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

Category: Economy

Racial Inequality and Discrimination

  • Modern redlining: Racial disparities in lending persist in Dayton, By Katie Wedell, February 24, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Dayton is one of 61 metro areas in the U.S. where minorities are denied mortgage loans at higher rates than their white counterparts — a modern-day system of redlining that keeps minority neighborhoods from recovery, officials say…”
  • Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years, By Tracy Jan, February 26, 2018, Washington Post: “Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, ‘one black, one white — separate and unequal.’ Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified ‘white racism’ as the key cause of ‘pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,’ there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute…”

Black Unemployment

Lowest ever black jobless rate is still twice that of whites, By Natalie Kitroeff and Ben Casselman, February 23, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump celebrated the milestone on Twitter and in his State of the Union address. The unemployment rate for black Americans had hit its lowest point on record, a sign that the recovery was at last reaching groups that had been left behind. But the achievement was bittersweet: Black joblessness was still roughly twice the rate for whites…”

Payday Lending – Colorado

Payday loans have average interest rates of 129% in Colorado. A ballot measure proposes capping them., By Brian Eason, February 21, 2018, Denver Post: “With a growing body of research showing that a prior round of reforms did not eliminate abuses in the payday-lending business in Colorado, reform supporters are now looking to ask voters to limit interest rates on the short-term loans…”

Minimum Wage – St. Paul, MN

As St. Paul considers a minimum wage increase, some want to exempt youth workers, By Frederick Melo, February 16, 2018, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “Cookie Cart produces more than just delicious snickerdoodle, chocolate chip and hand-decorated cookies. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit also claims to ‘bake bright futures’ by training low-income teenagers in every aspect of the business, from marketing to distribution, on top of soft skills such as business etiquette and résumé-building…”

Unemployment Benefits – North Carolina, Kentucky

  • NC has country’s smallest unemployment benefits – but a $3 billion fund, By Colin Campbell, February 8, 2018, News and Observer: “People without jobs in North Carolina receive some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country and receive payments for a shorter time than in nearly every other state, according to a new report. A 2013 state law cut both the size and duration of unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Lawmakers said they made the change because the trust fund that pays for the program had a $2 billion deficit…”
  • Unemployed and out of luck. Plan would cut benefits for out-of-work Kentuckians, By Daniel Desrochers, February 8, 2018, Lexington Herald Leader: “A proposal in the Kentucky legislature would eliminate or reduce unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of out-of-work Kentuckians each year, boosting the bottom lines of businesses by forcing the unemployed to live on less…”

 

State Medicaid Programs – Indiana, Kentucky

  • Indiana’s brand of Medicaid drops 25,000 people for failure to pay premiums, By Phil Galewitz, February 1, 2018, National Public Radio: “As the Trump administration moves to give states more flexibility in running Medicaid, advocates for the poor are keeping a close eye on Indiana to see whether such conservative ideas improve or harm care. Indiana in 2015 implemented some of the most radical changes seen to the state-federal program that covers nearly 1 in 4 low-income Americans — including charging some adults a monthly premium and locking out for six months some of those who don’t pay their premiums…”
  • Indiana wins federal permission to adopt Medicaid work requirements, By Amy Goldstein, February 2, 2018, Washington Post: “Indiana has become the second state to win permission from the Trump administration to require certain low-income residents on Medicaid to work, study or perform public service to qualify for the safety-net health insurance…”
  • Are Bevin’s new Medicaid rules ‘all about putting up roadblocks’ for poor people?, By John Cheves, February 2, 2018, Lexington Herald-Leader: “Ronnie Stewart spent years as a state social worker. Given his experience in government bureaucracy, Sewart said he understands why Gov. Matt Bevin is going to make many of Kentucky’s Medicaid recipients pay monthly premiums and regularly report their work and income status…”

Homelessness in Los Angeles, CA

L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years. Here’s why the crisis has been decades in the making, By Gale Holland, February 1, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Some of the poorest people in the city spend their days in the shadow of Los Angeles City Hall, napping on flattened cardboard boxes. On any given day, as many as 20 people take to the City Hall lawn, across the street from LAPD headquarters. They’re there to ‘escape the madness’ in downtown streets, a 53-year-old homeless man named Lazarus said last week. At night, they fan out to doorways or deserted plazas to wait for daybreak. The growth of a homeless day camp at the halls of civic power speaks to the breadth of Los Angeles’ burgeoning homelessness problem…”

Payday Lending

  • Under Trump appointee, consumer protection agency seen helping payday lenders, By Chris Arnold, January 24, 2018, National Public Radio: “Payday lenders appear to have a powerful friend in Washington. Former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney is the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was appointed by President Trump amid an ongoing a power struggle for control of the bureau. Watchdog groups are up in arms because, under Mulvaney, the CFPB has put on hold a rule that would restrict payday lenders and their high-interest-rate loans. The agency has also dropped a lawsuit against online lenders charging 900 percent interest rates…”
  • Federal payday lending rule could face repeal amid new battle, By Kevin McCoy, January 22, 2018, USA Today: “Consumer advocates and business groups are battling over the possibility the Trump administration will eliminate a rule aimed at ensuring borrowers who take out high-interest loans between paychecks can afford to pay them back. Consumer groups say the so-called payday lending rule finalized last year by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be fully implemented as soon as possible…”

