The Views of Top Economics and Policy Professors in Illinois

Poll: Illinois’ Top Economics and Policy Professors Support Infrastructure Investment, Anti-Discrimination Laws, Public Education, Marijuana Legalization, and Action on Climate Change Respondents more mixed on minimum wage laws and labor unions A new poll of academics from accredited university programs … Continue reading The Views of Top Economics and Policy Professors in Illinois

Study – Union Power in Illinois is Significant, but Waning

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


CHICAGO- A new study released today finds that labor unions play a vital role in Illinois’ communities and economy, but face major challenges. The study, The State of the Unions 2015: A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America [PDF] was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois (Robert Bruno, PhD), the University of Chicago (Virginia Parks, PhD), and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (Frank Manzo IV, MPP).

Since 2005, union membership in Illinois has declined by approximately 97,000 workers, contributing to the 1.12 million drop in union members across the nation. Declining unionization in Illinois has primarily been the result of decreases in male, Latino/a, and private sector unionization.

However, there has been some good news for those in the Illinois labor movement. From 2012 to 2014, the state’s unionization rate increased from 14.6 percent to 15.1 percent, and total union membership increased by about 30,000 workers. Continue reading “Study – Union Power in Illinois is Significant, but Waning”

Over 250,000 Illinois Workers Earn Less than the Minimum Wage

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


Analysis of new data from the Current Population Survey (conducted jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau) reveals that 4.8 percent of the Illinois workforce earns less than $8.25 an hour, the legal minimum wage for workers aged 18 years or older in firms with 4 or more employees. In total, an estimated 264,508 workers earned less than the minimum wage in 2014. Among sub-minimum wage earners (SMWEs), hourly pay averages just $6.66, or $1.59 per hour below the minimum wage floor. This translates into an economic loss of $1,654 over the year for part-time employees who worked 20 hours per week in 2014.

While many of these workers are under 18 years old or are employed by small businesses excluded from the minimum wage law, many others are the victims of wage theft. A 2009 study by researchers at the National Employment Law Project, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cornell University, and the University of California – Los Angeles found that 26 percent of low-wage, “front-line” workers were paid less than the legally-required minimum wage. The highest violation rates occurred in apparel and textile manufacturing, private households, and personal and repair services. Similarly, in a survey of 57 car washes in the City of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that 76 percent of hand car wash workers earned below the state’s minimum wage and 13 percent earned less than $2 per hour.

Minimum wage theft occurs for many reasons. First, there could be information problems in that employers may not realize that their practices are depriving workers of owed income or that they have misclassified workers as temporary or contingent workers. Second, tipped employees may not be compensated by their employer enough to close the minimum wage gap when the tips fall short. Third, business practices that elevate short-term profits above long-term profitability put downward pressures on wages. Fourth, economically inefficient social issues such as racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious discrimination could also be factors. Continue reading “Over 250,000 Illinois Workers Earn Less than the Minimum Wage”

ICYMI: ILEPI on Chicago Tonight Discussing Minimum Wage

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


 

On May 20, 2014, ILEPI Policy Director Frank Manzo IV was a panelist on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight with Ted Dabrowski discussing the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage in Illinois. Manzo supported raising the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour while Dabrowski has endorsed abolishing Illinois’ minimum wage altogether. Here is a link to the segment, and below is additional information on the effects of raising the minimum wage in Illinois.

 


Should we raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour?

The Illinois economy is still recovering from the Great Recession. The unemployment rate is about one and a half percentage points lower today than it was one year ago. But the recovery has seen an ongoing rise in income inequality in the labor market. To partially offset the income gap– independent of any action (or nonaction) at the federal level– Illinois should raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

In 2012, 1 million of the state’s 6 million workers earned less than $10 an hour. Of these one million low-wage earners, 57 percent were female, 45 percent were nonwhite, and 60 percent worked full-time (35 hours a week or more). In a study co-authored with the University of Illinois, ILEPI found that raising the minimum wage to $10 would increase worker income by $2 billion for these low-wage workers and lift 60,000 to 100,000 Illinois residents above the poverty line, reducing reliance on government programs and lowering costs to taxpayers. These workers would then spend that new income back in the economy, resulting in $7 billion in new economic output, and either a very small drop or a very small gain in employment. Thus, in Illinois, a state where the cost of living is higher than the national average, a raise to $10 would be beneficial to the economy. See the full report here [pdf].

Why does the minimum wage have a stimulative impact? What about economic theory which says it reduces jobs?

We know that reality is, unfortunately, far more complex than economic theory. Research shows little to no discernible impact of the minimum wage on employment. Most estimates on the supposed reduction in jobs are between zero percent and less than a fraction of a percent— it would be a false representation of economic research to suggest otherwise. We also know that poorer Americans spend higher shares of their incomes in the economy than richer Americans. One 2009 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago found that “spending increases substantially after a minimum wage hike.” For every $1 increase in the minimum wage, families with a minimum wage earner raise spending by $744 to $869 per year.

