Economic Justice

More VA Kids Living in Low-Income Households

Icon November 13, 2013 - 16:01 By: Alison Burns Full article can be found by clicking here. RICHMOND, Va. - Although Virginia is considered one of the wealthiest states in the nation, it also has seen an increase in the percentage of kids living in poverty. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals that one in three Virginia children age 8 and younger is growing up in a low-income household. Emily Griffey, senior policy analyst for Voices for Virginia's Children, said most of them don't have access to preschool and are not prepared for kindergarten. "We think that further investments in early childhood will help all children in Virginia catch up and be ready for school, ready to learn," she said. She said she also hopes Virginia's new governor and Legislature will make early childhood education a top priority. "I think we're at a turning point, and we're envisioning that there can be bipartisan suppport for this issue," she said. "That is the Virginia way, and we hope to continue to demonstrate that." A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing legislation on Capitol Hill today that would dramatically expand access to preschool nationwide. Griffey said such efforts are critical for lifting children out of poverty. According to the Casey Foundation report, about 341,000 children ages 8 and younger live in low-income Virginia households, compared with 288,000 in 2005.

Food Stamp Cuts Kick In Today

Icon November 1, 2013 - 14:04 By: Alison Burns Full article and audio can be found by clicking here.  RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia families that are struggling financially will have less help affording food this month.  A 2009 Recovery Act boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, intended to assist families through the recession, expires today.  Amy Woolard, a policy analyst for Voices for Virginia's Children, says that means Virginia families will see a reduction in benefits of about 5.5 percent – or $36 dollars a month for a family of four. "So with benefits equating to only $4 per day, per person,” she says, “or about $1.40 per meal, that really means families and children will be struggling to make up several days worth of meals each month heading into winter." Woolard says most of the SNAP or food stamp recipients in Virginia are children, the elderly and disabled.  She's especially worried about the impact of less food on children's health. "Food insecurity leads to greater risk for things like childhood obesity, and other chronic conditions like asthma, anemia, pneumonia,” she explains. “And heading into flu season we need kids to be as healthy as they can be." Woolard adds food banks and other charity groups already are seeing an increase in demand.

CHN: Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections Extended to Home Care Workers

Icon September 23, 2013 - 20:41 On September 17, the US Department of Labor announced that it will extend minimum wage laws and overtime protection to all home care aides who care for the elderly and people with disabilities as of January 1, 2015. This measure will end a 38-year ruling that excluded home care workers from receiving these basic protections. Direct care work is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation, and almost two million people will benefit from this policy change.  Aides help America’s elderly and disabled populations by assisting with daily tasks such as dressing or bathing, doing chores and administering medications in their homes. Currently, home care aides are preempted from receiving the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) and overtime protection because they are categorized as “companionship” workers – individuals who provide “companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves” (as explained in this Huffington Postarticle). The need for revised regulations was underscored in 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled against Evelyn Coke, a New York home care worker who sued to reverse the federal regulations that exempt home care agencies from having to pay overtime. Advocates and labor leaders praise this long-awaited measure as a way to ensure that home care workers are provided the same legal protections as nurses who perform similar tasks in a hospital setting. With more minimum wage battles on the horizon, home care advocates and organizations like the Direct Care Alliance are happy to finally be able to claim victory with these regulations.

Left Out of Labor Day

Icon August 29, 2013 - 17:46 The Commonwealth Institute: Here’s something to wrap your mind around as we head into Labor Day weekend: unemployment is down in Virginia, but fewer people in the state’s economy are working. Virginia’s unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is down considerably from its peak of 7.4 percent during the winter of 2010. But fewer than 63 percent of working-age Virginians have a job. That’s down from over 67 percent just four years ago, before the recession decimated the state’s economy. The last time fewer Virginians were working was way back in 1982, when the unemployment rate was well over 7 percent. (See Figure 1.) How can we have a low unemployment rate at the same time that a smaller share of the working-age population is actually working? Here are two reasons. First, Virginia’s working-age population has increased over 8 percent since the start of the recession, but employment hasn’t kept pace. As shown in Figure 2 below, Virginia’s total employment has grown just under 2 percent since the recession officially began in December of 2007. Simply put, the pool of eligible workers grew faster than the jobs available for them. Second, Virginians are only counted as unemployed if they are available to work and actively seeking a job. If they stop looking for work, they are no longer considered unemployed and are dropped from the labor force, which is a key part of the unemployment rate calculation. So there you have it: when a Virginian looking for work loses hope and gives up, the unemployment rate drops, but so does another key barometer of economic health: the labor force participation rate. The fact that both of these numbers are dropping in Virginia is not a sign of progress. Growing numbers of working-age folks are sitting on the sidelines waiting to get in the game. We need to figure out how to take advantage of new opportunities and resources — like growing the “green economy” and expanding Medicaid — to create enough jobs to meet the need before more people take their ball and go home. —Sara Okos, Policy Director

