While many Americans continue to struggle with unemployment and financial distress in the aftermath of the Wall Street crisis of the late 2000s, it is increasingly recognized that these acute problems are symptomatic of deeper negative trends in our economy, decades in the making. Amid widening inequalities, little or no wage growth except for the most affluent, and rising fixed costs for education, health, and other key stepping stones for upward mobility, America’s once solid and expanding middle class is increasingly fragile and, for too many Americans, increasingly inaccessible. The financial meltdown only accelerated these trends, bringing new urgency to the challenge of restoring and expanding middle-class living standards in the twenty-first century economy.
The challenges facing ordinary working Americans are sharply etched in public opinion surveys, the news media, and everyday life in our communities, but our political leaders remain deeply divided about how to solve the problems. At the heart of this debate, there is a basic question: What is the role of government in our economy? Should government be doing more, or less, in a time of serious economic challenges?
Published By: Demos
Download Related Document(s): What Is Our Public GDP? Valuing Government in the Twenty-First Century Economy
The minimum wage for most tipped workers is only $2.13 an hour and, unlike the minimum wage, has not been increased since 1991. As the new Economic Policy Institute report Twenty Three Years and Still Waiting for Change documents,the erosion of the value of the tipped minimum wage has led to drastically different economic conditions for tipped workers compared to the overall workforce.
Published By: Economic Policy Institute
Impact investing holds significant promise for directing more resources to America’s distressed urban core. The EB-5 program could be an effective investment tool to achieve this goal but it is underutilized.
The EB-5 program was created by the U.S. government in 1990 to improve economic conditions, especially in high poverty and high unemployment urban and rural areas, by attracting foreign capital to support investments that create local jobs. Interest in EB-5 as a new investment tool was relatively limited until the recent recession and subsequent contraction of more traditional sources of capital.
Today, there are approximately 440 EB-5 regional centers operating across the U.S. and last year the government received over 6,300 applications to the EB-5 program. A recent report by Brookings estimates that since 1990 the EB-5 program has captured approximately $5 billion in direct investments and created over 85,000 full-time jobs.
Given the lack of publically available data, it is unclear whether the program has benefited the nation’s most economically distressed areas, including inner cities. The EB-5 program seems to have been largely overlooked by city governments, economic development corporations, foundations and other organizations actively promoting inner city investment.
This may be due in part to the relative obscurity and complexity of the program. The program also unfortunately suffers from a negative reputation due to a few high-profile cases of fraud and the bureaucratic labyrinth associated with many government programs.
Our extensive research identified 178 EB-5 projects across the U.S. and numerous examples of successful projects that could be replicated to increase employment and revitalize urban areas.
We present five case studies in this report:
The purpose of this report is to stimulate a new dialogue by offering insights into the potential of the EB-5 program as a tool for impact investing in inner cities. A set of recommendations is offered to the community of organizations engaged in impact investing to help them fully leverage this tool to maximize economic opportunity in distressed urban areas.
Published By: Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
Download Related Document(s): Increasing Economic Opportunity in Distressed Urban Communities with EB-5
The Report and Roadmap reviews a series of key interlocking questions at the outer frontier of movements for economic democracy. These questions were addressed at the Economic Democracy Summit convened by PUSH Buffalo and the MIT CoLab on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The questions were: 1) How should organizing groups from various traditions modify their base building strategies to gain community ownership of productive assets linked to democratic decision making processes? 2) How can we scale up community organizing and ownership, and how should we coordinate our efforts across scales? And 3) How do we forge a relationship between organized labor and community powerful enough to develop new modes of production and exchange?
Published By: PUSH Buffalo and the MIT CoLab
Download Related Document(s): Economic Democracy Summit: Report and Road Map
The number of American workers unable to care for themselves or their families when sick is staggering. Forty percent don’t earn a single paid sick day; millions who do can’t use the time to care for a sick family member. Others receive demerits for using time they have earned. Only 12 percent of the U.S. workforce have paid family leave to care for a newborn or seriously ill family member; less than 40 percent have temporary disability insurance for a personal medical emergency.
