WBEZ | Economic Policy Institute http://www.wbez.org/tags/economic-policy-institute Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CEOs at largest restaurants earn 733 times the minimum wage http://www.wbez.org/news/ceos-largest-restaurants-earn-733-times-minimum-wage-107989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Resturaunt Workers_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-2012-extraordinarily-high/" target="_blank">national study</a>&nbsp;from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute shows <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/restaurant-ceos-vs-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">CEOs at the largest restaurants earned 788 times more than minimum wage workers</a>, like bussers and servers. The report says, &ldquo;These corporate CEOs earn more on the first morning of the year than a minimum wage worker will earn over the course of a full year.&rdquo;</p><p>Astar Herndon works for<a href="http://rocunited.org/chicago/" target="_blank"> Restaurant Opportunities Center United in Chicago</a>, a group that organizes restaurant workers.</p><p>&ldquo;If you are able to pay CEO&rsquo;s this high a wage, increasing the tipped minimum wage could be sustained. We&rsquo;ve always know that, but this data proves it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Illinois Restaurant Association opposes raising the minimum wage. The organization said the industry is still reeling from the economic crisis and expects to be hit by hard by the Affordable Care Act as it takes effect. &nbsp;It says raising the minimum wage would force some restaurants to lay off workers.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ceos-largest-restaurants-earn-733-times-minimum-wage-107989 Study finds ample U.S. graduates to fill STEM jobs http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-ample-us-graduates-fill-stem-jobs-106847 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_RMTip21.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As Congress considers <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/686529-immigration-border-security-economic-opportunity.html" target="_blank">a makeover of the country&rsquo;s immigration policies</a>, they&rsquo;ll discuss an expansion of the H-1B temporary visa program for high-skilled foreign nationals. The H-1B program is popular among employers, including several in Illinois, who have long asserted that U.S. colleges and universities are not producing enough graduates in the science and technology fields.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/" target="_blank">a new study from the Economic Policy Institute</a>, a Washington-based non-profit which receives about 30 percent of its funding from labor unions, finds that there are more domestic graduates in those fields than the market can accommodate. The study looks over time at domestic graduates in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (or STEM), as well as temporary guest worker inflows on the H-1B, L-1, and Optional Practical Training visas, where large shares of visa holders work in IT jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;There are, as we found before, a large supply of STEM graduates,&rdquo; said Hal Salzman, a professor at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the report. &ldquo;We just can&rsquo;t see in the numbers a failure of U.S. colleges and universities to produce sufficient supply,&rdquo; he said. Salzman co-authored the paper with professors Daniel Kuehn of American University and B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University.</p><p>H-1B workers account for thousands of jobs in Greater Chicago, which historically <a href="http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/2011AR_FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">has been one of the top five hubs in the nation for workers on that visa</a>. In federal fiscal year 2011 more than 11,000 skilled workers came to Chicago on H-1B visas, with India-based IT consulting company Infosys employing nearly one in ten of them as computer programmers. Suburban Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg also accounted for an additional 4,300 H-1B workers. Average wages for H-1B workers in these cities ranged between $63,000 and $69,000.</p><p>The study finds that the domestic supply of students in STEM fields responded to industry demand as expected during the 1990s and into the early 2000s, but that a shift occurred in 2004 when companies began shifting their search for talent overseas.</p><p>&ldquo;If you look at what happened in the lead up to the dot-com bubble to the peak, you can see that wages rose steeply, unemployment was fairly low, right up until the 2001 peak, and the result was that the number of students pursuing computer science overall doubled,&rdquo; said Salzman, &ldquo;it seems that students are very responsive to market signals.