This analysis in the Huffington Post looks at what the first $3 billion in impact investing can tell us about the next $300 billion. Bruce Bartlett over at the Economix blog also discusses whether the charitable tax deduction actually serves its purpose to incentivize giving. Also of interest is this PBS interview examining "Berkshares," a local alternative currency to bolster community businesses in Berkshire, Mass.
I think we will start with a cartoon from Jeff Parker at Florida Today that seems to sum up the state of things:
The Washington Post's Wonkblog offered up eight charts on the U.S. labor market and here are two of the more interesting ones:
On top of lowering unemployment, policy should also aim to restore the bargaining power of low- and middle-wage workers. This means aggressively increasing the minimum wage so that it eventually grows to half the average worker’s wage. It means reestablishing the right to collective bargaining for higher wages and addressing workplace concerns. It means not allowing immigration policy to be dictated by employers’ desire to bring in guestworkers lacking basic labor market protections in order to undercut wages in both high-wage and low-wage occupations. Instead, guestworkers should have full rights to the same labor market protections as resident workers, and such programs should be allowed only to relieve rigorously documented episodes of genuine labor shortages. It means establishing citizenship for undocumented workers who are currently vulnerable to exploitation. It means taking executive action to ensure that federal dollars are not spent employing people in jobs with poverty-level wages.
In the United States, paid time off isn't mandatory, which "ends up effecting poorer workers more than anybody else," says TIME magazine's Christopher Matthews. Check this chart comparing the Unites States to peer countries:
Over at YahooFinance, Rick Newman looks at the job market state of play and finds:
First, a growing economy won’t necessarily generate many new jobs, perhaps because companies will find fresh and unexpected ways to substitute technology for labor. Economists have struggled during the past few years to reconcile upbeat data on some things — especially high corporate profits and a long uptrend in stocks — with glacial improvement in the job market. For better or worse, such trends may actually complement each other rather than conflicting.
Second, the economy can only grow so fast with a dysfunctional labor market characterized by weak income growth and fewer workers with disposable income.
Several folks used the recent anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington to highlight the fact that jobs were a major focus. As historian William Jones points out in the New York Times, "black workers were restricted to entry-level jobs that were most vulnerable to the automation and offshoring of manufacturing under way in the 1960s." Brookings' Carol Graham looks at whether "the collapse of the American dream" is at hand. At the NYT's Great Divide blog, David Autor and David Dorn looks at how technology harms the middle class, but find there is hope in future job prospects:
[W]e predict that the middle-skill jobs that survive will combine routine technical tasks with abstract and manual tasks in which workers have a comparative advantage — interpersonal interaction, adaptability and problem-solving. Along with medical paraprofessionals, this category includes numerous jobs for people in the skilled trades and repair: plumbers; builders; electricians; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning installers; automotive technicians; customer-service representatives; and even clerical workers who are required to do more than type and file. Indeed, even as formerly middle-skill occupations are being “deskilled,” or stripped of their routine technical tasks (brokering stocks, for example), other formerly high-end occupations are becoming accessible to workers with less esoteric technical mastery (for example, the work of the nurse practitioner, who increasingly diagnoses illness and prescribes drugs in lieu of a physician). Lawrence F. Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, memorably called those who fruitfully combine the foundational skills of a high school education with specific vocational skills the “new artisans.”
This analysis from Demos blogger Matt Bruenig argues that in response to encroaching "unfettered markets," society always counters "to keep the economic system properly subordinated." He goes on to say in a separate post:
We have a pretty substantial record of country after country going through the great transformation into a market economy. Without fail, the social terror caused by certain aspects of that experience cause every single country and people to undertake countermovements to protect themselves from the nihilistic maw of unfettered market expansion into everything. This countermovement — which again happens literally everywhere market capitalism is tried — does not disrupt some serene and awesome laissez-faire world; it happens because that world is horrible.
You may want to also listen or read this interview over at NPR with a New Jersey mother trying to make it on minimum wage. TIME's Matthews also takes on the minimum wage debate, arguing unemployment is a bigger driver of poverty than low wages. Meanwhile, Bloomberg's Carol Baum argues raising the minimum wage is not the answer, saying the "road to a higher-paying job goes through education, training for the jobs of tomorrow, and incentives such as the earned income tax credit, not through the imposition of a floor on wages." Similarly, in this Business Week interview, Manpower CEO Jeffrey Joerres argues it's all about education and training ultimately. The Economic Policy Institute found that states with highly educated work forces have higher average wages and stronger economies:
This work seems to dovetail with a new report from the Center for American Progress, which finds that regions "that have larger middle classes and less inequality have more economic mobility":
For too long, a strong middle class was believed to be merely the consequence of strong economic growth, not the other way around. Furthermore, income inequality was often dismissed as a natural and harmless side effect of a purportedly equal-opportunity economy. But increasingly, those understandings have been upended. A growing body of scholarship suggests that a strong middle class can drive prosperity while high inequality can hamper it.
At RealClearPolicy, Robert VerBruggen discusses how ability and education achievement affect earnings, arguing against a "college-for-all" policy.
Several states have moved to restrict access to food stamps—the most drastic of which seems to be a new Kansas law requiring people to work in order to get nutrition assistance after three months. The New York Times looks at the debate in Congress to cut food stamps. The Wall Street Journal offers research that shows, not only is the expansion of food stamps not cause for alarm, it can be explained by the business cycle. This chart from RealClearPolicy looks at food insecurity:
Nerd Wallet looks at impact investing ratings systems. The Wall Street Journal offers a roundup up of 15 pieces on social entrepreneurship. In the NYT's Dealbook, Randall Smith looks at the challenges faced by the fossil fuel divestment movement, which come amid big employment gains in the energy sector.