Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

State cuts into child-care subsidies, By Rob Ryser, July 9, 2017, Danbury News Times: “State cuts to a program that helps needy families afford child care has left 6,500 kids across Connecticut without a quality place to go while their parents are working. Child care subsidies for 235 children have been dropped in greater Danbury since cuts to the Care 4 Kids program began in August. Advocates say the result will be more children who are less prepared for kindergarten, and more parents who stop working and apply for government assistance, because they cannot afford child care…”

June 2016 US Unemployment Rate

Job growth surged in June, By Ana Swanson, July 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. labor market rebounded in June, new government data showed Friday, as employers surpassed the expectations of most economists by adding 222,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.4 percent, from 4.3 percent in May, but it did so for a good reason — more people joined the labor force to look for work. The Labor Department also revised its estimates for job gains in April and May, raising the combined figure by 47,000 jobs…”

Paid Family Leave – Washington

Paid family and medical leave fast tracked through Legislature, By Jim Camden, July 3, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Late Friday night, with great emotion but relatively little fanfare, the Legislature moved Washington into the forefront among states that provide financial help to parents after childbirth or when a family member is seriously ill or dying. In strong bipartisan votes, the House and Senate moved quickly to approve a state-regulated program for paid family and medical leave…”

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…”

May 2017 US Unemployment

  • May jobs report: 138,000 more on payrolls; unemployment dips slightly, By Bill Chappell, June 2, 2017, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs in May, according to the monthly jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning. The national unemployment rate nudged lower, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent — a 16-year low. The 4.4 percent level had been the lowest since since 2007, before the recession hit…”
  • Unemployment rate dips to 4.3 percent; US employers add modest 138K jobs, Associated Press, June 2, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “U.S. employers pulled back on hiring in May by adding only 138,000 jobs. Hiring was still enough to help keep pushing unemployment lower. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent. But the rate declined mainly because people stopped looking for work last month and so were no longer counted as unemployed…”

Minimum Wage

  • New minimum wage study has fodder for both sides of debate, By David Nicklaus, June 2, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “From St. Louis to Jefferson City to Washington, debates over the minimum wage center on one question: Does it kill jobs? Proponents of a higher minimum paint a picture of workers happily spending their bigger paychecks, while opponents tell a tale about former workers joining the unemployment line. Dozens of studies have attempted to settle the question, but definitive answers don’t come easily…”
  • Passage of Illinois minimum wage bill generates worker optimism, employer anxiety, By Lauren Zumbach, Greg Trotter and Gail MarksJarvis, June 1, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Illinois moved a step closer to raising its minimum wage this week, a development that raised hope among some low-wage workers and concern from businesses worried about ballooning payrolls.  The Illinois Senate approved a bill late Wednesday — just a day after the House passed the same measure — that would gradually raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. The measure now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who called the bill ‘extreme’ in a Thursday interview…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump wants families on food stamps to get jobs. The majority already work, By Maria Godoy and Allison Aubrey, May 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working. ‘If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,’ Mulvaney said Tuesday. But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least one person in the family working, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture…”
  • The people left behind when only the ‘deserving’ poor get help, By Annie Lowrey, May 25, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the eyes of the state of Maine, Laurie Kane is an able-bodied adult without dependents, and thus ineligible for most forms of government support. In her own eyes, it is hard to see how she is going to find housing, work, and stability without help. Kane is struggling to put her life back together amid a spell of homelessness that has lasted for three years. She has a severe anxiety condition, along with other health problems, and had suffered a panic attack on the day I met her. But she had not managed to sign up for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, because she cannot get a doctor to certify her as being disabled. That’s not because a doctor has evaluated her and found her to be fine, but because she’s been unable to get a doctor’s appointment…”

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…”

Wage Theft – Ohio

Wage theft report finds many in Ohio paid below minimum wage, By Olivera Perkins, May 11, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio ranked second among large states for the share of workers whose employers failed to pay them minimum wage, according to a recently released report. In Ohio, 5.5 percent of workers experienced this type of ‘wage theft,’ according to the analysis released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.15 an hour…”

States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”

Job Searching and the Unemployed – Illinois

More jobless Illinoisans are giving up the job search, study finds, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Though people often focus on unemployment rates as a measure of economic health, another telling data point is how many people are so discouraged with the job search that they’re dropping out of the labor force altogether. A newly released survey found good news: Fewer unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. But that’s not the case in Illinois, where more people seem to be throwing up their hands…”

April 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • Economy adds strong 211,000 jobs, unemployment at 10-year low, By Paul Davidson, May 5, 2017, USA Today: “The labor market bounced back in April amid milder weather as employers added 211,000 jobs, providing evidence that weakness the prior month was a blip that likely won’t keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates in June. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell from 4.5% to 4.4%, a new 10-year low, the Labor Department said Friday…”
  • Unemployment rate drops to lowest level in a decade in April as economy adds 211,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. job market rebounded strongly last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed, calming fears that had bubbled up in the past month about the state of the economy…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

New St. Louis minimum wage goes into effect Friday, By Kevin McDermott, May 4, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The city’s new minimum wage of $10 per hour for most jobs will take effect Friday, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office announced today. The ordinance for the new wage — which is well above the minimum of $7.70 in the rest of Missouri and $8.25 in neighboring downstate Illinois — was passed in 2015 but held up in court until now. Under the ordinance, the wage will rise again on Jan. 1, 2018, to $11 an hour…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Matching ex-offenders with hard-to-fill health care jobs, By Sophie Quinton, April 19, 2017, Stateline: “Collie Thomas sat in the courtyard outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital and marveled at her luck. She works as an orderly in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. She was promoted about a year ago. She just moved into a snug new row house. ‘I stayed 10 years in prison, and I worked hard in prison for like a dollar, dollar fifty — for so little,’ said Thomas, 51, her bedazzled pink smartphone glinting in the April sunshine. ‘So when you get these kinds of jobs here, you work your best.’  With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

March 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. hiring slumped in March as employers added only 98,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, April 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The momentum in the U.S. labor market flagged in March, new government data showed Friday, with the private sector and the government adding only 98,000 jobs, the lowest gain in nearly a year, as winter storms weighed on economic activity…”
  • Job growth loses steam as U.S. adds 98,000 in March, By Nelson D. Schwartz, April 7, 2017, New York Times: “Job growth turned in a disappointing showing in March, according to data released on Friday by the Labor Department. It is the latest official snapshot of the state of the American economy…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Michigan

Report: Michigan makes little progress in lifting working poor to financial stability, By Lindsay VanHulle, April 4, 2017, Crain’s Detroit Business: “To make ends meet as a four-person family in Michigan, with a child in preschool and a baby at home, it’s practically mandatory that both parents work full time and make at least $14 per hour each. A single breadwinner in that same family would have to make at least $28 per hour. And that’s just to afford basic living needs, like housing, child care, transportation and medical bills. Yet Michigan’s job market is disproportionately made up of low-wage jobs — 62 percent of the state’s jobs in 2015 paid less than $20 per hour, according to new research on the state’s working poor to be released Tuesday by the Michigan Association of United Ways…”