The left-leaning Brookings Institution’s new paper “One Third of a Nation: Strategies for Helping Working Families” will be tough reading for many in the welfare-industrial complex.
Authors Isabel V. Sawhill, Edward Rodrigue , and Nathan Joo examined “the poorest one-third of all families in the U.S. with an able-bodied head between the ages of 25 and 54.” The households “are disproportionately minority, poorly educated, and headed by single parents.”
What explains the condition of the people in the bottom third? The Brookings scholars call it the “work gap” — the reality that “many are not employed at all, or work limited hours.”
The “biggest impact on the economic well-being of these households is achieved by simply assuming that they work full time.” Low-income families would enjoy “large earnings gains …. if more jobs were available and … household heads were willing and able to work full time at their existing or predicted wage.”
In New Mexico, the employment-to-population ratio, “which measures the share of people in their prime working years who have jobs,” plummeted between 2007 and 2015. It fell from 79.1 percent to 71.9 — far and away the largest drop in the nation. (Only Kentucky and West Virginia posted a lower overall share.)
What New Mexico needs, more than anything, is more and better jobs. Anyone interested in implementing policies sure to generate sustainable, vibrant economic development?