Five things to know about Census poverty data
New federal data on poverty, income and health coverage released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau contains a treasure trove of information about how Louisiana families live and work. LBP highlighted the major findings from the release. For instance, the state’s poverty rate (19.9 percent) ranks third highest in the nation; the poverty rate held steady in Louisiana last year; and health reform reduced Louisiana’s stark racial disparities when it comes to coverage. Nola.com also reported some interesting facts about the Census data, including a note that while the country has seen a rise in the poverty rate since 2000 (12.2 percent to 15.9 percent), Louisiana’s poverty rate has stayed essentially the same, hovering around 20 percent.
State education superintendent proposes limiting letter grade drops
Education officials across the state are worried that more stringent LEAP, iLEAP and end-of-course exams could result in a large drop of school letter grades. So state education superintendent John White is proposing a policy that, at most, allows a school’s letter grade to drop one level, regardless of students’ actual performance on the test this year. Too many letter grade declines in consecutive years puts public schools at risk of being taken over by the state Recovery School District and charter schools risk being shut down when their charters come up for renewal. Student results also count for half of teachers’ evaluation ratings; low ratings can result in the loss of tenure and put teachers at risk of being laid off.
U.S. House passes large cuts to federal food stamp program
The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday along partisan lines that would reduce federal spending on food stamp assistance by $39 billion over the next decade. The cuts would drop 3.8 million Americans, including 71,000 in Louisiana, from the program. As LBP explained in July, the food stamp program has been proven to help blunt the damaging effects of severe poverty on families, especially those with children. Sixty percent of the families in Louisiana that currently receive food benefits have incomes below the poverty line, which is about $19,100 annually for a family of three. In addition, more than 70 percent of Louisiana households that receive food stamp benefits are headed by someone who works or held a job in the last 12 months.
Weekend reading: While manufacturing returns, people don’t
America’s reemerging manufacturing sector is catching the attention of consumers, media outlets and elected officials nationwide. Many companies are returning to the United States after decades of globalization due to reduced transportation costs, quicker turnaround times and the ability to market their products as being “made in America.” But today’s manufacturing sector is missing one key element that was largely present in the past – human labor. As the New York Times reports, many manufacturing companies are able to keep their labor costs low by automating tasks that once required human hands. For example, a textile mill in Parkdale, S.C. produces 2.5 million pounds of yarn a week with about 140 workers. In 1980, that production level would have required more than 2,000 people.