The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Economics In Brief: A New Era Of Pay Transparency Is Dawning

Plus, what a major grocery store merger could mean for you.

(Photo by nrd / Unsplash)

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How New Laws Will Force Companies To Reveal Job Salaries

Vox’s Record breaks down how a spate of local and state laws will soon begin to force companies to divulge pay ranges for any open positions they advertise. One such law has already taken effect in Colorado, and similar state laws are soon to be implemented in New York, Washington and California.

“Transparency is one of the leading tools we’ve identified for closing the wage gap,” Andrea Johnson, director of state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, told Recode. “It is absolutely crucial for both increasing worker power and employer accountability.” When combined with emerging city and state laws that protect workers’ rights to discuss pay without retaliation or prevent employers from asking candidates about their salary histories, experts believe such laws will push employers across the country to be more transparent.

A Grocery Megamerger Could Exacerbate Food Insecurity

Two of America’s biggest grocery chains are proposing a nearly $25 billion merger between the rivals, which would create a grocery behemoth with about 5,000 stores and $200 billion in annual revenue. But experts say Kroger’s plans to acquire its rival Albertsons, which owns Safeway, Shaw’s and Starmarket among other subsidiaries, could mean even higher grocery prices for consumers as well as more food deserts.

“They have a lot of statements about how there is going to be an enhanced consumer experience,” Christine Bartholomew, a University at Buffalo law professor and antitrust scholar, told USA Today. “But the materials are a little quiet about how they’re actually going to reduce costs for consumers.” She also noted that the grocery giant may close some stores where the two companies overlap.

Grocery workers and unions, too, have noted that the result of such mergers “historically is higher prices for customers, worse conditions for workers, shuttered stores and job losses.”

Several lawmakers, from progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren to conservative Sen. Mike Lee, have noted concerns over the proposed acquisition, with many calling on regulators to block such a merger. A hearing has been set for next month.

Chicago Takes On Vacant Lots T0 Fight Crime

Bloomberg’s CityLab reports that Chicago seeks to accelerate the sale of 4,000 vacant lots owned by the city as part of a broad effort to reduce crime, promote affordable housing development and revitalize disinvested neighborhoods. Chicago officials have pointed to Philadelphia’s success in transforming vacant lots, which researchers have found reduced gun violence by 29%, burglaries by 22%, and nuisance crimes by 30%. The city’s new streamlined process will likely halve sales time to about six months, meaning the city can “begin finally to do the in-fill development that many of these communities have waited for for many, many years,” a city commissioner said.

Report Finds Wide Variation In Poverty Rates Among U.S. States

An analysis published in The Sociological Quarterly found that poverty rates vary widely from state to state in the U.S. – about as much as they do between European countries.

The study found that over the 24-year period from 1993-2016, the country’s poorest state, Mississippi, had a poverty rate of about 24%. That’s over 3.5 times more than the average rate in the lowest state, New Hampshire, where the poverty rate was 6.6%.

“If poverty on the national level is to decrease, it likely must start with states,” concluded the study’s author, D. Adam Nicholson, a scholar of sociology based at The Ohio State University.

Some U.S. Currency Will Feature An Asian American For The First Time

The U.S. Mint has begun producing quarters featuring Asian American actress Anna May Wong, who died in 1961 after a career spanning 60 films, NPR reports. An advocate for better on-screen representation and dubbed Hollywood’s first Asian American movie star, Wong will be featured on millions of coins as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, which celebrates women who have changed American history.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Aysha Khan is the managing editor at Next City.

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Tags: jobschicagopoverty

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