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

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...

Capitol Workers Strike to Protest Federally Subsidized Inequality

It’s their fifth strike in five months, but the workers of Good Jobs Nation didn’t seem the least bit tired this morning. Low-paid employees from the food courts of federal buildings, the gift shops of the Smithsonian, and others employed under federal contracts, concessions, and lease agreements donned matching t-shirts, picked up signs and marched to the White House. Congress might be locked in endless, dismal debates about defunding health care and cutting food stamps, but President Obama—the man who recently said reversing rising inequality was his highest priority ,—could sign an executive order with the potential to raise wages for 560,000 low-paid contract employees. The workers delivered a petition with 250,000 signatures calling on the President to take action. Fifteen U.S. Senators submitted their own letter , urging President Obama to use his executive authority to “require federal agencies to give major preference in awarding contracts to companies that… pay their workers...

Ten Reasons Fast Food Workers Deserve A Raise

(Flickr/mtume_soul)
There is a growing, industry-wide movement to push the fast food economy to work for all involved. Today, workers have called for a national strike that is expected to cross company lines and reach dozens of cities. The fast food labor force has never been protected by collective bargaining power or labor scarcity, making their demands for higher wages and the right to organize a unique historical event. It is also a bold stance from workers made vulnerable by a frail economy, asking for benefits that reach well beyond their own household budgets to the economy as a whole. Right now, fast food companies keep employees at poverty-level wages while reaping billions of dollars in profits for their shareholders every year. Across the economy this practice drives increasing inequality, slow growth, and declining living standards. It is holding back our economic recovery and contributing to our high poverty rates and rates of working poor. Americans deserve better. The fast food workers’...

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