News Releases

U.S. House tax plan: Benefit for richest 1 percent in Michigan grows over time

For Immediate Release
November 6, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—A new 50-state analysis of the House tax plan released by Congress last week reveals that in Michigan the wealthiest 1 percent of Michiganians will receive the greatest share of the total tax cut in year one and their share would grow through 2027. Further, the value of the tax cut would decline over time for every income group in Michigan except the very richest.

House leadership continues to tout this tax proposal, which will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, as a plan to boost the middle class. But a closer examination of the bill’s provisions reveals that it is laser-focused on tax cuts for the nation’s highest earning households. The wealthiest Michiganians’ share of Michigan’s tax cuts would grow over time due to phase-ins of tax cuts that mostly benefit the rich and the eventual elimination or erosion in value of provisions that benefit low- and middle-income taxpayers. For example, after five years, the bill eliminates a $300 non-child dependent credit that benefits low- and middle-income families while fully repealing the estate tax in year six for the very large estates subject to the tax.

More specifically, the 10-year outlook for the plan reveals that by 2027, the top 1 percent of households in Michigan’s share of the tax cut would increase from 33 percent in 2018 to 47 percent by 2027, for an average cut of $77,380. Middle-income taxpayers’ average tax cut would erode to $590 in 2027 from $730 in 2018, and the poorest 20 percent’s average tax cut would decline from $110 in 2018 to $100 in 2027.

“This bill may cut taxes for some low- and middle-income households, but it also raises taxes on some of these families and many others will see no benefit at all. But let’s be clear: it is still the case that this plan will primarily benefit the rich, across the nation and in Michigan,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We have sent our elected officials to the nation’s capital to represent us, but what they are saying is just as important as what they are not saying. These tax cuts that mostly benefit top earners will add to the nation’s annual deficits and come at the expense of low- and middle-income families who will likely lose more from cuts to education, healthcare, infrastructure or other public services than they gain from the small cuts they would receive.”

Following are some highlights of how the plan specifically affects Michigan:

  • Richest 1 percent of Michigan taxpayers would receive largest tax cut as a share of income under the House tax proposal in 2018 and 2027.
  • The share of low- and middle-income Michigan taxpayers seeing a tax hike under the House proposal increases between 2018 and 2027.
  • Average tax cuts to top 1 percent of Michigan taxpayers dwarf those going to all other income groups under the House tax proposal in 2018 and 2027.

To read the entire report or get more details about Michigan, go to http://itep.org/housetaxplan.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Trump, U.S House’s tax plan raises wall between millionaires and struggling families

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Extremely wealthy get six-figure tax break, residents barely getting by get $70

LANSING—The United States House of Representatives announced their Trump-approved tax plan yesterday that will benefit the wealthy, widen income disparity in Michigan, and set up a ballooning federal deficit and drastic budget cuts that will hurt our kids, families, schools and communities.

“This isn’t a tax plan, it’s a tax ploy. President Trump and congressional Republicans say their plan is about helping you, but it’s really about helping their political cronies and the richest of the rich pad their pockets,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The budget was a Trojan Horse to sneak in this dangerous tax plan. The real severe cuts are coming later, likely costing most Michigan residents far more in their quality of life than anything the tax plan would give them.”

“The plan will add at least $1.5 trillion in debt—and to pay for it, some Republicans in Congress have made clear they will try next year to cut everything from nutrition assistance for struggling families to education and healthcare. Worse still, by eliminating the state income tax deduction and shifting new costs to states, the plan would put more pressure on Michigan’s budget, likely causing even more cuts to education, transportation and other programs Michiganians count on,” Holcomb-Merrill said.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has analyzed the Republicans’ federal tax plan and put together a new fact sheet on what it really means for Michigan residents. The League has previously written about the top threats to Michigan in the federal budget, and an analysis by the League shows that Michigan is the second-most reliant on federal funds in the U.S., with 42 percent of our state budget coming from federal funds.

