Labor and Employment

On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage increased in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The total number of states with a minimum wage higher than the federal rate of $7.25/hour is 29, ranging from $7.50 in New Mexico and Maine to a high of $10.00 in Massachusetts and California and $11.50 in the District of Columbia. 

On July 1, 2016 the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The minimum wage is scheduled to increase in Minnesota on August 1, 2016.

A recent report released by the Economic Innovation Group paints a lopsided picture of how the United States has recovered from the Great Recession of 2007-08.  According to the study, job growth and new business formation in the post-recessionary period has been heavily concentrated in roughly 70 counties and almost exclusively clustered in large metropolitan regions. Twenty counties, which account for less than one percent of roughly 3,100 counties in the U.S., were home to half of new business startups between 2010 and 2014. Likewise, half of the new jobs created in the same time period were located in only 73 counties.

by Kelly Samson-Rickert
Building a stronger workforce is a challenge for any state, but building and recruiting a workforce prepared to tackle a state’s information technology needs is a particularly complex challenge. In an effort to do just that, the Maine Office of Information Technology, or OIT, has developed a workforce development program—an effort to ensure that the state is equipped to provide the latest in information technology services not only today, but in the future as well.

While teens are less and less likely to work summer jobs, government programs focused on engaging disadvantaged youth recognize the opportunity summer employment provides to develop skills that will make young people more competitive when they enter the workforce fulltime down the road.

On May 17, President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced significant changes as to how employers will determine who is eligible for overtime pay in the future. The regulatory changes are to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and lift the salary threshold used as part of a two-fold overtime eligibility determination from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. According to the administration, this change will affect 4.2 million employees and increase payrolls $1.2 billion annually.

CSG Midwest
A new initiative in Indiana is looking beyond the state’s K-12 population as a means to increase the percentage of Hoosiers with education beyond high school. The goal of the “You Can. Go Back.” program is to encourage the 750,000 Indiana adults who completed some college, but left before earning a degree, to come back and finish what they started. Through a mix of strategic marketing and financial aid, the campaign hopes to attract 200,000 adults back to college by 2020, and help them complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a workforce credential.
“You Can. Go Back.” is administered by the Indiana Commission of Higher Education in partnership with the state’s public university system, but has also gained the support of nearly two dozen private institutions and a variety of businesses.

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.).

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An estimated 54 million Americans live with a disability. The majority of adults with disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed—despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work in the community and contribute to the economy. People with disabilities bring valuable skills to the workforce, and hiring them benefits the business community and employees alike.

As such, people with disabilities are a key factor in states' ability to build strong, inclusive workforces that translate into economic success. And "moving the needle" on this critical workforce issue will require strong public policy at the state level that addresses systemic number of key areas.

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.

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