November 2016 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November; unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, By Ana Swanson, December 2, 2016, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, a level not seen since August 2007, according to government data released Friday morning. The first employment report since voters went to the polls last month shows an economy in strong shape as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office…”

Prisoner Reentry

AG Lynch: School system to run in federal prison system, By Kevin Johnson, November 30, 2016, USA Today: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that a school system would be formed within the vast federal prison network as part of a series of efforts to drive down recidivism and create a clearer path for thousands of inmates to re-enter their home communities…”

SNAP and Military Families

Should more troops become eligible for food stamps?, By Carl Prine, November 28, 2016, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Despite steep pay raises since the 9/11 terror attacks, too many military personnel still struggle to feed their families and need an easier way to get food stamps, according to a new bill from a San Diego congresswoman.  Susan Davis has introduced the Military Hunger Prevention Act in a bid to exempt the military’s Basic Allowance for Housing — a central component of most troops’ compensation — when determining eligibility for food stamps and 17 other federal food programs.  The legislation comes as food pantries and other charities said they continue to encounter strong demand from military households for their services…”

Child Poverty – Oregon

Rising rents, slow-to-recover earnings trap many Oregon children in tough circumstances, By Betsy Hammond, November 16, 2016, The Oregonian: “The typical Oregon family saw its income rise about 6 percent faster than inflation, to $66,300, in 2015. Still, that remained $1,300 less than the inflation-adjusted typical family income in 2007, before the recession, even though the costs of rent and child care have surged 10 and 18 percent faster than inflation since then.  Those are among the findings of a new report by Children First for Oregon, looking at how the economy, race, education, health care and other factors are affecting the state’s youngest residents…”

Cost of Poverty – Toronto, CA

Cost of poverty in Toronto pegged at $5.5 billion a year, By Laurie Monsebraaten, November 28, 2016, Toronto Star: “Poverty in Toronto costs between $4.4 billion and $5.5 billion a year, according to a groundbreaking report on what we all pay in added health care, policing and depressed economic productivity for the city’s 265,000 families living on low incomes…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy saved for working parents in Care4Kids; most new families barred, By Josh Covner, November 29, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Working families who now receive a child care subsidy that helps parents keep their jobs can remain in Care4Kids under new state actions that cut a $6.1 million program-threatening deficit by more than half.  By closing Care4Kids to additional groups of new applicants, and applying extra money left over in a separate preschool program, the state can now renew subsidies for another year for all enrolled parents, officials said Tuesday…”

Affordable Housing – Minneapolis, MN

As Minneapolis gentrifies, some of the last neighborhoods for the poor are now getting squeezed, By Adam Belz, November 28, 2016, Star Tribune: “A light snow fell outside a brown apartment building on Pleasant Avenue, where tenants gathered to protest something that’s become inevitable in Minneapolis: rising rent.  The company that manages seven buildings just south of Lake Street told residents in a letter that their rent will rise by as much as $125 per month, to $775.  For many of the families there, that will be too much, and nearby options are limited. Only a handful of apartments in the area rent for less than $900 per month…”

Rural Health Care – Nevada, Kentucky

  • Health-care ‘have-nots’: Nevada’s rural residents face fraying safety net, By Pashtana Usufzy, November 19, 2016, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Tears well up in the eyes of lifelong Tonopah resident Acacia Hathaway as she talks about last year’s closure of Nye Regional Medical Center, the only hospital within 100 miles of her home.  ‘It was … like the end of the world here,’ says the 24-year-old mother of three, including a daughter who suffers from Goltz syndrome, a rare illness that requires frequent care from medical specialists.  Now, instead of visiting the local hospital when 4-year-old Ella suffers one of her seemingly inevitable infections, Hathaway or her husband, Justin, drive to Las Vegas – three hours each way. That’s in addition to twice-monthly trips for regular appointments with her doctors — all eight of them…”
  • In depressed rural Kentucky, worries mount over Medicaid cutbacks, By Phi Galewitz, November 19, 2016, National Public Radio: “For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in Manchester, Ky., one of America’s poorest places, the Affordable Care Act was life altering.  The law allowed Kentucky to expand Medicaid in 2014 and made Lockaby – along with 440,000 other low-income state residents – newly eligible for free health care under the state-federal insurance program. Enrollment gave Lockaby her first insurance in 11 years…”

US Children in Foster Care

5 states struggle with surging numbers of foster children, By David Crary (AP), November 23, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “The number of U.S. children in foster care is climbing after a sustained decline, but just five states account for nearly two-thirds of the recent increase. Reasons range from creation of a new child-abuse hotline to widespread outrage over the deaths of children who’d been repeatedly abused. Addictions among parents are another major factor…”

Homelessness in the US

  • US homelessness declines: What’s working?, By Amanda Hoover, November 17, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Chester Ross may soon be a rarity on the sidewalks of Boston.  ‘There’s too many homeless people out here,’ says Mr. Ross, bundled in a winter jacket on Boston’s Newbury Street, holding out an emptied plastic cup from 7-Eleven where coins and crumpled dollar bills gather. Sitting with his back against a fence, he’s propped a cardboard sign against his knees that reads: ‘I believe people help people in need and I am in need of help. Thank you, God Bless.’  As he looks down the tree-lined street in Back Bay, one of the city’s wealthiest downtown neighborhoods, he adds: ‘The housing is too expensive.’  But Boston may yet hold some lessons for solving homelessness…”
  • Homelessness in the U.S. was down slightly over the past year, By Pam Fessler, November 17, 2016, National Public Radio: “Homelessness in the U.S. declined over the past year. Even so, there were large increases in several cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle.  Overall, almost 550,000 individuals were homeless on a single night earlier this year, according to a new report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development…”
  • Homelessness drops across nation, but California count rises, By Steve Rubenstein, Jenna Lyons and Kevin Fagan, November 17, 2016, San Francisco Chronicle: “Homelessness across the United States fell slightly last year but increased in California and other West Coast states, largely due to a shortage of affordable housing, federal officials said Thursday.  Around the nation, homelessness was down 3 percent amid growing scrutiny of the problem. In California, however, homelessness climbed 3 percent, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual snapshot assessment of homelessness in America…”

