Why New York is Home to So Many of the Working Poor, in Graphs

Sep 16, 2013Nell Abernathy

The Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative is trying to understand how New York got so unequal. And we're looking for solutions.

The Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative is trying to understand how New York got so unequal. And we're looking for solutions.

So what is behind this big shift toward income inequality in New York? Income trends in the city represent an amplified version of our national problems: low-wage jobs without benefits are replacing middle-wage jobs that could support families. Nationwide, middle-wage jobs constituted 60 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession and only 22 percent of those regained during recovery, according to analysis from Roosevelt Institute’s Annette Bernhardt at NELP. Meanwhile, low-wage jobs made up only 21 percent of recession job losses and 58 percent of jobs gained since.

The national trend started well before the Great Recession.

And in New York, it’s been the same, but worse. A 2012 report from the Federal Reserve found that middle-income jobs comprised 67 percent of employment in downstate New York in the 1980s, but by 2010, that number fell to 55.8 percent.

Top that off with the fact that for the last decade, wages have risen for the top 5 percent and stagnated or fallen for middle- and low-income workers, and you begin to see the currents driving our inequality crisis.

Why is this happening? Technology? Wall Street? Policy? Education?

We’ll explore those questions and potential solutions at our upcoming panel, "Inequality in New York: The Next Mayor’s Challenge."

Nell Abernathy is the Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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The 2 Train Travels Between New York's "Two Cities"

Sep 13, 2013Nell Abernathy

New York City is as starkly divided along economic lines as it is connected by its famous subway lines.  The Roosevelt Institute is looking for solutions.

New York City is as starkly divided along economic lines as it is connected by its famous subway lines.  The Roosevelt Institute is looking for solutions.

Another fun/depressing/informative infographic on New York City’s stunning wealth divide: Back in April, before the election was heating up, the good people at The New Yorker plotted the diverging extremes in median income of New York neighborhoods along the subway lines. It turns out you can actually ride the 2 train from prosperity to poverty.

The neighborhood surrounding the 2 train Chambers Street stop in Tribeca  has a median income of $205,192 and is among the city's wealthiest.

Fourteen miles further north, around the East 180th Street stop in the Bronx, median income is $13,750. For those who think income is irrelevant as long as you can access the American dream, opportunities aren't so great up there, either.

 Come learn about solutions from the experts at our September 24 event, "Inequality in New York: the Next Mayor’s Challenge."

Nell Abernathy is the Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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Daily Digest - September 12: Reducing Inequality Isn't Impossible

Sep 12, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

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The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses the ways that the labor market and financial systems have contributed to income inequality's growth. He talks about short-term solutions, like appointing a Fed chair who will focus on full employment.

Report: The Rich Are Now Richer Than Ever (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger reports on a study showing that the vast bulk of the recovery has gone to the wealthiest Americans. Rising corporate profits and stock prices don't help the middle and lower classes.

Moving Past the Low-Wage Social Contract (Reuters)

Josh Freedman argues that for decades our social contract has used tax credits and subsidies to help low wage workers and encourage lower prices, and it isn't working. Tax credits don't reduce income inequality or increase income mobility.

Top California Lawmakers Back Raising Minimum Wage (NYT)

With the leaders of the legislature and the governor backing the bill, Ian Lovett reports that California is almost certain to pass the nation's highest minimum wage by Friday. The bill will raise the minimum wage to $9 on July 1, 2013, and to $10 on January 1, 2016.

The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts (Atlantic Cities)

Lisa Servon discusses her research on why some people prefer check cashers, despite the fees involved. She finds that check cashers may serve people living on the edge better, because there's no risk of cascading fees for overdrawn accounts.

Government-Shutdown Crisis Proceeding on Schedule (TAP)

Paul Waldman reports that if Tea Party Republicans have their way, we'll be headed for a shutdown in October. Of course, that isn't going to help the GOP's reputation with voters, but defunding Obamacare is more important then keeping government programs funded.

Five Years After the Crisis, These 13 Charts Show What’s Fixed and What Isn’t. (WaPo)

Neil Irwin presents data on what has and hasn't changed in the five years since Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. He claims that this data makes a persuasive argument that today's financial system is more stable then before.

