News & Commentary

October 7, 2014

The latest Federal Reserve labor market conditions index has indicated that labor market conditions picked up last month – a metric that may push the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than previously anticipated. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the index – developed by Federal Reserve economists and first unveiled last May – rose 2.5 points in September, after four months of summer deceleration.

At the New York Times, David Leonhardt discusses an alarming trend of wage stagnation in the US. Now, “the typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn’t previously been true since the Great Depression.” Though some predict a wage surge may be around the corner, Leonhardt predicts that “the wage slowdown won’t end until the country makes much more progress in improving education, cutting medical waste and energy costs and creating a more responsive, nimble government.”

The Department of Labor has signed an enforcement agreement with the Alabama Department of Labor, aiming to reduce the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The DOL press release can be found here. Last year, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division investigations resulted in $83 million dollars of back wages being returned to over 100,000 workers. A large proportion of these misclassified workers were in low-wage industries, such as janitorial, food, or construction sectors. The Department’s “Misclassification Initiative” currently includes similar agreements with California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Utah and Washington state agencies. More information on the initiative is available here.

The Washington Examiner reports that over 300 union members and their families gathered at the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters today to protest a proposal to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The proposal, protestors emphasized, would eliminate their jobs in Appalachia. The EPA says that under their proposal, coal will still provide 30 percent of the nation’s power, down from about 42 percent today.

New York Magazine discusses the campaign to unionize drivers at Facebook, predicting it will be part of a much larger labor movement in Silicon Valley. “If successful, the Teamsters won’t stop at Facebook. They’ll continue down the peninsula to Google, Apple, and other large tech companies who employ drivers from similar third-party companies.”

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