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The Changing Face of the Low-Wage Labor Market

October 23, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Over the last three decades along with the various structural changes that have taken place in the economy, we can say that the face of the low-wage labor market has also changed. It used to be that the low-wage labor market characterized by unskilled labor as perhaps reflected by the percentage of high-school dropouts was extremely high.

Low-Wage Workers and the “New” Industrial Reserve Army of Labor

October 17, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman


The standard minimum wage model that predicts that increases in the minimum wage will result in lower employment rests on the assumption that workers are nothing more than factors of production. As factors of production, they are simply inanimate objects that are easily interchangeable, either with other similar inanimate objects or more technologically advanced ones.

The Minimum Wage and the New Federalism?

September 26, 2014
Oren M. Levin-Waldman


Among the topics that often rise to the top of the debate in most national elections is just what the proper relationship is between the states and the national government. In other words, has federal authority usurped state sovereignty, or is more federal authority needed because the states are untrustworthy guardians of individuals’ rights? It would appear that the many states that have taken it upon themselves to either adopt their own minimum wages or raise existing ones over the federal have only rekindled the traditional states’ rights v. national authority debate, albeit it in a different form.

The Meaning of Markets

July 25, 2014
Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.


Those who oppose regulations of any type, including mandates to pay workers a specified minimum wage, often invoke the language of free markets. In a market economy, the argument goes, individuals should be free to enter into transactions, whether it be for the purchase of goods and services or labor services.

Why the Minimum Wage is Important

July 9, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman

Amidst the debate over whether the minimum wage really helps those at the bottom or whether it causes more unemployment, we often lose sight of why it was needed in the first place. Today the debate over the minimum wage has become a side show between those who argue that it results in disemployment and those who argue that it benefits the poor.

Sources of Wage Inequality?

June 20, 2014
Oren M. Levin-Waldman
, Ph.D.

The conventional explanation for growing wage inequality is often referred to as the skills-biased towards technical change theory. This holds that with globalization and increased capital mobility, the economy has changed from industrial production to a post-industrial service based economy. The former did not need a greatly skilled workforce, but the latter, being  technologically more advanced, did require much greater skill.

The Minimum Wage and those Inconvenient Facts

April 3, 2014
By
Oren Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Critics of the minimum wage often assert that not only is it misguided because of its adverse employment effects, but it is poorly targeted because most minimum wage earners are not poor. Rather they are secondary earners who are either spouses or teenagers. And those who scoff at claims of income inequality maintain that those at the bottom lack the skills necessary to command higher wages in an economy ever more biased towards advanced technology and skills. But these claims are really half-truths that miss some inconvenient facts.

"The Social Costs of Paying Low Wages"

March 5, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

The recent release of the Congressional Budget Office’s report that an increase in the minimum wage could lead to a loss of as much as one million jobs by 2016 has created quite a stir. Those  on the right hailed it as proof that an increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea precisely because we are still plagued by long-term unemployment. Meanwhile, those on left hailed the report as a vindication that the minimum wage would result in at least 16 million Americans getting a raise, which in turn would benefit the economy through increased spending.

Rising Income Inequality, the Minimum Wage, and the Median Voter Theorem

February 19, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.


Rising income inequality, of course, is problematic because it symbolizes the dual nature of our economy and the shrinking middle class. It is also dangerous to democracy because it tilts the power balance in policy formulation towards the interests of the wealthy away from the poor and the middle class. What is often not talked about is the relationship between rising income inequality, increased pressure for redistribution, and in the extreme revolution.

"Minimum Wage Critics' Hypocritical Obsession with Unemployment"

January 27, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.


Since the beginning of the New Year, a couple of states have raised their minimum wages and President Obama plans to call for an increase to $10.10 an hour. Additionally, the Democratic Party plans to incorporate the minimum wage into its 2014 midterm election platform. Of course, the critics are already out with the standard bromides that it will lead to lower employment, and that it is particularly a bad idea in a weak economy. And yet, when the Fed announces an action that could also lead to unemployment, all of a sudden there is silence.

