* David Roeder…
The job market in Illinois will continue to polarize, with most growth in high- and low-wage occupations, increasing the need for government and the private sector to support work with family-sustaining benefits, a bipartisan task force established by the state Legislature said Tuesday.
The 36-member panel said Illinois could “be a national leader in aligning business and worker needs through defining and enhancing job quality.” It said state government should realign its grants in workforce training and other programs to support jobs with benefits such as health insurance and family leave policies.
The panel’s report sidestepped the issue of mandates on the private sector but called on companies to implement such innovations as “portable” benefits that people can carry from one job to the next and paying workers a subsidy for commuting costs.
* From the Future Of Work Task Force Report…
Summary of key findings and trends Work Challenges
1. Illinois continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but recovery has been uneven. As of April, unemployment is down to 4.6 percent in Illinois, but that number is much higher for Black men and women (13.4 percent and 11.4 percent) compared to other groups, illustrating ongoing challenges with equity and job access. New business openings in Illinois continue to increase, with the rate sitting just below its pre- pandemic baseline.
2. Shifts in the Illinois economy away from manufacturing have translated to a loss of middle- wage jobs and a polarized labor market. Over 95 percent of Illinois workers live in urban areas, and although there are wide gaps in the unemployment rate across urban and rural counties, all areas of the state have experienced a hollowing out of middle- wage jobs.
3. Projections indicate growth in lower-wage and higher-wage jobs, further polarizing the labor market. The loss of middle-wage jobs is expected to continue over the next ten years. This highlights the need for policy innovation and business practices to improve the quality of low-wage jobs and create stronger on- ramps to high-wage jobs.
4. Illinois also continues to see gaps in postsecondary access and completion for Black, Latinx, low-income, and rural students. Bachelor’s degree attainment serves as a launch pad to higher-wage jobs, but equity gaps and the costs of accessing four-year colleges have grown prohibitive.
5. Unionization continues to decline, and non- traditional and gig work continues to increase. Nearly 14 percent of the Illinois workforce were part of a union, a number that has continued to decline. Although gig work is difficult to define and track, national estimates are that 16 percent of the workforce participates in some form of temporary work. […]
Summary of Task Force Policy Recommendations Job Quality, Benefits, and Labor Standards
1. Adopt a statewide job quality measurement.
2. Use a job quality measurement mechanism to award state funding.
3. Extend benefits to more people through models that: a. are not tied to any particular job b. support contributions from multiple employers or clients c. cover any worker, including independent contractors and other non-traditional workers.
4. Create paid leave benefit programs to improve economic security for workers when they need to care for themselves and their families.
5. Encourage employers to expand the scope of benefits to include as much employee support as possible, including defraying costs such as transportation.
6. Fund, pilot, and evaluate co-enforcement strategies in sectors with high instances of violations.
7. Consider enacting retaliation protections and stronger penalties for misclassifying employees.
There’s lots more, so click here to read the full report.
*** UPDATE *** Biz groups aren’t happy…
The business community recognizes that the workforce is its primary asset and taking care of workers in a new post-pandemic environment is a top priority. Talent attraction and retention are essential to success and competing in an ultra-competitive global economy, which is why business groups including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association are disappointed by the outcome of the Future of Work Task Force Report following a deeply flawed process that undermined efforts to have important conversations about improving work for future generations of Illinois residents.
Established in 2021 to assess the current realities of the state’s economy and labor market amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to identify future trends and practices to address the challenges business and workers face, the Task Force has a legal responsibility to operate within specific statutory guidelines allowing for transparency and public participation. However, since the Task Force began meeting last fall there have been numerous statutory violations, which have been brought to the attention of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which was supposed to provide administrative support, as well as Task Force Co-Chairs and members. These violations are particularly troublesome as this report will be sent to the General Assembly with the intent that recommendations will be implemented through potential legislation.
Many of the violations stemmed from a failure to meet specific requirements set forth by the authorizing legislation, including:
· Failure to appoint all Task Force members until after the legal deadlines to do so.
· Several meetings were held before all the required Task Force members were appointed.
· The Task Force routinely failed to provide public notice of meetings by omitting meeting locations and times.
Additionally, the final report to be voted upon was provided to the full Task Force at 6:45 a.m. for a 9:00 a.m. vote on the very same day. While the vote only required a majority of the quorum present it should be pointed out that only 17 of the 35 stakeholders voted to approve the report. Further, while DCEO was required to provide administrative support to the Task Force under the statute, two of the Task Force managers charged with planning meetings, developing meeting subject matter, and deciding who could participate were contract lobbyists. This includes one lobbyist who was paid by the Economic Security Project, raising potential conflicts of interest if the group also provided recommendations for the report. DCEO did not respond to questions about these arrangements.
Most of the report’s recommendations were never discussed and none were approved by the entire committee prior to the compiling of the report itself. Disappointingly, many of the recommendations in the report would harm Illinois’ chances to win on the key future growth industries outlined in the state’s 5-year economic development plan. Despite best efforts for meaningful participation, the business community did not get an opportunity for a full and fair hearing of recommendations because of the process and the conflicts of interest of the task force managers. Because of this, the report is not a legitimate starting point to discuss future legislation.
The pandemic has led to fundamental shifts in business operations for many industries, new ways businesses interact with their customers and clients, and, most importantly, how businesses engage, operate, and build their workforces. While the outcome of this Task Force process was profoundly disappointing, the future of work is a critically important conversation that will continue long past the release of this report and the business community remains deeply committed to improving the future of work for generations of Illinois residents and to working with policymakers on these critical issues.
…Adding… DCEO referred me to a letter it sent to the groups back in February. Click here to read it.