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Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims

By Delaware Department of Labor

In the week ending April 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 200,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 180,000 to 181,000. The 4-week moving average was 188,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 179,750 to 180,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending April 23, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 23 was 1,384,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since January 17, 1970 when it was 1,371,000. The previous week’s level was revised down by 5,000 from 1,408,000 to 1,403,000.

The 4-week moving average was 1,417,000, a decrease of 36,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since February 21, 1970 when it was 1,409,750. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,750 from 1,455,000 to 1,453,250. 2 UNADJUSTED DATA The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 196,962 in the week ending April 30, a decrease of 7,164 (or -3.5 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 25,765 (or -12.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 510,161 initial claims in the comparable week in 2021.

The advance unadjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent during the week ending April 23, unchanged from the prior week. The advance unadjusted level of insured unemployment in state programs totaled 1,403,685, a decrease of 38,872 (or -2.7 percent) from the preceding week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 19,646 (or -1.4 percent) from the previous week. A year earlier the rate was 2.7 percent and the volume was 3,763,243.

The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending April 16 was 1,478,348, a decrease of 35,165 from the previous week. There were 16,151,803 weekly claims filed for benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2021.

No states were triggered “on” to the Extended Benefits program during the week ending April 16.

Initial claims for UI benefits filed by former Federal civilian employees totaled 489 in the week ending April 23, a decrease of 14 from the prior week. There were 391 initial claims filed by newly discharged veterans, an increase of 23 from the preceding week.

There were 7,333 continued weeks claimed filed by former Federal civilian employees the week ending April 16, a decrease of 798 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 4,306, a decrease of 22 from the prior week.

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending April 16 were in California (2.1), New Jersey (2.1), Alaska (1.9), Minnesota (1.6), New York (1.6), Illinois (1.5), Puerto Rico (1.5), Connecticut (1.4), Massachusetts (1.4), Michigan (1.4), and Rhode Island (1.4).

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending April 23 were in New York (+4,760), Massachusetts (+3,491), Connecticut (+1,045), Georgia (+932), and New Jersey (+888), while the largest decreases were in California (-2,860), Ohio (-2,609), Michigan (-1,887), Washington (-475), and Minnesota (-453).

ABC predicts construction workforce shortage of 650,000 this year

By LBM Journal

The construction industry will need to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor, according to a model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors.

“ABC’s 2022 workforce shortage analysis sends a message loud and clear: The construction industry desperately needs qualified, skilled craft professionals to build America,” said Michael Bellaman, ABC president and CEO. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November and stimulus from COVID-19 relief will pump billions in new spending into our nation’s most critical infrastructure, and qualified craft professionals are essential to efficiently modernize roads, bridges, energy production and other projects across the country. More regulations and less worker freedom make it harder to fill these jobs.”

ABC’s proprietary model uses the historical relationship between inflation-adjusted construction spending growth, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Value of Construction Put in Place survey, and payroll construction employment, sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to convert anticipated increases in construction outlays into demand for construction labor at a rate of approximately 3,900 new jobs per billion dollars of additional construction spending. This increased demand is added to the current level of above-average job openings. Projected industry retirements, shifts to other industries and other forms of anticipated separation are also factored into the model.

Based on historical Census Bureau Job-to-Job Flow data, an estimated 1.2 million construction workers will leave their jobs to work in other industries in 2022. It is expected that this will be offset by an anticipated 1.3 million workers who will leave other industries to work in construction.

“The workforce shortage is the most acute challenge facing the construction industry despite sluggish spending growth,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “After accounting for inflation, construction spending has likely fallen over the past 12 months. As outlays from the infrastructure bill increase, construction spending will expand, exacerbating the chasm between supply and demand for labor.

“An added concern is the decline in the number of construction workers ages 25-54, which fell 8% over the past decade. Meanwhile, the share of older workers exiting the workforce soared,” said Basu. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the industry’s average age of retirement is 61, and more than 1 in 5 construction workers are currently older than 55.

