Despite acknowledging that state prevailing wage laws increase the incomes of blue-collar construction workers, critics of the laws dubiously claim that they have discriminatory effects– particularly against African American workers. This report, authored jointly by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, critically evaluates the impact of state prevailing wage laws on workers across different racial or ethnic identities in the United States. State prevailing wage laws are an important solution to racial inequality and overall inequality, boosting take-home incomes while having no negative impact on employment opportunities for underprivileged groups.
The Potential Economic Consequences of a Highly Automated Construction Industry: What if Construction Becomes the Next Manufacturing?
What if construction is the next manufacturing, with automation replacing hundreds of thousands of middle-class workers over the next generation? In the future, technological changes that displace human labor in the construction industry could have consequences for workers, families, and the U.S. economy. This report is a theoretical assessment of the potential economic impacts of a highly automated construction industry on the Illinois and Midwest economy. An increasingly capital-intensive construction industry could cause both economic prosperity and economic hardship. It is imperative that lawmakers, public officials, and industry stakeholders start preparing for this potential economic change. Proactive steps can be taken to ensure that the benefits of a highly automated construction industry are shared broadly across the economy
Despite gradually declining in the US over the last 8 straight years of economic recovery from the Great Recession, the rate of involuntary part-time working remains stubbornly high in the State of Illinois. Over a quarter million workers were employed but working part-time for economic reasons in Illinois. Illinois ranks 10th among the 50 states in the number of involuntary part-time workers. Illinois’ rate of labor underutilization has one in ten workers either fully or partially unemployed, still well above the pre-recession rate and the US national average. Policies are needed to accelerate its return to prior levels.
International surveys conducted by the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) found that teachers in their union suffer significantly from stress (ETUCE, 2011). Furthermore, survey data in the United States reveals that teaching is a “high stress” profession (Kyriacou, 2000). The harm caused by this stress is evident by the high rates of teacher attrition and teacher shortages. Despite these findings, teacher stress has yet to be examined over time. Also, researchers have yet to examine how the increasing use of communication technology (i.e., email, text messages) has impacted teachers’ well-being and job outcomes. It seems many teachers have to deal with constant pressure to respond to emails throughout the day. Many teachers even get email sent directly to their personal phone. This can disturb teachers even while they are away from work. These messages may make it more difficult for teachers to control their emotions, which may lead to increased stress and turnover intentions. In addition, they suffer stress from difficult students and inadequate school resources such as workplace social supports and school policies.
Despite its pervasiveness in debates over the future of work, defining the “gig economy” in a consistent and meaningful fashion remains a challenge. This challenge hinders research to understand the prevalence and effects of nonstandard work, as well as efforts to design policy to improve opportunities for nonstandard workers. While contending with fundamental limitations in the availability and applicability of data, this report attempts to empirically ground the discussion of “gig work” in a broad exploration of trends in independent contracting in Illinois. In order to do so, it is necessary to answer three basic questions: What do we mean when we say “gig work”? Why is it so difficult to describe “gig work” with confidence? What can we say about “gig work” as a whole in Illinois?
Investing in higher education is a smart economic development policy that boosts incomes, supports employment, and grows the economy. Illinois has world-class public universities and community colleges that serve as economic engines in local communities. The recent budget crisis in Illinois, however, had negative impacts on public universities and community colleges in the state. This report assesses the positive economic impacts of public universities and colleges in Illinois and measures the costs of the two-year budget impasse.
What policies improve a state’s economic performance and how do specific state laws impact economic outcomes? In an effort to provide some insight into the current debate in Illinois over measures under consideration by state lawmakers, the Project for Middle Class Renewal in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute have prepared this White Paper.
A Happiness and Objective Well-being Index (HOW-IS-IL) for Living and Working in the State of Illinois, 2016-17
How happy are people in Illinois and how well are they doing? Specifically, how well is Illinois producing a high and growing standard of living for its working households? How well are its working citizens faring generally? How would we measure the answer to this question? How can we help Illinois’ households to become happier? This is the first assessment to focus exclusively on the State of Illinois and the state of its citizens’ well-being, with a single set of measures that indicates the quality of working and living in Illinois. The main purpose of this report is to create a handy, yet meaningful and useful index of 8 composite indicators. This index creates a base year composite score, reflecting not only where the state is apparently deficient, but how the quality of life and work in Illinois could be improved, both short term and long term, by revisiting the index perennially. The index creates a comprehensive grid of frequently available indicators of various aspects of others’ developed attempts to measure happiness and well-being. These estimates and the present attempt use the research-documented factors associated with it – both coincident and antecedent.
