Cliff Effect of Public Assistance Programs

$15 minimum wage could squeeze workers on public assistance, By Katie Johnson, December 9, 2016, Boston Globe: “If it succeeds, a campaign to raise the Massachusetts minimum wage to $15 an hour could put more money in the pockets of low-income workers and create a path to self-sufficiency. But for some families, the boost in pay could mean a drop of hundreds of dollars a month in government benefits.  Food stamps, child care vouchers, and rent subsidies could be cut before families can afford to cover those expenses on their own, leaving some households, particularly single parents with young children, worse off despite a bigger paycheck — a phenomenon known as the ‘cliff effect…””

Retirement Security

Women more likely than men to face poverty during retirement, Associated Press, July 10, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “During their working years, women tend to earn less than men, and when they retire, they’re more likely to live in poverty. These are women who raised children and cared for sick and elderly family members, often taking what savings and income they do have and spending it on things besides their own retirement security. The National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit research center, reports that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely…”

Household Economic Security

Nearly half of U.S. households would struggle with an unexpected $400 expense, Fed study finds, By Don Lee, May 25, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “Shedding light on the precarious economic state of many American families, theFederal Reserve said Wednesday that nearly half of U.S. households reported they would have trouble meeting emergency expenses of just $400.  In addition, the Fed found that 22% of workers were juggling two or more jobs last year, higher than what government jobs data would suggest. And nearly one out of three Americans said that they have no retirement savings or pension…”

Childhood Asthma -Detroit, MI

  • Hardships boost asthma rate for Detroit kids, By Karen Bouffard, December 9, 2015, Detroit News: “Detroit has the highest rate of asthma in young children among America’s 18 largest cities, a problem that experts link to urban ills that could affect their health and learning for the rest of their lives.  In a study done for The Detroit News and PBS NewsHour, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found about two of every three Motor City children face ‘adverse childhood experiences.’ Those include household substance abuse, exposure to violence and extreme economic hardship that can trigger asthma…”
  • Experts: More solutions needed to address urban asthma, By Karen Bouffard, December 9, 2015, Detroit News: “Although steps are being taken to help Detroit kids affected by asthma, experts say much more needs to be done to treat the disease and reduce the highly stressful childhood experiences that exacerbate it.  Short- and long-term strategies to reduce Detroit’s number of asthmatic children will need to address kids’ circumstances and emotional needs in addition to their medical requirements, experts said…”

Cliff Effect of Public Assistance Programs

Why getting ahead often feels like falling behind when you’re poor, By Megan Verlee, November 3, 2015, Colorado Public Radio: “Call it poverty’s ‘glass ceiling.’ The way many public benefit programs are structured, even minor increases in income can result in a big loss in assistance. That’s sometimes so large a loss that it can send families tumbling backwards just when they thought they were finally getting ahead. Longmont resident Tracey Jones knows all about the phenomenon, often called the ‘cliff effect.’ She’s been living at its edge for several years now…”

Government Shutdown and Affected Services

  • A federal government shutdown would deliver immediate, long-term hits to R.I., By Phillip Marcelo and Paul Edward Parker, September 30, 2013, Providence Journal: “As Monday’s midnight deadline for the federal government shutdown approached, Rhode Island agencies — from the Navy base in Newport to Head Start programs across the state — braced for impact. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the economic toll on the Ocean State would only increase the longer the congressional impasse lasted. The federal government is the state’s third-largest employer, with roughly 7,000 workers, according to the senator’s office…”
  • A government shutdown could hurt economy more now than it did in 1995, By Don Lee, September 30, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “The last time the federal government shut down, for three weeks in the winter of 1995-96, the American economy felt a jolt but recovered quickly. Things don’t look anywhere near as promising this time around.The nation is currently more than four years into an economic expansion with some momentum behind it. That also was the case in 1995. But this time, things are a lot more fragile…”
  • Park-goers, poor will be first hurt by shutdown, By Joe Garofoli, Justin Berton and John Coté, October 1, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle: “If the federal government doesn’t open for business Tuesday, park gates from Muir Woods to Yosemite National Park will slam shut. Many of the 169,000 federal employees in the Bay Area will be furloughed without pay, after Congress failed to avert the first shutdown in nearly two decades Tuesday night. Those who rely on food programs for the poor could feel the effects within days…”
  • WIC support for moms, babies threatened during shutdown, By Stephanie Condon, October 1, 2013, CBS News: “Low-income mothers, pregnant women, babies and young children who rely on government assistance to purchase food could see their help cut off now that the government is shut down. Nearly 9 million mothers and children receive benefits under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The federal program gives grants to states for supplemental food, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and to infants and children up to age five who are nutritionally at risk. The program serves 53 percent of all infants born in the U.S…”
  • Lengthy government shutdown would hit seniors, workers hard, By Randy Krehbiel, September 28, 2013, Tulsa World: “Seniors, travelers, the poor – and, of course, Oklahoma’s 48,000 federal employees – will likely be among the first to feel the government shutdown threatened by Congress’ inability to agree on a budget resolution, those who have looked at previous such events say. ‘All of these (effects of a shutdown) seem like inconveniences,’ said Oklahoma State University political science professor Brandon Lenoir, ‘and they would be inconveniences, (except) if the impasse lasts for weeks it becomes an effect … on livelihoods…'”

Income Gap – China

Survey in China shows wide income gap, By Edward Wong, July 19, 2013, New York Times: “Results of a wide-ranging survey of Chinese family wealth and living habits released this week by Peking University show a wide gap in income between the nation’s top earners and those at the bottom, and a vast difference between earners in top-tier coastal cities and those in interior provinces. The survey found that in 2012, the households in the top 5 percent income bracket earned 23 percent of the nation’s total household income. The households in the lowest 5 percent accounted for just 0.1 percent of total income…”

