The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements

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The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements

Key Points

  • Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements for the 2022 school year was approved by U.S. Dept. of Education
  • This move locks in the learning loss that took place during the COVID-19
  • American Relief Package Act requires at least 20% of funds be spent on recovering learning loss

    Georgia’s request approved

    The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements for the 2022 school year. “Our goal is to establish a new baseline, rather than compare your schools’ performance to pre-pandemic norms,” said School Superintendent Richard Woods.

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    The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take:

    “By doing this we are locking in the learning loss that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Buzz Brockway, vice president of GCO. “This means for some students, they will never recover from the pandemic learning loss they experienced, nor are they expected to recover. This ignores the millions and millions of dollars Georgia’s school districts are being sent via the American Relief Package Act, which requires that at least 20% of those funds be spent on recovering learning loss. What will local districts do with that money? Is giving up best for students? Georgia’s parents should march in loud protest to accepting that pandemic learning loss is the new norm.”

     

    Reality is Likely to be Far Less Rosy

    Reality is Likely to be Far Less Rosy

    Reality is Likely to be Far Less Rosy

    Reality is likely to be less rosy…

    Some economists are hoping that inflation has peaked and will tick down in the coming months, after the pace of inflation slowed slightly in April. But Erik Randolph, director of research for the Georgia Center For Opportunity (GCO), warns that the reality is likely to be far less rosy.

    “What we saw with the April Consumer Price Index was disinflation. That means the rate of inflation decreased but inflation is still occurring and our purchasing power is declining,” Randolph said. “Meanwhile, wage increases are lagging behind price increases. The vast majority of workers will have lower standardsof living because their budgets will not buy as much as in the recent past. Some workers will get handsome pay raises, but they will be the exception rather than the rule.

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    What’s needed?

    “The core problem here is that the price level has risen, setting a new floor for costs. The only way to lower the price level, by definition, is to allow for deflation. But our policymakers are afraid of deflation because of the economic schools of thought that they adhere to. What is needed is new economic thinking in Washington, D.C. from economists who are not afraid of deflation but recognize it’s the only way to bring the price level down that benefits the most people. The mess we’re in now are the signs of stagflation, meaning the rising price level may be soon accompanied with slower economic growth and loss of employment. The only way to mitigate that scenario would be to adopt policies to allow for supply-side growth.”

    Why Nonprofits Should Care and What to Do

    Why Nonprofits Should Care and What to Do

    Why Nonprofits Should Care and What to Do

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    Key Takeaways:
    • Welfare cliffs and marriage penalties are discouraging people from work and forming families.
    • The cliffs and penalties may mean that our clients are locked into poverty for much longer than they would be otherwise and despite our best efforts.
    • GCO has created a platform that allows anyone to see when a particular family can expect to experience benefit cliffs as they earn more money through work. 

    Important Link: BenefitsCliff.org

     

    If you work in a nonprofit serving the poor, you need to know that the government benefits your clients receive are likely discouraging them from working or forming a family, two things that research shows could lift them out of poverty the fastest. 

    This is an especially tough problem for nonprofits, like GCO, that work to get their clients into good-paying jobs and strengthen their family relationships.

    What’s going on?

    These disincentives to work are often called “welfare cliffs” and the disincentives to family formation are called “marriage penalties.” Essentially, “cliffs” are generated any time a person receiving government benefits gets a raise at work that causes them to lose more in benefits than they will earn in additional income from the raise. These same individuals can face a similar financial penalty IF they decide to marry. In many cases, they will lose more in benefits than their spouse is able to provide in new income to the household.

    While you would think (hope?) cliffs and penalties are rare, they are not. Instead, they are baked into the structure of nearly all welfare programs and many of the cliffs are severe. It’s also important to know that welfare recipients don’t face a single cliff or a single penalty, but they face cliffs and penalties at a number of different points as they have additional income from working or through marriage.

    Why does it matter?

    For nonprofit leaders, the cliffs and penalties may mean that our clients are locked into poverty for much longer than they would be otherwise and despite our best efforts. For workforce development nonprofits, cliffs could be the underlying reason why your clients don’t pick up additional work hours when they are offered or seem less than excited when they are offered a good promotion. In extreme cases, clients may quit jobs that seemed like a perfect fit simply because they panic when they learn they may lose a major benefit – like housing or childcare.

    For nonprofits trying to help strengthen family relationships, marriage penalties may be driving behavior that is otherwise inexplicable, like seemingly happy couples refusing to marry or live in the same home. These dynamics can lead to stress for the couples affected and to a sense that a parent (usually the father) has abandoned the family when, if the system would allow it, he would be in the home. In these cases, children pay the biggest price.

