Today’s News & Commentary — June 8, 2016

The City Council of Washington, D.C. voted unanimously on Tuesday to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15. After the vote is ratified in July (considered “only a formality” at this point), the increase will take effect gradually through 2020. Mayor Muriel Bowser has committed to signing the legislation, though she acknowledges that even living on $15 per hour is difficult in the nation’s capital. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), speaking in Anacostia, voiced his opposition to the legislation. He predicts the increase will “actually do more harm than good in so many instances, because what it does is it prices entry-level jobs away from people.”

For low-income, working parents, summertime is no picnic. The New York Times reports that many workers with full time jobs cannot afford the average $958 per child that is associated with camps and summer learning programs. And because they are employed full-time, they are unable to watch their children during the day. More than ten percent of 6 to 12-year-olds will spend an average of 10 hours per week unsupervised this summer.

Labor productivity fell at an annual rate of 0.6% in the first quarter, according to the Department of Labor.  Josh Mitchell of the Wall Street Journal comments that, though the decline was not as steep as expected, it is troubling given the accompanying rise in wages. Some are concerned that the combination of these factors will cause corporations to decrease hiring, cut costs, and raise prices.

Finally, the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA) is suing USCIS and DHS under the FOIA, demanding transparency in the selection process for the H1-B visa program for high-skilled workers. USCIS uses a computer-generated lottery system to assign the visas if the number of visa applications exceeds the number of visas available within the first five days of the application period. (This condition has been triggered for the last four years, and demand has exceeded supply for the last ten). However, USCIS has allegedly failed to disclose how it determines when the cap is reached, how the random selection process occurs, and whether all the available visas are being used. AILA contends that “[t]he agency’s lack of transparency precludes informed consideration as to whether the…processes are in accordance with the law and with DHS implementing regulations.”