Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Study: Immigrants Make Vital Contribution to ND's Economy

A new study shows North Dakota has recently seen the largest foreign-born population growth in the country. (iStockphoto)
August 22, 2016
A new study shows North Dakota has recently seen the largest foreign-born population growth in the country. (iStockphoto)
BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota's foreign-born population plays some important roles in the state's economy, according to a new study.

The Partnership for a New American Economy report shows the state's immigrant population of nearly 12,000 is vital to the service industry and other job sectors.

It says as of 2014, 17 percent of all employees in North Dakota's administrative, support, and waste management services were from abroad.

Bruce Gjovig, who heads the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation Foundation, says science, math and technology fields are facing the greatest worker shortage, and there simply aren't enough North Dakotans to fill the gap.

"They're filling two important niches in the market – those lower end jobs that Americans typically do not want to take, and also then, the very high-tech jobs,” he explains. “So, they are very much needed, because we don't have the workforce to fill those positions."

The study says while immigrants make up a little less than 4 percent of North Dakota's population, immigrant-owned business generated nearly $13 million in income in 2014.

Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, says immigrants also are paying their share of taxes.

In 2014, foreign-born North Dakotans paid more than $34 million in local and state taxes.

"That is a huge boon for the fiscal health of the state,” Robbins stresses. “It's also a huge boon through their consumption and the money that they're pouring into the economy – they're creating jobs."

The study also found between 2010 and 2014, North Dakota saw the highest foreign-born population growth in the nation.

Gjovig maintains the state could benefit from comprehensive federal immigration reform, which he says could help sustain many industries.

"Immigrants often have great international ties that they bring with them,” he states. “And we're a state with the commodities of ag and energy that have a worldwide market. And having those worldwide connections are very important for us to do business globally."

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND

Thursday, August 18, 2016

CFED Annual Report

For over 35 years, CFED has been working together with partners like you to create an opportunity economy for all individuals and families in the United States.
Last year was no exception, and we are thrilled to share all that we accomplished together in our 2015 Annual Report

Because of you, CFED launched the Campaign for Every Kid’s Future to ensure that 1.4 million kids in the US have a Children’s Savings Account to help them save for college by 2020. We also deepened our understanding of the racial wealth divide and made significant investments to ensure that all of our programs and policy recommendations address the unique financial needs of children and families of color. Finally, because financial security impacts all aspects of our life—our education, our health, our ability to hold down a job, our chance to live in healthy homes—we partnered with some of this country’s preeminent thought leaders to publish What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation.
These are just a few of the accomplishments that we achieved last year. Together, we will continue working to build an opportunity economy to expand prosperity for all.
Thank you again for your support.
All my best,
Andrea Levere

Monday, August 8, 2016

New Cross-Sector Partnership Offering Up to $500 Million in Low-Cost Financing to CDFIs

By Sean Luechtefeld on 08/04/2016 @ 11:00 AM
Tags: News
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Uplift America Fund, an innovative partnership that leverages federal resources, private grants and traditional bank financing to infuse capital into areas where poverty has persisted for decades. The Fund—which is making available up to a half-billion dollars in financing for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)—was designed to alleviate economic distress in Appalachia, near the Texas-Mexico border, in the rural South and on Native American reservations. Over the past several months, CFED has contributed to the design and development of the Uplift America Fund and is honored to have been chosen by USDA to join Bank of America and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation to ensure the Fund reaches the communities with the most need.

Unique about the Uplift America Fund—and why CFED was eager to contribute to this unprecedented effort—is that brings together the public and private sectors to facilitate infrastructure projects by investing in CDFIs. Although CDFIs do important work every day in communities across the country, the barriers these institutions face in investing in very-low-income rural communities can sometimes be insurmountable. In response, the Uplift America Fund will work to strengthen the balance sheets of CDFIs by connecting them to USDA’s Community Facilities Relending Program. The Community Facilities Relending Program provides financing for projects and services that enhance community vitality, such as health care clinics, fire departments, museum, food pantries and community gardens.

