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Research Roundup: State Partnership Banks, Living Wage, Worker Safety, Broadband Availability and More

In this week’s PSN Research Roundup: reports from DEMOS on the many benefits that “Main Street Partnership” banks bring to local economies, the Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy on Bank of America’s ability to avoid paying state taxes, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies on the distribution of broadband wireline and wireless services in low-income communities, the Center for Labor Research and Education on how living wage polcies would affect the growing expansion of "big-box" retailers into major cities, the AFL-CIO on a state-by-state profile of worker health and safety protections, the Center for American Progress on the dire need to create a sustainable path towards fair and equitable economic growth, and the Pew Hispanic Center on Latino participation during the 2010 midterms.

Banking On America: How Main Street Partnership Banks Can Improve Local Economies – In this recent report, DEMOS explores the potential benefits of a state partnership bank, modeled after the Bank of North Dakota, which can foster an environment to create jobs and spur economic growth, generate new revenues for states, lower debt costs, strengthen local banks, and build up small businesses. The authors conclude, “Main Street Partnership Banks could provide states a way to put local tax dollars to work supporting the local economy – providing an innovative solution to a rising problem... After operating in relative obscurity for nearly 100 years, the Bank of North Dakota is now serving as a bi-partisan model for public finance and sustainable local lending in the 21st century.”

Bank of America in Connecticut: Profiting Without Pitching In – This report by the Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy, analyzes how Bank of America, the largest bank in the state, has been able to avoid paying state taxes through credits and subsidies, all while refusing to increase lending to small businesses that would create jobs. The report outlines suggested steps that Connecticut can take to increase jobs, aid small businesses, stop foreclosures, and protect working families.

Does Place Really Matter? Broadband Availability, Race and Income – This working paper by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies assesses new broadband availability data released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to address the distribution of broadband wireline and wireless services in low-income, minority communities. The study concludes that states must address broadband service availability if they want to improve the economic potential of their citizens. Individuals that live within communities with a poor digital infrastructure will continue to live within places that offer little to no promise for individual improvement or connection to the economic mainstream.

Living Wage Policies and Big-Box Retail: How a Higher Wage Standard Would Impact Walmart Workers and Shoppers – This research brief by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzes how policies requiring workers be paid a living wage would affect the growing expansion of "big-box" retailers like Wal-Mart into major metropolitan areas. Among the conclusions reached are that establishing a higher minimum wage for large retailers like Wal-Mart would have a significant impact on workers living in poverty or near-poverty" while costing the company only about one percent of its annual sales of $305 billion. It also concludes that even if the costs were passed entirely onto shoppers, giving Wal-Mart employees a living wage would barely impact consumers – only about 46 cents per shopping trip.

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect – A National and State-by-State Profile of Worker Safety and Health in the United States – The 2011 edition of this comprehensive report from the AFL-CIO on the state of worker protections marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Among its conclusions are that "workers in the United States need more safety and health protection, not less," and that "forty years after the passage of OSHA, there is much more work to be done."

Prosperity 2050: Is Equity the Superior Growth Model? – In this publication, the Center for American Progress assesses the country’s dire need to create a sustainable path towards fair and equitable economic growth. The authors note disturbing trends of the recent decades, including rising income inequality, stagnant wages, growing wealth gap, stunted economic mobility, persistent poverty, and racial disparities, and conclude, “our future depends on integrating everyone—but particularly those who are currently isolated—into the mainstream economy. We should do so not only because equal opportunity is a fundamental American value or because excessive inequality could threaten civil society, but because our future prosperity as a nation will depend on the people and places that have been left behind.”

The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters – This new report from the Pew Hispanic Center analyzes Latino participation during the 2010 midterms and finds that, despite rapid population growth, Latinos are disproportionately underrepresented in the electorate.