News & Commentary

February 13, 2018

On Monday, President Trump’s administration “proposed deep spending cuts” in the U.S. Labor Department’s budget for the second consecutive year.  The administration requested a 21% budget reduction over current levels for fiscal year 2019.  In particular, reductions in funding for job training and placement programs, training and employment service programs, and Job Corps programs for at-risk youth were identified as targets of the cuts.  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, emphasized that the cuts were made in light of existing spending caps that were in place prior to the two-year budget deal Congress agreed to last week to raise those limits.  A subsequent post by the Labor Department indicated additional spending pursuant to the raised spending caps, which would restore much of the training and placement funding.  The Reuters coverage of the proposed cuts notes that though presidential budgets are rarely enacted by Congress, they indicate the White House’s priorities.

AThe Hill, Reid Wilson discusses the “impending skills gap” the U.S. economy faces.  According to Wilson, “[t]he combination of a generational sea change in the workforce and a technological revolution in the economy is conspiring to create a skills gap that could leave jobs unfilled.”  As evidence of this phenomenon, Wilson cites research by the Brookings Institution indicating that more than 100 million workers have jobs requiring “moderate or high digital knowledge,” as well as the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimate that the economy will need as many as 100,000 new information technology workers annually over the next ten years, but that only about 60,000 such workers currently enter the workforce each year.

The New York Times reports that Lloyds and RBS, Britain’s two largest banks, announced that they would set targets for ethnic minority representation in top roles.  The policy was adopted in response to criticisms of opaqueness regarding workplace diversity at major UK companies.  RBS’ head of inclusion emphasized that its customer base was more diverse than the company, and “[t]o serve our customers well we need to truly represent the diversity of the communities we operate in.”

Forbes article by Maury Brown discusses the history of labor disputes and league collusion in professional baseball.  The 2018 offseason has apparently been marked by tension between the MLB league office and the MLB Players Association.  “The environment has brought up a word that has a dark history within baseball: collusion.”  Brown explains that “collusion” is essentially a four-letter-word in baseball, but that labor deals since 1997 have included mechanisms to limit the opportunity for it—for example, terms creating hard caps on international signings and the luxury tax.

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