January 31, 2012
By Dan Glaister
“Oh no – they forgot to fill out the census. What criminals!” –KTRN
At least 120 people have been convicted for failing to complete their 2011 census forms, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
While some may have simply forgotten, others see themselves as conscientious objectors who are being prosecuted for refusing to fill out the forms because of the involvement of the defence contractor Lockheed Martin UK, which won the £150m contract to run the census.
By this week the ONS had referred 369 cases to the Crown Prosecution Service; of those, 157 prosecutions have been brought to court, with 120 resulting in convictions. Those found guilty face a maximum fine of £1,000 and a criminal record. The remaining 37 cases are classified as “conversions”, where the defendant completed the census form at court.
The number of forms deliberately not filled in is unknown, but the ONS expected 24.5 million forms to be returned and received 22.9 million, a shortfall of 1.6 million. Once anomalies, such as vacant properties, have been taken into account, that number will fall.
John Marjoram, a local councillor and Green party mayor of the Cotswolds town of Stroud, refused to complete the census because of the involvement of Lockheed Martin UK. “When I was 18 I refused to fire a rifle on military service,” he told the Guardian. “I couldn’t live with myself if I collaborated with a military company.”
Marjoram received his summons in early January. “Just after Christmas two people knocked on the door. I was busy cooking lunch. They were very nice and pleasant and understanding of where I was coming from, and the next thing was I got a summons.”
November 9, 2011
Dr Housing Bubble
One of the unintended consequences of growing a large shadow inventory is the unfortunate creation of a giant pool of negative equity homeowners. Zillow recently reported that over 28.6 percent of homeowners with a mortgage now sit in a negative equity position. This is up from the 26.8 percent reported only last quarter. It should seem obvious that the process of simply ignoring non-payments by banks to keep balance sheets inflated will reflect in other aspects of housing data. If we look at MLS data the picture is one of declining inventory yet the negative equity position reflects a quite struggle for many homeowners. The shadow inventory looms large. We even have a report out today showing that delinquencies are on the rise again. Let us take a look at some of the housing reports and try to make sense as to what is occurring.
Over 14,000,000 Americans own a home and have negative equity
Current information now shows the ranks of those with negative equity have grown once again. The latest Census data shows 50,339,500 homes with a mortgage. If 28.6 percent of these are underwater you have 14.3 million homeowners in a negative equity position:
This coincides with the large shadow inventory but also the lag in the foreclosure process with banks. It should be apparent that if someone had equity in their home and was falling behind economically that a plausible option would be to sell and scale down. But here you have over 14 million homeowners who would need to come to the table with money if they wanted to sell. Most that encounter problems of course are facing the tough challenges of our economy. The recognition of this is becoming more widespread:
September 13th, 2011
The Bottom Line
The number of Americans who have fallen into poverty rose to 15.1 percent in 2010, the third consecutive increase in the poverty rate, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
That puts the poverty rate at a 27-year high, Reuters reported.
There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published, according to the new data.
In a report that covers the first full calendar year after the Great Recession, the bureau also said the real median income dropped for the third year in a row.
Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median. Separately, the Census Bureau said the nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the rate.
The percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage was not statistically different from the previous year, the bureau said.
July 27th, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Arthur Delaney
The Great Recession destroyed all kinds of jobs, but the not-so-great recovery has so far replaced the lowest-paying jobs at a much faster pace than higher-paying ones, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data.
Workers navigating the current labor market are facing a “significant good jobs deficit,” said the National Employment Law Project, the worker advocacy group that crunched the Census numbers.
Low-wage occupations saw job growth of 3.2 percent from the beginning of 2010 to the beginning of 2011, while mid-wage jobs only grew by 1.2 percent, according to NELP. During the same time period, higher-wage jobs fell by 1.2 percent. In other words, there are more new jobs for retail salespeople, office clerks, cashiers and food prep workers than for machinists, managers, nurses and accountants.
To make matters worse, low-paying jobs pay even less than they used to, according to the report.
The skewed job growth comes after unbalanced job losses during the Great Recession.
“Of the net employment losses between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2010,” NELP said in its report, “fully 60 percent were in mid-wage occupations, 21.3 percent were in lower-wage occupations and 18.7 percent were in higher-wage occupations.”
The analysis confirms of one of the “new rules” workers have faced since the onset of the recession: Don’t expect to make more money at your next job.
Pittsburgh’s Bob Poropatich has been working 44 hours a week at a coffee shop and a grocery store since he lost his job as a manager for a major clothing retailer in 2008.