&rdquo;</p><p>The authors find, however, that after the recovery from the dot-com recession, employment in the IT sector began picking up, but wage growth did not resume. They attribute this to an increasing reliance on foreign workers for those jobs. &ldquo;The guest worker supply, understandably, coming from low-wage countries, is very plentiful, (and) will continue almost despite whatever wage levels are here because they&rsquo;re still better than what (they) would be in their home country,&rdquo; said Salzman.</p><p>One result of the divergence between demand and wages for IT workers, said Salzman, is that many American STEM graduates are opting to work in other fields. The study finds that one-third of computer science graduates and nearly half of engineering students fail to go into jobs related to their degrees because they couldn&rsquo;t find jobs, or because they felt they had better career prospects in other fields.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s basic Econ 101,&rdquo; said Salzman. &ldquo;If you bring in a lot and flood the market, it depresses wages (and) lowers job quality. And we&rsquo;ve certainly seen that in interviews we&rsquo;ve done over the years, where people think what used to be good jobs, particularly in IT, are no longer high-quality jobs. They think they&rsquo;re unstable, wages have not gone up and they counsel their kids to go elsewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>The STEM report comes as Congress picks over a proposed new immigration overhaul. The legislation by the so-called Gang of Eight would dramatically expand employers&rsquo; access to skilled, temporary foreign workers, while also imposing additional controls. The H-1B visa program, currently capped at 85,000 visas annually for highly-educated foreign nationals, would over time grow to 180,000 visas. It would also prohibit large companies from staffing more than half of their workforce with H-1B visa holders, and would require companies to pay higher wages to those workers.</p><p>Very few legislators in Washington question the assumption that U.S. companies have been unable to locate qualified, STEM-educated American workers. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/south-asians-track-proposal-worker-visa-program-105186" target="_blank">Two separate bills</a> proposed in the Senate in recent months have both looked at increasing the H-1B cap. Large companies such as Microsoft have been particularly vocal about the need to change immigration policies to allow for more temporary, skilled workers.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think the argument here is that foreign workers aren&rsquo;t good or they aren&rsquo;t productive,&rdquo; said Lowell. &ldquo;I think the argument is yeah, I think we want foreign workers we want employers to have access to, but the question really is, in what amount, and is more better?&rdquo;</p><p>Lowell and the other study authors said the devil will be in the details of any changes to immigration policies. They point out that while the immigration bill does propose higher wages for H-1B workers, it would still allow these workers to be paid 20 percent less than the average wage for those industries.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-ample-us-graduates-fill-stem-jobs-106847 Black unemployment in Chicago is third highest in the nation, report finds http://www.wbez.org/black-unemployment-chicago-third-highest-nation-report-finds-100638 <p><p>At 19 percent, African-American unemployment in Chicago ranks the third highest in the country, according to <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib337-black-metropolitan-unemployment/">a report</a> published this week by the Washington-based <a href="http://www.epi.org/about/">Economic Policy Institute</a>.</p><p>Between 2010 and 2011, the jobless rate for Chicago&#39;s black workers increased 1.7 percent. In contrast, nearby Detroit had similar rates, closer to 18 percent, but with a 7 percent decrease in the black unemployment rate during the same time period.</p><p>The report&#39;s author, <a href="http://www.epi.org/experts/#austin">Algernon Austin</a>, said he thinks the better numbers for Detroit&#39;s black workers reflects Michigan&#39;s economy.</p><p>&quot;Recovery might be too strong of a word but we&#39;re seeing improved circumstances,&quot; Austin said. &quot;It&#39;s likely due to the return of the auto industry, and that&#39;s reaching in and benefitting black workers.&quot;</p><p>In contrast, Austin says Chicago&#39;s segregation weighs heavily on local African-American jobless rates - especially compared to other metropolitan areas in the report.</p><p>&quot;The black population is not completely separate, but more isolated, not simply spatially, but economically and socially,&quot; Austin said.</p><p>He said that inhibits access to better jobs.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s high rate of unemployment for African-Americans was superceded only by Las Vegas, which ranked the highest at 22.6 percent and Los Angeles, at 22.1 percent. In general, the jobless rates for all African-Americans in the report were two to three times higher than that of the white population.</p></p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 16:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/black-unemployment-chicago-third-highest-nation-report-finds-100638