States and Medicaid Expansion

  • LePage says he’ll block voter-approved Medicaid expansion unless legislators fund it, By Scott Thistle, November 8, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Just hours after a Medicaid expansion was endorsed by nearly 60 percent of Maine voters, Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies vowed to delay, if not derail, the citizen-initiated law that would provide health care to as many as 70,000 low-income residents of the state…”
  • Election results invigorate Medicaid expansion hopes, By Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, November 8, 2017, New York Times: “The election results in Maine and Virginia have energized supporters of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in several holdout states. After months of battling Republican efforts to repeal the law, they now see political consensus shifting in their direction…”
  • Medicaid expansion takes a bite out of medical debt, By Alex Smith, November 10, 2017, National Public Radio: “As the administration and Republicans in Congress look to scale back Medicaid, many voters and state lawmakers across the country are moving to make it bigger. On Tuesday, Maine voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Advocates are looking to follow suit with ballot measures in Utah, Missouri and Idaho in 2018…”

City Minimum Wages

  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sues Minneapolis over $15 minimum wage, By Emma Nelson, November 10, 2017, Star Tribune: “The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is taking the city of Minneapolis to court over the $15 minimum wage, saying the ordinance conflicts with existing state law…”
  • San Diego has fined businesses $60,000 over minimum wage violations, By David Garrick, November 10, 2017, San Diego Union-Tribune: “Investigators enforcing San Diego’s minimum wage law have handled more than 500 complaints against 70 businesses and levied nearly $60,000 in fines since the law took effect last year. City officials say those numbers will increase as outreach efforts make more people aware that San Diego’s hourly minimum wage of $11.50 is higher than the state minimum of $10 for small businesses and $10.50 for large ones…”

October 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. jobs growth reaches 261,000 as economy rebounds from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, By Danielle Paquette, November 3, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October as the country rebounded from hurricanes Harvey and Irma as expected, and the jobless rate ticked down to 4.1 percent — the lowest level since 2000. The pace of hiring in October showed that the economy was recovering from the storms, Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found. But year-over-year wage growth sank to 2.4 percent…”
  • U.S. adds 261,000 jobs in October, and a revision restores job creation streak, By Bill Chappell, November 3, 2017, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October, according to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate fell by a small notch, from 4.2 percent to 4.1 percent. While job creation showed a rebound from hurricane season, the October result didn’t meet analysts’ expectations that the report would easily top 300,000 jobs…”

Unemployment Compensation Fund – Ohio

Should Ohio workers have their wages taxed to pay for state jobless benefits?, By Catherine Candisky, October 22, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “A proposal to shore up Ohio’s unemployment-compensation fund would draw millions of dollars from workers because they would be required for the first time to contribute to jobless benefits. Under House Bill 382 introduced by state Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, new premiums charged to employees would begin in 2019, generating $125 million that year. That would equal 10 percent of the unemployment taxes paid by employers, who also face a rate increase…”

Payday Lending – Ohio

Curbs on payday loans a tough sell to Ohio lawmakers, By Jim Siegel, October 17, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “When Ohio lawmakers pass a law that doesn’t come close to working as planned, they often fix it. Not so much with payday lending regulations approved nine years ago. Short-term lenders in Ohio today are charging the highest rates in the nation, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. A Republican lawmaker who wants to change that says he’s getting pushback from GOP colleagues who control the legislature…”

Income Inequality Among Retirees

For many older Americans, the rat race is over. But the inequality isn’t., By Peter Whoriskey, October 18, 2017, Washington Post: “While the rat race ends with retirement, one of its principal features extends well past a person’s last day of work. Income inequality in the United States spills over from the job into the last decades of life, according to a new survey that ranks the differences among U.S. retirees as among the most extreme in the 35-country comparison. The report being issued Wednesday by the OECD, or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, reports levels of inequality in a survey of member countries…”

State Minimum Wages – Ohio, Florida

  • Ohio minimum wage increases to $8.30 in 2018, By Olivera Perkins, October 17, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio’s hourly minimum wage will increase to $8.30 Jan. 1, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. Ohio’s minimum wage is currently $8.15. The $8.30 rate applies to non-tipped employees. The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase to $4.15 from $4.08…”
  • Florida minimum wage rises to $8.25 in 2018, By Marcia Heroux Pounds, October 17, 2017, Sun Sentinel: “Florida’s minimum wages will rise 15 cents to $8.25 an hour on Jan. 1, an increase from $8.10 an hour this year. While higher, the state’s minimum is a far cry from the $15 an hour some labor groups and legislators have been seeking in recent years. At the same time, many South Florida employers and top retail employers already pay more than minimum wage to recruit the workers they need in a tighter labor market, economists say…”

