State-Level Income Inequality

  • Income inequality last year rose in 15 states, By Niraj Chokshi, September 18, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation became more unequal last year. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, was higher, in a statistically significant way, in 2013 than in 2012, rising from 0.476 to 0.481, according to a new Census Bureau report. A score of zero suggests perfect equality where all households have equal income, while a score of one suggests perfect inequality, where one household has it all, and the rest have none. Alaska was the only state to see its Gini Index score decline…”
  • Income inequality: States struggle to balance budgets as rich-poor gap widens, By Mark Trumbull, September 15, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A widening gap in incomes between the rich and the middle class may be hitting US states where it hurts – making it harder for them to raise the tax revenue they need for balancing their budgets. This conclusion, reached in a report released Monday by Standard & Poor’s, comes at a time when states across America are still struggling to rebuild their revenue streams more than five years after the end of a historically deep recession…”

State Minimum Wage – Oregon

Oregon minimum wage will increase to $9.25 in 2015, By Molly Young, September 17, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.25 an hour in 2015, state labor officials announced Wednesday. The change arrives amid a national debate over the minimum wage. Starting Jan. 1, Oregon employers must pay workers at least $2 an hour above the federal wage floor. Oregon has the nation’s second-highest minimum wage, behind only Washington. The rates in both states are tied to inflation, so they are adjusted every year in an attempt to keep pace with the cost of living…”

States and Cuts to SNAP

Cuts to food stamps will only hit Wisconsin, 3 other states, By Mary Clare Jalonick (AP), September 17, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting Wisconsin and three other states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found. As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that the GOP had advertised…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013

  • Poverty rate posts 1st drop since 2006 thanks to more full-time jobs, By Jim Puzzanghera and Don Lee, September 16, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “The nation’s poverty rate dropped last year for the first time since 2006, but the typical household income barely budged in a sign of the continuing sluggish economic recovery from the Great Recession, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. The decline in the poverty rate to 14.5% of the population from 15% in 2012 was driven by an increase in people with full-time jobs last year, Census officials said…”
  • U.S. poverty rate declines slightly, Census Bureau reports, By Robert Pear, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “The poverty rate declined slightly last year for the first time since 2006, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday, but there was no statistically significant change in the number of poor people or in the income level of the typical American household. Over all, the bureau said, 14.5 percent of Americans were living in poverty last year, down from 15 percent in 2012. In addition, it said, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined for the first time since 2000…”
  • Poverty dropped but household incomes didn’t rise, Census Bureau says, By Carol Morello, September 16, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation’s poverty rate dipped slightly last year as more Americans shifted from part-time work to full-time jobs, but wages barely kept up with inflation so there was no significant change to incomes, according to Census Bureau statistics released Tuesday. The poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent in 2012. That was the first decline in the rate since 2006, a year before the recession began. However, the number of people living at or below the poverty line, about 45 million, did not budge. The decline in the rate at a time of unchanging raw numbers was attributed to population growth…”
  • U.S. poverty declines in 2013, median income stagnant, Census Bureau finds, By Tony Pugh, September 16, 2014, Miami Herald: “An improved economy with more full-time workers spurred a decline in the national poverty rate in 2013 _ the first in 7 years _ and the first decline in the nation’s child poverty rate in 13 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday. The number of men and women working full time, year round increased by 1.8 million and by 1 million, respectively, from 2012 to 2013, as America’s recession-battered workforce continued to find jobs and move from part-time to full-time work status…”
  • Poverty rate drops for the first time since 2006, By Jesse J. Holland (AP), September 16, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “The poverty rate in the United States has dropped for the first time since 2006, bringing a bit of encouraging news about the nation’s economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for midterm elections. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its annual look at poverty in the United States, said that the poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent in 2012. The decrease in the poverty rate was attributed to the growth in year-round employment by 2.8 million jobs in the United States, government officials said…”
  • U.S. poverty rate drops for first time since 2006, By Tami Luhby, September 16, 2014, CNNMoney: “There’s not much good news for working Americans struggling to rebound from the recession, except perhaps this: the U.S. poverty rate is finally on the decline. The nation’s poverty rate fell to 14.5% in 2013, down from 15% a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. This is the first statistically significant drop in poverty since 2006, when it was 12.3%. A lot of the decrease is coming from people starting to find full-time work — and thus earning more money. But the number of people in poverty remains stuck at 45.3 million. As America’s population expands, the job growth hasn’t kept pace…”

