I believe that To Do lists are an art form. There’s nothing more beautiful than a list of things you need to get done with every single item crossed off of it. Crossing off an action item gives me such a sense of accomplishment that I usually put things I’ve already done on the list, just to cross them off.
In a major speech yesterday about economic mobility, President Obama shared one of his To Do lists with us. The items on this list are much more important than the ones on my usual lists. These items are the legislative and administrative priorities that will help fix the growing problem of income inequality in the United States.
Before sharing his “roadmap” with us, the President started with a reality check. He was blunt about the fact that our economy has become profoundly unequal and families have become more insecure. He drove home the point that we are living in a country that once promised success for those who worked hard, but is now faced with rapidly rising inequality and decreasing upward mobility in a way that “challenges the essence of who we are as a people.” Each fall NWLC analyzes the poverty data put out by the Census bureau, and those sobering statistics illustrate exactly what the President is talking about. I couldn’t agree more with the President when he said that these trends are bad for families, bad for the economy, bad for social cohesion, and bad for democracy. Read more »
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, the holiday shopping season is officially in full swing. But while some of us retreat to the internet to avoid frenzied shoppers at the mall, the season is far more stressful for many of the workers restocking store shelves and serving meals in the food court (and not just because they have to deal with swarms of cranky customers). For millions of employees in retail, fast food, and other industries that pay poverty-level wages, the end of the year means hard work and higher expenses – without any chance of a holiday bonus.
Fortunately, there’s movement on the minimum wage in a number of states and localities – and even some encouraging signs nationally. Today, in a major speech on economic mobility, President Obama renewed his call to raise the minimum wage. Recognizing the link between the low minimum wage and widening economic inequality, he described an increase as a key piece of an agenda to restore opportunity for all. Read more »
When New Jersey’s minimum wage goes up in January, an estimated 250,000 women and 179,000 men will get a raise. About a quarter of these workers are parents; over 200,000 children live in families in which at least one parent would benefit from the minimum wage increase. New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates that the additional dollars flowing through the state’s economy would create over 1,500 new jobs. And because women are the majority of workers who would get a raise, the higher minimum wage could help close the wage gap. Read more »
Next Tuesday (November 5) is Election Day, and it’s a particularly important one for voters in the Garden State. In addition to choosing their next governor, New Jerseyans will get to decide whether their state’s minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour for the foreseeable future – or go up to $8.25 next year and continue to rise with the cost of living.
On Tuesday’s ballot, New Jersey voters will see Ballot Question #2, which – if approved – would amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2014, and adjust it annually thereafter to keep up with inflation. Read more »
Though the government shutdown is over and the threat of default has passed (for now), Congress remains wildly unpopular; many doubt that our elected representatives are as concerned with making the country work for ordinary Americans as they are with scoring political points. It doesn’t help that the latest jobs numbers show an economic recovery that is still painfully slow and leaving large numbers of people behind.
Providing paid family and medical leave through a new fund to which both employees and employers would contribute, modeled after successful state programs in New Jersey and California.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, raising the minimum cash wage for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum wage, and indexing both wages to keep pace with inflation, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
What will turn your stomach more than grease-filled bites at fast food restaurants? The fact that many of the workers there – about two-thirds of whom are women – aren’t being paid enough to afford the basic necessities of life. Just as upsetting? Low wages from private companies come at a public cost, as employees must depend on government assistance to get by. For many of the companies handing out the small paychecks, there’s little to complain about; they’re still netting huge profits.
A new report released by the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows just how dire the situation is for fast food workers around the country. The median pay for “front-line” jobs in the industry is $8.69 an hour, and only an estimated 13 percent of those employees receive health benefits through their employers. Without sufficient income and benefits, workers turn to safety net programs to make ends meet, including those working full time. In the report, researchers examined how many families relied on public programs to estimate the amount of government support required to help fast food workers get by. Read more »
There’s not a lot of good news coming out of D.C. these days – the federal government is still shut down, and we’re only a week away from October 17, which is the date by which the national debt ceiling must be raised for the country to keep paying its bills and avoid a catastrophic default. To date, House Republican leaders have refused to hold a vote on legislation to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling without attaching unreasonable (and unrelated) conditions, like delaying, waiving or defunding parts of the health care law (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).
California just enacted the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, joining New York and Hawaii as states that care for those who care for the vulnerable. Domestic workers are an important part of today’s work force. These workers – 95 percent of whom are women – care for the household, the children and grandparents, the sick and people with disabilities. In the words of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, they do “the work that makes all other work possible.” And yet, they are often paid very low wages, and work in difficult conditions.
After 7 years of advocacy and two vetoes, California’s domestic workers will finally receive a very important workplace protection: the right to overtime pay. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can be for workers who spend all day taking care of children, the elderly and the infirm. The bill of rights is estimated to cover 200,000 California housekeepers, child-care providers, and caregivers. Read more »