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Research Roundup: Austerity Hammering State Economies, Deferred Action on Deportation, Paid Sick Leave, and More

In this week’s Research Roundup: Recent reports from the Food Chain Workers Alliance on workers in the food production and food services industries, the Center for American Progress on the facts on minimum wage hikes and how austerity is hammering state economies, National Employment Law Project on Walmart’s domestic outsourcing, the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute on working parents’ lack of access to paid sick leave, Make the Road New York on small business support for a paid sick leave standard, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on some basic facts around state and local government workers, Immigration Policy Center on the Obama Administration’s new “deferred action” deportation policy, and a report from researchers at Occidental College and the University of Northern Iowa on the lack of support for most “job killer” allegations in the media.

 

The Hands That Feed Us — Workers in food production and food service industries are 19% more likely to suffer food security problems than the overall population. This first-ever survey of workers throughout the food chain finds, conducted by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, indicates that 86% of the 20 million people employed to feed our country have to live on “subminimum, poverty, and low wage” incomes, as well as lack of health coverage, excessive overtime, safety hazards, and other job quality problems.

“Job Killers” in the News: Allegations without Verification — This report urges the media to exercise greater scrutiny of “job killer” allegations. Such reports are primarily political in nature, and unfounded on real economic impacts of public policy, conclude the researchers from Occidental College and University of Northern Iowa. Over 90% of news articles citing “job killer” allegations cite no evidence or authoritative source, and the frequency of the claims correlates with political cycles, not with trends in unemployment.

The Facts on Raising the Minimum Wage When Unemployment Is High — This brief published by the Center for American Progress concludes that, even when unemployment rates are high, raising the minimum wage has no negative effect on employment. In fact, in states with elevated unemployment, those that raised the minimum wage generally experience more rapid job growth than the national average.

Chain of Greed: How Walmart’s Domestic Outsourcing Produces Everyday Low Wages and Poor Working Conditions for Warehouse Workers — This report by the National Employment Law Project shines a light into a dark recess in Walmart’s supply chain – its warehousing, transportation, and other “logistics” operations, where the consumer-product giant’s business is largely based on outsourcing and subcontracting. Workplace violations, such as wage theft, misclassification, and safety hazards run rampant in Walmart’s supply chain. The report also points out that Walmart’s practices are emblematic of a larger trend of outsourcing and contracting that are prevalent in many other fast-growing industries, ranging from hospitality and health care to agriculture, construction, and the public sector.

Who Cares for the Sick Kids? Parents’ Access to Paid Time to Care for a Sick Child — Published just in time for Father’s Day, this issue brief finds that most working parents (52%) cannot access paid sick leave to care for their children’s health. Researchers at University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute also found that parents who have access to at least five paid sick days they can use to care for their children are 90% more likely to be very satisfied with their job than those who do not.

Healthy Workers, Healthy Businesses: A Small Business Analysis of Earned Paid Sick Time in New York City — This report provides compelling examples of small businesses that support legislation to establish a paid sick leave standard. Make the Road New York gathered stories from a wide variety of business owners who challenge the view of business lobbyists who claim to speak for small businesses. The report indicates that real-world employers are supportive of policies that meet the needs of their employees and set a level playing field for businesses.

Some Basic Facts on State and Local Government Workers — Consistent public sector job losses at the state and local government level have been primary culprits in the ongoing struggling economic recovery, according to many economists. This brief report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities takes a step back from the numbers to a look at some basic facts about these workers: who they are, what sectors they work in, how their pay and benefits truly compare with the private sector, and how and why the number of public employees has changed over time.

Austerity Is Hammering State Economies: States that Cut Spending in Response to the Recession Fare Worse Economically — This Center for American Progress issue brief takes a look at unemployment numbers and state budget statistics and concludes that austerity has not worked for states, and that these numbers show that “slashing public spending makes a fragile economy worse.” Specifically, the report finds that states that resisted cuts and expanded public expenditures over the last three years saw unemployment only 3.5 percentage points higher than before the recession (compared to 4.1 points higher for states that cut spending), private sector job losses at two-thirds the rate of the average spending cut state, and state economies growing 2.6 percentage points faster than before the recession (compared to 2.7 percentage points slower for spending cut states).

Deferred Action for Immigrant Youth: A Q&A Guide — The Immigration Policy Center released this guide following last week’s announcement from the Obama administration that the Department of Homeland Security would offer “deferred action” on deportation for young immigrants brought to the country as minors and who met other specific requirements. The guide outlines some basic facts on the new policy, including exactly what “deferred action” means, who is eligible, how and when they can apply, and other frequently asked questions.