Background on Labor & Farming
- Total union membership stands at about 16 million workers, or 14% of the workforce.
- Union membership has been falling steadily since 1958, when it stood at 35% of the workforce.
- The minimum wage is currently $5.15. Increasing it requires an act of Congress.
Some candidates want to increase it now, and automatically increase it to keep up with inflation (known as "indexing").
- The U.S. agricultural sector has faced strong foreign competition in a weakened global trade setting.
- The value of U.S. agricultural exports has been reduced, falling from a record of almost $60 billion in fiscal 1996 to $49 billion currently being estimated for fiscal years 1999 and 2000. Export volumes for 1999 and 2000 are higher than in 1998, but low commodity prices have held the total value down.
- Farm income has fallen: Although somewhat buffered from further declines by increases in government payments (counter cyclical marketing loan benefits and emergency/disaster assistance payments), net farm income has fallen from nearly $55 billion in 1996 to $40.4 billion currently being forecast for 2000.
- Stronger demand: Continuing improvement in global macro economy underpins strengthening demand. Structural reform in crisis countries leads to strengthening global economic growth, particularly in developing countries, providing a foundation for further gains in trade and U.S. agricultural exports.
- The annual Farm Bill provides for numerous subsidies to numerous classes of farmers. The Farm Bill is heavily supported by Senators from farm states.
Foreign trade and import regulations are covered on the Free Trade page.
Corporate welfare issues are covered on the Government Reform page.
Earned-income Tax Credits are covered on the Tax Reform page.
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Earned-income Tax Credits
Welfare Reform Bill