“A long, slow grind”

“A long, slow grind”

When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down large parts of the U.S. economy in March, many analysts predicted a “V-shaped” depression – a massive dip, followed by an equally rapid period of economic growth that would bring the economy back to pre-pandemic levels. As The New York Times’ Neil Irwin reports, those rosy forecasts have given way to a grim reality that America’s economic recovery will be long, slow and very uneven. 

In the details of government employment data — covering hundreds of industries — can be seen a jobs crisis that penetrates deeply into the economy. Sectors that in theory shouldn’t be much affected by the pandemic at all are showing patterns akin to a severe recession. … Over all, even if you exclude the sectors directly affected by the pandemic — air transportation; arts and entertainment; hotels; restaurants; and both private and public education — the number of jobs in America was 4.6 percent lower in September than in February. That is not far from the 5.3 percent contraction in total employment that took place during the entire 18 months of what is now known as the Great Recession, and around three times worse than the job losses in the 2001 recession.

The Washington Post reports that communities that had the fewest resources to start with – particularly Black and Brown communities – feel the recession’s worst effects most deeply. 

No other recession in modern history has so pummeled society’s most vulnerable. The Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 caused similar job losses across the income spectrum, as Wall Street bankers and other white-collar workers were handed pink slips alongside factory and restaurant workers. The 2001 recession was more unequal than the Great Recession: After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, travel and tourism jobs vanished and low-wage employment fell 7 percent below the previous year’s level, while high earners remained largely unscathed. Yet, even that inequality is a blip compared with what the coronavirus inflicted on low-wage workers this year.

 

GOTV, block by block
Today marks the last day that people can register in person to vote in the Nov. 3 elections (online registration closes Oct. 13). Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin believes turnout could eclipse Louisiana’s modern-day record of 72%, set in the 1991 gubernatorial runoff between Edwin Edwards and David Duke. While interest in the presidential election appears sky high, turnout doesn’t happen automatically. Nola.com | The Advocate’s Mark Ballard reports on an effort by Together Louisiana to recruit “block captains” to organize neighborhoods and educate voters about candidates’ positions.  

Together Louisiana has recruited about 1,700 block captains, mostly in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport. But they also have a fair number of volunteers in Lafayette, Monroe and Lake Providence along with other communities across the state. It’s not necessarily a new idea. In fact, it’s pretty much the same strategy employed by the Old Choctaws, the politically conservative ring that ran New Orleans from Reconstruction through World War II. Except Together Louisiana will be using smartphones and datapoints to organize rather than patronage jobs and cash payouts.

 

A looming food shortage
The number of Americans experiencing hunger has been rising since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the crisis is expected to worsen as federal aid programs are set to expire in the coming weeks and months. And the charitable sector doesn’t have the resources to make up the gap. A new analysis by Feeding America estimates that the total need for charitable food over the next 12 months will be 17 billion pounds – or about three times as much as before the pandemic. The Washington Post’s Laura Reiley looks at the problem through one Boston-area man who lost his telecommunications job in March. 

At 41, (Bill) Blackmer says he’s been through quite a bit. His wife has a disability and he has been the primary breadwinner for a number of years. He has suffered from anxiety and depression for some time, once taking unpaid leave for a hospitalization. Since losing his job, he has liquidated his 401(k), used his $1,200 stimulus check to pay down some bills, and opted into a special payment plan with his mortgage lender. But even with the extra $600 per week in unemployment the Cares Act provided, things have been tight.

 

Justice for Danny Buckley
Danny Buckly was a 61-year-old disabled veteran, panhandling for spare change in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s in Baton Rouge when he was killed by 24-year-old Jace Boyd, who faces second-degree murder charges. Buckley was Black and Boyd is white. Terry Landry Jr., Louisiana policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, writes in The Advocate that Boyd’s use of the state’s “stand your ground” law to justify the killing is particularly troubling. 

As detailed in a recent report, stand your ground laws deepen racial disparities in the legal system. They encourage a trigger-happy culture of vigilantism that cheapens the value of human life. Frankly, they make all in my community less safe. For some, it may be easy to tune this all out. But for me, Danny Buckley is more than just another hashtag. And I hope all of you reading this, no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation, don’t view him as such either. He was someone’s son, cousin, or uncle, but first and foremost he was a human being.

 

Programming Notes

Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll Closes Mon. 10/5!
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to hear from families with young children about their experiences with child care over the past several months. If you have any children under the age of 5 in your home, please take a few minutes to fill out the “Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll” and share how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your family. This survey is for any parent, guardian or caregiver raising children, not just moms and dads. Participants can take the survey at https://www.policyinstitutela.org/parentpoll. Your responses will be kept confidential and you can answer the survey without giving your name. The survey is being conducted by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Louisiana Department of Education and United Way of Southeast Louisiana Women United, who partnered to create and distribute this survey. Through this survey, they will better be able to understand and advocate for the child care needs of families, like yours, with young children across the state. Thank you in advance for your help. Should you have any questions about the survey, you may contact info@policyinstitutela.org.

 

LBP is hiring: Final day to apply!
The Louisiana Budget Project is seeking a Public Policy Advocate to lead a new initiative that will focus on improving the enrollment experience for people covered by Medicaid. This is an exciting opportunity for someone with a strong knowledge of healthcare policy, top-notch research, analysis and writing skills, and a desire to work directly with state officials and other stakeholders to help reduce or eliminate the administrative barriers that prevent people from obtaining and retaining health coverage. The successful candidate will have a commitment to advancing racial and economic equity, strong interpersonal skills, and experience in healthcare policy in a research or advocacy capacity. Click here for more information on how to apply.

 

Number of the Day
11.2% – Percentage of home mortgages in Louisiana that were past due on payments or in delinquency in August – one of the highest rates in the nation. (Source: Nola.com | The Advocate)