Inequality as felt by Women

Among the poor, women feel inequality more deeply, By Patricia Cohen, August 18, 2014, New York Times: “The attention paid to income and wealth inequality spurred by the French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-selling opus, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” comes with a caveat from some of its fans: What about women? The question may seem odd given that when it comes to wages, women have made far more progress than men over the past three decades. Since the 1980s, men without a college education have seen their real wages — after taking inflation into account — decline 5 to 25 percent. The lower the education level, the steeper the drop…”

Workforce Investment Act

Seeking new start, finding steep cost: Workforce investment act leaves many jobless and in debt, By Timothy Williams, August 17, 2014, New York Times: “When the financial crisis crippled the construction industry seven years ago, Joe DeGrella’s contracting company failed, leaving him looking for what he hoped would be the last job he would ever need. He took each step in line with the advice of the federal government: He met with an unemployment counselor who provided him with a list of job titles the Labor Department determined to be in high demand, he picked from among colleges that offered government-certified job-training courses…”

AP Test Support for Low-Income Students

U.S. Helps Bear Costs of Advanced Placement Tests for Low-Income Students, By Caroline Porter, August 12, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “The federal government said Tuesday that it provided $28.4 million in grants to 40 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, to offset the costs of giving advanced placement tests to low-income students. By helping high-school students earn college credits, the program is intended to improve college completion rates and better prepare students. The allotment helped cover more than 769,000 tests nationally in 2014, marking a 6% increase over the previous year, according to the Department of Education…”

Rural Poverty

How rural poverty is changing: Your fate is increasingly tied to your town, By Lydia DePillis, August 7, 2014, Washington Post: “The town of Las Animas takes about five minutes to drive through when the one stoplight is blinking yellow, as usual. It’s easy to miss but hard to escape. Just ask Frank Martinez. Martinez doesn’t remember having a deprived childhood. His mom was a home care nurse and his dad was disabled from a workplace injury, but he and his five siblings always had what they needed, even if they didn’t wear the latest Nikes to school. That childhood was cut short, however, when he fathered his first child at 16, married another girl when he was 18, and had three more kids before she left and his grandparents took them in…”

Income Inequality

Income inequality and the ills behind it, By Eduardo Porter, July 29, 2014, New York Times: “Is it time to stop obsessing about inequality? Perhaps it was President Obama’s speech last December, calling the nation’s vast income gap ‘the defining challenge of our time.’ The American publication of the French economist Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ must have helped. Whatever the reason, suddenly inequality seems to be not only at the top of the liberal agenda, but in the thoughts of concerned American voters. Yet amid the denunciations of inequity as the major evil of our era, persistent voices — mostly but not exclusively from the political right — have been nibbling away at the concern over distribution . . .”

College Access and Inequality

College cost isn’t poor students’ big problem, By Christopher Flavelle, July 28, 2014, Bloomberg View: “To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society. In research published last year, a team of American and Canadian economists compared the connection between family income and college or university attendance in the two countries. . .”

Promise Zones

A new initiative from the Obama administration offers new hope to high poverty areas, By Amy McDonald, July 27, 2014, Deseret News: “Sara-Jane Smallwood had made her way to the top: a bachelor’s degree in Indian American studies, a master’s in public policy from Indiana University and a job on the Hill, working as a policy analyst for her U.S. senator. But Smallwood came from the bottom: a small town in Southeastern Oklahoma where more than 60 percent of the population lives below poverty. Her high school class of 35 people didn’t hold a 10-year reunion, because several class members had died, and many were in and out of prison. But even though hers was an anomalous story of success, she speaks of her hometown with love and pride. And in 2011, Smallwood — the descendant of a long line of influential Choctaw tribal leaders and the daughter of two school teachers — decided that of all the hard work she saw at the top, very little was reaching the bottom…”

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. . .”

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. . .”

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. . .”

Black Male Employment

The economy’s troubling double standard for black men, By Jonnelle Marte, July 2, 2014, Washington Post: “Fifty years ago today, the Civil Rights Act banned discrimination in hiring and education. But for all the opportunities that have been opened to minorities since then, black men still need two more levels of education to have the same chances of landing a job as a white man. A black man with an associates degree has the same chances — about 88 percent– of finding a job as a white high school graduate, according to a recent analysis of employment rates and education for whites and minorities by Young Invincibles, a nonprofit group focusing on the economic issues impacting millennials. Getting a bachelor’s degree ups those chances to 93 percent for a black man, the same as a white man who dropped out of college. . .”

