Category Archives: Poverty

America’s Real Economy: It Isn’t Booming

Source: Peter Georgescu, Forbes, August 22, 2018

Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people…..

Related:
The United States Has a National-Security Problem—and It’s Not What You Think
Source: Rajan Menon, The Nation, July 16, 2018

…..For millions of Americans, however, the greatest threat to their day-to-day security isn’t terrorism or North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China. It’s internal—and economic. That’s particularly true for the 12.7 percent of Americans (43.1 million of them) classified as poor by the government’s criteria: an income below $12,140 for a one-person household, $16,460 for a family of two, and so on… until you get to the princely sum of $42,380 for a family of eight. Savings aren’t much help either: A third of Americans have no savings at all and another third have less than $1,000 in the bank. Little wonder that families struggling to cover the cost of food alone increased from 11 percent (36 million) in 2007 to 14 percent (48 million) in 2014…..

…..As a result, though the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world, 12.7 percent of Americans (that’s 43.1 million people), officially are impoverished. And that’s generally considered a significant undercount. The Census Bureau establishes the poverty rate by figuring out an annual no-frills family food budget, multiplying it by three, adjusting it for household size, and pegging it to the Consumer Price Index. That, many economists believe, is a woefully inadequate way of estimating poverty. Food prices haven’t risen dramatically over the past 20 years, but the cost of other necessities like medical care (especially if you lack insurance) and housing have: 10.5 percent and 11.8 percent respectively between 2013 and 2017 compared to an only 5.5 percent increase for food. Include housing and medical expenses in the equation and you get the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), published by the Census Bureau since 2011. It reveals that a larger number of Americans are poor: 14 percent or 45 million in 2016…..

Does Socioeconomic Status Account for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Childhood Cancer Survival?

Source: Rebecca D. Kehm, Logan G. Spector, Jenny N. Poynter, David M. Vock, Sean F. Altekruse, Theresa L. Osypuk, Cancer, Early View, First published: 20 August 2018

From the abstract:
Background:
For many childhood cancers, survival is lower among non‐Hispanic blacks and Hispanics in comparison with non‐Hispanic whites, and this may be attributed to underlying socioeconomic factors. However, prior childhood cancer survival studies have not formally tested for mediation by socioeconomic status (SES). This study applied mediation methods to quantify the role of SES in racial/ethnic differences in childhood cancer survival.

Methods:
This study used population‐based cancer survival data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18 database for black, white, and Hispanic children who had been diagnosed at the ages of 0 to 19 years in 2000‐2011 (n = 31,866). Black‐white and Hispanic‐white mortality hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for age, sex, and stage at diagnosis, were estimated. The inverse odds weighting method was used to test for mediation by SES, which was measured with a validated census‐tract composite index.

Results:
Whites had a significant survival advantage over blacks and Hispanics for several childhood cancers. SES significantly mediated the race/ethnicity–survival association for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma, and non‐Hodgkin lymphoma; SES reduced the original association between race/ethnicity and survival by 44%, 28%, 49%, and 34%, respectively, for blacks versus whites and by 31%, 73%, 48%, and 28%, respectively, for Hispanics versus whites ((log hazard ratio total effect – log hazard ratio direct effect)/log hazard ratio total effect).

Conclusions:
SES significantly mediates racial/ethnic childhood cancer survival disparities for several cancers. However, the proportion of the total race/ethnicity–survival association explained by SES varies between black‐white and Hispanic‐white comparisons for some cancers, and this suggests that mediation by other factors differs across groups.

Prosperity Now Scorecard

Source: Prosperity Now Scorecard, 2018

The Prosperity Now Scorecard is a comprehensive resource featuring data on family financial health and policy recommendations to help put all U.S. households on a path to prosperity. The Scorecard equips advocates, policymakers and practitioners with national, state, and local data to jump-start a conversation about solutions and policies that put households on stronger financial footing across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Homeownership & Housing, Health Care and Education.