The budget set up a fast-track, partisan process for passing the Republican tax plan with just 51 votes—the same process the Senate used to try to force through their repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) analyzed the earlier Republican tax plan and found that it would overwhelmingly benefit those at the top of the economic ladder: the top 1 percent in Michigan would receive 62.5 percent of the tax cuts while the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would get just 1.1 percent. Michigan households that make over a million dollars each year (only .2 percent of Michigan’s population) would see an average tax cut of $253,500, ITEP found. The middle fifth of households in Michigan, people who are literally the state’s “middle class,” would receive just 7.1 percent of the tax cuts that go to Michigan under the framework at an average of $440. And the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would only see 1.1 percent of the tax cuts—or an average of $70.

“This tax plan does more for the wealthy in death than it does for working families’ daily lives, compounding the struggles of people in poverty,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “This plan will not create jobs, improve local economies, or help a majority of Michigan residents, and we hope the House chooses to scrap this foolish plan and creates one that helps all Americans, not just wealthy taxpayers and profitable corporations.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan policies must create opportunity and remove barriers for kids of color, immigrants

For Immediate Release
October 24, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

2017 Race for Results report shows Michigan has lowest child well-being score for African-American children in the country

LANSING—A new national report on child well-being released today shows that African-American children in Michigan fare worse in key indicators than in any other state in the country. The report also shows that Latino children in Michigan fall behind children of other ethnic groups on key milestones. The report, 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows that all Michigan kids are struggling academically, but children of color are doing worse in nearly all indicators across education, health, family and community, and economic security.

The report also indicates that Michigan children in immigrant families are doing relatively well, but uncertainty and outright hostility in state and federal policies continue to pose threats to their well-being and the stability of their families. Additionally, not every group of immigrants has the same experiences, with many struggling with housing, financial security, education and language barriers.

“Seeing how our kids in Michigan fare compared to national numbers is startling. We are failing all of our children, especially our kids of color, and we need policies to remove barriers that have created systemic inequities.

“Some policies like stringent immigration changes are specifically targeting certain kids, some policies are perpetuating historic racial disparities generation after generation, and some policies are just having inadvertent or unintended consequences. If we want Michigan to be a diverse and vibrant state, we have to start doing more to better take care of all of our kids,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

This is the second Race for Results report by the Casey Foundation; the Foundation released the first report in 2014. The report measures children’s progress on the national and state levels on key education, health and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups. The report’s index uses a composite score of these milestones on a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest) to make comparisons.

The 2017 Race for Results shows that Michigan’s overall index score for White children, 667, is lower than the national average of 713, and the state score of 260 for African-American children is the lowest score in the country—far below the national average of 369 for this group. However, Michigan’s scores for other ethnic groups were higher than the national average. The well-being of American Indian/Alaska Native children in Michigan was scored at 511 compared to 413 nationally, and Asian and Pacific Islander kids in the state scored 804 overall compared to 783 nationally. The report scored the welfare of Michigan’s Latino children at 446, while nationally this group’s score was 429. The index scores for Latino children across the country are alarming, with the vast majority, including Michigan’s, below 500.

“Michigan is not the best state for meeting the needs of African-American kids,” said Alice Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development, Inc. “At a time when racial tensions are running high in our nation, our government and our society are letting these kids down and leaving them behind. ‘Separate but equal’ was a foolish and flawed policy, but so is ‘Together but inequitable.’ We need to help all kids move up together, and we’re going to need an overhaul of our policy approach to do that.”

Regionally, Michigan had the second lowest score for White kids in the Midwest. The lowest score in the Midwest for White children was Indiana with a score of 664, while Minnesota had the highest at 789—the fifth highest score in the country.

The academic indicators continue to be some of the lowest and most distressing for Michigan. The percentage of fourth-graders proficient in reading is lower in all racial and ethnic groups in Michigan than the national average for each group. The starkest difference is among African-American fourth-graders in Michigan, where nine percent are proficient in reading compared to the national average of 18 percent. This is the lowest rate of any state. White and Latino kids in Michigan fall into the bottom five states nationally for the rate of fourth-grade reading proficiency. Similar struggles are seen for all racial and ethnic groups in eighth-grade math, and the math proficiency rate for African-American eighth-graders in Michigan is tied with Alabama for the worst in the country.

