Today’s News & Commentary — August 22
The New York Times Editorial Board critiques the role of for-profit educational institutions in the federal job-training system, highlighting the predatory nature of many proprietary colleges. The Federal Workforce Investment Act, created in 1998, has poured $3.1 billion dollars into creating tuition vouchers which individuals can redeem for job training. This steady source of income to for-profit colleges usually only covers a fraction of students’ cost of attendance, meaning students often emerge from these institutions saddled with debt and with unclear job-placement prospects.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen discussed labor market strength at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. In prior remarks, Yellen had cited stagnant wage growth as a sign that the labor market is still weak. At Jackson Hole, she pointed to research that suggests “wage growth has been subdued because employers were unable to cut salaries deeply enough during the recession, a phenomenon dubbed ‘pent-up wage deflation.’” If this is the case, Yellen noted, the labor market may be stronger than previously believed. The Washington Post reports.
The Department of Labor has reinstated a whistleblower at a former nuclear weapons complex, determining that the termination of her employment had been retaliation for reporting violations of record keeping and safety codes. The L.A. Times reports.
The New York Times highlights the research of economist Claudia Goldin, whose recent work has uncovered a “pay penalty” that disproportionately hurts working mothers. According to Goldin, people in professions like law and finance get paid disproportionately more when they work extra-long hours, while people in low-wage jobs get paid disproportionately less per hour when they work fewer than 40 hours a week. Though the penalty is the same for men and women, women are ultimately impacted more as they are more likely to take reduced hours or breaks in their careers to handle child care.
The Wall Street Journal questions whether President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order will also apply to unions. Unions such as the American Federal of Government Employees and the National Federation of Federal Employees are technically government contractors, and “unions as well as corporations can be guilty of violating labor laws.”