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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Day: November 11, 2011

Unemployment and Jobless Benefits

  • Most of America’s unemployed no long receiving benefits, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), November 5, 2011, Denver Post: “The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits. Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent – a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more. Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further. The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau​ says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four. Yet for a growing share of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They’ve had no job for more than 99 weeks. They’re no longer eligible for benefits…”
  • Thousands of Oregon jobless will lose unemployment insurance if Congress doesn’t renew federal benefits, By Richard Read, November 3, 2011, The Oregonian: “Thousands of Oregonians will lose their unemployment benefits early next year if Congress doesn’t extend emergency coverage, state projections show. Now, about 2,000 Oregonians a month exhaust their jobless benefits, having failed to find work after as long as 99 weeks. But that number would jump to 13,400 in January and 12,500 in February, according to the projections by the Oregon Employment Department. Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to extend the federally funded benefits another year, and Congress has never failed to pass an extension when unemployment rates were this high. But the measure — with a $45 billion price tag, plus a potential $7 billion to help states extend benefits — is not certain to pass given heavy public pressure to cut federal spending…”
  • Oregon unemployed allowed to keep jobless benefits paid by mistake, By Richard Read, November 8, 2011, The Oregonian: “More than 600 Oregonians who received unemployment payments in error can keep the money — which totals $615,000 so far — under a state law passed this year. In each case, the Oregon Employment Department determined that recovering the overpayments from people enduring financial hardships would violate equity and good conscience. The total amount forgiven will increase under the system as more people request and receive repayment waivers. The money comes from a state jobless-benefits trust fund financed by employers, not taxpayers…”
  • New jobless claims decline to lowest level since April, Reuters, November 10, 2011, New York Times: “New claims for jobless benefits in the United States fell last week to their lowest level since early April and the country’s trade deficit unexpectedly shrank in September, pointing to a slight improvement in the sluggish economy. The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell for the second consecutive week, dropping 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 390,000. That is still well above levels from before the 2007-9 recession, but economists say a level below 400,000 could prompt some acceleration in hiring…”

Supplemental Poverty Measure

Improved poverty metrics show aid does help, By Emily Badger, November 10, 2011, Miller-McCune: “A year and a half ago, the Census Bureau announced that it would address a long-sought demand of poverty researchers: For the first time in four decades, it would produce a dramatically different and more nuanced calculation identifying who in America struggles to cover basic living expenses and who doesn’t. We wrote at the time that researchers welcomed the promise of a new metric that could finally help quantify the impact of expensive federal anti-poverty programs. This week, the Census Bureau released its first report on the new Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (so-called because the existing ‘official’ poverty measure will live on, in part due to the political mess of discarding it). The data reveal a slightly counterintuitive picture: More people are living in poverty than thought – by about 2.5 million – but the new measure also shows government anti-poverty programs are making a difference…”

Census Poverty Data

  • Poverty rate growing in N.J.’s working-class towns, census data shows, By Stephen Stirling and Eric Sagara, November 3, 2011, Star-Ledger: “Danny Bryant has lived in solidly blue-collar Carteret for 46 of his 47 years. During that time, just about everybody worked. Jobs weren’t glamorous, but they put food on the table. The houses were modest, tidy and well-kept. Now Bryant, a former pool supply worker, survives on the $600 his girlfriend brings home every other week from her fast-food job and $200 a month in food stamps after being laid off last year. And his section of Carteret is not the town it used to be. There are a lot of Danny Bryants there now. ‘If you live here and are poverty stricken, it’s hard to get help,’ Bryant said. ‘There’s a big line between being middle class and being poor. Everybody is struggling.’ More than one in four of the residents in Bryant’s neighborhood in the Middlesex County borough now live below the poverty line. A study released today by the Brookings Institution shows the poverty rate in New Jersey’s working-class communities like Carteret, Union Township and Garfield has grown substantially in the last decade…”
  • Pockets of severe poverty intensify and spread around Tampa Bay area, By Jeff Harrington and Darla Cameron, November 6, 2011, St. Petersburg Times: “Derrick Lewis lives in the hardest-hit slice of the Tampa Bay area. The poverty rate here jumped nearly threefold from 15 percent to 40 percent over the past decade, the cusp of what’s considered extreme poverty. Lewis, 50, considers himself lucky. He juggles a nighttime security guard job and a morning job making biscuits at Hardee’s, enough income to pay his landlady $250 to $275 every couple of weeks. Around the corner from his one-bedroom apartment lies a couple of boarded-up apartments, vacated after their latest residents were caught selling drugs. ‘I feel bad for them,’ he says. ‘You see it in tough times. A lot of people that never would have thought of doing something illegal before. Instead of being homeless, they do what it takes.’ This isn’t the inner city. It’s the suburbs. In a far-reaching analysis released Thursday, the Brookings Institution compared poverty rates in U.S. Census tracts in 2000 to their average poverty rates between 2005 and 2009. Among the report’s chief conclusions: Poverty is growing twice as fast in suburbs than in cities…”