Tech and outsourcing companies continue to exploit the H-1B visa program at a time of mass layoffs: The top 30 H-1B employers hired 34,000 new H-1B workers in 2022 and laid off at least 85,000 workers in 2022 and early 2023

Key takeaways:

  • The H-1B visa program was created to fill labor shortages in professional fields and could be a valuable temporary work visa program, but new data show it is being subverted by employers that are not facing labor shortages and by outsourcing firms.
  • H-1B use is overly concentrated among a small number of employers. In 2022, the top 30 H-1B employers hired more than 34,000 new H-1B workers, accounting for 40% of the total annual cap of 85,000.
  • The top 30 companies also laid off, or will imminently lay off, at least 85,000 workers in 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.
  • Thirteen of the top 30 H-1B employers were outsourcing firms that underpay migrant workers and offshore U.S. jobs to countries where labor costs are much lower.
  • Laid-off H-1B workers, who likely number in the thousands, must find a new employer to sponsor their visa within 60 days after their layoff or they may be forced to leave the United States.
  • President Biden should use executive authority to fix the H-1B program and implement new rules that raise wages for migrant workers and prevent outsourcing companies from exploiting the H-1B program.

The H-1B program is the largest U.S. temporary work visa program, with a total of approximately 600,000 workers employed by 50,000 employers. The program’s intent is to allow employers to fill labor shortages for jobs that require a college degree, by providing work authorization for migrant workers in fields like accounting, journalism, health and medical, and teaching. Most H-1B workers, however, are employed in occupations like computer systems analysis and software development.

Visas for new workers are capped at 85,000 per year, but many employers are exempt from that annual cap, including universities and their affiliated nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations, and government research organizations. Approximately 130,000 temporary migrant workers will receive new H-1B visas each fiscal year to begin new employment for capped and cap-exempt employers, with another 300,000 receiving renewals (which are not subject to the cap). Every April 1, the government decides, via lottery, which employers will receive the 85,000 new visas subject to the cap.

Read more

The end of the pandemic public health emergency largely doesn’t change how state and local governments can use ARPA fiscal relief funds

Last week, Congress passed H.J.Res.7, a resolution that formally ends the public health emergency declared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This termination is effective as of today—April 10, 2023—and signals the end of certain programs put in place in the past three years, including important measures related to Medicaid and health insurance.

However, the resolution will largely not affect the ability of state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to spend the close to $200 billion in unspent State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). State and local governments will still be able to use remaining SLFRF dollars to make transformative investments to enhance equity and support working families and communities.

Read more

Jobs report shows 236,000 jobs added in March and wage growth slowing to disinflationary rates

Below, EPI president Heidi Shierholz shares her insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 236,000 jobs added in March. Read the full Twitter thread here


Read more

Even with today’s slowdown, profit growth remains a big driver of inflation in recent years: Corporate profits have contributed to more than a third of price growth

As strange as this might sound, the actual economic cost of inflation is often hard to identify. One might think that it’s obvious that if inflation rises from 0% to 5% then the purchasing power of “real” incomes (nominal incomes adjusted for inflation) throughout the economy has fallen by 5%.

But that’s not right—or at least it’s not right without some further specification about just whose income has fallen. The “circular flow” diagram that is in chapter one of most macroeconomic textbooks highlights something profound: one person’s cost is another person’s income. So, when the price of eggs rises by 30%, that extra money out of shoppers’ pockets doesn’t disappear into thin air, instead it lands someplace. In the case of eggs, that someplace could be in chicken farmers’ incomes, or the profits of middle-men brokers, or the profits of grocery stores.

There are times when inflation really can be driven by most incomes in society rising at mostly the same pace. In this case, inflation is distributionally neutral, but there’s also no “real” cost. For example, if inflation accelerates from 0% to 4%, but nominal wage growth accelerates from 2% to 6%, real wages haven’t been harmed. The inflation we’ve seen since 2021 has had profound distributional consequences. Prices and incomes for low-wage workers, middle-wage workers, high-wage workers, and profits have not moved in lockstep but have seen very different rates of growth.

Most striking is the role of profits in starting and sustaining inflation since 2021. Figure A below shows one measure of profit “mark-ups” in the non-financial corporate (NFC) sector of the U.S. economy. We look at this sector because it has rich and timely data coverage. Mark-ups are essentially profits earned per unit of output divided by labor and non-labor costs.

Read more

An average of 27 workers a day suffer amputation or hospitalization, according to new OSHA data from 29 states: Meat and poultry companies remain among the most dangerous

This is a guest post from Debbie Berkowitz and Patrick Dixon at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University. 