“The scarcity of qualified skilled workers is an even more pressing issue,” said Basu. “Since 2011, the number of entry-level construction laborers has increased 72.8%, while the number of total construction workers is up just 24.7%. For reference, the number of electricians was up 23.9% over that span while the number of carpenters actually declined 7.5%. The number of construction managers has increased by just 2.1%. More than 40% of construction workforce growth over the past decade is comprised of low-skilled construction laborers, who represent just 19% of the workforce.

“The roughly 650,000 workers needed must quickly acquire specialized skills,” said Basu. “With many industries outside of construction also competing for increasingly scarce labor, the industry must take drastic steps to ensure future workforce demands are met.”

In 2023, the industry will need to bring in nearly 590,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, and that’s presuming that construction spending growth slows next year.

“Now is the time to consider a career in construction,” said Bellaman. “The vocation offers competitive wages and many opportunities to both begin and advance in an industry that builds the places where we work, play, worship, learn and heal. ABC member contractors use flexible, competency-based and market-driven education methodologies to build a construction workforce that is safe, skilled and productive. This all-of-the-above approach to workforce development has produced a network of ABC chapters and affiliates across the country that offer more than 800 apprenticeship, craft, safety and management education programs—including more than 300 registered apprenticeship programs across 20 different occupations—to build the people who build America.”

Click here to view ABC’s methodology in creating the workforce shortage model.

Seattle ranked 13th on list of cities for unemployment rate bounce back

By The Center Square

Four Washington state cities made WalletHub’s list of nearly 200 municipalities ranked in terms of unemployment rate bounce back in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic: Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver.

In its report, the personal finance website examined 180 cities by comparing each city’s unemployment rate during the latest month for which data is available, March, to unemployment rates for March 2019, March 2020, March 2021, and January 2020. WalletHub also considered each city’s overall unemployment rate.

“Of the four Washington cities included in the report, Seattle is the best ranked, at number 13,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained in an email to The Center Square. “The city is among those where unemployment rates are bouncing back the most because it has the biggest drop (over 60%) in the number of unemployed people in March 2022 compared to March 2020, which is when the pandemic started. The overall unemployment rate in Seattle is 2.1%, the sixth lowest nationwide and significantly smaller than the average of 3.6%.”

The other Washington cities on the list didn’t fare as well, Gonzalez pointed out.

“The other three Washington cities, Spokane, Tacoma and Vancouver rank in the bottom 25 cities with the slowest recovery,” she said.

Tacoma was the lowest ranked Washington city on the list, coming in at No. 172. Vancouver was ranked No. 163, and Spokane was ranked No. 159.

There were various reasons for the three cities’ lower placement on the list, Gonzalez noted.

“Spokane and Tacoma registered very small drops in the number of unemployed people compared to March 2020 – less than 10%, while Vancouver actually had almost 5% more unemployed people in March 2022 compared to March 2020,” she said. “When compared to the same time last year, the number of unemployed people in the three cities is lower by only about 20%, one of the smallest percentages in the country. Plus, the overall unemployment rate in these three cities is above 5%, higher than the average of 3.6%.”

Arizona cities accounted for eight of the top 10 cities on the list. Cities in Vermont made up the other two.

The top 10 cities in terms of unemployment rates bouncing back:

1. Scottsdale, Arizona

2. Tempe, Arizona

3. Gilbert, Arizona

4. Burlington, Vermont

5. Chandler, Arizona

6. Mesa, Arizona

7. Glendale, Arizona

8. South Burlington, Vermont

9. Peoria, Arizona

10. Phoenix, Arizona

The bottom 10 cities in terms of unemployment rates bouncing back:

180. Detroit, Michigan

179. Cleveland, Ohio

178. Dover, Delaware

177. New York, New York

176. New Orleans, Louisiana

175. North Las Vegas, Nevada

174. Fayetteville, North Carolina

173. Bridgeport, Connecticut

172. Tacoma, Washington

171. Wilmington, Delaware

Delaware’s 204.07% Personal Income Tax rate harms small business owners

By Caesar Rodney Institute

Several decades ago, Delaware instituted a gross receipts tax, aka Delaware’s hidden sales tax, that is applied to the business rather than the consumer. When instituted, the tax was meant to be temporary to handle a budget shortfall.

