Analysis

Unemployment
A Better Metric to Steer Macroeconomic Policy
By Philip Cornell

Fears of inflation mean some are encouraging the Federal Reserve to act. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged this when he said during a November 3 press briefing: “Policymakers will be watching employment levels, labor force participation, wages and quit rates, among other indicators, to make a judgment on the labor market.”

The Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) has studied the metrics with which the Federal Reserve and other policymakers use to view the labor market, revealing problems with the status quo. This article explains those problems and proposes a new metric policymakers can look to in order to more accurately assesses the economy.

November 24, 2021
Earnings
Why Are We Surprised that Hospitality Workers Are Moving to Other Sectors?
By Diana Dayoub

Hospitality and leisure workers made headlines recently seeking higher pay and better work conditions in other sectors. Companies in these industries reacted by offering astounding increases in pay to lure workers back into these jobs, with the hourly rate averaging $18.7 for the period of June-September of this year, a record high for the industry and an increase of 10.7% from March 2020. It remains to be seen whether this financial incentive will work, but I argue that businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector ought to consider more than just pay if they wish to keep their employees.

October 22, 2021
Earnings
The Healthcare Con: How Health Insurers Are Hijacking Workers’ Wage Gains
By Philip Cornell

American workers typically receive health insurance from their employer, a system that has been ingrained in our society since WWII. But this concept is outdated, and there are two significant reasons why the system needs to change.

First, employer-provided healthcare has allowed, if not facilitated, an exorbitant increase in health insurance costs, without a commensurate increase in benefits or better healthcare outcomes. No doubt, this is in part because the principal buyer of the good is not the receiver of the good. Thus, the real costs are somewhat obscured from the end consumer.

Second, dual earning American households lose out on savings When family healthcare is selected by one member of a dual-income household, the business of the other earner saves money, but the savings are not passed on to the household.  

Ultimately, we believe employers should not pay healthcare companies. Instead, they should give this money directly to their employees to buy their own healthcare. The reasons for this proposed shift are explained in detail in this article.

September 28, 2021
Earnings
Higher Wages Won’t Break the Bottom Line
By Philip Cornell

Over the last few months, we’ve seen a lot of news about low-wage workers demanding pay increases. Putting aside that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in more than a decade, many economic pundits say that to cover increased wages, businesses will raise prices. If price increases are widespread, then the purchasing power of the worker doesn’t change. Workers will demand another wage increase, prices will rise again, and we will have fallen into what economists deem a “wage-price spiral.”

At the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP), we have taken a close look at corporate profits versus employee wages over the last 20 years. Our analysis shows that wage increases need not spark inflation. Corporate profits and cash reserves mean that industry can and should pay their workers more. Here’s a closer look at what we’ve found.

August 24, 2021
Unemployment
Real Recovery Means Better Jobs and More Jobs
By Diana Dayoub

As we look to post-pandemic America, it’s important that job quality is as much a public policy priority as quantity. Recent past history tells us this is not always the case. To some degree, that’s understandable because the economic indicator we rely on to explain worker wages gives us a distorted view of how they are really doing.

Following the Great Recession, the conversation was largely about quantity of jobs. In February 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).(1) The $831 billion bill outlined job creation and economic recovery objectives through a plethora of channels including extending tax credits to those impacted by the recession, investments in transportation and environmental protection, among others. One of the key provisions was to get people off the unemployment payroll. The Office of the President declared ARRA a success, citing substantially positive quarterly growth in real GDP and payroll employment.(2)

August 23, 2021

True Rate of Unemployment by State

August 2020

Select any state or percentage to see the most recent True Rate of Unemployment.