Youth Unemployment

The youth unemployment crisis hits African-Americans hardest, By NPR Staff, July 21, 2014, NPR:  ”Young people are being chased out of the labor market. Though the national unemployment rate has fallen steadily in recent months, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the jobless rate is even higher among young minorities. For young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment is more than twice the national rate, at 14.2 percent. For African-Americans, that rate jumps to 21.4 percent. . .”

Inequality: Life Expectancy and Birthweights

This first chart on inequality will break your heart. The second will give you hope. By Zachary Goldfarb, July 21, 2014, Washington Post: “Look at this chart, and weep. It compares the life expectancy of women at the bottom of the income ladder to those at the top. Birth certificates do not record information about income, but researchers use race and educational status as proxies. In 1990, the life expectancy of a woman who never completes high school was 77.7 years. The life expectancy of a woman who completes college was 80 years. That makes for a difference of 2.3 years. By 2010, despite all the advances in medicine, the woman who never completes high school is expected to die sooner, at 77.3 years of age. But the woman who completes college is expected to live much longer, to 83.9 years of age. . .”

State Minimum Wage Increases

States with higher minimum wage gain more jobs, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), July 19, 2014, USA Today: “Maybe a higher minimum wage isn’t so bad for job growth after all. The 13 states that raised their minimum wages at the beginning of this year are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not, providing some counter-intuitive fuel to the debate over what impact a higher minimum has on hiring trends…”

Libraries and Homelessness

U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness, By Ian Simpson, July 17, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “George Brown, a homeless man in Washington, has a simple answer when asked how often he uses a public library. ‘Always. I have nowhere else to go,’ Brown, 65, said outside the U.S. capital’s modernist central library after a morning reading sociology books. ‘When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.’ Brown is among the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who have put the almost 9,000 U.S. public libraries, the most of any country in the world, in the forefront of the battle against homelessness. Moving beyond their old-fashioned image as book custodians where librarians shush people for talking too loud, libraries have evolved to serve as community centers, staffed with social workers and offering programs from meals to job counseling. . .”

Global Food Production

How to feed 3 billion extra people — without trashing the planet, By Ezra Klein, July 18, 2014, Vox: One of the daunting challenges of the coming century will be figuring out how to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. And all without destroying the planet. That’s harder than it sounds. The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050. On top of that, countries like China and India are getting richer and eating more meat — a particularly resource-intensive type of food. Then there’s the environment to consider. Farms have become a major source of nitrogen pollution. Around the world, freshwater aquifers are dwindling. And, perhaps most crucially, countries like Brazil are trying to cut back on deforestation — which in turn makes it harder to find new cropland. . .”

ACA Coverage

  • Reports: ACA coverage reached more than 9 million, By Kaitlyn Krasselt, July 15, 2014, USA Today: “Far more people are insured because of the Affordable Care Act than the White House estimated in May, new research shows. At least three new studies on the ACA’s effect show big increases in the number of newly insured Americans, with the highest estimate topping out at 9.5 million from the Commonwealth Fund. That compares with the 8 million reported by the White House in May. It’s hardly all good news for the administration’s efforts, however. Analysts from the Rand Corporation estimate that while 14.5 million people gained coverage in the last year, about 5 million people were insured before the ACA and lost coverage because of the law — leading to a net gain of around 9 million. . .”
  • Groups under Health Act are said to aid millions, By Abby Goodnough, July 15, 2014, New York Times: “More than 4,400 consumer assistance programs created under the Affordable Care Act helped an estimated 10.6 million people explore their new health insurance options and apply for coverage during the initial six-month enrollment period, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But the programs that operated in states with their own online insurance marketplaces got more funding and helped more people than those in states on the federal exchange, the survey found. In the District of Columbia and 16 states that ran or were working toward running their own exchanges, the programs helped about twice as many people, relative to the uninsured population, as they did in 29 states served by the federal exchange. . .”

City Laws and the Homeless

  • Report: More cities pass laws that hurt the homeless, By Marisol Bello, July 16, 2014, USA Today: “More cities are making it illegal to camp in public, sleep in vehicles on city streets, or sit or lie down in public, a new report shows. The laws are meant to curb the problems associated with homelessness, such as public drunkenness and sleeping on the sidewalk. But the report, released Wednesday by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, says the laws criminalize people just for being homeless…”
  • With a series of small bans, cities turn homelessness into a crime, By Pam Fessler, July 16, 2014, National Public Radio: “Laws that criminalize homelessness are on the rise across the country, according to a new report by an advocacy group. The laws prohibit everything from sleeping in public to loitering and begging. Advocates for the homeless say the laws are making the problem worse. Susan St. Amour is among those who could be affected by the new restrictions. Twice a week, she stands on a median strip at an intersection in downtown Portland, Maine, asking passersby for cash. She says she needs the money to get by…”