New on Next New Deal

Three Graphs That Show Why Inequality Matters in the New York City Mayoral Race

Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, shares some charts that explain why inequality (or as Mayor Bloomberg puts it, "class warfare") is so important in the NYC mayoral race.

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Daily Digest - September 11: "What Is Going On With This Internet Thing?"

Sep 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

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New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

Ben Johnson discusses the new mockumentary The Internet Must Go with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who is featured. The film, available on YouTube, looks at the question of "what is going with this Internet thing" from a Colbert-esque perspective.

Verizon Challenges Open Internet Rules in Court (U.S. News & World Report)

Tom Risen spoke to Crawford about Verizon v. FCC, which will determine whether the FCC can require ISPs to maintain net neutrality. Crawford sees Verizon's desire for "VIP" website clients, who pay for priority access, as antithetical to the idea of the Internet.

The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery (NYT)

Annie Lowrey reports on an updated study that shows that the wealthiest American earners took record-setting percentages of the country's total income in 2012. Overall, the 1 percent have captured about 95 percent of income gains in the recovery.

5 Years Later, We've Learned Nothing From the Financial Crisis (The Atlantic)

James Kwak asks why there hasn't been significant change in financial regulation. Financial stability lacks public support, and without the structural reforms that were discussed in 2009 and 2010, he thinks it's just a matter of when the next crisis hits.

How the Cult of Shareholder Value Wrecked American Business (WaPo)

Steven Pearlstein argues that there is no historical basis for the supposed imperative for companies to maximize short-term shareholder profits. He suggests policy changes that could influence corporate behavior toward other values, like social welfare and long-term profits.

Unions—Not Just for Middle-Aged White Guys Anymore (TAP)

Harold Meyerson reports that this week's AFL-CIO convention is the first he's attended that looks like union membership, which is less white and less male then ever before. He's also excited by a new emphasis on community coalition building.

US Labor Secretary: 'The American Workplace Has Evolved' (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson spoke to Thomas Perez following his speech at the AFL-CIO convention yesterday. They discuss the changes in the American workplace to include home-based work, and ways in which labor law can respond to that shift.

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Daily Digest - September 10: Labor Looks for Growth

Sep 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

Kevin Bogardus looks at the AFL-CIO's plan to reinvigorate the labor movement. He speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that giving more organizations membership in the federation is meant to signal a desire to make the movement broader.

Verizon-F.C.C. Court Fight Takes On Regulating Net (NYT)

Edward Wyatt speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who asks whether the U.S. government has good reason to keep the Internet open and accessible. She says yes, as does the F.C.C., but Verizon claims that limiting Internet access is free speech.

‘Our agenda is America’s agenda,’ Warren Tells Unions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff looks at Senator Warren's speech at the AFL-CIO convention on Sunday, in which she called for a minimum wage increase, stricter financial regulation, and more. It's difficult to disagree with the AFL-CIO President's sentiment: "If we could only clone her."

Indiana Right-to-Work Law Ruled Unconstitutional by State Judge (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Andrew Harris reports on the ruling, which overturned a law making it a crime to charge union dues as a condition of employment. It turns out that it's unconstitutional to require a union to provide services to workers without compensation.

The Demolition of Brewster-Douglass and Our Abandonment of the Working Poor (Pacific Standard)

Anna Clark looks at the history of the first federally funded public housing project for African Americans, which has its origins in the New Deal. She sees the shift from public housing to Section 8 vouchers as part of a larger policy shift that ignores the needs of the poor.

Left With Nothing (WaPo)

Michael Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, and Steven Rich investigate a DC practice of selling liens on delinquent property tax bills, which has led to over 500 foreclosures. In one case, a 76 year old man with dementia lost the home he had owned outright for 20 years over an $134 tax bill.

Republicans Try to Cut Food Stamps as 15% of U.S. Households Face Hunger (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann reports that while the economy is slowly recovering, food insecurity is holding steady. Meanwhile, the GOP wants to cut at least $40 billion from SNAP over the next ten years, which would kick 4 to 6 million Americans off the rolls.

