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Research Roundup: Anti-Immigrant Laws and Education, State Budget Cuts for FY2012, and More

In this week’s Research Roundup: Studies from the Center for American Progress on the effect of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law on the state’s education system, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on how harmful state budget cuts for FY2012 will slow the economic recovery and undermine job creation efforts, the National Employment Law Project on how recent job growth has been even more lopsided toward low-wage jobs than previously reported, and the Federal Communications Commission on how various media ownership structures affect local usage and programming.

Alabama Takes No Steps Forward and Two Steps Back on Immigration State’s Harsh Law Targets Students — This analysis from the Center for American Progress examines the effect of Alabama’s HB 56, one of the most draconian pieces anti-immigrant legislation to be signed into law in recent years, with a focus on what it means for Alabama children and the state’s education system. The report concludes that the law, which is set to take effect on September 1st of this year, is “likely to make the state’s already-struggling school system worse and prove costly to defend.”

State Budget Cuts in the New Fiscal Year Are Unnecessarily Harmful — This detailed and extensive analysis of 47 state budgets from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reveals that at least 38 states will drastically cut funding for K-12 education, higher education, health care, and other essential services in their budgets for fiscal year 2012, which began on July 1st — hitting children, low-income families, and other vulnerable populations harder than in any year since the Great Recession began. The study paints a bleak picture for what the state budget cuts will mean for the national economy in the coming fiscal year, noting that they “will slow the nation’s economic recovery and undermine efforts to create jobs.”

The Good Jobs Deficit: A Closer Look at Recent Job Loss and Job Growth Trends Using Occupational Data — This update to a National Employment Law Project report released earlier this year finds that job growth is even more lopsided toward low-wage jobs than previously reported. Since the Recession ended, there has been a net loss of higher-wage jobs, and employment in lower-wage jobs is outpacing middle-income jobs by nearly three to one. The result is an overall decline in real income, but particularly among those in lower-wage jobs — contributing strongly to record levels of income disparity and what researchers term a good jobs deficit.

Local Media Ownership and Media Quality — The Federal Communications Commission funded this statistical analysis of how various media ownership structures affect local usage and programing. There were three policy goals to the FCC’s Review of Media Ownership Rules: gauging competition as measured by local media usage, studying the relationship between local media ownership and local news programming, and measuring the correlation of ownership diversity and media quality. Being evaluated were FCC rules against co-ownership of an area’s newspaper and broadcast channels, limits on ownership of local television channels, and co-ownership of local radio and television stations. Newspaper sales tend to be far more strongly correlated with increased voter turnout than television news programming, so the drop off in newspaper sales over the past few years is alarming from a civic engagement perspective. However, as this analysis of 210 local media markets based on data from the FCC and Nielsen Media Research Galaxy ProFile shows, there is little or no evidence that local media’s ownership structure influences competition or local programming content or quality.