Michigan League for Public Policy

Teen pregnancies down in Michigan, study says

Oct 8, 2015
Hobo Mama / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Teen births in Michigan have dropped 40% over the past two decades, according to a recent report by the Michigan League for Public Policy.  

In 1992, about 18,000 Michigan teens had babies compared to 8,000 20 years later. That puts Michigan's teen birth rate of 24 per 1,000 slightly below  the national average of 27 teen births per 1,000 in 2013. 

Study: Michigan minority families falling behind

Mar 18, 2015
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new study shows minority working families in Michigan are twice as likely to be low-income earners as white working families.

The report shows half of the state's working minority families fall below the official poverty rate, around $40,000 for a family of three, compared to 27% of working white families.

Michigan League for Public Policy

An annual report that looks at the well-being of children in Michigan shows more kids are growing up in poverty.

One in four kids lives in a household at or below the poverty line. But African-American children are twice as likely to live in poverty.

“The disparities are very troubling,” said Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She heads the project for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend, unofficially known as the last weekend of summer, and this in itself seems horribly unfair.

Weren’t we still shoveling snow a few weeks ago?  Anyway, when it comes to things not being fair, those who work for a living know that all too well.

Especially, that is, if they have limited education or work in manufacturing jobs. I’ve just been reading a fascinating new Labor Day report issued by the Michigan League for Public Policy. It’s focus is on continuing wage disparities between men and women – the famous gender gap.

That’s an important issue, but to me it wasn’t the most significant thing in this report. What this report really does is illustrate how devastating the last 35 years have been for Michigan’s traditional blue-collar workers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report shows it’s getting harder for people in Michigan at the lower end of the pay scale.

Yannet Lathrop is a policy analyst for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Her study finds the bottom 20% of Michigan's male wage earners have seen their real income, adjusted for inflation, drop by nearly a third since 1979.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report finds Michigan’s poorest children have failed to make up any ground in their reading skills in the past decade.

According to the latest Kids Count report, 81% of low-income 4th-graders in Michigan are not reading proficiently. Michigan is among six states that have seen no improvement in that rate since 2003.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the project director for Kids Count Michigan. She says fourth grade is a pivotal age, since that’s where children stop learning to read and start reading to learn.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who rely on government programs to put food on their table will be getting less money to buy groceries starting November First.

Back in 2009, the federal government pumped billions of dollars into food assistance programs. The money came from the federal economic stimulus. But that ends November first.  After that, Michiganders getting help buying food from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see their monthly benefits drop by about five to ten percent.

  There’s a bumper sticker I occasionally see that says: Unions: The People Who Brought You the Weekend. For most Americans, that is certainly true. Unions created not only the weekend, but the modern middle class, something we tend to forget these days.

Yes, unions became complacent and some became corrupt. Some did not do enough for women or minorities. But all in all, they did far more good for America and the American worker than harm.

Unions are, however, widely unpopular with a sizable section of the public these days, and an even larger percentage of politicians.

The Republican majority in the Michigan legislature seems to have essentially declared war on unions, especially public sector unions. Unions have been in a long membership decline, something that may accelerate as the effects of becoming a Right-to-Work state kick in.

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Childhood poverty rate high in Michigan

This year’s Kids Count report from the Michigan League for Public Policy and the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Michigan ranks 31st nationwide for overall child well-being. Michigan League for Public Policy President Gilda Jacobs told Michigan Radio's Jake Neher that state lawmakers should restore Michigan’s tax credits for low-income families and ease restrictions on welfare cash assistance.

Possible changes in home foreclosure rules

Legislation in Lansing could change home foreclosure rules in Michigan. Currently, after a foreclosure, homeowners get six months after it gets sold at auction to regain the property. Under the proposed changes, a homeowner would lose that redemption period if the house is damaged. The idea is to stop homeowners going through foreclosure from damaging the home.

Neeta Delaney, director of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, told Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith she worries the provision would only make the foreclosure process more contentious.

Michigan beachgoers lost 755 days of water access

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's annual beach quality report says Michigan beachgoers lost 755 days of water access in 2012 because of pollution. The most common cause for beach closings was the presence of bacteria from human or animal feces. Altogether, 166 beaches were closed for a total of 755 days in 2012. That's down from 913 days  in 2011.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Policymakers debate how to spend surplus

The debate continues in Lansing over how the state should spend almost half a billion dollars in unexpected revenue this year. The Michigan League for Public Policy believes that because the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit is less than a third of what it was a couple years ago, legislators should restore the credit for the working poor.

"A spokesperson for state House Democrats says they support the idea of using some of the money to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit. However, Governor Rick Snyder says a similar tax credit from the federal government does enough to help working poor families in Michigan. He wants to use the extra cash to fix roads," Michigan Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Merger between Beaumont and Henry Ford sacked

The planned merger between Beaumont and Henry Ford health systems, two of southeast Michigan’s largest health care providers, has been scrapped. The leaders of each hospital signed a letter of intent to merge last fall, but negotiations didn’t work out so well. On Tuesday, Henry Ford CEO Nancy Schlichting sent a letter to employees, indicating they’ll end talks and let the agreement expire.

“It became apparent that two very different perspectives have emerged for the new organization between Henry Ford and Beaumont,” Schlichting wrote. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has more.

Rising car sales cut plant shutdowns

Summer vacation will be cut short for auto factory workers in Michigan this year, as carmakers try to keep up with heightened demand. Detroit automakers plan to reduce their annual shutdowns at dozens of North American plants that produce popular Ford and Chrysler models.

“This sends a strong signal that the industry is in a healthy place,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at market researcher LMC Automotive, told The Detroit News.