The New York Foundation looks to connect its grantees and other nonprofit organizations in New York City with resources useful in achieving our common goals. With our Knowledge Center we collect reports, case studies, policy briefs, and other knowledge assets produced by New York Foundation grantees and affiliated organizations. While some of these works were funded by the Foundation, our goal in providing this collection is to put a spotlight on the contributions that Foundation grantees have made to social issue analysis and problem solving.
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100 Days for America's Workers: Policies to Jump-Start a Living Wage Recovery

December 1, 2012

Putting America's workers front and center on the federal policy agenda requires that we get serious about the urgent jobs crisis facing the nation. Simply put, we do not have enough jobs for all who want and need to work, and increasingly, our jobs do not pay the living wages and provide the benefits needed for a recovery that extends economic security and opportunity to all of America's workers. The jobs crisis is already devastating millions of working families while keeping the economy weak, and unless we intervene now, it promises to reap dividends of despair in the future too.In this document, NELP lays out five straightforward and concrete policy proposals for the first 100 days of the new term -- 100 Days for America's Workers -- that will improve the lives of millions, while giving the economy a sustained boost.

Seizing the Moment: Guide to Adopting State Work-Sharing Legislation After Layoff Prevention Act of 2012

December 1, 2012

This report, the second in a series prepared by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Employment Law Project (NELP), is a guide for state administrators, legislators and advocates seeking to implement work sharing. The next section summarizes the opportunities presented by the Layoff Prevention act and lays out the timeline for implementation. The middle section explains in detail the new requirements in federal law and the final section highlights a set of additional provisions designed to protect participants in STC programs, set guidelines for employer participation and ensure strong administration.

Unemployment Insurance Application and Receipt: Findings on Demographic Disparities and Suggestions for Change

December 1, 2012

In this brief, we highlight research published in the October 2012 issue of Monthly Labor Review by Alix Gould-Werth and H. Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan that examines the extent to which the likelihood of applying for, and of receiving unemployment insurance conditional on application, varies by education level and by racial and ethnic background. Second, we highlight findings showing how perceptions of ineligibility among those who fail to apply may vary by these demographic categories. This research demonstrates that low-educated and racial minority unemployed workers -- those who may need financial support most during periods without work -- are doubly disadvantaged in accessing unemployment insurance: not only do they report lower application rates, but the unemployed who do apply also report lower rates of receipt. Even though the authors' findings leave unanswered questions about the eligibility of non-applicants and the reasons applicants fail to access UI, their evidence suggests that increasing rates of application among disadvantaged populations would narrow the gap in benefit receipt. Thus, after summarizing the relevant findings, we offer recommendations for increasing application rates.

Getting Real: Time to Re-Invest in the Public Employment Service

October 1, 2012

In this paper, NELP advocates for renewed focus on our nation's public reemployment services. First, we recommend significantly increasing the amount of federal funding for the Employment Service that is a part of the nationwide system of One-Stop Career Centers. Doing so would provide more workers with improved job placement services, in-person job search assistance, and pre-training counseling. Second, we recommend placing programmatic priority on unemployment insurance recipients who are most likely to have trouble finding a new job.

10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class for Hard Working Americans: Making Work Pay in the 21st Century

September 13, 2012

10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class for Hard Working Americans: Making Work Pay in the 21st Century, is a road map to restore the promise of the American dream, that if you work hard and play by the rules, you will be able to provide a good life for your family and a better life for your children. The steps proposed in this report are based on a simple idea: the great American middle class, the engine of the economy, is not built by accident -- we build a broad middle class by decisions we make together.

When Unemployment Insurance Runs Out: An Action Plan to Help America's Long?Term Unemployed

September 6, 2012

This guide assembles the best practices adopted across the states and at the federal level to target the special needs of those workers reaching the end of their unemployment benefits. It features a step-by-step approach, which includes the following priority actions:Step 1: Aggressively Pursue and Promote Job CreationStep 2: Target Outreach to Workers Exhausting Unemployment BenefitsStep 3: Track Workers Exhausting UI BenefitsStep 4: Maximize Coordination across State and Local AgenciesStep 5: Maximize Access to Income Support and Basic Needs ProgramsStep 6: Minimize Barriers to Re-employment

State Reforms Reducing Collateral Consequences for People with Criminal Records: 2011-2012 Legislative Round-Up

September 1, 2012

Over the past forty years the prison population in the United States has skyrocketed 600% and the number of Americans with felony convictions has grown to 19.8 million adults or 8.6% of the adult population. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), an estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal record. Although it might be reasonable to assume that individuals who have completed their sentences are free from conviction-related constraints, according to Attorney General Eric Holder, the American Bar Association (ABA) has identified over 38,000 penalties, called collateral consequences that can impact people long after they complete their criminal sentence.

