Saturday stats: Minimum wage, forgiven debt and health for all
Posted January 05, 2019 in eNews
$.25: The Ohio minimum wage went up by a quarter, from $8.30 to $8.55 on January 1. That’s thanks to a successful 2006 citizens’ ballot initiative that raised our minimum wage with annual increases pegged to inflation. This is a lot better than falling behind each year. But Ohio needs to go even further to make sure everyone earns enough to get by. That’s why Michael Shields says we should increase the wage to $15 by 2025. If we did, 1.8 million Ohioans would get a raise and we’d narrow the pay gap between black and white workers.
29: According to the Economic Policy Institute, Ohio is one of 29 states with a minimum wage above the measly federal wage floor, $7.25. Federal policymakers haven’t raised the federal wage since 2009.
994,000: That’s how many Ohioans have felony convictions in their past. Even after they’ve paid their debt to society, these folks struggle to find decent work. Michael talked to the Columbus Dispatch and WKSU about his report on the myriad of obstacles for Ohioans with convictions – and what it costs the rest of us.
11: Policy Matters Ohio is one of 11 child-serving organizations that joined forces to form the Children’s Budget Coalition. With the aim of giving more Ohio kids a strong start, the group will make recommendations for Governor-elect Mike DeWine’s first budget proposal. Look for forthcoming issue briefs on topics from public child care to the earned income tax credit.
44: Ohio ranks 44th for overall well-being, as measured by rates of disease, chronic conditions, financial security, social support and sense of life purpose. We’re one of the least healthy states – sadly, poor people and people of color suffer the most. We can do much, much better. In a Cleveland.com op-ed, Amanda Woodrum explains how bad policy has gotten us into this situation and how good policy can fix it.
6 percent: The share of Ohioans who lack health insurance – up .4 percent since President Trump slashed funding for enrollment outreach and consumer assistance through the Affordable Care Act. Ohio is one of just 14 states where the number of uninsured increased. In the Plain Dealer, Policy Matters board member Dr. Ash Seghal wrote that Medicaid expansion has improved both Ohio’s “fiscal health and our physical health.”
<5,000: As part of a national legal settlement with the for-profit college provider Career Education Corporation, nearly 5,000 Ohioans will likely be forgiven of $12 million in student debt. For-profit colleges saddle students with more debt and lower earnings after they’ve left school. Our Hannah Halbert has been ringing the alarm bell about how Ohio puts students at risk and wastes tax payer money by providing them with state support.
44: Thanks in part to Hannah’s hard work, an estimated 44 people will get unemployment benefits when they have to quit their jobs due to their spouse’s military assignment. (Can you believe anyone actually voted against this bill? Four state representatives did.)
<50,000: Ohio has just under 50,000 federal employees, who are not being paid during this federal government shutdown. Even worse, the shutdown puts people who depend on federal programs at risk. For example, federal food aid helps 1.4 million Ohioans get enough to eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said there’s enough funding to distribute aid through January, but didn’t make any promises if the shutdown extends into February
2.2 million: The federal Housing Choice Voucher Program helps more than 5 million people in 2.2 million households. The vouchers are supposed to help low-income families afford a home outside a high-poverty neighborhood, which (as Amanda Woodrum notes) are often plagued by segregation, pollution and violence and lack healthy food, good jobs and transportation options. Unfortunately, the vouchers aren’t helping families with kids escape poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, most families continue to live in poor, segregated neighborhoods. The report contains data for Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
3: On January 19th, our Cynthia Connolly will be a featured speaker at the third Women’s March rally in Cleveland. Meet in Public Square at 11 a.m. for the rally. The march begins at noon followed by a program at the Old Stone Church.