NC Budget and Tax Center

Bad “Workforce Development Week” news: Trump administration order threatens quality apprenticeships for NC workers

The Trump administration is closing out national “Workforce Development Week” with an executive order that undermines quality apprenticeships across the country. Apprenticeships are a growing workforce development strategy that combine education and paid on-the-job training in specialized trades. The Obama administration committed to growing a skilled workforce by investing $265 million in apprenticeship programs with the goals of expanding apprenticeships into new industries and integrating programs into state education and workforce systems, among others. But the current administration’s new executive order (EO) threatens these efforts by loosening the federal definition of apprenticeship programs. The Center for American Progress released its analysis of the new EO. Here is an excerpt:

  • So-called industry-certified apprenticeship programs would undermine quality apprenticeshipsUndermines the definition of apprenticeship. The executive order defines an apprenticeship as an “arrangement that includes a paid-work component and an educational or instructional component, wherein an individual obtains workplace-relevant knowledge and skills,” a major departure from the existing federal definition, which is much more specific regarding the structure of on-the-job training, and the wage schedule.
  • Undermines quality assurance. According to the executive order, the secretary of labor could allow third parties broad discretion in how they ensure that these programs meet quality standards. It is unclear from the order whether those standards would be the existing federal standards, or new standards developed by the third party or by the DOL.
  • Undermines wage requirements. The executive order only addresses wages to the extent that it acknowledges that an apprenticeship arrangement is paid. It does not address scheduled wage increases, meaning that workers enrolled in these programs may not be guaranteed a raise as their skills progress. Additionally, the new definition of apprenticeship offered by the executive order, coupled with the lack of clarity on wages and wage progression, makes it totally unclear whether apprentices would be classified as employees and paid at least minimum wage.
  • Opens the door to federal funding without safeguards. As Registered Apprenticeships, these new programs—which would not necessarily have to adhere to existing federal standards—would also be eligible to access federal dollars through programs such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

To read the full post, click here.

Victoria Crouse is a Public Policy Intern for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.

NC Budget and Tax Center

DACA and Plyer: Two anniversaries in the fight for immigrants’ access to education

Today marks five years since Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was first introduced by President Obama in response to immigrant youth advocating for protection from deportation and the right to work and go to college. Advocates are also celebrating the 35-year-old landmark decision in Plyer v. Doe, which declared that all children, regardless of immigration status had a constitutional right to a free public education. The latest post from the anti-poverty research and advocacy organization CLASP explores the impact of these two milestones, and the work still left to be done. Here’s an excerpt:

“In 1982, the Supreme Court’s Plyler ruling established that all children, regardless of immigration status, have a constitutional right to a free public education and found that denying undocumented children a basic education would create a “permanent underclass” and “foreclose any realistic possibility that they will contribute in even the smallest way to the progress of the nation.” The ruling, however, did not extend to postsecondary education, leaving thousands of undocumented youth—commonly referred to as “Dreamers”—with few options to continue their education beyond high school, including the challenge of lacking the documentation to work legally or stay in the country without fear of deportation.

“Five years ago today, the introduction of DACA completely changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. The program was a response by the Obama Administration to the failure of Congress to pass legislation that would address the tenuous position of these young people as well as the incredible organizing efforts of Dreamers themselves. DACA provides those eligible with a reprieve from deportation and a work permit for a renewable period of two years. Among other qualifications, applicants must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, entered the country before reaching their 16th birthday, and currently be enrolled in school or another qualifying education program, or have graduated from high school or obtained a general education certificate. Since the program’s inception, more than 780,000 young people have been approved for DACA, and a significant share are current students in our nation’s secondary and postsecondary institutions and are contributing members of our economy. Through DACA, they have stepped forward in good faith to provide information on their status, allowing them to fully live their lives and pursue their goals.”

