Job Creation and Training, Health Insurance Exchanges, and Much More

Job Creation and Training:

  • Expanding Opportunity: Employing the Formerly Incarcerated in the Green Economy - An estimated 87,000 jobs will be created through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to help weatherize one million low-income family homes.  This new report from the National Employment Law Project, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and PolicyLink discusses tools and strategies to enable equitable hiring in the green economy for those with criminal records.
  • Reducing Poverty and Economic Distress after ARRA: Next Steps for Short-Term Recovery and Long-Term Economic Security - This new report by researchers at the Urban Institute and Georgetown University highlights strategies for fighting poverty after Recovery Act funding expires.  It recommends targeted investments in job creation, training, income support and children and youth to prevent continued damage from the current recession.
  • Opening Doors:  How to Make the Workforce Investment Act Work for Women - The Center for American Progress reports that Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs discriminate significantly against women, with disparity in earnings between women and men placed in jobs exceeding the national average.  Women are disproportionately tracked into lower-paying and low-skilled jobs, where men are more heavily placed into higher-paying, skilled jobs, such as construction.  They recommend instituting gender parity requirements for placing WIA clients in better-paying job tracks.
  • Cities Pave the Way:  Promising Reentry Policies - This report from the National Employment Law Project describes what cities are doing to lead the way in assisting ex-prisoners with community reintegration and staying out of prison.  In addition to enacting legislation prohibiting discrimination against job applicants on the basis of past criminal records – such as the “Ban the Box” bill passed in Connecticut this year – cities are using contract standards and other measures to lower incarceration costs and improve public safety by helping people find gainful employment, one of the leading factors in helping people stay out of prison.

Health Insurance Exchanges Under the Affordable Care Act: Key Policy Issues - The health insurance exchange is the centerpiece of the private insurance reforms in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). as is detailed  on the Commonwealth Fund Blog.  If the exchanges function as planned, they will expand coverage to more Americans, reduce insurance costs, and improve the quality of coverage and perhaps of health care itself.  This article outlines some of the major policy issues and decisions that state policymakers need to consider in establishing state exchanges.

Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2009 - The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women’s earnings were 80.2% of men’s in 2009, slightly down from their peak in 2005-06.  In addition, researchers found a more entrenched problem impeding women’s economic progress:  men are disproportionately represented in higher-paid occupations, while women "are far more concentrated in administrative support jobs.”  This holds true even for professionals:  men are concentrated in high-paying jobs (e.g., engineering), and women are far more concentrated in lower-paying ones (education and health care).

Importance of College Opportunities for Undocumented Immigrants through the DREAM Act:

  • DREAM Versus Reality:  An Analysis of Potential DREAM Act Beneficiaries - This recent report from Migration Policy Institute details the importance of passing the federal DREAM Act, which would grant conditional legal status (and eventual US citizenship) to undocumented high school graduates with a minimum Associate's Degree and who meet a stringent set of requirements.  800,000 young people could gain legal status with the passage of the DREAM Act - including more than one in ten Latinos in the immigrant new destination states Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and North Carolina.  Each immigrant college graduate would generate an annual fiscal benefit of over $9,000 per year, including paying $5,300 more in taxes and cost $3,900 less in government expenses than if they had dropped out of high school.
  • The DREAM Act:  Creating Opportunities for Immigrant Students and Supporting the U.S. Economy - This analysis from the Immigration Policy Center includes a detailed explanation of the federal DREAM Act, who stands to benefit from the federal legislation, the economic benefits of passing such legislation, how many states have been ahead of the curve with respect passing legislation to support in-state tuition, and details Congressional support for the legislation.