Racial Graduation Gap – Wisconsin

Wisconsin posts largest white-black graduation gap, By Erin Richards, October 17, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin’s high school graduation rate of 88.4% in 2015 was 6th highest nationally, according to new federal data that revealed a record high U.S. graduation rate Monday, but the state retains the unfortunate distinction of being No. 1 for the widest graduation-rate gap between white and black students. Wisconsin also has the 10th highest gap between white and Hispanic students graduating in four years, an analysis by the Journal Sentinel showed…”

Public-Assistance Computer System – Rhode Island

69-page report details failings of public-assistance computer system, By Katherine Gregg, October 15, 2016, Providence Journal: “The hours-long wait times inside Rhode Island’s welfare offices, the inability to get through on phone lines and the deep ‘customer frustration’ with the troubled launch of the state’s new $364-million computer system are documented in a report the Raimondo administration provided to a federal agency on Friday.  The report spells out in detail, over 69 data-filled pages, the real-life problems faced in recent weeks by thousands of Rhode Islanders who rely on public-assistance benefits to buy food and pay for other basics, including one-hour, 40-minute wait times on the phone, and 2½-hour waits to talk to someone in person…”

State Minimum Wages

  • 5 more states vote on minimum wages as federal wage stalls, By Kristen Wyatt (AP), October 18, 2016, Arizona Daily Sun: “Congress’ inaction on the $7.25 hourly minimum wage is again playing out on state ballots, with voters in four states considering an increase and another considering wages for the youngest workers, even though the states already exceed the federal. In some cases voters are also deciding whether to add sick-leave policies to help the working poor.  The ballot proposals in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington come two years after voters in five other states passed minimum-wage hikes. South Dakota voters are taking a second crack at wages, two years after raising them to $8.50 an hour…”
  • Florida minimum wage rising to $8.10 an hour in 2017, By Marcia Heroux Pounds, October 17, 2016, Sun Sentinel: “Florida is raising its minimum wage to $8.10 an hour beginning Jan. 1, up 5 cents from $8.05 in 2016, the state Department of Economic Opportunity has announced. For tipped employees, the minimum wage will be at least $5.08 an hour…”
  • Measure to lift minimum wage to $13.50 statewide has Washington divided, By Janet I. Tu, October 15, 2016, Seattle Times: “For Martha Camargo Castañeda, an agricultural worker in Wapato, Yakima County, an increase in the state minimum wage would mean she could afford a few more basics for herself and her son.  She makes $10 an hour at her full-time job and counts on food stamps to make ends meet. She juggles the bills to decide each month whether she’ll pay, say, the electric or water bill…”

Health Care Spending – Massachusetts

Low-income communities see fewer health care dollars, AG report finds, By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, October 13, 2016, Boston Globe: “Massachusetts’ health insurance market has an income inequality problem, according to a report from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, whose findings mirror national studies.  The analysis found that more health care dollars are spent on higher-income communities than on lower-income communities — even though the latter tend to have greater medical needs. Healey’s office called this a ‘distressing’ trend that has persisted for years…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

More colleges open food pantries to address campus hunger, October 14, 2016, National Public Radio: “At $68,000 per year, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive schools in the country, and yet some students — most of whom receive financial aid — still don’t have enough to eat every week. The university, bolstered by a national survey by the College and University Food Bank Alliance, discovered that nearly half of its student population matched the national rate of 48 percent of respondents who experienced food insecurity…”

US Unemployment Claims

U.S. unemployment claims at lowest level since 1973, October 13, 2016, Denver Post: “The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits held at a four-decade low last week, a sign employers are holding on to workers as the labor market tightens.  Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, were unchanged at 246,000 in the week ended Oct. 8, the Labor Department said Thursday. The latest two weeks registered at the lowest level since November 1973…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

On Medicaid, states won’t take feds’ no for an answer, By Mattie Quinn, October 11, 2016, Governing: “Last month, to the surprise of no one in health policy circles, the federal government denied Arizona and Ohio’s separate requests to adopt strict eligibility requirements for their health insurance programs for the poor.  What did surprise some health policy experts was what the states had asked for: The third year into Medicaid expansion, Republican-led states are still requesting changes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have repeatedly refused…”

Academic Achievement and Poverty – Ohio

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores, By Jim Siegel, Sunday October 9, 2016,  Columbus Dispatch: “Changes to state testing and district report cards gave schools plenty of new data to absorb this summer, but one constant remained. Regardless of which tests students are taking or if more districts are seeing D’s or F’s on their report cards, the results continue to show a strong correlation with poverty levels…”

Drug Addiction and Foster Care

Drug-addiction epidemic creates crisis in foster care, By Teresa Wiltz, October 07, 2016, Stateline: “The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.  Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis…”

Public Housing

The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you help their parents with rent, By Max Ehrenfreund, October 12, 2016, Washington Post: “Few programs for the poor are so widely reviled as public housing. For opponents on the right, housing projects are costly monuments to the folly of misguided idealism, stifling residents’ ambition by surrounding them with crime, decay and bureaucracy. For critics on the left, the projects — which were often segregated — became ugly icons of the racism of the white elite, an elite that was unwilling to implement more effective solutions to social problems…”