Isn’t the minimum wage a job killer for small businesses? Continue reading “ICYMI: ILEPI on Chicago Tonight Discussing Minimum Wage”

Union Power in 2014: Significant but Waning

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


Today, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) released a new Research Report on the Illinois labor movement. Co-authored with researchers from the University of Illinois Labor Education Program (LEP) and University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA), The State of the Unions 2014: A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America ­(PDF) analyzes the current state of labor unions and the course of unionization. The report investigates unionization rates and the impact of unions on wages across demographic, education, sector, industry, and occupation classifications.

Below are the main findings of the report, which is available online at this link (PDF):

  • There are approximately 116,000 fewer union members in Illinois today than there were in 2003 (and about 1.26 million fewer nationwide);
  • The decline in union members was primarily the result of decreases in male unionization, white unionization, and private sector unionization;
  • Despite the long-term downward trends, however, unionization increased in Illinois last year (from 14.6 percent to 15.7 percent- or by about 50,000 new members);
  • The year-over-year gains were driven by increases in the unionization of Chicago area workers, female workers, African-American workers, public sector workers, and older workers. Indeed, while union membership rates for women, African-American workers, and the public sector have trended downwards nationally, unionization for these groups has risen in Illinois since 2003;
  • Employment in the utilities industry, construction industry, or public sector raises the chances that a given Illinois worker is a union member;
  • High school dropouts, non-citizens, and residents who live in rural communities are less likely to be unionized in Illinois;
  • Unions raise worker wages by 21.4 percent on average (20.3 percent on median) in Illinois, higher than the national average of 16.7 percent;
  • Illinois ranks 8th among the 50 states plus D.C. in terms of union wage premium; and
  • Union workers work 4.8 hours longer each week than nonunion workers in Illinois.

 

Separately, ILEPI has also released another Economic Commentary jointly with the University of Illinois Labor Education Program on the socioeconomic differences between union households and nonunion households in America. Union and Nonunion Households: General Social Survey, 2000-2012 (PDF) compares and contrasts individuals in the two types of households across many characteristics– including household composition, work and income traits, religiosity, political affiliation, and institutional confidence. Continue reading “Union Power in 2014: Significant but Waning”

Collaborative Development: The Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.


A new ILEPI Policy Brief, released this morning, investigates the pros and cons of public-private partnerships in the construction industry. [Update: The Monitor article].

The report, Collaborative Development: The Pros and Cons of P3s on Construction Projects (PDF), finds that public-private partnerships (P3s)– such as the proposed Illiana Expressway– offer the potential for significant cost savings for the public sector. P3s allow governments to increase internal investment, capitalize on the efficiencies and innovations of private companies, and build infrastructure slightly less expensively and slightly more quickly. For the private sector, P3s provide stable assets (infrastructure facilities) with predictable long-term returns from user fees for portfolio diversification. P3s also allow private entities, backed by the government, to borrow cheaply.

The Policy Brief utilizes case studies to demonstrate how P3s may be mutually beneficial and discusses the expected positive benefits of three potential P3 projects in the Midwest: Continue reading “Collaborative Development: The Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships”

Debunking 10 Myths about the Proposed Illiana Expressway

In the past few weeks, the proposed Illiana Expressway has been subject to much criticism. Most of this criticism, however, has relied more on rhetoric and misinformation than actual fact. Below, 10 myths about the Illiana Expressway are debunked.

Myth #1: The Illiana Expressway will serve little to no purpose.

Truth: The Illiana Expressway is a proposed 47-mile toll road that would link I-55 in Will County, Illinois to I-65 in Lake County, Indiana. The corridor is intended to primarily benefit the heavy-trucking industry in the short run, servicing the growing intermodal freight system in south Chicagoland. Diverting trucking traffic from I-80, I-90, and Route 30, however, relieves congestion and benefits commuters and families. One southern Chicagoland government official told me that “to those of us who live with the truck traffic congestion on local roads with the related increased costs of maintenance and public safety issues, the need is far more obvious” than to those outside of southern Chicagoland.

Additionally, the expressway will have long-term transportation benefits, as the population of Will County is expected to grow by 548,000 (CMAP) to 695,000 (IDOT) people by 2040. The Illiana Expressway is a forward-thinking project that will be vital to these future families, businesses, and visitors. Finally, the likely construction of the South Suburban Airport (often called Lincoln National Airport), which also is projected by CMAP to generate 7,737 direct jobs and 42,739 additional jobs, only raises the need for the Illiana project.

Myth #2: The Illiana Expressway will unnecessarily burden taxpayers. Continue reading “Debunking 10 Myths about the Proposed Illiana Expressway”