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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:58pm
Wed May 20

Illinois Renters Must Earn $18.78 Hourly To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment, Report Finds

The gap between wages and rents continues to widen in Illinois and nationally, shows a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Tue May 12

Currency Manipulation Key Issue In Heated Debate Over TPP, ‘Fast-Track’ Trade Bill

As debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal rages on, a growing number of lawmakers and economic experts are troubled by the massive trade agreement’s lack of strong rules against currency manipulation by foreign member countries. Calls for currency manipulation prohibitions in the TPP also come amid heated deliberation over legislation that would give President Barack Obama “fast-track” trade authority.

Currency manipulation involves a country artificially suppressing the value of its currency, usually relative to the U.S. dollar, to reduce the price of its exports, essentially giving itself a leg up over competitors. This practice is a key cause of the continuing U.S. trade deficit and has displaced between 1 million and 5 million American jobs.

It’s estimated that between $200 billion and $500 billion of the U.S. trade deficit is due to currency manipulation by foreign countries, according to research from the Washington, D.C.-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:02pm
Thu Apr 30

Economic Experts Make The Case For A $12 Federal Minimum Wage

Experts from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) argue that the U.S. economy could well afford a federal minimum wage increase to $12 an hour by 2020 — a proposal that could impact nearly 38 million workers.

EPI researchers make their case for a $12 minimum wage in a report released Thursday, the same day the new “Raise the Wage Act” was introduced to Congress by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA,3).

Under the Raise the Wage Act, the federal hourly minimum wage would go up gradually from the current figure of $7.25 to $12 by 2020. Raise the Wage Act proponents are taking to social media Thursday afternoon for a “Twitterstorm” using the hashtags #RaiseTheWage, #12by2020 and #1FairWage.

“If you go to work and work hard for 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty in America,” said U.S. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who joined Murray and Scott in introducing the bill. “The Raise the Wage Act will increase wages for 38 million workers — more than one in four — and lift millions out of poverty. In Illinois alone, 1.6 million workers — 28 percent of the state’s workforce — will see an average increase in wages of $3,200 a year. That helps families get off government support programs and give them more money to spend and put back into our economy.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:53pm
Wed Apr 29

The High Cost Of Offshore Tax Havens On Small Illinois Businesses

If Illinois small business owners were to collectively offset state and federal revenues lost annually due to corporations using offshore tax havens, they would each have to pay $4,570 in additional taxes a year.

That what-if scenario is laid out in a recent report from the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) examining the issue of “corporate tax haven abuse” and what it means for small businesses.

Through the use of accounting “gimmicks” to shift profits offshore, corporations avoid paying $110 billion annually in federal and state income taxes combined, according to Illinois PIRG’s “Picking up the Tab” report. Specifically, about $90 billion in federal and $20 billion in state corporate income tax revenue is lost each year to tax havens, the research reveals.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:44pm
Fri Apr 17

Report: Irregular Work Scheduling Affects 17 Percent Of U.S. Workers

Unstable work schedules impact at least 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, with low-wage workers facing irregular shift times the most.

That’s according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank. The report, “Irregular Work Scheduling and its Consequences,” is based on General Social Survey data.

Ten percent of U.S. workers have “irregular and on-call work shift times,” combined with another 7 percent “who work split or rotating shifts,” according to the research.

Low-wage workers are among the most prone to having unstable schedules, which are associated with longer average hourly workweeks in some occupations. Employees in low-wage industries often have little control over their schedules, the findings showed.

According to the report, irregular scheduling is most common in the following industries: retail trade; finance, insurance, real estate; business, repair services; personal services; entertainment, recreation; and agriculture.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:57pm
Tue Mar 17

Report: Record-Low Number Of Jobless Americans Protected By Unemployment Insurance

The percentage of out-of-work Americans receiving benefits from state unemployment insurance (UI) programs reached a historic low in 2014, a new study shows.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) report, the national UI recipiency rate — the share of jobless people receiving benefits from state UI programs —  dropped to 23 percent as of last December. That’s less than the previous record-low UI recipiency rate of 25 percent, which was set in September 1984.

Though researchers from the Washington, D.C.-based think tank do credit the decline in part to an improving economy, they say state UI programs “in many cases failed to assist jobless workers” after the Great Recession.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:02pm
Mon Mar 9

Rauner, Illinois GOP Congressmen Call For Vote On Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Monday’s Illinois Business Immigration Coalition forum featuring Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Illinois Republican Congressmen Bob Dold, Adam Kinzinger and Aaron Schock, during which the officials called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

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