US State Unemployment

  • Unemployment rates hit record lows in 3 states, By Josh Boak (AP), May 19, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Solid hiring nationwide led unemployment rates to touch record lows in three U.S. states last month. Unemployment rates declined in 10 states in April, increased in one — Massachusetts — and held relatively stable in the other 39, the Labor Department said Friday. A significant number of the job gains occurred in nine states, led by Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana was the only state to see a significant decrease in jobs last month…”
  • 9 years after recession began, some states still unrecovered, By Jeff Amy (AP), May 18, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession. That’s true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. Unlike states that have long since sprinted ahead, Mississippi is struggling with slow economic growth and slipping population in a place that’s rarely at peak economic health…”

Long-Term Unemployment

Over 50, female and jobless even as others return to work, By Patricia Cohen, January 1, 2016, New York Times: “The latest signs of an improving economy were good enough to help persuade the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. But the better job market is not good enough to land Chettie McAfee a job.  Laid off at the start of the recession from the diagnostic testing firm in Seattle where she spent more than three decades, Ms. McAfee, 58, has not worked since 2007. ‘I’ve been applying and applying and applying,’ said Ms. McAfee, who has relied on her savings and family to get by as she fights off attempts to foreclose on her home. At interviews, she said, ‘They ask, ‘Why has it been so long?’’   At 5 percent, the jobless rate may be close to what economists consider full employment, but that headline figure doesn’t capture the challenges still facing millions of Americans who have yet to regain their footing in the workplace…”

Low-Wage Work

Low-income workers see biggest drop in paychecks, By Nelson D. Schwartz, September 2, 2015, New York Times: “Despite steady gains in hiring, a falling unemployment rate and other signs of an improving economy, take-home pay for many American workers has effectively fallen since the economic recovery began in 2009, according to a new study by an advocacy group that is to be released on Thursday.  The declines were greatest for the lowest-paid workers in sectors where hiring has been strong — home health care, food preparation and retailing — even though wages were already below average to begin with in those service industries…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Rise in college food banks linked to the economy and campus demographics, By Jason Song, August 3, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “For years, the food bank at Michigan State University was one of the few, if not the only, such organizations in the country. By 2008, only four other groups offered college students free meals. But as the economy continued to sink, Michigan State began to get a lot of company. There are now 199 similar groups throughout the country, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, including food pantries at UC Berkeley and UCLA. The California State University system is conducting a study to determine the number of students on its campuses who do not have regular sources of food and housing. And one student is attempting to convince vendors and restaurants at Santa Monica College to accept food stamps.

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…”

State Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds

Could states afford jobless benefits if another recession hits?, By Jake Grovum, April 22, 2015, Stateline: “Tens of billions of dollars in debt. Cuts to jobless aid that have been called ‘historic and disturbing.’ Unemployment insurance trust funds that are still clawing their way back to solvency.  This is the Great Recession’s legacy for the nation’s unemployment safety net. The sustained downturn and spike in joblessness stressed state programs to an extent not seen in decades, requiring emergency federal aid. Now, unemployment nationwide has fallen to 5.5 percent and the amount of unemployment benefits paid in the states has dropped to pre-recession norms in many cases. Federal jobless aid to extend benefits expired last year.  Yet many state unemployment insurance trust funds still face a deficit. Those that are in the black often have balances below pre-recession peaks. And many states are paying less in benefits. The result is a safety net significantly weaker than it was before the recession…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Republicans eye changes to food-stamp program, By Tennille Tracy, February 11, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “House Republicans are laying the groundwork for a revision of the food-stamps program after its sharp expansion during the recession. The effort kicks off Feb. 25 when the House Agriculture Committee holds the first of several hearings scheduled this year on food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

SNAP Work Requirements

  • Food stamp cuts may force 1 million into “hardship”, By Aimee Picchi, January 7, 2015, CBS News: “As states tighten their eligibility requirements for food stamps, that may leave as many as 1 million adults facing ‘serious hardship’ next year, according to a new forecast. Some of the country’s poorest will be struck from the rolls in 2016 as states re-impose work requirements that they had allowed to lapse when the recession struck in 2007, according to a new report from the progressive-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank…”
  • 1 million expected to lose food stamps as economy improves, By Gregory Wallace, January 6, 2015, CNNMoney: “A side effect of the improving economy: About 1 million needy people will lose food stamp benefits starting this fall.  That’s a new estimate by a left-leaning think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which is urging Congress to change a federal law that limits how long someone can receive food stamps when they are out of a job…”

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…”

Child Poverty in Developed Nations

  • Child poverty up in more than half of developed world since 2008, By Harriet Sherwood, October 28, 2014, The Guardian: “Child poverty has increased in 23 countries in the developed world since the start of the global recession in 2008, potentially trapping a generation in a life of material deprivation and reduced prospects. A report by Unicef says the number of children entering poverty during the recession is 2.6 million greater than the number who have been lifted out of it. ‘The longer these children remain trapped in the cycle of poverty, the harder it will be for them to escape,’ it says in Children of Recession: the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries. Greece and Iceland have seen the biggest percentage increases in child poverty since 2008, followed by Latvia, Croatia and Ireland. The proportion of children living in poverty in the UK has increased from 24% to 25.6%…”
  • Child poverty rate falls in Canada during recession: UNICEF, By Aly Thomas, October 28, 2014, Toronto Star: “UNICEF is commending the Canadian government and its provincial counterparts after it found the country’s overall child poverty rate decreased during the recession five years ago. The child poverty rate decreased from 23 to 21 per cent during the recession from 2008 to 2011, pulling roughly 180,000 children out of poverty, UNICEF Canada said Tuesday in a new report. David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada, said in other affluent countries, child poverty actually increased during the same period of time…”