Why Inequality Matters

January 14, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

During the recent mayoral race in New York City, Mayor Elect DeBlasio made an issue out of income inequality. For market purists, this is no doubt a red herring used to justify redistribution. A free market where individuals enjoy equal opportunity means that they can make their own choices. As such, those who end up with more obviously made the right choices. Moreover, they worked hard for whatever they acquired.

What Can we Learn from Long-Term Unemployment in the New York City Metro Area?

November 20, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman

Among the problems that we as a nation have been grappling with since the end of the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, is the persistence of unemployment, or more specifically long-term unemployment. It has been commonplace to assume that long-term unemployment is due to  structural change which has resulted in a skills mismatch.

Workers' Labor Needs to be Defined More in Terms of Property Rather than Commodities

July 15, 2013
By Prof. Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D. Graduate School for Public Affairs and Administration Metropolitan

When states pass right-to-work laws, they claim that they are creating working conditions conducive to choice. Workers can choose to join a union or not, but because these laws effectively bar closed shops workers are no longer coerced to join unions. Opponents of these laws point out the obvious: because unionization efforts have been made more difficult, the power of unions is diminished, and so too are the legitimate rights of workers.

Free Markets and the Re-employment Charade

July 4, 2013
By Prof. Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D. Graduate School for Public Affairs and Administration Metropolitan
College of New York

Virtually all ends of the political spectrum appear to agree on one thing, which is that more should be done to get people back to work. Although the economy is said to be on the mend, unemployment is still 7.6 percent, which really says nothing about the actual jobless number. Conservatives and Republicans argue that government should get out of the way so that the full force of the market place can be unleashed and job be created.

"The Meaning of Having a Good Job"

June 19, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman
For a long time now, we have heard talk about creating “good” jobs, with manufacturing being at the top of the good jobs list. It almost implies that service sector jobs — the primary replacement for disappearing manufacturing jobs in a post-industrial economy — are really bad jobs.

For a long time now, we have heard talk about creating “good” jobs, with manufacturing being at the top of the good jobs list. It almost implies that service sector jobs — the primary replacement for disappearing manufacturing jobs in a post-industrial economy — are really bad jobs. Well, if the definition of a good job is one that pays a solid middle class wage that allows one to live in dignity, this is probably true.

Job Creation Through Wage Policy

June 3, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman

The official unemployment rate is still around 7.5 percent, although the actual jobless rate (those who simply gave up and dropped out of the job market is considerably higher. It is curious that as the official rate has fallen, we hear less about the need for policy to address the slow economy. And yet, one problem that appears to persist is that of long-term unemployment. There are a couple schools of thought as to the source of long-term unemployment.

We All Suffer from the Absence of a Strong Labor Movement

May 23, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman
Several years ago, one of the biggest events in labor history occurred when the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters decided it was time to withdraw from the AFL-CIO and form a new council.

Several years ago, one of the biggest events in labor history occurred when the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters decided it was time to withdraw from the AFL-CIO and form a new council. Others, like the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE HERE, United Farm Workers, and the Carpenters only followed. It then came as no surprise that The Laborers’ Union representing over 700,000 in the construction industry also followed suit and joined the same coalition as the others: Change to Win where the focus would be on organizing new workers.

Raising the Minimum Wage is a Way to Help the Middle Class

March 5, 2013
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman


Not everyone will agree that President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage is the best approach for assisting the middle class. The standard arguments against raising the minimum wage are that 1) increases in the minimum wage will lead to disemployment effects, especially among low-skilled workers; 2) most minimum wage earners are not primary earners, but secondary earners; and 3) very few people earn the statutory minimum wage that raising it is worth the likely reductions in employment. And yet, the data would seem to suggest otherwise.


 

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