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Below you can search through our complete database of LEP reports and publications.

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How the Workers’ Rights Amendment Passed in Illinois | A Political Analysis

In November 2022, a majority of Illinois voters approved the Workers’ Rights Amendment, which guarantees the fundamental right of workers to unionize and bargain collectively. The Amendment passed with 2.2 million votes. Of all the ballots cast, the vote was 53.4 percent yes to 37.6 percent no, with 9.0 percent not voting. The Workers’ Rights Amendment prevents lawmakers from passing laws that interfere with, negate, or diminish the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively.
Read full report here.

Families’ Experiences with the Child Tax Credit | Advancing Tax Equity through Administration Reforms and Community Partnerships

This report draws on the U.S. Census Household Pulse survey to illustrate important diversity in reported CTC-receipt by race, gender, income, family structure, and marital status among households who would be potentially eligible for CTC. We also summarize findings from in-depth interviews and focus groups with parents/caregivers, outreach workers, community organization stakeholders, and tax preparers to provide additional context on how families experience the CTC payments, the confusions families had about the expanded CTC, and the challenges and successes of reaching “the hardest to reach”, immigrant families, and “non-nuclear” families.
Read full report here.

Quality of the Gig | An Analysis of App-Based Platform Drivers’ Working Conditions in the Greater Chicago Area

The growth of drivers working for app-based platforms who are treated as “independent contractors” is characterized by the companies having no federal responsibility to pay minimum wage, protect workers against sexual harassment, or offer workers paid leave or health care benefits. Excluded from the National Labor Relations Act, independent contractors like gig workers also lack the ability to form unions or access workers’ compensation.
Scholars have begun to analyze and raise questions about employment relations in the gig economy. This study contributes to this discussion by broadening the scope of research to analyze workers’ job quality on several measures, including their earnings, benefits, expenses, health and safety outcomes, experiences with harassment and discrimination, and employment status preferences.
Results from a November 2021 through March 2022 survey of 502 drivers reveal the working conditions of app-based drivers in the Chicago metro area. Full report here.

The Economic Impact of Prevailing Wage Law Repeals on Construction Market Outcomes | Evidence from Repeals Between 2015 and 2018

Prevailing wage laws establish minimum wages for skilled construction workers employed on taxpayer-funded projects. The main purpose of prevailing wage laws is to protect local construction standards in the competitive low-bid process. The laws create a level playing field for all construction contractors by ensuring that public expenditures maintain and reflect local market standards for compensation and craftsmanship. As of 2023, a total of 28 states plus the District of Columbia have prevailing wage laws. Between 2015 and 2018, however, six states—Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Michigan—repealed their prevailing wage laws. This report utilizes data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor to compare construction market outcomes in states that repealed their prevailing wage laws to those that maintained their prevailing wage laws.
Read full report here.

Toward a Theory of Super-Exploitation:The Subproletariat, Harold“Hal” Baron, and the Crisis of the Political Economy of Black Labor

This article argues that the African American working class can be conceptualized as a subproletariat: a subsection of the working class generally restricted to unstable, unskilled, low-wage, non-union, and “dirty” labor. The restructuring of capital during various periods in the U.S. history always strategically positioned the vast majority of Black people in subproletarian labor. Under the current crisis in the political economy of Black labor, uneven development and economic dislocation have deepened the lack of stable, skilled, living wage jobs in poor Black regions of the USA. This article expands on the earlier work of Joe Trotter and Harold “Hal” Baron to build a framework to understand this phenomenon. This paper proposes that Black labor and the Black working class provide the most succinct starting points to understanding the complexities of contemporary forms of anti-Black racial oppression.

Cover of the report "THE ECONOMIC OUTCOMES OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN ILLINOIS COMPARED TO STATES THAT HAVE BANNED OR ARE LIKELY TO BAN ABORTION" shows a semi-transparent image of three women looking downwards at something unseen. They are mid-conversation.

On June 24th of 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade, upending a five decades-long precedent on women’s reproductive healthcare rights.
Previous research has linked reproductive healthcare with improved outcomes for women and children.
• The legalization of abortion reduced teen motherhood by 34 percent.
• The legalization of abortion reduced maternal mortality, including by 40 percent for Black women.
• Women who are denied access to abortions experience a 78 percent increase in past-due debt and an 81 percent increase in bankruptcies and evictions.
• For young women who experience unintended pregnancies, access to abortion improves college graduation rates by 18 percent and boosts employment by as much as 27 percent.
• The legalization of abortion lowered childhood poverty, decreased crime rates, and improved children’s educational outcomes.
Despite six-in-ten Americans (61 percent) saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, there are at least 20 states that have already banned or are likely to ban the procedure. These states were restricting abortion access through various regulations prior to the Dobbs decision. By contrast, Illinois has expanded women’s reproductive rights and ensures that health insurance plans cover reproductive healthcare.
Read full report here.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Illinois Workers | Data from the Current Population Survey, 2019-2021

The United States is currently facing a tight labor market, and Illinois is not immune. As of July 2022, there were 469,000 job openings in the state, or 1.6 per unemployed resident. At the same time, as of July 2022, total non-farm employment in Illinois was still down by about 80,500 workers (-1 percent) compared to February 2020 levels. This report uses Current Population Survey data to look back and assess how the pandemic and its aftermath reshaped Illinois’ workforce.
Read full report here.

An Economic Impact Analysis of Hiring Local in Springfield, Missouri

A local business preference ordinance has been proposed to support small businesses, prevent high unemployment, and increase municipal tax revenues in Springfield, Missouri. The ordinance would provide an 8 percent bid credit to law-abiding local businesses bidding on the City’s public works projects.
A strong Springfield is built locally by highly trained workers. Awarding public works projects to local businesses who employ Springfield residents would boost economic development, promote training opportunities for young residents, and spur local tax revenues. As a result, the proposed local business preference ordinance would deliver good value for taxpayers.
Read full report here.

Illinois at $1 Trillion | Putting the Historic Economic Achievement in Context

Illinois is now a $1 trillion economy, a historic accomplishment that reveals the strength of its businesses and workers. Illinois is the 5th state to generate $1 trillion in annual economic value, following California, New York, Texas, and Florida.
Illinois is the economic engine of the Midwest, but steps can be taken to ensure the state continues to attract, develop, and retain productive workers who earn middle-class incomes on the path to a $2 trillion economy.
Read the full report here.

The State of the Unions 2022 | A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in the United States

Labor unions have historically delivered pathways into good, middle-class careers. Through collective bargaining, union workers earn higher wages, are more likely to have health insurance coverage, and have greater access to paid leave. A recent surge in union activity is taking place following years of worsening inequality, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a national labor shortage.
Read full report here.