News & Commentary

May 12, 2015

A study reveals rampant wage theft in the Massachusetts construction industry, The Boston Globe reports. Many of these workers are immigrants hired by subcontractors as “independent contractors,” in an attempt to skirt “overtime and health insurance rules and to avoid payroll and insurance taxes.” According to Tom Juravich, a UMass Amherst labor professor and the lead author of a paper detailing wage violations, with the “new model” of the industry “the assumption is that the great majority of subcontractors is going to use undocumented workers and is going to cheat them out of wages.” In a move aiming at cracking down on these illegal and exploitative practices, legislation filed last month in the House and Senate “would give the state more power to weed out corrupt employers.” The law has two key policy reforms: First, it holds “lead employers responsible for the wage violations of their subcontractors.” Second, it “gives the state the power to issue stop-work orders at job sites where workers are being misclassified or getting paid in cash.”

This spring, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest cohort of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Millennials are adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015, and according to Pew’s analysis, more than one-in-three American workers today are of this generation. This cohort’s growth is likely to continue, considering the impact of immigration and the many Millennials soon to move out of the “age of transition.” The largest share of immigrants coming to the United States are in their young working years, over half of newly arrived immigrant workers in the past five years have been Millennials according to Pew Research Center. Further, a large number of Millennials are between 18 and 24 years old now. Education cuts down labor market participation for this group during these years. However, this group is getting older, and more and more Millennials will be, or are, looking for jobs. This is news that is not new to recent or soon to be graduates.

Los Angeles lawmakers will be considering the question of increasing the municipal minimum wage at a special hearing Wednesday afternoon, The L.A. Times reports. Business leaders have “complained that the city is rushing the process” and did not give enough notice about the special hearings agenda, which was released midday today. L.A. City Officials are widely expected to pass “some kind of wage boost this spring,” but the debate is in the details, specially, how quickly the increases will be implemented and what kinds of employers will be exempted. This meeting is the latest in a string of hearings across the city about the possible economic effects of the plan. While the Wednesday hearing is “expected to advance the discussion to the next phase [of] deciding the details of the minimum wage plan,” this meeting is not the final step in the process.

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