Research Roundup

From the Digital Divide to Digital Excellence: This report from the New America Foundation addresses the fact that United States remains largely disconnected from high speed internet, and recommends the consideration of alternative models of ownership, technology, economic development, and social inclusion. One of these models includes community and municipal wireless networks. While each community’s network presents its own unique circumstances, these networks involve ownership models that emphasize: shared responsibility among stakeholders; the wealth of innovation in flexible interoperable and open technologies; and strategies that leverage these models and technologies for economic development and social inclusion through truly holistic and locally oriented processes.

Does ‘right-to-work’ create jobs? Answers from Oklahoma: This report published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) challenges the central argument behind so-called “right-to-work” laws, which are being pushed in upwards of twenty states this year. RTW laws bar employers from entering into collective bargaining agreements with clauses that require employees to become union members and that require all workers covered by the contract to pay their fair share of the expenses for negotiating and enforcing it. Backers of RTW argue that the measure evinces a “pro-business climate” that attracts business and creates jobs. Researchers analyzed employment trends in the state to adopt RTW most recently and found not only that the policy did not prove to be a job-creator – overall, it has contributed to job losses and negative employment effects.

A Year of Unbalanced Growth: Industries, Wages and the First 12 Months of Job Growth After the Great Recession: This report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) finds that job creation in the country’s anemic economic recovery is concentrated in low-wage industries. Overall, job-creation trends in the twelve months since the Great Recession officially ended show a marked trend away from high-wage employment toward low-wage jobs: while higher wage industries accounted for 40% of job losses in the recession, they represent only 14% of jobs created since then; on the other hand, 23% of jobs lost in the recession were in lower-wage industries, but they are responsible for 49% of new jobs. Those rates were nearly equal in mid-wage industries (36% of losses, and 37% of new jobs), making the downward shift in wage standards all the more apparent.

Transparent Elections After Citizens United: A new report from the Brennan Center examines what the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling means for state-based laws, as well as the Constitutional interests that states have in providing public disclosure of the sources of money in politics. The report also offers a primer on campaign finance laws and policy recommendations that will help states account for the new ways in which electioneering can be conducted.