In January 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began requiring all covered employers to self-report all worker injuries severe enough to cause an amputation, the loss of an eye, or an overnight stay in the hospital. This requirement covers employers in 29 states under federal OSHA jurisdiction. (Employers in the other 21 states and Puerto Rico with State OSHA Plan agencies must report severe injuries to their state agency.)1

Updated data released by federal OSHA reveal that employers from the covered 29 states reported 74,025 severe injuries to the federal agency between January 1, 2015, and May 31, 2022. That amounts to a stunning 27 workers a day, on average, suffering among the most severe work injuries in just over half the states.

Read more

Gender wage gap widens even as low-wage workers see strong gains: Women are paid roughly 22% less than men on average

Last week, we released the latest State of Working America Wages Report, which highlighted historically fast real wage growth for low-wage workers between 2019 and 2022. Even after taking into account higher inflation, the 10th percentile hourly wage grew 9.0% over that three-year period, significantly faster than at an equivalent point from any other business cycle peak in recent history.

This tremendous wage growth occurred because policymakers took a different path in the pandemic recession and passed vital relief and recovery measures at the scale of the problem, which created a strong labor market. Unfortunately, despite this recent period of growth, wage levels for U.S. workers at the bottom of the earnings distribution remain low, making it difficult to make ends meet in any county or metro area.

While low-wage workers experienced welcome gains, we were surprised to find that the gender pay gap widened, even though women are disproportionately more likely to be lower-wage workers. We found that the gender wage gap grew across three measures: the median, the average, and a regression-adjusted average (i.e., controlling for age, race/ethnicity, education, and geographic division). Here, we delve deeper into the question of what happened to women’s wages vis-a-vis men’s over the last three years as well as the large wage gaps that remain across educational attainment and are worse for Black and Hispanic women.

The gender wage gap

Between 2019 and 2022, the gender wage gap remained stubbornly large even as lower-wage workers experienced gains. Women, on average, were paid 20.3% less than men in 2019. By 2022, that gap widened to 22.2%. Similarly, the regression-adjusted wage gap, which has been stagnant for most of the last 20+ years, widened slightly from 22.6% to 22.9%. Much of the growing wage gap at the average (unconditional and regression-adjusted) is driven by men’s higher wages and faster wage growth at the top of the wage distribution. When we look instead at wage growth at the middle of the wage distribution—the 40th to 60th percentiles—a different story emerges. In 2019, these middle-wage women were paid on average 16.2% less than middle-wage men. In 2022, that wage gap narrowed to 15.4%, a small but promising move in the right direction.

Read more

Employers regularly engage in tactics to suppress unions: Examples at Starbucks, Amazon, and Google illustrate employers’ anti-union playbook

The U.S. labor movement has seen a resurgence in union activity in recent years. In 2022, more than 16 million workers were represented by a union—an increase of 200,000 from 2021. Union election petitions with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) increased by 53% during fiscal year 2022, the highest single-year increase since fiscal year 2016. Further, unions saw their highest approval rating in more than 50 years.

Despite this resurgence, the current unionization rate (11.3%) is well under half what it was roughly 40 years ago. This is because of decades of attacks on the right to organize and, increasingly, employers’ use of “union avoidance” consultants, including in response to recent union organizing campaigns at Starbucks, Amazon, and Google. These campaigns—illustrated below—are representative of employer response and hostility toward workers attempting to organize.

Read more

State and local governments have spent less than half of their American Rescue Plan fiscal recovery funds: Recovery funds should be used to rebuild the public sector

On March 13, the U.S. Treasury Department released data and an interactive dashboard showing how state and local governments have been using the $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) appropriated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These funds have fueled transformative investments and contributed to a strong recovery from the pandemic recession, and state and local governments should use their remaining SLFRF allocations to rebuild the public sector and support working families.

SLFRF spending by state and larger local governments (cities and counties with a population over 250,000) totaled just over $114 billion by December 31, 2022, an increase of $13 billion in the final quarter of the year. Six states—South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Mississippi—have spent less than 10% of their funding. All six have Republican governors and Republican majorities in their legislatures.

One of SLFRF’s main purposes was to allow states to restore their public-sector capacities quickly. There were 376,000 fewer public-sector workers in February 2023 than three years earlier. States should be using their SLFRF dollars to fill open positions and retain experienced employees by increasing the compensation of public-sector workers, one-third of whom are paid less than $20 an hour.

Evidence suggests states that have chosen to invest larger shares of their SLFRF dollars are having greater success in recruiting and retaining state employees in a highly competitive job market. As seen below, states that have spent less than 30% of their SLFRF allocation have seen their state government workforces recover more slowly compared with those that have spent over 30%. States, therefore, have an excellent opportunity to spend their recovery funds in rebuilding the public sector and restoring public services.