Child Care Subsidies – North Carolina

State budget could cost thousands child-care subsidies, By Emma Baccellieri, July 11, 2014, Charlotte Observer: “Hundreds of Charlotte children – and thousands across the state – could lose their after-school care when the state budget is approved. In an attempt to give higher priority to North Carolina’s youngest and poorest children, both the House and the Senate budgets include changes to how the state determines eligibility for child care subsidies. But while the proposed system would open up space for disadvantaged children under the age of 5, it would remove funding for nearly 12,000 school-age children – leaving many families in a difficult position…”

Concentrated Poverty – Oregon

Oregon’s huge increase in people living in high-poverty areas one of nation’s most extreme, study finds, By Betsy Hammond, July 16, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon experienced one of the nation’s most severe increases in people living in areas of concentrated poverty during the first decade of this century, according to a new Census Bureau study of living situations in 2000 and 2010. It was one of just four states — all in the South except Oregon — where the share of people living in census tracts with a high share of impoverished residents shot up more than 15 percentage points over that period…”

Part-Time Work

  • A part-timer boom, or blip? By Robert Samuelson, July 16, 2014, Washington Post: “There may be a dark lining to the sunny June employment report, which recorded an increase of 288,000 payroll jobs for the month. Most — or all — of the increase may have been part-time jobs. If that’s a trend, it could signal a weaker economy. It could also vindicate critics of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or Obamacare). They have argued that the added costs of providing health insurance for full-time workers would cause many firms to emphasize part-time employment. Is it a trend? Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mortimer Zuckerman — real estate developer and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report — says yes. Some data seem convincing. In June, part-time jobs (defined as less than 35 hours a week) increased by 1,115,000, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); full-time jobs fell by 708,000. . .”
  • Yes, some people are working part-time. No, that’s not a disaster for the recovery. By Jared Bernstein, July 18, 2014, Washington Post: “By many indicators, the recent job market is clearly improving. It still has a long way to go, but the pace of employment growth is up and unemployment has fallen sharply in recent months. Importantly, the recent decline in the jobless rate has been for the right reason: people getting jobs as opposed to people leaving the labor market (since only jobseekers are counted as unemployed, if they give up the job search, the unemployment rate is artificially lowered). Still, those in the business of disparaging the ‘Obama recovery’ latched onto the spike in part-time work in the last jobs report as an indicator that the silver lining has a dark cloud around it. Based on the rise in part-time jobs in June, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece complained. . .”
  • Part-Time Workers Deserve the Shift, Not the Shaft, By Megan McArdle, July 17, 2014, Bloomberg View: “The plight of low-wage retail workers has generated much talk in recent years. As I’ve written before, I don’t find problematic the existence of jobs that do not pay enough to support a family. Retail jobs have never paid well, because retail margins tend to be pretty slim. The problem is not that retail is a low-wage job, but that an increasing number of people can’t find any other sort of job. The natural response of many people is to say, well, these are the jobs we have now, so they should pay what factory jobs used to. Yet like the manufacturing jobs that went away, many of those low-wage retail jobs also face competition — from higher-productivity firms. . .”

Affordable Housing and Tenant Rights – New York

As New York landlords push buyouts, renters resist, By Mireya Navarro, July 9, 2014, New York Times: “The first offer from the landlord’s representative came in April: Take $90,000 to move out, the tenants said they were told, or the landlord would sue and they would lose their apartments anyway. Lin Thai Ng, who lives in a cramped $500-a-month studio in downtown Manhattan with her husband, said no. The landlord persisted and offered $100,000. After they refused again, the couple got a notice saying they were not the lawful tenants and declaring them squatters. They were told they had 18 days to get out or they would be evicted. . .”

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

  • House passes job-training bill, clearing for Obama, By Derek Wallbank, July 9, 2014, BloombergLawmakers criticized for a lack of productivity hailed an adult education and job training bill the U.S. House passed yesterday as evidence that Congress can get something done. The bill, which the House cleared for President Barack Obama’s signature on a 415-6 vote, authorizes $58 billion over six years for federal workforce development programs. It eliminates 15 programs still on the books, though most had become dormant in recent years. House lawmakers passed an earlier version of H.R. 803 last year. The Senate, after months of negotiations, passed an amended version in June. . .”
  • Congress is finally doing something about long term unemployment, By Danielle Kurtzelben, July 10, 2014, Vox: “Job training plays a curious role in American politics. On the one hand, nothing is less controversial than calls for a better-skilled workforce. On the other hand, over the years federal training initiatives have attracted a — somewhat deserved — reputation as a backwater of inefficient spending and unaccountable programs. But on Wednesday the notoriously unproductive Congress has passed a compromise Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It’s a revamping of the Workforce Investment Act, the Labor Department’s main job training initiative. . .”

