Today’s News & Commentary — September 3
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel took the first step towards securing a higher minimum wage this week by signing an executive order requiring Chicago contractors and subcontractors to pay workers $13/hour. The order is only expected to affect about 1,000 of the approximately 400,000 workers who make the minimum wage in Chicago. Emanuel has proposed an ordinance that would raise the entire city’s minimum wage to $13/hour by 2018; a vote on that ordinance is expected after the November elections.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government announced a joint initiative with the government of Myanmar to improve labor standards there and help U.S. companies avoid labor market pitfalls while investing. The U.S. eased economic sanctions against the country in 2012. Myanmar is looking to update its labor laws to encourage foreign investment, after “[h]uman rights groups and foreign governments, including the U.S., have [expressed concern] over alleged human rights violations, including allegations of forced and underage labor in [Myanmar’s] underdeveloped economy.”
The New York Times reports that a new OECD report found that the current high unemployment rates in much of the developed world are the result of the slow economic recovery, rather than a lack of skilled workers. According to the article, “The findings could hold significant implications for policy makers aiming to reduce unemployment, while adding fuel to arguments of economists who say that eurozone governments need to abandon austerity budgeting and instead take steps to stimulate their economies.”
Thomas Edsall writes on the New York Times opinion page that political polarization has damaged our ability to examine objectively the root causes of poverty. He argues that doing so is necessary to mount a united domestic response to poverty and inequality, problems which, because of a globalizing workforce, are becoming increasingly harder for American to remedy unilaterally.