KY Policy Blog

Minority Working Families in Kentucky Far Behind Economically

By Ashley Spalding
March 16, 2015

A new report highlights a sharp racial/ethnic divide among working families in Kentucky. While the majority of low-income working families in the state are white, 52 percent of minority working families in the state are considered low-income compared to 30 percent of white working families.

The report, released by the Working Poor Families Project, shows that working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities across the nation were twice as likely to be poor or low-income compared with non-Hispanic whites in 2013 — a gap that has increased since the onset of read more

Bill Would Provide Greater Retirement Security for Workers at Kentucky Small Businesses

By Jason Bailey
February 24, 2015

A concerning number of Americans are financially unprepared for retirement, and a contributing factor is that many lack a retirement plan offered through their jobs. But a bill in the Kentucky House of Representatives would help by providing a retirement savings option for the thousands of Kentuckians who work for small businesses that don’t currently offer a plan.

A financially secure retirement is often described as a three-legged stool:  retirees need Social Security, a pension plan and retirement savings to make ends meet in their later years. But too many read more

Misclassification Harms State Budget as Well as Workers

By Ashley Spalding
February 22, 2015

House Bill 256 would help Kentucky workers as well as the state’s budget by cracking down on the growing problem of misclassification of workers as independent contractors, with a focus on Kentucky’s construction industry.

Misclassification occurs when an employer incorrectly classifies a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee. While an employee’s work is directed by an employer, independent contractors are legally considered to be in business for themselves and are not supposed to be subject to the full-time direction of an employer. According to the Internal Revenue read more

Map Shows How HB 374’s State EITC Would Help Working Families and Communities Across Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
February 13, 2015

By closing several corporate tax loopholes, House Bill 374 would enable the state to invest in an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for Kentucky’s working families. The state EITC would be 7.5 percent of the federal EITC, and would build on the established benefits of the federal credit—helping more than 400,000 working Kentuckians better afford necessities and stimulating local economies.

The following interactive map describes the positive impact a state EITC could have on each Kentucky county. Scrolling over a county on the map shows the number and share of read more

Top 1 Percent of Kentuckians Continue to Capture Bulk of Income Gains in Recovery

By Anna Baumann
January 26, 2015

Income inequality continues to widen in Kentucky and the nation through the recovery according to a new report released today by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Between 2009 and 2012 (the last year for which data are available) income for the wealthiest 1 percent of Kentuckians grew 21.3 percent, but by only 5.5 percent on average for the bottom 99 percent.

That means the top 1 percent captured 38.4 percent of all income growth in the Commonwealth. On average at the national level, the super rich captured all income growth, read more

Kentucky Workers Left Behind as Majority of States Lift the Wage Floor

By Anna Baumann
January 9, 2015

As momentum to increase the minimum wage grows around the country, Kentucky’s $7.25 minimum puts the Commonwealth in the unfortunate minority of states that haven’t boosted workers’ pay above the outdated level of the federal minimum wage. Sixty percent of American workers now live in a state that has lifted its minimum wage above the federal floor.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 was set in 2009 and has not been increased since to keep up with the cost of living. But erosion goes back farther: if the minimum read more

Who Stands to Benefit from Louisville’s New Minimum Wage

By Jason Bailey
January 5, 2015

An estimated 45,000 workers in Louisville/Jefferson County who would otherwise make less than $9 an hour will have higher wages once the new metro government minimum wage ordinance—the first such local law in the South—is fully implemented in two and a half years.

In addition to the workers who will directly benefit, another 13,500 who make slightly above $9 an hour could also receive a small raise when wage scales are adjusted upward, based on the experience of minimum wage increases elsewhere.

Of the workers affected, an estimated 88 percent read more

Kentuckians Will Benefit Under the President’s Immigration Action

By Anna Baumann
November 21, 2014

President Obama’s announcement yesterday that nearly 5 million unauthorized immigrants will be eligible to receive a temporary stay and work permit is good news for Kentucky. By removing the fear of deportation for almost half of the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and increasing their access to work, the law will safeguard families, improve their economic opportunities and contributions and allow fuller participation in communities across the Commonwealth.

Briefly, the executive order:

Builds on Obama’s 2012 initiative, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which delays deportation and makes work read more

Kentucky Workers’ Productivity Is Growing But Wages Are Not

By Jason Bailey
October 23, 2014

A big reason many Kentucky workers’ wages are stuck is that they’ve been left out of the gains from economic growth, which have been going in large part to those at the top.

This trend can be seen in the relationship between productivity—the value of the economic output produced per hour worked—and worker compensation.

Increases in productivity provide the basis for increases in workers’ living standards because it means the economy is generating growing wealth. In the United States from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, worker productivity and read more

What the Research Says About Minimum Wage Increases

By Jason Bailey
October 15, 2014

While Louisville considers whether to increase its minimum wage in the face of federal and state inaction, there’s no question that many thousands of low-wage workers stand to benefit. But some are claiming that the city will also suffer from harmful job loss were it to take this action.

You often hear opponents claim that minimum wage increases will result in meaningful declines in employment. However, that’s based on outdated theories about the minimum wage that don’t match where much of the best empirical research has been pointing. As noted read more