Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment

Issues ››› Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
  • Fox Business Guest Completely Dismantles Any Economic Case For Trump’s Presidency

    Robert Powell: “The Reality Is Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees”

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    During an appearance on Fox Business, former Economist editor Robert Powell dispelled claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign that the candidate’s tax and economic policy proposals would generate at least five consecutive years of economic growth in excess of 4 percent annually.

    Powell, who is now the global risk briefing manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a forecasting and advisory business operated by The Economist, was interviewed on the August 24 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. Host Stuart Varney opened the segment by asking for a response to Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore’s guarantee earlier this week that the massive tax cuts proposed by the Republican nominee would generate sustained economic growth far outpacing anything witnessed in the United States since 1966. Along the way, Powell poked holes in the arguments in favor of the budget-busting supply-side tax cuts Trump and other Republicans have advocated for years as a silver bullet solution to economic malaise.

    Powell mocked Moore’s guarantee, noting that “the reality is money doesn’t grow on trees,” and slammed Trump’s tax plan for promising to add trillions of dollars to the debt -- far more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposal might. He undermined Varney’s unsubstantiated claim that cutting taxes will kickstart economic expansion, and reminded the Fox Business audience that President Reagan actually had to raise taxes to regain revenue lost to early tax cuts. Powell noted that to make up for built-in revenue losses, the rate of economic expansion would actually have to hit 10 percent or more -- which is not a “feasible” rate of growth. Most importantly, he questioned why Varney and his Fox Business cohort are gripped with so much economic anxiety when “unemployment is 4.9 percent” and the American economy is doing “relatively well” and is “a star performer” when compared with other developed countries around the world. From Varney & Co.:

    Powell mentioned during the interview that The Economist does not believe either Trump’s or Clinton’s plan can meet Moore’s arbitrary growth threshold, stating that “we’re perfectly reasonable, and we don’t think Hillary Clinton will deliver 4 percent growth either.” But Powell did argue that Trump’s position on taxes and economic policy is “less responsible” than his Democratic opponent’s.

    Trump’s inherent lack of responsibility is why the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global risk forecast for September 2016 ranks Trump being elected president as a threat to the global economy that is as big as “the rising threat of jihadi terrorism” and “a clash of arms in the South China Sea,” the site of a territorial dispute between China and other neighboring countries, including U.S.-allied Taiwan:

    One of the things that went unsaid during the interview was how absurd it was for Varney to accept Trump’s 4 percent growth target in the first place. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the United States has not witnessed five consecutive years of growth in excess of 4 percent in five decades. When failed Republican candidate Jeb Bush first promoted the target in June 2015, experts slammed it as “impossible” and “nonsense.” Since then, arbitrary targets of 4 or 5 percent growth have been adopted by other GOP hopefuls, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now Trump. For its part, Fox News has consistently fixated on setting arbitrary growth targets for the American economy in excess of 3 percent, which it claims is proof of a failed economic recovery under President Obama.

  • On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Media Highlight Plight Of Women Of Color In The Workplace

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to the most recently available data, African-American women on average are paid only 60 percent of what white men are paid in a year, meaning they would have to work almost nine additional months to catch up. August 23 is an annual day of action, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focused on that issue, and numerous media outlets have noted the event by highlighting the plight of African-American women in the workforce.

  • New Research Counters Myth That Banning Discrimination Against LGBT People Is “Economically Harmful”

    Researchers Found Innovators Flock To States That Prevent Discrimination Against LGBT Workers

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Recently published research highlighted by the Harvard Business Review found that states with laws that ban employment discrimination against LGBT Americans saw a direct increase in business innovation -- counter to right-wing media myths that such laws result in negative interference in the market.

    According to a study published on June 15 by the journal Management Science, “state-level employment nondiscrimination acts (ENDAs) -- laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity -- spur innovation” among firms headquartered in those states. The study’s authors -- finance professor Huasheng Gao and economist Wei Zhang -- published an op-ed on August 17 in the Harvard Business Review highlighting their findings that states that protect employees with ENDAs see an increase in innovators moving to those states and a boost in business productivity. The research found that “firms headquartered in states that passed ENDAs experienced an 8% increase in the number of patents and an 11% increase in the number of patent citations, relative to firms headquartered in states that did not pass such a law.” The researchers concluded that this change was a result of individuals moving based on their approval or disapproval of the change in the law and theorized that “pro-LGBT individuals are likely to be more creative than the anti-LGBT ones” leading to companies in states that prohibit workplace discrimination having broader access to more creative talent:

    We looked at data for thousands of firms — almost all U.S. public firms that actively filed patents — from 1976 to 2008. We found that the adoption of ENDAs led to a significant increase in innovation output. On average, firms headquartered in states that passed ENDAs experienced an 8% increase in the number of patents and an 11% increase in the number of patent citations, relative to firms headquartered in states that did not pass such a law. These results start to show up two years after the adoption of ENDAs and largely are driven by firms that previously did not implement non-discrimination policies, by firms that operate in human-capital-intensive industries, and by firms in states with large lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations.