So, why does Delaware still impose this tax when 45 other states have repealed it? A gross receipts tax (GRT) is a horrible public policy.

This tax on Delaware’s small business owners frequently creates “the equivalent” of the highest Personal Income Tax rates in the Country because most small businesses are “pass-thru” entities, meaning that the business owner pays the business’s taxes at their personal income tax rate.

THE DIRTY DETAILS

Let’s look into the mathematics of a small business income statement- it’s necessary. Chart 1 below is an example of a “generic” income statement when a gross receipt tax is applied vs. when it is not applied to a business.

This income statement assumes a “Professional Services” firm with $150,000 per month in revenue (the first $100,000 is exempt from GRT), a GRT tax rate of 0.3983%, and a Personal Income Tax rate of 6.6%.

In this example, the business is barely profitable. During the pandemic, many small businesses were performing even worse than this.

Chart 1: Generic Income Statement “No GRT vs. GRT”

GRT TaxPic1.png

(Source: Author’s own calculation using Delaware’s Division of Revenue.)
As can be seen, the small business owner is paying a tax rate of 204.07% on their income in this scenario (of course, if the business loses money during the month, the “tax rate” is effectively infinite because the GRT is paid whether their business is profitable or not).

Chart 2 is a more “normal” scenario of a ~5% profit margin; the small business owner only pays the equivalent of a 9.33% Personal Income Tax, which would be the 7th highest tax rate in the Nation.

Chart 2: Normal Scenario Income Statement “No GRT vs. GRT”

GRT TaxPic2.png

(Source: Author’s own calculation using Delaware’s Division of Revenue.)
In short, during bad economic times, Delaware’s hidden sales tax, aka the gross receipts tax, ensures that Delaware small business owners pay among the highest personal income tax rates in the nation – taking money out of the business at the exact moment the business most needs that money.

OTHER HIDDEN IMPACTS OF THE GRT

In addition to creating among the highest income tax rates in the Country, the GRT is a “Pyramiding” tax. It gets applied to every step of the supply chain, as shown in the graphic below.

GRT TaxPic3.png

(Source: The Tax Foundation)

By the time a Delawarean is consuming a local brew at their favorite beer garden or restaurant, the GRT has hurt four small businesses.

DELAWARE ALMOST STANDS ALONE

Most states have recognized the destructive impact of imposing a gross receipts tax. Only five states still have GRTs, but of those five, Delaware’s is the most convoluted, with 54 different tax rates ranging from 0.0945% to 0.7468%.

These percentage rates look small, but their impact, as demonstrated above, is enormous. Details on the convoluted nature of applying this tax can be reviewed on Delaware’s Division of Revenue website.

CONCLUSION

Previous CRI analyses of Delaware’s economy have shown, using State and Federal data, that Delaware has been one of the worst economic performers in the Country for the last 20 years.

The GRT is one of the horrible policy ideas that has kept Delaware’s small businesses from growing or adding high-paying jobs.

There are over 17,000 businesses in Delaware with fewer than 20 employees. These firms have almost 70,000 employees making over $3.2B a year in payroll.

Delaware Legislators should allow these small businesses to thrive and add high-paying jobs. They should NOT tax them into failure with what is often the highest “equivalent” personal income taxes in the Nation – 204.07%!

Apprenticeship Ratio Requirements: A Helper or Hinderance in Job Growth?

From: Kathleen Rutherford, Executive Director, A Better Delaware

 As Delaware’s trades rebound from the pandemic and billions of dollars come to the state in federal infrastructure funds, it’s time for lawmakers to free our businesses from the strict regulations that keep them from filling jobs, including apprenticeship ratio requirements.

Apprenticeship programs train skilled workers by combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training under experienced journeymen.

Many employers in Delaware want to hire and train new apprentices but are restrained from doing so because current regulations require multiple journeymen or full-time workers to also be hired — a cost many small businesses can’t afford.

