State of Working X

Similar to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America, the State of Working XX (SWXX) is a series of reports produced by state EARN groups describing the economic conditions for working families in their state. SWXX reports provide a comprehensive description of state economic conditions, often with a focus on labor market conditions. SWXX reports provide data and analysis on job growth, unemployment, wages, incomes, poverty rates, taxes, wealth, immigration, and other issue areas relevant to current state economic conditions and policy discussions. Many SWXX reports also include tailored and timely policy recommendations for strengthening economic conditions for workers in each state.

Publications

People-Powered Prosperity

The most prosperous states are anchored by an educated and healthy workforce and offer opportunities for people to innovate and contribute. Moving into the 2018 statewide elections and subsequent governor’s administration, Georgia leaders can seize a golden opportunity to chart a better economic course. People-Powered Prosperity details a new vision for how state lawmakers can pursue that strategy and ways they can responsibly pay for it. The report outlines a public investment plan aimed at four strategic goals, which include eight specific policy recommendations such as targeted funding hikes for public schools and an ambitious ramp-up of assistance to help families afford child care. We also present a case to show how Georgia can afford to raise $1 billion in new annual revenues as a meaningful down payment on the strategy, a shared investment of reasonable scope.

The State of Working Rhode Island 2017: Paving the Way to Good Jobs

In the face of a rapidly evolving economy, Rhode Island’s education and workforce systems need to keep pace, to meet the dual needs of workers (who need to remain employable), and employers (who need skilled workers to produce the goods and provide the services demanded by consumers). As we invest in the Rhode Island workforce, we need to ensure that the existing workforce, especially those currently lacking English language and other foundational skills or higher levels of education, are able to fully engage in the economy, by providing them with the opportunity to “skill up” to shape a more prosperous future for their families, and for Rhode Island.

This report focuses on the role that both education and training play in helping workers thrive, drawing on research at the national and state level to better understand the strategies that work to improve adult education, especially for those currently working in low-wage, lower skilled jobs. While formal postsecondary education – in the form of an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree, or higher – may be the right path for many, others can benefit from attaining occupational credentials, either via apprenticeship programs, or college-based certificate programs.

Because there will remain many low-skilled jobs, we need to adopt policies that raise the floor for those workers – so that full-time work offers both dignity of work and a livable wage. And we need to be intentional about addressing disparities based on race and ethnicity – such as persist in educational attainment, unemployment rates, and median wages.

Colorado unemployment is super low, so why aren’t wages going up faster?

Colorado’s economy, on the surface, is humming along with unemployment rates at historic lows and some of the strongest job gains in the country.

But a closer look shows that median hourly wages are stuck; many of the new jobs being added are low-paying; and thousands of working-age adults remain disengaged from the labor force, according to the State of Working Colorado report from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

“We have another year of strong job growth in the state and unemployment continues to drop. But the indicator of how the economy is performing for the majority of workers — wages — still isn’t moving,” said Michelle Webster, manager of research and policy analysis with the group, which advocates on behalf of low-wage workers.

State of Working Colorado

Colorado has one of the strongest performing economies in the country. Job growth has been robust for the past several years, consistently ranking Colorado among the top states for job creation. The unemployment rate has dropped steadily since 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2016. Real median household income continues to grow and is now slightly above the pre-recession level. And poverty rates have fallen since 2012, dropping to 11 percent in 2016.

Yet, this report points to several challenges to achieving an economic recovery in Colorado that is broadly shared and enduring:

  • The median hourly wage has been falling or flat since the recovery began.
  • Economic gains are increasingly concentrated among a small share of high earners in the state.
  • While jobs have returned to the state, not all workers have returned to work.
  • Colorado is increasingly becoming a multiracial state with a persistent race-based economic divide.