Category Archives: Poverty

Living in the Shadows: Latina Domestic Workers in the Texas-Mexico Border Region

Source: Linda Burnham, Lisa Moore, Emilee Ohia, A.Y.U.D.A. Inc., Comité de Justicia Laboral, Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center, National Domestic Workers Alliance, 2018

In 2016, three community-based organizations that operate in the Texas–Mexico border region collaborated on a participatory research project. A.Y.U.D.A. Inc., Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center and Comité de Justicia Laboral/Labor Justice Committee trained 36 women from the local communities as surveyors. The surveyors, most of them domestic workers themselves, interviewed 516 housecleaners, nannies and care workers for people with disabilities or for the elderly who work in private homes. The survey was conducted in Spanish and was composed of a standardized set of questions focused on work arrangements, working conditions, the impact of low pay on workers’ lives, injuries and abuse on the job and citizenship status.

This report, the result of the surveyors’ hard work knocking on doors, gaining trust and gathering data, is the very first quantitative study of a sizable number of domestic workers in the Texas–Mexico border region. The data provides us with a fact-based portrait of the difficult conditions domestic workers in the region face. The report findings will be used to shape ongoing organizing and advocacy to improve conditions and end workplace abuse. Our hope is that it will also shape the thinking of policy makers and encourage further research about working conditions along the border.

Related:

The Price of Domestic Workers’ Invisible Labor in U.S. Border Towns
Source: Sarah Holder, The Atlantic, June 25, 2018

Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to the United States of America

Source: United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Thirty-eighth session, Agenda item 3, June 18 – July 6, 2018

From the Oral Statement by Mr. Philip Alston Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, 38th session of the Human Rights Council:
…. My starting point is that the combination of extreme inequality and extreme poverty generally create ideal conditions for small elites to trample on the human rights of minorities, and sometimes even of majorities. The United States has the highest income inequality in the Western world, and this can only be made worse by the massive new tax cuts overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy. At the other end of the spectrum, 40 million Americans live in poverty and 18.5 million of those live in extreme poverty. In addition, vast numbers of middle class Americans are perched on the edge, with 40% of the adult population saying they would be unable to cover an unexpected $400 expense.

In response, the Trump administration has pursued a welfare policy that consists primarily of (i) steadily diminishing the number of Americans with health insurance (‘Obamacare’); (ii) stigmatizing those receiving government benefits by arguing that most of them could and should work, despite evidence to the contrary; and (iii) adding ever more restrictive conditions to social safety net protections such as food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies, and cash transfers, each of which will push millions off existing benefits. For example, a Farm Bill approved yesterday by Republicans in the House of Representatives would impose stricter work requirements on up to 7 million food stamp recipients. Presumably this would also affect the tens of thousands of serving military personnel whose families need to depend on food stamps, and the 1.5 million low-income veterans who receive them. ….

A Better Way to Measure Poverty

Source: Misty Heggeness, U.S. Census Bureau, America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers, June 19, 2018

Poverty assistance programs were established to provide a safety net for some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Yet program participation for some people is still not being counted in surveys.

Who are these people and why does this happen?

People of all ages, genders, races and ethnicities in various living situations can be on public assistance. Filling out a Census Bureau survey can be too time-consuming and daunting for some. Answering the questions correctly can be challenging.

That’s why the Census Bureau is looking at ways to better identify people who receive poverty assistance through the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) evaluation project.

The erosion of the federal minimum wage has increased poverty especially for black and Hispanic families

Source: Ben Zipperer, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, June 13, 2018

Higher wages were a key plank of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign to reduce poverty. But over the last five decades the real (inflation-adjusted) value of the minimum wage—a key tool in the fight against poverty—has steadily eroded. Minimum wage increases have been too infrequent to keep up with inflation, let alone raise the real value of the minimum wage above where it was in 1968. While a full-time minimum wage worker in 1968 would have earned $20,600 a year (in 2017’s dollars), a worker paid the federal minimum wage in 2017 could only earn $15,080 working full time. Figure A compares these full-time minimum wage incomes to poverty thresholds for different family sizes and shows that, today, a single parent of one child would be consigned to poverty if that parent earned the federal minimum wage.

