Minimum Wage – Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles’ minimum wage on track to go up to $15 by 2020, By Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Alice Walton, May 19, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday backed a plan to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, joining a trend sweeping cities across the country as elected leaders seek to boost stagnating pay for workers on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Lawmakers agreed to draft an ordinance raising the $9-an-hour base wage to $15 by 2020 for as many as 800,000 workers, making L.A. the largest city in the nation to adopt a major minimum-wage hike. Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle already have approved similar increases, and raising the federal minimum wage has moved to the forefront of the Democratic Party’s agenda…”

Long-Term Unemployment

  • 40 percent of unemployed have stopped looking for work: Harris Poll, By Olivera Perkins, May 20, 2015, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Forty percent of the unemployed have given up looking for work, according to a Harris Poll released Wednesday. The poll, ‘The State of the Unemployed,’ was done for the Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals. The national staffing company has 25 offices in Ohio. The survey takes a close look at the jobless in a time when unemployment rates are falling. This is the second year the company has conducted such a poll. Last year, 47 percent of people without jobs had given up looking. Robert Funk, the company’s CEO and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said the number is still too high, especially since the nation’s unemployment rate for April was 5.4 percent, down 0.8 of a percentage point from the year before…”
  • Many jobless (still) giving up looking for work, By Jeff Cox, May 21, 2015, NBC News: “About 40 percent of the 8.5 million jobless Americans have given up looking for work altogether. The revelation, contained in a new survey Wednesday showing how much work needs to be done yet in the U.S. labor market, comes as the labor force participation rate remains mired near 37-year lows. A tight jobs market, the skills gap between what employers want and what prospective employees have to offer, and a benefits program that, while curtailed from its recession level, still remains obliging have combined to keep workers on the sidelines, according to a Harris poll of 1,553 working-age Americans conducted for Express Employment Professionals…”

Poverty and Academic Achievement

Poverty, family stress are thwarting student success, top teachers say, By Lyndsey Layton, May 19, 2015, Washington Post: “The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems.  Those were the factors named in a survey of the 2015 state Teachers of the Year, top educators selected annually in every U.S. state and jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia and Guam…”

Foster Care System

  • New report highlights deficiency in state foster care systems, By Lauren Sausser, May 19, 2015, Post and Courier: “Foster children in South Carolina are too often sent to live in group homes instead of with foster families, a new report shows. About one in four foster children in the state are placed in group settings, compared with one in seven in the United States, the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation found. The report’s authors believe children thrive in family settings and that group homes can’t offer the ‘individualized nurturing’ that many of them need…”
  • N.J. one of top states in placing foster children with families, report says, By Brent Johnson, May 19, 2015, Star-Ledger: “A new report shows New Jersey ranks ninth in the nation in the percentage of foster children living with families instead of in group homes or institutions — a setting experts say is more beneficial to their health and well-being.  The ‘Kids Count’ report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows 91 percent of New Jersey’s foster children live with families…”

Welfare Time Limits – Arizona

Arizona sharply limits welfare to 12 months, Associated Press, May 20, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation. Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months. As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016…”

Low-Wage Workers and Affordable Housing – New York City

For New York City’s working poor, new help in getting out of homeless shelters, By Corinne Ramey, May 18, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “Last summer, a pipe burst in the Bronx apartment where Ayra Garcia lived with her 15-year-old niece. The water damage was so bad that they couldn’t live there anymore. But despite the $31,243 a year that Ms. Garcia then made as a teacher, she didn’t have the savings to pay the three months of rent and a security deposit on a new apartment. With no other options, she and her niece spent five months in homeless shelters…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

$25 ATM limit for Kansas welfare recipients may violate federal law, By Lindsay Wise and Dion Lefler, May 16, 2015, Wichita Eagle: “A first-of-its-kind provision that prevents welfare recipients in Kansas from withdrawing more than $25 a day from an ATM might violate federal law – and could jeopardize the state’s federal funding if not amended. The Social Security Act requires states to ensure that recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, ‘have adequate access to their cash assistance’ and can withdraw money ‘with minimal fees or charges.’  At stake is about $102 million in TANF block grant money that Kansas receives every year from the federal government.  The ATM limit was added as an amendment to a welfare overhaul bill signed in April by Gov. Sam Brownback…”

