Weekend News & Commentary — October 23, 2016

Published October 23rd, 2016 -  - 10.23.161


The Hamilton Project released a series of new research papers last week related to the re-integration of formerly incarcerated people. In one of the papers, Jennifer Doleac proposes five principles for policy makers to adopt in order to increase access to the low-skill labor market for individuals with criminal records. These include an increase in work-readiness programs and ways to communicate that work readiness to potential employers. Doleac also analyzes the most recent studies on Ban the Box legislation, and concludes that, perversely, “racial discrimination becomes more likely in the wake of policies that make it more difficult for firms that desire criminal record information to obtain it.” Furthermore, she writes, Ban the Box tends to disadvantage minority applicants without a criminal record, because of negative assumptions about those applicants based on race. For more on Ban the Box legislation, read OnLabor’s recent coverage of the issue here, here, and here.

This election cycle has featured seemingly endless talk about NAFTA and manufacturing jobs, and Donald Trump has promised to “take our jobs back from China and all of these other countries.” However, many have pointed out that those jobs have not, and probably will not, come back. So what will happen to America’s manufacturing towns? Politico tells the uplifting story of how Winston-Salem, NC, the former home of R.J. Reynolds, bounced back from the tobacco company’s departure through investments in technology and medicine. Instead of manufacturing cigarettes, the city is now manufacturing human organs.

And lastly, in a tale of two union-less positions, the New York Times reports that Spanish-language soap opera stars in the U.S. are paid far less than industry standard, because the industry’s union (SAG-Aftra) does not represent actors on the Spanish-speaking shows. So at least one telenovela star, Pablo Azar, has resorted to driving for Uber when he’s off the set.

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