Middle-Class Income by County

Where the middle class is most unequal, By Tami Luhby, September 15, 2014, CNN Money: “Virginia is the most unequal when it comes to comparing median income by county. Loudoun, a wealthy county near Washington D.C., has four times the median income of Buchanan, a struggling county in the southwestern portion of the state. Home to Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudoun is one of the fastest growing counties in Virginia. Its population has surged 12% to nearly 350,000 between 2010 and 2013, compared to a 3% growth rate for the rest of the state…”

Public Housing – New York City

Budget cuts reshape New York’s public housing, By Mireya Navarro, September 11, 2014, New York Times: “The crushing news came less than a year after Diane Robinson and her 24-year-old son moved into an airy two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The city, which helps pay her rent, wrote this summer to say she would have to downsize into a one-bedroom apartment or pay $240 more a month in rent. A public school aide, Ms. Robinson, 48, decided to stay in the apartment, in the Castle Hill neighborhood. But on an annual income of about $25,000, she is struggling, she said, and she does not know how long she can hang on. Moving to a one-bedroom apartment would mean that her son, a college student who works to help with food and utilities, would have to sleep in the living room. ‘My son works — he’s not entitled to have his own bedroom?’ she said. ‘Next thing they’re going to tell me is that I’m not entitled to a roof over my head…’”

Medicaid Expansion – Virginia

With Medicaid expansion blocked, McAuliffe unveils modest plan to insure more Virginians, By Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy, September 8, 2014, Washington Post: “Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who vowed in June to defy the Republican-controlled legislature and expand healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians, unveiled a much more modest plan Monday after being thwarted by federal rules and a last-minute change to state budget language. McAuliffe outlined measures to provide health insurance to as many as 25,000 Virginians, just a fraction of those he had hoped to cover by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act…”

Homeless Students – California

S.B. County ranks high for homeless students, By Dayna Straehley, September 11, 2014, Press Enterprise: “San Bernardino County’s 8.1 percent of homeless students is the fifth-highest county rate in the state, according to a new study released Wednesday. Riverside County also ranked above average, with 5.2 percent of its public school students lacking permanent housing, according to the California Homeless Youth Project, kidsdata.org and the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children’s Health…”

Kids Count Report – Ohio

Poverty and Ohio’s kids delineated in report, By Rita Price, September 8, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “Kids in Delaware County live in the state’s wealthiest households, while those in heavily Amish Holmes County are least likely to be born underweight. Fourth-graders in northwestern Ohio’s rural Paulding County fare best on state reading tests, and children in Appalachian Jackson County suffer the highest poverty rates. The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio releases its annual report on child well-being today, with overviews by region — metro, suburban, rural and Appalachian — and snapshots of all 88 Ohio counties…”

African American Child Poverty – Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin’s black children remain trapped in poverty, study says, By Guy Boulton, September 10, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “African-American children still face dismal odds in Wisconsin. The state ranks last in the country in the overall well-being of African-American children based on an index of 12 measures that gauge a child’s success from birth to adulthood, according to a new report being released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. The measures, while not new, are bleak: Four out of every five African-American children in Wisconsin live in poor households, compared with roughly two out of three Latino children and three out of 10 white children…”
  • Damning disparities: Wisconsin is a great place for kids to grow up — unless they’re black, By Steven Elbow, September 10, 2014, Capital Times: “Last year’s ‘Race to Equity’ report set off an impassioned discussion about the vast disparities in the quality of life for African-Americans and whites. But that discussion was restricted to Dane County. Now the authors have issued a new report that they hope will take the discussion to the rest of Wisconsin. The report, drawing on data from across the country, shows that the state is dead last in providing for the well-being of its African-American kids…”

