A story about the high unemployment rate and how unions and Democrats are failing to make it a bigger political issue mentions various plans to generate jobs in the recovering economy. One proposal offered by Robert Pollin, economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, calls for creating 18 million new jobs by 2012 through public investment financed by $700 billion in bank loans and an equal amount of federal spending. The jobs would be in retrofitting homes for energy efficiency, conservation projects, creating public art and providing social and educational services. (In These Times, 6/28/10)
Hwok-Aun Lee, a UMass Amherst doctoral student in economics, writes a column supporting the idea of establishing a minimum wage in Malaysia. The column responds to two previous pieces that opposed the idea. (Aliran.com, 6/28/10)
Lee Badgett, economics professor, director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration and research director at the Williams Institute, is cited in an article about changes to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The U.S. Department of Labor has ruled that FMLA will now allow employees to take unpaid leave to care for children of same-sex partners. Badgett’s study concludes that up to 100,000 children in 50,000 families could be affected by the ruling. (Gltnewsnow.com, 6/23/10)
Lee Badgett, economics professor and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, says it’s unclear whether there will be a public backlash if a federal judge overturns California’s ban on same-sex marriage. She points to a recent Gallup poll that shows a statistical increase in the number of people who say gay and lesbian relations are “morally acceptable” or “morally wrong.” The difference in the latest poll has increased and seems to indicate that the number of people who find gay and lesbian relations “morally wrong” is declining over time. (Keennewsservice.com, 6/27/10)
Robert Pollin, economics professor and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, writes an op-ed in the New York Daily Newssupporting legislation that would create a living wage law in that city. He says paying workers a minimum of $10 per hours does not artificially boost prices and hasn’t been shown to reduce the number of lower-wage jobs in cities that have adopted this policy. Overall, Pollin argues, living wage laws have not harmed low-wage workers or had unintended economic consequences. (New York Daily News, 6/27/10)
Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, writes in the New York Times Economix blog about differing opinions about how to deal with the high levels of unemployment. She notes that the issue is becoming politically polarized with conservatives arguing against extending benefits and more liberal politicians seeking to extend jobless benefits. She also says some people contend that wages in the U.S. are too high and need to be adjusted downward and people who are out of work need to lower their expectations and take any available work. A columnist writing from Michigan, which is experiencing high levels of unemployment, cites Folbre’s views in a piece about why some commentators and officials actually blame the unemployed for their situations. (New York Times, Mlive.com, 6/21/10)
Michael Ash, UMass Amherst economics professor, was recently interviewed by The Real News Network about his work as the co-director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). According to Ash, about 4.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment every year from US-based corporations. Top offenders include Bayer Corporation and Exxon Mobil. The Top 100 Toxic Air Polluters list, published yearly, is a reminder of this constant amount of pollution. Additionally, this lists also assesses the substantial disparity in exposure to these toxics. For example, almost two-thirds of Exxon Mobil’s toxic burden falls on people who are nonwhite, and about a quarter of their toxic burden falls on people living below the poverty line. (Therealnews.com, 6/17/10)
UMass Amherst economics alumnus, Curtis Haynes Jr. ’81, ’93G, was appointed to the City of Buffalo’s Common Council on January 14, 2010. He represents the Ellicott District and his current term runs through the end of the year. Dr. Haynes is also an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Buffalo State College.
Richard Wolff, UMass Amherst emeritus economics professor, was recently interviewed by Harry Konstantinidis, UMass Amherst economics doctoral candidate, for the Greek newspaper, Avgi. During the interview Wolff addresses questions about the economic recovery in the United States, noting that the U.S. should take advantage of the opportunity to form communist class-structured enterprises. He also discusses the ongoing financial crisis in Greece and points out that part of the reason Greece has had a hard time securing additional loans, and the reason they are paying such a higher interest rate for the loans they do secure, is because lenders put much of their money in the U.S.
Interview with Athens, Greece, daily newspaper, Avgi
June 6, 2010
The US government borrowed trillions of dollars to rescue US capitalism. Suddenly, private lenders around the world realized that they could put all of the money they wanted to lend to governments in the one safest country, the US. There was suddenly no need and no willingness to lend to other countries that were riskier borrowers than the mighty US. It was not that Greece or Portugal or Spain had become that much riskier than they had been last year. It was rather that the capitalist crisis in the US had changed the global credit system in ways that brought loanable funds to the US and made them much, much costlier for those other countries. Credit markets were working to shift the costs of the crisis from the US to Europe.
Nancy Folbre, economics, writes in the Economix blog in the New York Times about sagging job and income growth in the middle class in recent decades. She says this trend threatens to derail reaching the American dream for many families. (New York Times, 6/14/10)
The fact that middle-wage jobs, rather than low-wage jobs, are declining suggests it is not the overall level of skill but the specific type of skill that matters. In fact, skill itself may be less important than other characteristics of a task, such as how easily it can be automated or outsourced at some point in the future.
Alan Blinder of Princeton observesthat some jobs are simply more outsourceable than others because they don’t require physical proximity or person-specific skills. The combination of rapid technological change and increased global trade in services has effectively devalued skills that many individuals spent considerable time and effort to acquire.
Consider, for instance, the possible extinction of travel agents and the gloomy job prospects facing journalists. The expansion of online education sites replete with videotaped lectures by superstar professors will almost certainly reduce demand for a skill I labored to develop for many years — lecturing to large classes of economics majors.