Making Bank of America Pay Events

Icon April 16, 2013 - 20:03 Our friends at North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power are heading back to Bank of America to hold them accountable! Here is some information on how you can get involved: On MAY 8, we are calling on ALL regional activists to come to Charlotte NC, (aka “Wall Street South”) for the annual BoA Shareholder Meeting to show the big banks that they are not off the hook! The “Too Big To Fail Banks” are now bigger than ever and the consequences of this will be CATASTROPHIC. Let's not wait until the dam breaks. We are shaping public opinion- direct action, outreach, education, and media blitzes are working! A recent Rasmussen poll showed that HALF of Americans now want to break up the big banks. This is an amazing step forward! Let’s continue to build on this! While BoA can’t seem to pay taxes they've managed to be able to spend tens of millions of dollars retooling their image in an aggressive re-branding campaign; they want to get back into screwing working consumers and impressing their rich shareholders. The last thing they want on top of countless lawsuits is for us to continue changing public opinion. We may not have millions of dollars, but we have YOU! Join us in Charlotte to protest at the Annual Shareholders Meeting. Be creative! Be civil! Be there! Tell the Justice Department: No Banker is too big to Jail!  Break-Up the Big Banks! No more foreclosures… period.  BoA needs to Pay: no more tax breaks for fraudulent banks and Wall St corps while cutting benefits for seniors, children in poverty, and disabled vets! Stop financing dirty coal! Facebook Event RSVP:  

Reflections on Wal-Mart

Icon January 2, 2013 - 14:55 By Marquita Hill Published December 2, 2012 by the Roanoke Times at For two quarters, they'd get a raise On “Black Friday” some Walmart employees around the nation, for the first time, held a strike. Walmart workers earn so little that many must resort to public assistance such as food stamps or, if ill, Medicaid. So, you as a shopper may “save” when you shop at Walmart, but you, as a member of the public pay to help many Walmart employees. Meanwhile, the six Walton heirs hold more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined. Yet Walmart Corporation scorns efforts to increase employee wages and is ferociously anti-union. Its attitude is that workers should be grateful to have a job. A University of California study calculated that if each person paid an average of 46 cents more each trip to Walmart, this would provide enough to pay the average employee $12 an hour (instead of the current $8.81). If Walmart itself paid half of that 46 cents from its own great profits, it would cost shoppers only 23 cents extra per visit. If boosting Walmart employees into a livable wage range would require so little, why isn’t it happening? Almost every American can understand what fairness means. Why can’t Walmart?

Study: ALEC's Advice to States on Jobs Is Actually a Recipe for Stagnation and Wage Suppression

Icon November 30, 2012 - 15:03 Washington, DC, November 28, 2012--A new study finds that state tax and regulatory policies recommended by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) fail to promote stronger job creation or income growth, and actually predict a worse performance. Since ALEC first published its annual Rich States, Poor States study with its Economic Outlook Ranking in 2007, states that were rated better have actually done worse economically. Those are the key findings of "Selling Snake Oil to the States," a study published today by Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project and freely available online at . It was released at a press conference the same week ALEC holds its annual fall meeting in Washington, DC. "We tested ALEC's claims against actual economic results," said Dr. Peter Fisher, primary author of the study. "We conclude that eliminating progressive taxes, suppressing wages, and cutting public services are actually a recipe for economic inequality, declining incomes, and undermining public infrastructure and education that really matter for long-term economic growth." The study dissects the methodology used by ALEC's lead author Arthur Laffer and his co-authors. It finds that their arguments and evidence range from deeply flawed to nonexistent, consistently ignoring decades of peer-reviewed academic research. Instead, Laffer et al repeatedly engage in methodologically primitive approaches such as two-factor correlations and comparing arbitrary small numbers of states instead of all 50. The study finds that the composition of a state's economy-whether it has disproportionate shares of high-growth or low-growth industries-was a far better predictor of a state's relative success over the past five years. "State corporate income taxes average less than one-fifth of one percent of the average company's costs." said Fisher. "The ALEC/Laffer studies would have state leaders ignore site-location basics and disinvest public goods that benefit all employers." Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan partisan resource promoting accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families. It was founded in 1998 and is based in Washington, DC. The Iowa Policy Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization promoting public policy that fosters economic opportunity while safeguarding the health and well-being of Iowa's people and environment. It was formed in 2001 and is based in Iowa City.

Margot Dorfman Explains Why Raising Minimum Wage is Good for Economy

Icon August 3, 2012 - 19:50 Posted July 30, 2012