To inform the design of the Fund, CFED traveled the country, conducting focus groups with stakeholders in some of our nation’s most economically distressed communities. Everywhere we went, we heard a different story, but each story pointed to the same conclusion: investing in these communities will require significant resources and cross-sector collaboration. During a focus group in Appalachia, one participant told us, “The collapse of the coal industry is a catastrophe that sits on top of a disaster […]. We are going to need industrial-scale solutions for industrial-scale collapse.” A focus group participant in Indian Country also noted, “CDFIs and [Community Development Corporations] anchor a lot of the services that are available to households in Indian Country […]. We invest in them because there is accountability with CDFIs. They will pay the money back.”

As CFED President Andrea Levere remarked at the July 19 launch event for the Uplift America Fund, no one sector can address persistent poverty successfully. Instead, we need to bring together public, private and philanthropic capital to allow each of us to do what we do best. Ultimately, that’s the strength of the Uplift America Fund and why we consider ourselves privileged to be part of this important effort to address persistent poverty.

Friday, August 5, 2016

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency Publication - Tenant Resources

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency recently published a new Tenant Resources Guide: A Guide to Renting Affordable Housing.

The 8 page booklet provides information on:
  • Determining Affordability
  • Understanding Your Credit Score
  • Preparing Your Apartment Resume
  • Asking the Right Questions
  • Repairing Your Background
  • Understanding Your Lease
  • Qualifying for Public Housing
The guide also has a link to the North Dakota Apartment Association's Landlord/Tenant Rights.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Economic Policy Institute: Minimum Wage Could be $18.85 if Tied to Productivity

Analyst: Min. Wage Could be $18.85 if Tied to Productivity

A new analysis argues that the federal minimum wage would be about $10 higher if it were tied to gains made in worker productivity. (iStockphoto)
August 4. 2016
A new analysis argues that the federal minimum wage would be about $10 higher if it were tied to gains made in worker productivity. (iStockphoto)
BISMARCK, N.D. – This summer marks the seven year anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage was raised – from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour – and the buying power of those dollars has fallen by 10 percent because of inflation, according to new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.

David Cooper, the study's author, says until the 1960s the wage was raised at roughly the same pace as increases in worker productivity.

"Had that trend continued since 1968 and we had continued to raise the minimum wage pretty regularly every year, we would have a minimum wage today of close to $19 an hour," he points out.

The Democratic Party recently added a $15-an-hour minimum wage to its platform, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has also come out in favor of an increase.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, raising the federal wage isn't possible for all businesses, especially in the South and parts of the Midwest.

Cooper's study also found that if the wage had kept pace with the average growth of typical U.S. workers' income, today's minimum wage would be almost $12 an hour.

Groups opposing initiatives in several states to pay workers at least that amount over the next few years maintain the move could lead to thousands of jobs being cut.

Cooper disagrees.

"The effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment probably is the most studied topic in all of labor economics,” he points out. “Modest increases in the minimum wage have little to no effect on employment, I mean, that debate is basically settled."

Cooper stresses raising the wage floor also helps middle class workers get paid more, and has a positive impact on local economies.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Midwest Joins the Movement: A Midyear Look at Paid Sick Time Progress across the Nation

JUL 01, 2016

By Zoe Ziliak Michel

The movement to guarantee paid sick time has swept into the Heartland. On May 27, Minneapolis became the first* jurisdiction in the Midwest to pass a paid sick time ordinance. Just last week, Chicago followed suit. The two cities join nearly three dozen other jurisdictions that have passed such laws.
Minneapolis and Chicago aren’t the only winners this year. Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates and workers, eight jurisdictions have passed paid sick time laws or referenda in 2016. In March, Vermont became the fifth state (joining Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon) to guarantee its workers paid sick time. Maryland came very close; its bill passed the house of delegates but failed in the senate on the last day of the session. Four other cities—SpokanePlainfieldNJSanta Monica; and Los Angeles—also passed paid sick time ordinances this year. And just last month, voters in San Diego approved a referendum that will allow workers to earn 40 hours of paid sick time per year. The laws passed this year alone will grant paid sick time to over 1.7 million additional workers.
These laws help meet important needs. Without paid sick time, workers who fall ill have to choose between staying home to recover and earning a paycheck. They can even be fired for missing a single day of work. Paid sick time laws allow people to stay home to care for themselves or a sick loved one while still being able to pay their rent. The laws further promote public health by ensuring that workers who interact with the public—those employed in food service, health care, or child care facilities, among others—don’t spread their illnesses to clients or patients. The laws also help businesses by reducing employee turnover and improving morale.

