Many of the economic stimulus provisions set out by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expire this year. But the joblessness and hardship that resulted from the 2008-2009 recession will not end so quickly. With these developments in mind, federal and state officials, leading policy experts, and economic researchers came together earlier this year to discuss what can be done to reduce poverty and economic suffering. The research and recommendations originally presented at the January 15 conference are now available in eight reports.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 15, 2010 — Many of the economic stimulus provisions set out by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expire this year. But the joblessness and hardship that resulted from the 2008-2009 recession will not end so quickly.
With these developments in mind, federal and state officials, leading policy experts, and economic researchers came together earlier this year to discuss what can be done to reduce poverty and economic suffering.
Research presented by Wayne Vroman at this conference — hosted by the Urban Institute and the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy — showed that 31.5 percent of the unemployed were out of work for six months or longer in 2009, the highest percentage since 1946. For perspective, the next highest percentage was 23.9 percent long-term unemployed in 1983.
Mindful of this and other key indicators of the recession's fallout, conference participants put forth many policy recommendations that take into account recent economic lessons, the performance of current programs, the ARRA experience, and the changing economic, fiscal, and political landscapes.
For example, if emergency funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) expires in September, states might reduce cash assistance for out of work people, or eliminate subsidized employment programs. La Donna Pavetti and Dorothy Rosenbaum recommend extending emergency funding to keep families afloat as parents look for work. Congress, they maintain, could also use TANF's reauthorization as an opportunity to redesign cumbersome administrative burdens, such as work requirements that are hard to meet when few jobs are available.
Furthermore, many of the investments that ARRA and President Obama have made in the well-being of children should be built into future baseline budgets, according to Lawrence Aber and Ajay Chaudry. Congress could also make other policy changes to improve the well-being of children through the reauthorization of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, they say.
Another recommendation proposes fast-track federal funding for public service jobs launched by state and local governments. In a second phase, say Clifford Johnson, Amy Rynell, and Melissa Young, local officials would develop a broader array of work projects and link them to education and training. As the economy recovers and employment odds improve, this federal spending would be redirected to transitional job programs and the hardest to employ.
The research and recommendations originally presented at the January 15 conference are now available in eight reports (http://www.urban.org/issues/reducing-poverty-economic-distress.cfm):
- "The Great Recession, Unemployment Insurance, and Poverty," by Wayne Vroman, Urban Institute.
- "Postsecondary Education and Training As We Know It Is Not Enough: Why We Need to Leaven Postsecondary Strategy with More Attention to Employment Policy, Social Policy, and Career and Technical Education in High School," by Anthony P. Carnevale, Georgetown University.
- "Publicly Funded Jobs: An Essential Strategy for Reducing Poverty and Economic Distress throughout the Business Cycle," by Clifford M. Johnson, the National League of Cities; Amy Rynell, National Transitional Jobs Network; and Melissa Young, National Transitional Jobs Network.
- "Promising Antipoverty Strategies for Families," by Maria Cancian, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Daniel R. Meyer, University of Wisconsin-Madison; and
Deborah Reed, Mathematica Policy Research.
- "Low-Income Children, Their Families, and the Great Recession: What Next in Policy?" by Lawrence Aber, New York University, and Ajay Chaudry, Urban Institute.
- "Creating a Safety Net That Works When the Economy Doesn't: The Role of the Food Stamp and TANF Programs," by LaDonna Pavetti and Dorothy Rosenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- "Reducing Poverty and Economic Distress after ARRA: Potential Roles for Place-Conscious Strategies," by Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California, and Margery Austin Turner, Urban Institute.
- "Laboratories of Underfunding? State Financing for Antipoverty Efforts after the Recession," by Nicholas Johnson, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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