Every American who wants to work should be able to get a job. When stable employment is available to all, it improves the welfare of the country not only because more people are working, but because at full employment, employers have to compete for personnel, raising wages for workers more broadly. Moreover, workers of color and those without four-year college degrees—who have substantially higher unemployment—gain the most when the economy approaches genuine full employment. To make employers genuinely value their low- and middle-wage workers—no matter where they live or what credentials they hold—lawmakers must pursue policies that make more jobs available, and reduce barriers to employment.

EARN groups develop and advocate for policies that will create good jobs, such as investments in infrastructure and responsible economic development programs, tailoring programs target underserved communities and areas of high unemployment. They also work to reduce barriers to employment by supporting workforce development programs with good labor standards, sector partnerships, and policies such as ban-the-box that help formerly incarcerated individuals rejoin the workforce. Lastly, EARN groups’ work to strengthen state unemployment insurance programs, so that unemployed workers have support when looking for a new job.


Workforce Development in Kentucky Should Encourage High-Road Jobs

Kentucky’s workforce development conversations focus almost exclusively on employers’ needs and perspectives and ask how public dollars can improve perceived deficiencies in the workforce. Such an approach ignores the increasingly difficult conditions employees face in the labor market, and the responsibilities employers should have to provide jobs that meet acceptable community standards.

Wages for American workers are ticking upward, but the US remains one of the world’s most inequitable nations

From PRI:

Last week it was reported that average hourly wages of American workers grew 2.9 percent over the past 12 months. It’s a good sign, but American workers still have a lot of catching up to do and income inequality and wage stagnation remain major concerns…Yes, national wages inched up last year. But consider this statistic from Michelle Webster with the Colorado Center on Law & Policy: “In 2016, median earnings for workers in the state were 2 percent less than what they earned in 2000″ when adjusted for inflation.

Grinch America steps up a tad on workers’ wages

Recent signs suggest worker pay is finally rising after years of stagnation despite an economy that has been steadily chugging along since 2009. The latest jobs report from the Labor Department shows that low unemployment is pushing up wages a bit. Employers added 200,000 jobs in January and private-sector workers, on average, saw their paychecks increase nearly 3 percent, compared to a year earlier.

The change was a long time coming, and no doubt most workers won’t find the modest bump much to crow about. Policy makers and good corporate citizens still have a lot of ground left to recover. For starters, the great bulk of hourly workers averaged only a 2.4 percent gain, as the increases for the salaries of managers contributed to the overall findings.

And our readers might remember that under a December editorial headline “Shame on Grinch America for workers’ stagnant wages,” we bemoaned the findings from the Colorado Center on Law & Policy that Colorado’s median hourly wages were $18.92, which was about 4 percent lower when adjusted for inflation than in 2007, the last year before the horrors of the Great Recession.

The center went on to note that 2016’s median pay was 2 percent lower, after accounting for inflation, than in it had been 2000.

Michelle Webster, the center’s manager of research and policy analysis, tells us the recent gains, while encouraging, have a long way to go to make up for years of lethargy.