Rural Food Insecurity

Small Iowa town a window Into hunger problem in rural US, By Scott McFetridge (AP), October 12, 2016, ABC News: “Storm Lake, Iowa, appears the picture of economic health, a place where jobs are plentiful, the unemployment rate hovers near 3 percent, busy shops fill century-old brick buildings and children ride bikes on tree-lined sidewalks that end in the glare of its namesake lake.  But there’s a growing problem in the northwest Iowa city of 11,000, one that’s familiar to rural areas around the country: Thousands of working families and elderly residents don’t have enough money to feed themselves or their children. The issue persists even as national poverty rates have declined in the past year and prices for many food staples have dropped slightly…”

Low-Income Households and Internet Access

Tech companies expect free high-speed internet for poorer Americans to pay off later, By Cecilia Kang, October 11, 2016, New York Times: “There is an axiom in technology: New products typically go to wealthy customers first, before prices eventually fall to reach the masses.  With broadband now classified like a utility, telecom and tech companies, including Sprint, Comcast and Facebook, are increasingly working to make high-speed internet accessible to every American, not just a luxury. The companies are among those that have set their sights on bringing free or cheap high-speed internet service to low-income and rural populations in the United States, spurred by philanthropy and, for some, the hope of turning Americans who are not online today into full-paying customers in the future…”

Low-Income Families and Taxes – Canada

Canada’s poor urged to earn more by filing their taxes, By Kyle Bakx, October 11, 2016, CBC News: “After not filing her income taxes for three years, Janet Smith is struggling to find all the paperwork she needs to send to Revenue Canada.  As someone with a low income, she’s expecting to receive government benefits once her taxes are filed. ‘That could probably help me make ends meet. Right now, being on disability and just scraping by, sometimes not even scraping by, it’s pretty tough,’ she said. ‘It’s been a while since I filed taxes, there’s a lot of new things that have come out since I last filed. A lot of benefits that I’m sure I qualify for that I’m missing out on.’  Filing taxes is becoming the key strategy for organizations looking to lift people out of poverty…”

Unemployment Benefits – North Carolina

$2 billion in trust for jobless benefits. Is it time to increase unemployment checks?, By Richard Craver, October 6, 2016, Winston-Salem Journal: “North Carolina has more than $2 billion in its trust fund to pay unemployment benefits, a level close to what federal guidelines suggest for reserves.  State Division of Employment Security officials told legislators Wednesday the amount should be enough for the agency to handle the payout demands of the next recession without having to borrow again from the federal government.  However, some unemployment advocacy groups say the trust fund should be doubled to at least $4.2 billion before state officials should be secure with the amount…”

Air Pollution in Developing Nations

How the world’s poorer countries breathe worse air, in charts and maps, By Max Bearak, October 3, 2016, Washington Post: “On Sunday, India ratified its accession to the Paris climate accords on the 147th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. President Obama congratulated India in a tweet, saying that ‘Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy,’ using a Hindi honorific for the man who championed Indian self-rule and stewardship of its land. The Paris agreement is the international community’s biggest push yet to limit carbon emissions and other forms of pollution.  Unfortunately, if worthiness is measured by being able to live in a world where the air one breathes does not spread disease and blacken one’s lungs, then we are far from it…”

Child Poverty and Malnutrition

Stunting and poverty ‘could hold back 250m children worldwide’, By Sarah Boseley, October 4, 2016, The Guardian: “Nearly 250 million young children across the world – 43% of under-fives – are unlikely to fulfil their potential as adults because of stunting and extreme poverty, new figures show.  The first three years of life are crucial to a child’s development, according to a series of research papers published in the Lancet medical journal, which says there are also economic costs to the failure to help them grow. Those who do not get the nutrition, care and stimulation they need will earn about 26% less than others as adults…”

Child Care Subsidies – Louisiana

The state-budget cuts trapping poor parents, By Della Hasselle, September 29, 2016, The Atlantic: “Over the summer, Kinsley, then 19 months, was just starting to develop her vocabulary. Sometimes her mom, Christian Gobert, laughed about it, because the word Kinsley knew best was ‘no.’  But jokes aside, the New Orleans mother worries about her child’s language development, which she says is slower than some of her daughter’s peers…”

Low-income Students and Financial Aid for College

Many low-income students don’t know they can get money for college, survey shows, By Karen Farkas, October 4, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Many low-income high school students do not know they can receive money for college, according to a report by the National College Access Network.  A survey showed students who did not apply for financial aid did not know what aid is and did not know how they could get it.  Promoting and providing help to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the primary mission of the organization and its members, is not enough, the group said…”

Global Poverty

Global poverty declines even amid economic slowdown, World Bank says, By Maria Hollenhorst, October 2, 2016, National Public Radio: “The number of people living in extreme poverty is continuing to plunge, despite the 2008-09 financial crisis and slowing global economic growth, according to a World Bank study released Sunday.  In the report, ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity,’ the World Bank says the progress proves that eliminating extreme poverty is an achievable goal…”

Suburban Poverty

For many, the suburbs provide no escape from poverty, By Ed Leefeldt, October 6, 2016, CBS News: “For America’s minorities – African Americans, Latinos and others – statistics show that there’s been much more integration in the last 50 years. Once the refuge of white flight, but considered unreachable by many inner-city residents, suburbia is no longer an exclusively white domain. ‘Segregation (of blacks and whites) has decreased steadily since 1970,’ said Alan Berube, a deputy director at the Brookings Institute in a report for the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University…”