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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jul 6

Job Barriers Facing Ex-Prisoners Could Cost U.S. Economy At Least $78 Billion

U.S. economic growth suffers when former prisoners and convicted felons are locked out of the labor market, a new study shows.

Employment barriers faced by former offenders resulted in the estimated loss of 1.7 million to 1.9 million workers in 2014, reducing the overall U.S. employment rate by almost 1 percentage point, according to the report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

That translates into a $78 billion to $87 billion loss in annual gross domestic product (GDP) for the United States.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Mar 1

Report: Workers' Share Of Corporate Income Down $535 Billion Since 2000

U.S. workers have seen their share of corporate income for compensation drop from 82 percent to 75 percent since 2000, shows a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

A 7-point decrease "might not seem like a lot, but if labor's share had not fallen this much, employees in the corporate sector would have $535 billion more in their paychecks today," EPI's research and policy director Josh Bivens said in a paper on the findings.

That money would work out to be a $3,770 raise for each U.S. worker if all working Americans, not just those employed in the corporate sector, got a slice of the pie.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Jul 21, 2015

Experts Urge Fed To Pursue 'Genuine Full Employment' Before Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve should pursue "genuine full employment" with "robust wage growth" before raising interest rates, experts from the Center for Popular Democracy and the Economic Policy Institute argue in a new report.

The report authors say the Fed, the central bank of the United States, can help reverse wage stagnation and narrow gender and racial wage gaps through its monetary policy.

Most Americans have faced wage stagnation over the last 35 years, despite there being a 64.9 percent growth in productivity during this time, according to the report. Wage growth also remained sluggish last month, with average hourly earnings increasing only 2 percent in June from one year ago.

A move by the Fed to slow the economy with an interest rate hike before "genuine full employment" is achieved will "hamper the ability of workers' wages to rise," the authors wrote.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue May 12, 2015

Currency Manipulation Key Issue In Heated Debate Over TPP, 'Fast-Track' Trade Bill

As debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal rages on, a growing number of lawmakers and economic experts are troubled by the massive trade agreement's lack of strong rules against currency manipulation by foreign member countries. Calls for currency manipulation prohibitions in the TPP also come amid heated deliberation over legislation that would give President Barack Obama "fast-track" trade authority.

Currency manipulation involves a country artificially suppressing the value of its currency, usually relative to the U.S. dollar, to reduce the price of its exports, essentially giving itself a leg up over competitors. This practice is a key cause of the continuing U.S. trade deficit and has displaced between 1 million and 5 million American jobs.

It's estimated that between $200 billion and $500 billion of the U.S. trade deficit is due to currency manipulation by foreign countries, according to research from the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Feb 16, 2015

Report: Progressive Activism Must Target The Fed, Monetary Policy

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, argues that the Federal Reserve should be receiving more scrutiny from progressive activists.

EPI research associate Thomas Palley wrote the report, which also serves as a primer on the how the Federal Reserve, or the Fed, works and offers a blueprint on how to make monetary policy more "job- and wage-friendly."

Over the three decades prior to the Great Recession, Palley says the Fed, the central bank of the United States, "consistently took care of Wall Street first while not caring much about Main Street."

"Since the Great Recession, there has been some shift toward helping ordinary Americans, but even more is needed, and we fervently hope that [Fed] Chair [Janet] Yellen sees this," said Palley, who also serves as AFL-CIO's senior economic policy adviser.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Feb 7, 2014

Economists, Health Policy Experts Weigh In On The CBO Obamacare Report

In the coming years, some Americans will voluntarily reduce their work hours or decide not to be employed at all as a result of the health coverage available under the Affordable Care Act, a report released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office shows. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the report, which has prompted strong reaction from both supporters and opponents of the health reform law.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Apr 8, 2013

South Side Residents Question TIF Use In 8th and 9th Wards At Town Hall Meeting

Chicago’s tax increment financing, or TIF, program is intended to spur economic development and create jobs in neighborhoods that need it most.

But more than 50 South Side residents questioned the program's impact upon learning this weekend that millions of property tax dollars were diverted from local schools and other units of government and awarded to private companies.

“Even though they’re for blighted areas, we find that places in the city are using TIF money, like the Central Business District and LaSalle Street,” Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, said at a TIF town hall meeting Saturday at Chicago State University.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Feb 13, 2013

EPI Blasts ALEC's Economic Recommendations Saying They Are Bad For The Public Good

Researchers on a conference call today questioned the American Legislative Exchange Council's economic and fiscal policy agenda.

Hosted by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank that often presents the liberal viewpoint on economic issues, the conference call exposed what some researchers called the “counterproductive policies” of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a state legislator organization that promotes free-market and conservative ideas.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is made up of more than 2,000 state legislators, came under fire last year for its promotion of the “Stand Your Ground” gun policy, but today’s conference call centered on state tax and budget policy prescriptions and privatization plans.