Labor and Employment

Earlier this week, Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill (SB 193) making Connecticut the first state in the nation to require certain businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees. The new law seeks to address a potentially serious public health issue - when confronted with the possibility or losing pay or possibly their job, many employees come to work even when sick. 

Unemployment rates remain high and many people have been without work for extremely long periods of time, exhausting state unemployment trust funds quickly. More than half the states are borrowing from the federal government to cover costs, which could affect future fiscal stability.

As state leaders came together to hammer out their 2012 fiscal year budgets, they faced a challenging task: Find a way to close huge budget gaps while facing an increased demand for services like unemployment benefits. Sustained high unemployment rates, long-term unemployment and unsustainable funding models have exhausted state unemployment trust funds, requiring states to borrow large sums from the federal government. As of March 2011, 31 states had borrowed more than $42.5 billion from the federal government to continue paying unemployment benefits, and sizable interest payments on those loans come due in the fall of 2011. Paying back those loans with interest will be a struggle and could have an impact on both economic recovery and future fiscal stability.

State governments play an important role in national and regional economic conditions and are subject to prevailing economic conditions. The Census Bureau’s official statistics provide a full picture of the early impact of the most recent recession from tax revenues to expenditures to employment.

Chapter 8 of the 2011 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Yesterday, opponents of Ohio's recently-passed collective bargaining law marched through the streets of Columbus to deliver almost 1.3 million signatures, more than enough they say to put a repeal question on the November ballot.  

One of the first sentences in a recently enacted Kansas law explains the rationale for the state’s new, targeted investment in higher education: “Engineering intensive industries represent approximately one-third of the statewide payroll and tax base.”

Amid all of the partisan rancor this year over the future of public employee labor law, one state in the Midwest managed to enact a major reform of its system without a single “no” vote.

According to a new report out by UBS Investment Research, as many as 450,000 state and local government employees could be laid off in the upcoming fiscal year.   This is a significant increase compared to last fiscal year’s layoffs, which totaled about 300,000 positions.

The report goes on to say that the increase is largely due to the ending of ARRA funds, including enhanced Medicaid matching rates and the education jobs...

States owe a whopping $40 billion in loans to the feds so they can continue to pay unemployment benefits to unemployed residents. Now, states are faced with bringing their unemployment programs back in the black, and several states are considering or are implementing cuts to unemployment benefits alongside tax increases.