“Together both jobs pay me not even close to a third of what I made when I had just one job,” Poropatich told HuffPost. “My salary used to be close to $70,000 and with an annual bonus. It’s not a fortune, but it’s a nice middle class salary. And now I don’t know if I even make $15,000 a year.”
Poropatich keeps a sense of humor even though he’s found his experience frustrating, particularly when his former boss came to the coffee shop for a latte. “I live in the city of bridges so I’d have my choice of about 20 or 30,” he said. “But I couldn’t jump — I can’t swim!”
Although NELP’s report stresses that it’s too early to tell how the recovery will shake out, it also warned that the good jobs deficit is a legacy of longstanding inadequate mid-wage job growth that started before the recession began. NELP also said that the economy is still short 11 million jobs since the start of the Great Recession.
The new data update a similar report NELP did in February analyzing job losses and gains across industries. NELP did its new breakdown by putting data for 366 occupations into three groups ranked according to wages, tracking changes from 2008. Workers in the lowest-earning occupations earn between $7.51 and $13.52 per hour, while workers in the highest-ranking jobs earn between $20.67 and $53.32 per hour.
“Growing wage inequality in the United States is a phenomenon that’s three decades in the making, and which the recession only exacerbated,” said Annette Bernhardt, the report’s author. “We need to pay attention to these striking patterns of slow and unbalanced growth as we seek ways to restore America’s economy and create the good jobs America’s workers need and deserve.”
October 7th, 2010
By: Alex Spillius
According to figures from the new United States census, in 2009 one in 18 women earned more than $100,000 (£63,000) per year, a rise of 14 per cent over two years. In the same period the number of men earning over that amount rose by just four per cent.
The census showed that there are now three women for every two men at undergraduate and postgraduate level, while a majority of law students are female and almost half of medical students.
“We’re finally bearing the fruit from women getting so much higher education,” said Robert Drago, head of research at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “It’s the result of women entering into professional managerial careers.”
Women’s advocacy groups however cautioned that a substantial wage differential still remains between men and women, while the “glass ceiling” that prevents women from reaching the highest echelons of companies of professions remains firmly in place.
The area with the highest average wage for women was Washington with £34,000. The capital’s educated labour force is dominated by lawyers, civil servants and academics, all fields with a strong female presence.
September 30, 2010
The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.
The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.
A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.
At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.
“Income inequality is rising, and if we took into account tax data, it would be even more,” said Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specializes in poverty. “More than other countries, we have a very unequal income distribution where compensation goes to the top in a winner-takes-all economy.”
Lower-skilled adults ages 18 to 34 had the largest jumps in poverty last year as employers kept or hired older workers for the dwindling jobs available, Smeeding said. The declining economic fortunes have caused many unemployed young Americans to double-up in housing with parents, friends and loved ones, with potential problems for the labor market if they don’t get needed training for future jobs, he said.
Rea Hederman Jr., a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, agreed that census data show families of all income levels had tepid earnings in 2009, with poorer Americans taking a larger hit. “It’s certainly going to take a while for people to recover,” he said.
The findings are part of a broad array of U.S. census data being released this month that highlight the far-reaching impact of the recent economic meltdown. The effects have ranged from near-historic declines in U.S. mobility and birth rates to delayed marriage and the first drop in the number of illegal immigrants in two decades.
The census figures also come amid heated political debate in the run-up to the Nov. 2 elections over whether Congress should extend expiring Bush-era tax cuts. President Barack Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000 and joint filers making less than $250,000; Republicans are pushing for tax cuts for everyone, including wealthy Americans.
The 2009 census tabulations, which are based on pre-tax income and exclude capital gains, are adjusted for household size where data are available. Prior analyses of after-tax income made by the wealthiest 1 percent compared to middle- and low-income Americans have also pointed to a widening inequality gap, but only reflect U.S. data as of 2007.
Among the 2009 findings:
-The poorest poor are at record highs. The share of Americans below half the poverty line – $10,977 for a family of four – rose from 5.7 percent in 2008 to 6.3 percent. It was the highest level since the government began tracking that group in 1975.
-The poverty gap between young and old has doubled since 2000, due partly to the strength of Social Security in helping buoy Americans 65 and over. Child poverty is now 21 percent compared with 9 percent for older Americans. In 2000, when child poverty was at 16 percent, elderly poverty stood at 10 percent.