    These findings contradict years of right-wing media myths falsely claiming that protecting LGBT people from discrimination curbs free market innovation and hurts business. Daily Signal commentator and Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan Anderson claimed that the passage of nondiscrimination laws for LGBT Americans would “foster economically harmful government interference” and that this interference could result in “potentially discouraging job creation.” In an op-ed for CNN, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council -- an extremist organization designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- pushed the myth that banning discrimination would be be tantamount to “federal government interference in the free market.”

    Right-wing claims that banning employment discrimination against LGBT people would hurt business are often followed with the myth that nondiscrimination laws are unnecessary. The Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby misleadingly argued that, save for “occasional incidents of bigotry … there is no urgent crisis in the treatment of gay and lesbian employees,” because “free markets” have already rooted out systematic discrimination.”

    Contrary to myths promoted by right-wing outlets that ENDAs are unwarranted, the Williams Institute found that “widespread discrimination” against LGBT employees remains a problem in American workplaces. American workers still face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the results outlined in the Harvard Business Review show that laws prohibiting such discrimination are beneficial to both workers and businesses, regardless of right-wing media claims.

  • NY Times Contributor Highlights How Unionization Helps Fight Economic Inequality, Gender Pay Gap

    Unions Benefit All Workers With Better Pay And Stable Shifts, Collective Bargaining Reduces The Gender Pay Gap

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    A New York Times contributor shared her experience working as a cocktail server in Las Vegas, where she saw how unions helped workers -- especially women and immigrants -- receive better pay, benefits, and job security.

    Brittany Bronson, a Times contributor and an instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) highlighted the importance of unions in an August 17 op-ed, discussing how unions provide many benefits that specifically help women in the workplace. Bronson reported from her own experience that “unions are strong in Las Vegas,” providing workers in the casino and hospitality industry “benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of.” These benefits and protections -- including good wages, health care packages, and stable scheduling -- are why Bronson saw “so many lifers in [the] industry.” The op-ed also discussed how union seniority helped women maintain their rights at work -- something that “runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age” and the gender pay gap widens for women as they get older.

    The role unions can play in tackling pay disparities and overall economic inequality is frequently dismissed by right-wing media, which deny the existence of a gender pay gap and misleadingly blame unions for contributing to economic deterioration. Working women in the United States earned “just 79 percent of what men were paid” in 2014, according to a Spring 2016 report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Pay disparities follow women throughout their careers, depressing their earnings potential and contributing to elevated rates of poverty in retirement. Union seniority rights and collective bargaining opportunities could be an important part of ending the gender pay gap by preventing pay discrimination against women -- as the op-ed pointed out, the Pew Charitable Trust found that the gender pay gap narrows in union shops, where women are paid roughly 88 percent as much as their male counterparts. From the August 17 edition of The New York Times:

    Unions are strong in Las Vegas, and they bring benefits that cocktail servers and hotel workers in other states can only dream of: Beyond better wages and health care packages, union members are ensured set schedules and their first choice of coveted shifts, based on seniority. It’s why there are so many lifers in my industry: At the top of our cocktailing matriarchy was a woman who had joined the union in 1973.

    [...]

    The Las Vegas casino scene runs counter to most American workplaces, where women tend to lose power as they age. According to research by the recruiting site Glassdoor, the pay gap, even after it’s adjusted for things like occupation, increases with age — from 2.2 percent for women ages 18 to 24 to 10.5 percent for women between 55 and 64. Family obligations and gender discrimination take women out of the American work force, meaning fewer promotions, fewer women in management and ultimately fewer raises.

    [...]

    The benefits ripple outward, in the form of family wealth building and educational opportunities. According to a March 2015 New York Times report, a girl in a poor family who grows up in Las Vegas will make 7 percent more than she would elsewhere by age 26. Income mobility for women is better in Clark County, where Las Vegas is, than it is in 71 percent of counties nationwide.

  • Wall Street Journal Claims Raising The Minimum Wage Leads To “Fewer Opportunities” For Working Families

    Editorial Board Distorts Research Conclusions To Fit Anti-Minimum Wage Narrative

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal bizarrely claimed the idea of raising minimum wages had been “thoroughly dismantled” after a study found Seattle low-wage jobs grew by only 99 percent as much as the study’s model predicted would have been the case if the city had not raised the municipal minimum wage.

