US Unemployment

  • States focus on long-term unemployed, By Elaine S. Povich, November 18, 2014, Stateline: “Maybe it was Tony Stanley’s furrowed brow that was keeping him from getting a job. Or maybe it was his work history in many fields instead of just one. Or maybe it was that he was aiming too high, or maybe too low. The 50-year-old Norwalk resident has worked in a mental health center and as a security company employee, but has been unemployed for almost a year, nearly six months longer than what the federal government defines as ‘long-term unemployment.’ Imposing, athletic and impeccably dressed, Stanley picks up pocket change by refereeing high school basketball games, but he doesn’t have a full-time job. The overall unemployment picture has improved consistently since the end of the Great Recession, but the plight of the long-term jobless has proven difficult to address. With federal help, states are taking steps to help this population: In mid-October, the U.S. Department of Labor handed out about $170 million in grants to 23 agencies in 20 states for programs targeting the long-term unemployed…”
  • Unemployment rates fall in two-thirds of US states, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), November 21, 2014, ABC News: “Unemployment rates fell in 34 U.S. states in October, a sign that steady hiring this year has been broadly dispersed through most of the country. The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates rose in just 5 states, the fewest since April. Rates were unchanged in 11 states. Steady economic growth has prompted more companies to add jobs, though the additional hiring hasn’t yet boosted wages. Nationwide, employers added 214,000 jobs in October, the ninth straight month of gains above 200,000. That’s the longest such stretch since 1995. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 5.8 percent, a six-year low…”
  • Most US unemployed don’t get benefits: Here’s why, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), November 21, 2014, Sacramento Bee: “Even though the U.S. job market is gaining strength, there are still a lot of unemployed Americans. Yet only a fraction of them are receiving financial aid from the government. Fewer than 25 percent of those out of work are signed up for weekly unemployment benefits, a near-record low since the government began tracking this data in 1987. That’s a sharp turnaround from just after the recession, when as many as three-quarters of those out of work received help, a record high…”

Involuntary Part-Time Employment

Part-time jobs put millions in poverty or close to it, By Patrick Gillespie, November 20, 2014, CNNMoney: “Seven million Americans are stuck in part-time jobs. They are unable to get full-time work and the benefits and stability that come with it. It’s a constant struggle for these families and a worrying sign for America’s recovery. Overall U.S. unemployment has fallen steeply in the past year (from 7.2% in October 2013 to 5.8% in October 2014), but too many people can only find part-time positions. The number of people working part-time involuntarily is more than 50% higher than when the recession began…”

Child Care Subsidies

Child care subsidies for low-income parents approved after years of cuts, By Diana Dillaber Murray, November 19, 2014, Oakland Daily Tribune: “For the first time in 18 years, Congress has approved funding to help ensure parents of some of the 11 million of the youngest children in low-income working families can afford child care. Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act 2014 Tuesday in a bipartisan vote. About 6 million children of the 11 million children in child care are babies and toddlers…”

Low-Income College Students

  • Minority, low-income college grad rates lag, By Chris Kenning, November 20, 2014, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Kentucky is lagging in its efforts to increase graduation rates among poor, minority and under-prepared college students, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education’s latest accountability report. The annual report, to be discussed by the council at a meeting Friday, showed a six-year graduation rate of 49 percent among bachelor’s degree-seeking students in 2012-13, the latest data available.  But among minority students, the rate was just 33 percent, a decline from 37 percent in 2009-10. It was 28 percent among under-prepared students and increased slightly among low-income students to 37 percent…”
  • Report finds economic gaps for Colorado students attending top schools, By Yesenia Robles, November 18, 2014, Denver Post: “High school graduates from well-off families are nearly 12 times more likely to go to a top college than students from low-income households, according to a report released Tuesday by a group of local nonprofits. ‘We must recognize that different colleges provide different experiences for students, and, if we as a society value equal opportunity as we say we do, it’s critical that Colorado’s low-income students have the same access to elite colleges as their wealthier peers,’ said Van Schoales, CEO of A+ Denver in a released statement. The report, ‘Missing the Bus,’ looked at Colorado high-school graduates from 2010 through 2012 and tracked what college they enrolled in. The report classified top-tier schools using existing ranking systems, including one by U.S. News & World Report…”

