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

State of Working Pennsylvania 2019

In just the past few weeks, leading American business leaders appear to have experienced a sudden and surprising bout of conscience. On Monday, August 19, the Business Roundtable, which represents the largest U.S. corporations, issued a statement signed by 181 CEOs that embraced stakeholder capitalism—the idea that corporations have obligations to employees, the community, and customers, as well as shareholders. On the next day, Tom Wilson, the chair of the executive committee of the U.S. Chamber published an op-ed titled “Save Capitalism by Paying People More.” Wilson acknowledges in blunt terms that ordinary working Americans aren’t flourishing economically. (For excerpts from Wilson’s op-ed, see Box 1 near the end of this report.)

This year’s annual “The State of Working Pennsylvania” documents the accuracy of Wilson’s observation in Pennsylvania. To be sure, this report does have a bit of good news. In 2018, for the first time since 2001, Pennsylvania workers enjoyed wage increases across the board—3.1% on average across the entire wage distribution (i.e. from the 10th percentile to the 90th percentile). These gains reflect what is now the longest economic expansion in U.S. history and an unemployment rate in Pennsylvania below 4% for the first time since before 1976.

Acknowledging this progress, the longer-term picture remains one of meager gains for workers. Over the last economy cycle, from the 2007 peak to 2018, the annual average increase in the Pennsylvania median wage has been less than half a percent. Even now, some slack remains within the Pennsylvania job market, which helps explain why wages in this expansion took so long to kick up. Underemployment remains above the 2007 pre-Great Recession level and the employment rate (share of adults aged 20 and over employed) remains below the 2007 level. If the employment rate today were at the 2007 level, Pennsylvania would have another roughly 150,000 jobs. Looking over a longer period, since 1973, the top 1% in Pennsylvania received 46% of the total increase in income in the state.

State of Working Colorado 2018

At a cursory glance, Colorado has much to celebrate in terms of low unemployment and poverty levels, but scratching the surface of the data reveals troubling trends fraught with wage stagnation and disparities.

CCLP produces the State of Working Colorado every year to gauge how the economy is performing for workers across the income spectrum. The publication is intended to help stakeholders and policymakers determine where to focus their efforts in revitalizing opportunities and prosperity for hard-working Coloradans across the racial spectrum.

State of Working Vermont 2018

Ten years after the start of the Great Recession and more than eight years after it officially ended, there are signs of recovery in Vermont. The economy has continued to grow, if more slowly than the rest of the country. Yet whatever growth or prosperity the state has achieved, many have not benefited from it. Average Vermonters still struggle to make ends meet.

The economy is improving, but not for most Vermonters: For the past 13 years State of Working Vermont has told the same story. But the narrative can change—policymakers can change it. The economic indicators selected here highlight the areas where Montpelier can focus attention and resources to improve the well-being of all the people of Vermont.

It’s not as though Vermont’s political leaders haven’t seen the indicators or are unaware of the problems the state faces. But administrations of both parties have been reluctant to acknowledge the need for more revenue, and postponing critical investments—for instance, in early care and education, affordable housing, and clean water—has become the norm. Employers have not been asked to share the responsibility to create a fairer economy. Not enough jobs pay wages that can support a family, yet when the Legislature voted this year to increase the minimum wage, the governor vetoed the bill.