Economic History

Fifth of Top Five Facts About Drilling and Taxes in PA

Gov. Wolf has proposed a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas in Pennsylvania to provide funding for public schools. Lawmakers in both parties have introduced severance tax bills every year since 2009, and every year the gas drillers have successfully fought the tax, spending $46.8 million on lobbying since 2007.  Much of the industry’s lobbying money has gone into manufacturing a narrative, built on a foundation of myths, about the economic benefits of drilling and the fragility of the industry.

Pittsburgh Again on the Forefront of Labor Innovation to Build the Next Middle Class

WESA in Pittsburgh has a radio feature airing today on union organizing among contingent faculty in higher education. It includes some excerpts from an interview with me. You can listen to it and access a transcript here.

Policy Matters: Piketty and "Two Critical Realignments" in One Graph

Our friend Colin Gordon of the Iowa Policy Project runs a website called The Telltale Chart. As the name implies, he loves charts.

Colin's outdone himself today on the blog of the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) with what he calls "Piketty in one graph."

Pittsburgh: One of America's New Laboratories of Democracy

My colleague Diana Polson brought my attention to Harold Meyerson's new story in The American Prospect highlighting Pittsburgh as a city with exciting young progressive political leadership and labor-community alliances (e.g., Pittsburgh United). Pittsburgh deserves the credit as do councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Mayor Peduto, and SEIU 32BJ, which received shout outs in the story.

Makers of the U.S. Unite: The UAW Vote at VW One More Time

There are three central challenges facing U.S. manufacturing today: wages are too low, employers invest too little in their workers, and the sector lacks meaningful credentials or job-matching institutions allowing dislocated workers to find new manufacturing jobs that capitalize on their skills.

Understanding the Union Vote at VW in Tennessee

As you probably know, the United Auto Workers (UAW) lost a union election at a Chattanooga Volkswagen plant last month by a vote of 712 to 646 (53% to 47%). My heart goes out to the workers and UAW leaders who put heart and soul into achieving a different result.

I was taken aback by the vote, I have to admit. So it has taken me a couple of weeks to process it.

Towards a Moral Economy: Is NOW the time?

The Moral March: Photo from ThinkProgress.orgThe Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch had an uplifting column this past Sunday on Saturday's "Moral March" in Raleigh, N.C. It was the South's largest protest march since Dr. Martin Luther King and the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965.

Latest Income Numbers in Historical Perspective

The Gilded AgeColin Gordon of the Iowa Policy Project has taken recently-released 2012 figures on the incomes of the top 1% and the rest of us and put the new information in historical perspective. Using national figures, he makes three points.

Third and State This Week: Nutrition Assistance Cuts, Fast Food Worker Strikes, Modest State Revenue Growth & More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a pending cut and other threats to federal nutrition assistance, what the one-day strikes by fast food workers tell us about the future of the middle class, a post-recession pay cut for the nation's low-wage workers, state revenue growth in the year ahead, and the role of public safety net programs in keeping people out of poverty.


  • On food insecurity, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a report on the significant impact that a pending cut in nutrition assistance will have on low-income families across Pennsylvania and the nation. He also shared a New York Times report on a new study finding that additional cuts proposed by the U.S. House would cost more than 5 million Americans needed food assistance.
  • On unions and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that the fast food workers engaging in one-day strikes across the country may be on the verge of cracking the code to the next U.S. middle class.
  • On income inequality, intern Ellis Wazeter blogged about a recent study showing that low-wage American workers have taken a post-recession hit to their paychecks.
  • On state taxes, Michael Wood shared a chart showing that General Fund revenue collections are projected to grow very little in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
  • And on poverty, Chris Lilienthal passed on a blog post by Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlighting just how much public safety net programs have helped keep people out of poverty in the United States.


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