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As More Households Rent, How Can We Encourage Them to Save?

October 9, 2014 Comments off

As More Households Rent, How Can We Encourage Them to Save?
Source: Center for American Progress

When it comes to building wealth, renting in general tends not to be a good strategy for saving. Renter households in the United States have a median net worth—the total value of what a household owns, minus what it owes—of about $5,100. By contrast, households that own homes have a median net worth of more than $170,000. Even renters with incomes comparable to their homeowner counterparts make fewer financial investments and have significantly less wealth.

In the wake of the housing crisis and subsequent recession, more people are renting rather than owing homes. In many jurisdictions, renting is even more expensive than owning. Yet when a homeowner remits a monthly mortgage payment to their lender, a portion of that payment builds equity in the home, which belongs to the homeowner. When a renter pays monthly rent to a landlord, that money is gone for good. The absence of this “forced savings” of a mortgage payment is one of the reasons renting families have only a small fraction of the savings cushion available to most homeowners.

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How Shortsighted Spending Cuts Increase Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

October 8, 2014 Comments off

How Shortsighted Spending Cuts Increase Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Source: Center for American Progress

Critics have described some of the federal government’s austerity over the past several years as “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” Across-the-board spending cuts may have reduced short-term budget deficits, but they also slowed economic growth and job creation while undermining long-term investments in infrastructure, education, and innovation. Some cuts, however, not only damaged the economy, but also targeted sectors of the federal budget devoted to preventing wasteful spending or ensuring that the government collects revenues efficiently and fairly. In short, those spending cuts cannot even be described as penny-wise.

It may be counterintuitive to imagine a spending cut that increases deficits, but when cuts hinder competent program administration and oversight, the resulting increase in waste, fraud, and abuse is often larger than the related spending cut. Everyone agrees that waste, fraud, and abuse should be prevented in federal programs, but making that happen is easier said than done. Competent administration depends on adequate staff and resources, and rooting out cheating and corruption requires strong oversight.

This issue brief identifies four sectors of the budget where spending cuts have increased deficits: the Internal Revenue Service; inspectors general throughout the federal government; program integrity for major health care and disability programs; and funding to help Congress make better budget decisions, with a focus on the Government Accountability Office, or GAO.

State of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Series

October 7, 2014 Comments off

State of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Series
Source: Center for American Progress

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPIs, are a significant factor in the changing demographics in the United States. But the lack of centralized and accessible data has created a large knowledge gap about this fast-growing and influential group. Data about this group have often not been available or presented in a way that is accessible to policymakers, journalists, and community-based organizations.

The Center for American Progress in conjunction with AAPI Data, a project at the University of California, Riverside, have launched a series of reports on the state of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities, featuring the most comprehensive research and analysis of its kind for the AAPI population in the United States. The report series will provide an unprecedented look at this community and provide new insight and analysis along various issue areas including: demographics, public opinion, immigration, education, language access and use, civic and political participation, income and poverty, labor market, consumer market and entrepreneurship, civil rights, health care, and health outcomes.

Innovations in Apprenticeship: 5 Case Studies That Illustrate the Promise of Apprenticeship in the United States

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Innovations in Apprenticeship: 5 Case Studies That Illustrate the Promise of Apprenticeship in the United States
Source: Center for American Progress

In 2007, spurred by a projected skills gap in South Carolina’s workforce, state policymakers and the South Carolina Technical College System established an innovative apprenticeship program called Apprenticeship Carolina. Today—after just seven years—Apprenticeship Carolina consists of around 700 employer partners and over 10,400 current and former apprentices. This is just one example of many innovative apprenticeship programs emerging across the United States. From Vermont to Michigan to Washington state, governments, employers, workforce planners, and education stakeholders are making important new investments in this critical workforce training tool.

As detailed in the recent Center for American Progress report, “Training for Success: A Policy to Expand Apprenticeships in the United States,” apprenticeship is a workforce-training model that combines on-the-job training with classroom-based instruction and has been proven to benefit employers, employees, and the overall economy. Apprenticeships allow businesses to meet the growing demand for skilled workers, and they lead workers to higher wages and better employment outcomes. Furthermore, they are a smart public investment. A recent study in Washington state found that for every $1 in state investment in apprenticeships, taxpayers received $23 in net benefits, a return that far exceeds that of any other workforce-training program in the state.