“As we work to help Latino children in Michigan thrive, we need to take a broader, two-generation approach to better support their parents,” said Angela G. Reyes, Executive Director and Founder of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. “Over a quarter of our Latino kids live with a householder without at least a high school diploma, and their parents’ struggles to finish school affect their own reading proficiency and ability to learn.”

Around 284,000 immigrant kids currently live in Michigan. Some children face the same struggles, whether they were born in the United States or abroad. More than 20 percent of children in immigrant families live with a householder without at least a high school diploma compared to only eight percent of children in U.S.-born families. More than 25 percent of Latino children in Michigan live with a householder without at least a high school diploma. Conversely, all the other U.S.-born racial and ethnic groups have rates between nine and 15 percent.

“Not all immigrants are the same, and our experiences are as varied as the countries and cultures we come from,” said Aamina Ahmed, Executive Director of Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan. “Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to bring more immigrants to Michigan, President Donald Trump is trying to keep more immigrants out of the country, and policy approaches to immigration sway with the political winds. Immigrants come here in search of a brighter future, but right now, that search is clouded with fear and uncertainty, leaving them very vulnerable.”

Other indicators showed some significant differences in family structure. Eighty-seven percent of children in Michigan’s immigrant families live in two-parent households, a significantly higher rate than the 66 percent of children in U.S.-born families. Michigan immigrant kids are in the top five nationally in this category. Only 69 percent of all children in Michigan live in two-parent families (just above the national average of 68 percent), ranging from a low for African-American children of 33 percent to a high of 89 percent for Asian and Pacific Islander kids.

While this data is eye-opening, it also raises questions about how policies are affecting children of color and in immigrant families. Michigan policymakers in Lansing and Washington should embrace the following policy recommendations to address the low scores for child well-being and drastic racial disparities for kids of color identified in this report:

  • Use a racial and ethnic equity lens in evaluating and developing public policies, like the Raise the Age effort to keep kids out of adult prisons;
  • Keep families together and in their communities;
  • Increase economic opportunity for all parents, especially immigrants and people of color; and
  • Provide a quality education to help all children meet key developmental measures.

The Michigan League for Public Policy continues to make racial equity a focal point of all of our policy work, recently analyzing the state budget’s impact on Michigan kids and residents of color. The League also strives to lift up the contributions of immigrants and their families to our state at a time when they are coming under severe attack from policies out of Lansing and Washington. A new report, Immigrant Families in Michigan: A State Profile, analyzes Michigan’s immigrant population and the positive impacts they have on our economy and labor force. The League has also compiled immigration profiles for all 83 Michigan counties in conjunction with the Race for Results release.

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Release Information

The 2017 Race for Results report is available at www.aecf.org/raceforresults. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org. The website also contains the most recent national, state and local data on numerous indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about Race for Results can use the Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.

About the Kids Count in Michigan Project

The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Fetzer Institute.

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

U.S. Senate budget plan slashes services for struggling Michiganians to push huge tax cuts for very wealthy

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Michigan’s Senators stand up for the people, but preferential budget primarily passes along party lines

LANSING—The United States Senate passed its budget resolution last night, including drastic cuts to programs and services that support hardworking Michiganians to fund $1.5 trillion in unpaid-for tax cuts largely for the wealthy and profitable corporations.

The budget sets up a fast-track, partisan process for passing the Republican tax plan with just 51 votes—the same process the Senate used to try to force through their repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The tax plan would overwhelmingly benefit those at the top of the economic ladder: the top 1 percent in Michigan would receive 62.5 percent of the tax cuts while the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would get just 1.1 percent, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Michigan households that make over a million dollars each year (only .2 percent of Michigan’s population) would see an average tax cut of $253,500, ITEP found. The middle fifth of households in Michigan, people who are literally the state’s “middle class,” would receive just 7.1 percent of the tax cuts that go to Michigan under the framework at an average of $440.