-Safety nets are helping fill health gaps. The percentage of children covered by government-sponsored health insurance such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program jumped to 37 percent, or 27.6 million, from 24 percent in 2000. That helped offset steady losses in employer-sponsored insurance.
The 2009 poverty level was set at $21,954 for a family of four, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income. It excludes noncash aid such as food stamps.
Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, noted the effects of expanded government programs in cushioning the impact of skyrocketing unemployment. For example, the Census Bureau estimates that 3.6 million people would have been lifted above the poverty line if food stamps were counted – a number that would have reduced the 2009 poverty rate from the official 14.3 percent to 13.2 percent.
Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor, said while the U.S. has developed policies to combat poverty, it has trouble addressing ever-widening income inequality – even with a growing federal deficit and previous warnings by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan about soaring executive pay.
An Associated Press-GfK Poll this month found that by 54 percent to 44 percent, most Americans support raising taxes on the highest U.S. earners. Still, many congressional Democrats have expressed wariness about provoking the 44 percent minority so close to Election Day.
“We’re pretty good about not talking about income inequality,” Danziger said.
September 30, 2010
Haya El Nasser
The Grundy family seemed to be headed down the conventional path followed by American families: Daughter goes to college, graduates, gets a job and her own apartment. Then something happened.
“She lost her job,” Vel Grundy says about daughter Monika, 25. “She kept looking and got very, very discouraged. She moved back home.”
Grown children returning home. Brothers and sisters moving in together. Families taking in grandparents. Friends living in the basement.
Fueled by the dismal economy and high unemployment, more Americans — friends and families — are doubling up.
From 2005 to 2009, family households added about 3.8 million extended family members, from adult siblings and in-laws to cousins and nephews. Extended family members now make up 8.2% of family households, up from 6.9% in 2005, according to Census data out this week.
“Clearly, a big part of that is the economic recession and housing costs,” says Stephanie Coontz, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, a non-profit research association. “We’re seeing a shift away from the 1950s and 1960s mentality against extended families,” when “modern” women did not take in aging parents for fear of hurting their marriage.
There are also signs of a shift from family households. For the first time in more than a century, more than half of people aged 25 to 34 have never been married.
The number of people in non-family households — those whose members are not related — grew 4.4% from 2005 to 2009, faster than the 3.4% growth for family households.
“It’s a realistic recognition that while a good, healthy nuclear family is a valuable thing to have, it’s not the only family form people are going to live in all their lives,” Coontz says.
June 4, 2010
By Cindy Perman
Stocks tumbled Friday after a report showed fewer jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls than expected last month and most of those were temporary census workers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 180 points, or 1.8 percent, in late-morning trading. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq shed more than 1.5 percent.
The selloff was so severe that decliners outpaced advancers more than 12 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Industrials, financials and consumer discretionary were the biggest decliners.
US employers added 431,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in May, but 411,000 of those were temporary census workers. The private sector added just 41,000 jobs: Manufacturing, temporary help and mining added jobs, while construction declined. That number was also well short of the more than 500,000 economists had expected. The unemployment rate, however, fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent in April.
June 17, 2009
by Stephen Dinan
Outspoken Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she’s so worried that information from next year’s national census will be abused that she will refuse to fill out anything more than the number of people in her household.
In an interview Wednesday morning with The Washington Times “America’s Morning News,” Mrs. Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, said the questions have become “very intricate, very personal” and she also fears ACORN, the community organizing group that came under fire for its voter registration efforts last year, will be part of the Census Bureau’s door-to-door information collection efforts.
“I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”
Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said Mrs. Bachmann is “misreading” the law.
She sent a portion of the U.S. legal code that says anyone over 18 years of age who refuses to answer “any of the questions” on the census can be fined up to $5,000.
The Constitution requires a census be taken every 10 years. Questions range from number of persons in the household and racial information to employment status and whether anyone receives social services such as food stamps.
Mrs. Bachmann said she’s worried about the involvement of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, in next year’s census.
“They will be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public,” she said. “This is very concerning.”
ACORN has applied to help recruit workers to help conduct the census. Republican lawmakers and some public interest groups have expressed concern over their involvement.
ACORN staffers have been indicted in several states on charges of voter registration fraud stemming from the organization’s efforts to register voters last year.
Mrs. Bachmann, who is in her second term in the House, has become a lightning rod for criticism from Democrats and liberal talk show hosts for her unapologetic conservative views.
She said she considers that “a badge of honor.”
“It’s clear when a person speaks out against those policies they become a target, and that should be concerning to everyone,” she said.