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

Category: Economy

Bike-Share Program – New York City

Citi Bike expands discount memberships to reach more low-income New Yorkers, By Zoe Greenberg, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “Citi Bike has long struggled to expand its bike-share program to reach more low-income New Yorkers. On Tuesday, the city announced that residents who receive food stamps can purchase a Citi Bike membership for $5 a month, a third of the standard $14.95 monthly rate. That discount has been offered since 2013 to public housing residents who signed a yearlong commitment. An annual contract, however, is no longer required for the discounted rate…”

Youth Unemployment – Milwaukee

Aldermen unveil new app to help combat unemployment in Milwaukee, By Ahmed Elbenni, July 12, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “For young people searching for employment, the job hunt just got a little easier. DirectConnectMKE, a workforce development social media platform that went online Thursday morning, aims to facilitate the job search by connecting potential employees with employers and with each other…”

Poverty in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphians feel squeezed as U.S. economy seems to hum. That’s a poverty problem, By Alfred Lubrano, July 9, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “You’ve got your wallet on your mind, and your mind on your wallet. At least, that’s what you told us when you voted on which story idea should launch Curious Philly, our new question-and-response forum that allows you to submit questions about your community and have our journalists seek the answers. This is what you asked us to look into first: ‘Despite seeing improvement in the national economy, what we hear about the average income for Philadelphians is that it’s still down. Why is that..?'”

Low-Wage Work

  • As economy hums, fewer workers make minimum wage, By Laurent Belsie, July 6, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “It’s ‘flip flop frenzy’ week at the Dollar Tree here on Valley Street, which is celebrating another milestone. Eight months after coming on board, the manager finally has a full complement of workers in place. He has been training the final two associates this week. Starting pay: $8 an hour – 75 cents above the federal minimum wage. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in Manchester, N.H., paying the $7.25 minimum…”
  • 7 fast-food chains to end ‘no poach’ deals that lock down low-wage workers, By Rachel Abrams, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs…”

April 2018 US Unemployment Rate

  • Unemployment rate falls to 3.9 percent as U.S. economy adds 164,000 jobs, By Danielle Paquette, May 4, 2018, Washington Post: “The U.S. economy added 164,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent — the lowest point since 2000, federal economists reported Friday…”
  • U.S. unemployment drops to 3.9 percent — lowest since 2000, By Bill Chappell, May 4, 2018, National Public Radio: “The U.S. economy had a net gain of 164,000 jobs last month. Unemployment — which had stood at 4.1 percent since October 2017 — fell to 3.9 percent, according to Friday’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The last time the U.S. jobless percentage sat below 4 percent was in 2000, when unemployment stayed at 3.9 percent for the final four months of the year…”

Ohio Poverty Report

  • Medicaid expansion has helped, but poverty persists in Ohio, By Bill Bush, April 13, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “The rising cost of child care and college, combined with the raging opioid crisis, continue to have a major impact on poverty in Ohio, a new report says. ‘These problems travel through society like a cancer,’ said Philip Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, which publishes the annual State of Poverty in Ohio…”
  • Ohio poverty report suggests federal data is outdated, By Kayla Beard, April 25, 2018, Athens News: “How many more days until your next paycheck? How many more minutes until your next meal? For many in Athens County, as residents of one of the most poverty-stricken regions in the state, the answers to these questions are heavy with fear and uncertainty…”

Concentrated Poverty in US Cities

  • Metro Detroit’s poverty gets worse despite city’s comeback, By Frank Witsil, April 26, 2018, Detroit Free Press: “A new look at the poorest urban areas in America, despite economic growth and prosperity, puts metro Detroit near the top of the list. The report — from 24/7 Wall St., a New York-based financial news organization — ranks the Detroit area at No. 5 in a list of impoverished communities. It also raises the question: During such good economic times, why are so many getting left behind..?”
  • Despite overall sustained GDP growth in US, some cities still hit hard by extreme poverty, By Samuel Stebbins, April 23, 2018, USA Today: “By several measures, the United States is in a period of historic economic growth and prosperity. Major stock market indices have hit record highs, unemployment is at a near two-decade low, and we are in the midst of what may prove to be the longest period of sustained GDP growth in U.S. history. However, amid all the good news, the poverty rate is on the rise, and several U.S. cities are becoming increasingly geographically and socially segregated by income…”

