Public Sector Unions and the Poor

Source: Jake Rosenfeld, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 22, 2014

…Of the ten states with the highest public sector unionization rates, seven have poverty rates below or at the national average. Of the ten states with the lowest public sector unionization rates, meanwhile, seven have above-average poverty levels. Is this decisive evidence that strong public sector unions cause lower poverty? Of course not. But it’s certainly not the pattern one would expect to see if public sector unions increased the cost and reduced the availability of services to the poor. Other research is more dispositive: in a comprehensive statistical examination of what causes household poverty in the U.S., sociologist David Brady and his colleagues find that two key predictors of lower poverty is state-level unionization and working in the public sector. … Additional research points to the critical role public sector expansion and public sector unionization have on reducing racial inequality. Andrew Strom highlighted the historic Civil Rights drive to organize sanitation workers in Memphis. The connections between government unionization and African-Americans extend well beyond that campaign. … Recent privatization of governmental services has hurt African-American workers more than others, helping to reverse hard-fought gains. ….
When Unionization Disappears: State-Level Unionization and Working Poverty in the United States
Source: David Brady, Regina S. Baker, and Ryan Finnigan, American Sociological Review, Vol. 78 no. 5, October 2013 (subscription required)

What Do We Really Know About Racial Inequality? Labor Markets, Politics, and the Historical Basis of Black Economic Fortunes
Source: William Sites, Virginia Parks, Politics & Society, Vol. 39 no. 1, March 2011

Public Sector Unions — Some History and Economics
Source: Andrew Strom, OnLabor Blog, Guest Post, July 18, 2014
(subscription required)

Privatization and Racial Inequality

Source: Vincent J. Roscigno, George Wilson, Contexts, Vol. 13 no. 1, Winter 2014

New York’s “Poor Doors”: A Next City Explainer

Source: Ariella Cohen, Next City, July 22, 2014

Why do I keep seeing headlines about a “poor door”?
The term is quite literal. It refers to a second entrance in a luxury condo building for tenants living in units reserved for lower-income renters. It has become shorthand for segregation of people based on how much rent they can pay…. But what raises the hackles of critics is the fact that the developers building separate entrances for two classes of residents are receiving subsidies for the affordable units through an inclusionary housing program intended to create mixed-income communities. These developers are receiving lucrative tax abatements in exchange for the creation of affordable units and sometimes, like at One Riverside Park, also receiving a valuable floor area bonus in exchange for units. In the case of One Riverside, Extell is selling that floor area bonus for a profit to a developer looking to build nearby….. Plus, the two-class entrances is part of a larger trend of segregating buildings by rent levels; in a growing number of mixed-income buildings, owners are barring rent-stabilized tenants from using amenities open to their more affluent neighbors. In one Upper West Side building called Stonehenge Village, tenants weren’t allowed to pay extra to use the gym on the lobby level even after local pols intervened on behalf of tenants and public advocate Letitia James filed a discrimination complaint….

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014

From the summary:
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: (1) economic well-being, (2) education, (3) health, and (4) family and community. For 2014, the three highest-ranked states for child well-being were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa; the three lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. The report also provides national trends, comparing the latest data with mid-decade statistics.

The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundation’s signature publication. As such, the report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families.
View How All States Rank on the KIDS COUNT Index
View How All States Rank on the KIDS COUNT Index
Access National and State News Releases

The Wage Growth Gap for Recent College Grads

Source: Bart Hobijn and Leila Bengali, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Economic Letter, July 21, 2014

Median starting wages of recent college graduates have not kept pace with median earnings for all workers over the past six years. This type of gap in wage growth also appeared after the 2001 recession and closed only late in the subsequent labor market recovery. However the wage gap in the current recovery is substantially larger and has lasted longer than in the past. The larger gap represents slow growth in starting salaries for graduates, rather than a shift in types of jobs, and reflects continued weakness in the demand for labor overall.

NYC Worker Cooperative Conference 2014

Source: NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, June 2014

The New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives will hold its first annual conference of presentations and discussions about economic democracy and the road to economic justice.

1. Welcome + What is a Worker Cooperative?

2. Working at a Worker Cooperative

3. Connecting to Social Justice

4. Building a Worker Cooperative Economy

5. City Support for Economic Democracy

How Much Should People Save?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Anthony Webb and Wenliang Hou, Issue Brief, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, IB#14-11, July 2014

The brief’s key findings are:
∙ The National Retirement Risk Index framework is used to address how much working-age households need to save for retirement.
∙ A typical household should get a third of its retirement income from a savings plan, with the low income needing one quarter and the high income one half.
∙ A typical household needs to save about 15 percent of earnings, with the low income requiring less and the high income more.
∙ For those with a savings shortfall, the necessary savings hike is much more feasible for younger households than for older households.
∙ Starting to save early and retiring late dramatically reduce a household’s required saving rate.