Since 2007, unionization has declined in Illinois, in the Chicago region, and in America. There are approximately 30,000 fewer union members in Illinois today than there were in 2007, contributing to the 1.1 million-member drop in union workers across the nation over that time. Declining union membership in Illinois has primarily been the result of decreases in male unionization. Consequently, the total number of labor unions and similar labor organizations has declined over the past 10 years. There are 881 labor unions and similar organizations in Illinois, a decline of nearly 70 worker establishments over the past 10 years. While the unionization rate declined from 15.2 percent to 14.5 percent, the union membership rate for public sector workers is 5.5 percentage points higher in 2016 than it was in 2007. From 2015 to 2016, unionization rates marginally increased for Latino and Latina workers.
Taking the Pulse of Illinois’ Middle Class: The Changing Size and Composition of Middle Income Households, April 20, 2017
Over recent years, the hollowing out of the American middle class has been a topic of much speculation and concern. During the middle of the twentieth century, the middle class rose to a position of economic and demographic dominance. The question of whether this is no longer the case is closely related to the issue of rising income and wealth inequality but focused more directly on those who fall between the extremes of rich and poor. This report aims to broadly document trends affecting the middle class in Illinois with a focus on employment.
The Impact of “Right to Work” Laws on Labor Market Outcomes in Three Midwest States: Evidence from Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin (2010-2016)
The movement to implement “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation has accelerated over recent years. Since 2012, RTW laws have been passed in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. This report investigates the impact of RTW laws passed in three Midwest states for which there is available data – Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin – compared to a control group of three Midwest counterparts that remained collective-bargaining (CB) states – Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio – from January 2010 through December 2016.
Closed by Choice: The Spatial Relationship between Charter School Expansion, School Closures, and Fiscal Stress in Chicago Public Schools
Over the past five years, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has confronted annual budget crises prompting CPS to cut resources from classrooms, reduce the number of teaching professionals inside schools, and close public schools. Our research examines how the proliferation of charter schools in neighborhoods of declining population has contributed to CPS’ fiscal stress resulting in the widespread denigration of public education in Chicago.
Inequality has risen to historically high levels in the United States. While there are many causes, this PMCR report finds that the most important labor market change has been the long-term decline in labor union membership. Unions raise wages, particularly for lower-income and middle-class workers. Union decline explains between one-fifth and one-third of the overall increase in inequality in the United States.
Illinois needs to revamp its system of funding public education. Currently, school districts receive the bulk of their revenue from property taxes. With relatively high property tax rates and funding inequities across the state, raising property taxes in Illinois is often not an option for school districts. There are alternative policies that can be enacted at both the state- and local-level to enhance revenue for public education in Illinois. This report identifies six potential ways to increase revenue for public school districts.
The City of Chicago is experiencing extremely high rates of African-American unemployment compared to the rest of the nation. This report, conducted by researchers at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, seeks to understand the causes of high African-American unemployment in Chicago and other urban areas across the United States. It offers seven public policies and economic phenomena that make a difference in lowering the African-American unemployment rate.
This report finds that public school teachers in Illinois are highly skilled and are compensated accordingly through competitive salaries. Properly understanding teacher pay is critical to developing an efficient teacher compensation structure. Teachers in Illinois are among the best-educated in the nation and earn appropriate incomes that reward their skill. Illinois’ teachers are highly educated, with over 62 percent of full-time public elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers in the state having earned a master’s degree. An additional 36 percent of full-time public school teachers have a bachelor’s degree. These highly skilled educators help foster the next generation of workers and innovators who will grow Illinois’ economy.
The exit-voice tradeoff has helped scholars explain lower job satisfaction among union workers compared to nonunion workers since. Scholarship has further extended the exit-voice tradeoff to within-union samples by examining job satisfaction’s relationship to union participation instead of between union and nonunion workers. But how exactly does the exit-voice tradeoff apply to moderately or highly-satisfied union members? Are they participating in the union or is low job satisfaction a pre-requisite for union activism? This report, Union Participation and the Work Fit-Job Satisfaction-Nexus: A Study of the Chicago Teachers Union identifies the presence of a missing moderator that provides insight into the job satisfaction-union participation relationship. We suggest that the felt need to protect a job that is personally meaningful has inspired CTU members to become stronger, active union members. They are in effect using their union, not to preserve the best available job open to them, but to bridge the distance between the teaching profession’s aspiration and reality.
Advancing Construction Industry Diversity: A Pilot Study of the East Central Area Building Trades Council
The importance of the construction trades and apprenticeship programs as a unique and unparalleled pathway into middle class job opportunities for non-college graduates, inspired the Project for Middle Class Renewal in the Labor Education Program (LEP) at the University of Illinois’ School of Labor and Employment Relations to invite building trades’ apprenticeship programs to participate in a pilot diversity study. The study was designed to determine not only levels of access and involvement in the apprentice building trades by minority and female workers, but also to recommend practices that would enhance inclusivity in the industry. The goal was to address the question of how to make the “apprentice-able” construction trades the preferred labor force for both white and non-white workers.