To read the full post from CLASP, click here.

immigration

Immigrant students in N.C. lobby for tuition equity

Students who attended the Undocugraduation event gathered together at the entrance of the NC General Assembly after speaking with legislators. (Photo by Sarah Montgomery)

Dozens of students from across the state visited the Capitol building on Wednesday for the fifth year in a row to rally together and speak with state legislators about tuition equity. The “Undocugraduation” event was organized by the Adelante Education Coalition, a statewide network of organizations focused on expanding educational opportunities for Latinx/Hispanic and immigrant youth.  Some students who attended the event wore their graduation regalia to meetings with legislators, and spoke with them about their hopes and dreams in higher education.  Advocates also asked legislators to support HB 734 and SB 652, two bills that would open the door to higher education by allowing undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition.  Approximately 66,000 undocumented immigrant students in North Carolina would benefit from a tuition equity law.

Since 2001, eighteen states have passed legislation to grant in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students.  Four other states have granted in-state tuition through individual university systems. North Carolina, however, is not among those states. In NC, undocumented immigrant students are still considered out-of-state residents despite the fact that many have called this state their home for most of their lives. This means that many are locked out of higher education due to the high cost of out-of-state tuition for colleges and universities. Read more

immigration, NC Budget and Tax Center

Undocumented immigrants pay their fair share of taxes, too

Tax Day is just around the corner, and this year is no different than any other for countless undocumented immigrants filling tax forms in North Carolina. Current rhetoric on immigration often overlooks the important contributions undocumented immigrants make to our communities as neighbors, workers, and taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy recently released a study that highlights the significant contributions that undocumented immigrants make to our state and local economies by paying taxes. According to the report, undocumented immigrants across the United States collectively pay $11.74 billion in state and local taxes.

In North Carolina, these community members pay sales and excise taxes on things such as utilities, clothing and gasoline. They also pay property taxes, either directly on their homes or indirectly as renters. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants also pay state income taxes that help grow state investments in schools, transportation, health care, and other services. At least 50 percent of undocumented immigrant households currently file tax returns using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), which are the numbers assigned to foreign nationals who do not have a Social Security number. Among those who do not file tax returns, many still have taxes deducted form their paychecks.

Policymakers can also analyze tax contributions through the “effective tax rate,” which measures the share of total income paid in taxes. Across the country, the average effective tax rate for undocumented immigrants is 8 percent. This number is especially striking when you compare it to the average nationwide effective tax rate among the richest taxpayers: 5.4 percent.

Policymakers can still make wise choices that strengthen our communities and recognize the substantial contributions that immigrants make to our economy and to government revenues. A policy of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants would result in the harmful separation of families, and the loss of neighbors, students and friends. It would also result in a tremendous loss for state and local economies struggling to sustain a post-recession recovery. When it comes to immigration, state and national leaders have an opportunity to explore and enact sound public policies that promote economic growth and immigrant integration, based on facts and reality rather than playing out the politics of fear and division.

immigration, NC Budget and Tax Center

Refugees help North Carolina communities thrive

North Carolina has a history of being a good global neighbor as a site for refugee resettlement. In 2015, 69,920 refugees arrived in our country seeking better opportunities. Though small in number (0.022% of the total U.S. population), they and their predecessors have helped enrich communities and revive local economies. They arrive to this country fleeing natural disasters, war zones, and repressive governments. Despite the challenges they face in adjusting to life in a new country, many have succeeded in putting down roots in our state and in achieving a better life for their families. A recent report by the Center for American Progress highlights the successful integration of four refugee groups* in the United States, and demonstrates the positive impact refugees can have on our broader communities. Across the board, refugees who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more have seen positive outcomes in the areas of education, wages, labor force participation, and more.

Growing local economies by participating in the labor market

Refugees often see high rates of labor force participation, which is a strong indicator that they are integrating well into the labor market and helping boost American productivity. For those groups who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or fewer, all had at least a 45 percent participation rate. When looking at long-term outcomes (those who have lived in the U.S. 10 years or more), all refugee groups saw significant increases in labor force participation.

Additionally, refugees often see wage increases over time, which is partly due to changes in occupation as they integrate into communities. Many also experience occupational mobility. On average, among those who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more, there is a significant increase in the number of refugees moving from blue collar jobs into white collar jobs.    Read more