“Like the House’s federal budget passed two weeks ago, the Senate’s budget and corresponding tax cuts line the pockets of the wealthy and profitable corporations at the expense of everyday Michiganians,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Michigan residents who are struggling to get by suffer now, with immediate cuts to critical programs that help Michigan families thrive, including health coverage, tax credits for families with low incomes, and basic assistance for seniors and people with disabilities living in poverty, and they will suffer later, when dramatically higher deficits would ultimately force cuts to healthcare, education, infrastructure and other building blocks of economic growth.”

The Michigan League for Public Policy created a fact sheet on the top threats to Michigan in the federal budget, and has also drawn attention to the devastating impact of the tax plan drawn up by President Trump and congressional Republicans. An analysis by the League shows that Michigan is the second-most reliant on federal funds in the U.S., with 42 percent of our state budget coming from federal funds.

“For too long, many Michigan residents have been getting left behind by state and federal policies, and these budgets and tax plans are only going to widen the gap further,” Jacobs said. “Instead of tax cuts that benefit those who need it the least, Congress should be prioritizing budget and tax policies that do not add to the deficit while strengthening our economy and supporting working families through investment in education, housing, infrastructure and more. We’re grateful to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters for their understanding of this, and only wish the message would resonate with their colleagues across the aisle.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

U.S. House and Senate budgets make billions in cuts for Michigan residents to pay for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy

For Immediate Release
October 05, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Budgets threaten food assistance, Medicaid, disability programs, education, job training and more

LANSING—Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a 2018 budget resolution that would slash billions of dollars from vital programs like food assistance and Medicaid that help millions of Michigan families afford necessities and get ahead. These damaging cuts at the expense of working Americans are designed to set up massive tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy. The U.S. Senate’s budget resolution would have similar, harmful effects on Michigan residents.

The Michigan League for Public Policy has been warning residents about the impending devastation in President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal and Congress’ continuation of its priorities. The federal budget was a primary focus of the League’s public policy forum held yesterday, and the League also recently developed a new fact sheet on the top threats to Michigan in the federal budget. The forum’s keynote speaker was Bob Greenstein, President and Founder of the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has also prepared a report on the federal budget.

“Yesterday, hundreds gathered at the Michigan League for Public Policy’s policy forum to share their concerns about the impact of federal policies on our state. Today, those fears came one step closer to coming true,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, Vice President of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The Michigan budget’s dependence on federal funds—currently accounting for 42 percent—makes our state particularly vulnerable to these federal cuts, and Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders in Michigan need to send their Republican counterparts in Washington a strong message opposing these cuts.”

An analysis by the League shows that Michigan is the second-most reliant on federal funds in the U.S., with 42 percent of our state budget coming from federal funds. The League has been urging Michigan residents to contact their members of Congress to oppose the cuts in the federal budget, but today’s vote still broke along party lines.

Both the House and Senate budgets set up a fast-track, partisan process for passing massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The GOP tax plan, released last week by congressional Republicans and the White House, would overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent in Michigan, who would receive 62.5 percent of the tax cuts, a new analysis released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows. In Michigan, taxpayers who make over a million dollars each year (only .2 percent of Michigan’s population) would see an average tax cut of $253,500  while the bottom 20 percent of Michiganians would only see 1.1 percent of the tax cuts—or an average of $70, according to the ITEP analysis. The middle fifth of households in Michigan, people who are literally the state’s “middle-class,” would receive just 7.1 percent of the tax cuts that go to Michigan under the framework at an average of $440.

Not only would these tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit the very wealthy, they could also pile trillions onto deficits and likely force further cuts to health coverage and critical programs like education, and job training—and put more pressure on Social Security.

