Giving Compass' Take:

• This report examines the relationship between unemployment levels and minimum wage violation rates during the Great Recession to better understand what policies are needed to protect workers’ rights during the coronavirus recession.

• How can donors help support job programs? What organizations are out there that can teach the proper skills needed?

• Here's an argument that reviving unions can improve labor standards for everyone. 

Workers in the United States are experiencing record unemployment at the same time that governments across the country are facing extraordinary budget deficits. Evidence from the Great Recession of 2007—2009 indicates high levels of unemployment weaken the labor market power of those low-wage workers who remain employed. As this report will demonstrate, minimum wage violations increased dramatically during the Great Recession and disproportionately impacted Latinx, Black, and female workers.

It is therefore critically important that federal, state, and local labor standards are vigorously and strategically enforced during times of economic stress. If minimum wage laws are not enforced during the current recession, then not only are the most vulnerable workers—those already struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages—at a higher risk of financial harm due to wage theft by their employers, but also the whole structure of wages in an industry or a city is weakened. Labor enforcement agencies at all levels of government must be both effective and strategic in their enforcement approaches while facing severe resource constraints that are likely to be exacerbated by recession-related shortfalls in government revenues and complicated by low-wage workers’ reluctance to make official complaints about wage theft lest they lose their jobs.

Read the full article about maintaining effective U.S. labor standards by Janice Fine, Daniel Galvin, Jenn Round, and Hana Shepherd at Equitable Growth.