News & Commentary

December 26, 2014

The Boston Globe reports that advocates are hopeful that increased sick leave will increasingly become a national and bipartisan issue. Massachusetts recently passed a ballot that would allow most workers to earn up to five sick days per year. The measure passed by “a stunning margin of nearly 20 percentage points,” and many voters skipped questions to specifically cast their votes for this issue. Labor unions, business groups, and hospital leaders supported the ballot provision. The article notes the law as a “sign of momentum shift,” exceeding the scope of existing laws in California and Connecticut. Advocates hope that the Massachusetts victory will encourage other states to pass similar laws, including New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Maryland.

Increased consumer spending continued the trend of good news for the U.S. economy this year. Analysts say the three-month period ending in September produced such rapid growth that some believe “the U.S. economy could expand next year at a clip reminiscent of the booming late 1990s.” Economic growth in the third-quarter was the highest in 11 years and is in stark contrast to Japan and countries in Europe that are currently “teetering on the edge of recessions.” Consumer spending increased by 3.2% in the third-quarter and accounts for about 2/3 of gross domestic product. Analysts also point to other factors that might have contributed to economic growth including lower levels of personal debt, decreasing oil prices, and a robust stock market.

According to The New York Times, President Obama’s executive action on immigration has spurred the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to seek 1,000 more employees. The “operational center” will be located in Northern Virginia and cost the government about $8 million a year in lease payments and $40 million for annual salaries. Although Republicans continue to oppose the legality of the executive action, federal employee hiring has been on the rise for more than a decade. Since 2001, the government has added about 180,000 federal jobs.

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