Minimum Wage

  • How big is the minimum-wage workforce in your state?, By Mike Maciag, April 25, 2018, Governing: “The last time the federal minimum wage increased, Barack Obama was only a few months into his first term as president and the country was mired in the depths of the Great Recession. Nearly nine years later, a small segment of the workforce is still earning $7.25 an hour or less. The latest Labor Department estimates indicate that just over 1.8 million hourly workers were paid at or below the federal minimum last year. While that’s a small part of the overall workforce — a mere 2.3 percent of hourly workers — it makes up a larger portion in some states…”
  • The case for raising the minimum wage keeps getting stronger, By Lydia DePillis, April 27, 2018, CNN Money: “It’s been too cold to campaign in frozen North Dakota. But as spring has crept across the state, an unusual ballot initiative is starting to emerge: One that would more than double the minimum wage, from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2021…”

Low-Wage Occupations

For millions, low-wage work really is a dead end, By Irina Ivanova, April 20, 2018, CBS News: “The U.S. economy is booming, unemployment is at a 17-year low and wages appear to be picking up. So what’s not to like?  If you’re one of the approximately 65 million Americans in low-paid service jobs, getting a share of that economic prosperity may be unbearably difficult. Jobs may be plentiful, but finding one that pays better than your current gig is much more rare than commonly believed, according to new research paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York…”

Medicaid Expansion – Louisiana, Montana

  • Medicaid expansion created 19,000 new jobs in Louisiana, according to study, By Maria Clark, April 10, 2018, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Louisiana’s decision to expand Medicaid in 2016 led to a $1.85 billion direct economic impact, according to an economic impact report released Tuesday (April 11). The report called Medicaid Expansion and the Louisiana Economy was commissioned by the Louisiana Department of Health and prepared by Dr. Jim Richardson and the Public Administration Institute at Louisiana State University…”
  • Report: Medicaid expansion pays for itself; future economic impact seen as bright, By Holly K. Michels, April 10, 2018, Billings Gazette: “In the first two years after Montana expanded Medicaid, the savings to the state have eclipsed the costs. Though that could flip by 2020, increased activity in Montana’s economy because of the expansion will more than make up the difference. That’s according to a report commissioned by the Montana Healthcare Foundation and Headwaters Foundation…”

March 2018 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. job growth slows sharply; unemployment rate stays at 4.1%, By Don Lee, April 6, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Job growth slowed sharply in March from the pace of recent months as employers in most sectors took a breather in hiring. Wage gains went up only slightly last month even though businesses are finding it increasingly harder to attract qualified workers and more people are leaving their jobs voluntarily…”
  • U.S. job growth eased in March; unemployment steady at 4.1%, By Ben Casselman, April 6, 2018, New York Times: “The Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for March on Friday morning, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy…”

Home Loan Discrimination

Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today., By Tracy Jan, March 28, 2018, Washington Post: “Racial discrimination in mortgage lending in the 1930s shaped the demographic and wealth patterns of American communities today, a new study shows, with 3 out of 4 neighborhoods ‘redlined’ on government maps 80 years ago continuing to struggle economically. The study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, released Wednesday, shows that the vast majority of neighborhoods marked ‘hazardous’ in red ink on maps drawn by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corp. from 1935 to 1939 are today much more likely than other areas to comprise lower-income, minority residents…”

