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Joel Rogers with Kristinn Már Ársælsson | Jan 30, 2019
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills, High Road
Digital's Promise for Worker Organizing: A 2018 Update (LIFT: Labor Innovations for the 21st Century: New York, 2019). With K. Ársælsson.
Katya Spear, Mariah Young-Jones, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and Mary Ebeling | Nov 08, 2018
Category: Transportation

How can city leadership on transit create more equitable, sustainable, and economically vibrant cities?


Transit service provides a critical link for people in cities, offering access to key destinations that provide jobs, education, entertainment, and connection to family and friends. But around the country, transit ridership is falling. In response to this and to competition from mobility providers like Uber and Lyft, many cities are just maintaining or reducing transit investments and commitments.


Rather than throw up their hands in the face of falling ridership and revenue streams, cities need to invest in this critical resource. Doing so can provide a wealth of co-benefits that innovative cities care deeply about: from the environmental benefits of reducing congestion and car travel, to the economic benefits of connecting people and jobs, to crucial improvements in equity and disparities that come with providing better access to historically disadvantaged people and neighborhoods.


Our new brief, Leading on Transit, lays out these critical connections and describes how cities, in partnership with their transit agencies, public, and other agencies and institutions, can work to enhance transit. It describes how cities around the country are leading on transit and what local governments need to know to enhance their transit networks.

Henry Louis Taylor, Jr. 1, D. Gavin Luter and Camden Miller | Oct 30, 2018
Category: COWS, High Road

The essay explains the reasons why and concludes with a section on a more robust strategy higher education can pursue in the quest to bring about desirable change in the university neighborhood.


Taylor, Jr. HL, Luter DG, Miller C. The University, Neighborhood Revitalization, and Civic Engagement: Toward Civic Engagement 3.0Societies. 2018; 8(4):106.

Eric Sundquist, Mary Ebeling, Robbie Webber, Chris McCahill, Satya Rhodes-Conway, & Katya Spear | Oct 22, 2018
Category: State & Local Policy, Transportation
Traditional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are increasingly used by large employers and building owners to encourage the use of alternatives to driving - things like providing bus passes, bike share, and affordable carpooling. But most existing best practices overlook the role of local government decision makers, whose decisions on policy affecting local transportation options, planning and regulation of land use, structure and enforcement of fees, taxes and other financial signals can play a big role in increasing or decreasing vehicle demand.
Laura Dresser, Matthew Braunginn and Emanuel Ubert | Oct 02, 2018
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy, High Road, Wisconsin
Securing strong economic opportunity for Wisconsin’s working families and closing racial and ethnic income disparity requires strong attention to the access and success of students of color at our state’s colleges and universities.

In this report we focus on college degrees – both the two year associates degrees offered by the 16 colleges of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and four year bachelor’s degrees offered by colleges throughout the University of Wisconsin System (UWS).
Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Emanuel Ubert, and Anna Walther | Aug 31, 2018
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, COWS, Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy, Wisconsin, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies, Jobs & Skills: Wisconsin Economy, Workers & Policy, Jobs & Skills: Greener Skills

Read Executive Summary here.

Download infographic here.

A decade after the Great Recession, Wisconsin’s economy, at least in employment and family income, has finally and meaningfully recovered. Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment rates are low. And, nearly a fifth of the way into this new century, the value of the median income of four-person families finally exceeds its 2000 level. This is very welcome news for working Wisconsinites.



This good news is not untarnished. Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.



COWS | Aug 17, 2018
Category: Jobs & Skills: Workforce Development & Industry Partnerships, Jobs & Skills, High Road

Equity in Apprenticeship is a report series from COWS at UW-Madison. It highlights programs that use apprenticeship to extend occupational opportunity to historically marginalized groups, especially people of color and women.


These case studies of apprenticeship programs span the country and industries:


Health Care Pathways in LA: New Apprenticeship Opportunities as an Industry Changes

The Worker Education and Resource Center (WERC) in Los Angeles has become highly adept at preparing health care workers who share a cultural affinity with LA’s patient populations.


Manufacturing Pathways in Milwaukee: Bringing Skills and Equity to Manufacturing’s Future

The Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) program is the product of collaboration between labor and management leaders in Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector and has created a new rung in the ladder in production jobs.


Equity from the Frontline: Workers’ Insight and Leadership Supports a Network of Apprenticeships in Transit

In California, the Joint Workforce Investment in the South Bay Valley Transportation Authority has developed a web of apprenticeships and advancement opportunities.


Equity in Apprenticeship was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We are grateful for their generous support. The findings and conclusions presented in this series are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.



Laura Dresser | Jun 04, 2018
Category: COWS, State & Local Policy, Jobs & Skills: Job Quality & Industry Studies

Laura Dresser (2017), Human Capital in Context: Policies that Shape Urban Labor Markets. In Jobs and the Labor Force of Tomorrow: Migration, Training, Education, edited by Michael Pagano University of Illinois Press: Chicago, IL.

Sarah Thomason, Lea Austin, Annette Bernhardt, Laura Dresser, Ken Jacobs and Marcy Whitebook | May 22, 2018
Category: COWS, Jobs & Skills, State & Local Policy

In November 2012, fast-food workers in New York went on strike and the Fight for $15 was born. Over the last five years, the movement has lifted wages for more than 17 million workers across the nation by fighting for and winning numerous minimum wage policies (National Employment Law Project 2016). Substantial minimum wage increases are underway in California, New York, Oregon, and more than 30 cities and counties around the country. In states and cities covered by them, these new minimum wages will increase earnings for 25 to 40 percent of workers (Reich, Allegretto, and Montialoux 2017; Reich et al. 2016). After four decades of wage stagnation and rising inequality, the movement has delivered real, much needed, and meaningful progress in a remarkably short period of time.


Fast food has been iconic in the discussions of the minimum wage, from the influential mid-1990s research that found no negative employment impact of wage increases in the industry, to the fast-food workers who have walked out on strike in cities across the country in recent years (Card and Kruger 1995). But of course the reach of these wage increases extends well beyond fast food to underpaid workers in multiple industries. The dynamics of minimum wage increases vary across industries based on each industry’s specific structure.


Nowhere are the distinct dynamics more pronounced and challenging than for those employed in human services industries. This paper focuses on an important subset of these workers: those who provide homecare and early care and education services to the very young, people with disabilities, and those who are frail due to age or illness. We explain the pressing need to raise these workers’ wages and the unique structure of their industries that results in a funding squeeze for wage increases—at the root of this is the fact that most families are unable to afford all of the homecare and child care they need, never mind pay enough to ensure that workers earn a living wage, and public human services are chronically underfunded.


These workers provide a critical (but too often unrecognized) public good; as such, we argue that a significant public investment is a necessary part of the solution, both to deliver minimum wage increases to these workers and to cover the significant unmet need for care. We provide background about the shared and divergent challenges in the homecare and early care and education industries, as well as review emerging policy initiatives to fund wage increases for homecare and early care and education workers and identify principles for public policy going forward.

May 16, 2018
Category: COWS

The UniverCity Alliance (UCA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking for a new local government partner for the UniverCity Year (UCY) program for the period of 2018-2021. Could this be your community?