For electricians, Delaware has an apprentice-to-journeyman ratio of 1:1, then 1:3. That means a company with one journeyman may hire one apprentice, but then must hire three more journeymen before it can hire its second apprentice.

Other ratios include:

 

Sheet Metal Worker                                          1:4

Insulation Worker                                              1:3

Structural Metal Worker                                 1:4

Painters, Construction and Maintenance 1:3

Asbestos Worker                                               1:3

Industrial Maintenance Mechanic              1:3

Plumber/Pipefitter                                             1:3

Electrician                                                             1:3

Precision Instrument Repairer                     1:3

Glaziers                                                                   1:3

Construction Laborer                                        1:3

Dry Wall Finisher                                                1:3

Hard Tile Setter                                                   1:3

Roofer                                                                      1:2     

Sprinkler Fitter                                                    1:1

Child Care Worker                                              1:1

Elevator Constructor                                         1:1

 

Most trades require three or even four journeypersons for each apprentice. These ratios cripple contractors’ ability to fill the jobs that so many Delawareans desperately need.

Associated Builders and Contractors Delaware, the trade association that represents the construction industry, has requested that the secretary of labor reduce the apprentice ratio to 1:2 for all trades for 24 months. Doing that, the group argued, would allow construction companies to replenish the workers that have been lost throughout the last decade.

New Jersey and Maryland have 1:4 ratios for all trades, something Delaware’s unions and labor department have pointed to in response to the request to lower Delaware’s ratios.

Other states, like Montana, are taking action to support small businesses by reducing ratios.

In Nov. 2021, Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, reduced the apprentice to journeyman ratio 1:1 across the board. He emphasized that reducing the ratio would preserve workplace safety and training standards while also making Montana more competitive with our neighbors.

Industry leaders and experts praised the move, arguing it will especially benefit small businesses in rural areas where it is more difficult to recruit additional journeymen to supervise apprentices.

“For too long, unnecessary red tape has tied up employers looking to offer apprenticeship opportunities and build a more highly-skilled workforce,” Gianforte said at the time. “With this commonsense rule change, we can dramatically increase apprenticeship opportunities for hardworking Montanans to meet current and future workforce needs.”

Gianforte faced fierce opposition before enacting the rule change.

Critics argued it would be impossible to oversee and safely train if the ratio was decreased, despite Wyoming allowing two apprentices per journeyman, North Dakota allowing three apprentices per journeyman and Idaho allowing up to four apprentices per journeyman.

In those states, builders continue to safely build houses and staff job sites with even more flexible regulations than those enacted by Gianforte.

Because of decisions like that, Montana’s construction sector grew 12.3% between February 2020 and February 2022. Data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in March 2022 shows that 34,700 Montanans were employed in the construction sector in February, up from 30,900 in February of 2020.

In Montana and across the country, reducing ratios has proven to lower costs and enable companies to expand apprenticeship opportunities to new entrants to the trades at rates commensurate to their ability and experience.

Another reason to do it: Powerful labor unions benefit significantly from higher apprentice to journeyman ratios, while small businesses suffer.

Unions are comprised of many skilled workers across multiple jobsites and employers, giving them a larger pool of journeymen who can oversee an apprentice, making it easier for them to comply with apprentice-to-journeyman ratios than it is for small contractors who would have to hire more journeymen to gain an apprentice.

This gives unions a significant advantage when competing against small businesses in a short labor market.

Additionally, when companies are hiring, workers can still enter an apprenticeship program if they are not selected by the company due to being over their ratio limit.

Those apprentices are considered “trade extension students” and are able to attend class at night like apprentices and get credit for that, but they can’t count their on-the-job training hours which they are earning during the day and are needed to complete the programs.

Those trade extension students are in the same classes as apprentices from the companies where they work, but they don’t get the same credit for their work hours during the day because they aren’t considered apprentices.

That puts them at a career-altering disadvantage compared to their apprentice counterparts, and everybody loses. This is just another example of a simple problem that could be fixed by reducing ratios.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry needs 2.5 million workers to satisfy the demand created by federal infrastructure legislation.