“The president and Congress appear to have the same misguided infatuation with tax cuts that some Michigan legislators have, and with this budget, they could decimate our revenue and devastate the services our state residents depend on,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “But residents still have power. Just as their voices and stories have helped fend off the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a cut to the state income tax, they can fight back against these federal cuts.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

2018 state budget lacks enough measures to improve well-being for children of color

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

 

As new state budget takes effect on Oct. 1, new report analyzes its implications on racial inequity

LANSING—The 2018 state budget takes effect on Sunday, Oct. 1, and with it comes some big wins as well as some major missed opportunities for policymakers to address barriers to opportunity for the state’s children of color, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Despite the many victories in the 2018 state budget, a new report, Making Change: The State Budget as a Tool for Racial and Ethnic Equity, shows that historic and systemic state budget policies are creating significant disparities for people of color in Michigan. The report looks at the 2018 budget through a racial equity lens, reviewing the areas that the League’s annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book examines (economic security, health, education, family and community), and finds the budget still did not do enough to meet the needs of people of color—particularly children.

“Racial issues must be part of the conversation of setting policy. These historical inequities cannot be corrected if lawmakers attempt to create ‘colorblind’ legislation. They must look at data along racial lines to see the implication of the laws they are creating,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the League. “The state budget is seen as a statement of values, and this data shows that legislators need to make racial equity a priority. These issues are hurting our entire state, including our economy and our ability to attract and retain businesses and residents.”

Key Findings:
Some key points to consider for Michigan’s budget and the state’s needs:

  • Three of every 4 African-American students and two-thirds of Latino students in the state are considered economically disadvantaged.
  • African-American children in Michigan are eight times more likely to live in high-poverty communities than White children.
  • 55 percent of African-American children live in a home where no parent has full-time, year-round employment, more than double the percentage of non-Hispanic White children. 40 percent of Hispanic or Latino children have a similar lack of economic security.
  • Two out of every 3 African-American children—and half of Latino children—rely on public health insurance programs.
  • Children of color are more frequently born underweight and more likely to die before their first birthdays.
  • Only 10 percent of African-American students and 19 percent of Latino students met or exceeded the SAT benchmark for college readiness in 2015-16.
  • 91 percent of the state’s teachers were White—making Michigan’s teaching workforce less diverse than the national average.

Despite this stark data on kids of color, the 2018 budget missed out on some key areas of investment needed to address these disparities, including: income and family support programs; local public health services; revenue sharing for local communities and public safety; early literacy programs; adult education; and financial aid. When developing the state’s budget, lawmakers must examine new and existing policies and investments through a racial equity lens.

If the budget is to positively impact all Michiganians, lawmakers must understand the importance of a more equitable plan to lift up communities of color. The report’s main policy recommendations for lawmakers include:

  • Incorporating an analysis of the racial, ethnic and social justice impact of their budget options and recommendations and making sure it is considered as part of the budget process;
  • Identifying gaps in data about the impact of state spending on communities, families and children of color; and
  • Setting up systems for collecting racial data and other information needed to direct the state’s resources.

“A diverse population is key to a thriving state, and we must invest in children of color from an earlier age and do more to support their parents and communities,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count Project Director for the League. “Michigan needs strong leadership by the governor and state lawmakers to address the undeniable and unacceptable racial and ethnic inequities that are holding Michigan back as a state.”

Michigan’s third-grade reading law passed last year is a good example of the unintended negative consequences of “colorblind” legislation. The law was created with positive intentions, but not all students have had the same access to resources, which means they don’t have the same rate of success. In fact, 56 percent of African-American students would have been subject to retention if the law had been implemented in the 2015-2016 school year.

Many kids who are struggling to read in third grade have been facing barriers their whole lives. For the retention law to be successful, it is critical that there be sufficient funding to also address the inadequate early learning opportunities for children of color, including identifying and treating developmental delays, and providing high-quality child care and preschool. Lawmakers must also work to address environmental and economic stressors that play a role in a child’s ability to thrive in school.

The third-grade reading law is just one example. The report highlights dozens of other cases where gaps in the data show the impact of state spending and programs on people of color. The League will continue to provide thorough analysis and passionate advocacy on the state budget and the many other policies that inordinately effect people of color and people with low incomes.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Report: Michigan’s unemployment rate masks staggering loss of workers, aging workforce

For Immediate Release
September 4, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Since 2000, Michigan has lost 326,000 workers, seen labor participation rate go up for older workers, down for younger workers

LANSING—Since 2000, Michigan’s labor force has lost 326,000 workers, driven largely by a drop in workers 16-24 years old, according to the 2017 Labor Day report released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The report shows that while Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent for July—the lowest jobless rate since 2000—this decline can be attributed as much to worker attrition as economic improvement.