Child Poverty – Canada

  • 25 years after Ottawa’s pledge to end child poverty, it’s time to hit ‘reset’, By Marco Chown Oved, November 19, 2014, Toronto Star: “It’s been 25 years since members of Parliament unanimously voted to eradicate child poverty. Their self-imposed deadline came and went almost 15 years ago. In that time, millions of children in Canada have grown up in deplorable conditions, often cold, hungry and ill — and some of them are now raising their own kids in the same situation. On the anniversary of the government’s unfulfilled pledge, almost 1.2 million children go to school hungry, don’t have a good winter coat or can’t afford to play sports. Religious leaders, economists, teachers and doctors say it’s time to reset the clock on the pledge to ending child poverty and embark anew on the road to ensuring that every Canadian child gets a good start in life…”
  • Patchwork of employment perpetuates poverty cycle for Toronto family, By Sara Mojtehedzadeh, November 19, 2014, Toronto Star: “Richard Wang is a man of many trades. He is a dishwasher, a doorman, a food taster and a tour guide. He scrubs toilets and flips hamburgers. When luck strikes, he gets paid $50 to be CT-scanned or x-rayed at a teaching hospital. But most of all, Richard Wang is a father. His dizzying schedule and patchwork of low-paid work are stitched together for a single mission: to be the best dad possible to his 8-year-old son. ‘I want to make sure that Noah’s development, especially emotionally, is OK. Whatever he needs, I provide it,’ says Wang. It’s not easy. Like a growing number of Canadians, Wang is stuck in the kind of precarious work that grants him few rights, no benefits, and little control over his life…”

Child Care Subsidies – Missouri

Participation in subsidized child care drops in Missouri, By Nancy Cambria, November 17, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “In the span of a year, Missouri lost more children than any other state from a federal program that helps working parents pay for child care. The figures, from an October survey by the Center for Law and Social Policy, or CLASP, show enrollment has dropped by 12,300 children statewide — more than a quarter of the net loss of enrollment nationwide. The report notes that in 2013 participation in the child care subsidy program hit a 15-year low despite a rise in child poverty and stagnant wages in service jobs typically filled by the poor. Last year about 1.5 million children used the subsidy per month versus a program high of 1.8 million per month in 2006…”

Medicaid Expansion – North Carolina

NC may reverse course on Medicaid expansion, By Mark Barrett, November 16, 2014, Asheville Citizen-Times: “Whether to accept federal money to expand Medicaid is shaping up as one of the biggest questions to face lawmakers when the General Assembly opens its 2015 session in January. If Republicans reverse course, an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians stand to gain coverage under Medicaid, which pays health care costs for poor children, low-income elderly people and the disabled. But doing so also would force the GOP to implement a key component of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Gov. Pat McCrory and outgoing House Speaker Thom Tillis both have said in recent weeks that it is time for the state to look again at the issue…”

High-Poverty Schools – California

California students in high-poverty schools lose learning time, study says, By Teresa Watanabe, November 17, 2014, Low Angeles Times: “California high schools with high-poverty students lose nearly two weeks of learning time annually because of teacher absences, testing, emergency lockdowns and other disruptions compared with their more affluent peers in other schools, according to a new UCLA study. Although public schools generally offer the same number of school days and hours, following state law, the study detailed the significant differences in how the time is actually used. In heavily low-income schools, students lost about 30 minutes a day to factors often connected to economic pressures. Lack of transportation led to more tardiness, for instance, and more transiency made it more difficult to form stable classrooms…”

Child Homelessness in the US

  • New report: Child homelessness on the rise in US, By David Crary and Lisa Leff (AP), November 17, 2014, ABC News: “The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence. Titled ‘America’s Youngest Outcasts,’ the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE…”
  • Child homelessness surges to nearly 2.5 million, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, November 17, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “One out of every 30 children in the United States experiences homelessness at some point during the year. That’s nearly 2.5 million children, up from 1.6 million in 2010, reports The National Center on Family Homelessness in Waltham, Mass., part of the American Institutes for Research…”

