Raising the federal minimum wage would boost pay for some 27 million workers, many who have been on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic. It would also lift nearly 1 million out of poverty, studies show.
A majority of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage — a poll from Reuters and Ipsos released Thursday showed that nearly 60% were in favor of boosting minimum wages to $15 an hour by 2025, the plan currently included in the House’s latest coronavirus relief bill.
–From: The $15 minimum wage is in trouble. Here’s what you need to know (cnbc.com)
Of the 37 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the unofficial club of rich and near-rich nations, the US has the third-highest percentage of low-wage workers, with nearly one in four workers defined as low-wage. Only Latvia and Romania are worse. (That study defines low-wage as earning less than two-thirds of a nation’s median wage.)
The US has the lowest minimum wage among the G7 industrial nations in terms of purchasing power. America’s $7.25-an-hour federal minimum is 38% lower than Germany’s and 30% lower than Britain’s, Canada’s and France’s. This helps explain why the US has among the worst income inequality of the 37 OECD nations – only Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Bulgaria have greater inequality. And the US has the third highest poverty rate; only Hungary and Costa Rica are worse.
the federal minimum wage hasn’t increased since July 2009 – the longest stretch without an increase since Congress first enacted a minimum wage in 1938.
According to a Pew poll, Americans favor a $15 minimum by 67% to 33%.
–From: A $15 minimum wage isn’t just about justice. It’s good economics | Minimum wage | The Guardian
Who would benefit if the federal minimum wage is raised to $15 by 2024?
A total of 39.7 million workers would benefit, including:
38.6 million adults ages 18 and older
23.8 million full-time workers
23.0 million women
11.2 million parents
5.4 million single parents (43% of all single working mothers)
The parents of 14.4 million children (almost 20% of all US children)
The Raise the Wage Act would disproportionately help those in poverty or close to it. Two-thirds (67.3 percent) of the working poor in America would receive a pay increase if the minimum wage were raised to $15 by 2024.
The minimum wage increase would disproportionately raise wages for people of color—for example, black workers make up 11.8 percent of the workforce but 16.9 percent of affected workers. This disproportionate impact means large shares of black and Hispanic workers would be affected: 38.1 percent of black workers and 33.4 percent of Hispanic workers would get a raise.
From: Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift pay for nearly 40 million workers | Economic Policy Institute (epi.org)
The median wealth for a white family was $188,200 in 2019, compared to $24,100 for Black families and $36,100 for Hispanic families, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, released in September 2020.
Advancing financial literacy can help close the racial wealth gap, said “American Ninja Warrior” co-host and former NFL star Akbar Gbajabiamila. “It gives you the power and the position to take action,” he said. Gbajabiamila is calling on people to push for financial education as part of the curriculum, starting in middle school.
–From: Black leaders offer several key steps to help close the racial wealth gap (cnbc.com)
The US unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent in January 2021, down 0.4 percentage point from the previous month and well below market expectations of 6.7 percent, as the number of unemployed persons decreased to 10.1 million. Although both measures were much lower than their April 2020 highs, they remained well above their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020 (3.5 percent and 5.7 million, respectively). source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
–From: United States Unemployment Rate | 1948-2021 Data | 2022-2023 Forecast | Calendar (tradingeconomics.com)
The national unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January, but the Federal Reserve says that the unemployment rate for the lowest wage quartile of workers is closer to 23%.
An analysis from the Fed using ADP payroll processing data shows that when dividing the labor force into four quartiles by hourly wages, the top-earning quarter has almost fully recovered its employment losses during the pandemic.
The middle half of workers have also seen steady return in employment since the depths of job losses in spring 2020.
By comparison, the lowest-earning workers have had more trouble returning to work, likely owing to the high-contact nature of many of those jobs.
A more concerning trend has been the return of job losses among the lowest-wage workers, which appears to have picked up as virus cases surged across the country in the winter.
The New York Fed earlier this month used a different data set (from IPUMS-CPS and IPUMS-USA) and observed a similar tilt down in low-wage employment, but showed high-wage employment actually above pre-pandemic levels.
–From: The unemployment rate for the bottom quartile of Americans is 23% (msn.com)
Almost a year into the pandemic, many businesses, especially Black-owned ones, are trying to stay afloat.
About one-third, or 37%, of Black small-business owners said they can survive more than a year under current conditions, versus 59% of White small-business owners and 55% of Hispanic small-business owners, according to the latest quarterly CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.
Additionally, 15% said their business has been temporarily shuttered due to the pandemic and has not reopened yet. In comparison, 8% of White small-business owners reported the same.
-From: Black small-business owners are being left behind amid Covid pandemic (cnbc.com)
The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired an outpouring of gratitude for essential workers, whose critical and often low-paid work has kept the country functioning. Millions of these essential workers have risked their health on the COVID-19 frontline, while thousands have lost their lives.