Workers drop out of a state’s labor force in several ways: physically leaving the state, death, institutionalization (i.e., incarceration), or stopping both work and the search for work (i.e., retirement, disability, staying home with children, etc.). Michigan’s labor force reached its numerical peak of 5.16 million in 2000 and was down to under 4.84 million for 2016, showing a net loss of 326,000 workers.

“How Michigan’s economy is doing depends on which worker or policymaker you talk to and what data you look at,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Michigan’s declining unemployment rate is certainly good news, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Since the unemployment rate was last this low in 2000, Michigan has been steadily losing workers, and our workforce is getting older, neither of which bodes well for our economic future.”

Michigan’s labor force participation rate, which measures the percent of the civilian population 16 years old and over that is working or looking for work, has been at a historic low for several years. Its high-water mark was 69 percent in 2000, but fell to a low of 60 percent in 2011 and 2012, where it has hovered since, despite the improving unemployment rate. In the same way, while Michigan’s employment-population ratio shows clear improvement since 2011 concurrent with falling unemployment, it is below where it was during the economically difficult years of the early and mid-2000s and the 20 years prior.

Michigan’s labor force has also begun to shift toward older workers. From 1979 (the earliest year data on worker ages is available) to 2000, the share of Michigan’s labor force that was 55 years of age or older was between 10-13 percent annually. Following 2000, however, this age group began comprising a steadily larger share of the workforce, and in 2016 their share (22.2 percent) nearly doubled that in 2000, while the portion in prime working age decreased from 70.4 percent to 62.3 percent over that span.

Younger workers, those from age 16-24, comprised a moderately smaller share of the workforce in 2016 (15.4 percent) than in 2000 (17.9 percent) but considerably smaller than in 1979, when they accounted for more than a quarter of the workforce. In keeping with the pattern of the previous 20 years, 72 percent of residents aged 16-24 were either working or looking for work in 2000. That percentage took a sharp and steady plunge over the following decade, bottoming out near 50 percent in 2011 sitting at 63 percent for 2016.

“We’ve all seen this data in action. Think about your daily life and the variety of workers you encounter in jobs that young people used to hold—a fast food worker, a grocery bagger, a restaurant server,” Jacobs said. “Lawmakers need to look at these changing demographics and embrace policies that help younger and older workers alike get the education, skills and training they need to get the jobs that they want.”

Although a higher portion of older individuals are remaining in the workforce, as they retire there are fewer younger workers to replace them. The League’s Labor Day Report offers the following policy recommendations for legislators to strengthen Michigan’s workforce at both ends of the age scale:

  • Make college education less expensive by lowering tuition and increasing financial aid, which will help cut down on student debt;
  • Encourage universities to offer more academically relevant work-study for students with low incomes so that they may gain meaningful work experience;
  • Make postsecondary training for “middle skills credentials” (a short-term or two-year credential such as a license, certificate or associate degree) more accessible to young people, especially those who live in areas with high unemployment and poverty and few available jobs;
  • Provide support services to young single mothers that encourage them to participate in postsecondary education or training and facilitate their completion and success; and
  • Retain Medicaid expansion in order to help provide healthcare for older workers earning lower wages.

To read the full Labor Day report and see labor force and jobless rate data for all 83 counties, go to www.mlpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Labor-Day-Sept-2017.pdf.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan League for Public Policy comments on violence, racism in Charlottesville

For Immediate Release
August 14, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the racist rallies and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“We’ve been searching all day for the right words to address the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend and there simply aren’t any. Both as individuals of varied races, ethnicities and religions and an organization committed to racial equity through public policy, we share the fear and anger over the current state of our country. History is unfortunately repeating itself. This weekend, we saw the same fascism and bigotry we saw in the buildup to World War II and the same racism and violence that tore apart our communities in the ‘60’s. These actions are unforgivable, and they require every individual and every organization that doesn’t share those beliefs to speak out and denounce them.