More paid sick time laws are expected to pass in the coming months. Legislators in St. Paul and Duluth, MN are currently considering bills, and other locations may pass paid sick time through referenda. Berkeley, CA will have a paid sick time measure on its ballot this November, while advocates in Washington state; Arizona; and Albuquerque, NM are collecting signatures for referenda.

2016 is quickly becoming a memorable year in the movement to guarantee paid sick time. However, state and local paid sick time laws are not enough. There are currently 43 million U.S. workers who cannot earn a single paid sick day. While workers in Vermont and Spokane will soon have this protection, those in Georgia and Urbana need it, too. A federal paid sick time bill, the Healthy Families Act (HFA), is needed to cover everyone. This bill would ensure no one in our country has to choose between staying employed and staying well.
* = Milwaukee actually passed a paid sick time ballot initiative in 2008, but it was overturned with the passage of a 2011 Wisconsin preemption law forbidding municipalities to enact local paid sick time ordinances.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Medicaid Expansion Helps Kids by Helping Moms Get Care for Maternal Depression

JUL 21, 2016

Today, CLASP and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) are releasing a new report on the important but often-overlooked link between adult health care coverage and children’s healthy development – specifically, the connection between health care coverage and identifying and treating maternal depression, so that children can thrive.  Because of the powerful connection between mothers’ mental health and children’s wellbeing and long-term success, Medicaid expansion is a critical tool to help children and should be front and center for child-focused advocates and policymakers. 
We are especially excited about this report because of the complementary expertise of our two organizations – CCF on health and CLASP on child care and early childhood development.  Thank you to our co-authors Stephanie Schmit and Alisa Chester for their hard work synthesizing the research about child development, Medicaid expansion, and maternal depression.  The report, Medicaid Expansion Promotes Children’s Development and Family Success by Treating Maternal Depression, distills the research to support four key conclusions.
  • Untreated maternal depression is a major public health problem that affects large numbers of women, especially low-income women and their children. More than half (55 percent) of poor infants have a mother who is experiencing some level of depressive symptoms. Maternal depression has been shown to undercut children’s healthy development and stymie families’ efforts to escape poverty. Maternal depression can affect children’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioral development, as well as academic achievement and employment opportunities throughout their lifetime.
  • While safe and effective treatments exist, low-income and uninsured women are far less likely to get treatment. More than one-third (37 percent) of low-income mothers with young children who have had a major depressive disorder do not receive any treatment. The cost of mental health care is a major barrier to care, particularly for uninsured mothers.
  • States that used the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income parents have new opportunities to ensure that women are enrolled and receiving coverage. In the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid, half a million mothers fall into a coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage but earn too little to qualify for premium assistance through the ACA’s health insurance marketplace. The Medicaid income eligibility threshold for parents in most non-expansion states is extremely low. (See chart).
  • Mothers without health insurance face significant financial barriers to getting the care they need to treat maternal depression.  As research cited in the report demonstrates, expanding Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults (including mothers) would remove those barriers and help increase access to screening, identification, and treatment of maternal depression—thereby promoting young children’s healthy development and families’ economic security. Access to Medicaid has been shown to reduce the incidence of depression by increasing access to mental health services and diminishing financial barriers to care. For example, new research indicates that Medicaid expansion has not only resulted in improved access to medical benefits but has also resulted in improved access to behavioral health treatment for newly eligible enrollees.
The report concludes that Medicaid expansion for low-income mothers can greatly improve women’s access to treatment for depression, which is vital to children’s healthy development.
Extending Medicaid coverage to more low-income mothers would help increase screening, identification, and treatment of maternal depression—thereby promoting young children’s healthy development and family economic security.
If more states were to accept Medicaid expansion funding, more mothers would gain access to maternal depression screening and treatment and more children would have improved opportunities to reach their full potential.