The Cost of Cash, for the Rich and the Poor (The New Yorker)

David Wolman looks at a study on the costs of obtaining cash, in time and money. Low-income individuals spend more time and more money obtaining their money then anyone else, and they can't really spare the change.

 

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Daily Digest - September 9: Economic Inequality and the Fed Chair

Sep 9, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Why Janet Yellen, Not Larry Summers, Should Lead the Fed (NYT)

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Why Janet Yellen, Not Larry Summers, Should Lead the Fed (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that Summers's role in deregulation in the 1990s led to today's economic issues. He'd much prefer a Fed chair with proven judgement and expertise who didn't help to create the inequality we deal with now.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative Jeff Madrick and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal agree with Stiglitiz's pick for Fed chair.

Why Keynes Wouldn’t Have Too Rosy a View of our Economic Future (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal breaks down Keynesian theory to explain why employment might not bounce back on its own. If that's the case, it would be nice to see policy that actually reflects the need to create jobs.

This Chart Shows The Real Problem With The August Jobs Report (Business Insider)

Josh Barro's big issue? The August jobs report is proof that the economy isn't actually improving as much as it was thought all summer. Job creation is stagnant at about 2 million new jobs per year, and the Fed seems to think that slow and steady is just right.

Did the White House’s Trial Balloon for Larry Summers Just Pop? (Quartz)

Tim Fernholz suggests that without the support of three liberal Democrats on the Senate banking committee, it may not matter if the President wants Summers for Fed chair. The administration would need to attempt the impossible: securing Republican votes.

A.F.L.-C.I.O. Has Plan to Add Millions of Nonunion Members (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse examines the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s new plan to reinvigorate the labor movement. It's based on a simple question: if 49 percent of employees in a workplace vote for a union, why doesn't the union welcome that 49 percent?

Walmart Workers Plan 'Widespread, Massive Strikes and Protests' for Black Friday 2013 (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson reports on continued momentum in the OUR Walmart strikes as workers begin to think about retail's busiest day. Walmart still claims that none of their employees are actually involved in the strikes: apparently, it's all a union-backed stunt.

A Different Type of Poverty (U.S. News & World Report)

Happy Carlock interviews Sasha Abramsky about his new book, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives. American poverty is about economic insecurity, and it's made worse, he says, by increasing inequality.

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Daily Digest - September 4: No Jobs, Lots of Problems

Sep 4, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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America’s Jobless Generation (NYRB)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative Jeff Madrick argues that policy, not technology, is keeping unemployment high. He's particularly concerned about the effect of these policies on young people.

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America’s Jobless Generation (NYRB)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative Jeff Madrick argues that policy, not technology, is keeping unemployment high. He's particularly concerned about the effect of these policies on young people.

Why This Particular Recovery Is So Bad at Creating New Jobs (Pacific Standard)

Timothy Noah looks at various reasons that our recovery isn't solving unemployment. He suggests that the economy is following Walmart, which doesn't seem to want to hire anyone in a permanent position these days, preferring "flexible" temporary workers.

401(k)s are Replacing Pensions. That’s Making Inequality Worse. (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis argues that the growth of 401(k)s is going to increase inequality among the elderly. Pensions aren't perfect, but at least they didn't require low-income workers to decide between today's bills and tomorrow's retirement.

Justice Department Tackles Quality Of Defense For The Poor (All Things Considered)

Carrie Johnson reports on a Department of Justice filling in a case on the quality of public defense in two cities in Northern Washington. Overburdened defense attorneys agree that an independent monitor's oversight would help.

In Budget Cuts, Low-Income Students Suffer More Than Wealthy Ones (MSNBC)

Suzy Khimm explains why poorer school districts are being hit harder by sequesteration then wealthier districts that could presumably absorb some cuts. With straight cuts across the board, the more federal funds a district typically needs, the more it loses this year.

What's Killing Poor White Women? (TAP)

Monica Potts examines the decreasing life expectancy of uneducated white women. Weaving facts about the demographic into the story of one such woman's early death, she tells a harrowing tale about how much these factors effect a life.

