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Research Roundup: Rollbacks to UI Insurance, Racial Wealth Gap Grows and Privatization in Ohio

In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports by the National Employment Law Project on states enacting unprecedented rollbacks in their unemployment insurance programs, the Roosevelt Institute on why women have suffered heavily disproportionate job losses since the recession officially ended in 2009, the Pew Research Center on the alarming and growing wealth gap between black, white, and Latino households, the Alliance for a Just Society on the stories of some of the real people in communities of color who rely on Medicaid for the health security of their families, and Policy Matters Ohio assesses the impact of the massive privatization authorized by the new Ohio state budget.


Unraveling the Unemployment Insurance Lifeline: Responding to Insolvency, States Begin Reducing Benefits and Restricting Eligibility in 2011 - The National Employment Law Project reports that eleven states enacted unprecedented rollbacks in their unemployment insurance (UI) programs. In contrast, Colorado and Rhode Island moved to protect the solvency of UI trust funds by raising employer contribution rates. The report’s authors caution against further state rollbacks next year, particularly if last year’s temporary federal extension of UI benefits fails to be renewed at the end of the year.

Women Laid Off, Workers Sped Up: Support Staff Hold a Clue to the Gendered Recovery - This report by the Roosevelt Institute aims to discover why, since the recession officially ended in 2009, men have gained 805,000 jobs while women have lost 281,000. By analyzing available data by occupation rather than industry, the study finds that women have lost an “overwhelming number of jobs” in office and administrative support occupations — with one possible explanation being that as companies lay off employees, they are focusing layoffs on support staff while asking other employees to take on more work. The authors conclude that short-term efforts at robust job creation are necessary to help reverse this trend.

Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics - This Pew Research Center analysis indicates that the median wealth of white households is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Latino households, marking the greatest wealth gap between these groups since the government began publishing this data 25 years ago. Pew notes that “plummeting house values were the principal cause of the recent erosion in household wealth among all groups, with Hispanics hit hardest by the meltdown in the housing market.”

Medicaid Makes a Difference: Protecting Medicaid, Advancing Racial Equity - This report by the Alliance for a Just Society and 14 members of its Health Rights Organizing Project, a network of grassroots organizations across the country committed to the fight for health equity, documents the stories of some of the real people in communities of color who rely on Medicaid for the health security of their families. With more than 50 million covered by Medicaid — more than half being people of color — and with cuts to the program remaining a possibility after the debt deal reached by Congress this week, these personal and real stories are powerful reminders of how such cuts would affect the lives of millions.

The Great Ohio Sell-Off - Policy Matters Ohio assesses the impact of the massive privatization authorized by the new state budget, which calls for selling billions of dollars of public assets, including the Ohio Turnpike, six prisons, and the liquor distribution business. The authors of the analysis find, “little evidence has been put forward that the public will benefit from this slew of privatization moves. In some instances, we may be giving away public assets, which taxpayers have spent considerable sums to build, for less than they are worth. Based on developments elsewhere, privatization also could limit our ability to make decisions about public infrastructure and deliver good service.”