May 2009

Unemployment in Low-Income Communities - Volume 21, Issue 1

In this issue, we address the challenges that low-income communities face in times of high unemployment and explore a variety of workforce development efforts that can improve prospects for low-wage and low-skilled workers. This issue also includes a new “look” new quarterly features, and timely updates on relevant community development topics, such as the National Community Stabilization Trust and innovations around the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or the Federal Reserve System. Material herein may be reprinted or abstracted provided Community Investments is credited. Please provide our Community Development Department with a copy of any publication in which material is reprinted.

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Table of Contents

CI Notebook

In this issue, we address some of the challenges that low-income communities face in times of high unemployment and examine a range of complex issues, such as the particular employment challenges facing immigrant communities and the role of community colleges in meeting the training and education needs of low-income workers.

Addressing the Challenges of Unemployment in Low-Income Communities

Boeing plans to lay off 10,000 workers; Yahoo announces 1,500 job cuts. Home Depot, Sprint Nextel, and Caterpillar all announce large reductions in their workforces.

Lessons for a New Context: Workforce Development in an Era of Economic Challenge

The economic expansion and tight labor markets of the 1990s brought new attention to skill shortages, career paths, and the important linkages between economic and workforce development. The current economic downturn has muted this demand at the same time economic stimulus efforts like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will provide new investments for workforce education, create jobs in transportation and health care, and spur new green industries and job opportunities.

Back to School and Back to Work: Community Colleges and Workforce Development

As the nation waits for economic recovery, workers from a variety of sectors and skill levels are struggling to recover from job losses. In past downturns, displaced workers could utilize unemployment insurance benefits to get by until the contraction ended, businesses expanded, and jobs were restored.

Workforce Development Needs for Immigrant Job-Seekers

For the past decade, immigrant workers have been making up an increasingly large share of the workforce, composing nearly 16 percent of the labor force in 2008. For much of this time period, they have enjoyed a higher employment rate than their native born counterparts.

Back to Our Roots, Just Greener this Time: Community Development Corporations and Workforce Development

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) were created in the late 1960s to help low wealth communities address the range of problems associated with economic and political exclusion. Although CDCs initially engaged in a broad array of activities, from community organizing to economic development and job services, many developed an almost exclusive focus on affordable housing development during the 1980s.

Foreclosure Update: The National Community Stabilization Trust

As local governments grapple with the negative spillover effects of foreclosure in their communities, an important national initiative is underway to assist localities in acquiring and redeveloping foreclosed and abandoned properties. Known as the National Community Stabilization Trust (the Trust), this initiative represents an unprecedented collaboration of the nation’s four leading housing and community development nonprofit organizations – Enterprise Community Partners, the Housing Partnership Network, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and NeighborWorks America.

Beyond Lump Sum: Periodic Payment of the Earned Income Tax Credit

Over the last two decades, public policies designed to provide income support to impoverished households have shifted focus to encourage and support work. As a result, the tax system has become as important as the welfare office in supporting the poor, as evidenced by the nation’s largest anti-poverty program for working families: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

San Francisco Works to Support Working Families

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal tax benefit for low- and moderate-income workers that helps offset their tax burden and increase the returns to work.

Doctor CRA

I’ve spent a lot of my time on foreclosure prevention activities for the past few years. Also, many of our employees have volunteered their services to help out with things like borrower outreach.

Research Briefs

Research briefs on gentrification and equity gains, government spending and economic mobility, teacher retention in high-poverty schools, and loan modifications and higher debt.

Data Snapshot: Trends in Unemployment

Unemployment rate, percent of limited English proficient workers in labor force, and minimum vs. living wage in the 12th District.