Category Archives: Employment
New Report: Christina Stacy et al., Spatial Mismatch and Federally Supported Rental Housing (Urban Inst., 2020). News coverage here.
-Thanks to Susan Bennett for the heads up!
New Article: Andrea Freeman, You Better Work: Unconstitutional Work Requirements and Food Oppression, 53 UC Davis L. Rev. 1531 (2020). Abstract below:
Leveraging hunger to compel low-wage work has been a tool of oppression since slavery. Exercising control over parenting and infant feeding also echoes back to the brutal practices of that period. Modern work requirements attached to the receipt of welfare (TANF) and food stamps (SNAP) arose out of unfounded fears of fraud based on racial stereotypes like the Welfare Queen. While food assistance helps raise households out of poverty, work requirements do not. Instead, they lead to greater food insecurity by removing people from the program through sanctions and deterring others from registering. The nature of the work performed to satisfy work requirements — unskilled and low wage — rarely leads to long-term,
gainful employment. When new mothers leave the home to satisfy welfare work requirements, they have no choice but to formula feed their babies. You Better Work argues that the harmful effects of TANF and SNAP work requirements are unconstitutional under Equal Protection, Substantive Due Process, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine.
New Report: Jesse Rothstein & Ben Zipperer, The EITC and minimum wage work together to reduce poverty and raise incomes, Economic Policy Institute, Jan. 22, 2020.
-Thanks to Francine Lipman for the heads up!
New Book: Helen Hershkoff & Stephen Loffredo, Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income (Oxford University Press 2020). Overview below:
Getting By offers an integrated, critical account of the federal laws and programs that most directly affect poor and low-income people in the United States-the unemployed, the underemployed, and the low-wage employed, whether working in or outside the home.
The central aim is to provide a resource for individuals and groups trying to access benefits, secure rights and protections, and mobilize for economic justice.
The topics covered include cash assistance, employment and labor rights, food assistance, health care, education, consumer and banking law, housing assistance, rights in public places, access to justice, and voting rights.
This comprehensive volume is appropriate for law school and undergraduate courses, and is a vital resource for policy makers, journalists, and others interested in social welfare policy in the United States.
New Report: Government Employment and Training Programs: Assessing the Evidence on their Performance
New Report: The Council of Economic Advisers, Government Employment and Training Programs: Assessing the Evidence on their Performance, whitehouse.gov, June 2019.
Executive Summary below:
For the first time since the Government began tracking job openings nearly 20 years ago, there are more job openings in the United States than unemployed people looking for work. In fact, there are over 1.6 million more job openings than unemployed people. Because of the Trump Administration’s pro-growth policies, the American worker is in great demand. In a 2019 survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a quarter of small businesses reported that their single most important problem is finding workers with the skillset employers need. In an effort to address this issue, the Trump Administration is striving to connect job seekers with the resources and tools necessary to find employment. This includes ensuring that those seeking employment have the skills and training necessary to fill available jobs. In an effort to satisfy employer needs, the Trump Administration has launched initiatives like the Pledge to America’s Workers. In less than a year since introducing the Pledge, companies and trade groups have committed to provide almost 10 million Americans with education and training opportunities over the next five years and close the skills gap that currently exists in the American labor market.
In accordance with the Executive Order Establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker, the Council of Economic Advisers has prepared this report examining the evidence available on the effectiveness of government employment and training programs. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Government has 47 different employment and training programs spread across 15 different government agencies. Aggregate spending on these programs totaled $18.9 billion in 2019 alone.
This report sets out to assess how effective public programs are at increasing the wages and employment rates among program participants, but unfortunately, few rigorous evaluations exist to measure the success of government-funded training programs. Until recently, many job training programs frequently failed to track metrics that allow researchers to evaluate program returns to taxpayer dollars expended. Many public training programs have not undergone rigorous evaluation and therefore a framework needs to be established for evaluating trainee success, both by incorporating randomized control trials into program design and by improving data collection and long-term tracking of participant outcomes.