“As an organization dedicated to building better lives for all people, we will continue to do what we can to remedy longstanding racist policies and the subsequent disparities and injustices that people of color in Michigan and across the country are experiencing. And as people, we will continue to open our arms and our hearts to all human beings, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, their nationality or citizenry, or any other difference that others will try to use to pull us apart. Our thoughts are with the families who lost a loved one this weekend, the people who were injured, and everyone who this rally was designed to intimidate and scare—we are with you.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Infant death rate down statewide but significant risks persist for babies of color

For Immediate Release
August 9, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Despite general improvements overall, racial and geographic disparities exist in most maternal and infant health factors

LANSING—When it comes to the health of Michigan infants and their mothers, there are troubling trends by race and ethnicity in infant death rates and other indicators, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy’s latest Right Start policy report. While the state in general has seen fewer infant deaths and a decline in the share of births to women under the age of 20, there is a significant gap between the deaths of White babies and deaths of African-American and Hispanic infants. This is just one stark difference that validates the need for policy changes and a focus on equity in healthcare.

The report, 2017 Right Start: Infant death rates decline in Michigan, other trends raise concerns, examines nine maternal and infant health indicators statewide, by race and for a select number of cities and townships in Michigan. The 2017 report compares 2010 (2008-2010 three-year average) to 2015 (2013-2015 three-year average) and highlights infant mortality trends in the state. While overall improvement has been made to reduce the number of Michigan babies who die before their first birthdays, the infant death rate increased 15 percent for Hispanic babies and is approaching nearly double the infant death rate of Whites. And African-American babies are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthdays as White babies.

“It is certainly reassuring that we’re seeing fewer infant deaths statewide and other maternal and infant health factors are improving, but it’s important for us to view the data from all angles and examine these drastic racial disparities,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director with the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The risks facing African-American and Latino babies, especially the high infant death rates, should raise an alarm to policymakers and healthcare providers and draw attention to the need for more holistic policies to support healthy moms and babies.”

Another area in which the gap has widened by race is maternal smoking. The state trends show that the rate of prenatal smoking has remained the same for White women, but the rates for African-American and Latina women worsened over the trend period.

On the whole, Michigan has made gains in regards to the health of moms and babies. The share of births to women under the age of 20 decreased by almost 37 percent from 2010 to 2015 and the rate of second (or more) births to teens already mothers declined by about 6 percent. High school completion rates are rising and teen births are decreasing, which means fewer mothers are giving birth without a high school diploma or GED, an improvement of over 21 percent. Another improvement is that the rate of babies born too small improved by 1 percent, though over 9,500 births were still considered low birthweight.

However, areas of concern remain. Over 6,000 births statewide, or 5.3 percent, were to mothers who either did not receive prenatal care or started care late in their pregnancy. This represents nearly a 10 percent rate increase from 2010. Also worsening over the trend period was the rate of mothers smoking during pregnancy, which stands at over 18 percent, or close to 1 in 5 births. Especially concerning is the rising rate of babies born too early—nearly 14,000 preterm births in 2015, a rate increase of almost 20 percent from 2010.

“We need to examine a complete picture when considering maternal and infant health, and what happens to a mom and her baby in the delivery room is just one piece of that picture. If we’re really going to make a difference in the health of a mom and her baby, it’s necessary to make policy improvements that address dozens of factors, such as the mother’s neighborhood, her relationships, her education and her life experiences,” said Guevara Warren.

Targeting resources and efforts where the highest need exists is critical, which is why the League’s first policy recommendation in the report is for policymakers to reduce disparities by race and ethnicity. For example, attention must be placed on adequate prenatal care for women of color.

