Amy Traub

Amy Traub is Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. She is the author of "The Plastic Safety Net: Findings from the 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- And Middle-Income Households," and "Discrediting America: The Urgent Need To Reform The Nation's Credit Reporting Industry," among other reports and research. 

Recent Articles

President Obama Takes Action to Raise the Pay of Low-Wage Federal Contract Workers

Sometimes in America, when low-paid workers stand up and speak out, even the President of the United States takes notice. This is one of those moments. This morning, the White House announced that President Obama will sign a “Good Jobs” Executive Order requiring government contractors to raise the minimum wage for their lowest-paid workers to $10.10 for all new and renegotiated contracts. The president will include this announcement in his State of the Union Address tonight. Tonight President Obama will use his executive authority to give a boost to hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans. The nation as a whole benefits from an economy where all workers earn a decent living. While it’s unfortunate that the order cannot apply to existing workers until their contracts are renegotiated, the president’s action adds momentum to the fight for a federal minimum wage increase that would benefit all Americans. In signing this order, the president has taken action. Now it is up to...

Why Obama Must Announce a Good Jobs Executive Order in the State of the Union

I fear that John Boehner is not going to raise the minimum wage. It doesn’t matter that 76 percent of Americans support a wage hike , or that studies indicate that the minimum wage reduces poverty and that raising it would boost our economy and create jobs . And I’m worried that if, in his State of the Union Address next week, President Obama again calls on Congress to raise the minimum wage, even in the most powerful and evocative terms, that won’t move Boehner to act either. But there is a glimmer of hope: when it comes to at least one group of low-paid workers—the more than 500,000 low-wage employees of federal contractors—President Obama doesn’t have to wait for Congress in order to take action and improve jobs. The President can act himself, through an executive order similar to the one President Johnson signed in 1965 to ban employment discrimination by contractors. According to the Washington Post , the President is considering announcing a “Good Jobs” executive order in his...

It's Not Just New York: The New Era of Progressive Urban Politics

Staging imaginary competitions between cities and their elected leaders certainly makes for catchy headlines: “ Step Aside, New York City. Los Angeles's Populism Is for Real ” asserts the title of Nancy L. Cohen’s recent piece in The New Republic . “Later this month,” Cohen explains, “two [Los Angeles] City Council members will introduce a motion to raise the minimum wage to a nation-leading $15.37 an hour for hotel workers—nearly double the California minimum wage of $8.” Very welcome—but that’s just hotel workers. In Seattle, meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray is vowing to start paying all municipal employees at least $15 an hour, and told Salon ’s Josh Eidelson that “I think that we are gonna get to $15” for all of Seattle’s private sector workers as well. The headline of that Salon article? “Move over, de Blasio: Meet the big-city mayor vowing to get his city a $15 minimum wage.” It appears that New York City, with its much-heralded progressive mayor (and the less-recognized but...

Colbert Calls Out Wal-Mart Wages, Here's a Fix

Walmart Corporate
As usual, comedian Stephen Colbert hit the nail on the head . “Wal-Mart is taking care of its employees... Not living wage care, but can of peas care.” The late-night satirist was responding to a Cleveland Plain Dealer article finding that Wal-Mart set up a Thanksgiving food drive to benefit its own needy employees . “Critics say Wal-Mart isn't doing enough,” Colbert continued, “but they are wrong… because Wal-Mart isn't doing anything .” In fact, the company was not providing food, but requesting that cash-strapped employees help each other out. Satire is one thing, but it’s worth asking what Wal-Mart could do to improve wages for the estimated 825,000 employees that the company’s CEO recently suggested are currently paid less than $25,000 a year. In a research brief released this week, my colleague Catherine Ruetschlin and I explore one way that Wal-Mart could provide its low-wage workforce with a substantial raise without having to raise prices to consumers at all. We find that Wal...

How Multi-Billion Dollar Corporations Rely on the Public to Feed their Workforce

(Flickr/Robert Banh)
Dunkin Donuts is getting a sweet deal. The company enjoyed $108.3 million in profits last year and compensated its CEO, Nigel Travis, to the tune of $1.9 million. Meanwhile, the public paid an estimated $274 million to feed, provide medical care, and subsidize the wages of their workforce. And Dunkin Donuts is not alone or even the worst offender: New studies out today from the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, the University of Illinois, and the National Employment Law Project detail just some of the vast scope of public subsidies for fast food workers. The Berkeley/Illinois study finds that, overall, public assistance to workers in the fast food industry and their families costs nearly $7 billion a year. That includes public spending on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—but doesn't account for free school lunches, housing assistance, or...

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