July 4, 2015

Senator Portman Must Reconsider ‘Yes’ Vote on TPP Fast Track

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As the US Senate passes a bill allowing for fast tract authority on the controversial trade deal titled the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), Ohio finds itself, once again, on the brink of possibly damaging economic consequences. The TPP is a free trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim nations and is said to offer opportunities for economic growth in America and strategic leadership in Asia.

Republicans like Rob Portman hope to force the deal through to the President’s desk this week but have failed to mention its possible harmful ramifications for states like Ohio. Instead, Mr. Portman chooses to focus on campaign donations from pro-trade lobbies. Preceding the May 23rd vote to fast track TPP, Senator Portman claimed almost $120,000 in campaign donations from the US Business Coalition for TPP.

One only need to look back at the consequences of past free trade agreements to realize that the damage that future deals could cause for Ohio and America’s hard working middle class families far supersedes collections of campaign financing.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), for example, played a significant part in the loss of 323,308 manufacturing jobs in Ohio and nearly 5 million manufacturing jobs nationally. Furthermore, private sector manufacturing jobs in Ohio have declined from 23.4 percent to 14.9 percent in the NAFTA era.

Remaining manufacturing jobs and other similar paying positions were subject to trends of wage suppression. A report from the Economic Policy Institute suggests that increased free trade from NAFTA like deals has suppressed the wages of non-college educated workers around $1,800. Free trade has similar effects on small family farms with 12,000 small-scale farms going out of business since NAFTA’s implementation.

Consequences such as these cannot be ignored and our representatives in Washington D.C. must strive to acquire a better deal for middle class Americans.

While we can’t avoid international trade and the modern global economy, representatives like Mr. Portman must work harder to negotiate trade deals that do not crush middle class Americans instead of working to please pro-trade campaign donors. We therefore encourage Mr. Portman to revoke his support for the TPP and consider the ramifications of increased free trade on middle class America.

IO Analysis: The Benefits of Paid Parental Leave

reportimagesThe United States falls behind the rest of the world in providing workers with guaranteed paid parental leave. Only 13% of U.S. workers enjoy paid family leave benefits, and the number is much lower — 4% — among low-wage workers. Workers without access to paid leave are more likely to leave the workforce, stay out of work far longer, in many case relying on public assistance, costing taxpayers and the local economy all while reducing family economic security.

In Ohio, women make up nearly half of the state’s labor force. Paid parental leave policies are a critical way to keep our workforce and local economy strong. Our latest research looks at the state of paid parental leave and the many benefits it can offer.

Research Highlights

Paid parental leave policies have many benefits for women, families, employers and society as a whole. Among them include:

Strengthens Women and Families
  • The majority of young children depend on the income of working mothers, who are increasingly likely to be sole or primary breadwinners in their families. Paid maternity and paternity leave policies preserve income and increase health outcomes for women and their dependent children.
Reduces Gender and Economic Disparities
  • When taking leave without pay is the only option for a new parent, unmarried, nonwhite and less educated parents are the least likely to make use of this benefit. This relatively low level of leave-taking by less advantaged workers can create health and economic disparities for parents and children.
Improves Critical Health Outcomes
  • Longer leaves that result from the availability of paid time off have been shown to improve the health prospects of women and their babies. Rates of infant mortality, immunization and breastfeeding have all been seen to improve when women have access to paid leave during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Positive Impacts on the Local Economy
  • Paid leave policies for mothers and fathers increase the level of women’s employment and participation in the regional workforce, and contribute to higher levels of employment rates and wages for mothers in the years following childbirth. And by preserving family income, these policies also reduce demand for public assistance and social services.
A Stronger, More Productive Workforce
  • Paid leave policies have numerous benefits for local employers by improving employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity and helping employers compete for top talent.

Read the report: “IO Analysis – The Benefits of paid parental leave for women, families, employers and local communities

Minimum Wage Proposal Would Help Ohio Women and Families

On Thursday, Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Raise the Wage Act in Congress. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour and eliminate the tipped wage by 2020. The federal minimum wage would increase from $7.25 to $8 in 2016 (still below Ohio’s current minimum wage of $8.10), then by an additional $1 each year until 2020. After that, it would continue to rise as it would be indexed to the nation’s median wage.

The plan would raise the wage for over 1.4 million Ohio workers and add $4.3 billion to the state’s economy over five years. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reports that the legislation would result in a pay increase for nearly 29 percent of Ohio’s workforce, including 44 percent of African Americans and nearly a quarter of workers age 55 and older.

The proposal would be particularly meaningful for Ohio’s women and families. According to the EPI analysis, 62 percent of those who would see their wages go up are women. 43 percent of the state’s single moms would get a raise. And under a $12 minimum wage, 23 percent of the children in Ohio would see their family income grow.

