State and Local Minimum Wages

  • The minimum wage is going up in D.C., two states. How California’s compares, By Nick Perez, June 28, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states increased their minimum wages at the beginning of 2017…”
  • A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 26, 2017, Washington Post: “When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect. The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found…”

Minimum Wage – Seattle, WA

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs, By Janet I. Tu, June 20, 2017, Seattle Times: “Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, ‘even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,’ according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich…”

Parent-Child Home Program – Seattle, WA

Teaching parents how to teach their toddlers: Seattle-area program yields lasting benefits, By Neal Morton, December 21, 2016, Seattle Times: “Nearly a decade before Seattle voters agreed in 2014 to subsidize a preschool program for the city’s families, a small, pilot effort for even younger children debuted in 106 living rooms across King County. Organizers approached parents with a simple sales pitch: Did they want help preparing their children for school? If so, the Parent-Child Home Program would send trained visitors to spend 30 minutes with them twice a week, demonstrating how to get the most educational value out of playing and reading with their 2- and 3-year-olds.  The visitors brought a book and a toy to use in each visit, which the families kept for free.  The hope was that these short, frequent sessions, spread over two years, would keep many poor children from falling far behind richer peers before they even started kindergarten…”

Section 8 Housing – Seattle, WA

Section 8 tenants flee Seattle’s high rents, compete for housing in smaller cities, By Vernal Coleman, November 18, 2016, Seattle Times: “On a recent Saturday morning, Elmika James settled into a couch inside the subsidized, three-bedroom apartment she fears she could soon lose and began searching for a new home.  She scoured housing websites on her phone, looking over listings friendly to participants in the federal Housing Choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8.  Many of the listings were old, the apartments advertised already rented. Others were scams. Some property managers have told her flatly they did not accept the vouchers at all.  James, a 43-year-old UPS package handler and mother of five, said rejection has become part of her daily routine. And she’s not alone…”

Minimum Wage Increase – Seattle, WA

Why raising the minimum wage in Seattle did little to help workers, according to a new study, By Max Ehrenfreund, July 29, 2016, Washington Post: “Things seem to be going pretty well since Seattle bumped the hourly minimum wage for large businesses up to $11 last year, from the statewide minimum of $9.47 an hour. Low-wage workers are getting more time on the job and making more money. Fewer businesses are closing, and more new ones are opening. The technology and construction sectors are booming. Even the weather cooperated for a change. The spring was unusually dry in Seattle, which was good for the city’s fishing fleet.  Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week…”

Homelessness in Seattle, WA

  • Seattle may try San Francisco’s ‘radical hospitality’ for homeless, By Daniel Beekman, June 11, 2016, Seattle Times: “Denise and Michael were relaxing on a sunny Friday afternoon.  She sat on their bed in pajamas, folding laundry, while he roughhoused with their friend’s pit bull. Soul standards were blaring from a boombox.  There was something homey about the scene, even though the couple were homeless. Denise and Michael were inside San Francisco’s Navigation Center, an experimental shelter where guests come and go as they please and where pets, partners and possessions are welcome…”
  • Houston’s solution to the homeless crisis: Housing — and lots of it, By Daniel Beekman, June 13, 2016, Seattle Times: “Anthony Humphrey slept on the pavement outside a downtown Houston drop-in center. Except when a Gulf Coast rainstorm slammed the city — then he took cover under a storefront awning or below Interstate 45.  He had no driver’s license, no Social Security card, almost no hope. That was in 2014. This month, Humphrey will celebrate a year in his apartment…”