Medicaid Enrollment

Report: Medicaid enrollments, costs begin to stabilize, By Christina A. Cassidy (AP), October 19, 2017, Washington Post: “States are seeing more stability in their Medicaid programs after experiencing a surge in enrollment and costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that one of the major pillars of former President Barack Obama’s health overhaul may be nearing its peak. At the same time, they are experiencing a high level of uncertainty as Republicans in Congress continue to advocate for a major overhaul of a program that provides health insurance to tens of millions of lower-income and disabled Americans…”

Job Training Initiatives

Google to give $1 billion to nonprofits and help Americans get jobs in the new economy, By Jessica Guynn, October 12, 2017, USA Today: “Google will invest $1 billion over the next five years in nonprofit organizations helping people adjust to the changing nature of work, the largest philanthropic pledge to date from the Internet giant.  The announcement of the national digital skills initiative, made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in Pittsburgh, Pa. Thursday, is a tacit acknowledgment from one of the world’s most valuable companies that it bears some responsibility for rapid advances in technology that are radically reshaping industries and eliminating jobs in the U.S. and around the world…”

September 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • The monthly jobs numbers haven’t gone down in 7 years. Until now., By Paul Davidson, October 6, 2017, USA Today: “The U.S. lost jobs for the first time in seven years last month after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey drove down employment. But wages grew, unemployment fell to a new 16-year low and there were other reassuring signs that September’s weak showing was a blip…”
  • U.S. lost 33,000 jobs amid last month’s hurricanes, By Patricia Cohen, October 6, 2017, New York Times: “The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for September on Friday morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy…”

Payday Lending

Payday lending faces tough new restrictions by consumer agency, By Stacy Cowley, October 5, 2017, New York Times: “A federal agency on Thursday imposed tough new restrictions on so-called payday lending, dealing a potentially crushing blow to an industry that churns out billions of dollars a year in high-interest loans to working-class and poor Americans.  The rules announced by the agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are likely to sharply curtail the use of payday loans, which critics say prey on the vulnerable through their huge fees…”

Survey of Consumer Finances

  • Minorities and Americans without college degrees showed greatest gains in wealth since 2013, new data shows, By Heather Long and Tracy Jan, September 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Americans who were left behind as the country pulled out of the Great Recession — African Americans, Hispanics and people without college degrees — saw large gains in net worth over the past three years, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. But the improvements didn’t narrow the inequality gap: The share of U.S. income held by the top 1 percent of households reached 24 percent in 2016, a record high, and the median net worth of white households, at $171,000, was nearly 10 times larger than for black households…”
  • US middle class gets richer, but wealthy do even better, Associated Press, September 27, 2017, New York Times: “Most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, but the wealthiest households pulled even further ahead, worsening the nation’s massive disparities in wealth and income. The median net worth of all American families rose 16 percent last year from 2013 to $97,300, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The median is the point where half of families fall below and half above. That’s the first gain for middle class households since the recession upended the economy nearly a decade ago…”

Finances in Retirement

The new reality of old age in America, By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, September 30, 2017, Washington Post: “Richard Dever had swabbed the campground shower stalls and emptied 20 garbage cans, and now he climbed slowly onto a John Deere mower to cut a couple acres of grass.  ‘I’m going to work until I die, if I can, because I need the money,’ said Dever, 74, who drove 1,400 miles to this Maine campground from his home in Indiana to take a temporary job that pays $10 an hour.  Dever shifted gently in the tractor seat, a rubber cushion carefully positioned to ease the bursitis in his hip — a snapshot of the new reality of old age in America.  People are living longer, more expensive lives, often without much of a safety net. As a result, record numbers of Americans older than 65 are working — now nearly 1 in 5. That proportion has risen steadily over the past decade, and at a far faster rate than any other age group. Today, 9 million senior citizens work, compared with 4 million in 2000…”

