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Inflation, Public Supports, and Families with Low Incomes

February 8, 2023

Many families with low incomes rely on public supports to make ends meet. Some of those public supports adjust for inflation annually, offering families with low incomes some salve against rising prices, while others do not. But even programs that do respond to inflation do so with a lag, which may leave some families struggling to make ends meet during periods of rapidly rising prices. This brief examines the challenges of keeping up with the rising cost of living when relying on public support and then describes how several major public supports address inflation.

Scoring Federal Legislation for Equity: Definition, Framework, and Potential Application

June 6, 2022

Federal legislation is fundamental to building a nation in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Since our nation's founding, in many ways, federal legislation has created and exacerbated racial inequities, leaving one-third of the population experiencing material poverty and preventing our democracy from realizing the promise of equity. To ensure the federal government serves us all, we must accurately understand and assess whether every policy advances or impedes equity. The Equity Scoring Initiative (ESI) exists to establish the foundation for a new legislative scoring regime. By scoring for equity, we can begin to create an accountable, responsive democracy.

The Moynihan Report Revisited

June 1, 2013

The controversial 1965 Moynihan report focused on the roots of black poverty in the U.S. and the decline of the black nuclear family. This report examines the state of black families today, gauging how their circumstances have changed since the 1960s and how they compare with other racial and ethnic groups.

Downward Mobility From the Middle Class: Waking Up From the American Dream

September 6, 2011

Examines trends in Americans falling out of the middle class, ranking 20 or more percentiles below their parents, or earning 20 percent or more below their parents' real income, and contributing factors across race/ethnicity and gender.

America Insecure: Changes in the Economic Security of American Families

February 1, 2010

Synthesizes findings from the "Risk and Low-Income Working Families" research initiative and other studies on trends in family income. Analyzes, by income level, long-term trends in economic mobility, volatility, and risks of substantial drops in income.

Work and Income Security From 1970 to 2005

December 31, 2009

Analyzes long-term trends in family income and the importance of stable full-time, full-year work in providing economic security and upward mobility, with a focus on low-income working families. Examines the factors behind upward and downward mobility.

Risk and Recovery: Understanding the Changing Risks to Family Incomes

October 1, 2009

Examines the factors that affect the likelihood of families with children to experience sharp income drops and to recover financially, including job loss, separation, and spikes in income before the drop, as well as demographics and original income level.

Risk and Recovery: Documenting the Changing Risks to Family Incomes

May 31, 2009

Based on 1996, 2001, and 2004 data, examines the incidence of incomes of individuals with children falling substantially over a four-month period and the incidence of their recovering to pre-decline levels. Compares data by income quintile.

Job Differences by Race and Ethnicity in the Low-Skill Job Market

February 17, 2009

Based on a survey of employers, examines differences in wages and benefits among African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, and white workers in jobs that do not require a college degree. Compares job requirements, ages, education levels, and training.

Entry-Level and Next-Step Jobs in the Low-Skill Job Market

November 1, 2008

Based on a survey of employers, compares entry-level and next-step jobs in the non-college job market in terms of compensation, tasks, needed skills, employer types, and hiring methods. Considers how employment programs can help people get next-step jobs.

Job Placement Agencies and the Low-Skill Labor Market

November 1, 2008

Based on a survey of employers, assesses the use of different types of agencies to fill low-skill jobs, the types of jobs commonly filled, and employers' experiences with agencies, including the quality of the applicants and the challenges they face.

Low-Skill Jobs, Work Hours, and Paid Time Off

November 1, 2008

Based on a survey of employers, examines the scheduling demands placed on low-skill workers and the availability of sick leave, paid time off, and benefits allowing for the care of family members. Compares benefits for entry-level and next-step jobs.