Government safety net programs aim to protect families during tough times—before they fall into poverty. But rising unemployment, foreclosures, and economic distress are putting pressure on a system already in need of updates and repairs.
Urban Institute experts, building on decades of welfare reform research, evaluated public safety nets and proposed new initiatives to bolster work supports and help families gain a stable financial footing. Read more.
Though young children in public and mixed-income housing are exposed to some of the deepest poverty and developmental and educational risks in the United States, they are usually out of reach of many interventions that might help. Home visiting programs hold promise for helping vulnerable families, but most are not designed to fully address the needs of public and mixed-income housing residents. This brief describes important issues that program planners and early childhood leaders should consider when designing appropriate and responsive home visiting programs that reach young children in these communities.
Managing finances can be a tightrope walk, especially for low- and moderate-income families. To deal with these challenges, many households turn to expensive small-dollar credit. This brief, based on a convening of 25 small-dollar credit researchers, credit union experts, and bank representatives, discusses the opportunities and challenges of providing small-dollar credit products. Ability to repay, flexibility, and transparency are important features for consumer success. Products that bundle credit with savings provide pathways to greater financial stability. Small loan amounts, the costs of underwriting and servicing loans, and regulatory and reputational risks pose challenges to providers.
Most states ended the summer of 2014 on a positive economic note. Up from 14 states a year earlier, 25 states reported August unemployment rates below 6 percent. Every state but Alaska added jobs within the last year. But some troubling signs remain. Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages declined or did not change in 26 states. The latest issue of the State Economic Monitor describes economic and fiscal trends at the state level, highlighting particular differences across the states in employment, state government finances, and housing conditions. This issue also includes a special section on state minimum wages.