Category Archives: Labor

Higher minimum wage did not reduce restaurant employment after all (updated)

The Arizona Restaurant Association (ARA) is the principal chamber of commerce organization that has sought to defeat and to undermine Arizona’s Minimum Wage Act first approved by voters in 2006, and reaffirmed by voters in 2016.

The ARA was behind HB 2579, our Tea-Pulican legislature’s attempt to gut the 2006 Minimum Wage Act by narrowly redefining “wages.” The ARA participated in a failed legal challenge to the sufficiency of the 2016 Minimum Wage Initiative, and after the Minimum Wage Initiative was passed by voters, the ARA participated in the failed legal challenge to overturn the will of the voters.

The ARA’s position is always that the minimum wage (most restaurant workers are paid a sub-minimum wage and must rely on the kindness of strangers for tips) is devastating to restaurant businesses. The ARA always claims that a higher minimum wage will reduce employment in the restaurant sector.

While some marginal businesses teetering on failure may have closed due to higher wage costs, those businesses have been replaced by others that are competitive at the higher wage costs. And isn’t that what “creative destruction” in a free market economy is all about?

Howard Fischer reports today that employment in the restaurant sector has gone up since passage of the increase in the minimum wage. Food sector job growth outpaces state since wage hike on Jan. 1:

Remember those claims during the Proposition 206 debate that increasing the minimum wage would lead to less hiring and people being laid off from low-wage jobs?

The latest unemployment statistics suggest that hasn’t happened.

In fact, the data from the state Office of Economic Opportunity shows that the number of people working in bars and restaurants last month not only increased but did so at a rate six times higher than the economy as a whole. Employers who run food service and drinking establishments added 7,800 new workers compared with February, a 3.3 percent boost.

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#AZ House Democrats Hold Budget Town Hall on Saturday

Arizona Legislature, Democratic Caucus

Arizona Legislature, Democratic Caucus

Arizona House Reps. Randy Friese, Kirsten Engel, Isela Blanc and I will be participating in a public town hall, organized by the Arizona House Democratic Caucus, to discuss the budget proposals. The event will be held today, April 8, at the University of Arizona Modern Languages Building, Room 350. Doors open at 12:30.

We have seen Governor Doug Ducey’s budget, majority party’s budget, and the Democrats’ “Minority Report.” Come to the town hall and learn the details. The governor and the Legislative Republicans agree on some principles, but there are many decisions in play right now. Rep. Friese will be making the formal presentation, and the rest of us will be there to answer questions.

Here are some background links:
AZ Legislative Democrats FY18 Education Policy and Fiscal Priorities
Arizona House Democrats Say Their Budget Priorities Are Ignored By Republicans
ICYMI: Arizona Budget Town Hall in Flagstaff

Cross-posted from PowersForThePeople.net.

March jobs report: a ‘Trump slump’?

Our always insecure Twitter-troll-in-chief, Donald J. Trump, has an annoying habit of claiming credit for creating jobs that he did not create.

Trump hadn’t been in office long enough to have done anything meaningful to take credit for the January and February job reports that showed continued strong job growth.

But after 75 days of non-stop scandals and rank incompetence, he can take credit for the March jobs report which shows an apparent “Trump slump” in the rate of job creation. Steve Benen has the monthly jobs report, U.S. job market cools in March, growth reaches a 10-month low:

Donald Trump and the White House were eager to take credit for the strong job reports in January and February. Team Trump will probably be a bit more circumspect about the totals for March.

MarchJobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs in March, less than half the number created in the preceding months. The unemployment rate, however, inched lower to 4.5%, the lowest since the summer of 2007, before the start of the Great Recession.

As for the revisions, both January’s and February’s totals were revised down a little, and combined they show a net loss of 38,000 jobs.

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(Update) Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Another in a series of posts about the technology tsunami rapidly transforming the labor force.

The Washington Post this week has a couple of interesting reports on jobs affected by the Technology Revolution, and the economic disruption it is having on society.

First, Jef Guo writes at the Wonkblog, We’re so unprepared for the robot apocalypse:

Economists have long argued that automation, not trade, is responsible for the bulk of the six million jobs shed by the manufacturing sector over the last 25 years. Now, they have a put a precise figure on some of the losses.

Industrial robots alone have eliminated up to 670,000 American jobs between 1990 and 2007, according to new research from MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Boston University’s Pascual Restrepo.

The number is stunning on the face of it, and many have interpreted the study as an indictment of technological change — a sign that “robots are winning the race for American jobs” (Clair Cain Miller, The Upshot at The New York Times). But the bigger takeaway is that the nation has been ill-equipped to deal with the upheaval caused by automation.

The researchers estimate that half of the job losses resulted from robots directly replacing workers. The rest of the jobs disappeared from elsewhere in the local community. It seems that after a factory sheds workers, that economic pain reverberates, triggering further unemployment at, say, the grocery store or the neighborhood car dealership.

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Chamber of Commerce organizations continue their assault on worker’s benefits in court

The Chamber of Commerce organizations lost their battle to overturn Prop. 206, the 2016 minimum wage and paid time off initiative in court, but they are not done using their lickspittle servants in Arizona’s Tea-Publican controlled state legislature to try to reverse citizens initiatives voters approved for paid time off and worker’s benefits.

Howard Fischer reports, State seeks to block cities from regulating private workers ‘benefits’:

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is asking a judge to rule that the word “benefits” in a voter-approved measure is not the same as “fringe benefits.”

And the goal of this judicial war of words is a bid by Brnovich to block local governments from telling private companies what benefits they have to offer their workers.

Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell, writing on behalf of Brnovich, is trying to preserve a 2016 measure [HB 2579] adopted by Republican legislators to block local governments from telling private companies everything from how much time off they will offer workers to vacation mandates and even how far ahead of time workers need to be told of schedule changes.

Note: Both the Minimum Wage Act, Prop. 202, approved by voters in 2006, and Prop. 206 approved by voters in 2016, provide for local governments being able to require “benefits” for employees. Prop. 206 was specifically designed to supersede HB 2579 by mandating paid time off benefits.

I explained this lawsuit last year. Arizona sued for unconstitutional attempt to preempt the Arizona Minimum Wage Act.

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Nevada Becomes 36th State to Ratify ERA. Is Arizona Next? (video)

Pamela Powers Hannley on ERA

“Arizona, I’m looking at you” to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, says Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley on the occasion of Nevada’s passage of the ERA.

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was proposed in eight states in 2017: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois. On March 22, 2017– the 45th anniversary of Congress starting the ratification process in 1972– Nevada became the 36th state in the US to ratify the ERA.

To make the ERA the next amendment to the US Constitution, we need two more states to ratify it and the Congress to extend the deadline, which they have done before.

On the Floor of the Arizona House on Wednesday, when I announced the ERA’s success in Nevada, I said, “Arizona, I’m looking at you.”

Arizona women deserve equality and equal pay for equal work. We won’t get that until we pass the Equal Rights Amendment because the ERA puts teeth in the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

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