Minimum Wage

After nine years of no change, is the federal minimum wage irrelevant?, By Jana Kasperkevic, January 15, 2018, Marketplace: “If President Donald Trump does not increase the federal minimum wage within the next two years, it will be more than ten years since its last increase — the longest that the federal minimum wage has remained unchanged since it was enacted. With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25, states and cities across the U.S. have increased their local minimum wages instead — some going as far as more than doubling the amount to $15 an hour…”

Medicaid Expansion and Rural Hospitals

Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid less likely to close, By John Daley, January 8, 2018, National Public Radio: “The expansion of Medicaid helps rural hospitals stay afloat in states like Colorado, which added 400,000 people to the health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid were about 6 times less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states, according to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus…”

State Minimum Wages

Minimum wage hikes: 18 states, 20 cities to lift pay floors Jan. 1, By Paul Davidson, December 19, 2017, USA Today: “The movement to lift earnings of low-paid workers will gather force in 2018, with a growing number of states and cities raising their minimum wages as high as $15 an hour. Proponents say the initiatives can help narrow a widening income gap between the wealthy and poor. Business advocates say they’re already leading to restaurant closings and layoffs…”

Global Inequality

  • Report: America’s income inequality is on par with Russia’s, December 15, 2017, CBS News: “The lopsided fortunes of America’s richest and poorest citizens are now on par with Russia’s after three decades of rising income inequality, according to a new report from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez…”
  • U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study, By Christopher Ingraham, December 15, 2017, Washington Post: “Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans. But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country’s income…”

November 2017 US Unemployment Rate

Health Care and Social Services

Study: States get big Medicaid savings from social services, outreach to sickest patients, By Jayne O’Donnell, December 5, 2017, USA Today: “Some states have achieved dramatic savings in health care costs for their sickest Medicaid patients by providing intensive one-on-one assistance and social services that help the patients better address their multiple, overlapping ailments…”

American Community Survey

  • Poverty rates up in about half of Michigan’s communities, By Brian McVicar, December 7, 2017, MLive.com: “Michigan’s economic picture has brightened in recent years, as the unemployment rate dropped and fewer residents found themselves living under the poverty line. But census data released today show residents throughout the state are still struggling…”
  • Three things the latest census data tells us about the upper Midwest, By MaryJo  Webster, December 7, 2017, Star Tribune: “Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from five years’ worth of American Community Survey responses, shedding fresh light on demographic, economic and housing-related trends in counties and other small geographic areas…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

  • Impact of childhood trauma reaches rural Wisconsin, By John Schmid and Andrew Mollica, November 30, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Jodi Williams has just returned from the Marquette County jail, where she met an unemployed 27-year-old man who had been busted after jumping bail on charges of battery, property damage and disorderly conduct. He and his girlfriend used heroin until two years ago when their child was born. Instead of cleaning up, he switched to alcohol, which angered his girlfriend, who left with their child. Now, he’s dangerously depressed, locked up and dealing with his first sustained sobriety since he was 13.  ‘These people are in constant survival mode,’ Williams says of the distressed couple and so many others like them in the vast impoverished regions of the nation’s rural heartland. Williams is one of Marquette County’s few mental health and substance abuse case workers…”
  • Wisconsin childhood trauma data explodes myth of ‘not in my small town’, By John Schmid, December 4, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Traffic on Main St. is lazy as Kyle Pucek strolls past tidy homes with wide front porches. ‘I lost a lot of friends in the last couple years,’ Pucek, 41, says matter of factly. He counts 10.  A car rolls past and a woman waves at Pucek. The two shout greetings.  ‘That’s Kirsten,’ Pucek volunteers almost offhandedly, ‘an ex-heroin addict who’s also in recovery.’ Pucek grew up with her, and with her fiance, who died of a heroin overdose in 2009. Contacted later, Kirsten Moore added that her teenage son became attached to her late fiance’s brother — and then the brother died from a heroin overdose, too, less than two years later. Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Rock County falls into the highest tier of overdose deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits linked to opioids and heroin, as ranked by state health authorities…”

Basic Income Program – Ontario, CA

Canadian province experiments with ‘basic income’ payments to low-income people, By Rob Gillies (AP), November 29, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Former security guard Tim Button considers how a sudden increase in his income from an unusual social experiment has changed his life in this Canadian industrial city along the shore of Lake Ontario. Sipping coffee in a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop, Button says he has been unable to work because of a fall from a roof, and the financial boost from Ontario Province’s new ‘basic income’ program has enabled him to make plans to visit distant family for Christmas for the first time in years. It has also prompted him to eat healthier, schedule a long-postponed trip to the dentist and mull taking a course to help him get back to work…”