Inequality and the Education System

A simple equation: more education = more income, By Eduardo Porter, September 10, 2014, New York Times: “Imagine if the United States government taxed the nation’s one-percenters so that their post-tax share of the nation’s income remained at 10 percent, roughly where it was in 1979. If the excess money were distributed equally among the rest of the population, in 2012 every family below that very top tier would have gotten a $7,105 check. This is hardly trivial money. But it pales compared to the gap between the wages of a family of two college graduates and a family of high school graduates. Between 1979 and 2012, that gap grew by some $30,000, after inflation…”

Long-Term Unemployment

Long-term unemployed still at record levels, By Don Lee, September 10, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “It has come down to this for Brian Perry: an apple or banana for lunch, Red Sox ballgames on an old Zenith TV and long walks to shake off the blues. At 57, Perry has been unemployed and looking for work for nearly seven years, ever since that winter when the Great Recession hit and he was laid off from his job as a law firm clerk. By his count, Perry has applied for more than 1,300 openings and has had some 30 interviews, the last one a good two years ago. With his savings running dry, this summer he put up for sale his one asset — a three-bedroom house his parents used to own in this suburb of Providence. ‘I’m not looking for pity, just one last opportunity,’ said Perry, a boyish-looking man with bright blue eyes and a nasal New England brogue. The national economy, now in its sixth year of recovery, is gaining momentum and the unemployment rate has fallen sharply over the last year to 6.1%. But the number and share of people out of work for more than six months, the so-called long-term unemployed, remain at historically high levels…”

Hospitals and Medicaid Expansion

  • Report: Hospitals in Medicaid-expansion states performing well, By Chelsea Keenan, September 8, 2014, Cedar Rapids Gazette: “Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid are seeing higher revenues and a reduction in uninsured patients, according to a new report by PwC’s Health Research Institute. The report analyzed financial data from the country’s five largest for-profit health systems, which represent 538 hospitals in 35 states. ‘There were lots of debates in (Washington) D.C. around these issues,’ said Gary Jacobs, a managing director at PWC. ‘There were lots of promises and good intentions. But the jury was still out on how it would shape up.’ The growth in the 26 Medicaid expansion states and Washington, D.C., starkly contrasts the experience in the 24 states that did not expand the program, the report found…”
  • Hospital officials frustrated with financial losses since state did not expand Medicaid, By Shannon Muchmore, September 8, 2014, Tulsa World: “Tulsa hospital executives are frustrated at losing out on reimbursements because of what they say are purely political decisions. Hospitals in Oklahoma are projected to lose more than $4 billion in reimbursements between 2013-22 because the state chose not to expand Medicaid, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute…”

US Food Insecurity

  • USDA: Despite slight improvement, hunger persists, By Alfred Lubrano, September 4, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “High rates of hunger persisted in the United States in 2013, with 49 million Americans – 16 million of them children – unable to consistently eat nutritious food. In 360,000 U.S. households, conditions were so severe that children skipped meals, or didn’t eat for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money for food. Overall, levels of hunger remained essentially unchanged between 2012 and 2013, although hunger declined slightly between 2011 and 2013. The findings are from a federal annual report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ‘Household Food Security in the United States in 2013,’ the official measure of hunger in America…”
  • US household food security fails to improve, By Haya El Nasser, September 3, 2014, Al Jazeera America: “More U.S. households are having a hard time putting food on the table than before the recession. But there is a sliver of hope: The numbers are not going up. In 2013, 14.3 percent of households (17.5 million) experienced varying degrees of food insecurity, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The change from 2012 was not statistically significant, but the latest research shows a slight dip since 2011, when 14.9 percent of households suffered from hunger or poor nutrition…”

