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Social Service Delivery in Two Rural Counties

February 21, 2019

When low-income residents struggle to make ends meet, non-profit social service agencies can help fill the gaps. In doing so, these agencies must find sufficient funding, retain qualified staff, and craft efficient service delivery mechanisms that are respectful of clients and communities. Some of the challenges that service providers encounter are exacerbated by rural characteristics, such as vast geographic distances and the lack of economies of scale. Yet in some ways rurality is beneficial, as small communities can facilitate community engagement and providers can engage natural supports in their service delivery work.

The Interaction Between the Minimum Wage and the Federal EITC

November 13, 2018

In this fact sheet, authors Andrew Schaefer, Jessica Carson, Marybeth Mattingly, and Andrew Wink examine the interaction between the minimum wage and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to determine whether a minimum wage increase would produce gains in the sum of earnings plus EITC dollars for low-income workers. They report that for workers earning the minimum wage, an increase would result in higher income; none would experience a lower net income due to changes in the federal EITC credit (though this may be offset by loss of other safety net program benefits). For some family types, increased income would come primarily from a higher minimum wage; for others, gains would also come from the higher-value federal EITC triggered by their higher earnings.

Data Snapshot: EITC Continues to Reach Families in Poor Places

October 9, 2018

Recent proposals in the House and Senate (for example, the Grow American Incomes Now Act) focus on amplifying the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—a refundable tax credit for low-income workers—to compensate for growing wage inequity. We find that the share of EITC filers who are families with children is especially high in the poorest counties (those counties outlined in black on Map 1), including many places throughout the South. Many of these counties are nonmetropolitan counties (see Map 2), suggesting that the EITC can provide safety net support in places where other social services may be less available. While an EITC expansion could be costly, existing research shows that its effects on poverty reduction, employment, and both children's health and achievement are considerable, and therefore, worth considering in the scheme of ongoing broad tax revisions.

Data Snapshot: Declines in Child Poverty Continue in 2017

September 13, 2018

The official poverty measure indicates that child poverty declined by 1.1 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, according to analyses of the latest American Community Survey data released today. By 2017, child poverty across the nation was still 0.4 percentage point higher than before the Great Recession. Child poverty remained higher in cities and rural places than in the suburbs. For the first time, rates in cities dipped below the pre-recession level, although poverty is still slightly higher in rural and suburban places than in 2007. 

Child Care Expenses Make Middle-Class Incomes Hard to Reach

August 29, 2018

Most Americans believe that through hard work and saving they can secure an economically sound, middle-class lifestyle. But for many working families, the high price of child care makes this goal extremely challenging.In this brief, we present estimates of the number of families that cannot maintain a middle-class income as a result of child care expenses. We find that, indeed, many working families cannot attain middle-income status because of child care expenses, while many additional families maintain this status by relying on unpaid child care, informal arrangements with family or friends, or below-market-rate services, potentially from unlicensed care providers. An even greater share of middle-class families would be pushed out if they incurred typical child care costs.

Data Snapshot: Poorer Working Families With Young Children Are Unlikely to Afford Child Care

December 15, 2017

Low-income families with working parents face significant burdens paying for child care, which can function as a barrier to work and often means parents must rely on child care arrangements that are less formal and less stable. Amid national concerns about the high cost of child care, it is important to keep this issue at the forefront. Given the especially high costs of care for very young children, this snapshot highlights the child care costs faced by families with a child under age 3. Figure 1 shows the share of families paying for child care (bottom sections) by their income level. As a family's income-to-poverty ratio rises, they are more likely to pay for child care. Poorer families who do pay for child care are much more often paying over 7 percent of their income on child care, the current benchmark of affordability from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Data Snapshot: Working Families with Young Children and No Out-of-Pocket Child Care Struggle Financially

December 15, 2017

Working families with young children face substantial barriers in accessing and affording quality child care. Figure 1 shows that among working families with a child under age 3, those who do not pay for child care are more likely to live in poor or low-income families than those who do pay for child care (61 percent versus 45 percent). 

"Not very many options for the people who are working here"

November 14, 2017

In this brief, we use interview and focus group data to describe some of the ways that restricted rural housing stock affects working families in two rural New England counties, and explore solutions proposed by rural residents and experts to make housing affordable (see Box 1 on page 2). Rural amenities and scenery make residence in certain New England regions desirable for second-home owners, vacationers, and retirees. However, the use of housing for these purposes, combined with efforts to conserve acreage and preserve scenery, serves to diminish the supply of housing, making it unaffordable for many low- and moderate-income residents. Moreover, the housing that is available varies in quality, and regional nonprofit and federal housing assistance programs lack the capacity to meet all residents' needs.

Data Snapshot: Poverty Estimates for New Hampshire Counties

October 30, 2017

On October 20, 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau made available estimates of poverty and other indicators for 2016 for small geographic areas. In considering these data from the American Community Survey (ACS), it is important to pay close attention to the margins of error (MOE) before reaching any conclusions—especially when doing comparisons such as comparing poverty rates between counties and years.

Data Snapshot: 2016 Child Poverty Rate Sees Largest Decline Since Before Great Recession

September 14, 2017

Child poverty declined by 1.2 percentage points between 2015 and 2016, according to analyses of the official poverty measure (OPM) in the latest American Community Survey. By 2016, child poverty across the nation was still 1.5 percentage points higher than before the Great Recession. Child poverty remained higher in cities and rural places than in the suburbs. Across the nation there is substantial variability both in the level of poverty and in improvement since the start of the Great Recession—25 states have child poverty rates higher than those in 2007 (see what's happening in your state). Of course, the official poverty measure is only one indicator of economic challenge, and many families living above the poverty line still struggle to make ends meet. 

A Demographic and Economic Profile of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin

August 1, 2017

In this brief, we present a demographic and economic profile of Duluth, MN, and Superior, WI, with a specific focus on families with children. The cities, situated at the western point of Lake Superior, share a rich economic history as major ports for coal, iron ore, and grain. Each city is also home to numerous colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Child Care Expenses Push Many Families Into Poverty

May 2, 2017

How often are low-income families pushed into poverty by their child care expenses? In this fact sheet, we use the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to assess the extent to which child care expenses are pushing families with young children into poverty.