What Do the Mid-Term Election Results Tell Us About Employment Sentiments? | DCR Workforce Blog

What Do the Mid-Term Election Results Tell Us About Employment Sentiments?

State LawsIssues regarding job creation and workers’ rights have been central to this year’s mid-term election. For months, candidates in every key race have claimed to be the person who will create more jobs. The ballots in many states included referendum questions regarding worker rights. The mid-term elections are now behind us. What conclusions can be drawn regarding the sentiments of American voters regarding today’s employment conditions in the United States?

While it is too soon to tell whether the winning candidates will actually fulfill their promises to create additional jobs, we do know from exit polls that many voters cited dissatisfaction with the economy and the “need for a change” as their reason for their candidate choices. Across the nation, voters indicated that they felt that they were paying more taxes, have fewer career options, and were worse off economically than they were a decade ago.

Their views were also reflected in the results of referendum questions:

  • Massachusetts voters approved a measure allowing workers whose companies do not offer sick time as a benefit to earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time each year. This paid leave can be used for personal illness or medical appointments, for an illness in the family, or to deal with a domestic abuse situation. All companies are affected by this, as workers at companies with fewer than 11 employees the chance to earn unpaid sick time.
  • Montclair, NJ has become the seventh municipality in the state of New Jersey to mandate that all private-sector employees receive paid sick leave through a program similar to the one passed in Massachusetts. More than three quarters of Montclair voters approved the public ballot question asking if the town should require all businesses to offer paid sick leave to its full- and part-time employees. Voters in Trenton also passed a similar mandate, bringing the number of cities within New Jersey with paid sick leave to eight. New Jersey is now considering implementing the mandate on a statewide basis.
  • Minimum wage ballot initiatives passed in four states — Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Alaska. In every state the margin of victory was significant. The minimum wage increases are less than the $10.10 desired by President Obama. However, more than 600,000 workers will receive raises to $9.75 an hour by 2016 in Alaska; to $8.50 an hour by 2017 in Arkansas; to $9.00 an hour by 2016 in Nebraska; and to $8.50 an hour by 2015 in South Dakota. By a wide margin, Illinois voters also recommended an increase to the minimum wage, but the vote was nonbinding.
  • San Francisco voters went even further. They approved a mandate to increase the minimum wage to $15. The increase will be phased in gradually in four increments, reaching $15 in July 2018.

One question that remains unanswered is, will these new mandates ultimately help or hurt workers? Those opposed to raising the minimum wage argue that it lowers employment. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would create about 500,000 job losses. But numerous economic studies over the past twenty years saw little or no employment impact when minimum wages were raised at the federal or state level. Similarly, many fear that passage of the paid leave mandate will create an undue hardship on employers, causing them to select other locations for their business operations. There is no research – contradictory or otherwise – to help predict the impact of paid sick leave.

The greater question is, is it possible to create more jobs while introducing policies that increase corporate expenses? Time will tell whether each of us voted wisely in the mid-term elections. DCR will be carefully watching to determine the effects of our choices, and we’ll keep you posted!

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
An industry veteran, Debra draws on more than 25 years of experience in corporate operations, strategic planning, marketing, sales and management. Her prolific work experience includes service at top computer technology, management consulting, and workforce management companies.