    In an August 14 editorial, the Journal claimed that raising the minimum wage would lead to “fewer opportunities” for working families, citing a report from researchers at the University of Washington that found low-wage employment grew by one percentage point less than the researchers predicted had the city not raised wages. The report looked at economic growth in Seattle since it raised the local minimum wage to $11 per hour in April 2015, as part of the city’s gradual phase-in of a $15 per hour minimum wage. The Journal cited the report as evidence that “Seattle’s increase last year seems to be reducing employment,” dismissing that the same researchers found that the Seattle economy saw a “boom in job growth” over the last 18 months. The Journal also misleadingly claimed that “only 73 cents” of the recorded wage growth experienced by low-income workers from 2014 through 2015 was “owed to the minimum wage.” Median wages for low-wage workers increased from $9.96 per hour to $11.14 per hour over that time frame, meaning the vast majority of the wage increase -- roughly 62 percent -- was the result of the minimum wage ordinance alone. From The Wall Street Journal:

    Few ideas have been so thoroughly dismantled by reality as minimum-wage laws, which price some jobs out of existence and some workers out of jobs. Yet progressives keep expecting different results, and on Thursday Hillary Clinton endorsed a national increase. So let’s check in on the latest experiment: Seattle’s increase last year seems to be reducing employment.

    That’s the finding of a new report by researchers at the University of Washington. The study compared nine months of 2015 in Seattle, where the wage is ticking up gradually and hit $13 an hour in January, with similar areas elsewhere in Washington. The authors produced a statistical model to figure out what Seattle would have looked like if the city’s planners hadn’t increased the wage floor.

    The researchers found that the ordinance decreased the low-wage employment rate by about one-percentage point. Median wages went up for those who earned less than $11 an hour in 2014: to $11.14 at the end of 2015, from $9.96. Yet the study notes that only an estimated 73 cents of the increase is owed to the minimum wage.

    [...]

    None of this will surprise anyone who understands that increasing the cost of something will reduce the demand for it. Then again, that concept seems to elude both major presidential candidates, who have floated national minimum-wage increases. The results will be the same as in Seattle: Fewer opportunities for the people the law is intended to help.

    When the University of Washington study was first reported by local Seattle outlets they touted the report as evidence the city’s economy is booming despite the minimum wage increase. Contrary to the Journal’s right-wing spin, The Seattle Times stated the report showed the wage increase had “little impact” on the labor market and that the “city’s job-growth rate has been triple the national average.” Meanwhile, Seattle Weekly used the report to debunk conservative predictions that the increase “would ‘devastate’ small businesses” and harm low-wage workers.

    While the Journal falsely claimed the report proved right-wing media talking points against raising minimum wages, the researchers actually warned readers “to not interpret these results as likely to be generalizable,” cautioning that “these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s increase to a wage of $11/hour” because it will take many years for the full effects to be seen. The researchers also stated that “given the lack of standard errors in this draft, some caution should be used in confidently asserting that the Minimum Wage Ordinance caused an impact of a particular size.” In an August 10 op-ed in The Washington Post, economist Jared Bernstein found this lack of standard errors in the model a “limitation” and noted that economist Michael Reich found the calculations were “not distinguishable from zero” -- making the one percent difference between the city’s experimental and actual job growth possibly negligible.

    It is important to note the university report did not find that the minimum wage increase itself was responsible for Seattle’s recent economic boom. Nevertheless, the report follows a trend of positive economic data out of Seattle, including research from Automatic Data Processing (ADP), which found that from mid-2014 to the end of 2015, “the Seattle labor market was exceptionally strong” and the city’s “job growth rate tripled the national average.”

    Right-wing media are staunchly opposed to increasing the minimum wage at the local, state, and federal level and are dedicated to promoting the myth that wage increases result in job losses, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.

  • Economists And Experts Trash Trump’s “Nonsense” Supply-Side Economic Plan

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH & CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Economists and tax policy experts from across the political spectrum slammed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rewritten tax and economic policy proposals, which he unveiled during an August 8 speech at the Detroit Economic Club. Fact-checkers and journalists had already heavily criticized the speech for being “detail-devoid” and “short on specifics.”

  • NY Post Columnist Fearmongers About Recession While Backing Trump Plan That Would Create One

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    New York Post columnist and Donald Trump supporter Betsy McCaughey pointed to findings from Moody’s Analytics to claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s economic plan would dampen economic growth and job creation. McCaughey attempted to argue that Trump’s plan would help the economy, but she neglected to mention that Moody’s actually predicted Clinton’s plan would generate millions of new jobs and spur economic growth while Trump’s plan would cost jobs and likely lead to a recession.

