Weekend News & Commentary — March 19–20, 2016
The New York Times reports that voters and workers believe international trade costs the American economy more jobs than it creates, a belief that has manifested itself in the polls over the last few weeks. Last month, Carrier announced it would be moving its factory, with all 1,400 jobs manufacturing furnaces and heating equipment, to Mexico. In Mexico, workers earn about $19 a day, which is less than what many American assembly line workers earn per hour. Many of these workers can’t resist the allure of Donald Trump, who made the Carrier issue a centerpiece of his speeches almost immediately. The Times connects the issue to international trade; while global trade has made goods more affordable and advanced the U.S. economy, it has also led to a drop in domestic manufacturing jobs.
This weekend, the New York Times looks into the gender pay gap, which, despite women’s increased education, experience, and ambition, persists: women’s median annual earnings remain about 20 percent below men’s. Much of the pay gap can be attributed to the difference between occupations and industries in which men and women work. As one study shows, as women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines. The Times tracks several professions in which the trend is clear. The Times suggests gender bias plays a role in these wage declines, and concludes “work done by women simply isn’t valued as highly.”
Earlier this week, Walmart became one of the last retail giants to end Sunday premium pay, according to the Washington Post. To compensate workers for the change, employees who have worked for Walmart received a one-time bump in their paychecks. In the 1960s, 34 states had “blue laws,” prohibiting work altogether on Sundays. As these laws changed, employers often paid employees more on Sundays to get them to come to work. In recent years, however, weekend shopping has increased, the labor market has loosened, and the meaning of Sunday as a day of rest has changed. Only two states still require retailers to pay time and a half on Sundays: Rhode Island and Massachusetts.