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

Category: Employment

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…”

Low-Income Households and Transportation

  • Transit as a lifeline: Low-income metro Atlantans eager for expansion, By Tyler Estep, May 3, 2018, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The good news: Lauren Dixon had a job interview. The tricky part: It was at the Cobb Galleria, some 25 miles from the single mother’s current home at Rainbow Village, a Gwinnett County nonprofit that provides housing and other assistance to families in need. Thankfully, Dixon was able to find a babysitter and a ride to the closest MARTA station in Doraville that morning. From there, she took a train to the Arts Center station in Atlanta, then caught a CobbLinc bus to take her where she needed to go…”
  • More poorer residents are driving cars, presenting new issues for transit agencies, By Daniel C. Vock, April 9, 2018, Governing: “The good news is that more low-income Americans report they have access to vehicles than they did a decade ago, before the Great Recession. Only 20 percent of adults living in poverty in 2016 reported that they had no access to a vehicle. That’s down from 22 percent in 2006, according to a Governing analysis of U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, the access rates among all Americans was virtually the same (6.6 percent) between those two years…”

Medicaid Work Requirements – Ohio, Alaska

  • Ohio closer to work requirements for Medicaid: What’s really going on, By Kaitlin Schroeder, May 2, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio is a step closer to forcing some Medicaid recipients to get jobs if they receive the government assistance. The Ohio Department of Medicaid on Monday said it had officially submitted its request to create the work requirements for those covered through the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program that covers residents with low incomes or disabilities…”
  • State analysts say requiring Medicaid recipients to work won’t save money, By Andrew Kitchenman, May 2, 2018, Alaska Public Media: “An analysis by state officials finds that requiring people who receive Medicaid to work won’t save the state money. That’s because the state would have to pay people to help residents to find work, and to check that they’re complying with a requirement…”

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…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

How Medicaid work requirements could hurt older Americans, By Lisa Esposito, April 20, 2018, US News and World Report: “For some lower-income Americans, Medicaid is their lifeline to health care. That includes ‘older nonelderly’ adults from 50 to 64 – an age range when chronic health conditions and mobility issues are common. Other people use Medicaid benefits so they can serve as family caregivers. On Jan. 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that states can apply for waivers to implement work requirements for people who receive Medicaid benefits. Some older Americans will be affected…”

SNAP and Job Training

Can $1 billion help low-income Americans find jobs?, By Tami Luhby, April 20, 2018, CNN Money: “$1 billion a year for job training sure sounds like a lot of money. That’s how much Congressional Republicans want to give states to help food stamp recipients find work. It’s a huge increase over the $90 million in federal funding that currently flows to state training programs for those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps is formally known…”

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…”

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…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

Thousands of families are eligible for child care subsidies. Actually getting them? Good luck., By Priska Neely, March 27, 2018, Southern California Public Radio: “When her son Jeremiah was born, Bertha Terrones spent weeks calling centers to find care. Eventually, after months passed, she went to visit in person. ‘You feel helpless, like, you’re watching and can’t do anything about it because there’s no progress,’ said Terrones, in Spanish. ‘The programs aren’t reaching the cities where these services are needed most.’  Terrones, who lives in Cudahy, in southeast L.A. County, spent more than a year on a waitlist. Tens of thousands of families across L.A. County face similar experiences. While 51 percent of babies and toddlers in the county are eligible for state-subsidized child care programs, only 6 percent of these children are served, according to new analysis by Advancement Project California, released on Tuesday…”

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…”

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…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”

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…”

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…”

Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Work for it. What Trump’s tough new Medicaid rules mean., By Benjy Sarlin, February 20, 2018, NBC News: “Every day that Steve Olshewsky can convince himself to get out of bed and face the world is a small victory in his eyes. After a series of panic attacks forced him out of work in 2009, Olshewsky returned to his hometown to recover with family. He’s made great strides since then, thanks to medication and his work at Participation Station, a peer-run outpatient clinic for serious mental illness. There, he sits in on group sessions, teaches tai chi to members, and talks clients through rough days on the clinic phone line. But Olshewsky, who pays for his prescriptions through Medicaid, could soon have to prove he deserves to keep his coverage under a new set of restrictions on able-bodied Medicaid recipients. The Trump administration approved the rules in January through a waiver program that allows states to experiment with changes to Medicaid…”
  • Should Medicaid come with work requirements? Ohio says yes, By Kaitlin Schroeder, February 20, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio for the first time is seeking federal approval to create job requirements as a condition to qualify for Medicaid. Most Ohio residents enrolled through the expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, are already working or would be exempt because of things like their age, disability or care taking responsibilities…”