California’s Attack on Gig Work Predictably Drove Workers Out of Jobs

“California’s attempt at forcing gig workers to become traditional employees backfired by driving many of those workers out of their jobs.
In the wake of a new law (Assembly Bill 5) that was intended to reclassify many independent contractors as regular employees, self-employment in California fell by 10.5 percent and overall employment tumbled by 4.4 percent, according to a study released Thursday by the Mercatus Center, a free market think tank housed at George Mason University. In professions where self-employment was more common, the effects were more dramatic, and in some fields employment declined by as much as 28 percent after A.B. 5’s implementation.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/18/californias-attack-on-gig-work-predictably-drove-workers-out-of-jobs/

Biden’s manufacturing boom is underway. But the jobs haven’t followed yet.

“Companies rushed to break ground on new factories in hopes of winning those federal incentives, driving industry spending on construction to record heights. And politically, Democratic advisers said, the building frenzy provides signs of progress that Biden can point to in nearly every state.
“By the end of the election, every voter in battleground states is going to hear this story about what he’s done to invest in America’s economic future,” said John Anzalone, the founder of Impact Research and a longtime Biden pollster. “That is just not a message that Trump has.”

Yet central to Biden’s story of a manufacturing comeback is the prospect of thousands of new jobs spurred by his new laws — and so far, those have been slow to materialize. While Biden often touts the nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs created during his presidency, the vast majority came prior to passage of the IRA and CHIPS, when Americans’ surging demand for goods during the pandemic drove a rapid industry recovery.

Since then, hiring has stalled as the economy evened out, with manufacturing-centric swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania actually losing factory jobs in 2023.

Those conditions have left Biden selling a manufacturing jobs boom that may not arrive in full force until well after November. Most companies that broke ground after Biden’s economic bills became law in August 2022 won’t have their new plants up and running until later this year — at the earliest. In high-profile setbacks for the White House, chipmakers TSMC and Intel have both signaled plans to delay production at their newest U.S. factories until 2025.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/19/biden-manufacturing-factory-jobs-00136473

California’s New Minimum Wage Is Predictably Killing Food Delivery Jobs

“A new California law will require that most food-service workers get paid at least $20 per hour starting next year.
But hundreds of pizza delivery drivers in the Los Angeles area are about to discover Thomas Sowell’s famous adage that the true minimum wage is zero.

Pizza Hut announced Wednesday that it would lay off about 1,200 delivery drivers in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties, CBS News reported. Pizza Hut franchises are outsourcing delivery to third-party apps like GrubHub and UberEats as a cost-saving measure in advance of the new law taking effect.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/27/californias-new-minimum-wage-is-predictably-killing-food-delivery-jobs/

The future of affirmative action in the workplace

“The laws surrounding affirmative action in employment haven’t changed.
Federal contractors have been required to take affirmative action, steps to ensure applicants are treated fairly, since 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11246. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines on voluntary affirmative action, employers are encouraged to take voluntary steps to “correct the effects of past discrimination and to prevent present and future discrimination” such as expanding their applicant pools to ensure a diverse body of applicants for any given position.

As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted in a statement after the decision, the cases do not “address employer efforts to foster diverse and inclusive workforces or to engage the talents of all qualified workers, regardless of their background,” clarifying that it is still legal for “employers to implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility programs that seek to ensure workers of all backgrounds are afforded equal opportunity in the workplace.”

Still, legal threats from right-wing organizations that have already spent years trying to get organizations, including Starbucks and McDonald’s, to end their DEI programs could increase.

The Supreme Court’s decision to ban race-conscious measures in college admissions is likely to encourage more lawsuits against race-conscious policies in employment, said Pauline Kim, an employment law expert at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.”

Telephone operation was a good career for women. Then it got automated.

