermination—benefits workers without causing adverse economic outcomes for firms or the economy, contrary to oft-made claims made by jurists.

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Labor market strong, but cooling in September: Public-sector employment continues to falter

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 263,000 jobs added in September.

From EPI senior economist, Elise Gould (@eliselgould):

Read the full Twitter thread here. 

From EPI president, Heidi Shierholz (@hshierholz):

Read the full Twitter thread here. 

What to Watch on Jobs Day: Signs of life in stalled public-sector employment?

Over the last few months, we’ve seen signs of labor market cooling (though from a very strong base): the historic decline in job openings in August; moderating wage growth; and employment losses in interest-rate-sensitive jobs.  

Private-sector employment rebounded fantastically following the pandemic recession because Congress made fiscal investments at the scale of the problem, and employment in the private sector exceeded pre-pandemic levels by July 2022. While the recovery continues to chug along, with rising labor force participation and prime-age employment-to-population ratio approaching pre-pandemic levels, the one sector that has failed to recover and has actually stalled for much of this year is state and local government employment.  

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In a year of tremendous legislative gains for California workers, Governor Newsom was wrong to veto a bill to protect 300,000 migrant workers

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom deserves credit and praise for signing into law a number of bills that will improve the lives of workers over the past few weeks. He signed legislation that will expand paid family leave, improve wages and working conditions in the fast food industry, and protect the right to organize for California’s farmworkers. Unfortunately, however, Gov. Newsom vetoed AB 364, a bill that would protect 300,000 temporary migrant workers. 

Last month, I published an analysis of the components of AB 364 and its positive impact if it became law, including creating a system of transparency and accountability to prevent fraud and exploitation committed against migrant workers who are vulnerable to abuses by international labor recruiters. The abuses often include wage theft, debt bondage, and human trafficking of the migrant workers recruited to work in California through temporary work visa programs. AB 364 was introduced to combat those abuses in California, the biggest host state for migrants working with temporary visas—with a rapidly increasing population.  

Below, I’ll discuss Gov. Newsom’s veto of AB 364 and critique the reasoning behind it. 

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