Out of Reach 2018

Source: Andrew Aurand, Dan Emmanuel, Diane Yentel, Ellen Errico, Jared Gaby-Biegel, Emma Kerr, National Low Income Housing Coalition, June 2018

From the press release:
…. The Out of Reach report shows the Housing Wage for every state, metropolitan area, and county in the country. The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs. The report compares the Housing Wage to average renter wages and minimum wages, as well as wages in the fast-growing occupations, nationally. The report also shows how many hours an individual must work each week for all 52 weeks per year at the prevailing minimum wage to afford a modest one- and two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent. Out of Reach 2018 also provides Housing Wages for ZIP codes in metropolitan areas. ….

Related:
Interactive map

Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test

Source: Jessica McCrory Calarco, Atlantic, June 1, 2018

Affluence—not willpower—seems to be what’s behind some kids’ capacity to delay gratification. ….

…. Ultimately, the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success. ….

…. This new paper found that among kids whose mothers had a college degree, those who waited for a second marshmallow did no better in the long run—in terms of standardized test scores and mothers’ reports of their children’s behavior—than those who dug right in. Similarly, among kids whose mothers did not have college degrees, those who waited did no better than those who gave in to temptation, once other factors like household income and the child’s home environment at age 3 (evaluated according to a standard research measure that notes, for instance, the number of books that researchers observed in the home and how responsive mothers were to their children in the researchers’ presence) were taken into account. For those kids, self-control alone couldn’t overcome economic and social disadvantages.

The failed replication of the marshmallow test does more than just debunk the earlier notion; it suggests other possible explanations for why poorer kids would be less motivated to wait for that second marshmallow. For them, daily life holds fewer guarantees: There might be food in the pantry today, but there might not be tomorrow, so there is a risk that comes with waiting. And even if their parents promise to buy more of a certain food, sometimes that promise gets broken out of financial necessity. ….

Related:
Revisiting the Marshmallow Test: A Conceptual Replication Investigating Links Between Early Delay of Gratification and Later Outcomes
Source: Tyler W. Watts, Greg J. Duncan, Haonan Quan, Psychological Science, Online First, May 25, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We replicated and extended Shoda, Mischel, and Peake’s (1990) famous marshmallow study, which showed strong bivariate correlations between a child’s ability to delay gratification just before entering school and both adolescent achievement and socioemotional behaviors. Concentrating on children whose mothers had not completed college, we found that an additional minute waited at age 4 predicted a gain of approximately one tenth of a standard deviation in achievement at age 15. But this bivariate correlation was only half the size of those reported in the original studies and was reduced by two thirds in the presence of controls for family background, early cognitive ability, and the home environment. Most of the variation in adolescent achievement came from being able to wait at least 20 s. Associations between delay time and measures of behavioral outcomes at age 15 were much smaller and rarely statistically significant.

Poverty and Public Library Usage in Iowa

Source: Jeffrey Meyer, Journal Public Library Quarterly, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This analysis identifies relationships between library usage, poverty, and median household income in Iowa. Quantitative analysis identifies two distinctive correlations within this data set. First, there is a negative correlation between library usage and poverty, associating higher library usage with lower poverty. Second, there is a subtle positive correlation between library usage and median household income, associating higher library usage with higher median household income. Library usage data is derived from the Iowa Library Services’ Iowa Public Library Statistics (July 1, 2013–June 30, 2014). Poverty and median household income data is derived from the United States Census Bureau.

Poor People’s Campaign

Source: Economic Policy Institute, 2018

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the Poor People’s Campaign to demand economic justice and human rights for all Americans. On the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign, EPI is producing a series of snapshots illuminating why poverty persists and how public policy has helped or fallen short in the goal of eradicating poverty.

Articles include:
50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign, poverty persists because of a stingy safety net and a dysfunctional labor market
Source: Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 24, 2018

Poverty persists 50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign: Black poverty rates are more than twice as high as white poverty rates
Source: Elise Gould and Jessica Schieder, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, May 17, 2018

United Way ALICE Project

Source: United Way, 2018

The United Way ALICE Project provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of the growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities, a population called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Scroll down to view the percent of households in each state – and county – that lived below the ALICE Threshold in 2016. The ALICE Threshold is the bare-minimum economic survival level that is based on the local cost of living in each area.

Hover over the U.S. map below to view state data, click on any state to see a county-by-county analysis of financial instability, and scroll further to compare all states.