Today's News and Commentary–March 31
The Washington Post reports that the federal minimum wage has become a contested political issue. Congressional Democrats, who represent more low-wage workers than Congressional Republicans, are making a big push to raise the minimum wage. By contrast, Republicans are working to keep the minimum wage stable; they argue that wage increases will result in job losses.
The New York Times profiles a group of workers who participated in “Experience2Work: Employment Boot Camp for Boomers,” a four-week program designed to help out-of-work professionals over the age of 49. Older workers have been hit particularly hard by the recent recession. The boot camp aims to ameliorate this problem by helping workers refine their resumes and hone their job-search skills.
According to the Washington Post, Amazon.com employees are striking at a German distribution center after management refused to increase their wages. The ver.di union said that it organized the strike to encourage management to return to the negotiating table.
According to The Wall Street Journal, workers are feeling confident that they are doing enough to prepare for retirement. A recent study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute suggests that 66% of workers are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” about their preparations for later life. Nevertheless, this confidence may be misplaced: only 57% of workers report that they (or their spouses) are currently saving for retirement.
Finally, in the New York Times, Paul Krugman challenges the idea that there is a gap between the skills that job-seekers possess and the skills that employers need. According to Mr. Krugman, employment data and survey research refute the conventional wisdom that there is a “skills gap” in our economy. As a result, Mr. Krugman urges policy-makers to abandon the myth of the “skills gap” and focus their attention on real problems that are contributing to long-term unemployment.