Nov 8, 2019

A bipartisan pushback on noncompete agreements

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate may soon be taking on noncompete agreements, after a rare bipartisan bill to declare them illegal in most instances was introduced and has gained support.

What it means: The Workforce Mobility Act would ban the use of noncompete agreements except in connection with the dissolution of a partnership or the sale of a business.

Why it matters: Previously a rare clause, companies have recently been instituting noncompete agreements into the contracts of "janitors, receptionists, customer service workers, fledgling journalists, even employees of a day care center," according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.

  • A 2015 study found that 40% of Americans have had a noncompete agreement at some point in their careers.

The big picture: "Workers’ inability to leave their jobs because of non-compete agreements and similar limitations has also contributed to the wage stagnation of recent decades," legal experts Jane Flanagan and Terri Gerstein write for EPI's Working Economics blog.

  • "Two studies released just last month found that non-compete agreements adversely affected wages and job mobility."
  • "Non-compete agreements aren’t really about trade secrets anymore. They’re about limiting workers’ bargaining power."

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Tech's liability shield becomes trade-deal flashpoint

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New opposition from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week left the tech industry at risk of losing a cherished trade deal provision that could help cement its liability shield.

Driving the news: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from liability for content their users post, and Pelosi cited the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's extension of its principles to U.S. trade partners as a sticking point for getting the trade deal through Congress.

Go deeperArrowDec 6, 2019

Scoop: U.S. pushing Arab states on non-belligerence pacts with Israel

Netanyahu, Trump and Pence at the White House. Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

The White House approached several Arab states to encourage them to reach non-belligerence agreements with Israel, according to Israeli, Arab and U.S. sources.

Why it matters: One of the Trump administration’s main goals in the Middle East has been to promote the normalization of ties between Israel and the Gulf states. Non-belligerence agreements are an interim step between the secret relations Israel has with those countries now and full diplomatic relations.

Go deeperArrowDec 3, 2019

Where low-wage workers are being left behind

Adapted from Brookings; Map: Axios Visuals 

Today's low-wage workers are concentrated in southern and western states and are often locked out of moving up economically because they can't afford to live in cities that offer better-paying jobs.

Why it matters: Low-wage and entry-level workers are more likely to be negatively affected by automation in the workforce and less equipped to weather an economic downturn, research suggests.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019