For homeless workers, earning a paycheck can take second place to finding a safe place to sleep at night.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) held a town hall meeting February 6 to discuss its new Fix Unemployment Now campaign, which aims to make unemployment insurance more accessible in light of recent problems with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD). The meeting, which took place at Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721’s headquarters in Los Angeles, drew members of ACCE and SEIU, EDD employees and members of the community. (Full Disclosure: The author of this article has previously volunteered for ACCE.)
Fix Unemployment Now primarily addresses EDD’s failure to provide unemployment checks on time and to answer claimants’ questions and concerns. According to ACCE, these problems are related to EDD’s decision to outsource a computer upgrade to Deloitte Consulting, a company that has been fired by other public contractors in the past. According to the Los Angeles Times, EDD is so unresponsive that it answers only a fraction of the phone calls it receives.
Last week, the U.K. publication The Guardian used an interesting anecdote to describe the key finding of an Oxfam report on global inequality: The world’s 85 richest people now own more wealth than the planet’s poorest 3.5 billion people. All of the world’s wealthiest individuals, Guardian writer Graeme Wearden noted, “could squeeze onto a single double-decker” bus.
The ironic image of the super-rich riding a humble public bus is an apt metaphor for the socioeconomic quandary facing America before President Obama makes his 2014 State of the Union address tonight. Underinvestment in job creation, training, education and public services like transportation put middle-class success out of reach for many Americans, while at the other end of the spectrum, wealth has been concentrated in very few hands.
President Obama’s speech ought to address the central problems of economic inequality and deficit of opportunities and services for many Americans.
The number of families with children and at least one unemployed parent jumped by 33 percent in recent years, going from 2.4 million to 3.2 million households between 2005 and 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.
The Great Recession – the nation’s worst in decades – caused much of the increase, the Census Bureau said in an Aug. 27 statement, adding that some states, such as Florida, Nevada, Hawaii, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and North Carolina had growth rates higher than the national average.
Those states had a range of 54 percent for North Carolina to 148 percent for Nevada. Florida, for example, had a 93 percent increase in families with at least one unemployed parent and California had a rate of 61 percent, the Census Bureau said, citing its America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012 report.
“During the recession, economic well-being worsened for families with children,” Jamie Lewis,
Last week President Obama gave a speech at Knox College in Illinois in which he announced plans to return his focus to the economy. The agenda he outlined centered on policies to rebuild the middle class leading to growth from the middle out as he put it.
The basic idea sounds good. There are few who would take issue with the focus of his policies: improving the nation’s infrastructure, better school to work transitions, high quality pre-school for everyone. These ideas all score very high in opinion polls and focus groups, although there might be serious differences on what they mean concretely.
But even if we can agree on the best way to rebuild our infrastructure, better our schools, and guarantee high quality pre-school education we will still face serious economic problems well into the future for the simple reason that the economy lacks demand. Generating demand has to be issue one,