Election 2012 and Jobs: The Most Offbeat Ballot Measures That Actually Passed
While President Obama's win Tuesday has garnered lots of attention, ballot initiatives approved by voters in six states that boost wages and may result in more jobs in some niche industries -- and threaten jobs in another -- are also noteworthy. Some are praised as breakthrough measures. Others (such as a condom initiative in Los Angeles -- yes, this is for real) might be seen as, well, weird. Take a look at these ballot measures and see what they might mean for you.
- Gambling: Voters in Maryland passed a measure that will expand gaming in the state, which backers said will help keep Maryland from losing money and business to neighboring states. As The Washington Post notes, studies show that casinos generate jobs -- some very well-paying -- but also may increase crime, bankruptcy and mental illness in local communities.
- Marijuana For Fun: Washington state and Colorado both passed initiatives permitting the legal sale of marijuana for recreational use. The ballots' passage could result in thousands of jobs related to the growing, harvesting, packaging, sale and state regulation of the plant. In California, which passed a law in 1996 permitting the sale of marijuana for medical use, tens of thousands of jobs were created as dispensaries around the state opened. Wondering what kinds of jobs are created when marijuana is legalized? Forbes put together this slideshow two years ago, when California was considering legalizing the sale of marijuana to all adults (the measure failed).
Mandatory Condoms: In Los Angeles County, voters passed a law that calls for a countywide law mandating the use of condoms during the filming of sex acts in adult movies. Don't laugh. It's a huge industry that according to some estimates employs 10,000 workers in the region. While mandating condom usage will cut back on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and would presumably save lives, the adult industry vociferously opposed the measure, arguing that it might drive the industry out of the county, taking with it hundreds of millions of dollars, the Los Angeles Times reports. As one fan of adult films tweeted:
It's a dark day for porn...somehow measure b passed : (- John FetishMovies (@FetishMoviesCom) November 7, 2012
- Minimum Wage Laws: Congress last raised the federal minimum wage in 2007; since then, legislation that would raise the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour have failed to move forward because of opposition by Republican lawmakers. Nevertheless, entry-level and low-skill workers in several municipalities got a boost in pay -- thanks to voters. In Albuquerque, N.M., some 40,000 workers will see their hourly rate increase by $1 to $8.50 an hour. The National Employment Law Project, an advocate for low-wage workers, says that the increase is projected to generate $18 million in new consumer spending and support the creation of 160 new jobs as businesses expand to meet the increased demand. Meanwhile, voters in Long Beach, Calif., approved a "living-wage" measure giving workers at hotels with 100 rooms or more a mandatory wage of $13 an hour. As the Los Angeles Times notes, in doing so, Long Beach voters have required 17 of the city's hotels to pay workers a rate that is $4 more than California's minimum wage (and provide them with five sick days each year). In the Bay Area, voters in San Jose approved Measure D, which boosts minimum pay there to $10 an hour, $2 more than California's minimum wage. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, businesses lobbied against the measure, saying that it would only lead to fewer jobs. In adopting the laws, the cities join only a handful of other municipalities that set their own wage floors, including San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
- Same-Sex Marriage: Voters in Maine and Maryland voted to allow same-sex couples to marry, providing them the same benefits afforded heterosexual couples. (Washington state was still counting votes on this measure, but it looks like it will pass there, too.) Passage of such laws has tended to be a boon for the hospitality and tourism industries, as well as for retailers and service providers. New York state's law allowing same-sex marriage, which passed in June 2011, boosted New York City's economy by nearly $260 million dollars in its first year, CNNMoney reports, including revenues derived from the sale of marriage licenses.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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