Section 8 Housing – Seattle, WA

Section 8 tenants flee Seattle’s high rents, compete for housing in smaller cities, By Vernal Coleman, November 18, 2016, Seattle Times: “On a recent Saturday morning, Elmika James settled into a couch inside the subsidized, three-bedroom apartment she fears she could soon lose and began searching for a new home.  She scoured housing websites on her phone, looking over listings friendly to participants in the federal Housing Choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8.  Many of the listings were old, the apartments advertised already rented. Others were scams. Some property managers have told her flatly they did not accept the vouchers at all.  James, a 43-year-old UPS package handler and mother of five, said rejection has become part of her daily routine. And she’s not alone…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Report: Cities passing more laws making homelessness a crime, By Cathy Bussewitz and Colleen Slevin (AP), November 15, 2016, Virginian-Pilot: “Cities across the country are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and panhandling, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, a new report said.  Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on sidewalks to clear out their belongings Tuesday, was among four cities criticized for policies criminalizing homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes. The other cities listed in its ‘hall of shame’ are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state…”

Child Poverty – Toronto, CA

Kids suffer most as Toronto clings to title of child poverty capital, By Laurie Monsebraaten, November 14, 2016, Toronto Star: “Salma Jabeen would love to enrol her 4-year-old daughter in taekwondo or gymnastics. Or buy Zara the small toy she wanted during a recent trip to the mall.  But her husband’s earnings as a security guard barely cover groceries and rent for the family’s sparsely-furnished Thorncliffe Park apartment…”

Fuel Poverty in the UK

Fuel poverty: How can UK tackle cold homes and high bills?, By Dave Harvey, November 17, 2016, BBC News: “When the temperature drops and the chill sets in, people in the UK are more likely to feel it in their homes than their continental neighbours. In European surveys comparing 16 countries with similar climates, the UK was near the bottom.  Why? Because it has the draughtiest windows and least insulated homes. For many families that means the moment they turn off the heating, the warmth goes out of the windows…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy for thousands of state’s working poor in danger, By Josh Kovner, November 16, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Elisha Larose takes home about $350 per week as a certified nurse’s aide in New Haven. Between rent, food, car insurance, medical bills, and utilities, the money is stretched thin for her and her 4-year-old son, Torraye.  She is making it, she says, with careful budgeting and the help of a child-care subsidy for working parents. She pays $48 per week for a pre-school center for Torraye that actually costs up to $297 a week.  But that subsidy is in jeopardy. It is provided through a program called Care4Kids that is $5.4 million in the red. The state has already closed the program to new applicants, and people whose year-long subsidy expires in the coming winter and spring may not be renewed…”

Natural Disasters and Poverty

Natural disasters push 26m into poverty each year, says World Bank, By Larry Elliott, November 14, 2016, The Guardian: “Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said.  A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account…”

Neighborhood Economics and Health

How economics, demographics affect a community’s health concerns, By Donna Vickroy, November 11, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “One county; very different health concerns across it.  The myriad communities that make up Cook County tell a story of affluence and poverty and points in between. And, depending on a community’s economic standing, its biggest health concerns can be very different.  For example, Cook County Public Health officials are concerned about the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases in Chicago’s economically struggling North Lawndale community. But in economically affluent south suburban Orland Park, where incidents of STDs are vastly lower, there is uneasiness over mental health issues and suicide rates.  A new study put together by county public health officials and local university professors examines quality of life issues across specific Cook County communities and asks a number of questions, including why do some communities thrive while others are in decline…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

More Kansans will drop from welfare rolls as requirements stiffen, By Andy Marso, November 11, 2016, Salina Post: “For Ashlyn Harcrow, the sound of the train whistle brings up all kinds of thoughts she’d like to avoid.  Harcrow, 24, has been living at the Topeka Rescue Mission since July. The nonprofit homeless shelter has helped her stabilize as she recovers from domestic violence and tries to improve her mental health amid post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.  But the mission, at 600 N. Kansas Ave., is right next to the tracks. As trains rumble through north Topeka, they remind Harcrow that she’s thought about using those tracks to take her own life.  ‘All these trains that go by here,’ she says, ‘it don’t help.’  Harcrow would like to leave the mission and get her own place. But it’s a financial impossibility until she gets her mental health on track so she can return to the workforce…”

Discounted Transit Fares

Advocates for New York’s working poor push for discounted transit fares, By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, November 11, 2016, New York Times: “At a time when New York City can seem unbearably expensive, advocates for the poor are targeting a rising cost that many people struggle to afford: a MetroCard.  And with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority poised to approve its latest fare increase in January, they are pressing Mayor Bill de Blasio to finance a program that would offer half-price subway and bus fares to New Yorkers living in poverty…”

Older Workers and Low-wage Jobs

The new low-wage reality for older Americans, By Aimee Picchi, November 8, 2016, CBS News: “Thanks to economic instability and an eroding pension system, Americans are working longer than ever. But it turns out there’s a twist in how they’re working: New research shows workers older than 55 increasingly hold low-wage jobs.  The findings may add to the anxiety that haunts many workers about how — or if — they’ll have the financial resources to retire. In September, slightly more than 27 percent of full-time workers over 55 years old held low-wage jobs, compared with 19 percent of younger workers, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economics at The New School for Social Research…”