Adie Tomer and Joseph W. Kane’s essential worker classification and 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find essential workers comprised approximately half (47%) of all workers in occupations with a median wage of less than $15 an hour.
Today, essential workers likely comprise an even larger share of the low-wage workforce. According to data from Opportunity Insights, unemployment during the pandemic has jumped 21% for low-wage workers earning under $27,000 a year. Most of those job losses have been concentrated among nonessential industries such as hospitality and leisure. Now, among a smaller group of low-wage workers still employed during the pandemic, it is likely that essential workers comprise even more than half of all workers in occupations with a median wage of less than $15 per hour.
–From: Essential workers comprise about half of all workers in low-paid occupations. They deserve a $15 minimum wage. (brookings.edu)
One in seven essential workers lacks health insurance, and one in three lives in a household that makes less than $40,000 a year. Millions of grocery-store workers and slaughterhouse employees and home health aides rely on food stamps. Our most essential, most useful, and most needed people are our most economically fragile.
Millions of essential employees, including many warehouse personnel, food-delivery drivers, and child-care workers, do not belong to unions. In fact, the country’s private-sector unionization rate is just 6.2 percent, down from roughly 30 percent in the late 1970s. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 98 percent of Austrians, 92 percent of Icelanders, and 56 percent of Germans have the right to bargain collectively, compared with just over 10 percent of American workers. This means lower wages, fewer benefits, and weaker on-the-job protections for all American workers—given that unions raise the earnings of nonunion workers too—as well as higher profits for American firms.
–From: Why America’s Most Essential Workers Are Poorly Treated – The Atlantic
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture), food insecurity occurs when households are unable to acquire adequate food because they have insufficient money and other resources.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of food insecurity peaked at just under 15% of households in 2011. Rates then steadily declined each year through 2019, when just over 1 in 10 households reported experiencing food insecurity.
But then came 2020.Although official statistics have not been released yet, early evidence suggests that food insecurity rates hit unprecedented levels, affecting perhaps 17 million more Americans than in 2019. Households with children were struck at alarmingly high rates, exacerbated by the closure of schools and child care facilities. In particular, Black and Hispanic families with children were disproportionately affected.
Food insecurity is fundamentally an issue of health equity – the fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible without facing obstacles like poverty and discrimination. Even in normal times, food insecurity disproportionately affects low-income households, Black and Hispanic families, female-headed households and families with children.
Families struggling with food insecurity face not only insufficient food, but also insufficient nutritious food. Because of this, people who are food-insecure have higher risks of a range of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Food insecurity can be exacerbated by living in low-income areas without access to sources of healthy and affordable food.
Citizens, researchers and policymakers must move beyond issues of geographic food access and “how to feed the poor” and instead focus on how food systems can be reformed to address fundamental causes of food insecurity and health inequities.
The recent rise in food insecurity has prompted a response that has at times overwhelmed food banks and food pantries and the providers of free meals. But more sustainable solutions, such as anti-poverty policies, are needed to address the problem’s root causes.
–From: What Is Food Insecurity? – UConn Today
The end of 2020 brought the sharpest rise in the U.S. poverty rate since the 1960s
The scholars’ findings put the rate at 11.8% in December. While poverty is down from readings of more than 15% a decade earlier, the new estimates suggest that the annual Census Bureau tally due in September will be higher than the last official, pre-pandemic level of 10.5% in 2019.
Despite improvements in the overall poverty rate since the middle of the 20th century, Black Americans had been about three times as likely to be poor as White Americans for most of the past 60 years.
The researchers found that the stimulus checks the federal government issued in the spring helped forestall the poverty rate from rising even faster.
–From: U.S. Suffers Sharpest Rise in Poverty Rate in More Than 50 Years – Bloomberg
2021 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
POVERTY GUIDELINE for number of persons in household:
1 person: $12,880
2 people: $17,420
3 people: $21,960
4 people: $26,500
For families/households with more than 4 persons, add $4,540 for each additional person.
–From: Poverty Guidelines | ASPE (hhs.gov)
According to World Bank, the countries with the highest poverty rates in the world are:
South Sudan – 82.30%
Equatorial Guinea – 76.80%
Madagascar – 70.70%
Guinea-Bissau – 69.30%
Eritrea – 69.00%
Sao Tome and Principe – 66.70%
Burundi – 64.90%
Democratic Republic of the Congo – 63.90%
Central African Republic – 62.00%
Guatemala – 59.30%
–From: Poverty Rate by Country 2021 (worldpopulationreview.com)
Global poverty has seen a spectacular decline since the 1960s – when about 80% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today that number has been reduced to nearer 10%, with hundreds of millions of people removed from the extremes of hardship.
