Great Recession Devastating Worker Paychecks, Unionization and Those in Poverty

Recession Hits Workers’ Paychecks: Wage growth has collapsed - Wages are growing at less than half the rate they were before the recession, according to this Economic Policy Institute report. The report recommends providing fiscal relief to states to preserve government and private-sector jobs, while raising the minimum wage.

The State of the Unions in 2010: A Profile of Union Membership in Los Angeles, California and the Nation - Jobs lost during the recession have resulted in reduced unionization rates in the U.S., California, and Los Angeles, according to this UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment publication. Despite increasing unionization throughout the first 18 months of the recession, the upward trend in unionization rates that began three years ago, has come to an end.

Women in Poverty During the Great Recession - 15.5 million women are living in poverty but the number of women receiving public assistance is much smaller, with widely different benefit levels in different states, according to this study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. 10.6 million adult women in poverty have either public or private health insurance, another 4.9 million are not covered. For nutrition support, 5.9 million women in poverty use food stamps, but 9.6 million do not. Meanwhile, fewer than 750,000 poor adult women with children receive cash aid through TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) while 5.4 million do not.

Establishing State Health Insurance Exchanges: Implications for Health Insurance Enrollment, Spending, and Small Businesses - The Rand Corporation has released a microsimulation model, which finds that significantly more small businesses will offer insurance to their workers thanks to the new health insurance exchanges. They forecast that availability of insurance at work will increase at small businesses from 53 to 77 percent for firms with ten or fewer workers, from 71 to 90 percent for firms with 11 to 25 workers, and from 90 percent to nearly 100 percent for firms with 26 to 100 workers.

Public Attitudes Toward and Experiences With Workplace Safety - Drawing on dozens of surveys and polls, this study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that 85 percent of workers rank workplace safety first in importance among labor standards, even ahead of family and maternity leave, minimum wage, paid sick days, overtime pay and the right to join a union. Public awareness of the problem is low due to poor media coverage of the crippling, non-fatal injuries that occur every day in workplaces across the country.

"FairTax" Proposals to Replace State Income and Business Taxes With Expanded Sales Tax Would Create Serious Problems - The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis of "FairTax" systems that states like Missouri, South Carolina and Arkansas are considering, which would would replace personal and corporate income taxes with higher, broader sales taxes. The laws would apply sales taxes to health care, school tuition and new home sales in ways that would likely feed protests and a spiral of rising tax rates and widening exemptions. The result would be long-term revenue losses and higher taxes on the middle class.

U.S. Unauthorized Immigration Flows Are Down Sharply Since Mid-Decade - The annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005, according to new estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center. This has contributed to an overall reduction of 8% in the number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the U.S.-to 11.1 million in March 2009 from a peak of 12 million in March 2007.

Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers - A range of education scholars agree that student test scores cannot fully measure teacher skills or account for a wide range of factors such as the student's background, over which teachers have no influence, according to this study by the Economic Policy Institute. The paper concluded that test results were an unreliable measure of teacher performance even when using a method of value-added modeling, or VAM, designed to obtain a more sophisticated analysis of the test scores.

Walking Away From a Win-Win-Win: Subsidized Jobs Slated to End Soon Are Helping Families, Businesses, and Communities Weather the Recession - An emergency jobs program through which 37 states have provided subsidized jobs for nearly 250,000 otherwise unemployed parents and youth — helping families, businesses, and communities across America weather the recession — will end September 30 unless the Senate joins the House in voting to extend it, according to this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report. Without the fund, some 120,000 young people would not have had summer jobs and some 130,000 parents would not have had jobs to provide for their families’ basic needs."

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