WORKHAPPY WRAP: #WhatURWorth, #WorkersVSWages, #ChildCareCrisis and more news from another busy work week.

by Jennifer Sigler | July 18, 2017 | Workhappy Blog

The value of the dollar vs. the value of the professional.

This week the almighty dollar was the premiere focus in job news. Take a look.

The long and the short of it: The June Job Report is in: Job growth in the United States is steadily increasing, but the same cannot be said of hourly wages. According to the government report employers added 222,000 jobs in June.

The question on hand: Why is the demand for workers not increasing wages? Patricia Cohen offers several interviews with business owners, who say attracting (and keeping) workers has become a full-time job all in its own — and raising wages any more becomes unsustainable.

While answers to this question land all over the board, it is commonly understood that reviews of the economy are closely aligned with political affiliations.

On another note, the Federal Reserve is concerned about the delicate balance between slack and inflation, and in fact increased interest rates last month — a move that may be repeated before the end of the year.

Workers versus wages: While unemployment is at a nearly 16-year low, many business owners still can’t find — and keep — reliable workers. For a closer look at this supply-and-demand conundrum, enter Sarah Smith, an owner of Rooforia Home Exteriors.

Smith works with a federal program to give temporary vistas to guest workers to repair roofs for $17 per hour (a wage well above minimum regulations), because she cannot find American workers to fill the positions. Economists argue, by definition of the supply-and-demand curve, that if no one is willing to work for the wage, then the wage is too low.

However, a higher wage must be funded from somewhere, and more often than not, this increase is reflected in an increase in consumer prices — and employers have to be careful not to price themselves out of business.

The cost of minimum wage: Three years ago, Seattle decided to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, a decision that would be phased in over several years. So how has the first phase of the minimum wage increase affected jobs?

There have been two studies on the effects of the increase released over the last several weeks  — but their results are at odds.

The first study (conducted by UC-Berkeley) found only a small reduction in employment. However, the second (out of the University of Washington) reveals a more detrimental effect on employment. While neither study has been formally peer-reviewed, the UW study held detailed data on both the hours and the earnings for workers affected by the wage increase.

But Seattle is also a booming economy, and so it is hard to tell if the loss of low-paying work is attributed to that or the minimum wage hike.

Time — and studies that include comparison cities — will tell.

D.C. daycare decisions: Average yearly costs for infant and toddler day care in Washington, D.C. have skyrocketed to $23,000 per child. In case you were wondering, this is only $2,000 less per year than the national average for out-of-state college tuition.

 

Nicholas Clairmont for The Atlantic dives deep into the District’s new regulations that require child-care workers to have college degrees — a decision that will likely widen D.C.’s economic disparities. While prices on average of $2,000 per month are a considerable burden to the well-off, much less for those of lower means, the impact of requiring college degrees of child-care workers create an alarming butterfly effect: To obtain said credentials will be expensive and take time off-hours from jobs these workers are already performing — and not getting paid much for, at $10 to $15 per hour.

Others, like the many non-English speaking immigrants who work in childcare, may not be able to obtain these credentials at all, eliminating the occupation as an option. And those who acquire a college degree may very well leave for better-paying jobs, like teaching.

Even knowing these problems, the aim of the regulation is to address a larger one: The gap in achievement, which starts as early as 18 months, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Is it worth closing one gap only to widen another — and in one of the most un-equal cities in the nation?

After covering childcare as not only a scientific issue, but a social and economic one as well, Clairmont, leaves us with this: “The quality of child care, after all, only matters if children — and parents — have access to it.” This piece is worth your read.

What you’re worth: The theme of the wrap this week could also be that workers are in short supply, despite rising employment rates. And while Americans are working more, they are not making more — even though they are in a respectable position to ask for it.

Daniel Gross in this Slate piece offers these numbers: There has been a record 82 straight months of job growth, a current unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, and a staggering 5.7 million job openings. Demand is high. And Gross states, while both sides of the employment line have the power to increase the overall wage, they’re not doing so.

Gross blames the risk-adverse psychosis of the Great Depression and Great Recession. During the Recession, companies went in survival mode and cut labor and benefits to keep costs low. As the economy began to recover, companies remained cautious and continued to push costs like training onto the workers — and the slack in the labor market allowed them to do so.

This same risk-adverse mindset has settled into workers — who have been victims of foreclosure or bankruptcy — and are staying in jobs just to have the security of a paycheck — even if it is less than it should be.

Jennifer Sigler is a Senior Writer with The UpWrite Group. Send a message to services@TheUpWriteGroup.com to see how she can help enhance your corporate or personal brand.

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