Economic Policy Institute

Recent Articles

More men earning poverty-level wages


By Elise Gould

Contributing Writer


In honor of Father’s Day, the Economic Policy Institute looked at the wages of male workers at the prime age for raising young children. While women have always been more likely to earn poverty-level wages than men (wages less than what a full-time, year-round worker needs to sustain a family of four at the official poverty threshold), women have seen some improvement over the last three-and-a-half decades. Their rates of poverty-level wages have declined, especially among those 35 to 44 years old. On the other hand, men between 25 and 44 have seen precipitous increases in the number working at such low wages, more than doubling between 1979 and 2013. This trend has been particularly stark among the younger age group. Continue Reading →

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We owe our fellow workers a living wage

Several weeks ago I was granted the enormous privilege to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address as the guest of Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum. My invitation to this hallmark event was accorded to me through no distinction of my own, but rather as the result of the boundless energy, tireless dedication and tremendous work of the staff, volunteers and supporters of Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties. For 50 years, Community Action has provided critical and transformative services to low-income and historically underserved populations in the War on Poverty. As I listened to the president’s address, I found inspiration in the stories of ordinary Americans who are making extraordinary impacts in their communities. Two particular individuals that the president recognized in his speech were a pair of small business owners located right here in the Twin Cities, John Sorrano and John Puckett. Continue Reading →

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African American unemployment crisis requires federal intervention


In a new Economic Policy Institute report, “A Jobs-Centered Approach to African American Community Development,” Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy program, explains that jobs are essential to improving African American communities. The report identifies jobs as the backbone of community development and outlines a plan for the federal government to ameliorate joblessness within Black communities. The plan has three components: the creation of public sector jobs, job training with job placement programs, and wage subsidies for employers. “Our economy should be one in which everyone who wants to work can find a job, but this goal has been elusive for African Americans in good times and bad,” said Austin. “A concerted national program is needed to reduce racial disparities that leave African Americans twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed.”

The report concludes that federal intervention to aid Black community development is necessary for the following reasons:

African Americans still reside mainly in separate and unequal communities. In 2010, in the 100 metropolitan areas with the largest African American populations, 62.5 percent of African Americans would have had to move to achieve full African American-White integration. Continue Reading →

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