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Raising the wage has the additional benefit of reducing reliance on public assistance. The UC Berkeley Labor Center estimates that taxpayers spend nearly $153 billion each year on public support for workers making poverty wages. Over half of fast-food workers or their dependents are enrolled in one of four major public assistance programs.

Download: Economic Policy Institute’s Ohio Minimum Wage Fact Sheet

 

 

Take Action to Support Paid Family Leave

reportimagesThe U.S. is one of only 3 countries in the world with no legal right to paid time off work for pregnancy, childbirth and infant care.  Only half of U.S. Workers are eligible for time off without pay.  As a result of the lack of a national policy, only 13 percent of workers enjoy any paid family leave benefits through their employers.

Last week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, an insurance program funded by payroll deductions that would fund paid time off for all workers, regardless of where they work.  Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has signed on as a cosponsor of S.786, but to date, Senator Rob Portman has not taken a position.

Ohio families shouldn’t have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one.  Sign our petition to tell Senator Portman to sign on as a cosponsor of the FAMILY Act and support Ohio’s working families.

State of the State in Wilmington

Research Overview

Gov. John Kasich has made Wilmington the site of his fifth State of the State address and has described Wilmington’s story of economic recovery as Ohio’s story of economic recovery.

While unemployment in Wilmington has dropped, it is important to look more closely at the local economic picture and how recent state policies have impacted this quintessential Ohio community.

5 Key Points

Read the full analysis: A Closer Look at How State Policies are Impacting Wilmington

The Kasich Economy: 4 Facts All Ohioans Need to Know

As Governor Kasich continues to insist that he and his allies have engineered an ‘Ohio comeback,” there are four facts  all Ohioans need to know.

Fact # 1: Ohio lags the rest of America in job creation.  Governor Kasich often boasts that Ohio has more jobs now than when Governor Strickland was in office. But since virtually every state has more jobs now than it did during the nation’s “Great Recession”, the real question is how Ohio compares to the rest of the country. Ohio not only ranks 41st among all the states in job creation, but has lagged the national average for 20 straight months. And, unlike the rest of America – which has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession and then some, Ohio is still roughly 140,000 jobs short of where we were in 2007 before the national downturn began.

Fact # 2: Virtually all the jobs created under Kasich have been low-wage. Although Kasich promised that his privatized development agency, JobsOhio, would move “at the speed of business” to create good-paying jobs in the economy of tomorrow, virtually none of the jobs created during his administration pay enough to support a family.  An August 20 analysis by Innovation Ohio found that Ohio’s economy now has more people working in low-paying jobs than in occupations that pay medium or high wages. And an August 31 study by the Cleveland-based think tank Policy Matters-Ohio found that in 2013, Ohio’s median wage was just $15.81 per hour, 90 cents below the national median wage.

Fact # 3: Under Kasich, median income has fallen by $9,000 per household.  An August Associated Press analysis found that Ohio’s real (adjusted for inflation) median household income fell from $54,000 in 2007 to $45,000 in 2012 – a far steeper drop than for the nation as a whole. The AP study also found that nearly 50% of Ohio households are now living paycheck-to-paycheck, and 16% of Ohioans have fallen into poverty.

Fact # 4: The benefits from Kasich’s income tax cuts have overwhelmingly gone to the wealthy. Under the three income tax cuts that have taken effect since Kasich assumed office (including the “final installment” of the 2005 income tax cut that Strickland postponed during the Great Recession), the richest 1% has, on average, enjoyed an annual tax cut of $10,000.  Middle-income Ohioans have received less than $100, and the poorest Ohioans have seen a slight tax increase, thanks to the higher sales and property taxes enacted under Gov. Kasich.  This does not include the lower inheritance taxes now paid by the wealthy due to Kasich’s repeal of Ohio’s estate tax. The estate tax applied to only the richest 7% of Ohioans.

For most Ohioans, Governor Kasich’s so-called ‘Ohio Miracle’ has been a mirage. We’re creating fewer jobs than most other states, the ones we’re creating don’t pay a living wage, and the Governor’s income tax cuts have only served to exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and the rest. Surely our state can do better. [Read more…]

Labor Day Statement from Innovation Ohio President

For Immediate Release: August 29, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Labor Day Statement from Innovation Ohio President
Anti-labor policies, tax-shifting trend increases income inequality and threatens Ohio’s middle class, says McCarthy

COLUMBUS – In advance of the Labor Day weekend, Innovation Ohio President Keary McCarthy released the following statement:

“Labor Day is a celebration of the American labor movement and the workers who fought for it. Every year, we honor the contributions of labor unions because they built the greatest middle class the world had ever seen. But every year it also becomes increasingly difficult to think about the middle-class without considering the sobering fact that it’s disappearing. Growing income inequality is one of our nation’s and our state’s biggest challenges.

