Today’s News & Commentary—February 9, 2016
The positive jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has triggered a requirement for more food stamp recipients to work in order to consider receiving the benefits, according to the Los Angeles Times. The work requirement is a legacy of President Clinton’s Welfare to Work law and applies to able-bodied individuals aged 18-49 without dependents in their homes. Since the 2008 economic crisis, many states have been granted waivers by the Department of Labor, but many waivers expired this month. Food banks in affected states are expecting greater demands on their resources, and some individuals in states with low food security may end up going hungry.
The Wall Street Journal provided an overview of the effects of illegal immigration on GDP and wages as a result of the sharp decrease in migrant workers in the state following passage of its tough immigration law. Economists of all political stripes agree that the state’s economy took a sizable hit as a result of the law. Those favoring stricter immigration laws, however, claimed that the law has led to reduced state expenditures on social services for undocumented workers and their families. They also said that the wages and unemployment numbers for native-born workers in low-skill jobs. Whether this trade-off was ultimately worth it is “the crux of the debate” among the economists.
The January jobs report also reported modest gains in union membership in the South, according to the Institute for Southern Studies. The small increase comes as unions have ramped up their efforts to organize in the traditionally hostile territory. Across thirteen southern states, the numbers grew from 2.2 million workers to 2.4 million workers, a change reflecting an increase from 5.2% to 5.5% of the workforce.
Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken introduced a bill in the senate to curb the use of arbitration agreements in consumer and employment contracts, according to the New York Times. The bill faces a virtually impossible path to enactment due to expected opposition from the business lobby.