Category Archives: Jobs
A recent vote by the Washington D.C. City Council requires large retailers to pay a minimum hourly wage of $12.50 an hour—$5.25 more than the current minimum wage of $7.25 nationally and $8.25 in D.C.— and the decision received wide attention, especially when retailers planning to build new stores in the city said they’d pull the plug on the projects if required to pay the higher salaries. But at least two recent magazine articles explain why there’s been a fervent recent push to try to push up the wages of those in low-paying jobs. New York Magazine recently surveyed 100 fast food restaurant employees in that city and asked, among other things, “can you live off your paycheck?” The answer appears to be no. The average pretax monthly pay for the surveyed workers was $984 while average monthly expenses including rent, utilities, groceries and cell phone bills was $1,115—which adds up to $131 more in expenses than pay.
>>Bonus Link: Why does income matter to health? See a NewPublicHealth infographic on how stable jobs and income lead to healthier lives.
And last weeks’ New Yorker Magazine added heft to the need to look at the current minimum wage rate, in light of just how critical that income is to many households. According to the article, while low-wage retail jobs were once squarely aimed at high school students looking for pocket money and those looking for supplemental income, in the last few years of stiff unemployment, studies find that current low-wage workers are responsible for 46 percent of household income. According to the New Yorker article, “Congress is currently considering a bill increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years…still a long way from turning these jobs into the kind of employment that can support a middle-class family.”
Nearly 40 percent of private-sector employees in the United States do not have access to paid sick days, making it difficult for them to miss work when they are ill or have a doctor’s appointment. Those who do stay home often suffer lost wages and risk being fired from their jobs. To avoid financial insecurity, employees often go to work while sick, according to the Network for Public Health Law.
Paid sick days, on the other hand, allow employees to stay home or seek preventive care without risking a family’s income or endangering the health of co-workers, customers and others. In fact, one study found that 7 million workers were infected with H1N1 in 2009 because their co-workers came to work sick. To combat this trend, some U.S. cities and one state (Connecticut) have enacted laws requiring employers to provide paid sick days, which was a topic explored in a webinar earlier this year from the Network for Public Health Law.
But as some cities are making moves toward paid sick leave, some state-level legislation is cropping up that could prevent cities and counties from passing their own paid sick days standards and enacting other workplace protections. Such preemption laws are being considered in at least six states, according to a post by Vicki Shabo, Director of Work and Family Programs, for the National Partnership for Women and Families.
"No matter where you live or work, no one should have to choose between job and family because he or she cannot earn paid sick days," said Shabo in the post.
The NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series is underway, including interviews with Cabinet Secretaries and their National Prevention Council designees, exploring the impact of jobs, transportation and more on health. “Stable Jobs = Healthier Lives” tells a visual story on the role of employment in the health of our communities.
- Since 1977, the life expectancy of male workers retiring at age 65 has risen 6 years in the top half of the income distribution, but only 1.3 years in the bottom half.
- 12.3 million Americans were unemployed as of October 2012.
- Laid-off workers are 54% more likely to have fair or poor health, and 83% more likely to develop a stress-releated health condition.
- There are nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries each year.
- The United States is one of the few developed nations without universal paid sick days.
View the full infographic below.
Today on The Health Care Blog, Mark Pinsky, President and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of community development finance institutions that provide funds for low-income communities, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, penned a guest blog about burgeoning opportunities for economic growth and job creation to support healthier communities.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Mark Pinsky about the synergy between economic policy and health policy, and new cross-sector partnerships that could make a difference.
>>Also watch a video interview with Mark Pinsky here:
Twelve coalitions across the United States have been awarded Roadmaps to Health Community Grants by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). What's unique about these projects is that they include broad collaboration among everyone from policymakers, business, education, health care to the traditional public health and community organization players, and focus on the factors outside the doctor's office that can have a big impact on health, like education, income, employment and community safety.
Just a handful of examples include:
- Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and its partners will raise awareness about the strong connections between education and health, increase access to high-quality education and help Providence youth successfully enroll in and graduate from college, among other programs.
- Alameda County Public Health Department will make consumer-focused banking services more accessible to residents of low-income neighborhoods to help ensure financial security, which affects people’s ability to get health insurance, pay for preventive medical care, and afford healthy and safe places to live.
- The Wellspring Initiative will help create entry-level jobs and improve living conditions in several low-income, blighted neighborhoods in Springfield, Mass. to ultimately improve residents’ health.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, will also include other efforts to mobilize local communities, national partners and leaders, such as a prize program to recognize communities pioneering healthy changes.
Descriptions of all 12 grant recipients are available here. NewPublicHealth will be profiling the Roadmaps grantees in the coming months as they begin their work. Read more news related to the County Health Rankings.
NewPublicHealth reported yesterday on a Congressional briefing to launch a new report, Healthier Americans for a Healthier Economy. The report showcases several states and cities that have found that better health for their citizens can also improve their bottom line, often in partnership with businesses and other community partners. NewPublicHealth spoke with Tom Mason, president of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, and one of the presenters at yesterday's briefing about the group’s efforts and preliminary outcomes in Minnesota.
NewPublicHealth: When did the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota open for business?
Tom Mason: It began about two years ago. We started working with Target and Cargill and a couple of other early members about how to use competitions and information and entertainment to try to better engage employees regarding workplace wellness activities. Very sophisticated companies all are very aware of the return on investment at multiple levels regarding workplace wellness and prevention and overall well-being, but it’s not always easy to interest employees.
NPH: What background do you bring to the Alliance?
Job losses and program cuts continue to impact local health departments according to a newly released survey from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Survey results show that in the last year, more than half of all local health departments reduced or eliminated at least one program. Services for mothers and children were among the hardest hit. Other areas that faced the axe: emergency preparedness, immunizations, chronic disease screening, and personal health services.
“Fewer staff means a loss of key protections for you and me,” said Robert M. Pestronk, M.P.H., NACCHO’s executive director.
But Pestronk says that with the loss comes resourcefulness. Case in point: in response to losing millions in their budget and eliminating 20 staff positions, Coconino Public Health Services District in Arizona became its own tax district in 2010 and now has a dedicated, stable funding source that lets health officials assign funding to local priorities.
NewPublicHealth spoke with Robert Pestronk about the NACCHO 2011 survey.
NewPublicHealth: What’s new this year that you haven’t seen before in job losses at local health departments?
Robert Pestronk: I think what we’re seeing new is the impact on programs and services that local health departments have been delivering. There is more impact in more places than we’ve seen before.
NPH: Are there any bright signs ahead? New creative ideas from local health departments to help deal with the funding cuts?