States adopt and adapt the EITC to address local need

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Metro Blog, The Avenue

Natalie Holmes and Alan Berube

When California passed its 2016 budget late last month, it joined a growing list of states that have recently adopted or expanded state versions of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). First enacted in 1975, the EITC has become one of the country’s most effectiveantipoverty programs. We estimate that the federal EITC keeps millions of individuals and children out of poverty each year, reducing the national poverty rate by several percentage points. Others have shown how the EITC creates a strong incentive to work and works as a powerful tool for reducing income inequality.

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Can D.C. afford a $15/hour minimum wage?

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Metro Blog, The Avenue

Alan Berube

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that D.C. city officials have cleared the way for a voter initiative in November 2016 to raise the city’s hourly minimum wage to $15. The proposal is already pitting labor unions and other progressive groups who back the rise against restaurant owners and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, who warn that the hike would force job cuts and business closings.

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Close to home: Social mobility and the growing distance between people and jobs

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Social Mobility Memos Blog

Natalie Holmes and Alan Berube

Americans live near fewer jobs than they used to, which may be bad news for social mobility. Our recent report, “The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America,” had one straightforward implication: commutes are getting longer. This puts more strain on infrastructure and more carbon into the atmosphere. But there are implications for opportunity, too.

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How big (or small) is your city’s middle class?

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Cross-posted on Brookings’ Metro Blog, The Avenue

Alan Berube and Alec Friedhoff

Have American cities lost their middle class? The recent unrest in Baltimore caused some to (inaccurately) portray that city as overwhelmingly poor. Meanwhile, rising inequality and rapid gentrification in places like San Francisco and Seattle raise the concern that some cities are becoming exclusive enclaves for the wealthy.

Yet it turns out that many U.S. cities still retain a sizable middle class, at least judged by national standards. We took annual income data from the American Community Survey, which the Census Bureau publishes for all places with populations of at least 65,000. Comparing these city income data from 2013 to national data for the same year, we classified households in each city by the quintile (fifth) of the national income distribution into which they fell. Jump to the interactive data.

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Suburban Poverty in the Twin Cities Area

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Alan Berube

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with several groups of stakeholders in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) area to discuss local trends in, and responses to, suburbanizing poverty in the region.

Patterns of poverty in the Twin Cities region, it turns out, are pretty typical of those in large metro areas nationwide. Today, nearly 60 percent of people living below the poverty line in the MSP area live outside the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Between 2000 and 2013, their numbers rose a staggering 128 percent, compared to 37 percent in the two cities combined. Residents of the cities are still nearly twice as likely to be poor as their suburban counterparts, but that difference has narrowed in recent years.

In speaking with a diverse set of audiences in the region, I found that a few themes helped inform how leaders are approaching efforts to connect people to economic opportunity.

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Best Starts for Kids: An Ounce of Prevention in King County, Washington

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Natalie Holmes and Alan Berube

We recently visited King County, Wash., the county in which Seattle sits. On many counts, the region is thriving. But while the city of Seattle grows jobs and incomes, suburban communities to its immediate south continue to grapple with elevated poverty and concentrated disadvantage. The gap between the region’s rich and poor continues to widen, which recent research suggests could hinder the economic mobility of low-income children and families.

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Suburban Poverty in the US, in the UK

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Alan Berube

I had the chance to travel to London and Birmingham last week to speak to local audiences about the suburbanization of poverty in the United States. I was hosted by colleagues at the Smith Institute, who have studied this similar phenomenon in major English and Welsh regions.

The Smith Institute’s research shows that, as in the United States, most low-income people in England and Wales (57 percent) live in suburban areas. Poverty is defined differently in the UK, as are “suburbs,” (see the slides below) but some of the challenges facing poor individuals in UK suburbs–more limited access to transit, services, and jobs–mirror those facing their counterparts in America.

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Webinar: Where are jobs moving, and who lives near them?

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Download slides and audio from our recent webinar about a new Brookings Metro report, “The growing distance between people and jobs in metropolitan America.

Press to play webinar audio     

Download (PPTX, 1.92MB)