Prior to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Delaware’s Department of Labor identified construction as the third fastest-growing industry throughout the next five years.

Without the infrastructure bill, the department estimated the industry would need to immediately fill 5,380 positions to meet demand. That number is significantly higher now.

One way Delaware can fill that void and maintain a competitive edge over neighboring states is by following Montana’s lead and reducing apprentice to journeyman ratios.

Doing so will be especially important as the state seeks contracts to complete more than $1.2 billion worth of infrastructure improvements authorized by the federal infrastructure bill.

Sen. Darius Brown’s committee positions reinstated

Delaware Live

State Sen. Darius Brown has been reinstated as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and member of the Senate Capital Improvement Committee.

Brown, D-Wilmington, was removed from the Judiciary Committee in May 2021 after being arrested on misdemeanor offensive touching and disorderly conduct charges.

He was removed from the Capital Improvement Committee in Nov. 2021 after a heated altercation with Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, who accused him of verbally abusing her.

He was found not guilty on all charges in Jan. 2022.

“As Pro Tempore, I removed him from these committees in the face of the allegations he faced last year, and I have now reinstated him given his acquittal in court and my belief that the terms of these sanctions have been appropriate,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Sokola, D-Newark.

“I want to thank Sen. Kyle Evans Gay and Sen. Marie Pinkney for their time and dedication in filling these roles over the last year. Their service has been exemplary,” Sokola said.

Following the Nov. 2021 verbal altercation with Minor-Brown, Sokola said, “Verbal abuse is abuse, full stop, and it cannot go unpunished. In the Senate, there will be consequences for behavior unbecoming an elected official.”

Del. Lawmaker claims Republican Bills are read less often than Democratic Bills

From: WMDT

Rep. Bryan Shupe claims republican bills are being overlooked in Delaware’s legislature.

Delaware’s legislature has a rule that all bills must be heard within 12 days of being introduced, in order to progress into committee. Shupe tells us that’s not happening and the number of bills left unread is not evenly split between both parties. He says he had his staff look at the House Administrative Committee hearings from the previous session, where they found, the republican minority had bills read 36 percent of the time compared to 86% for Democrats; which he points to as a bias from leadership.

“Rules that all 41 of us unanimously agreed on, to have every single bill heard in respective their committees are not being followed and its following political lines,” Rep. Shupe said.

In response, Shupe says next session he’ll introduce a measure on the first day of the session as an amendment to the rules that would require all bills to be introduced if they aren’t read in the 12-day window. He tells us he understands why in the past not all bills were read, as a result of a scheduling conflict, bills being combined with others, but he says the gap needs to close between the read rate of republican and democrat bills.

“Those percentages through minority and majority bill should be a lot closer than 86 to 38 percent they should be closer,” Shupe said adding “let them get heard and go through the process and if they die in committee that’s the nature of these things but to not have them heard is frustrating.”

The Delaware House Majority declined to comment on the numbers referenced by Shupe, or his claim of bias.

Delaware’s legislature does have a process to have an unread bill be reintroduced, but such a move would require a “written request of the majority of the members elected to the House, be reported to the House for a decision as to its further disposal,” according to House Resolution 3 passed in 2021, which could prove challenging for a bill introduced by a minority party.  

Washington state ranked No. 14 for economic development transparency

From: The Center Square

Washington state ranked 14th in the country among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of economic development transparency, according to a new report from Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, a public policy resource center.

Washington received credit for the transparency of its programs exempting data centers from paying sales and use taxes on electricity, computers, building materials, and software. On a scale of 0 to 100, Washington scored 38 points for its data center sales and use tax exemption. Washington scored 38 points on its aerospace preproduction expenditures B&O tax, and 47 points for its Job Skills Program.

The Evergreen state was dinged for having no recipient data online regarding refundable or transferable tax credits to film and/or television productions, scoring zero points in that category.

“The Washington Department of Revenue posts basic recipient-level data (company names, subsidy payments, and job/wage data) on dozens of tax-based subsidies,” the report said. “On the good side, the data is (mostly) easy to access and use.”

