Labor and Employment

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.).

workforce development icon

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.

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.

CSG Midwest

Two more Midwestern states have recently adopted “ban the box” laws, which are designed to improve the job prospects of individuals with criminal records. These laws require public employers to remove questions about an individual’s criminal history on job applications and during the initial screening process. Background check inquiries are delayed until later in the hiring process.<--break->Ohio’s new “ban the box”...

Pension administrators and policy experts presented success stories, strategies for managing public pensions and tools for collecting data on public pensions across the country at a March 29 CSG eCademy webcast, “The Facts on Public Pensions.” The webcast, which was presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, introduced the Public Plans Data website, a free tool to compare plans across states and help inform debates about retirement security issues.

Public pensions continue to be a topic of great concern to state policymakers across the country. Struggling from years of insufficient contributions, combined with longer-living retiree populations, many states face mounting public pension liabilities. Understanding how your state’s plan compares to others around the country and having access to reliable data about pension plans are both essential  to making evidence-based policy decisions. This FREE CSG eCademy session, presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, offers background on the state of public pension systems and introduces a free tool which can be used to inform debates about retirement security issues: Public Plans Data.

A jury concluded that pork processing employees should have been compensated per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for donning and doffing varying protective equipment, but Tyson Foods failed to keep records of the time they spent doing it. In Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo the Supreme Court held 6-2 that the employees could bring a collective (class) action lawsuit using “representative evidence” put together by an industrial relations expert averaging donning and doffing time by position based on 744 videotaped observations.

While some jobs and industries are more vulnerable to FLSA overtime collective actions or other class action lawsuits, state and local government are not spared.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, state prison populations have grown significantly over the last few decades and in 36 states, the prison population has more than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978.  Spending on corrections has also increased in states: state corrections spending more than doubled between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion to over $47 billion.   

A new federal law allows persons with disabilities to save for their futures through tax-advantaged  savings accounts set up by states. These accounts -- called ABLE -- are much like 529 college savings plan. 

On February 23, Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenburg announced plans to make his state’s plan available nationwide.

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