According to a recent study by Demos, three important factors are linked with a poor credit report: unemployment, lack of health coverage and medical debt. Needless to say, the recent recession created an environment where a good credit report was a likely casualty, as many families struggled with job loss. Ironically, one of the barriers unemployed job applicants may face as they search for a good job, with a living wage, is the credit report that took such a hit during their period of unemployment.
As the Demos report explains, federal law requires employers to have written permission before requesting an applicant’s credit report. The catch is, employers can refuse to hire employees who refuse to give permission. And although federal law also requires employers to disclose when credit information is the basis for denying someone a job, the denial of employment for this reason is legal in most cases.
During the Great Recession, many uninsured, unemployed Americans saw debt accumulate due to health issues or other emergencies beyond their control. This record of unpaid debt now sits on their credit reports and is part of what potential employers may see as they make hiring decisions. For some quick perspective on the number of people potentially impacted by this issue, consider that: (more…)
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This month, the Census Bureau released their estimates from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS). The estimates are accompanied by specific reports on income, poverty, and healthcare and given their importance it’s not surprising these topics dominate many recent headlines. Oklahoma, we now know, has seen income remain stagnant and well below the national average. The poverty rate remained virtually unchanged at around 17.2 percent. The unemployment rate, while falling slightly, is more reflective of individuals dropping out of the workforce than an actual increase in employment. Basically, the news looks grim, but at least the downward trajectory seems to have slowed to nearly a halt.
Yet, every statistic needs context. The numbers should not exist merely for their own sake or even just to make great news stories. In this case, the ACS is meant to help guide decision makers in both the public and private sectors. This detailed nationwide survey is conducted in every county in the country. The demographic, social, economic and housing data is provided on a yearly basis, filling the gap between decennial Census periods. In short, the information is invaluable and what’s even better for non-profits like us: it is free to the public. Governments and organizations refer to the ACS to allocate funds, design programs or even choose where to locate new businesses. The data, while not itself a roadmap to a better economy, is at the very least akin to a GPS locator letting us know where we stand so we can plan the correct route forward. (more…)
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What is the best way to prepare for a recession, apart from building assets and storing money away for a rainy day? It would seem that my high school counselor had this one right, it comes down to education. The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, released last week by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s Center on Education and the Workforce, shows that while the recession was tough on everyone, those with four-year or graduate degrees had it better than most. The report’s title, coupled with the images of umbrellas, sends a clear message; a college degree provides protection during hard economic times.
According to the Georgetown report, four out of every five jobs wiped out during the recession were held by employees with a high school diploma or less. That amounts to 5.6 million jobs lost, and to date there has been no recovery for that sector. However, those with even a little college education, or those holding associate degrees, only saw a 1.75 million drop in jobs and the recovery has already replaced 1.6 million of those lost jobs. Most impressive is that people with a Bachelor’s level degree or higher gained 187,000 jobs by the end of the recession, and have added another 2 million during the recovery.
This news comes as conformation to many of us who advocate for higher education, but we also need to be mindful of the rising cost of college and (more…)
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Valerie is our new CareerAdvance® Research Coordinator with the Innovation Lab at CAP.
I have recently joined the Innovation Lab as the new CareerAdvance® Research Coordinator. It has been a slight career change for me as I spent the previous two and a half years as a teacher in an Early Head Start classroom. However my time in the classroom provided me with invaluable experiences and knowledge of the children and families we serve at CAP. What first attracted me to CAP, and continues to excite me, is how as an agency we try to bridge the gap, primarily with education, that children from low-income families sometimes face. As an agency we also recognize that education is not the only barrier that low-income families may face and have developed many innovative wrap-around programs to support our families. (more…)
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As many of our regular readers know, the Innovation Lab acts as CAP’s research and development team. We develop deep understandings about our clients, research promising new practices and theories, and work with partners to develop new programs and services. Over the last couple of years, the Innovation Lab has launched several exciting programs to serve CAP families. Our workforce development program, CareerAdvance, is currently expanding thanks to a $10 million grant from HHS. Another program, Healthy Women, Health Futures, is an interconceptional health program for the mother’s of children enrolled in one of CAP’s early childhood education centers.
Now, that you are all thinking, “Wow! How cool would it be to work there!” I am excited to tell you that we are adding to our team. We are looking for a new Program Development Coordinator. This newly created position will be responsible for developing and launching pilot programs that derive from the agency’s Adult Strategy. The person hired should have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in political science, management, social work, communications or a related field, a minimum of 3 years implementation or program management experience, and supervisory experience. Experience in successful program design and working with low-income populations are also strongly preferred.
If you or someone you know, fits this description, click here to read the full job description and apply through CAP’s online application process.
To learn more about working at CAP, click here.
To learn more about the Innovation Lab, click here.
To learn more about CAP, click here.
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I would like to take a few moments to share some good news with our loyal readers. As many of you know, CAP’s CareerAdvance is an awesome program that helps the parent’s of children in our early childhood education program move into nursing careers that provide a family sustaining wage.
Thanks to the hard work of Monica, Micah, Tanya, and everyone else associated with CareerAdvance, CAP has been awarded a sizeable grant by the Department of Health and Human Services to expand and continue the program.
To read the Tulsa World article about the grant, click here.
To learn more about CareerAdvance, click here.
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According to a series of articles by Timothy Noah posted on Slate.com, yes, the rich really are getting richer. In the series, titled “The Great Divergence: What is causing America’s growing income inequality?“, Noah explores why the top 1% of earners’ incomes are increasing while the income of the other 99% are not. In the series he has or will look at race, gender, education, trade, immigration, the fall of organized labor, and political parties as possible reasons for the shift (there are still a few new pieces left before the series is concluded). I recommend the articles to anyone with an interest in income inequality in the US, but if you don’t have time to read the entire series, the accompanying slide show by Visualizing Economics is a great way to get an overview.