SNAP Work Requirements

More states enforce food stamp work requirements, By Jake Grovum, September 15, 2014, Stateline: “In the coming months, food stamp work requirements suspended during the Great Recession will be reinstated in at least 17 states, jeopardizing benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans. In those states, work requirements will be back in place for able-bodied adults who are 18 to 50 years old and have no children. It’s possible the requirements will return in more than 17 states, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t yet have a full count, even though states were supposed to report their plans by Labor Day. Hunger advocates worry that fulfilling the work requirements will be a challenge for recipients who live in areas where both work and job training opportunities remain slim. But others note that the suspension of the requirement was always intended to be temporary, and that the economy has improved sufficiently to end it…”

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…”

Falling Food Stamp Receipt

Food-Stamp use starting to fall, By Neil Shah, September 1, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “After soaring in the years since the recession, use of food stamps, one of the federal government’s biggest social-welfare programs, is beginning to decline. There were 46.2 million Americans on food stamps in May, the latest data available, down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, down from 15.3% last August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show…”

Wage Stagnation

This is why it feels like the recession never ended, By Christopher Ingraham, August 28, 2014, Washington Post: “Take a look at this chart. It shows everything you need to know about why Americans are still so down on the economy. From the start of the recession in 2007 to today, the average price of the things you buy – clothes, food, housing – has risen by 15 percent. This, in itself, isn’t a problem at all. The problem is that wages haven’t kept pace with that increase. In fact, for all but the top wage earners, real (inflation-adjusted) earnings are actually down over the same period…”

SNAP and Underemployment

Food stamp use shows continued ‘underemployment’ pain, By Tim Henderson, August 15, 2014, USA Today: “Luxuries were affordable for Linda Fish before she lost her job in retail management in 2009. ‘I won’t lie. The dinners out, the perfect martinis, the salon visits with a master stylist, and the rooms at nice hotels when I was too lazy or tired to do the long commute home—these things I could afford and they made me very, very happy,’ the Chicago resident wrote on her blog soon after she became unemployed. But in the years after she lost her job, Fish “learned to stop worrying and love minimum wage.” She gained a new appreciation for beans, pasta, and oatmeal when she took a $9 per hour job as a bookstore clerk. It was a shock…”

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. . .”

Concentrated Poverty

  • Where America’s poverty is getting more and more concentrated, By Danielle Kurtzleben, June 30, 2014, Vox: “Around 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, but a much bigger share live in areas where the concentration of poverty is particularly high. More than one-quarter of all Americans live in ‘poverty areas,’ places where more than 20 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, currently around $23,600 for a two-parent family of four, according to a new report from the Census Bureau. One striking finding is that Americans living in these poor neighborhoods are more heavily concentrated in the southern US than anywhere else. . .”
  • Maps: A fourth of Americans live in poor neighborhoods, By Niraj Chokshi, June 30, 2014, Washington Post: “A fourth of all Americans live in what the Census Bureau calls ‘poverty areas,’ neighborhoods where at least 1 in 5 have incomes below the poverty level, according to a new report. The share of people living in these poverty areas grew substantially fell during the 1990s but grew substantially over the first decade of the 2000s. As of 2010, it’s up to 25.7 percent, from 18.1 percent in 2000. (In 1990, it was 20 percent.) And while not all people living in such areas are themselves poor, they find themselves in areas associated with a slew of problems. . .”
  • Census outlines ‘poverty areas’: Which states hit hardest? By Daniel B. Wood, June 30, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “The number of US residents living in “poverty areas” has jumped significantly since 2000, according to a Census Bureau report released Monday. According the 2000 Census, less than 1 in 5 people lived in poverty areas. But more recently, 1 in 4 residents have lived in these areas, according to census data collected from 2008 to 2012. The Census Bureau defines a poverty area as any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. Sociologists and other analysts point to the Great Recession, in particular housing and job challenges, as well as slow and uneven growth since the recession. . .”

US Wealth Gap

Study: Recession and recovery widen US wealth gap, By Christopher Rugaber, June 24, 2014, Associated Press: “The Great Recession and the slow recovery have sharply widened the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, according to a study that underscores the unevenness of wealth gains since the recession ended. The richest 5 percent had 24 times the wealth of the median household in 2013 — up substantially from 16.5 times as much in 2007, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers. Substantial gains in the stock market have enabled richer Americans to regain much of their wealth. Stock prices had plunged by nearly half during the recession but have recovered all their losses and set new highs. And roughly 10 percent of households own 80 percent of stocks. . .”

Poll on Causes of Poverty

Poll: Fewer Americans blame poverty on the poor, By Seth Freed Wessler, June 20, 2014, NBC News: “As millions of Americans continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, a growing portion of the country says that poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows a significant shift in American opinion on the causes of poverty since the last time the question was asked, nearly 20 years ago. In 1995, in the midst of a raging political debate about welfare and poverty, less than a third of poll respondents said people were in poverty because of issues beyond their control. At that time, a majority said that poverty was caused by ‘people not doing enough.’ Now, nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, attribute poverty to factors other than individual initiative. . .”

Economic Recovery

U.S. economic recovery looks distant as growth stalls, By Binyamin Appelbaum, June 11, 2014, New York Times: “Recessions are always painful, but the Great Recession that ran from late 2007 to the middle of 2009 may have inflicted a new kind of pain: an era of slower growth. It has been five years since the official end of that severe economic downturn. The nation’s total annual output has moved substantially above the prerecession peak, but economic growth has averaged only about 2 percent a year, well below its historical average. Household incomes continue to stagnate, and millions of Americans still can’t find jobs. And a growing number of experts see evidence that the economy will never rebound completely. . .”