Washington ranked 30.8 overall on a 100-point scoring system, which is higher than the national average of 22. That’s a drop of three points for Washington since a similar Good Jobs First study in 2014.

Based on evaluating 250 major state-level economic development programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Good Jobs First found that 154 of them disclose which companies receive public support, while 96 do not. Good Jobs First found that 48 states and the District of Columbia provide some degree of recipient disclosure.

“To be sure, transparency is not the same as effectiveness or accountability,” the report notes. “Nor do we have the means here to verify the accuracy of what states post online. But without company specific, deal-specific disclosure, it’s difficult for the public to get at even the most basic return on investment, accountability or equity questions.”

The report goes on to ask, “Which companies are recipients? What kinds of companies are they? How much money did they receive? Are they delivering on the number of jobs promised? Constituents deserve to have answers to these questions. Without them, they cannot have an informed debate and policymakers cannot properly monitor programs or deals.”

Nevada was the top-ranked state on the list. Its 63.6-point score was a dozen points better than runner-up Connecticut (51.6 points). Illinois’ 46.4 points earned it third place on the list.

Alabama and Georgia brought up the rear in scoring zero points each.

Darby ordinance would make Wilm employers pay for shift changes

From: Delaware Live

Business leaders are lining up in opposition to a proposed ordinance in Wilmington that would require service industry employers to provide two-weeks notice of work schedules and compensate employees when changes occur.

The measure, sponsored by Council Member Shané Darby, D-District 2, aims to provide more schedule stability for hourly workers at retail, hospitality and foodservice establishments with 250 employees or more and franchises with less than 250 employees.

The proposed ordinance would allow workers to decline shifts not included in a posted work schedule or shifts that do not provide at least 9 hours of rest after a previous shift.

If asked to work shifts that don’t allow for 9 hours of rest, employers would be required to pay workers an extra $40, in addition to their regular compensation.

“The reason why I’m doing this is because I care about working-class people, especially the most vulnerable groups,” Darby said. “I think that Wilmington could be the catalyst to what it looks like to protect workers, protect workers’ rights, and to make sure that people are able to work and live.”

Council Member James Spadola, R-At Large, called the proposal “a solution in search of a problem.”

He said businesses unable to keep up with the regulatory burdens imposed by the city can easily open shop elsewhere.

The proposed rules could also hurt workers, opponents say.

“This potential ordinance puts part-time workers under attack,” said Carrie Leishman, president and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association. “This is a counterproductive and dangerous ordinance at a time where Delaware restaurants still have 4,500 open positions.”

Under the bill, for each employer-initiated change to a posted work schedule, employers must pay an employee “predictability pay” at the following rates, in addition to the employee’s regular pay for hours actually worked by the employee:

  • 1 hour of predictability pay when the covered employer adds time to a work shift or changes the date or time or location of a work shift, with no loss of hours.
  • 1/2 hour of predictability pay for any scheduled hours the employee does not work for the following reasons:
    • Hours are subtracted from a regular or on-call shift, or
    • A regular or on-call shift is canceled.

The bill also requires employers to offer shifts to existing employees and pay any subsequent penalties before offering the shift to contractors or temporary employees.

“We’re trying to tackle the big dogs first and then kind of look at the conversation around what it looks like to have fair legislation for small and local businesses,” Darby told Delaware LIVE News.

Darby said she’s not concerned that the ordinance could hurt businesses struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the pandemic.

“If we were talking about a small local business then I might say ‘okay, I can look at that,’ but not for big businesses like the Marriott or the DoubleTree,” she said. “I don’t think the hotel industry has been hit that hard due to the pandemic. I’ll have to look at the data and research but people have been traveling – I don’t think they have been impacted that much.”

Data shared during a city budget hearing Monday shows the city’s lodging tax revenues are still below pre-pandemic levels.

The Restaurant Association’s Leishman called the proposal “politically motivated.”

She said it’s “fueled by the campaign donations of labor unions as a way to boost up dwindling union participation and pit small businesses against employees” by reducing part-time and flexible job opportunities.