Assault Weapons Revisited: Policy Options for Regulating Rifles, Shotguns, and Other Firearms 20 Years After the Passage of the Assault Weapons Ban

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Assault Weapons Revisited: Policy Options for Regulating Rifles, Shotguns, and Other Firearms 20 Years After the Passage of the Assault Weapons Ban
Source: Center for American Progress

This report considers how gun laws have evolved to address different classes of firearms and looks more broadly at how federal and state laws treat rifles and shotguns differently than handguns and whether all of those distinctions continue to make sense. It also examines data on the changing nature of gun violence and the increasing use of long guns and assault rifles by criminals, with a focus on Pennsylvania as a case study.
Additionally, this report offers a new framework for regulating assault weapons and other special categories of guns that balances the desire of law-abiding gun owners to possess these guns with the need to protect public safety from their misuse in dangerous hands. These policies include:

  • Require background checks for all gun sales
  • Require dealers to report multiple sales of long guns
  • Equalize interstate sales of long guns and handguns
  • Require federal firearms licenses for individuals that manufacture guns using 3D printers
  • Bar possession and use of machine guns by individuals under the age of 16
  • Require a permit for possession of assault weapons

America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom

September 3, 2014 Comments off

America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom
Source: Center for American Progress

If you spend time in almost any major school district in America today, you will notice that the students often do not look much like the teachers. In fact, in some areas, the students don’t look anything like their teachers. There is a significant demographic gap in the largely white teaching profession and an increasingly diverse student population.

To prepare American students for lives of high achievement, America’s schools need a teaching corps that is not only highly effective but also racially and ethnically diverse. Progress has been made in recent decades in attracting people of color to the teaching profession. But major barriers—including a scarcity of high-quality, teacher-training programs targeted at teachers of color; the educational debt students of color must shoulder; and the general lack of esteem in our society for teaching—stand in the way of producing an optimal pool of teachers. Without vigorous policy innovations and public investment, the demographic gap will only widen to the detriment of children’s education.

This report will describe how the shortcomings of today’s education system and the underachievement of many of today’s students of color shrink the future supply of teachers of color. Furthermore, it will offer policy recommendations through which federal and state education agencies and local school districts can address this critical problem.

Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes

July 28, 2014 Comments off

Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes
Source: Center for American Progress

Low teacher pay is not news. Over the years, all sorts of observers have argued that skimpy teacher salaries keep highly qualified individuals out of the profession. One recent study found that a major difference between the education system in the United States and those in other nations with high-performing students is that the United States offers much lower pay to educators.

But for the most part, the conversation around teacher pay has examined entry-level teachers. The goal of this issue brief was to learn more about the salaries of mid- and late-career teachers and see if wages were high enough to attract and keep the nation’s most talented individuals. This research relied on a variety of databases, the results of which are deeply troubling. Our findings include:

  • Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states. In Colorado, teachers with a graduate degree and 10 years of experience make less than a trucker in the state. In Oklahoma, teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree make less than sheet metal workers. And teachers in Georgia with 10 years of experience and a graduate degree make less than a flight attendant in the state. (See Appendix for state-by-state data on teacher salaries. We relied on “base teacher” salaries for our data, which typically does not include summer jobs or other forms of additional income.)
  • Teachers with 10 years of experience who are family breadwinners often qualify for a number of federally funded benefit programs designed for families needing financial support. We found that mid-career teachers who head families of four or more in multiple states such as Arizona and North Dakota qualify for several benefit programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the School Breakfast and Lunch Program. What’s more, teachers have fewer opportunities to grow their salaries compared to other professions.
  • To supplement their minimal salaries, large percentages of teachers work second jobs. We found that in 11 states, more than 20 percent of teachers rely on the financial support of a second job, and in some states such Maine, that number is as high as 25 percent. In these 11 states, the average base salary for a teacher with 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree is merely $39,673—less than a carpenter’s national average salary. (Note that teachers typically have summers off, and the data on teachers who work second jobs do not include any income that a teacher may have earned over the summer.)
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