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American Workers Face Shifting Labor Market

Posted September 7th, 2015 at 1:14 pm (UTC-5)
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Help For the Way We Work Now

Sara Horowitz – The New York Times

While the next president will confront a host of important labor and economic issues, one is poised to be a particularly significant factor in 2016 and beyond: the freelance economy.For better or worse, freelancing is becoming the new normal in America. There are now 53 million freelance workers nationwide, according to a 2014 study that the Freelancers Union helped commission….

We are in the midst of a historic shift that rivals the transition from farms to factories. And yet, despite making up more than one-third of the American work force, freelancers don’t have access to the essential benefits and protections that come with traditional employment. This is the central challenge that our political leaders have failed to address.

President Obama’s Labor Day remarks:

On Labor Day, Here Are 5 Ways To Help Labor

Jonathan Cohn – The Huffington Post

The economy is recovering…. But the employment-to-population ratio, the economic measure many economists prefer, still hasn’t returned to its pre-recession levels. Wages aren’t rising that quickly, either.

Put it all together and you have a workforce that is doing better than it was, but not as well as it could be…. If lawmakers want to help workers, they have options.

Raise the minimum wage. The simplest case for a higher minimum wage is that its value has fallen, relative to productivity. You can see it in the graph below, from the Center on Economic Policy Research. ….

Provide paid family leave. In pretty much every developed country, every worker has the right for an extended paid leave in order to deal with a serious medical problem, to take care of a newborn, or to take care of a sick family member. The exception is the U.S.

U.S. Labor May Be Lifting Its Head

Alfred R. Hunt – Bloomberg View

Labor’s clout in Washington is a shadow of what it used to be: Both houses of Congress voted to give President Barack Obama greater authority to negotiate trade agreements, in defiance of labor opposition, and initiatives such as raising the national minimum wage are stalled….

President Barack Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast in Boston on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015. (Reuters)

President Barack Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast in Boston on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015. (Reuters)

There are signs of change, however. Obama has issued several employee-friendly executive orders, including one that enables salaried workers to qualify for more overtime pay. And the president’s appointees on the National Labor Relations Board voted to give workers more bargaining power.

Presidential candidates, mainly Democrats but some Republicans, too, are talking about addressing wage stagnation and income inequality. A recent Gallup poll shows rising support for unions, though the levels remain considerably lower than 40 years ago.

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