“Over the last several decades, the wealthiest Ohioans have seen their earnings grow by 70 percent while working- and middle-class families have seen their earnings decrease.  Nationally, as labor union participation has declined over the last fifty years, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened.

“Ohio’s elected leaders must make it a priority to reverse these trends. Stop making it harder for Ohioans to participate in labor unions. Stop the tax-shifting trend that benefits those at the very top at the expense of everyone else. Without pursuing these basic fixes to Ohio’s economy and a policy agenda that puts the middle class first, Ohio’s income inequality will grow and the promise of the American dream will continue to slip away.” [Read more…]

Ohio’s Low-Wage Recovery

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Research Overview

While much has been made of state job gains and reductions in the state’s unemployment rate, Ohio’s economy employs nearly 140,000 workers than it did prior to the 2008 recession. Innovation Ohio sought to explore the jobs that have been created during the state’s recovery and see whether they are comparable to those that were lost.

By reviewing occupational employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007 to 2013, we found that:

  • Prior to the start of the recession in 2007, 33% of Ohioans were employed in occupations that pay, on average, more than $20 per hour, 39% in jobs paying between $13.40 and $19.99, and just 28% in jobs paying $7.00-$13.39 hourly.
  • At the end of 2013, low-wage occupations had jumped to 36% of Ohio employment, while medium-paying jobs fell to 34% and high-wage occupations dropped to 31%.

Digging deeper into the numbers, we found that all the job gains in Ohio have come from low-wage occupations. Employment in high and medium wage occupations declined during the recession and continued to fall as the recovery began. Low wage professions now represent 36% of the state’s employment, up from 28% in 2007.

Read the report.

Read the press release.

Acknowledgements

Heather Madonia, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University served as principal researcher in preparing this analysis.

Kasich Recovery Yields Low-Wage Jobs

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2014
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

IO: Kasich Recovery Yields Low-Wage Jobs
Think Tank Study Says High & Medium Wage Jobs Decrease; Newly Created Jobs “Don’t Pay Enough to Support a Family.”

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new study today which finds that for the first time since 2007, Ohio now has more low wage jobs than medium or high wage jobs.  Using Occupational Employment data from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study also found that while 9 out of 10 Ohio jobs lost during the Great Recession paid medium or high wages, low-paying jobs account for virtually all Ohio job growth during the recovery.

Specifically:

  • Prior to the start of the recession in 2007, 33% of Ohio jobs paid more than $20 per hour, 39% paid between $13.40 and $19.99, and just 28% paid $7.00-$13.39 hourly.
  • At the end of 2013, low-wage positions had jumped to 36% of Ohio jobs, while medium-paying jobs fell to 34% and high-wage jobs dropped to 31%.
  • As a share of the state’s economy, high and medium wage jobs dropped from 72% in 2007 to just 64% in 2013.  Low wage jobs grew from 28% to 36% during that period.

Said IO President Keary McCarthy:

“This report makes clear that Gov. Kasich’s handling of Ohio’s economic recovery warrants serious scrutiny. Not only has the recovery from the great recession been slow and inconsistent, but for the first time since 2007 low-wage jobs now comprise the highest share of the job market.”

Added IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Last month, Ohio led the nation in job losses.  Ohio’s job creation rate ranks 41st and has lagged the national average for 20 straight months. Unlike the rest of America, Ohio is still 140,000 jobs short of where we were before the recession hit.  And if all this isn’t bad enough, today we learn that the few jobs Gov. Kasich has managed to create don’t pay a living wage or enough to sustain a family. Some miracle. Some recovery. “

Read the report.

Ohio Ranks 32nd Among States in Job Creation

February employment data for state and local areas was released this morning and reveals that Ohio continues to lag most of the nation in creating new jobs. In February, 5.28 million Ohioans were employed, which is 50,000 more than the 5.23 million Ohioans employed at the same time in 2014. But it represents just 1% annual growth, which ranks Ohio just 32nd among all 50 states for job growth in the past year:

50-state rankings

This is a drop from Ohio’s rank of 27 in last month’s tally of 12-month job growth.

Governor Kasich continues to insist that another income tax cut is what Ohio needs to attract business and create jobs, but the data do not support that. Looking at job growth from February, 2013 to February, 2014, Ohio was outperformed by six of the ten states identified by the conservative Tax Foundation as having the “worst” business tax climates (look no further than high-tax California, which ranked #8 in creating new jobs).

It’s clear that tax rates in Ohio are not the only factor holding us back.