Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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Pay Equity: Legislative and Legal Developments
This report begins by presenting data on earnings for male and female workers and by discussing explanations that have been offered for the differences in earnings. It next discusses the major laws directed at eliminating sex-based wage discrimination as well as relevant federal court cases. The report closes with a description of pay equity legislation that has been considered or enacted by Congress in recent years.
The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)
This report introduces the adverse effect wage rate (AEWR) and the concerns out of which it grew, from the perspective of labor policy (not of immigration policy). American agricultural employers have long utilized foreign workers on a temporary basis, regarding them as an important manpower resource. Often employed at low wages and under adverse conditions, such alien workers, some argue, may compete unfairly with U.S. workers. To mitigate any "adverse effect" for the domestic workforce, a system of wage floors was developed that applies, variously, both to alien and citizen workers.
Social Security Reform: Economic Issues
This report tackles the issue of Social Security reform from an economic perspective that focuses not merely on reform that achieves programmatic sustainability (sustainability within the trust fund), but reform that achieves sustainability for the government and economy as a whole. The President has indicated that Social Security reform will be a major issue in the 109th Congress. For some time comprehensive reform has been an issue of debate in Congress, but no major action has occurred.
The Davis-Bacon Act: Issues and Legislation During the 108th Congress
This report discusses the debate surrounding the Davis-Bacon Act (1931, as amended), which requires, among other things, that not less than the locally-prevailing wage be paid to workers employed in federal contract construction. Through recent decades, the Act has become a continuing source of contention, particularly regarding its impacts, whether it should be modified, strengthened, or repealed, and if it is being administered effectively.
U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective
This report is designed to inform the debate over the health of U.S. manufacturing through a series of charts and tables that depict the position of the United States relative to other countries according to various metrics. Understanding which trends in manufacturing reflect factors that may be unique to the United States and which are related to broader changes in technology or consumer preferences may be helpful in formulating policies intended to aid firms or workers engaged in manufacturing activity.
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA): Workers' Compensation for Federal Employees
This report focuses on several key policy issues facing the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program, including the disproportionate share of claims and program costs attributed to postal workers, the payment of FECA benefits after retirement age, the overall level of FECA disability benefits as compared with those offered by the states, and the administration of the FECA program.
Unemployment Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 114th Congress
The 114th Congress continues to consider many issues related to unemployment insurance (UI) programs: Unemployment Compensation (UC), the temporary, now-expired Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08), and Extended Benefits (EB). This report gives a brief overview of the UI programs that may provide benefits to eligible unemployed workers, and briefly summarizes the President's budget proposal for FY2017.
The Effects on U.S. Farm Workers of an Agricultural Guest Worker Program
This report discusses the debate concerning an agricultural guest worker program and the impact such a program might have on U.S. workers. Guest worker programs are meant to assure employers (e.g., fruit, vegetable, and horticultural specialty growers) of an adequate supply of labor when and where it is needed, while not adding permanent residents to the U.S. population. They include mechanisms -- such as the H-2A program's labor certification process -- intended to avoid adversely affecting the wages and working conditions of similarly-employed U.S. workers.
State Minimum Wages: An Overview
This report begins with a brief discussion of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage coverage. It then provides a summary of state minimum wage laws, followed by an examination of rates and mechanisms of adjustments in states with minimum wage levels above the FLSA rate. The report also discusses the interaction of federal and state minimum wages over time.
Overview of Labor Enforcement Issues in Free Trade Agreements
This report discusses free trade agreements (FTAs) that have enforceable labor provisions, grouped into four model types. It outlines the provisions for each and identifies two types of labor enforcement issues: (1) those that relate to the FTA provisions themselves, including their definitions and their enforceability, and (2) those that relate to executive branch responsibilities, such as resource availability and determining dispute settlement case priorities. This report does not address other labor issues in the various free trade agreements, including cooperative consultation and capacity-building provisions.
The Gender Wage Gap and Pay Equity: Is Comparable Worth the Next Step?
