Tuesday, June 27, 2017

[NJFAC] Fwd:

 
Another Way To Subordinate Workers                                                             Frank Stricker
            There are so many ways that American employees are disempowered today that it is hard to keep up with them. We all know about employer resistance to unionism, inadequate enforcement of labor laws, and employers' threats to move businesses elsewhere if workers don't knuckle under.  But there's one gimmick that imprisons a fifth of work force and has received less attention: non-compete clauses.  
            New employees, sometimes on their first day of work--that is, after they've said good-bye to other job offers--are pressed to agree in writing that they will not take a job with a competitor for a specified number of years.  The benevolent interpretation of this is that companies have a right to protect trade secrets. But in fact such contracts make it hard for workers to move with useful work experience and improved general skills--not trade secrets--to other companies or even to start their own businesses. Not all states have non-compete laws, but where they exist they tend to keep employee compensation down. If you cannot try for a better job at another company in your industry, you will have to change lines of work, accept what you get where you work, or dig ditches--unless you are a digger who has signed a non-compete clause. And the latter case is not a joke. These issues are discussed in a long, thoughtful piece by Conor Dougherty at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/business/noncompete-clauses.html
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Frank Stricker is on the board of NJFAC and is completing a book entitled What Ails the American Worker? Unemployment and Crummy Jobs: History, Explanations, and Remedies.
 
 

 

 

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

[NJFAC] Infrastructure proposals include selling off public assets to finance them.

Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure  May 23, 2017 Wash. Post 

The Trump administration, determined to overhaul and modernize the nation's infrastructure, is drafting plans to privatize some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops and other facilities, according to top officials and advisers.

In his proposed budget released Tuesday, President Trump called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to "incentivize" private, state and local spending on infrastructure.

Trump advisers said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects. Australia has pursued a similar policy, which it calls "asset recycling," prompting the 99-year lease of a state-owned electrical grid to pay for improvements to the Sydney Metro, among other projects....

This is a version of a failed Australian experiment. Asset recycling may look new and exciting. But it's the last gasp of a failed model, John Quiggan 

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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[NJFAC] Full Employment and How to Get It

Full Employment and How to Get It                             By Frank Stricker
The President speaks: "Jobs, jobs, jobs, we're gonna give you so many new jobs you will be sick of it."
Bob Right, Faux-Freedom Caucus member, thinks:  "Great! And he'll make sure that the government doesn't start job programs like the WPA and CCC that we had in the 1930s. And thank god he won't be deincentivizing rich people by taking back the trillions of dollars they grabbed in the last forty years. Just the opposite. More tax cuts for the 1%. That's freedom."                                                                                                                   
            Really, Bob?
            The chart below is a slice of wage and job history covering 65 years. It shows how bad things have often been without good-job programs. Wage growth has been mostly terrible since the 1960s, and job growth has been on-again-off-again since 1980. After the 1960s, we had just one period when both wage and job growth were strong. You might conclude, as I do, that deliberate policies had something to do with this bad record.
 
Report Card on Growth in Real Wages and Total Jobs, Five-Year Periods, 1950-2015[1]                                                                                    
                                  Wages          Jobs                 
1950-1955
A+
A
1955-1960
A
B
1960-1965
B+
A
1965-1970
C
A+
1970-1975
F
B+
1975-1980
FF
A+
1980-1985
FF
D
1985-1990
FF
A
1990-1995
FF
D
1995-2000
C-
A
2000-2005
F
F
2005-2010
F
FF
2010-2015
D
B
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total five-year growth in wages and jobs graded thusly: 10% or more = A, 8%-9% = B, 7% = C, 6% = D, under 6% = F, decline =FF.
 
