Education and Infrastructure Grow the Economy. Other Proposals Being Debated in Illinois Don’t.

With the State of Illinois finally having a new budget for the first time in two years, the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute evaluated the economic research on policy measures currently under consideration by state lawmakers.

The full report is available here: Public Policies That Grow the Illinois Economy: An Evidence-Based Review of the Current Debate Continue reading “Education and Infrastructure Grow the Economy. Other Proposals Being Debated in Illinois Don’t.”

Union Membership Declined in “Right-to-Work” States and Increased in Collective-Bargaining States Last Year

“Right-to-work” does NOT increase union membership.

Right-to-Work Laws Reduce Union Membership

The movement to implement “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation has accelerated over recent years. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia recently become “right-to-work” states. Missouri and Kentucky followed in 2017. Today, 28 states have “right-to-work” laws.

One of the main policy changes contributing to the decline of unionization across the United States is the ratification of “right-to-work” legislation. From 2015 to 2016, union membership in RTW states declined by over 293,000 members. Union membership declined in 20 of the 26 states (77%) with RTW laws.

Continue reading “Union Membership Declined in “Right-to-Work” States and Increased in Collective-Bargaining States Last Year”

Survey Says: The Views of Top Economics & Policy Professors in Illinois

A new poll finds that Illinois’ top economics and policy professors strongly support infrastructure investment, public education, immigration, and international free trade agreements. The state’s economic and policy experts also marginally support labor unions and minimum wage laws, with most in favor of raising Illinois’ minimum wage. Finally, a significant majority do not think that politicians have a strong understanding of economic principles.  Continue reading “Survey Says: The Views of Top Economics & Policy Professors in Illinois”

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

Construction Workers Are the Major Victims of Right-to-Work Laws

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at http://www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI. “Right-to-work” laws have the largest negative impacts on construction workers, according to a new ILEPI Economic … Continue reading Construction Workers Are the Major Victims of Right-to-Work Laws

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”

Road Construction Workers in the Midwest are VERY Productive

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI). Visit MEPI online follow the affiliated Illinois Economic Policy Institute on Twitter @illinoisEPI. Construction workers who specialize in road and bridge infrastructure projects are productive, high-skilled, and well-paid in the Midwest, … Continue reading Road Construction Workers in the Midwest are VERY Productive

Paper: Raise State Minimum Wage to Stimulate Illinois Economy

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.

The following post appeared as a press release from the University of Illinois News Bureau at this link.

CONTACT: Phil Ciciora, Business and Law Editor 217-333-2177; pciciora@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Raising the minimum wage in the state of Illinois to $10 per hour would reduce income inequality, increase consumer demand and grow the state economy, according to a new study from a University of Illinois labor expert.

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations on the Urbana campus, says increasing the minimum wage from its current rate of $8.25 per hour would have a substantial stimulative effect on the state economy but not much of an effect – positive or negative – on employment.

“We analyzed the impact that raising the minimum wage has on employment, hours and income, and concluded that it’s the best way to reduce wage inequality, grow the state economy and ensure that workers are paid a wage that’s commensurate with the cost of living,” said Bruno, also the director of the Labor Education Program in Chicago. “And most importantly, we found that raising the minimum wage would have no discernible negative effect on total employment.”

Bruno and study co-author Frank Manzo IV, the policy director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute [@IllinoisEPI], also advocate for a host of other public policy recommendations, including: Continue reading “Paper: Raise State Minimum Wage to Stimulate Illinois Economy”