As we mark the one-year ARRA anniversary, it’s time to look at strategies on the road to recovery.
ARRA investment can promote and fund an economic recovery that works for all of us. Or, stimulus investment can go to those who’ve always had more, reinforcing existing inequities, and leaving women, people of color, and low-income families further behind. Much of ARRA’s $819 billion funding is still to be spent, and we must ensure that the recovery helps those most in need.
On January 28, 2010 six organizations came together for an on-line webinar to recommend what the federal government needs to do to tackle the unemployment crisis. The 8.1 million jobs lost since the beginning of the recession has created the largest “job hole” since the great depression, according to Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute. He projected that by the end of 2010, unemployment will be at 10.5% and in two years will be no lower than 8.7%. At this rate, over 100,000 jobs a month must be created to fill the gap.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided incentives to states to modernize their unemployment insurance (UI) programs and improve coverage for women. Many states responded – but many have yet to act, despite urgent need.
The Unemployment Insurance (UI) system is designed to provide temporary income assistance to workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Benefits are not equally available to the unemployed, however; women, low-wage, and part-time workers are less likely than men, higher-wage, and full-time workers to qualify for and receive UI benefits.
In response to ARRA many states changed their laws to expand access to unemployment insurance benefits to victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, over 15 states have yet to take the opportunity to extend eligibility (in the ARRA or other contexts), thus denying many victims, already in precarious situations, an important source of financial stability as they try to escape the violence in their lives.
Ever since my sophomore year of college, when I took “Social, Class, and Power,” I’ve had the refrain “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer” stuck in my head. Today’s report released by the Center for American Progress and Center for WorkLife Law at Hastings College of Law gave me the facts behind this refrain.
Since 1979, the median annual income of the bottom third of American families has decreased by 29% while the top third experienced a 7% increase in their median income. The middle third’s median annual income decreased 13%.