Economic Justice

Left Out of Labor Day

Icon August 29, 2013 - 13:46 The Commonwealth Institute: http://thehalfsheet.org/post/59687425880/left-out-of-labor-day Here’s something to wrap your mind around as we head into Labor Day weekend: unemployment is down in Virginia, but fewer people in the state’s economy are working. Virginia’s unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is down considerably from its peak of 7.4 percent during the winter of 2010. But fewer than 63 percent of working-age Virginians have a job. That’s down from over 67 percent just four years ago, before the recession decimated the state’s economy. The last time fewer Virginians were working was way back in 1982, when the unemployment rate was well over 7 percent. (See Figure 1.) How can we have a low unemployment rate at the same time that a smaller share of the working-age population is actually working? Here are two reasons. First, Virginia’s working-age population has increased over 8 percent since the start of the recession, but employment hasn’t kept pace. As shown in Figure 2 below, Virginia’s total employment has grown just under 2 percent since the recession officially began in December of 2007. Simply put, the pool of eligible workers grew faster than the jobs available for them. Second, Virginians are only counted as unemployed if they are available to work and actively seeking a job. If they stop looking for work, they are no longer considered unemployed and are dropped from the labor force, which is a key part of the unemployment rate calculation. So there you have it: when a Virginian looking for work loses hope and gives up, the unemployment rate drops, but so does another key barometer of economic health: the labor force participation rate. The fact that both of these numbers are dropping in Virginia is not a sign of progress. Growing numbers of working-age folks are sitting on the sidelines waiting to get in the game. We need to figure out how to take advantage of new opportunities and resources — like growing the “green economy” and expanding Medicaid — to create enough jobs to meet the need before more people take their ball and go home. —Sara Okos, Policy Director

Making Bank of America Pay Events

Icon April 16, 2013 - 16:03 Our friends at North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power are heading back to Bank of America to hold them accountable! Here is some information on how you can get involved: On MAY 8, we are calling on ALL regional activists to come to Charlotte NC, (aka “Wall Street South”) for the annual BoA Shareholder Meeting to show the big banks that they are not off the hook! The “Too Big To Fail Banks” are now bigger than ever and the consequences of this will be CATASTROPHIC. Let's not wait until the dam breaks. We are shaping public opinion- direct action, outreach, education, and media blitzes are working! A recent Rasmussen poll showed that HALF of Americans now want to break up the big banks. This is an amazing step forward! Let’s continue to build on this! While BoA can’t seem to pay taxes they've managed to be able to spend tens of millions of dollars retooling their image in an aggressive re-branding campaign; they want to get back into screwing working consumers and impressing their rich shareholders. The last thing they want on top of countless lawsuits is for us to continue changing public opinion. We may not have millions of dollars, but we have YOU! Join us in Charlotte to protest at the Annual Shareholders Meeting. Be creative! Be civil! Be there! Tell the Justice Department: No Banker is too big to Jail!  Break-Up the Big Banks! No more foreclosures… period.  BoA needs to Pay: no more tax breaks for fraudulent banks and Wall St corps while cutting benefits for seniors, children in poverty, and disabled vets! Stop financing dirty coal! Facebook Event RSVP:https://www.facebook.com/events/547165198657747/?fref=tsWebsite: www.ncagainstcorporatepower.org#makeboapayemail: makeboapay@gmail.com  

Reflections on Wal-Mart

Icon January 2, 2013 - 10:55 By Marquita Hill Published December 2, 2012 by the Roanoke Times at http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/letters/wb/318495 For two quarters, they'd get a raise On “Black Friday” some Walmart employees around the nation, for the first time, held a strike. Walmart workers earn so little that many must resort to public assistance such as food stamps or, if ill, Medicaid. So, you as a shopper may “save” when you shop at Walmart, but you, as a member of the public pay to help many Walmart employees. Meanwhile, the six Walton heirs hold more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined. Yet Walmart Corporation scorns efforts to increase employee wages and is ferociously anti-union. Its attitude is that workers should be grateful to have a job. A University of California study calculated that if each person paid an average of 46 cents more each trip to Walmart, this would provide enough to pay the average employee $12 an hour (instead of the current $8.81). If Walmart itself paid half of that 46 cents from its own great profits, it would cost shoppers only 23 cents extra per visit. If boosting Walmart employees into a livable wage range would require so little, why isn’t it happening? Almost every American can understand what fairness means. Why can’t Walmart?

Study: ALEC's Advice to States on Jobs Is Actually a Recipe for Stagnation and Wage Suppression

Icon November 30, 2012 - 11:03 Washington, DC, November 28, 2012--A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance. Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically. Those are the key findings of "Selling Snake Oil to the States," a study published today by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project and freely available online at  http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/snakeoiltothestates . It was released at a press conference the same week ALEC holds its annual fall meeting in Washington, DC. "We tested ALEC's claims against actual economic results," said Dr. Peter Fisher, primary author of the study. "We conclude that eliminating progressive taxes, suppressing wages, and cutting public services are actually a recipe for economic inequality, declining incomes, and undermining public infrastructure and education that really matter for long-term economic growth." The study dissects the methodology used by ALEC's lead author Arthur Laffer and his co-authors. It finds that their arguments and evidence range from deeply flawed to nonexistent, consistently ignoring decades of peer-reviewed academic research. Instead, Laffer et al repeatedly engage in methodologically primitive approaches such as two-factor correlations and comparing arbitrary small numbers of states instead of all 50. The study finds that the composition of a state's economy-whether it has disproportionate shares of high-growth or low-growth industries-was a far better predictor of a state's relative success over the past five years. "State corporate income taxes average less than one-fifth of one percent of the average company's costs." said Fisher. "The ALEC/Laffer studies would have state leaders ignore site-location basics and disinvest public goods that benefit all employers." Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan partisan resource promoting accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families. It was founded in 1998 and is based in Washington, DC. The Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting public policy that fosters economic opportunity while safeguarding the health and well-being of Iowa's people and environment. It was formed in 2001 and is based in Iowa City.

Margot Dorfman Explains Why Raising Minimum Wage is Good for Economy

Icon August 3, 2012 - 15:50 http://augustafreepress.com/2012/07/30/margot-dorfman-raising-minimum-wa... Posted July 30, 2012  

Housing Costs in Virginia Still Out of Reach

Icon June 14, 2012 - 16:24 Posted by HOME: http://homeva.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/housing-cost-in-virginia-still-out-of-reach/  June 14, 2012  

Ask Senator Warner for a Budget that Protects Basic Services, not Tax Breaks for the Wealthy

Icon April 23, 2012 - 09:20 In a close vote, the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Buffett Rule, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would have required millionaires to pay at least the same tax rate as middle class taxpayers. So while the middle and working class will be paying their fair share in taxes, many of the 1% will not. The good news is that Virginia's Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb both voted FOR the Buffet Rule.  Please call Senator Warner at 1-877-676-2759 and thank him for his vote. 

Downie: The President's Plan to Help Virginia's Homeowners

Icon February 27, 2012 - 12:28  What a long road for homeowners. So many have suffered and lost their homes. I personally have watched two of my children fight to keep their homes. Both are upside down in their homes and hoping that this new agreement will help them get back on their feet. It's tough to keep up when your house payments are sky high and your home is worth less and less. Rob's and  Sandy's homes are valued about half what they were in 2008. Both their businesses have been hard bit by the recession also.