Capitol Comments

The agenda and materials from the 2016 SIDO Washington Forum 2016 are now available. 

For many years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has published statistics on employment and other characteristics of the labor force by level of education. For example, we know from these statistics that in general, more education means a higher salary. For those that held a bachelor’s degree in 2014, median weekly earnings were $1,193. Compare that to median weekly earnings of $488 for those with less than a high school diploma. While these data are very informative, they didn’t give us a complete picture because they didn’t include statistics on nondegree credentials – like professional certifications or licenses (for example, commercial driver’s licenses, teaching licenses, medical licenses, information technology certifications, etc.).

According to the Organization for International Investment (OFII), foreign direct investment in the United States totaled $2.9 trillion through 2014 on a historical-cost basis (cumulative investment). In 2008, investment reached a 10-year peak at $310 billion. In 2009, the global economic recession led to significant reductions in U.S. investment, falling by more than half the previous year’s levels. In 2014, foreign companies invested $112 billion in the U.S. – the weakest year in a decade. However, based on preliminary data for the first three quarters of 2015, OFII suggests that foreign direct investment in the U.S. may make a comeback, possibly breaking records by exceeding $300 billion. 

Ballots that address the minimum wage have been certified for 2016 to appear in three states with certification pending in another eight states. All of the initiatives seek to raise the minimum wage, except one - in South Dakota, the Decreased Youth Minimum Wage Referendum is a veto referendum that would overturn Senate Bill 177, which decreased the minimum wage for workers under age 18 from $8.50 to $7.50 and provide that the youth minimum wage is not pegged to inflation.

Prior to 1996, the minimum wage was rarely an issue addressed on state ballots. Since 1996 however, the minimum wage has increasingly appeared on state ballots, and could appear on the ballot in a record 11 states in 2016. The first time the minimum wage appeared on a state ballot was in 1912 in Ohio.

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