Protecting the Affordable Care Act is another key recommendation in the report; the program guarantees maternity health coverage, expanded Medicaid to around 650,000 Michigan residents with low incomes and has helped to provide essential healthcare services for women. The report also recommends expanding home visiting programs to support vulnerable women and infants. In 2016, nearly 35,000 families participated in state-funded home visiting programs, resulting in improved access to prenatal care, fewer preterm births, and increased well-child visits. The League also places emphasis on addressing the social determinants of health.

“Home visiting programs to support vulnerable women and infants have proven very effective and resulted in improved access to prenatal care, fewer preterm births, and increased well-child visits across the state,” said Amy Zaagman, executive director of the Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health. “Not only should these programs receive more support from the state level, but federal lawmakers should work to ensure that successful programs like the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program are reauthorized to continue to support mothers and their babies.”

In addition to the full report, localized press releases and individual profiles of 20 communities can be found at http://www.mlpp.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2017-right-start, including information on local efforts to address maternal health. Information will also be available online at the Kids Count Data Center, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/. For more information on the League’s Kids Count work, go to www.mlpp.org/kids-count.

The state’s three-year 2016-2019 Infant Mortality Reduction Plan was developed to address infant deaths in Michigan and included broad stakeholder engagement and input. The Infant Mortality Advisory Council, which the Michigan League for Public Policy is a member of, was created to implement the goals of the Infant Mortality Reduction Plan and support the actions necessary for statewide involvement—work the report released today will help inform.

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The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation, and the Fetzer Institute. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

U.S. House budget strips trillions from everyday Americans while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy

For Immediate Release
July 19, 2017

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@mlpp.org
517.487.5436

Michigan’s congressional delegation should reject the House budget and instead work toward a bipartisan plan that matches our state’s needs and priorities

LANSING—The U.S. House Republicans’ new budget proposal being debated today would make it harder for millions of Michigan families to make ends meet, with drastic cuts to healthcare and key assistance programs. Despite attempts to distance themselves from President Donald Trump’s horrendous budget, House Republicans are advancing a budget that would strip trillions of dollars from middle class and working families while providing tax giveaways to the very wealthy and profitable corporations. The budget also creates a special fast-track process that would allow Republicans to force through massive cuts in public investments and big tax breaks without bipartisan support.

“The House Republican budget proposal has the same fatal flaws as President Trump’s budget plan. It attacks support programs and economic opportunity for millions of struggling Michiganians to pay for huge tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “It would also shift massive costs and likely bring massive cuts to the Michigan budget at a time when our state is already struggling to invest in education, transportation and other services hardworking Michigan residents rely on.”

For Michigan, the budget plan could result in devastating cuts to programs that expand economic opportunity for Michiganians, including job training, education and economic development programs in cities and rural communities. The budget would fall hardest on Michigan residents struggling in today’s economy, with cuts to programs that provide income assistance to help families get back on their feet and help nearly 1.4 million people in Michigan—including 563,753 children—afford groceries through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As Republicans continue their efforts to sabotage healthcare access, the budget includes additional cuts to Medicaid, which helps 2.5 million people in Michigan, including more than 650,000 through the Healthy Michigan Plan.

And underlying the whole budget proposal is a set of false assumptions about economic growth to hide that the proposed tax cuts would dramatically increase deficits and shift ballooning costs to states when revenues fall short of projections.

“The people of Michigan deserve a responsible federal budget proposal from our members of Congress—one that is based on real economic conditions and addresses the real challenges faced by struggling families, not one that uses fuzzy math to justify big tax breaks,” said Holcomb-Merrill. “Instead of fast-tracking cuts that shortchange Michiganians and threaten our state budget and economy, Michigan Republican members of Congress should focus on creating a bipartisan plan that makes investments in programs that match our priorities.”

The League has been tracking the potential disastrous impact of the federal budget on Michigan residents since President Trump’s “skinny budget” came out in March. The League has asserted that the Trump budget is an attack on people living in poverty and the programs that help them provide for their families. The Trump budget would have harmful effects on food assistance, energy security and health, and other programs. While the House’s budget proposal is not an exact replica of the Trump budget, it is largely a continuation of these devastating cuts.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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