New on Next New Deal

How Ronald Coase Demolished Current Libertarian Ideas About Property

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that Ronald Coase's work helps to prove that "self-ownership" can't solve all our problems. Property rights overlap, and social arrangements (like government) must prioritize one owner over others.

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Daily Digest - September 3: Labor Takes Center Stage

Sep 3, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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A Dramatic Display of Labor's Power (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the differences in how stakeholders discuss the fast food strikes. The restaurant industry talks about digging into the pockets of small business owners; the workers want a fair share of massive corporate profits.

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A Dramatic Display of Labor's Power (Melissa Harris-Perry)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren points out the differences in how stakeholders discuss the fast food strikes. The restaurant industry talks about digging into the pockets of small business owners; the workers want a fair share of massive corporate profits.

Politics, Race, and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement (Democracy)

Dorian Warren considers the ways that race and region fit into the labor economy of the U.S., where workers of color make lower wages and union power is focused in Democrat-leaning states. The limits of labor's power are more apparent within these boundaries.

'No one should have to work for free': Is This the End of the Unpaid Internship? (NBC News)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz suggests that recent lawsuits against employers by unpaid interns could signal the beginning of the end of this practice. As unpaid internships get more media attention, companies are taking notice.

How America's Minimum Wage Really Stacks Up Globally (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann compares various minimum wages using "purchasing power parity," which takes into account differences in local prices. PPP makes the U.S. minimum wage look a little better compared to other wealthy nations, but not great.

Why Isn't Every Monday Like Labor Day? (HuffPo)

Arthur Delaney looks at the historical trend of shortening work days and work weeks, and wonders why that progression has stalled. Shorter work weeks or work sharing could be ways to reduce unemployment, but aren't being seriously considered.

  • Roosevelt Take: Work sharing was one of the ideas discussed at the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative's conference, "A Bold Approach to the Jobs Emergency," back in June. Transcripts and video from all the sessions are now available.

Love for Labor Lost (NYT)

Paul Krugman questions why Republicans cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the worker on Labor Day. As he sees it, they refuse to respect those who work for a living, but aren't wealthy, because without wealth everyone's a "taker."

How the Fed Chair Race Became a Public Circus, and Why it Matters (WaPo)

Neil Irwin says that shifts in political media and White House mismanagement have contributed to the arguments over the next Fed chair. The far more public role of the position in recent years makes this appointment even more politically charged.

This Week in Poverty: John Lewis, Barack Obama and the New March (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann says that it isn't enough when President Obama talks about wages and working conditions. Executive order could ensure workers under federal contracts get a living wage and extend minimum wage protections to home care workers.

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Daily Digest - August 30: More Labor Organizing for the Holiday

Aug 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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A New Dawn for Labor Day (BeyondChron)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt considers the importance and significance of the August 29 fast food strikes. The growth of these strikes and other labor organizing shows a new hunger for worker representation on the job.

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A New Dawn for Labor Day (BeyondChron)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt considers the importance and significance of the August 29 fast food strikes. The growth of these strikes and other labor organizing shows a new hunger for worker representation on the job.

Economic Justice to the Fore (ACSblog)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice Erik Lampmann reflects on the March on Washington. He's particularly excited by the energy that youth movements like Dream Defenders and the Black Youth Project bring to the modern fight for civil rights.

National Fast Food Strike Hits Dozens of Cities (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports on the importance of the fast food strikes' growth into Southern cities. He quotes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that the involvement of Southern workers is proof that this movement is truly national now.

Feminism's Sticky Fast-Food Floor (The Daily Beast)

Sally Kohn thinks that as great as it is that some women are breaking through the glass ceiling, feminists can't forget about the women stuck in low-wage jobs. Leaning in against economic inequality helps far more women then leaning in on Wall Street.

Why I'm on Strike Today: I Can't Support Myself on $7.85 at Burger King (The Guardian)

Willietta Dukes writes that in her fifteen years of working in fast food, she's never missed a shift or arrived late, until yesterday's strike. Between low wages, limited hours, and erratic scheduling, she can't pay for basic necessities - like her mortgage.

