Posts by stephen herzenberg

For PA and U.S. Manufacturing to Flourish, Policymakers Need to Be Beholden to Some Different Defunct Economists

This past Tuesday, Keystone Research Center co-sponsored “Manufacturing a Better Paying Pennsylvania” with the D.C.-based Century Foundation, the Steel Valley Authority, and others. The event laid out the case for the U.S. and Pennsylvania to implement comprehensive strategies for growing high-wage manufacturing. This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op ed lays out the basic argument.

Natural Gas Producers in PA Don't Pay Their Fair Share

In recent months -- and weeks -- Pennsylvania’s legislature has shown renewed interest in enacting a severance tax on natural gas extraction as part of the state’s overdue revenue package to fund the state budget. In response, the natural gas industry has maintained a steady drumbeat of communications claiming that Pennsylvania already has a tax on gas extraction because of its per well impact fee which does not rise with the volume or value of gas drilled.

Rigging the Economy to Further Benefit the 1% -- the Pennsylvania Numbers

Last Friday, we got the first national estimates of who benefits from the Trump Tax plan -- the "Unified Code for Rigging Our Tax Code Further to Benefit the 1%." While that's not the official title, it's more accurate than the Trump Administration name -- "the Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code." Last week's analysis by the Tax Policy Center showed that, by 2027 (Table 3 in the Center's report), 80% of the benefits would go to the top 1%, an increase from 53% in 2018 (Table

A Victory for Seattle "For-Hire" Drivers...and for the Next Labor Movement

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One regular theme on this blog is that area-wide unions that lift wages and benefits in industries that cannot relocate are the main way we're going to fix our income distribution and — thanks to the political power of such area-wide unions once they represent tens of millions — fix our democracy.

Drillers Are Right – PA Needs Tax Rate on Gas Like Other States: It’s Time for a Severance Tax

In its recent letter to Speaker Mike Turzai, the Marcellus Shale Coalition points (in paragraph three) to the effective tax rate (ETR) on production as a key indicator of whether Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax in addition to the per-well impact fee we already have.

OK, let’s look at that ETR using Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) estimates of the ETR for 2011-16 and IFO estimates of prices and production to project the ETR (using IFO’s method) in 2017 and 2018.*

Unpacking the Right’s Breathless Embrace of New Seattle Minimum-Wage Study

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A recent column by A. Barton Hinkle in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (and also on the Reason Foundation web page) about minimum wage increases is getting a lot of attention in conservative intellectual circles. In the piece, Hinkle compares climate denial to skepticism expressed about a recent study on the effects of Seattle’s increase in its minimum wage.    

Yes! Millennials SHOULD Lead the Next Labor Movement

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Kashana Cauley, a writer for "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah," published a column yesterday, "Why Millennials Should Lead the Next Labor Movement," to which I say "hallelujah."
 
Since Keystone Research Center began operating in December 1995, we have argued that the main answer to economic inequality is labor unions that fit the industries and jobs of today and the future.

Apprenticeship Weak: Trump proposal fails to tap into apprenticeship’s potential

This piece was originally posted on the Economic Policy Institute's Working Economics Blog here: http://www.epi.org/blog/trump-apprenticeship-proposal

Everyone loves apprenticeships (including me) as a basic model for learning work-related skills, but for the most part, policymakers don’t think very hard about why there’s so little apprenticeship in the United States. For that reason, we’re likely to continue talking about how great apprenticeship is but not making significant investments in it. President Trump’s underwhelming plan to expand apprenticeships, unveiled this past week, won’t change that. His initiative will add $100 million (less than a dollar per U.S. worker) to the budget for apprenticeship and give employers more flexibility (i.e., unilateral control without objective oversight or minimum standards) in structuring new apprenticeships, but does little to address the underlying reasons why the United States lags behind our peers when it comes to apprenticeships.

With Public Pensions Done, It’s Time Now for a Victory on Retirement Security...and a Great State Budget

Roughly five years after Gov. Corbett first began an effort to eliminate guaranteed pensions for future school and state employees, Gov. Wolf today signed a bill that reduces the guaranteed portion of future pensions by about three-eighths (because the pension increases with each year of service by 1.25% of final salary instead of 2%). Alongside this smaller guaranteed pension, future employees will receive a 401(k)-style savings account. If these savings are converted into a second monthly check – an “annuity” – “actuaries” estimate (Table 9, p. 19) that the total retirement benefit for future career employees will be within 16% to 18% of the retirement benefit received by employees under the prior (Act 120) pension plan (enacted in 2010).

In sum, the enacted pension compromise is a smaller cut in benefits than earlier “hybrid” (combined DB-DC) proposals (such as this one with a smaller DB multiplier). Together with Social Security, the new hybrid pension will maintain retirement security for future school and state employees.

Last Chance for Sen. Toomey to Vote with Main St. Savers on Retirement Security

We hear from our friends in Washington DC that a U.S. Senate vote on a House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res. 66) that would impede states from improving retirement security for private workers could come today or tomorrow. It won’t come to a vote unless Republican leaders in the Senate think that the resolution will pass – so now is the time for Pennsylvanians to make their voice heard with Sen. Toomey. If he votes against H.J. Res 66 as he should, joining Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, that can send it down.