“For existing operators, they find that automation had real costs. Operators in a city that transitioned to mechanical switching were substantially less likely to have any job 10 years later than operators in cities that were slower to automate; those that did find work tended to find worse, lower-paying jobs.
But Feigenbaum and Gross also examine the results for young white women coming of age during automation, who just a few years earlier would’ve been ideal candidates for telephone operator jobs. Remarkably, they find little or no negative effects at all: they were just as likely to find work as they would have been before, and job openings in fields like secretarial work and restaurants increased even as telephone operation was automated away. Some of those jobs (like restaurant work) paid less, but others were competitive with telephone operation.

This is just one case, and economists have a long way to go in understanding how automation affects workers — a question that is more important than ever with the rapid progress in AI. But telephone operation appears like a mostly heartening example. Even though a job that once employed 2 percent of all working women was automated away, new workers entering the labor market were not significantly worse off.”

Biden’s hydrogen bombshell leaves Europe in the dust

“The clean energy subsidies that undergird President Joe Biden’s climate agenda have just prompted one Norwegian manufacturer to choose Michigan, not Europe, as the site of a nearly $500 million factory that will produce the equipment needed to extract hydrogen from water. And other European-based companies are being tempted to follow suit, people involved in the continent’s hydrogen efforts say — making the universe’s most abundant substance the latest focus of the transatlantic trade battle on green energy.
The Norwegian firm, Nel, announced its decision in May, nine months after Congress approved Biden’s flagship climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act. The move takes 500 new jobs to the other side of the Atlantic, despite the European Union’s efforts to position itself as the obvious place for clean tech investment.”

Vague Visa Rules Leave Laid-Off Twitter Worker Unable To Return to U.S.

“Vong spoke with his interim manager and new team director in December about his upcoming trip. They indicated that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to work from Australia remotely, so he left the U.S. in January, first visiting Singapore and then Malaysia. There, Vong got the news that he’d been laid off after all. His interim manager had been moved to another team and his director had been fired.
The layoff would’ve been bad enough on its own, but because of the rules of Vong’s visa, it landed him in a bureaucratic mess that now prevents him from returning to the United States. “February was hard,” Vong tells Reason. “Coming to terms emotionally with staying in Australia a lot longer…how to move things out of my apartment in L.A., sell my car, and I’ve been trying to facilitate all of that remotely.”

Vong was in the U.S. on an E-3 visa, which is reserved for highly skilled workers from Australia. Similar to the H-1B visa, another temporary visa for specialty workers, E-3 holders only have 60 days to find a new job if they’re laid off. Otherwise, they have to leave the country. With mass layoffs taking place recently across the tech industry—which relies heavily on the H-1B program—thousands of foreign workers have been forced to scramble to find new work.

But Vong’s case had an added layer of complexity since he was out of the country when he was laid off. “I was thinking, well, I have 60 days’ grace, I’m still technically employed, maybe I can just like fly back to the U.S. right now, cancel the plans to hang with my family in January,” he says. He consulted his immigration lawyer—who is also his friend—and learned that it might not be that simple. “There were all of these potential risks that plausibly could happen because of the uncertain, undefined circumstances around my unemployment, or technical unemployment,” explains Vong. “None of that language matches the visa language.

Immigration officials could interpret his employment status in very different ways. On one hand, he was still technically employed, having been given “two months of a nonworking period” where he was still getting paid. On the other, he’d lost access to his company email. They could welcome him back without issue. “Or it could go the other way where it’s like, ‘It doesn’t look like you’re actively employed right now, and this visa requires you to be actively employed, so we’re going to have to deny you entry,'” Vong says. An immigration officer might also feel that Vong was intentionally misrepresenting himself, which could lead to more severe penalties.

Ultimately, his lawyer warned him not to risk it. “I didn’t have a reliable way to get back in,” he says. Immigration lawyers interviewed by Fast Company, which covered Vong’s story, indicated that he was “right to stay overseas for now.””

The empty threat of a white-collar recession

“Meta laying off 11,000 people and Goldman Sachs 3,200 sounds like a lot. But when you put it in context, it’s quite tiny — there are some 165 million people in the workforce. It’s also important to keep in mind when looking at websites like layoffs.fyi, which tracks tech sector layoffs, that in the grand scheme of things, some of these totals are not that much.”