This report examines the trend in the male-female wage gap and the explanations offered for its existence. Remedies proposed for the gender wage gap's amelioration are addressed, with an in-depth focus on the comparable worth approach to achieving "pay equity" or "fair pay" between women and men.
Apprenticeship in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about apprenticeship and the federal activities that support this training approach. Apprenticeship is a job training strategy that combines on-the-job training with related instruction, typically provided in a classroom setting.
Retirement Savings and Household Wealth in 2000: Analysis of Census Bureau Data
This report examines recent trends in retirement saving and the policy implications. The aging of the American population and the impending retirement of the "baby boom" will place significant strains over the next several decades on both Social Security and on retirees' own financial resources. With continued increases in average life expectancies, retirees in the 21st century will have to stretch their savings and other assets over longer periods of retirement than were experienced by their parents and grandparents.
What Does the Gig Economy Mean for Workers?
This report provides an overview of the gig economy -- i.e., the collection of markets that match providers to consumers on a gig (or job) basis in support of on-demand commerce (e.g., Uber, TaskRabbit) -- and identifies legal and policy questions relevant to its workforce.
Temporary Professional, Managerial, and Skilled Foreign Workers: Policy and Trends
This report opens with an overview of the policy issues that pertain to foreign workers. It follows with a summary of each of the various visa categories available for temporary professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers, as well as an analysis of the trends seen with the use of these various visas over the past two decades. This workforce is seen by many as a catalyst of U.S. global economic competitiveness. The challenge central to the policy debate is facilitating the migration of foreign workers without adversely affecting U.S. workers and U.S. students entering the labor market.
Numerical Limits on Employment-Based Immigration: Analysis of the Per-Country Ceilings
The report opens with brief explanations of the employment-based preference categories and the per-country ceilings governing annual admissions of LPRs. The focus is on the major employment-based preference categories. The report continues with a statistical analysis of the pending caseload of approved employment-based LPR petitions.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA): Program-by-Program Overview and FY2007 Funding of Title I Training Programs
This report tracks current appropriations and related legislation for Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) (P.L. 105-220). Following a brief summary of each WIA program, the report presents the status of legislative proposals contained in the Administration’s FY2007 budget request and compares WIA funding in the FY2006 appropriation, the FY2007 budget request, and the FY2007 House and Senate Appropriations Committee reports.
Federal Labor Relations Statutes: An Overview
This report provides a brief history, including major amendments, of each of the three statutes. The discussion of each law begins with an overview of the statute and then discusses in more detail the key statutory provisions of the law and how the law is administered and enforced.
Proposed Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Labor Issues
This report examines three labor issues and arguments related to the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (CFTA, H.R. 5724): violence against trade unionists; impunity (accountability for or punishment of the perpetrators); and worker rights protections for Colombians.
Worker Safety in the Construction Industry: The Crane and Derrick Standard
This report first examines the incidence of fatal and nonfatal on-the-job injuries in the private sector. It next analyzes the causes of fatalities in the construction industry and the involvement of cranes in those deaths. The report then addresses the status of a proposed rule to update the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) crane and derrick standard. It closes with an overview of jurisdictions having safety regulations for cranes more stringent, in whole or part, than the existing federal standard.
Job Loss: Causes and Policy Implications
Job loss is one of the most important macroeconomic problems facing policymakers, both in terms of its economic and social cost. This report discusses factors that cause job loss and the policy implications.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. H.R. 6844 would provide a two-year suspension of the taxation of UC benefits. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
Unauthorized Aliens Residing in the United States: Estimates Since 1986
This report discusses a rise in the unauthorized resident ("illegal") alien population from 1986 to 2010. It looks at reasons that illegal aliens stay resort to breaking the law and how illegal aliens affect the workforce in certain industries.
Immigration: Legislative Issues on Nonimmigrant Professional Specialty (H-1B) Workers
This report discusses the latest legislative developments regarding immigration policy for professional workers. It provides analysis for H-1B admissions and legislative issues in the 110th Congress.
