Michigan African American unemployment highest

May 16, 2013
Contact: Judy Putnam at Michigan League for Public Policy (517) 487-5436
Michigan has highest unemployment rate for African Americans in nation

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan workers were hit hard by the Great Recession but the state’s African American workers continue to suffer a far higher unemployment rate, a new Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief finds, with Michigan’s black unemployment rate the highest among the 24 states where it can be measured.

In Ongoing Joblessness in Michigan: Unemployment rate for African Americans tops in nation, more than double the state’s white rate, EPI researchers Douglas Hall and Mary Gable find that the African American unemployment rate in Michigan reached 18.7 percent—nearly one in five of the state’s black workers—in the fourth quarter of 2012, about two-and-a-half times that of the white unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. (more…)

Still unemployed? Sequestration hurts!

To many, the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration may seem like an abstraction, but Michigan long-term unemployed workers are feeling it in a very real-world way.

Workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks collect Emergency Unemployment Compensation until they find a job. Because EUC is fully federally funded, it is subject to the across-the-board cuts demanded by sequestration.

For Michigan workers collecting EUC, this translates into a 10.7% cut in their weekly benefit beginning with their first payment this month. (more…)

One-third of working families are low income?

You read the headline correctly. If we define low-income families as those with household income below 200% of the poverty line (the definition used by many state and national organizations that address poverty issues), then 32 percent of working families in Michigan and in the United States as a whole are low income.

A new report by the Working Poor Families Project shows that Michigan ranks right in the middle (26 out of 50) among states in the percentage of working families with household incomes below 200% of poverty.  For a single mother with two children, that means an income below $32,246; for a two-parent family with two children, it is $45,622. (more…)

The Good, the Fair, and the Ugly

The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual Current Population Survey Report contains the good, the fair and the bad. The report, released Wednesday, has a sample size of 100,000 households and provides the official numbers on poverty, income and health insurance coverage for the United States. Here are some of the key findings:

The Ugly – Income: There was a 1.2% decline in median household income and a 1.6% growth in income inequality in 2011. The number of middle-income households is decreasing while the number of households in extreme poverty has grown by almost 50%. Also, 6.6% of all Americans lived in households with income at or below 50% of the federal poverty level ($11,406 for a family of four) in 2011.

The Fair – Poverty: After three consecutive years of increases, the poverty rate seems to be flattening out. The 46.2 million Americans (15% of the population) who lived in poverty in 2011 was not significantly different than 2010. This may be due to an increase in the number of people working full-time, year round. The number of year-round, full-time workers in the bottom income quintile of households increased 17.3% between 2010 and 2011, indicating that many of the new jobs that are being created are low-wage jobs.

The Good – Health Insurance: The number of Americans without health insurance decreased from 16.3% in 2010 to 15.7% in 2011, a 3.8% drop. The increase in health care coverage is likely attributable to two things:

  1. The growth in government-sponsored health insurance – the percentage of people covered by government health insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, etc) increased for the fifth consecutive year
  2. The increase in young adults under age 26 receiving health coverage under their parents’ health insurance as provided under the Affordable Care Act. There was a 7% decrease in the number of people ages 19 to 25 who were uninsured.

Uninsurance Rate by Age


New evidence bolsters importance of EITC

How important are family-friendly tax credits in helping vulnerable children?

New research finds that the Earned Income Tax Credit – a tried and true poverty reducer – may be even better for children than we thought, according to a recent paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In Michigan, we’ve sliced the EITC and other programs that help families through tough times. We’ve ended cash assistance for many, made it harder to get food assistance and cut Unemployment Insurance from 26 to 20 weeks. Perhaps the most damaging policy decision last year by Gov. Snyder and the Legislature was to dramatically reduce the state EITC from 20% of the federal credit to 6% to help pay for business tax cuts. (more…)

No better time to tell your story

Teri Banas

Teri Banas

Like 15,000 others in Michigan this year, Monique Taylor of Detroit knows first-hand how life can go from just squeezing by to getting behind in everyday household bills. From paying the utility bill to worrying if the utility provider is going to notice her monthly payment plan check is short. From buying basic toiletries not covered by “food stamps” to helping organize a “basic needs” drive so people like her can get toilet paper, toothpaste and detergent for her children’s clothes.

Unfortunately for the disabled single mother of four, she worries every day what the future will hold. Tears rain down easily these days. One of thousands cut off from “cash assistance” support in Michigan in February, she’s lost an extra $520 a month in household income this year and living without has gotten a lot harder. (more…)

Unemployment Insurance expanded to include work sharing

Governor Snyder has signed a work-sharing bill that gives qualifying employers an important tool for avoiding layoffs. Rather than laying off some employees entirely, the employer reduces hours for a group of employees for a specified length of time and Unemployment Insurance benefits make up part of the employees’ lost wages. This will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and has a five-year sunset.

The League has published a fact sheet, Work Sharing: A Win-Win Solution for Workers and Employers that explains the new policy. As noted in the fact sheet, workers benefit from work sharing because they will have less disruption in their household income than if they are laid off. Employers benefit from work sharing because it enables them to keep their skilled workers rather than having to search for, hire and train new workers when business improves. Overall, Michigan benefits when there are fewer layoffs and less risk of some workers becoming long-term unemployed. (more…)

Finally! A good unemployment proposal

Most of what we’ve been writing about Unemployment Insurance in the past 18 months has centered around misguided proposals or legislative inaction that have made it more difficult for laid-off workers to receive benefits as they look for work.

Today, however, there is some good news. The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee passed out a bill  introduced by Sen. Bruce Caswell (R-Hillsdale) that would institute a work-sharing program for Unemployment Insurance. Similar bills were introduced several months ago by Sen. Vincent Gregory and Rep. Jim Ananich, who are both Democrats and support the Caswell bill. Work sharing was part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s agenda for workforce development in Michigan, and the League published an op-ed in several Michigan newspapers  urging Michigan to adopt the program. (more…)

Ties that bind

The link between poverty and the economy is often ignored.  The poor are often categorized as the “other” and blamed for their financial condition.

Poverty, however, is a deficiency that makes our economy incomplete, as spelled out in the new report Ties that Bind: Poverty and Michigan’s Economic Recovery.  Without addressing the condition of poverty and understanding the effect it has on the state economy, it will be difficult for Michigan to recover from the recession. (more…)

A pointless proposal

One would think a blogger who writes about adult learning and Unemployment Insurance would be enthusiastic about a federal proposal that addresses both. However, what the U.S. House passed Tuesday night was less than thrilling.

It would be nice to report that Michigan’s own Congressman Dave Camp sponsored a bill that makes it easier for unemployed workers without a high school diploma to acquire that credential along with postsecondary training in order to reduce their chances of becoming unemployed in the future.  Nope. Congressional Republicans decided that the best way to help unemployed workers who never finished high school is (drum roll here)…bar them from receiving any unemployment benefits. (more…)

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