Child Poverty and Parental Relationships

To break cycle of child poverty, teaching mom and dad to get along, By Jennifer Ludden, July 8, 2014, NPR: “After a half-century of the War on Poverty, an anti-poverty agency in Ohio has concluded that decades of assistance alone just hasn’t changed lives. Instead, it says, the ongoing breakdown of the family is to blame. ‘You’re seeing the same people come year after year, and in some cases generation to generation. And so then you think, why is that happening?’ says Jennifer Jennette, program manager of the Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron and Richland Counties in Ohio. The family breakdown has only intensified since the controversial Moynihan Report 50 years ago declared out-of-wedlock births to be a main cause of black poverty. Today, for all women without a college degree, more than half of births are outside marriage. . .”

Poverty Definition – India

Setting a high bar for poverty in India, By Manu Joseph, July 9, 2014, New York Times: “It is not uncommon for Indians to stand in a line to receive alms from a politician as he gives away clothes, pots and laptops that would make Apple laugh. This is a custom that has survived from a time when the theater of charity was enough to make the poor feel grateful. But they have since come to regard such alms as political buffoonery and now expect substantial assistance from the government. To bring order to the public spending that subsidizes hundreds of millions of lives, and to ensure that the poorest receive what is meant for them, India is on a constant quest for a meaningful definition of poverty. . .”

Childbearing Trends

3 charts that show America’s poverty problems start at birth, By Danielle Kurtzelben, July 9, 2014, Vox: “A new Census report confirms a few longstanding childbearing trends: women are having children more and more outside of marriage, and more educated women tend to have children later. But it also shows something more surprising: the share of children born into poverty is large, and it may be getting worse. In 2012, more than one in four women having kids — nearly 28 percent — were living in poverty that year. That’s up markedly from 2008, when the share was only 25 percent. By comparison, only around 15 percent of Americans were in poverty altogether that year. . .”

Poverty Areas and Mobility

Do poor neighborhoods get worse before they get better? After looking at the data, we sure hope so. By Lane Anderson, July 9, 2014, Deseret News: “The recession hasn’t hit everywhere equally. Poor neighborhoods have gotten poorer in taking the brunt of the downfall, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. In the last 14 years, more people have moved into low-income neighborhoods, or what the study calls “poverty areas.” These areas are defined as a census tract with a rate of 20 percent poverty or higher, and the number of people living in these places has gone up from 49.5 million in 2000 to 77.4 million in 2008-2012. Now 1 in 4 Americans live in ‘poverty areas.’ The reasons why have to do with cost-of-living and lack of jobs. . .”

Minimum Wage – Chicago

Emanuel task force: Raise Chicago minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2018, By Hal Dardick and Alejandra Cancino, July 7, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s task force recommended Monday that Chicago’s minimum wage be ramped up to $13 an hour by 2018, an idea that comes as City Hall faces pressure to act on the issue while Democrats nationally try to make income disparity a campaign theme this fall. But the panel also suggested that the Chicago City Council should put off a vote to raise the current $8.25 an hour minimum wage until after state lawmakers tackle the matter in the two months following the Nov. 4 election. The task force members don’t want to deter the General Assembly from approving a statewide wage hike because Chicago already has increased its minimum wage, said 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns. . .”

Promise Zones

Programs target poverty in Obama’s 5 ‘Promise Zones’, By NPR Staff, July 6, 2014, NPR: Five areas across the country have been designated as ‘Promise Zones’ by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas. In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around. . .”

Income Inequality and the Middle Class

With Democrats split on inequality issues, Obama shifts talk away from income gap, By Zachary Goldfarb, July 4, 2014, Washington Post: “After making fighting income inequality an early focus of his second term, President Obama has largely abandoned talk of the subject this election year in a move that highlights the emerging debate within the Democratic Party over economic populism and its limits. During the first half of this year, Obama shifted from income inequality to the more politically palatable theme of lifting the middle class, focusing on issues such as the minimum wage and the gender pay gap that are thought to resonate with a broader group of voters. The pivot is striking for a president who identified inequality as one of his top concerns after his reelection, calling it “a fundamental threat to the American Dream. . .”

Wage Inequality – OECD

OECD: Wage inequality will only get worse from now through 2060, By Mamta Badkar, July 2, 2014, Business Insider: Global wage inequality is expected rise, and economic growth is expected to slow, between now and 2060, according to a new report form the OECD. The report points out that widening earnings gap, ‘rising capital incomes (which tend to be highly concentrated), less redistributive tax and benefit systems, and changing household formation patterns,’ have all contributed to rising inequality in recent decades. ‘Rising inequalities threaten growth, most notably by blocking economic opportunities,’ according to the press release. The OECD projects that earnings inequality could grow between 17-40% by 2060. . .”