But the numbers are forecast to rise in the coming year, and it has not only been in the category of those living below the poverty line of $1.90 (£1.30) a day that increases have been seen. Experts have noted a worrying rise in numbers of people living on less than $3.20 (£2.35) between June last year and January 2021.
for many of the global new poor, the impact of the Covid crisis is likely to last well beyond 2030. the longer-term scenario suggests that half of the rise in poverty could be permanent
–From: Decades of progress on extreme poverty now in reverse due to Covid | Global development | The Guardian
What is an Essential Worker in New York State? | The ILR School (cornell.edu):
Comprehensive list of essential workers for NYS
Who qualifies as an ‘essential worker’ in New York state? (mynbc5.com):
Another list, bulleted summary
NYS Essential Workers Bill of Rights: Bill Search and Legislative Information | New York State Assembly (nyassembly.gov)
Current status: Introduced and referred to committee
WATCH: Biden, Rice lead roundtable with Black essential workers | PBS NewsHour
Remarks by President Biden in Roundtable with Black Essential Workers Moderated by Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice | The White House
Opinion | Black Farmers May Finally Get the Help They Deserve – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
USDA ERS – Measurement
The Activists Working to Remake the Food System – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Poverty on A Local Level: New Paltz Food Pantries – The New Paltz Oracle
According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in [?the village?] New Paltz is 30%, which is a staggering number for a relatively wealthy suburban college neighborhood.
Included in this 30% could be students, who have their own apartments and rely on campus food or places like The New Paltz Food Pantry on campus for help getting through the week healthy and nourished.
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: New Paltz village, New York
New Paltz, New York Population 2021 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs) (worldpopulationreview.com)
New Paltz and Ulster County have an abundance of local farms that have farm stands, CSAs, and participate in farmers’ markets allowing you to consume our enriching local goodness. Some are even open year-round offering produce from their storehouses, as well as fresh meat, dairy, and eggs. Many restaurants feature menu items incorporating our local goodness.
Our area is also rich in local artists, crafters, and small business owners. It’s easy to shop and support local!
New Paltz Region Business Directory (newpaltzchamber.org)
New Paltz Open Air Market – Be local. Buy local. (newpaltzfarmersmarket.org)
Local Farms near New Paltz, NY – LocalHarvest
Instead of Google or Bing, use a search engine that donates advertising profits to charities. See for example: SearchScene – How it Works
When you make an internet purchase, have a portion go to charity:
AmazonSmile: Program details and FAQ
Altruisto.com – Do good while shopping online
Giving Assistant – Shop, Save & Give with Coupons & Cash Back
Easy & No-Cost Gift Card Fundraiser App | Benefit (benefit-mobile.com)
–From: 7 ways to give to charity without even trying (cnet.com)
Research has shown that no matter what your income level, whether fixed or minimal or comfortable, learning about creating well-balanced and sustainable budgets, saving and investing wisely, and managing your debts and loans can help move you to better financial stability. And if you are in a stable place, you are more likely to reach out and help others.
There are hundreds of articles and resources available online. Here are a few to get you started:
Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy | AllBusiness.com
MyMoney.Gov – MyMoney Home
Financial Literacy and Education Commission | U.S. Department of the Treasury
7 Tips For Improving Your Level of Financial Literacy | Newsmax.com
How to Improve Your Financial Literacy – dummies
The Importance of Financial Well-being – United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg (yourunitedway.org)
Download an app on your phone that automatically records the miles you walk. Then corporate sponsors will automatically make a donation to a charity of your choosing: Charity Miles App | Walk, Run, Bike for a Cause
Research New Paltz’s Fresh Free Food program: New Paltz churches fight local hunger with Free Fresh Food pop-up pantries | Hudson Valley One
Can you or someone you know take advantage of this new pilot program:
Project Resilience – Ulster County COVID-19 Information (ulstercountyny.gov)
Ulster County is one of the first counties in the country to undertake a large-scale universal basic income pilot program. This program will provide much-needed economic relief directly to families throughout the county. Through a partnership between Project Resilience, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, and Ulster Savings Bank, Ulster County will be providing 100 qualifying households with direct relief payments of $500 a month for an entire year, all funded through the generosity of community donations.
You are eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria:
Resident of Ulster County
Annual income of $46,900 or less
Applications are due by March 15th, 2021
3 Ways to Help Improve the Economy – wikiHow:
1. Invest in local economy:
– Purchase from local small businesses
– Shop for products made locally or in US
– Bank with local banks and credit unions
– Eat local foods at home and at restaurants
2. Advocate for policy change:
– Research local economic situation (villiage/town budgets, school budgets,
– Contact local lawmakers
– Advocate in the community
– Advocate extra hard during policy windows
3. Educate yourself and your community:
– Keep abreast of local, national, and international economic issues
– Organize local speaking events
– Volunteer in your community
5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Local Economy | SuperMoney!:
1. Shop Locally
2. Use Community Banks and Credit Unions
3. Establish a Neighborhood-Based Emergency Fund
4. Hire Neighborhood Kids and Adults for Household Chores and Projects
5. Share Your Skills as a Volunteer
Special thanks to everyone that helped research this social justice issue
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