Medicaid and Children’s Preventive Care

Millions of Medicaid kids missing regular checkups, By Phil Galewitz, November 13, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Millions of low-income children are failing to get the free preventive exams and screenings guaranteed by Medicaid and the Obama administration is not doing enough to fix the problem, according to a federal watchdog report. The report, released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), says the administration has boosted rates of participation but needs to do more to ensure that children get the regular wellness exams, dental checkups and vision and hearing tests. The report notes that 63 percent of children on Medicaid received at least one medical screening in 2013, up from 56 percent in 2006, but still far below the department’s 80 percent goal…”

Food Stamp Trafficking

A new push to halt food stamp trafficking, By Jake Grovum, November 10, 2014, Stateline: “Backed by a $300,000 federal grant, South Carolina officials are trying a new approach to what they call a particularly insidious problem: food stamp trafficking. The pilot program gained approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this fall, and if successful, could provide a model for other states looking to limit trafficking of food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Officials use the word ‘trafficking’ to describe the sale of food stamp benefits for cash, or the use of the benefits to turn a profit instead of to purchase food. They say stories about trafficking undermine public confidence in a program that, despite huge growth during the Great Recession, has seen other measures of error rates fall to historic lows…”

State Minimum Wage – Oklahoma

Minimum wage increase by other states puts spotlight on Oklahoma law, By Cary Aspinwall and Curtis Killman, November 10, 2014, Tulsa World: “Lori Pearson spent a year working at Whataburger before leaving a few months ago to take a job cleaning clothes at Blue Monday Coin Laundry and Dry Cleaners. Both jobs in Tulsa were for minimum wage. Neither one came with insurance or benefits, she said, while sorting customers’ soiled laundry. ‘I love my job, I really do,’ Pearson said. ‘I have a wonderful boss. But it would be nice to get paid more than minimum wage.’ Voters in four states this past Tuesday approved increases of their minimum wage, including neighboring Arkansas. With Tuesday’s votes, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota joined 24 others plus the District of Columbia that have raised their state minimum wages beyond the federal minimum wage. Voters in Alaska, where the minimum wage rate already exceeded the federal minimum, also approved a measure Tuesday to increase the rate from $7.75 an hour to $9.75 an hour by 2016. But Oklahoma is holding steady at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Earlier this year, the state even passed a law forbidding any of its cities or counties from increasing the minimum wage beyond the federal minimum wage…”

Intergenerational Poverty

  • Report: Kids helped when parents have opportunities, By Ursula Watson, November 12, 2014, Detroit News: “Lawmakers should pass measures that help parents gain education and job training to improve the lives of Michigan’s youngsters living in poverty, a child welfare group says. ‘When you have children, it is very difficult to negotiate going back to school,’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, project director of Kids Count in Michigan. ‘We haven’t made it very easy. You used to be able to work your way up, but that’s certainly no longer the case.’ The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report released Wednesday, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach, suggests legislation requiring employers to give workers their schedules at least two weeks in advance, making it easier to take classes. It also suggests family and sick time laws, restoring financial aid to older adults attending public universities and improving child care subsidies for working families with low incomes…”
  • Disrupting cycles of poverty requires 2-generation approach, group says, By Marjorie Cortez, November 11, 2014, Deseret News: “National advocates for child well-being say disrupting intergenerational poverty requires a two-generation approach. ‘For too long, our approach to poverty has focused separately on children and adults instead of their inter-related needs,’ said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Voices for Utah Children, a Salt Lake child advocacy organization, will release a national report Wednesday that includes recommendations on policies, practices and programs to help children and families move out of poverty. The report, authored by the Casey Foundation, will include Utah-specific recommendations…”

States and Drug Testing for Public Assistance

Scott Walker wants jobless, food stamp recipients to face drug tests, By Dee J. Hall and Mary Spicuzza, November 10, 2014, Wisconsin State Journal: “Wisconsin could have one of the nation’s most sweeping drug-testing requirements for those receiving public benefits if the proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to test those who apply for unemployment checks and food stamps becomes law. But with scant details, it’s unclear whether any expansion beyond the current testing of drug felons would be allowed under federal law governing the state’s FoodShare program. It’s also unclear how Wisconsin could craft any broad-based testing program for public benefits recipients that would be found constitutional…”

