All Publications

  • Henry Louis Taylor, Gavin Luter, and Camden Miller. “The University, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Civic Engagement: Toward Civic Engagement 3.0”. Societies, Vol. 8, no. 4, MDPI, 2018.

    The essay explains the reasons why and concludes with a section on a more robust strategy higher education can pursue in the quest to bring about desirable change in the university neighborhood.

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  • Eric Sundquist, Mary Ebeling, Robbie Webber, Chris McCahill, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Katya Spear. Modernizing Mitigation: A Demand-Centered Approach to Reducing Car Travel. COWS, 2018.

    Traditional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are increasingly used by large employers and building owners to encourage the use of alternatives to driving – things like providing bus passes, bike share, and affordable carpooling. But most existing best practices overlook the role of local government decision makers, whose decisions on policy affecting local transportation options, planning and regulation of land use, structure and enforcement of fees, taxes and other financial signals can play a big role in increasing or decreasing vehicle demand.

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  • Securing strong economic opportunity for Wisconsin’s working families and closing racial and ethnic income disparity requires strong attention to the access and success of students of color at our state’s colleges and universities.

    In this report COWS focuses on college degrees – both the two year associates degrees offered by the 16 colleges of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and four year bachelor’s degrees offered by colleges throughout the University of Wisconsin System (UWS).

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  • Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Emanuel Ubert, and Anna Walther. State of Working Wisconsin 2018. COWS, 2018.

    Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.

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  • Equity in Apprenticeship is a report series which highlights programs that use apprenticeship to extend occupational opportunity to historically marginalized groups, especially people of color and women.

    These case studies of apprenticeship programs span the country and industries:

    1. Health Care Pathways in LA: New Apprenticeship Opportunities as an Industry Changes
      The Worker Education and Resource Center (WERC) in Los Angeles has become highly adept at preparing health care workers who share a cultural affinity with LA’s patient populations.
    2. Manufacturing Pathways in Milwaukee: Bringing Skills and Equity to Manufacturing’s Future
      The Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) program is the product of collaboration between labor and management leaders in Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector and has created a new rung in the ladder in production jobs.
    3. Equity from the Frontline: Workers’ Insight and Leadership Supports a Network of Apprenticeships in Transit
      In California, the Joint Workforce Investment in the South Bay Valley Transportation Authority has developed a web of apprenticeships and advancement opportunities.

    Equity in Apprenticeship was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We are grateful for their generous support. The findings and conclusions presented in this series are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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  • Laura Dresser, Sarah Thomason, Lea Austin, Annette Bernhardt, Ken Jacobs, and Marcy Whitebook. At the Wage Floor: Covering Homecare and Early Care and Education Workers in the New Generation of Minimum Wage Laws. COWS, 2018.

    In November 2012, fast-food workers in New York went on strike and the Fight for $15 was born. Over the last five years, the movement has lifted wages for more than 17 million workers across the nation by fighting for and winning numerous minimum wage policies (National Employment Law Project 2016). Substantial minimum wage increases are underway in California, New York, Oregon, and more than 30 cities and counties around the country. In states and cities covered by them, these new minimum wages will increase earnings for 25 to 40 percent of workers (Reich, Allegretto, and Montialoux 2017; Reich et al. 2016). After four decades of wage stagnation and rising inequality, the movement has delivered real, much needed, and meaningful progress in a remarkably short period of time.

    Fast food has been iconic in the discussions of the minimum wage, from the influential mid-1990s research that found no negative employment impact of wage increases in the industry, to the fast-food workers who have walked out on strike in cities across the country in recent years (Card and Kruger 1995). But of course the reach of these wage increases extends well beyond fast food to underpaid workers in multiple industries. The dynamics of minimum wage increases vary across industries based on each industry’s specific structure.

    Nowhere are the distinct dynamics more pronounced and challenging than for those employed in human services industries. This paper focuses on an important subset of these workers: those who provide homecare and early care and education services to the very young, people with disabilities, and those who are frail due to age or illness. We explain the pressing need to raise these workers’ wages and the unique structure of their industries that results in a funding squeeze for wage increases—at the root of this is the fact that most families are unable to afford all of the homecare and child care they need, never mind pay enough to ensure that workers earn a living wage, and public human services are chronically underfunded.

    These workers provide a critical (but too often unrecognized) public good; as such, we argue that a significant public investment is a necessary part of the solution, both to deliver minimum wage increases to these workers and to cover the significant unmet need for care. We provide background about the shared and divergent challenges in the homecare and early care and education industries, as well as review emerging policy initiatives to fund wage increases for homecare and early care and education workers and identify principles for public policy going forward.

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  • The UniverCity Alliance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a new local government partner for the UniverCity Year program for the period of 2018-2021. Could this be your community?

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  • Katya Spear. “Improving Health Outcomes for All Through Local Policy Making”. The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, 2018.

    First featured in the March 2018 Community Health issue of The Municipality – Your Voice. Your Wisconsin. Published by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

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  • In the fourth quarter of 2017, Wisconsin added 12,500 jobs, most of them in October. In contrast to the strong October, in December, Wisconsin actually lost jobs. Still, over the quarter, the state’s job base grew. Growth was driven by private sector gains, with the state adding 15,200 private jobs. The state lost 2,700 public sector jobs across the quarter capping off a very weak year in the public sector. Wisconsin’s ended 2017 with 3,300 fewer public sector jobs than a year ago. Still, as with the quarter, so with the year. Private sector growth meant that the state jobs base grew 1.4 percent: Wisconsin added 40,200 jobs in 2017. The unemployment rate continues to drop slowly across the nation and Wisconsin is not an exception. Unemployment in Wisconsin stands now at 3.0%, significantly below the level of the end of 2016 and at its lowest point since the recession.

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  • Mel Meder, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Michael Wolf. A New Jersey That Works for Working People. COWS, 2018.

    New Jersey’s economy has not recovered from the recession like it could – and should – have. Economic difficulties that began with losses in manufacturing jobs throughout the 1980s have persisted. Despite a diverse population and a shift in land use from sprawling suburban growth to more infill development, job numbers and GDP are growing too slowly. And what growth there is, isn’t distributed equally. New Jersey struggles with extreme racial and economic disparities that distribute the benefits of the economy not as shared prosperity, but to the wealthy.

    State policy can and must lift up working people and their families, creating a more equitable and inclusive New Jersey. The State must act to raise labor market standards, creating more jobs that pay good wages and provide full benefits. State economic development strategy should also adopt higher standards, ensuring that only businesses that provide good jobs are incentivized with public funds. Housing and transportation policy at the state level should direct resources and planning toward more connected, dense neighborhoods that are either near job centers or within easy, affordable transit access to job opportunities; key to this will be ensuring that affordable housing is available, especially in areas with increasing development. Additionally, policy shifts can uphold the civil rights of people of color and immigrants, while also protecting these communities from disproportionate health and economic impacts of environmental degradation. This report discusses a selection of such policies.

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