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Economics in Brief: New York City Bans Cashless Stores

Also: A new study ties Chicago’s black population losses to inequality, and Amazon workers stage an internal protest in violation of company policy.

(Photo by nosheep via Pixabay)

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New York Bans Cashless Stores

The New York City Council last week approved legislation that would force stores to accept cash as payment. If Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it, the city will be at the forefront of a growing movement to protect people without bank accounts.

“Consumers should have the right to choose if they want to pay in cash or not,” Councilman Ritchie Torres, the bill’s lead sponsor, told the New York Times. “We are reining in the excesses of the digital economy.”

Last year, according to data from the city, one in nine New York households didn’t have a bank account, and one in five were underbanked. Bronx households were twice as likely to not have a bank account than families in other boroughs.

Retailers like going cashless because it allows them to move people through lines quicker and is safer, reports Austin, Texas’s KVUE. Austin is also considering a ban on cashless establishments.

The Times reports that Mayor de Blasio supports “the intent” of the law but will review it before signing.

Chicago’s Loss of Its Black Population Tied to Inequality

A new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago finds that black population trends in America’s third-largest city are correlated with racial inequities in the city, WBEZ reports.

In short, the report says, “When inequality in Chicago was lower than many Southern cities during the mid-20th century, black migration to Chicago was very high. After 1980, however, racial inequality in Chicago became worse, both compared to historical levels within Chicago and in relation to other cities. At this point, Chicago’s black population started to decline.”

The report doesn’t answer the question of whether black people are being forced out or choosing to move to pursue other opportunities. But it does note that when black people leave Chicago, they’re more likely moving to a place with higher unemployment and lower wages than places where white people leaving Chicago choose to move.

Amazon Workers Demand Their Company Do More on Climate Change

More than 350 Amazon employees signed their names to an open letter to the company this week demanding that Amazon do more to address climate change.

The move, the Washington Post reports, is a direct violation of Amazon’s rule that prohibits employees from commenting on its business practices without clearing it with an executive.

Employees said that while Amazon should be commended for decisions such as purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans, the logistics and e-commerce giant has a responsibility to do so much more. Employees took special issue with Amazon’s contracts with the oil and gas industries, which use Amazon’s cloud computing platform to aid extraction efforts.

In October 2019, two Amazon employees told the Post that they were concerned about Amazon’s contributions to climate change. Within a few weeks, both were warned that speaking out again would lead to their firing.

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of workers organizing around the company’s carbon footprint, solicited the quotes for the new letter. The 356 employees that are speaking out publicly now believe that they are “break[ing] the communications policy so prolifically that it is unenforceable,” according to an email that was sent by Amazon Employees for Climate Justice to solicit quotes.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” company spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement to the Post.

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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Tags: new york citychicagocorporations

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