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Labor and Employment


Our American States

podcastThe economy in the U.S. went on a wild ride during the pandemic. Many of the challenges in the workforce became headline news, from dropping labor force participation to the Great Resignation.

The guests on this podcast offer two key perspectives on how legislators and states generally can promote workforce development.

Sen. Becky Massey (R) is a state legislator from Tennessee who has worked extensively on workforce issues and just recently took on the role of co-chair of NCSL’s Labor and Economic Development Committee. She talks about what her state has done in this area and offers suggestions for legislators in other states who wat to tackle the issue.

Eric Seleznow is with the Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning at Jobs for the Future.  He previously served as deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. He’s also had other roles in state and federal government focused on workforce development. He discussed how apprenticeships and other efforts can help states bolster their workforce.

Sen. Becky Massey, TennesseeEric Seleznow, JFF





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The federal minimum wage has been a hot topic this year and was debated during discussion of the 2021 Raise the Wage Act before Congress. The wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009, and proponents of an increase say it is not adequate given the rising cost of living. Opponents argue an increase will place an undue burden on businesses, especially small businesses just coming out of the pandemic.

Many businesses have set higher minimum wages and 29 states and Washington, D.C., also have rates above the federal minimum.

On the podcast to discuss the topic are Dave Cooper, a senior economic analyst at the Economic policy Institute and an expert on the minimum wage. Also on the show is Saige Draeger, an NCSL policy expert.

Cooper, whose organization did research that informed the legislation, discussed who earns both the federal and state minimum wage and how raising it might affect public benefits and small businesses. He also talked about pros and cons of state legislators setting the minimum wage for their states. Draeger explained how states have taken action regarding the minimum wage.

Dave Cooper, Economic Policy InstituteSaige Draeger, NCSL



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As people slowly head back to the workplace as the pandemic begins to fade, there is concern about whether people with disabilities will face steeper hurdles to employment. In the recovery following the Great Recession, for example, employment growth for people with disabilities lagged years behind those without disabilities.

Illinois Senator Dan McConchie, the Senate minority leader, is one of the guests on the podcast. McConchie, who lost the use of his legs following a traffic accident more than a decade ago, has been a strong advocate for enforcement of the accessibility requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He talks about the pros and cons of the trend toward teleworking for people with disabilities and the role state lawmakers can play in ensuring those with disabilities are treated fairly and included in the economic recovery. He also reflected on the 30th anniversary of the ADA and where states can go from here to make it better.

The second guest is Saige Draeger, a policy expert at NCSL, who discusses the roles of state legislators in this area, a new NCSL report that dives into the topic and other resources NCSL can provide to lawmakers.

Illinois Senator Dan McConchieSaige Draeger, NCSL





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