  • How Donald Trump Dominated Fox News' Coverage Of The Economy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to Media Matters’ ongoing quarterly analyses of prime-time weekday cable news coverage of the economy, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was by far the most frequently featured guest during economic news segments in the first half of 2016. Trump used an apparent standing invitation for interviews from Fox News to fill the airwaves with misleading claims about the supposedly poor state of the economy, while dubiously promising to boost economic growth and job creation through trickle-down tax cuts and restrictions on free trade.

    In the first and second quarters of 2016, Trump has been a featured guest during a cable prime-time segment focused on economic news and policy 40 times. Trump’s presence on television dwarfed appearances by Sen. Ted Cruz (20) and Gov. John Kasich (10) -- his rivals for the GOP nomination -- as well as Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (9) and Hillary Clinton (4):

    Trump’s cable news dominance is mostly a product of Fox News favoritism, where he has appeared 36 times in the past six months -- 18 times in each quarter. During that period, Fox News aired 175 segments dedicated to the economy, and Trump appeared as a guest in over 20 percent of them. All of Trump’s appearances came during interviews on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity:

    Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have come under heavy scrutiny for the lavish amount of airtime they give Trump. Hannity has served as the poster boy of Fox News’ embrace of the GOP nominee, leading to him being ridiculed as a Trump “fanboy” for his fawning over the candidate. O'Reilly’s softball interviews have also been seen as embarrassing for the network, leading to accusations that Fox News lacks journalistic integrity and is merely backing Trump to boost ratings. New York magazine correspondent Gabe Sherman reported on May 17 that, "According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs.”

    With Trump being treated with kid-gloves by Hannity and O'Reilly, he was able to use his airtime to push his extreme and unworkable right-wing agenda. Trump’s claims have received criticism from across the political spectrum; conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 for his simplistic look at global commerce, which he called “a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel.

    Fox’s coverage of Donald Trump has been so biased it received special attention from Jon Stewart during a guest hosting appearance on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stewart took aim at Hannity -- referring to him only as “Lumpy” -- for his blatant hypocrisy in supporting Trump. This obvious turn around led Stewart to lament that "I’m sure it’s easy for people without ethics or principles to embrace someone who embodies everything that they said they hated about the previous president for the past eight years":

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Lauds U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Fight For Equal Pay

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post editorial board highlighted the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s effort to fight “discouraging” gender pay inequality as the 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro.

    In March, five members of the women’s soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The action cited figures showing that, despite generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team and having more success in the World Cup, the women were paid four times less than the men. Right-wing media criticized the action, claiming the pay gap could be attributed to men’s sports being “more interesting” and falsely claiming the women’s team doesn’t “bring in much revenue.” Conservative media repeatedly downplayed soccer’s gender pay disparity even before the complaint, claiming women’s soccer had smaller viewership.

    In an August 4 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board highlighted how the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s “most recent quest for Olympic gold” in Rio de Janeiro coincides with the team’s campaign for equal pay. The board explained that the women’s team “brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million,” and urged the men’s team to “put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.” The board wrote the pay gap was “discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.” From the editorial:

    ON WEDNESDAY, the highly decorated U.S. women’s national soccer team began its most recent quest for Olympic gold, but that’s not the only contest its members face. The players recently launched a public campaign for equal pay, using their widely followed social media platforms to advertise gender inequities the U.S. Soccer Federation chooses to ignore.

    [...]

    By taking their fight public, the women should generate more interest — especially if the team adds another gold medal to its collection in Rio de Janeiro. But that may not be enough to tip the scales. Although the federation says it strongly supports women’s soccer, its president, Sunil Gulati, has yet to appear at a bargaining session. Perhaps the U.S. men’s team members could put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.

    Unequal pay for female athletes is often attributed to lower revenue production. That’s the case in professional soccer, where National Women’s Soccer League salaries are embarrassingly low because the league lacks the ticket sales Major League Soccer enjoys. However, the narrative changes with America’s international soccer teams. Not only is the U.S. women’s team the most dominant team in the history of its sport, but it also brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million. In the next fiscal year, the women are projected to generate $8.5 million more than the men. Though the federation argues that the U.S. men’s national team made more than the women did in past years, thus meriting the men’s higher per-match compensation, the federation did not reverse the practice when the women’s earnings surpassed those of the men.

    Further, unlike with the professional leagues, the national teams share a single employer — U.S. Soccer. According to Jeffrey Kessler, the players’ attorney: “One employer may not discriminate between its male and female employees under the law. Legally, they are required to provide equal pay for equal work.”

    The U.S. Soccer Federation’s failure to close the wage gap — a familiar reality for women of all vocations — is discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.