The report by the Economic Policy Institute also found that minimum wages are, on average, $3.75 an hour lower in abortion restrictive states compared with protective states ($8.17 compared with $11.92); and that restrictive states incarcerate people at 1.5 times the rate of protective states.
After three whiplash-inducing years of, first, professional vulnerability and, then, perceived invincibility, many people are returning to more typical levels of career security and leverage. Call it the Great Rebalancing of the employer-employee relationship. “We’re clearly headed there,” says Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute.
Our organization, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), has rigorously documented the factors that explain the divergence between productivity and worker compensation—effectively, the choices that have suppressed wage growth for most U.S. workers.
“One of the key ways workers get raises in our economy is they change jobs,” Heidi Shierholz, the Economic Policy Institute’s policy director, told CBS in 2019. “If you take away that avenue, it hurts wage growth.”
“It doesn’t look like there will be, at least in the next few years, any chances of anything happening legislatively,” said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute.
In more liberal states, advocates for a higher minimum wage get a friendlier hearing in state legislatures. In 2016, California passed a $15 minimum wage that will have gone into full effect only this year. The new minimum of $15.50 puts the state’s minimum wage up by just over a third in seven years. California’s increase came through a combination of legislation and adjusting for inflation. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 3.2 million workers in California, almost a fifth of the state’s workforce, will see an increase in their wages, making up over a third of all workers nationally who will be affected by hikes in the minimum wage this year.
Employers have historically turned to noncompetes to reduce turnover and keep workers from fleeing to competition, as demonstrated by a study from the Economic Policy Institute that found 30% of U.S. employers had all of their employees sign noncompetes, and nearly 50% of employers had some of their employees enter noncompete agreements. Of course, for workers with intimate knowledge of trade secrets like proprietary technology or convoluted recipes, it would make sense that employers should on a case-by-case basis cement confidentiality provisions.
But since the 1940s, the power of the labor movement and labor unions in the U.S. has been on the decline, says the Economic Policy Institute. This has allowed major companies and corporations to deploy anti-union tactics, cripple organization efforts, and skirt existing labor laws with some degree of impunity. Workers find themselves battling management for what they see as fair deals and an end to unjust practices across a range of industries, including the food and beverage sector. As National Restaurant News reports, wage theft is an acute problem in the industry, with 85% of fast food workers polled in California experiencing some form of it.
Many journalists and policy analysts started paying attention to noncompetes “a few years back when it was revealed that the sub chain Jimmy John’s was forcing its sandwich makers to sign the agreements,” Jordan Weissman writes at Semafor. Jimmy John’s dropped that requirement after a lawsuit, but noncompete clauses have morphed into a “yoke for low-wage hourly workers who ordinarily have little say over terms of their employment.” In fact, “the only source of power non-unionized workers have vis-à-vis their employers is their ability to quit and take a job elsewhere,” the Economic Policy Institute said in a statement.
The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 an hour since 2009, when it was increased by 70 cents. That is the longest period without a raise in the history of the minimum wage. At the other end of the growth ladder, CEO pay has exploded. From 1978 to 2020, CEO pay based on realized compensation grew by 1,322%, out-gaining S&P stock market growth (817%) by a considerable margin, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In contrast, compensation of the average worker grew by just 18% during that time and the minimum wage increased 174%, from $2.65 an hour.
“People often invoke the damage done by the 2011 showdown over the debt ceiling,” Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute wrote in a blog post last year. “They point to stock market losses, increases in ‘economic uncertainty’ indices, and estimates of how much higher interest rates went in the showdown’s aftermath. But they tend to miss what was by far the greatest damage done by the 2011 debt ceiling episode: the passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA), a piece of legislation that is relatively unknown to the lay public.”
Josh Bivens, the director of research at the Economic Policy Institute, said that not raising the debt ceiling could lead to spending cuts but making concessions to raise it could as well, based on Republicans’ demands.
A report released by nonprofit think-tank, the Economic Policy Institute, shows that the teacher wage gap reached an all-time high in 2021. Compared to their peers in similar professions, teachers suffer from pay equity earning, on average, about 77 cents on the dollar compared to their peers in similar professions.
A new Economic Policy Institute report finds that teachers made 23.5 percent less than comparable college graduates in 2021. That’s the widest gap ever — despite the extraordinary challenges teachers have faced during the pandemic. The gap is even wider in some of the states with the largest teacher shortages, reaching 32 percent in Arizona, for example.
Those private-sector jobs drove the quick recovery from the crash, Economic Policy Institute Senior Analyst Elise Gould said, since governments added only a net of 3,000 jobs in December and that sector’s employment is still 2.3% below pre-crash levels. State universities and colleges reported a 23,000-job drop in December.
The outlook on teacher pay is not great in Colorado. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Colorado’s teacher pay penalty was the largest in the nation at 36% in 2021. Many people were happy to get their $750 TABOR rebate checks last year as inflation soared, but in 2019, Magellan Strategies found only 46% of voters they polled approved of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
A few things are driving young people’s support for and participation in organized labor. First is simple economics: Many young people don’t earn enough to afford basic expenses — rent, health insurance, student loan payments — all at the same time, said Jennifer Sherer at the Economic Policy Institute.
“The labor market clearly remains strong,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in an interview with CNBC. “We are now seeing that the household survey and the payroll survey are showing similar signs of strength, and wage growth is looks to be coming down.”
“Studies of voucher programs in several U.S. cities, the states of Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, and in Chile and India, find limited improvements at best in student achievement and school district performance from even large-scale programs,” said a 2017 Economic Policy Institute report. The institute bills itself as an independent, nonprofit think tank.
“As wages have grown, fewer people are working at exactly the federal minimum wage, even if many are still paid $8, $9, or $10 an hour,” Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told Quartz. “As far as whether the minimum wage leads to better lives or fewer jobs I think the research is clear,” he added. “Minimum wage increases have not led to large job losses and instead have raised the earnings of the lowest paid workers.”
The minimum wage hikes that took effect Jan. 1 in 23 states and Washington, D.C., will bring pay increases to an estimated 8.4 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Almost 55% of the affected workers are age 25 or older, and 45% work full time.
“A huge determinant of how well you’re going to do is how well your parents did,” says Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “There is not a whole lot of economic mobility in this country, however you look at it.”