Wages

Third and State This Week: Better Budget Choices, Income Inequality After the Recession & the Minimum Wage

This week at Third and State, we blogged about March state revenues and better budget choices, income inequality in the wake of the recession, efforts to raise the minimum wage, and much more. Plus an early Tax Day Friday Funny.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget, Michael Wood wrote about some hopeful news in the March revenue collections, and Chris Lilienthal shared an op-ed by the co-chairs of Better Choices for Pennsylvania calling on lawmakers to close loopholes and delay unaffordable tax cuts before making more cuts that hurt children and families.
  • On income inequality, intern Jheanelle Chambers blogged about an eye-popping chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that in 2009, despite the weak economy, the top 1% of households captured $1.32 trillion in gross income while the bottom 50% earned $1.06 trillion.
  • In a Morning Must Read on jobs and wages, Mark Price blogged that it is time to get serious about raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania and the nation.
  • In other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on the challenges facing young workers in this economy; macho governors; and why women tend to be hurt more than men by public-sector job cuts.
  • And the Friday Funny featured a video from Citizens for Tax Justice on Mitch, a shoe store manager who wants to pay no taxes like GE.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

A Recovery for the 1%

By Jheanelle Chambers, Intern

Even in a Down Year, Top 1% Have More Total Income Than Bottom 50 Percent CombinedWhile many middle-class Americans are still struggling in a down economy, the 1% is doing quite well.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has an eye-popping chart (right) showing that in 2009, despite the weak economy, the top 1% of households captured $1.32 trillion in gross income while the bottom 50% earned $1.06 trillion.

Morning Must Reads: All Together Now, It's Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

The New York Times reports this morning that a labor organizer and advocate for a higher minimum wage in Bangladesh has been brutally murdered. 

Third and State This Week: Taking on Prevailing Wage, Loopholes vs. Budget Cuts and a Growing Menace

In a number of blog posts this week, we debunked the claims of advocates for repealing or scaling back the state's prevailing wage law. We also shared a chart comparing state tax breaks to budget cuts and posted a Friday Funny featuring the scariest movie trailer this year — on the growing menace of corporate tax loopholes.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and wages, Mark Price published Part 2 and Part 3 of his series fact-checking inaccurate claims about Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law. Part 1 ran last Friday. Mark also explained that to save 50% on public construction projects from repealing prevailing wage, workers would have to pay to work. Finally, Stephen Herzenberg made the case that employing low-wage, low-skill workers on small and medium-sized state-funded construction projects, with no benefit to taxpayers and negative impacts on local economies, is a dumb policy.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a chart detailing funding cuts that could be restored by closing tax loopholes.
  • In the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on young workers in the Great Recession; a profile of a pacemaker-dependent child who was denied health care by the state; and the fallout from cutting state support for pre-k and higher education.
  • And the Friday Funny featured a video from Ed Voters that begins: "There's a growing menace and it's coming after you and your family. The horror ... the corporate tax loophole!"

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Adventures in Mathematics: To Save 50% from Prevailing Wage Repeal, Workers Would Have To Pay To Work!

If you are in the Harrisburg area, tune in to WITF's Smart Talk at 8 p.m. tonight to hear a debate about the prevailing wage, including comments from yours truly in the opening news report.

In answering a reporter's question on prevailing wage, I was told about one claim that repealing the prevailing wage could lower total costs by as much as 50%.

Get out your calculator. If you lowered labor costs on a construction project by 99.99%, at most you would lower total costs by 24% (see the table below).

Dumb and Dumber State Construction Policies

I've got an idea: let's employ low-wage, low-skill, and sometime out-of-state workers on small and medium-sized state-funded construction projects, with no benefit to taxpayers and negative impacts on local economies.

Sound like a stupid idea? That's because it is.

Here's the backdrop: Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law requires that workers on state-funded construction projects be paid a wage in line with what most other workers in their trade are paid within a certain geographical area.

Prevailing Wage Opponents Fail to Look at the Research

The Final Part of a Three-part Series on Prevailing Wage. Read Part 1. Read Part 2.

In the first two posts of this series, I explained why the numbers being tossed around by advocates of repealing prevailing wage don’t add up. I explained that the claims of cost-savings are not based on any actual experience and that they represent the result of laughable hypothetical, or “what if,” calculations. 

This leads to the most important point that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Harrisburg Patriot-News Editorial Board and others keep missing: we can do much better than a hypothetical when assessing the impact of prevailing wage laws.

Prevailing Wage Opponents Fail Labor Market Statistics 101

Part Two of a Three-part Series on Prevailing Wage. Read Part 1.

The overwhelming weight of evidence based on the actual cost of public construction projects shows that prevailing wage laws do not raise costs. Therefore, advocates of repealing the law in Pennsylvania ignore this evidence. Instead of “evidence-based policy,” we have “lack-of-evidence-based policy.” Go figure.

Prevailing Wage Opponents Fail the Laugh Test

Part One of a Three-part Series on Prevailing Wage

Prevailing wage laws have long operated nationally and in states as a check against the tendency of the construction industry to degenerate into destructive wage and price competition. Such competition can drive skilled and experienced workers from the industry, reduce productivity and quality, and lead to poverty-level jobs, all without saving construction customers any money.

Third and State This Week: Math Teachers Getting Pink Slips, Take the Money and Run, and Revenue Update

This week, we blogged about math teachers getting pink slips, a "take the money and run" philosophy on business subsidies, state revenues in February, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On education, Mark Price explained why laying off math teachers, as some districts are doing to address funding shortfalls, is very bad decision that risks harming our long-term economic growth. Michael Wood highlighted a New York Times article on the impact of state cuts to public higher education across the country.
  • On economic development, Mark Price was humming the Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money and Run" when he heard about the closing of a battery company's Lehigh Valley operations, after the facility opened in 2008 with $4 million in business subsidies from the state.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood wrote that February's General Fund revenue collections took a turn for the better in Pennsylvania.
  • And in other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about top incomes and adultBasic, the economic anxieties of the 1% versus the 99%, and water privatization in Harrisburg.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Syndicate content