Among the training programs with available data and rigorous impact studies, the evidence shows that most government training programs are not effective at securing higher paying jobs for participants. For example, in an evaluation of the Workforce Investment Act training program using administrative data, two years after receiving training, workers who received intensive job search assistance had quarterly earnings that were $310 above that for workers who did not receive the intensive assistance. Yet in the first two years, no further wage gains were achieved among those who also were offered job training. While the benefits of services like job search assistance and career guidance are important, these services alone will not help workers who require new skills to compete in today’s economy. With the exception of the Registered Apprenticeship program, government job training programs appear to be largely ineffective and fail to produce sufficient benefits for workers to justify the costs. This highlights the importance of efforts such as those of the National Council for the American Worker to work with both public and private organizations to update and improve the nature of America’s job training programs as well as their evaluations.
The National Council for the American Worker is not only addressing these issues, but has set out to go even further by connecting State and local government resources with those of the Federal government. Enhanced transparency regarding outcomes will allow job seekers, policymakers, and program administrators to better understand which programs are working. Additionally, with better data, there are opportunities to learn from the successes and failures across public programs and shift resources to the types of programs that show the greatest returns.
With the creation of the National Council for the American Worker, the Trump Administration remains committed to developing a National strategy for training and retraining the workers needed across high-demand industries. The following report assists decision makers as they seek to ensure that America’s workers are well-equipped with the skills and training needed to excel in our nation’s booming economy.
New Article: #UsToo: The Disparate Impact of and Ineffective Response to Sexual Harassment of Low-Wage Workers
New Article: Marissa Ditkowsky, #UsToo: The Disparate Impact of and Ineffective Response to Sexual Harassment of Low-Wage Workers, 26 UCLA Women’s L.J. 69 (2019). Abstract below:
“A guest placed a tip on the counter, then stated he wanted to ‘put the tip on my ass.’ I refused and he took the tip back. I was going to tell management, but I didn’t because if he was going to be able to come back, what would stop him from aggressive acts in the future? He looked like he didn’t care about life.” This casino cocktail server’s disturbing account is one of many that UNITE HERE Local 1 collected in its groundbreaking study on sexual harassment and Chicago-area casino and hotel workers’ experiences in the workplace. A hotel housekeeper recalled her experience, saying, “[The guest] was completely naked, standing between the bed and the desk. He asked me for shampoo. I had to jump over the beds in order to get to the door and leave the room.”
On October 5, 2017, the New York Times broke the pivotal story that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had covered up nearly three decades of accusations of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact. Following the coverage, women around the world became empowered to tell their stories on social media, contributing to the #MeToo trend. Stories about sexual harassment and the use of nondisclosure agreements also fueled the movement. However, there was one common denominator among all the individual stories that received considerable press attention: these women are all affluent celebrities.
Low-wage workers continue to face widespread harassment in the workplace, yet we constantly overlook these workers’ plight. Despite #MeToo’s impact on white-collar employees and their ability to speak up for themselves, low-income workers do not benefit from the same protections that come with sheer bargaining power. That is why it is so vitally important for the law to step in and protect these workers. Low-wage workers are organizing, but lawyers must work as allies to empower them. This piece is intended to serve as a reminder that there is a disparity between whom the law is intended to protect and whom the law protects in practice, as well as to provide suggestions as to how we might work to address these disparities.
The legal profession must take action to protect all workers—not simply those who are affluent enough to take large financial risks, afford the most prestigious attorneys, or singlehandedly start a trend. Title VII, on its own, simply does not cut it. In this Article, I argue that the largest barriers to justice and prevention of sexual harassment for low-wage workers include (1) terms of employment and contractual barriers, (2) lack of protection, (3) status barriers, and (4) access to justice concerns.
News Coverage: Tracy Jan, After prison, more punishment, The Washington Post, September 3, 2019. They did their time. But as the formerly incarcerated reenter the workforce, will their past be held against them?
News Coverage: Low Wages, Sexual Harassment and Unreliable Tips. This Is Life in America’s Booming Service Industry
News Coverage: Alana Semuels & Malcolm Burnley, Low Wages, Sexual Harassment and Unreliable Tips. This Is Life in America’s Booming Service Industry, Time, August 22, 2019.
New Report: The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage, Congressional Budget Office, July 8, 2019. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for most workers. In this report, CBO examines how increasing the federal minimum wage to $10, $12, or $15 per hour by 2025 would affect employment and family income.