Researchers have investigated the reasons why people pursue a career in the public sector. A compelling case has been made that individuals who pursue careers in the public sector are more highly motivated by intrinsic factors such as “work that is important” and work that “provides a feeling of accomplishment.” This report describes findings from a survey of a small group of Illinois public sector workers which investigates the work motivations of public employees. The study shows new evidence that government employees are strongly motivated to find “purpose in work that is greater than the extrinsic outcomes of the work.” Additionally, we find that government employees view their public sector union as a primary source of intrinsic motivation.
Higher earnings for Illinois workers resulting from a minimum wage increase stand to have impacts on their ability to sustain families and cover expenses. The greatest impact, however, might be in housing affordability. Housing costs, whether in the form of rent or mortgage payments and maintenance costs, make up the largest monthly expense for most households. This report examines what impact a minimum wage increase would have on housing affordability among working households. Minimum wage increases, however, effect more than just housing affordability. This report also explores reductions in reliance on public assistance programs as well as what impact changes to the minimum wage will have on employment levels and on state and local tax revenue. This study was funded by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Labor Education Program Project for Middle Class Renewal and was co-authored by the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood & Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Labor Education Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Almost one half of all public sector workers are unionized in Minnesota and over half of all public sector workers are unionized in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Meanwhile, slightly more than one-third of all public sector workers are unionized across the nation. In comparison, fewer than one-in-ten (8.0 percent) Minnesotans who work in the private sector are union members while just 6.7 percent of private sector workers are now unionized across America. There is a lot of positive news for Minnesota’s labor movement. Labor unions increase individual incomes by lifting hourly wages – particularly for low-income and middle-class workers. In Minnesota, unions raise worker wages by an average of 11.1 percent. The state’s union wage effect is the 11th-highest in the nation. The union wage differential is higher for the median worker (13.6 percent) than the richest 10 percent of workers (11.0 percent), helping to foster a strong middle class and reduce income inequality.
Despite the presence of registered apprenticeships in many Illinois industries, especially construction, little policy research has been conducted to analyze their economic and social impacts. This study, authored jointly by the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, investigates the effect of registered apprenticeship programs on the workers, businesses, governments, and economy of Illinois. The study reveals that registered apprenticeship programs in Illinois’ construction industry provide $1.25 billion in long-term economic benefits to the state. If all registered apprenticeship programs for construction were combined, they would be the 7th-largestprivate post-secondary educational institution in Illinois.
The Costs and Benefits of International Trade in Illinois: Estimating Impacts on Manufacturing and the Economy
There has been a general consensus among economists that international free trade is an important source of economic growth for countries. However, recent evidence finds that trade hurts local jobs and worsens income inequality. Mass job displacement can have significant effects on the national economy and public budget. This report focuses on the impact of trade on Illinois’ manufacturing sector. As the 5th-largest exporter state and the 6th-largest importer state in the nation, Illinois is particularly exposed to international trade. Imports and exports help make Illinois the transportation hub of America. Illinois, however, has lost more than 100,000 total manufacturing jobs over the past decade.
This report, conducted by researchers at the Midwest Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzes the course of unionization in Indiana and in the United States from 2006 to 2015. Data from 2015 are also analyzed for the Indianapolis metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The study of Indiana tracks unionization rates and investigates union membership across demographic, educational, sectoral, industry, and occupational classifications. The study subsequently evaluates the impact that labor union membership has on a worker’s hourly wage in Indiana and in America. Additionally, data on labor unions and similar labor organizations are included and analyzed. As of 2015, the overall union membership rate is 10.0 percent in Indiana. A major finding of the report shows that Indiana’s “right-to-work” law has contributed to lower union membership. After the policy was implemented in 2012, union membership fell from 11.2 percent in 2011 to 10 in 2015. Other highlights include: Men are much more likely to be unionized (13.2 percent) than women (6.6 percent) and public sector unionization (27.4 percent) is nearly four times as high in Indiana as private sector unionization (7.5 percent).
This report, conducted by researchers at the Midwest Economic Policy Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Extension School for Workers, and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzes the course of unionization in Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and in the United States from 2006 to 2015. The study of Iowa tracks unionization rates and investigates union membership across demographic, educational, sectoral, industry, and occupational classifications. The study subsequently evaluates the impact that labor union membership has on a worker’s hourly wage in Iowa and in the United States. Additionally, data on labor unions and similar labor organizations are included and analyzed. A few major findings of the report include: Declining union membership in Wisconsin has resulted from a number of factors, including the ongoing effects of Act 10 on the public sector and the continued loss of manufacturing jobs. From 2014 to 2015, union membership dropped 3.3 percentage points, from 11.6 percent to 8.3 percent.