 
 
The Great Recession was a catastrophe for millions of people in the United States and many other countries, but it did add force to movements organizing for income equality and higher wages. Occupy Wall Street put economic inequality on the front page. Fast-food workers, many with union support, organized and demonstrated. Some states and cities raised their minimum wages, sometimes to levels that had once seemed unattainable. But there's been no increase in the federal minimum wage and no new permanent job programs, unless you consider Obamacare a job program. The Democrats  missed an opportunity to fix lousy job markets. Too little courage, too much faith in business markets.
During the recession everyone talked about unemployment, but as the economy improved and the official unemployment rate fell, less was said about the need for job creation. Mr. Trump talks about saving jobs in the mines and factories and adding millions of infrastructure jobs, but he presents no realistic plans for any of this. He argues that big tax cuts--handouts to rich people and big businesses--will create a lot of jobs. Did the Bush cuts of 2001 and 2003 deliver more jobs? Check the chart.
We are not close to full employment, despite what the experts say. The real unemployment rate is more than twice the official rate. And we have not had sustained wage increases for a long time. Real hourly pay for the average employee is about where it was in 1973. The deck is stacked against employees in many ways and one way is that there are 20 million people who want a job or want to move from part-time to full-time work. So there's a labor surplus that saps employee bargaining power.
If the American people really want more and better jobs--and not just political theatre-- they need to push Congress to double the minimum wage right away and get behind government programs that directly create good jobs. One general job program has been introduced into the House by Representative John Conyers and it is also a project of the National Jobs for All Coalition. It's  HR 1000, The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act, which establishes a trust fund to create 6 million new jobs. [2] Progressives should also push to create a Department of Public Infrastructure. America's infrastructure got another D+ this year from the engineers.
We can have high-wage full employment. Here's what it might look like in ten years if we start fixing things now.
What Real Full Employment Could Look Like in 2027
1. The federal government guarantees a job for everyone who wants and needs one. That is a way to be sure that we have full employment. At real full employment, the official unemployment rate stays at or below 2%.
2. Securing a new job takes only a month or two--half as long as in 2016. There are real labor shortages and employers routinely raise wages to attract workers.
3. The economy adds 300,000 jobs per month instead of 200,000, as in 2016.  That's a million more per year and 10 million more in ten years. Sound impossible? There's a lot of give in the size of the labor force. In January of 2017, there were 7.6 million officially unemployed, 5.8 million part-timers wanting full-time work, and 5.7 million job-wanters who had not recently searched for a job.
4. The federal minimum wage has been lifted every year until it is $20 an hour. Because of fuller employment and high demand for workers, most employers have to pay more. The average working-class wage, which was $22 in 2017, is $35. Even after inflation, the purchasing power of that wage is up 30%.
5. The national unemployment rate of 2% holds true across the land. Thanks in part to the National Full Employment Trust Fund, which is funded by a tiny tax on stock and bond transactions, more jobs go to high-unemployment areas. Extreme jobless rates for African-Americans in Chicago and poor whites in West Virginia are becoming a thing of the past.
6. Full-employment America includes a dense network of social services to facilitate work, including universal, affordable child care and federal training programs linked to real jobs. Affirmative action is enforced and minorities, poor people, and residents of hollowed-out communities are getting decent jobs. Federal policy and government-supported citizen-groups help ex-prisoners find work. Employers are required to accommodate people with disabilities, and because there are labor shortages, they are more willing to comply.
7. The history of recent decades shows that the private sector thrives on low wages and a labor surplus. That is why real full employment requires federal programs to directly create jobs. So the federal presence has spread. There are thousands of new public- and private- sector projects funded and supervised by the federal government. They range from new parks and better bridges to more and better Head Start schools and more green energy businesses. Some projects are overseen by existing government departments. Many are funded and supervised by the Department of Labor under the National Full Employment Trust Fund or managed by the Department of Public Infrastructure.
8. Employee involvement and opportunities for advancement are increasing. As compensation improves, there is more discussion about reducing the standard forty-hour week.[3]      
            Does all this sound utopian?  It may, but is there anything more utopian than believing that deregulation and more tax cuts to the rich will bring full employment and better wages? 
How has that worked out in the last few decades? Check the chart.       
    Frank Stricker is emeritus professor of history and interdisciplinary studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is on the board of NJFAC, and author of the How America Lost the War on Poverty (2007).                         
 


