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

Medicaid Expansion – Nevada

High-stakes health-care debate hits Nevada’s Medicaid program, By Ben Botkin, August 5, 2017, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Marta Jensen, Nevada’s point person on Medicaid, watched on C-SPAN recently as the U.S. Senate debated health care reform. She had four different bills pulled up on her computer. The stakes were high for Nevada. Each of the bills would have repealed at least parts of the Affordable Care Act and affected Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides poor and disabled Americans with medical coverage. More than one-fifth of the state’s residents now receive their health insurance through Medicaid…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota minimum wage set to rise with inflation in 2018, By Erin Golden, August 17, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s minimum wage will increase next year by 15 cents to keep up with inflation, rising to $9.65 per hour for workers at many businesses across the state.  The increase, announced Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, is effective Jan. 1, 2018. It’s the result of a 2014 law that boosted the minimum wage to $9.50 and required the state to begin calculating automatic inflationary increases for each year, starting with 2018…”

Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Rural Poverty – Illinois

Rural poverty in Illinois met with concern, community aid, By Nat Williams and Jeff DeYoung, August 11, 2017, Southern Illinoisan: “Poverty isn’t particular about geography; it affects people everywhere. But in Illinois, rural residents may have a more difficult path out of economic stagnation. Recovery from the Great Recession has been slower in rural communities compared to their urban counterparts…”

Opioid Epidemic

New numbers reveal huge disparities in opioid prescribing, By Christine Vestal, August 14, 2017, Stateline: “For most of the last decade, this once thriving city had the highest unemployment rate in Virginia. Its disability and poverty rates are consistently double the state average, and its population is aging. In July, the former textile and furniture manufacturing mecca earned another dubious distinction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its drugstores dispense the highest volume of opioid painkillers per capita in the nation…”

Youth Job Training and Education

  • Seeing hope for flagging economy, West Virginia revamps vocational track, By Dana Goldstein, August 10, 2017, New York Times: “In a sleek laboratory at Marshall University last month, four high school teachers hunched over a miniature steam-electric boiler, a tabletop replica of the gigantic machinery found in power plants. They hooked the boiler to a small, whirring generator and tinkered with valves and knobs, looking for the most efficient way to turn coal, natural gas, nuclear or solar energy into electricity. The teachers, who were attending a summer training program, are helping West Virginia in another kind of transformation. Long one of the poorest states, it is now leading the way in turning vocational education from a Plan B for underachieving students into what policy makers hope will be a fuel source for the state’s economic revival…”
  • ‘Millennial Bill’ could help at-risk youth secure jobs, By Donna Owens, July 29, 2017, NBC News: “Taj Jackson dreamed of college after graduating from a Maryland high school in 2014, but didn’t think his family—headed by a single mother who worked multiple jobs—could afford it. Then they both learned about a national nonprofit called `Year Up.’ It provides young adults in urban communities with skills training, work experience, educational opportunities and mentoring, aimed at helping them achieve professional careers within a year…”

Low-Income Employment

After years of stagnation, low-income jobs join the recovery, By Story Hinckley, August 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “What do waitresses in California, security guards in Tennessee, and hairstylists in Virginia have in common? All of these employees are starting to get bigger paychecks, economists say. The Great Recession of 2008 triggered a double-digit spike in the US unemployment rate, which led to lower wages as employers were not obligated to offer competitive salaries. The national unemployment rate has decreased every year since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), causing most paychecks to rise. Low-income workers, however, missed out…”

Poverty Measurement – Wisconsin

More Wisconsin families are pulling themselves out of poverty, but help still needed, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, August 5, 2017, Capital Times: “When school’s not in session, the River Food Pantry on the north side of Madison delivers lunch to eight nearby low-income neighborhoods.  The program, known as Madison Unites to Nourish Children at Home, gives out about 485 lunches to kids every day: a PB&J or meat and cheese sandwich, fresh fruit or applesauce, crackers or chips, and sometimes, chocolate pudding…”

July 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. job growth surges in July, By Ana Swanson, August 4, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to government data released Friday morning, surpassing economists’ expectations and suggesting the economy continues to thrive after an extended streak of job gains in recent years…”
  • U.S. economy adds 209,000 jobs in July; unemployment dips to 4.3 percent, By Scott Neuman, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy created an estimated 209,000 jobs in July, representing a modest slowdown from the previous month but coming in better than many economists had expected. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent…”

Auto Insurance Premiums and Low-income Drivers

How Detroit factory workers get charged more than lawyers for auto insurance, By Chad Livengood, August 2, 2017, Crain’s Detroit Business: “It costs more for the undereducated working poor or unemployed who rent homes to buy auto insurance in Michigan than homeowners with white collar careers living and driving in the same city. That’s the charge from a new study by a California insurance researcher who has examined the impact on quotes insurers give Michigan motorists based on their job title, level of education and whether they rent or own a home — factors that have nothing to do with whether they’re safe drivers…”