Asked who she thinks might oppose the legislation, Darby laughed then responded: “Hospitality, retail and foodservice establishments that employ 250 employees or more.”

She emphasized that the law would apply to franchised businesses that employ less than 250 employees in city limits.

“You can be a franchise in Wilmington and only hire 20 or 30 people, but if you’re a part of a bigger network like McDonald’s, then you are subject to this legislation.”

Bob Older, president of the Delaware Small Business Chamber, said including franchisees like hotels and fast food restaurants in the bill is “irresponsible and uneducated.”

“You’re telling me that a Dunkin’ Donuts with 10 employees must abide by this regulation but a bakery with 20 employees that’s next door to them doesn’t,” Older asked. “Just because you’re a franchise doesn’t mean that you’re anything more than a small business.”

He said despite small businesses already being short-staffed and under pressure from external factors like inflation and supply chain disruptions, Delaware’s lawmakers think now is the right time to impose even more costly burdens on businesses.

“With this ordinance, you’ll be penalizing businesses twice,” he continued. “If somebody doesn’t show up to work, they call somebody in and change the schedule – they’re gonna have to compensate that person even more. That’s not to mention the worker who called out.”

Older predicts that because of legislation like the fair workweek ordinance, companies are going to continue resorting to automation, something he said is “unfortunate.”

Darby sees it differently. The bill, she said, isn’t meant to be a burden on businesses, but rather an extra layer of protection for workers who are vulnerable and often taken advantage of by their wealthy employers.

Leishman believes the measure would result in “a mountain of red tape” and cost jobs for those who rely on their paychecks the most.

Restaurants, she argued, offer flexible scheduling opportunities which workers embrace, specifically relating to first-time jobs and second-chance opportunities in downtown Wilmington where the 6.2% unemployment rate far exceeds the state’s unemployment rate of 4.5%.

Leishman believes the measure discourages employers from offering extra shifts on short notice.

“Restaurants are an industry of choice and employees can be free to pick up shifts that so often meet the needs of their financial circumstances,” she said.

Many people who work in hospitality are putting themselves through school or have full-time jobs and careers elsewhere, but need extra money for personal reasons, she said.

Leishman pointed to San Francisco, the first city to embrace “fair workweek” laws. The result, she said, has been predictable.

survey conducted by Lloyd Corder of Corcom Inc. found that 20% of affected businesses cut back on the number of part-time hires, and a similar number were scheduling fewer employees per shift.

More than one-third of affected employers began offering less schedule flexibility as a consequence of “fair workweek” laws, the survey found.

“There is nothing ‘fair’ in ‘fair scheduling’ for the employer and employee,” Leishman concluded.

Darby said employees will be responsible for reporting violations of the law to a labor commission that the bill would create. In the future, she hopes the city will allocate funds to hire an investigator to look into complaints.

Although it creates a labor commission, the bill wouldn’t cost any money, she said.

Spadola cast doubt on that claim.

“I would disagree that there’s no fiscal impact because every hour of work our city employees dedicate to this will cost the city money,” Spadola said.

“Throughout the countless civic association meetings I’ve attended in every area of the city, not one person has ever brought this up as a problem, nor has anybody reached out to me about it as a problem, nor has anybody ever spoken about it during public comment in a council meeting, as far as I know.”

In addition to hurting businesses and workers, Spadola feels the bill will hurt the city’s bottom line.

“The city needs funding to pay for city employees, for the services that the city provides, for firefighters, police, everything,” he said. “One of the ways the city raises those funds is through wage taxes, and so at a time when we need more businesses to come in here and boost up our wage tax, we can’t be passing unfriendly ordinances that will make them go elsewhere.”

Spadola plans to vote against the bill and he’s hoping others do too.

“I wish I could say it doesn’t stand a chance,” he said. “I don’t think it will pass, but if it did, I would actively encourage the mayor to veto it because I don’t think the city could stand for this at this time.”

Bob Chadwick, president of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, said his group opposes the proposed ordinance because employment law is already regulated at the state and federal level.

