Economics In Brief: An End To Noncompetes?

In NYC, nurses are preparing to strike over unsafe staffing ratios.

(DGLImages / iStock)

U.S. Proposes Ban On Noncompete Agreements

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a ban on noncompete clauses in U.S. labor contracts that would transform workers’ job mobility and wage potential. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand,” FTC chairwoman Lina M. Khan said in the announcement. The FTC is seeking public comment on the proposal.

By blocking companies’ ability to bar employees and contractors from working for competitors, the FTC estimates that the rule could “increase wages by nearly $300 billion per year and expand career opportunities for about 30 million Americans.” The New York Times reports that noncompete agreements directly impact an estimated 20-45% of U.S. private sector workers, who are blocked from accessing the wage increases and improved working conditions that job switching so often brings.

2023 Brings New Wage Increases And Worker Protections

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that roughly 8.4 million workers in 23 states and Washington, D.C. saw minimum wage hikes ranging from $0.23 to $1.50 an hour on Jan. 1. Another 27 cities and counties also raised their minimum wages on New Year’s Day.

The Institute finds that these wage hikes – the result of automatic inflation adjustments, ballot measures and legislation – will impact the households of more than 5.7 million children. About 23% of workers affected by the increases have incomes below the poverty line; another 26% have incomes below twice the poverty line.

Among these states is California, which has raised its minimum wages to $15.50. Workers in the state will also see a host of other new worker protections, the L.A. Times reports, including mandated pay transparency for employers with 15 or more workers, bereavement leave for employers with five or more workers and new provisions for farm workers unionizing.

Thousands Of NYC Nurses Prepare To Strike Next Week

More than 10,000 unionized private sector nurses at five hospitals across New York City are threatening to strike after their union contract expired at the end of 2022. With a strike deadline of Jan. 9, the New York State Nurses Association is pushing for the hospitals to improve working conditions, particularly implementing and enforcing safer nurse-to-patient ratios. “Management has pushed us to the breaking point by refusing to listen to the alarms we’ve been sounding about chronic understaffing that puts our patients at risk,” one labor and delivery nurse wrote in the NY Daily News.

Negotiations are continuing today to avert what could be one of the largest private sector nurse strikes in the U.S. We covered the largest nurses’ strike in U.S. history mere months ago, in the fall, when 15,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike after months of failed negotiations with management.

L.A. County To Buy Land Seized From Black Family In 1924

In the early 1900s, Black couple Willa and Charles Bruce’s Southern California beach site was a rare resort where Black tourists could avoid harassment. In 1924, the Manhattan Beach property was seized by local officials, who claimed they needed it for a public park but left the valuable land undeveloped for over three decades.

Last year, L.A. County returned the land – which is zoned for public use – to the Bruces’ great-grandchildren. Now, the New York Times reports, the family will sell it back to the county for nearly $20 million. “This is what reparations look like and it is a model that I hope governments across the country will follow,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Janice Hahn tweeted, drawing criticism.

Aysha Khan is senior editor at Next City.

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Tags: minimum wagelaborreparations

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