The Scorecard assesses all states on their relative ability to provide opportunities for residents to build and retain financial stability and wealth. The state outcome rankings are a measure of financial prosperity and how that prosperity is shared and safeguarded. The Scorecard ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia on 62 outcome measures in the five Issue Areas. Data for an additional four measures are published, but states are not ranked on these measures due to insufficient data at the state level. The overall state outcome rank is determined by the rankings each state receives for outcome measures within each issue area. The issue area grades in the Scorecard are distributed on a curve, based on how each state fares compared with all other states.

The Scorecard also separately assesses states on the strength of 53 policies to expand economic opportunity. Taken together, these 53 policies provide a comprehensive view of what states can do to help residents build and protect wealth in the issue areas described above. Unlike the outcome measures, the strength of states’ policies are assessed based on fixed criteria arrived at through consultation with issue experts and Prosperity Now’s own knowledge of policies that are promising, proven or effective in helping families build and protect financial stability and wealth.

In addition to the outcome and policy measures used to assess states, the Scorecard provides additional data to understand financial stability and prosperity in states and communities. For 44 outcome measures, trend data are available for states to track progress over time. The Scorecard also allows you to drill down to the local level—city, county, Congressional district, tribal area and metro area—on up to 26 measures. Additionally, for 21 outcome measures at the state level and 11 at the local level, the Scorecard includes outcome measure estimates disaggregated by race and ethnicity. The Scorecard also disaggregates 14 outcome measures at the state level by disability status, providing for the first time in 2018 a glimpse into the financial challenges facing people with disabilities. While these additional data do not factor into a state’s overall performance in the Scorecard, we provide the data to allow for a more meaningful analysis of financial security and stability in the United States.

Related:
Main findings
Custom reports
Methodology

Stepping Up: New Policies and Strategies Supporting Parents in Low-Wage Jobs and Their Children – An Update to Set Up for Success

Source: National Women’s Law Center, August 2018

From the summary:
In recent years, the policy landscape at the federal level and in some states has in many ways become extraordinarily inhospitable to families—especially immigrant families—who are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their children. Far too many families find themselves set up to fail, with millions of parents across the country working in jobs in which low wages, unfair scheduling practices, and minimal benefits make it difficult to meet both work and caregiving responsibilities. And the parents most likely to work in low-wage jobs are women—disproportionately women of color and immigrant women—who are often raising very young children on their own.

Against this backdrop, however, it is all the more important to recognize that a substantial number of states, localities, and private actors—from working people to community-based organizations to large companies—have taken important steps in the past two years to improve the lives of low-wage working parents and their children.

Stepping Up: New Policies and Strategies Supporting Parents in Low-Wage Jobs and Their Children provides examples of the ways in which different stakeholders have implemented new policies, practices, and strategies to advance the key goals outlined in the National Women’s Law Center’s June 2016 report, Set Up for Success:
– Increase parents’ incomes.
– Ensure parents are treated fairly in the workplace and have stable, predictable work schedules.
– Expand children’s access to high-quality, affordable child care and early education.
– Increase parents’ access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.
– Improve parents’ opportunities to obtain education and training that can help them advance into better jobs.

Why the war on poverty in the US isn’t over, in 4 charts

Source: Robert L. Fischer, The Conversation, July 20, 2018

On July 12, President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers concluded that America’s long-running war on poverty “is largely over and a success.”

I am a researcher who has studied poverty for nearly 20 years in Cleveland, a city with one of the country’s highest rates of poverty. While the council’s conclusion makes for a dramatic headline, it simply does not align with the reality of poverty in the U.S. today. ….

Driven into Debt: How Tickets Burden the Poor

Source: ProPublica and WBEZ, 2018

Parking, traffic camera and vehicle tickets generate millions of dollars in desperately needed cash each year for the City of Chicago. But for the working poor, and particularly for African Americans, paying for tickets can be difficult — opening the door to more fines and fees, and spiraling debt. Drivers who don’t pay what they owe face tough punishments from the city and state that threaten their livelihoods.

Articles include:
Chicago Hiked the Cost of Vehicle City Sticker Violations to Boost Revenue. But It’s Driven More Low-Income, Black Motorists Into Debt.
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 26, 2018

Now, a former official regrets the move and wants the city to revisit it. Some policies, she said, are “terrible.”

How ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Worked Together to Find Thousands of Duplicate Tickets in Chicago
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 6, 2018

We heard from you about how ticket debt, especially from $200 city sticker citations, has affected you. And we would like your help as we continue our reporting.

Three City Sticker Tickets on the Same Car in 90 Minutes?
Souce: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ June 27, 2018

Chicago has issued 20,000 duplicate city sticker tickets since 2007. City officials are now looking at whether this violates a city ordinance and say motorists might be in for a refund.

Chicago Begins To Rethink How Bankruptcy Lawyers Get Paid
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, May 9, 2018

Judges are demanding that lawyers tell their clients that their other debts might not get paid, but their lawyers will.

Some States No Longer Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Fines. Will Illinois Join Them?
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 15, 2018

Our analysis shows suspensions tied to ticket debt disproportionately affect motorists in largely black sections of Chicago and its suburbs.

She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

Still, we want to tell you a little bit about her, and about some of the other people we interviewed, because they helped inform our ticket debt investigation.

How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

A cash-strapped city employs punitive measures to collect from cash-strapped black residents — and lawyers benefit.

The Many Roads to Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

Here are some stories of Chicagoans driven into ticket debt.

The Shifting Supply and Demand of Care Work: The Growing Role of People of Color and Immigrants

Source: Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes, Rebecca Huber, Kelly Rolfes-Haase, Jooyeoun Suh, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR #C470, June 2018

From the summary:
As the Baby Boom generation matures and current unmet child care needs remain constant, the United States faces a burgeoning crisis in the demand for care workers. The market has slowly but surely begun to adapt, seeing an overall growth of 19 percent in the number of care workers between 2005 and 2015, with most of that growth in adult care. The U.S. Department of Labor suggests that this will only grow further, projecting that the economy will add more than 1.6 million jobs in occupations related to adult care by 2024 (Rolen 2017).

This report analyzes changing demographics and trends in earnings for two occupational groups, child care and adult care workers. Findings from the analysis show that:

—-While Still Largely Female, White, and US-Born, the Care Workforce Is Increasingly Adding More Men, Women of Color, and Foreign Born ….
—-Female Care Workers Are More Educated Than in 2005, Yet Face High Poverty Rates ….
—-Despite Gains in Human Capital and Growing Demand, Wages for Care Workers Are Stagnant or Declining ….

New reports highlight different approaches to child welfare financing

Source: Child Trends, June 2018

Two new reports from Child Trends provide a comprehensive overview of how states use various funding sources to support child welfare agencies. The first report highlights state variation in per-child spending by child welfare agencies, finding that agencies spent $12.8 billion (approximately $172 per child) in federal funds and $16.3 billion (approximately $222 per child) in state funds in fiscal year 2014.

See:
Federal and State/Local Child Welfare Agency Spending per Child, 2004–2014
Source: Dana Connelly, Kristina Rosinsky, Child Trends, Research Brief, Publication #2018-12, June 2018

The second report highlights variation in how child welfare agencies use federal funding streams to finance their programs. This information can help policymakers, advocates, and other child welfare stakeholders review state approaches to child welfare financing and better understand how changes to funding streams will impact child welfare programs.

See:
State Variation in Child Welfare Agency Use of Federal Funding Sources
Source: Dana Connelly, Kristina Rosinsky, Child Trends, Research Brief, Publication #2018-13, June 2018

Related:
5 things to know about children and SNAP
Source: David Murphey, Child Trends, June 28, 2018
A new Child Trends 5 explains how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) impacts children’s well-being. SNAP serves a monthly average of more than 1 in 4 U.S. children. The single largest share of households with children receiving SNAP benefits are headed by a white, non-Hispanic adult.

Donald Trump Asked, “What Do You Have to Lose?” This Illinois Town Found Out.

Source: Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, July/August 2018

How a small town got caught up in Ben Carson’s crusade against fair housing.

Related:
In Small-Town America, the Public Housing Crisis Nobody’s Talking About
Source: Molly Parker, ProPublica and The Southern Illinoisan, April 6, 2018

The shuttering of public housing complexes in two small Midwestern towns raises big questions for residents, HUD and Congress.