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

Category: Employment

August 2018 US Unemployment Rate

State Medicaid Programs

  • Thousands in Arkansas lose Medicaid because of new work requirements, By Tami Luhby, September 6, 2018, CNN: “As many as 4,600 Medicaid recipients in Arkansas have lost their benefits for the rest of this year after failing to meet the state’s new work requirements. Arkansas became the first state ever to implement work requirements, after gaining approval from the Trump administration earlier this year. Under the new rules, which took effect in June, recipients must work, go to school, volunteer or search for jobs for at least 80 hours a month or be stripped of their coverage until the following year…”
  • Medicaid expansion would impact wide range of Nebraska workers, study finds, By Don Walton, September 7, 2018, Lincoln Journal Star: “Voter approval of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would have the greatest impact on food service workers, as expected, but also cover a wide range of working Nebraskans engaged in other job activities…”
  • One-third of New Yorkers are on Medicaid, similar programs, By Joseph Spector, September 5, 2018, Democrat and Chronicle: “More than one-third of New Yorkers are now on Medicaid or other publicly funded health-care plans, a spike of 57 percent over the past decade, a new report found. The findings from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoliin a report Wednesday highlighted New Yorkers’ growing dependency on health-insurance programs run by the state and federal government amid uncertainty over the programs’ future in Washington…”

Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage increases in six cities working as intended, Berkeley study of food-service jobs finds, By Benjamin Romano, September 6, 2018, Seattle Times: “The minimum wage increases that started four years ago in SeaTac are spreading across the country, but economists continue to study – and disagree about – the impact of the new policies on pay and jobs. The latest look at increased wage floors in six U.S. cities, including Seattle, finds that food-service workers saw increases in pay and no widespread job losses. That reinforces the conclusions that the same group of University of California, Berkeley, researchers reached in 2017 after studying the impact just in Seattle…”

Working Poor Families – Wisconsin

  • United Way report finds poverty rise even among people with jobs, By Mike Tighe, August 28, 2018, La Crosse Tribune: “If you ask ALICE whether La Crosse County households can meet their basic needs, the answer is mixed: Increasing poverty is erasing gains, according to a United Way analysis. Half of the households in La Crosse County are struggling to make ends meet. The statistics are in the second United Way ALICE Report, which United Way of Wisconsin will release today in conjunction with chapters across the state, including Great Rivers United Way based in La Crosse…”
  • Report: Rock County’s ‘working poor’ population is growing, By Neil Johnson, August 28, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “The number of families considered to be among the ‘working poor’ in Rock County has continued to march upward, according to a new United Way report on poverty. In Rock County, 42 percent of all households were either in poverty or at risk of not being able to meet financial burdens despite having people in those households who are working…”

Job Corps Program

$1.7 Billion federal job training program is ‘failing the students’, By Glenn Thrush, August 26, 2018, New York Times: “The North Texas Job Corps Center squats behind a chain-link fence here in a suburb north of Dallas, accessible only through a gate manned 24 hours a day by guards hired to keep out intruders — and to keep in the center’s 436 students. ‘It’s a little bit like prison,’ said Donnell Strange, 17, who joined the electrical apprenticeship program about six months ago after struggling in school back home in Mansfield, near Dallas. This is not what the founders of a flagship federal program with a $1.7 billion annual budget — an iconic Great Society program meant to prepare impoverished young people for the work force — had in mind…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota sets new minimum wage for 2019, By Don Davis, August 23, 2018, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “The 219,000 Minnesotans paid minimum wage will get a raise Jan. 1. State officials announced Thursday that employees of large businesses will be paid at least $9.86 an hour, up from $9.65 that is required today. Those who work for smaller businesses will be paid a minimum of $8.04, compared to the current $7.87…”

Youth Unemployment

Youth unemployment hits a 50-year low, but there’s a catch, By Aimee Picchi, August 17, 2018, CBS News: “There’s a good news/bad news situation with youth unemployment. More young Americans — defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as people between the ages of 16 to 24 — are working this summer, pushing the unemployment rate for the group to a 52-year low. But there’s a catch: the labor force participation rate for young Americans remains below its 1989 peak…”

SNAP Job Training Programs and Work Requirements

  • This program is helping Kentucky’s food stamp recipients find jobs, By Tami Luhby, August 16, 2018, CNN: “Marsha Moses was more interested in working with blood than burgers. The Corbin, Kentucky, mother of two found herself on the job market after her husband was laid off last year and the family’s finances spiraled downward. She was concerned that she’d be forced to work in a fast food restaurant since she only had a high school degree and hadn’t been employed in several years. Then she found Paths 2 Promise, which provides food stamp recipients with job training and support…”
  • Georgia experiments with food stamp work training program, By Susanna Capelouto, August 13, 2018, Marketplace: “At a body shop in Atlanta, Leigh Anne Hatfield just finished taking apart the front of an SUV. ‘This is a brand new Toyota Highlander. Got smacked in the front,’ she said. Hatfield  said she loves her job here at the body shop. It’s her first job since she become a certified welder. A few month ago she was so poor, she had to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps…”
  • Michigan will require people to work for food assistance, By Marc Daalder, August 16, 2018, Detroit Free Press: “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is sending more than 67,000 letters this week to people on food assistance who will soon be required to start working. The work requirements, which were already reimplemented in 14 counties, will snap back into place on Oct. 1 for the rest of the state…”

Retirement Income Inequality

Retirement incomes will become more unequal, study finds, By Annie Nova, August 7, 2018, CNBC: “If income inequality continues to grow, so too will the gap between wealthy and struggling retirees. That’s the takeaway from a new report by the Urban Institute, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., and funded by the Department of Labor, which analyzed how rising inequality will shape the landscape of American retirement…”