Homeless College Students

Homeless college students navigate uncertainty, By Ted Gregory, May 18, 2015, Chicago Tribune: “This month, with a mix of anxiety and exhilaration, college students across the country will cram their brains for final exams, then pack their bags for home.  It’s a little different for undergraduates Malachi Hoye and Caprice Manny. They don’t have homes to return to — at least not in the traditional sense. Hoye and Manny are among the estimated 56,000 college students nationwide who are considered homeless.  Those young people are a somewhat broadly defined population that experts say is underreported, gaining more attention and expected to grow. But formal efforts to accommodate homeless college students are relatively new and fragmented: Schools, the federal government, a fledgling national organization — even a pilot project by a Humboldt Park nonprofit — are among the entities trying to solve a complicated challenge…”

US High School Graduation Rate

  • As U.S. grad rate keeps climbing, some students lag behind, By Allie Bidwell, May 12, 2015, US News and World Report: “America is on track to continue recording record-level high school graduation rates in the next five years, but some states are struggling to keep pace even as they make gains each year.   A new report from a coalition of education advocacy groups – America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center and the Alliance for Excellent Education – predicts the country is on pace to reach a 90 percent on-time high school graduation rate by 2020. To get to that national goal – 9 percentage points higher than the most recent rate of 81 percent, an all-time high – the report says the graduating class of 2020 will need to have 310,000 more graduates than the class of 2013…”
  • Oregon hurting nation’s drive to improve high school graduation rates, report says, By Betsy Hammond, May 13, 2015, The Oregonian: “Solid, steady improvements in high school graduation rates around the country have put the United States on track to reach a 90 percent national graduation rate by 2020, a new report says. But the report calls Oregon ‘a laggard,’ with near worst-in-nation rates for almost every category of students. It warns that Oregon, along with three other states with significant Latino populations, “will hold back continued national progress” towards the 90 percent goal.
  • States vary in success at improving high school grad rates, By Kimberley Hefling (AP), May 12, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The record high American graduation rate masks large gaps among low income students and those with disabilities compared to their peers.  There are also wide disparities among states in how well they are tackling the issue.  ‘This year, we need to sound a stronger alarm,’ said Gen. Colin Powell and his wife, Alma Powell, in a letter released Tuesday as part of an annual Grad Nation report produced in part by their America’s Promise Alliance organization. The report is based on 2013 rates using federal data, the most recent available…”

State Job Growth

Which states have the most job growth since the recession?, By Josh Grovum, May 13, 2015, Stateline: “Although the nation’s unemployment rate is at a seven-year low of 5.4 percent, job growth among the states has been uneven, with several showing only meager gains more than five years removed from the depths of the Great Recession. A Stateline analysis of states’ employment data shows that while all states have added jobs since their economies hit their nadir during the recession, some have added far fewer than others. Ten states (Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) have seen total employment grow 5 percent or less compared to their lowest points, according to the analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • State legislatures quarrel over whether to expand Medicaid, By Annie Feidt, May 12, 2015, National Public Radio: “Five years after the Affordable Care Act passed, the law’s provision allowing the expansion of Medicaid coverage to more people is still causing huge fights in state legislatures.  Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia said yes to Medicaid expansion when the law went into effect. Since then, just six more have signed on. States that say yes get billions of additional federal dollars, but many Republican lawmakers are loathe to say yes to the Obama administration…”
  • More managed care, more problems?, By Jordan Shapiro, May 15, 2015, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Gov. Jay Nixon recently approved an expansion of Medicaid managed care and now the difficult work begins to shift 200,000 Missourians onto private health plans.  Around the country more and more states are shifting to the managed care model. It differs from traditional Medicaid in that a private corporation receives a flat amount from the state to manage and pay for various aspects of a recipient’s care. Under traditional Medicaid, the state directly reimburses providers for each test and treatment…”

Black Unemployment

Why the improvement in the black unemployment rate will be short-lived, By Chico Harlan, May 13, 2015, Washington Post: “Over the last three months, an eye-opening trend has appeared in the U.S.’s jobs data: African-Americans are making notable gains. During that span, the unemployment rate for whites has held flat at 4.7 percent. But for blacks? It’s fallen from 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent, hitting single digits for the first time in the recovery. Meantime, the gap in labor force participation between blacks and whites has grown narrower than it’s been since September 1999. Since February, the number of blacks with jobs has gone up by 407,000. The number of whites with jobs has declined by 273,000, in part, no doubt, because of a wave of Baby Boomer retirements…”