The Low-Wage Recovery and Growing Inequality

August 1, 2012

This report updates NELP's previous analyses of job loss and job growth trends during and after the Great Recession. We find that:1. During the recession, employment losses occurred throughout the economy, but were concentrated in mid-wage occupations. By contrast, during the recovery, employment gains have been concentrated in lower wage occupations, which grew 2.7 times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage occupations. 2. The lower-wage occupations that grew the most during the recovery include retail salespersons, food preparation workers, laborers and freight workers, waiters and waitresses, personal and home care aides, and office clerks and customer representatives.3. The unbalanced recession and recovery have meant that the long-term rise in inequality in the U.S. continues. The good jobs deficit is now deeper than it was at the start of the 21st century.4. Industry dynamics are playing an important role in shaping the unbalanced recovery. We find that three low-wage industries (food services, retail, and employment services) added 1.7 million jobs over the past two years, fully 43 percent of net employment growth. At the same time, better-paying industries (like construction; manufacturing; finance, insurance and real estate; and information) did not grow, or did not grow enough to make up for recession losses. Other better-paying industries (like professional and technical services) saw solid growth, but not in their mid-wage occupations. And steep cuts in state and local government have hit mid- and higher-wage occupations the hardest.In short, America's good jobs deficit continues. Policymakers have understandably been focused on the urgent goal of getting U.S. employment back to where it was before the recession (we are still missing nearly 10 million jobs), but our findings underscore that job quality is rapidly emerging as a second front in the struggling recovery.

Rebuilding Our Way to a Sustainable Recovery: Making Commercial Building Retrofit Jobs into Quality Jobs for Our Communities

July 1, 2012

This paper provides some background on the opportunities created by widespread retrofitting in the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) industry and the innovative policies that municipalities have implemented to give building owners incentives to upgrade their properties. At the same time we highlight examples of measures lawmakers have taken to make these quality jobs. Our hope is that others will follow these models to help assure that "green" buildings sustain not just the environment, but also those who work on and in them.

Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage

July 1, 2012

America's low-wage economy is marked by two extremes. On the one hand, workers earning at or near the minimum wage are seeing the real value of their paychecks diminish steadily over time, as the cost of living increases while their wages remain stagnant. After nearly half a century of neglect, today's federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is decades out of date. In terms of purchasing power, its value is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1968.On the other hand, many corporations are posting record-breaking profits. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that, after sinking from 2007 to 2009, corporate profits had successfully caught up to their prerecession peak by the beginning of 2010 -- and that by the third quarter of 2011, total profits for U.S. corporations reached a new record high of $1.97 trillion.2This report examines the connection between these opposing extremes of stagnant wages and soaring corporate profits. While a great deal of attention has been directed at the role of Wall Street and the financial sector in driving economic inequality in the U.S., it is important to recognize that the top low-wage employers also bear responsibility for the growing disparity between corporate profits and worker compensation.The central finding of this report is that the majority of America's lowest-paid workers are employed by large corporations, not small businesses, and that most of the largest low-wage employers have recovered from the recession and are in a strong financial position.

Lessons Left Unlearned: Unemployment Insurance Financing After the Great Recession

July 1, 2012

The purpose of this current report is to revisit the trust fund crisis of 2010 to answer three hypothetical questions: Could the trust fund solvency crisis have been avoided had all states accumulated the amount of pre-recession trust fund reserves recommended by financing experts?How much did employers need to contribute on a per-employee basis to have ensured adequate pre-recession trust fund reserves?By how much will employer contributions need to increase in the future for state trust funds to prepare for the next recession?The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Section 1 provides a brief overview of the UI program, the financing of UI benefits, and a history of previous financing crises. Section 2 summarizes the extent of borrowing during the Great Recession and places today's crisis in a historical context. Section 3 compares three generally accepted measures of solvency and shows how only a handful of states met even the least rigorous of the measures going into the recent recession.Sections 4 to 6 apply a basic accounting framework to estimate (1) the number of states that would have borrowed had all states entered the recession with adequate reserves; (2) the amount of employer contributions that would have been necessary following the 2001 recession for all state trust funds to have been prepared for the recent recession; and (3) the amount of new reserves necessary for states to be solvent by the end of 2016. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the UI financing factors that determine a state's capacity to accumulate pre-recession trust fund reserves.

City Systems: Building Blocks for Achieving Sustainability and Creating Good Jobs

March 1, 2012

In this issue brief, we examine three different systems that underlie cities and keep them running: water, waste, and energy. Within each of these systems are opportunities for states and cities to modernize their local infrastructure, improve their communities, and ultimately create jobs.

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