This report, conducted by researchers at the Midwest Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzes the course of unionization in Iowa and in the United States from 2006 to 2015. Some data from 2015 are also analyzed for the Iowa City metropolitan statistical area (MSA). This version for Iowa tracks unionization rates and investigates union membership across demographic, educational, sectoral, industry, and occupational classifications. The study subsequently evaluates the impact that labor union membership has on a worker’s hourly wage in Iowa and in America. Additionally, data on labor unions and similar labor organizations are included and analyzed. A few notable findings from the report include: Unionization has declined in Iowa. Today, there are approximately 23,500 fewer union members in Iowa than there were in 2006, contributing to the reduction of 573,000 union workers across the nation over the past ten years. The decline in union membership has occurred in both the public sector and the private sector in Iowa. Consequently, the total number of labor unions and similar labor organizations has declined over the past decade. There are 211 labor unions and similar organizations in Iowa, a decline of 36 establishments over the past ten years (-15.5 percent).
This report, conducted by researchers at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, the University of Illinois Project for Middle Class Renewal, and Occidental College, analyzes the course of unionization in Illinois, in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and in the United States from 2006 to 2015. It is the third annual report of its kind for union members in the Chicago area and in Illinois. The report tracks unionization rates and investigates union membership across demographic, educational, sectoral, industry, and occupational classifications. The study subsequently evaluates the impact that labor union membership has on a worker’s hourly wage in Illinois, in the Chicago MSA, and in America. Additionally, data on labor unions and similar labor organizations are included and analyzed, new for the 2016 version of this report.
Over the past five years, more than 1 million veterans have exited the military and entered the civilian workforce. Ensuring that those who served the country are able to secure stable civilian employment is a priority for the country. Construction, a fast-growing industry where employers report widespread skills shortages, is a vital option for blue-collar veterans who are either unable or uninterested in attending college. Despite the fact that construction is a popular sector of employment for veterans when they return home and enter civilian life, no economic research has explicitly investigated the impacts that prevailing wage laws have on the economic and labor market outcomes of veterans. This report is a statistical exploration of the impact of state prevailing wage laws on America’s veterans.
The Application and Impact of Labor Union Dues in Illinois: An Organizational and Individual-Level Analysis
An estimated 15.2 percent of Illinois’ workers are represented by a union. These workers can voluntarily choose to leave their unionized workplace, opt out of paying certain dues, or vote to decertify their labor organization. Thus, labor unions in Illinois must continually demonstrate how workers benefit from contributing membership dues. This Policy Brief, conducted jointly by the he Project for Middle-Class Renewal (PMCR) at the School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) evaluates union membership in Illinois. The report breaks down how union dues are spent in Illinois by activity, including political activities and lobbying. Upon examining the individual cost of membership and where dollars go, the personal benefits of union membership for Illinois workers are also explored.
An Analysis of the Impact of Prevailing Wage Thresholds On Public Construction: Implications for Illinois
A state prevailing wage law supports construction workers employed on public infrastructure projects. The policy requires that workers employed on projects funded by taxpayer dollars are compensated according to hourly wage and benefits rates normally paid on similar private and public projects in an area. This report is an evaluation of contract thresholds for project coverage under the prevailing wage law. The report reviews the academic and policy research on the effects that increases in state contract thresholds have on business, the labor market and economic outcomes. The analysis is subsequently applied to Illinois to forecast effects if Illinois were to introduce a prevailing wage threshold.
A Flowing Economy: How Clean Water Infrastructure Investments Support Good Jobs in Chicago and in Illinois
Clean water infrastructure investments are critical to a healthy economy. A sustainable system of clean water distribution and treatment is not only necessary to prevent contamination, restoring natural waterways, eliminating flood damage, and mitigate the potential impacts of climate change, but clean water infrastructure contributes to long-term economic growth. This report provides an analysis of clean water infrastructure in Illinois, especially in the Chicago area.
Fast food workers in Chicago suffer from the uncertainty of not knowing how many hours they will work in any given week and the lack of autonomy to voice their concerns without fear of reprisal. Unstable schedules lead to tangible income insecurity and the inability for workers to obtain supplemental employment or even attend schooling to improve their job prospects. This report, The Shift-Work Shuffle: Flexibility and Instability for Chicago’s Chicago Fast Food Workforce, addresses the elements and impacts of irregular scheduling in Chicago’s fast food industry.
To contact the authors please call Professor Bob Bruno at 312-996-2491.