Household Economics

On Dec. 7, state leaders will have the opportunity to discuss the benefits of early childcare, and why states should invest in making early childhood education affordable for working families, at a CSG 2018 National Conference session titled Working Families and the Struggle to Find Early Care and Education.
Albert Wat, senior policy director at the Alliance for Early Success, provided CSG with valuable insight on this critical issue. According to Wat, the cost of and the lack of access to quality childcare and education are the biggest struggles families face. Wat called the search for childcare an equity issue among low-income families.

In March 2018 Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a memorandum stating a citizenship question would be added to the 2020 census questionnaire. In In Re Department of Commerce the Supreme Court will not be deciding whether this question may be legally added. Instead, the Court will decide—among other things—whether Secretary Ross may be deposed as to his motives for adding this question.

A number of state and local governments and nonprofits sued the Secretary claiming that adding this question is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

In the 2018 memorandum Secretary Ross stated that he “began a thorough assessment” of whether to add a citizenship question “[f]ollowing receipt” of a December 2017 letter from the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting citizenship data to enforce the Voting Rights Act’s prohibition against diluting the voting power of minority groups.

CSG Midwest
Three years ago, Illinois became the nation’s first U.S. state with a law to help private-sector workers save for retirement via a state-facilitated savings plan. This summer, the treasurer’s office began its rollout of this potentially groundbreaking initiative, known as Secure Choice.
The program launched with a small set of voluntary employers in Illinois who agreed to automatically enroll workers through their payroll systems. But participation soon will be mandatory for many Illinois businesses — namely, those with 25 or more employees that don’t offer a 401(k) or other qualified savings plan of their own.
“By the fall of 2019, all of the employers who are required to participate in Secure Choice will be registered and enrolled and have their employees ready to go,” says Courtney Eccles, director of the program for the Illinois treasurer’s office.
CSG Midwest
Some notable trends in poverty, health insurance and household income in the Midwest were revealed in recently released U.S. Census Bureau data.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in July signed into law one of the nation’s most comprehensive paid family leave programs, offering workers paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious medical condition of the employee or his or her family member. The legislation, which will take effect in 2020, offers eligible workers 12 weeks of either parental or medical leave, or 16 weeks for a combination of both. Only four other states guarantee paid family leave: California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, with New York’s program beginning in 2018. The District of Columbia also approved a paid family leave program this year to take effect in 2020.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average married middle income ($59,200-$107,400) couple can expect to spend $233,610 on each child for food, shelter and other necessities through age 17. Child care and education will take up 16 percent of those expenditures. However, child care costs vary dramatically across the country.

CSG Midwest
A few months before residents in one of their state’s largest cities were scheduled to vote on a proposed increase in the minimum wage, Ohio lawmakers stepped in to block the ballot initiative. SB 331, signed into law in December, bans all Ohio political subdivisions from “establishing minimum wage rates different from the rate required by state law.”

According to an annual survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 7.0 percent of U.S. households were “unbanked” in 2015, which means that no one in the household had a checking or savings account. That’s around 9 million households consisting of 15.6 million adults and 7.6 million children. The percentage of the population that is unbanked varies considerably across states, ranging from a low of less than 2 percent in New Hampshire and Vermont to more than 10 percent in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Louisiana has the highest rate at 14 percent.

CSG Midwest

Median household income levels rose and poverty rates fell between 2014 and 2015 in states across the Midwest, recently released U.S. Census Bureau statistics show. Wisconsin’s year-by-year rise in household income was 5.6 percent ($52,709 to $55,638), highest in the region and one of the sharpest gains in the country.

CSG Midwest

The U.S. Department of Labor unveiled a new rule in August that it hopes will remove uncertainties about the role of states in administering retirement plans for private-sector workers. Thus far, eight U.S. states, including Illinois (SB 2758, enacted in 2014), have passed laws to create payroll-deduction IRA programs. They are designed to help individuals who don’t have workplace savings arrangements such as a 401(k) plan. (One-third of U.S. workers do not have access to retirement savings plans through their employer.)

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