Employment of Less-Educated Workers

Workers hardest hit by recession are joining in recovery, By Nelson D. Schwartz and Ben Casselman, August 3, 2018, New York Times: “The least educated American workers, who took the hardest hit in the Great Recession, were also among the slowest to harvest the gains of the recovery. Now they are a striking symbol of a strong economy…”

July 2018 US Unemployment Rate

Prison Education Programs

Throw the books at them: How more training for Wisconsin’s prisoners could help companies, By David D. Haynes, July 26, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Mike Williams finished high school at age 15, and by the time his classmates got around to receiving their own diplomas, he had another one: an associate’s degree in computer electronics at Milwaukee Area Technical College. He was judged as a bright young man by his instructors, someone who learned quickly. But Williams also ran with the wrong crowd in those days and made a series of poor decisions as a young man that would upend his promising life for many years. He sold marijuana and was imprisoned for the crime, then was sent back to prison on probation violations…”

Minimum Wage – Birmingham, AL

In battle pitting cities vs. states over minimum wage, Birmingham scores a win, By Yuki Noguchi, July 27, 2018, National Public Radio: “A federal appeals court handed workers in Birmingham, Ala., a significant win this week. The city is in a battle against state lawmakers over whether it has the right to raise its minimum wage…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Changes to food stamps could deny benefits to thousands, By Alfred Lubrano, July 23,2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “For Ceyeissha McKim, it’s all pretty simple: ‘If I lose food stamps, I don’t survive,’ said McKim, 26, a mother of three and a professional caregiver who works 25 to 30 hours a week in West Grove, Chester County. Her eligibility for food stamps could one day disappear, thanks to proposed changes in the benefits program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP…”
  • Food-stamp use is still at recession-era levels despite job gains, By Reade Pickert and Alan Bjerga, July 19. 2018, Chicago Tribune: “Judging by the number of Americans on food stamps, it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, fell to 39.6 million in April, the most recent government data show. That’s down from a record 47.8 million in 2012, but as a share of the population it’s just back to where it was as the economy emerged from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression…”
  • Why crackdown fears may keep legal immigrants from food stamps, By Teresa Wiltz, July 24, 2018, Stateline: “It’s that time of the week — food pantry day — and before the doors even open at the Spanish Catholic Center, the patrons begin queueing up, lugging roller carts and empty grocery bags, the line stretching out onto the hot sidewalk. Immigrants all, they hail from the Congo and Costa Rica, from Nicaragua and El Salvador, from Togo and Vietnam. Most are seniors. And all of them, they say, are afraid…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

Is the war on poverty ‘a success,’ as the Trump administration proclaims?, By Alfred Lubrano, July 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Nearly 1 percent of all the people in poverty in the United States live in Philadelphia — one out of every 100 impoverished Americans. Simple math explains that stark story: Nationwide, around 40 million people are at or below the poverty line, $21,000 annual salary for a family of three. Here, in a city of 1.5 million people where the poverty rate is 26 percent, the highest among the country’s biggest cities, there are nearly 400,000 residents living in poverty. That’s why it surprised people in Philadelphia to hear the Trump administration declare this month: ‘Our War on Poverty is largely over and a success…’”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • The Trump administration has a new argument for dismantling the social safety net: It worked., By Jeff Stein and Tracy Jan, July 14, 2018, Washington Post: “Republicans for years have proclaimed the federal government’s decades-old War on Poverty a failure. ‘Americans are no better off today than they were before the War on Poverty began in 1964,’ House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in his 2016 plan to dramatically scale back the federal safety net. Now the Trump administration is pitching a new message on anti-poverty programs, saying efforts that Republicans had long condemned as ineffective have already worked. The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty ‘largely over and a success,’ arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty…”
  • 7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement, By Andrew DeMillo, July 13, 2018, Associated Press: “More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • Mississippi Medicaid adds back beneficiary protections in work requirement proposal, By Anna Wolfe, July 6, 2018, Mississippi Clarion Ledger: “In an attempt to avoid pushback states have received on Medicaid work requirements, Mississippi reinstated beneficiary protections into its waiver proposal. A Medicaid waiver is a state request to the federal government to deviate from various program requirements. Mississippi is one of several states that has asked the Trump administration for permission to impose work requirements on low-income, able-bodied caretakers otherwise eligible for Medicaid…”
  • As Arkansas ushers in new Trump-era Medicaid rules, thousands fear losing benefits, Reuters, July 10, 2018, CNBC: “Gregory Tyrone Bryant left his last stable job at a meatpacking factory to fight a cocaine addiction eight years ago. When he returned to the workforce a year later, his options were limited: mostly temporary jobs without healthcare benefits. Since 2014, he’s relied on medical coverage offered under Arkansas’ expanded Medicaid program for low-income households…”
  • Food stamp work requirements would force states to provide job training. Many aren’t ready., By Teresa Wiltz, July 10, 2018, Stateline: “The House version of the food-stamp-to-work program Congress is considering this week would require recipients to enroll in job training programs if they can’t find work — but in many states, those programs won’t be fully available for at least another decade. This will have a big impact on the people who depend on food stamps, some 42 million in 2017. The average beneficiary receives about $125 a month, and a family of four must have an annual income of about $25,000 or less to qualify. Many are already working…”
  • Declaring war on poverty ‘largely over,’ White House urges work requirements for aid, By Jim Tankersley and Margot Sanger-Katz, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers declared on Thursday that America’s long-running war on poverty ‘is largely over and a success,’ as it made the case for imposing new work requirements on Americans who benefit from federal safety net programs. The report contends that millions of Americans have become overly reliant on government help — and less self-sufficient — and provided data intended to support the administration’s goal of tying public benefit programs more closely to work…”

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…”

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…”