Homelessness – Los Angeles, CA

  • Homelessness up 12% in L.A. city and county, By Gale Holland and Soumya Karlamangla, May 11, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The homeless population jumped 12% in the last two years in both the city and county of Los Angeles, driven by soaring rents, low wages and stubbornly high unemployment, according to a report released Monday.  In one of the most striking findings, the number of tents, makeshift encampments and vehicles occupied by homeless people soared 85%, to 9,535, according to biennial figures from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority…”
  • As homelessness climbs in L.A., a search for solutions, By Soumya Karlamangla, May 12, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “The findings released Monday that Los Angeles County’s homeless population rose 12% since 2013 reflect a setback in the region’s recently heightened efforts to stem homelessness.   But city and county officials had no shortage of ideas about how to fix the problem…”

SNAP Enrollment

Fewer Americans receiving food stamps, By Marisol Bello, May 12, 2015, USA Today: “In a further sign of the improving economy, the number of Americans receiving food stamps fell below 46 million people for the first time in more than three years.  As of February 2015, the most recent month available, 45.7 million people are receiving food stamps, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Tennessee

Foster care effort sets Tennessee apart, researchers say, By Tony Gonzalez, May 12, 2015, The Tennessean: “A Tennessee foster care program has done something never before documented by researchers: made life better, at least a little bit, for a group of foster children who turned 18 and left state care.  The new findings give credit to some parts of a program run by Memphis-based Youth Villages. The non-profit’s services helped ‘aged out’ former foster children transition into adult lives — a notoriously challenging time for kids who grew up abused or in legal trouble and who often end up unemployed, homeless or jailed at rates high above their peers…”

April 2015 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April; unemployment rate at 5.4%, By Nelson D. Schwartz, May 8, 2015, New York Times: “The American job market rebounded in April, the government said on Friday, helping to ease worries that the economy was on the brink of another extended slowdown after a bleak winter in which the overall economy stalled. But the growth in jobs failed to translate, once again, into any significant improvement in pay.  Employers added 223,000 positions last month, the Labor Department reported, and the unemployment rate decreased to 5.4 percent, a turnaround from the disappointing performance in March, initially reported as a modest 126,000 gain and then revised down on Friday to 85,000…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

States watching Medicaid standoff between Florida, Obama, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), May 7, 2015, Miami Herald: “The Obama administration rebuffed Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to extend federal funds for hospitals that treat the uninsured, increasing the pressure on states that have refused to expand coverage for low-income people under the president’s health care law.  The decision means Florida’s already acrimonious state budget process will likely become tenser. The standoff also has implications for eight other states, including Texas, which draw billions of dollars from the same pool of hospital funds. And like Florida, several are also refusing to expand Medicaid coverage. Republican leaders in those states are adamant about not expecting any federal money tied to Obama’s Affordable Care Act…”

Federal Programs and Poverty Alleviation

Safety net does more to ease poverty than previously thought, new study finds, By Greg Sargent, May 6, 2015, Washington Post: “The Baltimore riots have re-ignited the ideological wars over the efficacy of government spending to alleviate poverty, with Republicans who want to slash the budget seizing on images of urban chaos to argue that federal anti-poverty policy has been an abject failure at accomplishing its own goal. Paul Ryan suggests dumping more cash into the bottomless pit otherwise known as federal spending on the poor will only produce the ‘same failed result.’  But a new study being released today finds that the federal safety net may actually be doing more to alleviate poverty than previously thought. Thestudy, from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, uses a new statistical technique to measure the impact of federal programs on the poverty rate, correcting for what it says are defects in previous accounting methods…”

Welfare Reform – Missouri

After his welfare limits veto is overridden, Nixon vetoes unemployment changes, By Jason Hancock, May 5, 2015, Kansas City Star: “Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would cut thousands of low-income Missourians off of a federal welfare program.  Meantime, Nixon vetoed a separate bill that would cut the amount of time a laid-off worker could collect jobless benefits to 13 weeks from 20 weeks. Republican leaders spoke confidently that they could override that veto, too…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In suburban schools, student poverty growing faster than education aid, By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, May 4, 2015, Hartford Courant: “The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is increasing.  Numerous legislators say these increases justify providing $14.2 million in additional state aid over the next two fiscal years to help several suburban districts cover the cost of educating these high-need students…”