    What can you do about it?

    Fortunately, we have created a platform that allows anyone to see when a particular family can expect to experience benefit cliffs as they earn more money through work. For nonprofits working with these families, you now have a tool (available for 10 states, with two more on the way) that will allow you to help your clients plan for the future. In some cases, knowing when cliffs are likely to happen will allow your clients to seek a larger raise that will help them bypass or leapfrog a cliff. In other cases, maybe the answer is seeking additional training or certifications that will get your client into a different payscale entirely – one that avoids the cliffs.

    In the coming weeks, we will be adding a tool that will allow users to see the impact of penalties on couples who decide to marry. We will also be incorporating a solutions tool that will allow anyone to see how reforming our government benefit programs can actually eliminate cliffs and penalties entirely, giving recipients every reason to pursue work and form stable households.

    For GCO, it is this last point – reforming the system – that remains the ultimate goal. In the meantime, we are looking for ways to mitigate the harm caused by the welfare system, so that as many people as possible can escape the system and break cycles of poverty now.



    The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

    U.S. Gross Domestic Product Update

    U.S. Gross Domestic Product Update

    U.S. Gross Domestic Product Update

    stimulus

    U.S. Gross Domestic Product update

    U.S. Gross Domestic Product declined at a 1.4% rate in the first quarter of 2022. The numbers surprised economists, who had predicted a 1% gain.The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “The tab is coming due for all the reckless stimulus spending during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Erik Randolph, GCO’s director of research. “The declining GDP in the first quarter is the strongest indicator yet that our nation is headed into a recession. Even worse, our trajectory is straight toward stagflation, an environment marked by rampant inflation combined with high unemployment. This will hurt poor and middle-class Americans the most.”

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    New Research Predicts Long-Term Pain for Labor Market

    New Research Predicts Long-Term Pain for Labor Market

    New Research Predicts Long-Term Pain for Labor Market

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    Long-term pain for labor market due to the COVID-19 pandemic

    New research predicts long-term pain for the labor market due to around 3 million workers who plan to remain permanently sidelined over concerns of physical illness or physical impairment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “The authors of the long social distancing study have produced very helpful data on those no coming back into the labor force, estimating a 3.5 million shortfall in March by comparing the current observed level with a linear trend using the time period of January 2015 to December 2019 as the basis for the forecast,” said Erik Randolph, GCO’s director of research. “Using the current employment statistics survey instead of the current population survey, our own research shows a shortage of 6.6 million employed persons that would include persons holding multiple jobs. We use the same method of comparison by subtracting the forecasted data from the observed data, but instead of using a linear trend as the basis for comparison that can often overestimate the forecasts, or the reverse, we use an ARIMA forecast model, not for five years but starting at the low point after the Great Recession. In addition, our research provides forecasts and analyses for each of the 50 states where there is a wide disparity when it comes to job recovery.”

    For more, read Randolph’s research report on the economic impact of the pandemic shutdowns.

     

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    Georgia Unemployment Rate: Lowest Record Since 1976

    Georgia Unemployment Rate: Lowest Record Since 1976

    Georgia Unemployment Rate: Lowest Record Since 1976

    employment rate

    State unemployment rate stands at a record low

    On Friday, April 15th, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released state employment numbers for Georgia. They show that our state unemployment rate stands at a record low of 3.1%, the lowest since the BLS began tracking in 1976.

    The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “At 3.1%, Georgia is tied with Arkansas for the 16th lowest unemployment rate, a half point below the national unemployment rate of 3.6%,” said Erik Randolph, GCO’s director of research. “Georgia is among the 16 states that have recovered all the private employment lost due to the pandemic. According to our analysis, Georgia ranks 10th in the nation when comparing private employment to each state’s pre-pandemic private employment growth trajectory.”

    “Labor force participation is still an area of weakness. Georgia’s rate ranks 26th in the nation. While Georgia’s labor force participation rate edged up from 61.9% in February to 62.1% in March, it is still below its pre-pandemic rate of 62.8%. It is also well below the states with the highest rates. Nebraska leads the nation with 69.8% participation, just 0.2 points below its pre-pandemic rate”

    “The national economic picture is worrisome and can put a damper on the improving job picture. Rising inflation and supply-side problems are creating uncertainty that will impact entrepreneurial decision-making and alter the economic outlook. Some economic indicators are beginning to point to a possible economic slowdown. Although these prognostications are not certain, they are concerning.”

    For more, read Randolph’s research report on the economic impact of the pandemic shutdowns.

     

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