Figure One: Income Share Over Time
Figure One lays out the two trends in income inequality over the past 60 years. The first occurred from 1940 to 1979 and is was termed the Great Convergence by economists because the income gap shrunk. In 1979, that trend began to reverse though, giving way to the Great Divergence. Since 1979, the income gap has widened significantly.
Figure Two: Income Share Ratios
Figure Two shows how the bottom 20% and middle 20% compare to the top 20%. The top line shows that the income gap between the richest and the poorest Americans has nearly doubled since 1979, while the gap between middle class and the richest Americans has widened only slightly. The author attributes this to the increasing importance of a college degree in the current job marketplace. In other words, those with college degrees (upper and middle-income Americans) have higher incomes that those without a college degree.
From my perspective this kind of information further emphasizes the need for more and better education, job training, and jobs to fight poverty in the US.
The read Timothy Noah’s series on the Great Divergence, click here
To view Visualizing Economics’ entire slide show, click here
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Another thing that caught my eye in that NY Times story was this tidbit:
Alexandria Wallace grew up in a middle-class home topped by Spanish tile, with a swimming pool out back and a view of jagged reddish mountains. Her decline from work to welfare began in the spring of 2009.
She was working three days a week at a call center for Verizon Wireless, earning about $9.50 an hour while attending beauty school at night to earn a license as a cosmetologist. She aimed to use earnings from that profession as a springboard to nursing school.
It’s great that Alexandria has a plan in mind for how to climb up the economic ladder, but it seems to me that she (and others like her that I’ve met) could use some pretty basic career guidance. You see, there’s no reason to start with Cosmetology and then use that to pay her way through nursing school. Instead, Alexandria could be training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, where she could be getting some health care experience and quite possibly have an employer that will sponsor her as she later attends nursing school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse. In Tulsa, training to become a CNA takes far less time than cosmetology school and results in roughly the same pay (roughly $10/hour). In fact, in the same amount of hours is takes to complete Tulsa Technology Center’s cosmetology program, Alexandria could have completed their Licensed Practical Nursing program and be earning almost $16/hour.
Even when someone has a vision for where they want to go in their career, they often don’t know how to get there. And not only do they not know how, they end up taking steps that are unnecessary and in fact make it more difficult to get there – by attending high-cost proprietary schools, enrolling in the wrong classes, or taking on student loans before using federal financial aid such as Pell. Those missteps ultimately frustrate students – particularly adult learners and first generation college students – with the whole educational process. Good, clear career guidance – illustrating career ladders, comparative length of training, and wages – can go such a long way.
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You can’t afford child care without work, and you can’t work without child care. Child care subsidy programs are supposed to address this problem, but…
Parents across the nation are finding it even more difficult to go back to work, since many states are cutting critical child care subsidies, reports the New York Times. These programs were a part of the 1996 welfare reforms intended to move mothers off cash assistance and into jobs, but now due to cuts many mothers are having to seek cash assistance just to access the child care subsidy:
The cuts to subsidized child care challenge the central tenet of the welfare overhaul adopted in 1996, which imposed a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance. Under the change, low-income parents were forced to give up welfare checks and instead seek paychecks, while being promised support — not least, subsidized child care — that would enable them to work.
Now, in this moment of painful budget cuts, with Arizona and more than a dozen other states placing children eligible for subsidized child care on waiting lists, only two kinds of families are reliably securing aid: those under the supervision of child protective services — which looks after abuse and neglect cases — and those receiving cash assistance.
Ms. Wallace abhors the thought of going on cash assistance, a station she associates with lazy people who con the system. Yet this has become the only practical route toward child care.
In our experience implementing the CareerAdvance program, we’ve found our parents’ ability to access the state DHS subsidy has been extremely time-consuming and difficult, and that many times the parents ultimately don’t qualify anyway. (CAP’s benefits screening program can help with this.) Furthermore, in the Oklahoma program parents are responsible for a flat monthly copay, which is based on income and number of children. That means that it doesn’t matter whether the parent needs care 2 hours per week or every day of the month – it will cost the same. That may work (to some extent) for working parents, but parents in education and training will often find that the copay is not only unaffordable but exceeds the cost of their child care needs in the first place. In other words, it is no subsidy at all.
Hat tip to our CAP colleague Amy Fain for sending me the NYT link.
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The Tulsa World ran a feature last Saturday on the CareerAdvance program being piloted by the Tulsa Initiative (slash Innovation Lab) here at CAP. A little taste:
CareerAdvance is offered to parents who have children enrolled in early child-care programs for lower-income families at the Skelly and Disney Early Childhood Education Centers.
The program is to help parents be successful in a career path leading them to economic self-sufficiency and allowing them to better provide for their children, said Monica Barczak, director of the department running the program.
The agency selected a focus on jobs in the health-care field because it offers good-paying jobs in relatively high-demand.
The thing I’ve been happiest with in implementing this program with our Career Coach, Tanya, has been the support participants offer to each other. Or in Misty’s words:
“The girls in the class are a good group because we’re like family, a lot of sisters,” White said. “We all support each other and don’t want anyone to fail. If anyone is having a problem we all pitch in to get them through it.”
I had the privilege of sitting in on Misty’s interview, and it was truly heartwarming to hear what the program means to our participants – “an answered prayer.” But I should say that it’s them – the 15 mothers that work so hard – and our partner providers (TCC, Union Public Schools, and Workforce Oklahoma) that truly make CareerAdvance a success. Thanks to them, and thanks always to the George Kaiser Family Foundation for supporting our vision of bringing a cutting-edge workforce development program to our Early Childhood Program families.
Go read the whole thing at the Tulsa World website.
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