New on Next New Deal

Why Unions are Essential to Tackling the Technology Challenge to Good Jobs

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says that technology isn't eliminating more "abstract" intellectual jobs, but it is keeping people in low-wage low-skill work. That makes labor organizing essential to ensure those jobs retain dignity and fair pay.

What Works: Roosevelt Institute Recommendations for Labor Day Weekend

Looking for something to read or watch this Labor Day weekend? The Roosevelt Institute staff and Fellows provide their suggestions for books, films, poems, and more with a compelling take on labor issues. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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To Restore the New Deal, Government Must Earn Young Americans’ Trust

Aug 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

On Tuesday night, the Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline gathered for a panel discussion on “The State of the New Deal,” reflecting on President Roosevelt's historic achievements and considering what could come next. Pipeline, a national network of young people in their 20s and 30s collectively organizing to engineer innovative policies and promote effective civic leadership in their communities, convened a multigenerational panel to discuss what’s become of the New Deal safety net, and what would be needed to create similar programs today.

The program opened with David Woolner, a Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Resident Hyde Park Historian, providing some historical context: FDR's legacy, the political environment of the day, and how the New Deal was perceived when it was happening. One of the most important thing he noted was that FDR worked in a far less politically divided era: some of the strongest supporters of New Deal programs were moderate Republicans. It’s much harder to pass any legislation in today’s Congress.

Following his keynote, Woolner joined Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble for a panel moderated by Roosevelt Institute President Felicia Wong, where they expanded the discussion to today's issues: health care, student debt, Occupy, low-wage work, and more. They probed at the relationship between Americans and their government today, which is often one of distrust and skepticism. As Woolner explained, with the dismantling of much of the New Deal in the Reagan era, government was no longer a creator of economic opportunity.

Aronowitz focused on the question of economic security, posing the question of why Millennials should trust government to work for them. “They're craving … this baseline of economic security,” and aren't seeing any way to get it, she said. Were government to help create that baseline, it would be easier to see the potential for other New Deal-style programs. She was also skeptical of the Occupy movement, noting that while the Tea Party and Occupy are frequently compared as political extremes, the anti-establishment and anti-leadership nature of Occupy means that they have limited political power. Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans like Ted Cruz work against more moderate policymakers to prevent legislation and control the right's agenda.

Gamble presented the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's “Government By and For Millennial America” project as proof that it is possible to create a government that would speak to Millennial ideas and needs. This government would be an innovator, a lawmaker, and a steward of the common good, and would truly engage all citizens. Unfortunately, she noted, for most Millennials their first real encounter with government systems is with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal student loans. FAFSA is often seen as a frustrating system, and student loan servicers as even worse. Woolner noted in his introduction that “what Roosevelt accomplished was a complete transformation of the relationship between the federal government and the American people,” and it's hard to imagine a similarly positive relationship today – especially if the student loan system is how people form their impression of government.

The question and answer session demonstrated the insight and engagement of the audience. The Affordable Care Act was a topic of serious discussion, and Aronowitz pointed out that for many middle-class Millennials, it doesn't seem to help much. Woolner passed the mic to James Roosevelt Jr., Franklin and Eleanor’s grandson and an attorney who works on health care, who argued that “if Obamacare succeeds, it will be the New Deal success of our lifetime.” His comment echoed one of the common themes that threaded through the discussion: Millennials need some proof that these programs will help before they will buy in fully. If the Affordable Care Act does lower costs and make insurance more accessible, it could lead to broader support of other programs, like infrastructure-based jobs programs.

After the event, I spoke with some attendees who are involved in Boston-area politics. They seemed to mostly agree: buy-in is tough. Creating change is tough. But the people I spoke to and those posing questions seemed determined to work together and create something new. They want to trust in government to create the safety net needed for that baseline of economic security that Aronowitz brought up early on. They want government to demonstrate that it’s ready to be an equal partner in decreasing economic inequality. It’s just a matter of figuring out the next steps toward that goal.

For more information on Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, visit their website. The Pipeline | New York network will be hosting a screening of the documentary “My Brooklyn” on September 16th at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Rachel Goldfarb is the Roosevelt Institute Communications Associate.

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