Read more

Recent banking failures add another reason to halt interest rate hikes

The debate over the Federal Reserve’s proper course of action for the rest of 2023 was getting a little stagnant in recent months. The argument centered on whether inflation’s persistence was really a sign of an overheated economy that still needed cooling or if it was due to stubbornly large—but dampening —ripples stemming from the huge pandemic and war shocks of previous years. The recent failures of Silicon Valley and Signature banks and chaos in other corners of the banking sector definitely provide a new twist to this debate.

My view on what the Fed should do now in the wake of banking failures is relatively straight-forward:

  • Before the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) failure, it was already clear that the Fed should pause interest rate hikes at this week’s meeting, based largely on consistent deceleration of nominal wage growth. 
  • The SVB failure and subsequent banking turmoil are far more likely to be demand-destroying events than not. If one thought the Fed already should be reducing the pace of their rate hikes (or even pausing entirely) due to labor market cooling, the fallout from SVB just means this cooling will happen more quickly and hence the case for halting further rate hikes is stronger.
  • It is a genuine problem that interest rate hikes of nearly 5% in a year cause this much distress in the financial sector, indicating a clear failure of bank management and supervision. These failures should be addressed going forward. But they exist today and the fallout of them clearly provides another argument for standing pat on further rate increases.

Read more

Why ‘right-to-work’ was always wrong for Michigan: Restoring workers’ rights is key to reversing growing income inequality in Michigan

The Michigan state legislature is poised to make history this week by repealing an anti-union “right-to-work” (RTW) statute enacted in 2012. This repeal is an important step toward empowering workers to address historic levels of income inequality and unequal power in our economy, and would mark the first time a state has repealed a RTW law in nearly 60 years.

For decades, Michigan boasted the highest unionization rate in the country—and relatively higher median wages resulted for the state’s workers. In this blog post, we find that as recently as 2005, Michigan’s unionization rate was 1.69 times the national rate, and the state’s median wage was 6% higher than the national median.

But after lawmakers passed RTW in 2012, Michigan’s unionization rates declined faster than in the nation as a whole, and the state’s relative median wage fell below the U.S. median. Attacks on Michigan workers’ rights have especially benefited the rich—declines in unionization rates have been accompanied by dramatic increases in income inequality, with half of all income in the state now going to the top 10%.

The repeal of RTW in Michigan—in tandem with Illinois voters approving a constitutional Workers’ Rights Amendment (which bans future RTW laws) in 2022 and Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejecting their legislature’s attempt to impose RTW restrictions in 2018—would also signal an important turning point after a decade of extreme anti-union state legislation in the Midwest that has suppressed wages and eroded job quality.

Read more

Two years later, American Rescue Plan funds are still a transformative resource: State and local governments—particularly in the South—should invest unspent funds in workers, families, and communities

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) celebrated its second anniversary on March 11. In those two years, ARPA has supported a strong economic recovery and, through its provision of $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), allowed state and local governments to make transformative investments in their communities.

At the time of President Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, the U.S. economy had recovered less than 60% of the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic recession. Overall, 26.8 million workers—15.8% of the workforce—were either unemployed, out of work due to the pandemic, or employed but experiencing a drop in hours and pay. Additionally, key economic indicators suggested that the economic recovery had begun to reverse.

The American Rescue Plan Act was both a vital emergency measure that helped the nation through the worst of the COVID pandemic and a significant step toward addressing the nation’s economic inequalities. The $1.9 trillion package provided fiscal relief at the necessary scale to counteract the negative economic impacts of COVID. As a result, 2021 and 2022 saw the highest job growth of any of the past 40 years.

As ARPA enters its third year, state and local policymakers should use their remaining SLFRF dollars to rebuild public-sector workforces and support low-wage workers and their families. In particular, many Southern states have significant amounts of unspent funds, and workers, families, and underfunded public services could greatly benefit from the local economic boost SLFRF investments allow.

Read more

High and rising teacher vacancies coincide with a steep decline in the overall well-being of the teaching profession

In a recent EPI report investigating the national teacher shortage, we documented a large and growing number of teaching vacancies, which we linked to poor compensation and highly stressful working conditions. The data we assembled show that teacher pay has been falling relative to college graduates in other fields since 1979, and reported levels of teacher stress are comparable to other jobs that are typically recognized as being stressful, such as nursing or being a manager or executive. A recent working paper by Matthew A. Kraft and Melissa Arnold Lyon has similar findings after casting an even wider net over the data.