In Voices from the front Lines: real stories of American families Living Without Paid Leave—and Glimpses of a Brighter future, you’ll hear from the people behind these numbers. The report, published by Surdna grantee Family Values at Work, illustrates the huge financial loss and strain for families, but also for our economy. And they show the cost in human terms —the spread of contagious ailments, the consequences of treatment deferred, the heartbreak of a child alone in a hospital room.
These are Voices from the Front Lines: from moms and dads, sons and daughters, employees and employers and voters all across America. They know these policies are a win for our families and economy. And they’re calling on leaders—regardless of party or geography—to join them and ensure our nation values families at work.
Voices from the Front Lines also inspire, because these individuals are activists in the fight to bring workplace policies into the 21st century and out of the Mad Men era. Thanks to thousands like them, nearly 20 million Americans can now earn paid sick days in a growing number of cities and states and can access family leave insurance in three states.
Published By: Family Values at Work
The restoration of the historic St. Paul Union Depot created 660,000 hours of work for about 2,000 workers in at least 13 different crafts at a time when unemployment in the construction industry was extremely high. It also exceeded aggressive hiring targets for racial and gender diversity and created apprenticeship training opportunities for minority workers and women.
Unlike road-building projects where three crafts tend to receive the most work-hours, the St. Paul Union Depot job also created work for electricians, bricklayers, plumbers, ironworkers, painters, roofers, sheet metal workers and insulators. And crafts of every kind will benefit from the billions of dollars in private reinvestment stimulated by both the Depot in Lowertown and the Green Line opening on June 14 between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis.
Published By: Good Jobs for All
Download Related Document(s): Work for All the Crafts: Restoring the Union Depot in St. Paul
Across the country, U.S. metros are racing to dominate the walkable urban places (WalkUPs) market. A new report Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, published by LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a coalition of Smart Growth America, in conjunction with The George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate & Urban Analysis, identifies each metro’s WalkUPs and ranks the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas based on their current and future commercial real estate metrics.
The report is an updated version of a 2007 survey by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which compared the economic performance of metropolitan areas’ walkable urban places to their drivable sub-urban counterparts, based on selected commercial real estate metrics. This report will show who’s winning, who’s in transition, and who’s lagging behind in the race towards capturing the market demand for WalkUPs.
Published By: Smart Growth America
Download Related Document(s): Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros
Anchor institutions are nonprofit institutions that once established tend not to move location. Emerging trends related to globalization—such as the decline of manufacturing, the rise of the service sector, and a mounting government fiscal crisis—suggest the growing importance of anchor institutions to local economies. Indeed, in many places, these anchor institutions have surpassed traditional manufacturing corporations to become their region's leading employers. If the economic power of these anchor institutions were more effectively harnessed, they could contribute greatly to community wealth building. The largest and most numerous of such nonprofit anchors are universities and non-profit hospitals (often called "eds and meds"). Over the past two decades, useful lessons have been learned about how to leverage the economic power of universities in particular to produce targeted community benefits.
Published By: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Download Related Document(s):The Anchor Mission: Leveraging the Power of Anchor Institutions to Build Community Wealth
A new paper published by the Eno Center for Transportation examines innovative ways to fund transportation projects. The report “In Partnership Financing: Improving Transportation Infrastructure Through Public Private Partnerships,” Eno studied both successful and unsuccessful public private partnership (P3s) projects nationwide in an effort to identify lessons learned for policymakers, legislators, and officials interested in using P3s to deliver transportation infrastructure projects. The working group identified patterns in the challenges that localities have faced when using P3s and developed recommendations for federal and local policy to enable greater use of P3s as an infrastructure delivery mechanism in the future.
Published By: Eno Center for Transportation
Download Related Document(s): Partnership Financing: Improving Transportation Infrastructure Through Public Private Partnerships
Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.