Survey of Non-Group Health Insurance Enrollees

Source: Liz Hamel and Mira Rao and Larry Levitt and Gary Claxton and Cynthia Cox and Karen Pollitz and Mollyann Brodie, Kaiser Family Foundation, June 19, 2014

From the summary:
January 1, 2014 marked the beginning of several provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) making significant changes to the non-group insurance market, including new rules for insurers regarding who they must cover and what they can charge, along with the opening of new Health Insurance Marketplaces (also known as “Exchanges”) and the availability of premium and cost-sharing subsidies for individuals with low to moderate incomes. Data from the Department of Health and Human Services and others provide some insight into how many people purchased insurance using the new Marketplaces and the types of plans they picked, but much remains unknown about changes to the non-group market as a whole.

The Kaiser Family Foundation Survey of Non-Group Health Insurance Enrollees is the first in a series of surveys taking a closer look at the entire non-group market. This first survey was conducted from early April to early May 2014, after the close of the first ACA open enrollment period. It reports the views and experience of all non-group enrollees, including those with coverage obtained both inside and outside the Exchanges, and those who were uninsured prior to the ACA as well as those who had a previous source of coverage (non-group or otherwise)….
• The ACA motivated many non-group enrollees to get coverage, and nearly six in ten Exchange enrollees were previously uninsured ….
• Enrollees in ACA-compliant plans report somewhat worse health than those in pre-ACA plans ….
• Majority gives positive ratings to their new insurance plans and says they are a good value, though four in ten find it difficult to afford their monthly premium ….
• Among plan switchers, as many report paying less as paying more for their new plans, but survey shows some signs of a trend toward narrower provider networks ….
• Plan switchers are less likely to be satisfied with plan costs, maybe because half of them report having their previous plan cancelled ….
• Half got help with enrollment; most say the shopping process was easy, but a third say it was difficult to set up a Marketplace account ….
• In the non-group market, those most likely to feel they have benefited from the ACA are people getting subsidies, those most likely to feel negatively impacted are those who had their plans cancelled ….

Time’s Up: 2014, The Affordable Care Act and the Health of Minority Communities

Source: Okianer Dark, Perry W. Payne, Jr., Howard Law Research Paper No. 14-1, December 1, 2013

From the abstract:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) is an ambitious, complicated but necessary undertaking to transform a fragmented American health care system with over 50 million uninsured people to a well coordinated, high quality, affordable health care system that reaches benefits most Americans. The ACA will increase access to health care especially for poor, low, and moderate income individuals and provide families with opportunities to improve their health outcomes and well-being. In addition, the impact of this legislation on people of color will be largely positive but there are some challenges ahead.

Union Member Recruitment by Vermont Progressives

Source: Steve Early, Social Policy, Summer 2014

…In 2012–14, deepening labor disillusionment with the performance of Democratic office holders led “intelligent, honest, earnest trade unionists” around the country to enter the political arena themselves, as candidates for municipal office. Rather than being ignored as the work of marginal “spoilers,” some of these insurgent campaigns by shop stewards, local union officers, and rank-and-file activists actually won substantial union backing, while generating valuable publicity for key labor causes….As labor-backed independent electoral efforts proliferate, more activists in other state are looking to the example of the Vermont Progressive Party (VPP). More than any other third-party formation in the country, the VPP has campaigned successfully for state legislative seats and municipal office, “while building support for reform and nudging the Democrats left….What distinguishes the VPP from almost all state and local Democratic Party organizations, backed by labor elsewhere, is its year-round engagement with grassroots labor causes and campaigns, as well as legislative/ political issues like single-payer health insurance…

Cost of Living Is Really All About Housing

Source: Richard Florida, The Atlantic, Citylab, July 21, 2014

…The third map shows the cost of living difference based just on housing or rents. The quick takeaway is that differences in living costs across metros seem to be driven almost entirely by the huge differences in housing costs. The range is enormous. The prices in places with the highest overall living costs are roughly 20 percent above the national average, and the prices in places with the highest costs for just goods and services are roughly 10 percent above the national average. But when it comes to housing costs, the priciest metros are a whopping 50 to 70 percent more expensive than the national average….