Charts of the Week: Infrastructure jobs; Southeast Asian economies post-pandemic; Amazon workers’ unionization battle

Labor underutilization by occupational group

In this edition of Charts of the Week: how federal infrastructure investment can put America back to work; Southeast Asian nations’ fiscal response to COVID-19; and the unionization battle for Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama.

Labor underutilization by occupational groupIn their new policy brief, Marcela Escobari, Dhruv Gandhi, and Sebastian Strauss write that “[a] large-scale federal infrastructure investment program that is deliberately designed for maximum workforce impact can help accelerate reemployment, prevent scarring, and boost long-term inclusive and sustainable growth.” The authors discuss range of workforce issues, including—as demonstrated in the chart above—how a “workforce impact analysis” can identify how many underemployed and unemployed workers new infrastructure projects can absorb in particular sectors.

Southeast Asian merchandise exports
The Lowy Institute’s Roland Rajah, writing for the Order from Chaos blog, examines three factors that will drive whether and how Southeast Asian economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these is macroeconomic response; noting that most nations in the region have been “been unable to match the fiscal largesse of their Western counterparts,” he adds that “fiscal policy in Southeast Asia has still been very expansionary—particularly if compared to past crises—and this has played a crucial role in limiting the economic and social fallout from the pandemic.”

Researchers in the Metropolitan Policy Program—Andre Perry, Molly Kinder, Laura Stateler, and Carl Romer—illuminate the unionization drive by Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, a majority-Black city, and also the racial disparities the movement reveals. “Amazon’s disproportionately Black workforce has risked their lives during the pandemic,” these authors observe, “but the company has shared little of its astonishing profits with them.”