Gentrification

What happens when housing for the poor is remodeled as luxury studios, By Emily Badger, November 12, 2014, Washington Post: “For years, this brown-brick building near Wrigley Field housed people who had nowhere else to go. It had peeling walls and broken smoke detectors. But its tiny one-room apartments offered homes to residents too poor for a one-bedroom, too risky to pass a credit check, too vulnerable — on the perpetual edge of homelessness — to sign a one-year lease. Today, from the outside, the building looks the same: six stories, with tall windows and an elaborately carved entryway that still announces the property by its pre-World War II name, the ‘Hotel Carlos.’ But it now contains studios remodeled with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and hardwood floors. Rent reaches $1,125 a month. The ad in the window promises ‘vintage charm.’…”

Poverty and Debt

Debt weighs heavily on those trying to rise from poverty, By Megan Woolhouse, November 12, 2014, Boston Globe: “Roberta Brown, a 37-year-old single mother, lives in a homeless shelter, desperately trying to find the job that will help her gain a new home and better life. She recently earned a certificate as medical assistant, hopeful it would lead to a job in the state’s burgeoning health care industry. But that has not been not enough to surmount what Brown believes are the greatest barriers to her employment: the $20,000 in credit card debt she ran up while out of work several years ago and her damaged credit report. Each time she applies at a hospital, she’s asked to sign an agreement allowing the employer to check her credit…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Florida

United Way study finds working families struggling to get by, By Jenny Staletovich, November 11, 2014, Miami Herald: “Almost half the residents of Florida, including much of the state’s glitzy southern half, are barely getting by, living below the federal poverty level or struggling to pay for food, housing, childcare and other basic needs, according to a United Way study released Tuesday. Dubbed the ALICE report, the study looks closely at the working poor — those people squeezed between the nation’s poorest and its middle class, often overlooked and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Statewide, about 2.1 million households fall into the category, the report found. In Miami-Dade County, the rate is even higher: 21 percent of households live below the federal poverty level and an additional 29 percent can’t afford a ‘survival budget…’”

Medicaid Provider Access

Shortage of Medicaid doctors? Not if you ask patients, By Austin Frakt, November 10, 2014, New York Times: “One longstanding concern about Medicaid is that too few doctors will accept it, because it tends to pay providers less generously than private plans do. This concern shows up in news articles about Medicaid, driven by evidence from doctors’ offices. But if you ask Medicaid enrollees directly, they reveal that access to primary care is comparable to that for private plans. A report from the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services released in late September reinforced concerns about access to care for Medicaid enrollees…”

Hiring Bias Against the Long-Term Unemployed

U.S. Bank tests new ways to fight bias against the long-term unemployed, By Jim Spencer, October 31, 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “After a health insurance company laid him off in 2012, John Columbus spent the next 20 months answering as many questions about gaps in his résumé as about his years of employment. Then a friend steered him to U.S. Bank, which was piloting a White House initiative for hiring the long-term unemployed. ‘There are some companies that ask you for any involuntary termination,’ Columbus said. ‘Those companies never call back. U.S. Bank looked at me as a whole person with 30 years of experience.’ If Columbus, a 53-year-old New Hope resident, embodies the woes of Americans out of work for more than six months, the Obama administration hopes a new hiring drill at Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank helps the nation address an ugly legacy of the Great Recession…”

Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

Missouri primary care doctors face substantial Medicaid cut, By Jordan Shapiro, November 6, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Justin Puckett, an osteopathic physician from Kirksville, Mo., will have a major decision to make at the start of 2015 — whether his family medicine practice can continue to treat Medicaid patients. Looming over Puckett and other primary care doctors is a cut to their reimbursement rate that is set to take effect at the end of this year, barring action from a lameduck Congress reeling from Tuesday’s Republican electoral wave. ‘We are still crossing our fingers,’ he said. Under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, primary care doctors across the country were paid more for treating Medicaid patients during the last two years. But that boost is set to expire, leaving some providers and their patients in a tough spot…”