Disconnected Youth

Youth are worse off now than in 1990, By Allie Bidwell, June 30, 2014, US News and World Report: “By several measures, America is becoming more educated, but young people may have less opportunity now than in 1990. The national high school graduation rate is the highest it’s been in decades, and the percentage of adults with some form of college degree has also been on the rise. Nationwide, about 26 percent of adults over 25 had at least an associate’s degree in 2010. But there’s been a growing trend of inequality among young adults, according to a historical report from Opportunity Nation, a national campaign focused on expanding economic mobility, and Measure for America, a project of the Social Science Research Council. Since 1990, the percentage of young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school has increased by 5 percent, to a national average of 14.7 percent . . .”

Free College Tuition

Tennessee looks to prevent ‘sticker shock’ in higher ed by offering first two years free, By Nicole Shepherd, June 24, 2014, Deseret News: “As student loan debt reaches a national high of $1.2 trillion, Tennessee has responded by offering free tuition for low-income students attending community colleges. Concern has surfaced among educators and economists that the increase in the cost for higher education is leading new high school graduates to question whether a college education is worth the cost.’Financial aid was supposed to reduce the influence of existing family financial resources on college attainment, but those resources are now a stronger determinant than ever of children’s college prospects,’ wrote Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of education policy and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. . .”

Student Debt and Homeownership

Student debt Is hurting homeownership for blacks more than whites, By Nick Timiraos, June 20, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Is student loan debt causing young adults to retreat from the housing market en masse? No, but it’s having some impact, and the debt burden appears to be hitting black borrowers harder than whites, says a recent paper from researchers Jason Houle of Dartmouth College and Lawrence Berger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The authors look at the relationship between student-loan debt and homeownership for those under age 30. The authors do find an inverse relationship between student loan debt and homeownership, mortgage acquisition and the amount of mortgage debt. But the overall relationship is modest . . .”

Promise Zones – Philadelphia

Obama’s Promise Zone both a boon and challenge for West Philly nonprofit, By Kate Kilpatrick, June 16, 2014, Al Jazeera America: “With only a week left in the school year, Annette John-Hall was having a tough time getting her third- and fourth-graders to focus on today’s lesson: imagery and metaphors. ‘My hair is like a woolly crown,’ the former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist gave as an example, and asked them to come up with more. ‘My baseball hits are better than Babe Ruth’s?’ asked Lawrence. The class was not quite getting it yet. ’I’m funnier than [Marvel villain] Deadpool,’ Amir wrote on the paper in front of him. Then, at last, Robert called out: ‘My report card is as good as bacon!’Mighty Writers is wrapping up its first school year at its newest location in West Philadelphia on the corner of 39th Street and Lancaster Avenue, right in the heart of an area designated a Promise Zone by President Barack Obama earlier this year. . .”

Child Poverty

The damage of poverty is visible as early as kindergarten, By Danielle Kurtzleben, June 12, 2014, Vox: “A big part of the American Dream is being able to climb the ladder and land higher than your parents. But that climb starts when people are just small children, according to new research, and getting off on the wrong foot has lifelong consequences. In a new article in the spring issue of the Princeton University journal The Future of Children (and highlighted by the Brookings social mobility blog), researchers show that poverty is directly correlated to kindergarten performance. Children who live in poverty have far lower performance than their richer peers across a variety of measures, and those who live in near poverty in turn have dramatically worse performance than middle-class peers. The poorest kids, for example, are less than one-third as likely as middle-class kids to recognize letters. . .”

Inequality and Opportunity

One key to success: A belief in a future, By Eduardo Porter, June 10, 2014, New York Times: “Tim Jackson’s job is to convince young people that they have a stake in the future. The boys in his care at Harper High School, in one of the meanest neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, all have harsh stories. Clayton Harris, a bouncy 15-year-old freshman, tells me about his older brother, a high school dropout who smokes weed and does little else. Malik McGhee, still a sophomore at 17, knows what it’s like to have had a gun pointed at his head in fourth grade. Almost half the students who enroll at Harper drop out within five years, one of the highest rates in the city. The school is in a part of town where a dispute over a stolen bicycle or a Facebook fight between two girls over a boy might end up with a dead teenager. . .”