Jobs and Unemployment

A Step Towards Pay Equity in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order yesterday aimed at combating pay equity in Pennsylvania. The order, called “Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth,” prohibits employers in state government from asking applicants for their salary history in an effort to steer employers away from reinforcing pay inequities between men and women.

Why “Get a Job!” is not the answer to decreasing reliance on food stamps

“Just get a Job!”

I’ve heard these words yelled out of car windows when I marched alongside poor and homeless people fighting for affordable housing and living wage jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 2000s. It’s a slogan many who have waited in lines at soup kitchens or homeless shelters have heard again and again.

Get a Job! The belief that anyone who wants to work can get a job permeates our society and has crept into the thinking in both conservative and liberal circles. But this mindset has not emerged out of nowhere – it has been constructed and refined over the last 50 years by conservative scholars, policy wonks pursuing welfare reform and right-wing think tanks (for a detailed description see Lucy Williams article, “Decades of Distortion: The Right’s 30-Year Assault on Welfare”). Alice O’Connor, in her book Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U.S. History (2002) traced the shift in the study of poverty from a focus on low wages and labor exploitation during the Progressive era to its framing as an individualized problem due to personal failings and the behavioral characteristics of the poor that culminated in welfare reform in the 1990s.

PA Leads on Overtime Pay – Where the Governor Can Act Without the State Legislature

Turns out that Gov. Wolf believes in the 40-hour week. Because he does, about 460,000 lower-paid Pennsylvania salaried workers will soon be on track to receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. If their employer doesn’t want to pay overtime, these hard-working members of Pennsylvania’s middle class will get back time with their family, instead of having to work for free.

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.

How did the Pennsylvania Labor Market Perform in 2016

Last Friday, The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released preliminary estimates of December payrolls which show Pennsylvania created 32,000 jobs in the last 12 months. Payroll growth was especially weak in the 2nd half of 2016, which is likely one reason state revenue collections through December are $300 million below projections. Despite this weakness, payrolls still grew more in 2016 than they did in 2012 and 2013 when deep budget cuts weighed on job growth in Pennsylvania.

Advice for the Voting Booth: Consider Who Will Support the Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania's Pay?

The day before the election, Pennsylvanians who go to the polls tomorrow have one last chance to consider the choices they will make.

Since Keystone Research Center is an economic think thank focused on the middle class, our efforts to inform voters have highlighted two issues: how the middle class is doing; and the policies that would benefit the middle class going forward.

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