Posts Tagged: economy

Medicaid relief for states like Illinois may come soon

Pat Quinn

In a major breakthrough yesterday, the Senate overcame a filibuster on a bill to provide $26.1 billion in Medicaid and education assistance to state governments.  The House is now expected to return from its August recess to pass the legislation, and President Obama should sign the bill before the 2010-11 school year begins — averting some teacher layoffs. The money will help Illinois, (more…)

Record use of food stamps

Dave McKinney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports: “The stagnant economy and double-digit unemployment rates in parts of Illinois have led to a record number of families getting food stamps.” But hard times aren’t the only reason: the program’s accessibility and consistent federal funding are also partly responsible.  In Illinois, 781,000 households now get food stamps, an 11.9 percent jump from a year ago. Applications are rising even faster: (more…)

Obama administration manufacturing uncertainty

Paul Merrion of Crain’s Chicago Business reports on hostility the business community has toward the Obama administration, particularly Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett (who has seemingly held every single prominent governmental and business position in Chicago). The piece contains expected accusations against the White House: the president, Jarrett, and federal agency leaders pushed (more…)

Will Illinoisans be put to work after September?

Pat Quinn

(Update: A House tax bill that included generating $11 billion in new revenue failed to pass Friday, dimming prospects that Congress will fund “Put Illinois to Work” and like state job creation programs beyond September.)

Illinois has the worst state budget in the nation, but it ranks no. 1 for something less dubious: participation in a national jobs creation program subsidized by $5 billion in stimulus money. The U.S. Congress may determine whether Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn  was smart to dive head first (more…)

Keep The Net

The New York Times’ Peter Goodman had a really fantastic — and depressing — piece this weekend on the bleak future of the American labor market. How much it has to do with government, I suppose, is determined by how much of a role you think government should play in the economy. But one takeaway is despite the massive, structural problems facing the U.S. labor market, bureaucratic standbys like food stamps and unemployment insurance really do help people stay afloat. These are programs the federal government can run, even if bigger ideas about how to respond to a post financial crisis-economy are something the Obama administration and Congress currently appear incapable of.

It Was A Bad Decade For Movies, Too

For the sake of posterity, here’s the Washington Post’s New Year’s Day killer “Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers,” by Neil Irwin. The two most brutal paragraphs:

There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

And a brutal description of what in tarnation was going on in the aughts economy: (more…)

Highly-Skilled Labor Not Coming to America

The Wall Street Journal’s Miriam Jordan identifies a really interesting economic/immigration indicator — the federal H-1B program, which provides 65,000 Visas a year to match highly-skilled immigration labor with U.S. companies, has only received 46,700 applications since they were first accepted in April. It took exactly a day for 65,000 applications to be accepted when the program was rolled out it in 2008. In fact, technology companies often refer H-1B as the “visa roulette” — a virtual lottery system where these companies would collectively like to offer hundreds of thousands positions to talented foreign labor, but can only offer 65,000.

Why are companies and foreign workers not signing up? (more…)


With Washington about to empty out as it does each August, should lawmakers be focusing their efforts on telling constituents to shop? The economy will only get better if we start spending and borrowing a lot more, reminds Edmund Andrews of the New York Times. Consumer spending counts for 70 percent of American economic activity, meaning that if the Obama administration wants to avoid the economy getting even worse in the next year it must get people to stop saving their money so responsibly. Otherwise the savings rate might — gasp — hit 10 percent, the level it was between World War Two and the late 1980′s.

Our economy’s reliance on consumer spending and borrowing, though, shouldn’t obscure the fact that that Washington can directly spur economic growth. One example is the stimulus bill, and while I’ve argued the stimulus was too complex and not big enough, it has made a difference: Dean Baker, writing at the New Republic, explains that thanks to state spending via stimulus dollars the economy shrank much less between April and June than it otherwise would have.-MB