In their report, Kraft and Lyon examine four broad sets of indicators of the overall well-being of the teaching profession: professional prestige, interest in teaching, enrollment in preparation programs, and job satisfaction. They compile nationally representative time-series data and find compelling evidence of four distinct periods in the status of teaching over the last half century: a rapid decline in the 1970s, a quick rise in the early- to mid-1980s, no significant change over the next 20 years, and the start of a steep decline around 2010. Kraft and Lyon’s findings since 2010 are very similar to what we found: While the pandemic exacerbated challenges facing teachers, “most of these declines occurred steadily throughout the last decade suggesting they are a function of larger, long-standing structural issues with the profession.”

Read more

February jobs report shows a resilient but sustainable labor market: The Fed should not put the economic recovery at risk

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 311,000 jobs added in February and wage growth continuing to decelerate. 

Read more

Job openings fell in January, while layoffs increased

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

Five principles for making state and local reparations plans reparative

We are still living in the aftermath of 2020’s overlapping crises of racial injustice, our nation’s polycrisis. Between the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic recession, and the public police murder of George Floyd, we saw a harsh truth about the structure of American political economy: White supremacy has shaped our institutions such that their outcome is consistent Black precarity and premature death.

This confluence of tragedies brought awareness of the Black American condition to a new generation. It also reinvigorated interest among academics and policymakers to finally do something about the problem of racial disparities (though activists and community organizers largely never lost interest in this).

This renewed awareness and interest in addressing racial disparities brought attention to arguably the only structural solution to persistent Black-white economic and social disparities, one that we have put off as a country for generations: reparations for slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration.

Read more

The Supreme Court is poised to strike down affirmative action and student loan forgiveness: These decisions would threaten college enrollment and completion for students of color

In the wake of the appalling decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court is yet again at the forefront of repealing sweeping legislative precedent that will change the lives of millions of Americans. Following arguments from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina on whether race-conscious admission programs are lawful, the Supreme Court is expected to overturn affirmative action in college admissions later this year. 

Similarly, the Supreme Court will hear arguments later this month over President Biden’s student loan debt relief plan that would forgive at least $10,000, and up to $20,000, for tens of millions of federal student loan borrowers. The Supreme Court will likely strike down the plan.

Both affirmative action and student loan debt forgiveness are critical measures for college access and completion for students of color. Sadly, these statutes, along with many others, have been targeted and threatened within the courts over the yearsleaving students of color to bear more acute barriers to higher education and more disparate socioeconomic outcomes.

Read more

U.S. trade deficit hits another record high in 2022

The U.S. goods trade deficit reached a record $1.182 trillion in 2022—an increase of $105 billion from the 2021 trade deficit—according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this morning. Below, EPI senior economist Adam S. Hersh offers his initial insights. Read the Twitter thread here

Read more

EPI retracts fact sheet on employer violations in union elections

The Economic Policy Institute recently published a fact sheet on illegal employer behavior during union election campaigns. Out of an abundance of caution, we are retracting the fact sheet due to inaccuracies with the underlying data. Instead, we refer readers to earlier research showing that U.S. employers are charged with violating federal labor law in four out of every ten union election campaigns. 


EPI will update the data in a forthcoming report. We deeply regret the error.  

Labor market off to a strong start in 2023: 517,000 jobs added in January as unemployment rate hits historic low

Below, EPI economists offer their initial insights on the jobs report released this morning, which showed 517,000 jobs added in January, the unemployment rate hitting a historic low of 3.4%, and wage growth slowing. 

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: Upward revisions in employment expected after record two-year job growth

On Friday, we will see the first labor market data for 2023. Along with the latest on payroll employment, unemployment, and wage growth, we will also get the final benchmark revisions for the establishment survey (CES). Preliminary benchmark revisions suggest job growth will be even stronger over the last two years than the 11.2 million previously reported. These benchmark revisions will be wedged back from April 2021 through March 2022, with the entire revision raising (or lowering) the level of jobs in March 2022 and consequently affecting subsequent job levels.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will also revise their industry classification system, which will result in about 10% of employment reclassified into different industries (mainly impacting detailed retail and information sectors). Friday’s jobs report will also include new population controls based on Census estimates for the household survey (CPS).

In addition to these important survey changes and annual benchmarking, the jobs report will show us where the economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession stands at the beginning of 2023. Taken together, the last two years of payroll employment growth have been remarkable. As shown in Figure A, the two years of job growth were the best in nearly 40 years.

This rapid recovery was not luck. Instead, it is the direct result of historic relief and recovery measures that matched the scale of the problem, like President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP), which provided an essential boost with continued enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, aid to state and local governments, and the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Read more

Job openings increased in December, but remain significantly lower than March 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 December. Read the Twitter thread here.

Read more

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:

Read more

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.

Read more

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:

Read more

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).

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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. 

Read more

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):