 
[1]. Data for job totals in the chart come from Current Employment Statistics (CES), at BLS.gov, measured January to January. Thus for 2010-2015, totals are from January, 2010 to January 2015. Real wages are from the annual Economic Reports of the President, including the one for 2016, Table B-15, p. 418, and BLS Economic News Releases, Table A-2, Current and real (constant 1982-1984 dollars) earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted.
2. The National Full Employment Trust Fund is the financial arm of HR 1000. The bill is co-sponsored by several dozen representatives. It is also known as The Jobs for All Act.
 
3. Thanks for suggestions about the meaning of full employment to many people including James Devine, Helen Ginsburg, William Darity, Jr., Darrick Hamilton, Philip Harvey, Trudy Goldberg, June Zaccone, and Scott Myers-Lipton. Harvey's Securing the Right to Employment: Social Welfare Policy and the Unemployed in the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), helped a lot as did Russell A. Nixon, "The Historical Development of the Conception and Implementation of Full Employment as Economic Policy," in Alan Gartner, Russell A. Nixon, and Frank Riessman, eds., Public Service Employment: An Analysis of Its History, Problems and Prospects (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973), 9-27.
 
 
 

 

 

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

[NJFAC] Will a Robot Take Your Job?

My paper, Will a Robot Take Your Job?,  is up:

ABSTRACT:  Advances in workplace technology are announced almost daily. What effect are they having on job availability, and which jobs? Some analysts see a jobless world, a world without work. What are the policies being proposed by those for a future like this? This presentation will provide some very tentative answers.


http://njfac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/RobotsJobsS.pdf   for slides. The Slide 3 video is about 10 mins. long, but you can get the general idea in a few minutes.

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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

[NJFAC] Living New Deal Map

The National Jobs for All Coalition, along with several other organizations, will be celebrating the publication of a pocket map of New Deal sites and artworks in New York City. [A map for the whole country is at https://livingnewdeal.org/map/.

Two of those events will be at Roosevelt House, May 11th, and the Museum of the City of New York, May 18th. You may register for them at https://livingnewdeal.org/events/celebrate-new-map-new-deal-new-york/   [On that site, click RSVP here for each event.]

There will also be an all-day conference June 8th: When Government Was the Solution: The New Deal's Forgotten Legacy, Then & Now



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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

[NJFAC] "Supply Side Economics, but for Liberals"

 
 
             Are government assistance programs disincentives to work?  Clearly, some are and were designed to be that way. Social Security is a prime example. Here Neil Irwin argues that research now shows that food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and child-care subsidies are linked to more work rather than less.
            Other programs may have negative effects on the will to work. Disability benefits are supposed to keep people who are truly sick and disabled from having to work and that is a plus. But do they keep out of work people who should be working? That is a subject for another day, but it's pretty clear that when job markets are lousy and pay is low, as they have been for a long time for millions of workers, more people will apply for benefits, whether or not they are so disabled as to be unable to work. 
            Irwin does not delve into another issue: Do unemployment benefits keep many people out of the labor force for a longer time than if they had no benefits? Some research shows that the difference is very small. And is that a bad thing for the unemployed? If they find a job closer to what they want, they and their employers will be better off in the long run.  
            Finally, there is a larger point in this whole discussion: should our goal be to have as many people as possible working all the time? Aside from the social and moral issues the question raises, I think there is a growing army of smart robots who may provide an answer of their own.
 
Frank Stricker, NJFAC, and author of Why America Lost the War on Poverty.
 

 

 

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

[NJFAC] State incentives to corporations to create jobs "don't really work"

Corporate Incentives Cost U.S. $45 Billion in 2015, Don't Really Work


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June Zaccone
National Jobs for All Coalition
http://www.njfac.org

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