EPI News

Losing health care and jobs

Health care crunch climbs the occupational ladder
Holding on to health care is getting much harder, even if you have a good job, and a good education, and especially if you are a full-time worker of prime working age. In an new Briefing Paper, A Decade of Decline: The Erosion of Employer-Provided Health Care in the United States and California, 1995-2006, EPI economists Jared Bernstein and Heidi Shierholz demonstrate that the dramatic drop in employer-provided coverage has occurred across the entire age, education, occupation, industry, race, and ethnicity spectrum. Moreover, the decline in employer-provided coverage is caused by employers cutting coverage within existing jobs, rather than the shifting of jobs from high-coverage industries like manufacturing to lower-coverage industries. This week’s Economic Snapshot illustrates how coverage has declined for workers across the education spectrum.

EPI urges Congress to stop expanding worker visa program
Even as U.S. workers face rising unemployment, Congress is considering the expansion of a controversial visa program that enables employers to recruit tens of thousands of foreign workers for non-agricultural jobs. In testimony before Congress, EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey made the case that far from being expanded, the much-abused H-2B visa program should be scaled back significantly or eliminated altogether. Read the full testimony in EPI’s Viewpoints.

Secret side of outsourcing needs policy action
The U.S. government’s failure to develop a coherent policy on specific outsourcing arrangements called trade offsets has resulted in lost jobs and the transfer of technological innovation to other nations. These technology transfers and lost jobs in turn threaten long-term harm to national security and the economy. In the absence of a proactive policy setting limits, demand for such deals has grown steadily, according to a new EPI report, Offsets and the Lack of a Comprehensive U.S. Policy: What Do Other Countries Know That We Don’t?.

Trade and presidential politics
As the presidential primary approaches in Pennsylvania, where entire manufacturing regions have been hollowed out as production moved offshore, the impact of trade deals on jobs has again become a hot topic. In a blog post for the New York Times this week, EPI international economist Robert Scott analyzed the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade deals on that state’s economy. Scott wrote: “Not everything that has gone wrong with the Pennsylvania economy is due to trade, but the worries of workers in the state (and throughout the country) about what globalization means for their living standards are well-founded. NAFTA became the framework for the global economy when it took effect in 1994. It was followed by the World Trade Organization in 1995 and by numerous similar agreements. While these deals were not responsible for globalization, they certainly encouraged the rapidly growing trade and investment that has occurred in the past decade.” Since NAFTA was signed, Pennsylvania has lost 208,000 manufacturing jobs—24% of the total. Median family wages in the state have fallen by 2% since 2001.