State Unemployment Benefits

In good times, safety net for the jobless frays, By Patrik Jonsson and Simon Montlake, March 27, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Jennifer Barkley looks down and apologizes for her sneakers, which are missing their laces. A well-worn polyester dress whips about her legs. It’s been a long day, and Ms. Barkley is headed home, jobless and frustrated. A call center operator in Jacksonville, Barkley has been let go three times in the past year after big corporations like Bank of America changed contractors. Since these redundancies were no fault of her own, she’s eligible for unemployment benefits, which means she’s a regular at CareerSource Florida, a state agency which has a branch here in a strip-mall office next to a Halloween-themed amusement park. Life on the dole in Florida isn’t easy street: Barkley’s benefits come to $270 a week and max out at three months…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Virginia Republicans divided on Medicaid expansion, By Megan Pauly, March 14, 2018, National Public Radio: “Virginia is among 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But this year, the state legislature is going into a special session to continue discussions about whether or not to include it in its budget. By the time the regular session adjourned Saturday, members of Virginia’s GOP-controlled House of Delegates and Senate could not reach agreement on whether or not to expand Medicaid…”
  • Proposed Medicaid work requirements could end up costing Minnesota, By Glenn Howatt, March 18, 2018, Star Tribune: “Republican legislators who are proposing work requirements for Minnesota’s Medicaid recipients say it would promote personal responsibility and save taxpayer dollars, but doctors and county officials who work in the system predict that people would lose needed health care in exchange for savings that are likely to disappoint…”
  • Mississippi Medicaid saves $4.6M in one year by identifying unnecessary, expensive scripts, By Anna Wolfe, March 22, 2018, Clarion Ledger: “By identifying unnecessary, expensive prescriptions covered by the state’s Medicaid program, Mississippi officials say they’ve saved nearly $5 million…”
  • Expanding Medicaid to cut Medicaid: Texas turns to Trump administration to fund family planning, By Phil Galewitz and Anna Gorman, March 22, 2018, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing whether to allow Texas to receive millions of federal Medicaid dollars for its family planning program, which bars abortion providers.  The Lone Star State eliminated its Medicaid-funded family planning program five years ago when state officials said they wanted to specifically exclude Planned Parenthood because the group provides abortions. Dozens of women’s health clinics closed as Texas established a wholly state-funded program that officials say today serves 220,000 women…”

Retirement Security

Think income inequality is bad? Retirement inequality may be worse., By Mike Maciag, March 2018, Governing: “For years, salon owner Luke Huffstutter, of Portland, Ore., wanted to offer his employees a way to save for retirement. Costs  were too steep for the small company, though, and few employees took the initiative to set up 401(k) plans on their own. But last summer, Oregon launched a retirement savings program that automatically enrolls employees in Roth IRAs, the first such state-sponsored program in the nation. Huffstutter signed up, and most of his 38 employees are now enrolled…”

Racial Inequality

Extensive data shows punishing reach of racism for black boys, By Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce and Kevin Quealy, March 19, 2018, New York Times: “Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children. White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households…”

Affordable Housing

  • Need a basic 1 BR apartment on minimum wage? You’ll have to work — and work — to afford it, By Linda Robertson, March 15, 2018, Miami Herald: “For renters who need it the most, affordable housing is as scarce as ever in Miami. A person earning minimum wage would have to work 94.5 hours per week to make enough money to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report on the shortage of affordable housing for the quarter of U.S. renters classified as low income…”
  • Las Vegas worst area for affordable housing for poor, report says, By Michael Scott Davidson, March 13, 2018, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “For the second year in a row, Las Vegas was named the worst U.S. metropolitan area for providing affordable rental housing for its poorest families. Also, for at least the fourth year in a row, Nevada ranked last among the states, according to an annual report published Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition…”

February 2018 US Unemployment Rate

  • Jobs report: U.S. employers added 313,000 jobs in February, By Paul Davidson, March 9, 2018, USA Today: “A hot labor market showed no sign of cooling as U.S. employers added a blockbuster 313,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at a 17-year low of 4.1%, the Labor Department said Friday…”
  • U.S. added 313,000 jobs in February. Here’s what that means., By Patricia Cohen, March 9, 2018, New You Times: “Whether you work on Wall Street or in a warehouse, the latest jobs report released by the government on Friday contained good news, with impressive employment gains in low-, middle- and high-wage industries…”

Debt Collection and the Poor

  • Debtors’ prison: ACLU report details ‘criminalization of private debt’, By Jon Schuppe, February 21, 2018, NBC News: “Americans’ reliance on household debt ─ and poor people’s struggles to pay it off ─ has fueled a collection industry that forces many of them into jail, a practice that critics call a misuse of the criminal justice system…”
  • How Chicago ticket debt sends black motorists into bankruptcy, By Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, February 27, 2018, ProPublica: “By last summer, Laqueanda Reneau felt like she had finally gotten her life on track. A single mother who had gotten pregnant in high school, she supported her family with a series of jobs at coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores until she landed a position she loved as a community organizer on Chicago’s West Side. At the same time, she was working her way toward a degree in public health at DePaul University. But one large barrier stood in her way: $6,700 in unpaid tickets, late fines and impound fees…”