In a new report released by the Immigration Policy Center, researchers document the ripple effects of withholding driver’s licenses from unauthorized immigrants.  Similar to the report the Budget & Tax Center released a few weeks ago, their analysis finds that without a driver’s license, the ability to participate in economic and social life is restricted.

Among their findings are:

  • People who drive are more likely to find jobs, work more hours, and earn higher wages.
  • Lack of access to transportation may constrain upward economic mobility and contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.
  • In all measures of mobility available, recent immigrants—and Latino immigrants in particular—travel less than the U.S.-born population, in spite of having the same travel needs in terms of commuting to and from work, shopping and participating in local institutions.
  • A growing immigrant population offsets demographic and economic stagnation and decline in some places, contributing to economic vitality and entrepreneurial activity, providing needed labor in economic sectors transformed by changes in the global economy, and increasing the tax base and participation in social institutions.

Just some more evidence that without access to transportation by car, immigrants’ economic potential is not realized for their families, communities or the broader economy.

A little known but very powerful policy tool in supporting jobless workers is called work sharing and the federal funding to administer the program will run out for states if they don’t apply before December.

Work sharing helps employers and workers alike to weather economic downturns by providing partial unemployment benefits to workers who have their hours reduced temporarily, allowing employers to ramp up their time when demand for goods and services returns.

There are 27 states that have adopted work sharing.  Nebraska most recently.  North Carolina has legislation drafted and is just waiting for a hearing.

From the recent article in the Washington Post:

Economists on both the right and the left say the program can be highly effective in reducing unemployment. According to government data, worksharing saved half a million jobs between 2008 and 2013. New applications have fallen off as the economy has strengthened, but an average of about 20,000 people a week are still enrolled in the program.

Earlier this month, the Budget & Tax Center released a new indicator of how the state’s labor market is faring– and the results are troubling for the future of our state’s workforce.

The labor market currently has a large number of missing workers, according to an indicator developed by the nonprofit, non-partisan Economic Policy Institute and adapted here for North Carolina.  This indicator estimates the number of men and women who would have been working or seeking work if the Great Recession had never happened and job opportunities had remained strong over the last six years.

These missing workers are not reflected in the U.S. or North Carolina unemployment rate.BTC - Missing Workers March 2014

Nationally, the number of missing workers was 5,290,000 in March 2014.  If these missing workers were looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 9.8 percent rather than the official unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

An even starker pattern emerges for North Carolina, there were an estimated 246,611 missing workers in our state in March 2014. If these missing workers were looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 11.6 percent rather than the official 6.3 percent for March.

An important reason why these workers remain missing from the labor market is the fundamental lack of available jobs.  The job growth that has occurred over the past year has not been sufficient the need for work among the state’s jobless workers and the result is too many workers missing from the labor market.

If you listened to Governor McCrory’s press event on Tuesday, you might be a little confused about the tax plan that pasted last year and what it means for our state.

Tax reform should be about modernizing the tax code in a way that ensures the system can continue to serve its fundamental purpose: providing enough revenue to support core public services. It should also be ensure greater revenue stability while not asking more from low- and middle income taxpayers as a share of their income than from wealthy taxpayers.  But all three of these principles of a sound tax system will be compromised under the tax plan passed last year.

Here are half dozen things that you should know that you didn’t hear at Governor McCrory’s press event: Read More

In North Carolina, a singular focus on comparing the state’s income tax rates to other states was used to justify massive rate reductions in the 2013 tax plan.  But do tax rates determine whether a state is competitive?

It turns out that income tax rates do not indicate competitiveness of a state’s tax code for two reasons:

  1. The vast majority of people and business make decisions based on other factors
  2. Tax credits and deductions mean that few pay the full income tax rate. Read More