Income

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. While many of the highest-income families do live in states such as New York and Connecticut, IRS data make clear that rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

The rise between 1979 and 2007 in top 1 percent incomes relative to the bottom 99 percent represents a sharp reversal of the trend that prevailed in the mid-20th century. This earlier era was characterized by a rising minimum wage, low levels of unemployment after the 1930s, widespread collective bargaining in private industries, and a cultural and political environment in which it was outrageous for executives to receive outsized bonuses while laying off workers. Today, millions of Americans feel tremendous anxiety about their grasp on the American Dream.

Publications

Who Really Pays: An analysis of the tax structures in 15 cities throughout Washington State

Many Washingtonians feel they are heavily taxed. They are – if they’re working class or middle class. Wealthy residents pay a tax rate many times lower than the rates other people pay. But due to our opaque tax system, it’s hard to understand how much we pay in taxes, or how much other people are.

This report compares the tax obligations of households at the $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, $100,000, $150,000 and $250,000 income levels in Bellevue, Bellingham, Everett, Federal Way, Kent, Olympia, Pasco, Pullman, Renton, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Wenatchee and Yakima. In Seattle, the combination of state and local taxes results in a system which relies much more heavily on taxes on the people least able to pay, while not imposing significantly higher taxes on the wealthy.

This report also compares job growth in states and cities with their income tax structures and effective tax rates on wealthy households. In neither case is there any correlation.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector

The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million
workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of
the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more
than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and
statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the
minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the
statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable
schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible
to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are
not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only
a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations
thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to
realize full and healthy lives.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours
and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers,
stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research
justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to
collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total
of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive
review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.

One in three Oregon families struggle to afford housing

Many Oregonians are struggling to afford safe and stable housing. Renters — who are disproportionately Oregonians of color — are the most likely to suffer from high housing costs. Many homeowners also struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Not surprisingly, housing costs weigh more heavily on low- and moderate-income households.

For Oregonians struggling to pay for their rent or mortgage, the cost of housing can make it hard to afford other basics such as healthy food and child care. In the worst cases, unaffordable housing costs increase rates of homelessness in Oregon.

Housing instability, in turn, undermines the physical and mental health of families, as well as the ability of children to succeed in school.

Impact of the Governor’s FY 2019 Budget Adjustments on Children and Families

  • February 20, 2018
  • Connecticut Voices for Children
  • Ray Noonan, Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., Ellen Shemitz, J.D., Karen Siegel, Camara Stokes Hudson, Nicole Updegrove, and Jane McNichol, J.D.

Connecticut’s long-term fiscal health depends on an economy that benefits all families, businesses, and communities. To achieve this objective, the state needs a strategic budget that balances investment with fiscal responsibility. In this report, we find that the Governor’s latest budget proposal would move Connecticut away from these goals. Under the Governor’s plan, the Children’s Budget, the share of state spending devoted to children, would drop to 27.2 percent, a historic low, down from 27.8 in the budget approved last November.

The Governor’s budget includes significant cutscompared to the biennial budget approved by the General Assembly last October. The proposal would reduce spending in health and human services by 3.9 percent, K-12 education by 3.3 percent, early care and education by 2.6 percent, and higher education by 1.7 percent. The report warns that fixed costs (pensions, debt service, and retiree healthcare), although slightly lower than in the previous year, will continue trending upward, potentially further eroding these programs.

In addition to the present budget cuts, the Governor’s budget fails to address the impact of four fiscal restrictions inserted into the budget implementer during closed-door negotiations. The combination of a newly defined spending cap, a bond cap, a volatility cap, and a bond lock diminish this flexibility, tying the state’s hands and making it more difficult for Connecticut to make the strategic investments necessary to promote equitable opportunity and inclusive economic growth.

The report calls on the General Assembly to prioritize repealing or amending these fiscal restrictions.Furthermore, we urge policymakers to modernize the state’s revenue system, eliminating loopholes and broadening the tax base, and to invest in Connecticut’s future, with a focus on child care, education, and healthy child development.