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From pollution to immigrant labor, Ohio economists breaking down hot topics

A woman and a man dressed in suits
Margaret Jodlowski, left, and Alex Hollingsworth, right.

From air pollution to immigrant labor, Ohio State economists are taking their expertise beyond the classroom this spring, offering anyone a chance to dig into today's hot issues.

Each month this spring, economists with Ohio State University are breaking down a new key issue for the school's Economic Outlook and Policy Webinar Series.

Pushing pollution limits

This includes a timely talk on May 15about how events that release excess amounts of pollution — such as the East Palestine train derailment — are more common than you might think.

Air pollution released due to accidents, malfunctions or unanticipated facility start-ups and shutdowns are classified as excess emissions.

Excess emissions are violations of the Clean Air Act. Despite this, states have historically granted exemptions to businesses, shielding them from enforcement and penalties, according to Alex Hollingsworth, associate professor at Ohio State, who will present on the topic.

Since 2015 a considerable policy debate has waged regarding these emissions both in Ohio and across the nation.

Hollingsworth is working to not only analyze the impacts of these events, but to raise awareness about their prevalence.

“So we just want to do a good job characterizing their importance," Hollingsworth said. "And again, it's not telling us exactly the health consequences of something like the East Palestine train derailment, but it will be informative of 'Oh, wow, lots of these little things are occurring.'”

Undocumented labor in agriculture

The series of economic talks also includes a deep dive into immigrant labor in agriculture.  

Ohio State Assistant Professor Margaret Jodlowski will examine how the legal status of farmworkers affects whether they stay in the industry.

Jodlowski said she has been researching how workers on farms with different immigration statuses interact with the labor market, especially after receiving legal status.

“What we do instead is look at the difference in workers responsiveness to different labor market characteristics by legal status," she said. "And from that we can do sort of calculations to extract what we think would happen if a large group of people who were changed from being undocumented to documented.”

Her talk is at noon on June 5.

Shay Frank was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. Before working at WYSO, Shay worked as the Arts Writer for the Blade Newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to working at the paper, she worked as a freelancer for WYSO for three years and served as the vice president of the Toledo News Guild. Now located back in the Dayton area, Shay is thrilled to be working with the team at WYSO and reporting for her hometown community.