Affordable Housing – Milwaukee, WI

Low-income households in Milwaukee squeezed by rents, By Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern, September 22, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Cheryl Williams-Adams moved to Milwaukee with her teenage daughter four years ago, she landed on her feet. She worked as a substance abuse counselor for two organizations, and her monthly income was enough to cover the rent for their one-bedroom apartment, as well as to have some savings. ‘I was trying to build up enough money to get a house,’ Williams-Adams said.  Like many people, she was one emergency away from financial hardship.  In 2015, Williams-Adams, 63, had a heart attack. She hasn’t been able to work since.  Now, the mix of short-term benefits and Social Security payments she receives add up to about $1,000 per month. Her rent is $590. In the City of Milwaukee, 50% of all renters spent more than 30% of their monthly income on housing in 2016, compared to 46% of renters nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau…”

State Medicaid Programs – New Mexico, Colorado

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016

  • How health-care reform affected America, in 51 graphs, By Philip Bump, September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Last year, 8.6 percent of Americans lacked health insurance. Three years earlier, that figure was 14.5 percent, meaning that the rate dropped by 5.9 percentage points over the period that the Affordable Care Act went into effect, a 40 percent decline from the 2013 figure. In real terms, that’s about 19 million fewer people lacking health insurance, per estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau…”
  • States with the highest and lowest uninsured rates, By Mattie Quinn, September 13, 2017, Governing: “As discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue on Capitol Hill, at least one thing is certain: The law has led to a record number of people having health insurance. According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. That’s down from 13.3 percent in 2013, the year before much of the ACA took effect. Since then, every single state has seen their uninsured rate drop…”
  • Obamacare keeps shrinking the ranks of N.J.’s uninsured, Census data shows, By Disha Raychaudhuri, September 12, 2017, NJ.com: “About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest data shows that the number of uninsured N.J residents has continued to drop, a trend that policy analysts attribute to the success of the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Uninsured rate continues to drop in Indiana under Obamacare, By Maureen Groppe, September 13, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “The number of Hoosiers without health insurance fell 41 percent after the coverage expansion elements of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to new federal data. The 8.1 percent of residents who still lacked insurance last year is now lower than the national 8.6 percent rate, the Census Bureau reported. But Indiana still has a higher share of its population uninsured than do its neighboring states, which expanded their Medicaid programs before Indiana did…”
  • Young, low-income Kansans more likely to be uninsured than counterparts in other states, By Jim McLean, September 14, 2017, KCUR: “Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The uninsured rate among Kansans living below the federal poverty level has been worse than the national rate for many years. But the gap has widened in recent years, mainly because of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, said Robert St. Peter, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Kansas Health Institute…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016

  • Median U.S. household income up for 2nd straight year, By Binyamin Appelbaum, September 12, 2017, New York Times: “Despite eight years of economic growth since a brutal recession, some politicians and economists have worried that many Americans have not felt the benefits of the expansion. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau painted a brighter picture, suggesting that the recovery had shifted into a new phase in recent years and is now distributing its benefits more broadly…”
  • Median household income hits $59,039, rising for 2nd straight year, By Paul Davidson, September 13, 2017, USA Today: “Americans notched solid financial gains in 2016 for a second straight year as household incomes rose, poverty fell and fewer people went without health insurance, signaling an end to the stagnation that had lingered since the Great Recession…”
  • American household income finally topped 1999 peak last year, By Christopher Rugaber (AP), September 12, 2017, Washington Post: “In a stark reminder of the damage done by the Great Recession and of the modest recovery that followed, the median American household only last year finally earned more than it did in 1999…”
  • American households finally earn more than they did in 1999, By Don Lee, September 12, 2107, Los Angeles Times: “After a long period of plodding economic growth, significant earnings gains over the last two years have finally enabled the average American household to surpass the peak income level it reached in 1999. The median household income in the U.S. climbed to $59,039 last year, up 3.2% from 2015 after adjusting for inflation, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday…”
  • Census Bureau: Median incomes rose and poverty levels fell In 2016, By Merrit Kennedy, September 12, 2017, National Public Radio: “There’s good news on three primary U.S. economic benchmarks: the poverty rate, income level and number of people covered by health insurance. New figures released by the Census Bureau Tuesday show median household income in 2016 was $59,039 — more than 3 percent higher than in 2015…”
  • New Census data shows more Americans emerging from poverty, By Alana Semuels, September 12, 2017, The Atlantic: “Eight years after the end of the Great Recession, more of America’s poorest families are beginning to emerge from poverty, suggesting that the effects of a booming job market and an expanded safety net may finally be helping the country’s most vulnerable residents. Census data released today show that the number of people living in poverty has finally returned to pre-recession levels, with poverty declining for all ethnic groups…”

August 2017 US Unemployment Rate