Joblessness and Unemployment

  • Long-term unemployment almost double pre-financial crisis level – OECD, By Phillip Inman, September 3, 2014, The Guardian: “The number of long-term unemployed in the world’s major economies has increased by 85% since the financial crash, according to the latest employment monitor by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD). More than 16 million people have been out of work for at least a year in the first quarter of 2014, up from 8.7 million before the crisis, or more than one in three of all unemployed across the OECD’s 34 member countries, the report said…”
  • U.S. job growth slips in August after months of bigger gains, By Nelson D. Schwartz, September 5, 2014, New York Times: “Once again, the American economy has managed to frustrate the optimists. After a series of positive economic reports in recent weeks, the Labor Department said Friday that hiring in August sank to its slowest pace since December, with employers adding 142,000 jobs last month. The vast majority of economists had been looking for a gain of at least 200,000 in payrolls, coming off healthy indicators for durable goods orders, construction activity and manufacturing in July and August. The unemployment rate did fall by 0.1 percentage point to 6.1 percent last month, but that was because more people dropped out of the work force rather than found jobs…”

Prize-Linked Savings Accounts

Using gambling to entice low-income families to save, By Patricia Cohen, August 30, 2014, New York Times: “While building up savings offers the best route out of poverty, the glamourless grind of socking away a dollar here and there has a tough time competing with the heady fantasy of a Mega Millions jackpot. But instead of attacking lotteries, a growing number of credit unions and nonprofit groups are using them to encourage low-income families to save. They offer what are known as prize-linked savings accounts, which essentially treat every deposit as a ticket in a prizewinning raffle. The idea is to offer the thrill of gambling without the risk. Even perennial losers keep their savings…”

Student Loan Debt and Black Students

It’s hardest for black students to get the financial benefits of college, By Natalie Kitroeff, September 2, 2014, Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Black students rely more on student loans to pay for college than other racial groups and they’re less likely to pay off the debt, according to a study released today. The research was presented at a conference on higher education and minorities in Washington, D.C., hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles, Civil Rights Project. “Student debt today has a color,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the study’s lead author, at the conference. Most of the people who borrow for their education are white, Goldrick-Rab said, but a larger share of black students and are in debt than any other racial group…”

Baltimore Beginning School Study

What your 1st-grade life says about the rest of it, By Emily Badger, August 29, 2014, Washington Post: “In the beginning, when they knew just where to find everyone, they pulled the children out of their classrooms. They sat in any quiet corner of the schools they could claim: the sociologists from Johns Hopkins and, one at a time, the excitable first-graders. Monica Jaundoo, whose parents never made it past the eighth grade. Danté Washington, a boy with a temper and a dad who drank too much. Ed Klein, who came from a poor white part of town where his mother sold cocaine…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • States that decline to expand Medicaid give up billions in aid, By Tony Pugh, September 2, 2014, The State: “If the 23 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the 2010 health care law continue to do so for the next eight years, they’ll pay $152 billion to extend the program in other states – while receiving nothing in return. This massive exodus of federal tax dollars from 2013 through 2022 would pay 37 percent of the cost to expand Medicaid in the 27 remaining states and Washington, D.C., over that time. Most of the money, nearly $88 billion, would come from taxpayers in just five non-expansion states: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. The findings are part of a McClatchy analysis of data from the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research center that’s advised states on implementing the health care law, the Affordable Care Act…”
  • NC’s $10 billion Medicaid challenge: Pay for other states or take federal money?, By Ann Doss Helms and Tony Pugh, September 2, 2014, Charlotte News and Observer: “North Carolina taxpayers could spend more than $10 billion by 2022 to provide medical care for low-income residents of other states while getting nothing in return, a McClatchy Newspapers analysis shows. The federal health law tried to expand Medicaid to millions of low-income, uninsured adults. But many Republican-led states, including North Carolina, opted out of the plan championed by President Barack Obama…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Michigan

Report: 4 in 10 Michigan households struggle to make ends meet, By Emily Lawler, August 31, 2014, MLive: “Jessie Robinson got her paycheck last week, and started the process of deciding which bills to pay. ‘I am constantly going through all of the bills and figuring which stuff is going to be turned off first and paying those bills first,’ Robinson said. Her family is one of 40 percent of households in the state that despite working, doesn’t have enough money to pay for basic needs according to a new report from United Way. The report measures the state’s 2012 ‘ALICE’ households; an acronym for those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed…”