Asset Poverty – New Orleans, LA

Asset poverty is a big problem in New Orleans, where many have no cash cushion, By Rebecca Mowbray, August 14, 2012, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Some 37 percent of New Orleans households would not be able to survive for more than three months without falling into poverty if their main source of income were disrupted, according to a new study released Tuesday by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Ford Foundation. While many examinations of poverty look at a family’s income, this study of ‘asset poverty’ looks at how large a financial cushion households have to protect them in times of crisis…”

Asset-Poor Households in the US

Number of asset-poor Americans rising, By Becky Yerak, January 31, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Luz Pagan, 45, has been working as a part-time cashier at a discount store in downtown Chicago for nearly three years, her requests to become a full-time employee with benefits having gone nowhere. The single mom and her 12-year-old son, Marvin, have been living in a $575-a-month studio apartment on the North Side since November. But with a work schedule averaging 15 to 20 hours a week, in a job paying about $8.75 an hour, Pagan is struggling to cover living expenses and has to scrape together money from friends and family. Her last paycheck netted $64. ‘I’m underemployed,’ said Pagan, who previously lived in a shelter for two months. She has an associate’s degree and would love an office job. Marvin’s dad helps with expenses, but she said she and her son – a mostly A and B student who wants to be a doctor – are living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings. Pagan’s plight is becoming more commonplace. Nationwide, 27 percent of households are ‘asset poor,’ meaning they don’t have enough money tucked away to cover basic expenses for three months in case of a layoff or other emergency that saps income, according to a study to be released Tuesday by the Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development…”

Recession and Child Well-being

Recession’s toll touches children, By Michael Martinez, January 14, 2012, Reno Gazette-Journal: “Heidi Lanini and her four kids live an austere life — by necessity. Lanini, 37, has lived in her southeast Reno apartment for eight years but hasn’t worked in six for a variety of reasons. These include health issues, the inability to find a new job as the economy soured and a lack of training in the technological skills required for her work. And then there are her kids, who require resources she has struggled to provide, leaving the children living on the edge, struggling with everyday life, school work and uncertainty about their futures. She and her family have survived on subsidized housing, food stamps, welfare and Medicare. Lanini’s family could be a portrait of a growing national trend described in a report on how the recession has affected families — particularly children. The report released by Washington, D.C.-based First Focus shows that Nevada children fared worse than American children overall on several key economic indicators of child well-being…”

Economic Mobility in the US

Middle class dropouts, By Tami Luhby, January 11, 2012, “Nearly one third of Americans who were raised in the middle class dropped down the economic ladder as adults — and that’s before the Great Recession hit. ‘Being raised in the middle class is not a guarantee that you’ll have that same status as an adult,’ said Erin Currier, project manager at Pew’s Economic Mobility Project. ‘With all the economic turmoil in the past four years, there’s good reason to think that downward mobility is more severe.’ Pew looked at children born in the early- to mid-1960s and assessed their economic status roughly 40 years later. Being middle class in the parents’ generation meant a household income of roughly $33,000 to $64,000 in 1979. But their children had to earn between $54,000 and $111,000 to maintain their relative standing in society in the mid-2000s…”

Economic Mobility in the US

Economic mobility has fallen, study says, By Walter Hamilton, December 1, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “There’s nothing more American than going from rags to riches. Or so the image goes. The reality, according to a recent study, is far less rosy. The ability to go from poor to rich – or at least to climb out of poverty – has become much harder to do in the last three decades, according to an analysis by Wells Fargo Securities. The percentage of low-income people who moved up the economic ladder slowed sharply from 1980 to 2009, compared with the previous dozen years, the study found. The drop in economic mobility, combined with recently declining government aid to the poor, has left many Americans with no way to dig themselves out of poverty…”

Poverty Measurement in the US and Canada

  • The Near Poor: Many educated, employed Americans struggle to make ends meet, By Elizabeth Stuart, November 30, 2011, Deseret News: “Federal poverty statistics may not paint an accurate picture of how Americans are getting along economically, two new studies suggest. About 45 percent of U.S. residents who are not considered poor by federal standards don’t have enough money for basic expenses like housing, food and health care, according to a new study by the advocacy group Wider Opportunities for Women. And the number of people hovering just above the federal poverty threshold is 76 percent higher than official records indicate, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data published in the New York Times…”
  • In U.S., Canada, new measures of the poverty line, By Miles Corak, November 28, 2011, Globe and Mail: “U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Rebecca Blank — a capable, no-nonsense, PhD in economics, and a former Dean at the University of Michigan — to his new administration, and told her to answer a simple question: How should the United States measure poverty? Blank did an end-run around the sad politics that has characterized discussions of poverty measurement in the U.S. by having the Census Bureau develop an entirely new indicator that reflects the realities of participating in contemporary American society…”

Economic Security Index

More than 1 in 5 Americans are economically insecure, By Tami Luhby, November 28, 2011, “More than one in five Americans saw at least a quarter of their available household income vanish in the Great Recession, yet lacked a sufficient financial cushion, according to a report released Monday. The situation has left them economically insecure, according to the report, which updates an Economic Security Index created by Jacob Hacker, a political science professor at Yale. More than 20% of the nation was in this condition in the three years spanning 2008 to 2010, a sharp increase from 14.3% in 1986. Some 62 million Americans faced economic insecurity last year. The Great Recession is also prompting deep losses among the insecure, with the median drop in income for this group hitting a record 46.4% in 2009…”