Racial Achievement Gap

  • New research uncovers little improvement in achievement gap, By Sarah Sparks, May 9, 2016, PBS NewsHour: “Fifteen years of new programs, testing, standards, and accountability have not ended racial achievement gaps in the United States. The Stanford Education Data Archive, a massive new database that allows researchers to compare school districts across state lines has led to the unwelcome finding that racial achievement gaps yawn in nearly every district in the country— and the districts with the most resources in place to serve all students frequently have the worst inequities…”
  • Seattle schools have biggest white-black achievement gap in state, By Gene Balk, May 9, 2016, Seattle Times: “White kids in Seattle’s public schools are doing great. They’re performing about two grade levels above the national average on standardized exams. That finding comes from a sweeping new Stanford studyof 2009-2012 test scores from third- through eighth-grade students around the country. But for black kids in Seattle, the data from that study paint a very different picture. They test one and a half grade levels below the U.S. average. Compared with their white peers in the city, black students lag by three and a half grade levels. That ranks Seattle, among the 200 biggest school districts in the U.S., as having the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students…”

Achievement Gap – Seattle, WA

‘Alarming’ new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools, By Brian M. Rosenthal, December 18, 2011, Seattle Times: “African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home – typically immigrants or refugees – according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools. District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it. Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is ‘extremely, extremely alarming.’ The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin – it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level – but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new…”

Family Homelessness – Washington

  • The fastest-growing group among local homeless: families, By Lornet Turnbull, August 28, 2010, Seattle Times: “On this chilly May night in the parking lot of Southcenter mall, Cherie Moore is growing anxious. She and her 17-year-old son, Cody Barnes, sit almost unmoving in the cab of their old Ford Ranger, all their belongings crammed in the back – their 32-inch flat-screen television, a prized movie collection, Cody’s video games. Moore is down to her last $6. It’s nearing 10 o’clock and it’s been hours since the two have had a meal. Mall security has been circling. Moore knows they can’t spend the night parked here, but the 49-year-old single mother, born and raised in South King County, has no clue where to go. ‘I’m mentally exhausted,’ she says. While overall homelessness in King County has steadied, it appears to be rising among families, a trend playing out across the nation. Parents with children are the fastest-growing yet least-visible segment of the homeless population, far more likely to be doubled up in the homes of friends or living in their cars than to be at a busy intersection asking for help…”
  • Refugees face homelessness all over again in U.S., By Lornet Turnbull, August 29, 2010, Seattle Times: “Every few weeks or so, the family of 10 would pack up and move yet again – the father and boys finding a bed or space on the floor with family friends in one part of King County, the mother and girls in another. Somali refugees who were first resettled in upstate New York before relocating here last fall, they shuffled between the homes of friends willing to put them up, sometimes sharing two- or three-bedroom units with the eight or 10 people who lived there. Once, the mother recounts, all 10 shared a single bedroom in a home, using each other as pillows to get through the nights. Refugee families like this one – displaced people from war-torn parts of the world – are confronting homelessness all over again in their new homeland…”
  • Gates housing-first plan doesn’t come with housing money, By Lornet Turnbull, August 29, 2010, Seattle Times: “In the late 1990s, as out-of-work Ohio residents flocked to Columbus in search of jobs, many found themselves in a new predicament: They were homeless. The support system meant to help them, much like the one now in King County, was a network of agencies, each with different rules – a labyrinth with no clear way in and no easy way out. Families making repeated calls in search of help overwhelmed the system. And when putting them up in hotels became too costly, shelters started turning families away. In response, officials in Columbus created a more streamlined system – ‘one front door,’ they called it – a one-stop center that parents and children in need could enter day or night. The Columbus approach became a national model for helping families escape homelessness, and key parts of it are being incorporated in what ultimately could be a top-to-bottom overhaul of how homeless families in three Puget Sound counties are helped…”

Housing First Program – Seattle, WA

Seattle’s 1811 Eastlake project puts housing first, saves lives and money, By Kim Horner, September 13, 2009, Dallas Morning News: “An attractive blue and gray apartment building with views of the Space Needle saved taxpayers $4 million in one year – simply by giving hardcore homeless alcoholics a place to live. This home for the homeless has attracted visitors from across the country – including Dallas – looking for ways to move the most seriously ill off the streets and cut costs. But it has detractors because it doesn’t require residents to stop drinking. The $11 million project is one of the country’s best-known examples of housing first, an approach to combating chronic homelessness by providing homes upfront and offering help for illnesses and addictions. The concept turns the traditional model, which typically requires sobriety before a person can get housing, upside down….”