Contracting with Inverted Domestic Corporations: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Recent reports that certain entities continued to receive federal government contracts after reincorporating overseas have prompted questions about current and proposed restrictions on contracting with “inverted domestic corporations.” These questions are shaped, in part, by the broader debate over whether such corporations are to be seen as “deserters,” who change their corporate citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes, or as evidencing systemic problems in the U.S. tax code. This report provides the answers to 14 frequently asked questions regarding the current restrictions on contracting with inverted domestic corporations, proposed amendments thereto, and the relationship between prohibitions upon contracting with inverted domestic corporations and other provisions of law that restrict dealings with “foreign” contractors.
U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Labor Issues
This report examines three labor issues and arguments related to the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (CFTA; H.R. 5724 and S. 2830): violence against trade unionists; impunity (accountability for or punishment of the perpetrators); and worker rights protections for Colombians.
Contracting with Inverted Domestic Corporations: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Recent reports that certain entities continued to receive federal government contracts after reincorporating overseas have prompted questions about current and proposed restrictions on contracting with “inverted domestic corporations.” These questions are shaped, in part, by the broader debate over whether such corporations are to be seen as “deserters,” who change their corporate citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes, or as evidencing systemic problems in the U.S. tax code. This report provides the answers to 14 frequently asked questions regarding the current restrictions on contracting with inverted domestic corporations, proposed amendments thereto, and the relationship between prohibitions upon contracting with inverted domestic corporations and other provisions of law that restrict dealings with “foreign” contractors.
Issues Related to the Provision of Housing and Utilities to Employees
Over 3,200 state employees receive free, state-subsidized housing and utilities; live in state-owned properties for a nominal monthly rate; or receive monthly cash payments in lieu of in-kind housing benefits. Over 1,300 state employees receive some form of educational assistance from their employing agencies
Older Displaced Workers in the Context of an Aging and Slowly Growing Population
This report analyzes the labor market experiences of those older workers who have involuntarily lost long-held jobs for reasons unrelated to their own performance (e.g., veteran factory workers at plants closed because of import competition, experienced information technology workers whose jobs have been outsourced to workers in other countries, and mid-level managers in positions eliminated through corporate restructuring). It examines current policies targeted at the reemployment of older displaced workers which, if successful, might lengthen their stay in the workforce.
State and Local Restrictions on Employing, Renting Property to, or Providing Services for Unauthorized Aliens: Legal Issues and Recent Judicial Developments
This report discusses the constitutional issues raised in relation to state and local laws intended to deter the presence of unauthorized aliens, along with the implications that federal civil rights statutes might have on the implementation and enforcement of measures restricting such persons' ability to obtain employment, housing, or other state and local benefits or services.
Immigration of Foreign Workers: Labor Market Tests and Protections
This report discusses §1611, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which requires companies receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding to comply with the more rigorous labor market rules of H-1B dependent companies if they hire foreign workers on H-1B visas.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA): Program-by-Program Overview and Funding of Title I Training Programs
This report tracks current appropriations and related legislation for Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) (P.L. 105-220). Following a brief summary of each WIA program, the report presents the status of legislative proposals contained in the Administration’s FY2007 budget request and compares WIA funding in the FY2006 appropriation, the FY2007 budget request, and the FY2007 House and Senate Appropriations Committee reports.
Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation
This report addresses a core issue facing Congress during the 112th Congress: what, if any, additional action should the federal government take to enhance small business access to capital? After briefly discussing the role of small business in job creation and retention, this report provides an assessment of the supply and demand for small business loans. It also examines selected laws enacted during the 110th and 111th Congresses that were designed to enhance small business access to capital by increasing the supply of small business loans and/or the demand for small business loans. This report also includes empirical evidence concerning small business lending and borrowing, including the number and amount of small business loans guaranteed by the SBA.
Unauthorized Aliens’ Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues
The degree to which unauthorized resident aliens should be accorded certain rights and privileges as a result of their residence in the United States, along with the duties owed by such aliens given their presence, remains the subject of debate in Congress. Included among the specific policy areas that spark controversy are due process rights, tax liabilities, military service, eligibility for federal assistance, educational opportunities, and pathways to citizenship. This report focuses on the policy and legislative debate surrounding unauthorized aliens’ access to federal benefits.
Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order: Answers to Questions
This report discusses Executive Order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, which has the stated intent of increasing “efficiency and cost savings” by ensuring that executive branch procurement contractors understand and comply with labor laws.
Pay Discrimination Claims Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: A Legal Analysis of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.
This report discusses Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., a recent case in which the Supreme Court considered the timeliness of a sex discrimination claim filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Workforce Investment Act and the One-Stop Delivery System
This report provides details of WIA Title I state formula program structure, services, allocation formulas, and performance accountability. In addition, it provides a program overview for national grant programs. It also provides brief overviews of Titles II and IV. Title III of WIA amends the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, which establishes the Employment Service (ES), to make the ES an integral part of the One-Stop system created by WIA. Because the ES is a central part of the One-Stop system, it is discussed briefly in this report even though it is authorized by separate legislation (Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933).
Trafficking in Persons: International Dimensions and Foreign Policy Issues for Congress
This report explores current foreign policy issues confronting U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking, the interrelationship among existing polices, and the historical and current role of Congress in such efforts. Given recent challenges in balancing budget priorities, the 112th Congress may choose to consider certain aspects of this issue further, including the effectiveness of international anti-trafficking projects, interagency coordination mechanisms, and the monitoring and enforcement of anti-trafficking regulations, particularly as they relate to the activities of U.S. government contractors and subcontractors operating overseas.
Federal Programs Available to Unemployed Workers
There are four groups of federal programs that target unemployed workers: unemployment insurance programs, health care assistance, job search assistance, and training. This report describes these programs, how they interact with each other, and their funding.
Small Business: Access to Capital and Job Creation
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) authorization is due to expire on September 30, 2010. The SBA administers several programs to support small businesses, including loan guarantees to help small businesses gain access to capital. This report addresses a core issue facing Congress during the SBA’s reauthorization process: what, if any, additional action should the federal government take to enhance small business access to capital?
Federal Regulation of Working Hours: The Ballenger and Ashcroft Proposals (H.R. 1 and S. 4)
During the 104 Congress, legislation was considered that would have altered the 40-hour workweek and overtime pay requirements for private sector workers. In somewhat altered form, such legislation [H.R. 1 (Ballenger) and S. 4 (Ashcroft)] has been reintroduced in the 105 Congress. This report, very briefly, summarizes the issues presented by H.R. 1 and S. 4.
Business and Labor Spending in U.S. Elections
Federal election law has long prohibited corporate and union spending in federal elections, but distinctions in statutes and judicial rulings have opened avenues by which these groups have been able to spend money in the electoral process. Business groups make particular use of political action committee (PAC) donations to candidates and soft money donations to parties. Unions made prominent use of issue advocacy in 1996, but labor’s political strength lies in exempt activity communications with members. This report explains these tools and their use in today’s elections.
Unauthorized Employment in the United States: Issues and Options
As Congress considers immigration reform and ways to address the unauthorized alien population, the issue of unauthorized employment is the focus of much discussion. This report discusses options for addressing unauthorized employment in the United States.
Taxation of Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment compensation (UC) benefits have been fully subject to the federal income tax since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514). Individuals who receive UC benefits during a year may elect to have the federal (and in some cases state) income tax withheld from their benefits. Legislation was introduced in the 108th Congress that would have repealed the taxation of UC benefits, provided a two-year suspension of the taxation of UC benefits, or transferred the proceeds from taxing UC benefits to the Unemployment Trust Fund. This report provides an overview of the taxation of UC benefits and legislation related to taxing UC benefits.
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA): Reauthorization of Job Training Programs in the 109th Congress
This report discusses the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), P.L. 105-220, which is the nation’s chief job training legislation, authorizes several job training programs, including Youth, Adult, and Dislocated Worker Activities; and Job Corps.
The Family and Medical Leave Act: Recent Legislative and Regulatory Activity
This report begins with a brief overview of the major features of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and its regulations The various proposals that have been made to amend the act since its inception more than a decade ago are then categorized and discussed. It closes with a review of legislative and regulatory activity.