In a state the size of Delaware, two levels of government oversight are sufficient, Chadwick said.

“The legislation would add unnecessary burdens for employers, remove their ability to be flexible in running their businesses, increase costs by requiring them to pay employees for canceled shifts, and unreasonably interfere in their relationships with their employees, many of whom went into the retail, hospitality or food service industries for the scheduling flexibility,” he continued.

“The ordinance sends the wrong message to existing and prospective Wilmington employers. Employers in the City of Wilmington are already subject to a wage tax and a head tax, and legislation such as this which would increase costs, impose burdensome regulation, and limit flexibility will make it act as a disincentive to open or maintain businesses within the city.”

Efforts to reach the Delaware Food Industry Council, the group that represents grocery stores and pharmacies, were unsuccessful.

Spokespeople for Mayor Mike Purzycki and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce said they weren’t prepared to comment Monday.

Darby said she hasn’t reached out to any of the state’s chambers of commerce to get a sense for how the bill would impact businesses in the city.

“That might be a good entity to reach out to just to see if they were supportive or not,” she said. “It wouldn’t change the legislation, but that would be good to just know.”

Less is more: taxes and debt

One of A Better Delaware’s four pillars is lower taxes for Delawareans and businesses. While we usually focus on just state-level issues, new tax increases are being discussed at both the state and federal level.

Outside of President Biden’s new tax proposal, Delaware has had a few of its own recently, including a new income tax bracket that failed in the house. Despite still recovering from a pandemic and expecting over $2 billion from the federal government, state lawmakers said raising taxes was simply the right thing to do.

Why?

Raising taxes discourages economic development, business growth, and personal spending and saving. When our economy is looking to recover, how could this be the right thing?

Even the Secretary of Finance Rick Geisenberger worried the bill would risk decreasing personal income tax revenue. This is because high-income individuals, including tens of thousands of people who pay nonresident taxes, would simply leave Delaware or work from home in neighboring states to avoid the higher tax. The bill would also mean Delaware has more tax brackets than any other state except Hawaii.

Increasing the income tax would make Delaware less competitive with our neighbors, particularly Pennsylvania, as Delaware’s top marginal rate would be higher than the rates in neighboring states, with the exception of New Jersey.

Outside of this bill, raising any taxes over the next few years would be irresponsible fiscal policy. Delaware is looking at a surplus of over $600 million, plus over $2 billion total from federal stimulus. Any additional revenue grabs would serve no purpose for our residents.

You’ll hear many people tout Delaware’s status as a “tax-free” state, but that simply is not the case. Yes, Delaware does not have the sales tax, but we more than make up for that. Take for example the reason why we are able to avoid having a sales tax: the gross receipts tax. Delaware is one of only seven states with a gross receipts tax. These invisible sales taxes raise prices as these taxes are shifted onto consumers, and tend to impact lower incomes the most.

Delaware’s has the highest per capita revenue from corporate license fees and the fifth-highest per capita corporate income tax revenue. As if that wasn’t enough, Delaware has one of the highest individual income taxes and the highest real estate transfer tax in the nation.

Since 2016, Governor Carney approved large tax increases, but he did not work alone. The taxes started as bills heard and voted on in Dover that were approved for his final vote. Delaware’s tax increases over the last two General Assemblies (2016-2018, 2018-2020) were the 6th highest in the nation.

These tax increases were estimated to raise more than $200 million annually, the exact amount the state claimed was a “surplus” before COVID.

Instead of hurting residents, businesses, and the overall economy, we should avoid adding new spending programs that would require any tax increase, and focus on funding our $1.9 billion in unfunded pension benefits that have been largely ignored for years. This total is massive: for perspective, our pension debt is more than a quarter of the state’s annual budget.

Delaware’s fiscal condition is ranked 44th in the nation, in part due to its unfunded pension deficit, and is why Truth in Accounting’s audit of Delaware’s financial situation resulted in an F grade.

Delaware will eventually be obligated to pay its pensions, and lawmakers should turn their attention from what they believe is the right thing to do, to what is actually best for their constituents.