November 29, 2022 / Economics, Equity

Atlanta has the highest income inequality in the nationImage

In not-new-news, AJC’s analysis of Census data shows Atlanta has the highest income inequality among major US metros.

“[M]any Black residents are not seeing the benefits of [strong economic growth], said Janelle Williams, co-founder of the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative. The median household income for a Black family in Atlanta is $28,000, while the median income for white families is roughly $84,000. Overall, Black residents account for half of the city’s population.”

This analysis uses the Gini coefficient based on the US Census Bureau’s 2016-2020 American Community Survey data. “The Gini coefficient measures how equally income is distributed among a population and is expressed in a decimal format ranging from zero to one.”

While the City of Atlanta is No. 1 among cities, “the Atlanta metro area ranks as No. 227 for income inequality, with a Gini co-efficient of 0.4708, significantly better than the New York metro area (No. 39) and the Houston metro (No. 117).”

November 29, 2022 / Education, Equity

Combining program and community data reveal insights into barriers to educationImage

The recently launched map of Georgia’s government-funded out-of-school programs highlights some communities with limited access to these learning opportunities. Out-of-school education programs are essential because consistent participation in these activities has been shown to improve academic outcomes, help to close the achievement gap, reduce school absences, and improve social-emotional outcomes. Some of GSAN’s highlights from the interactive map are:

  • 45 counties do not have government-funded programs.
  • Over half of these counties have high concentrations of children living in poverty, low educational attainment rates, low 3rd-grade literacy rates, and limited access to broadband internet and vehicles.
  • A major portion of these counties also fall under Georgia’s Black Belt – a historically underserved region of the state.
November 29, 2022 / Health, Workforce

Long covid leading to more workers with disabilitiesImage

From Liberty Street Economics

  • Approximately 19% of individuals infected with COVID now have long COVID, possibly leading to the 1.7 million increase in working-age people reporting a disability since 2020.
  • Symptoms of long COVID include fatigue, brain fog, and muscle/joint pain. However, explicit tests for long COVID do not exist, making it difficult to confirm a diagnosis.
  • With the increase of disable workers employed, work place accommodations such as avoiding physical exertion or taking rest breaks have become necessary.
  • It is likely that disabled workers suffering from long COVID and the necessary accommodations will be a constant element in the future of the workplace.
Atlanta Public Schools graduation rate by race and ethnicity
October 12, 2022 / Education, Equity

APS graduation rate reaches all-time highImage

Atlanta Public Schools reached an all-time high graduation rate in 2022 of 84.0%.

From the press release:

  • Graduation rates for Black students (82.2%) reached an all-time high with the 2022 cohort, while the rate for Hispanic students (80.0%) and White students (95.4%) was slightly lower than the cohort 2021 rates but higher than the pre-pandemic 2019 rates of 75.5% for Hispanic students and 93.4% for White students.
  • Nearly 13 percentage points separated the graduation rates of Black students and White students. This is 4 percentage points lower than cohort 2021 difference.
  • Graduation rates for students with disabilities was 72.2%, a decrease by 1.6 percentage points over 2021, but the highest number of students with disabilities to ever graduate in one cohort – 309 students.
  • The 2022 graduation rate of 76.1% for English learners was slightly lower than the 2021 graduation rate of 76.8%.
September 13, 2022 / Basic Needs, Economics, Policy, Workforce

Unprecedented decline in child poverty rates attributed to government safety net programsImage

A new report from Child Trends (also covered in the New York Times) evaluates the biggest factors contributing to the unprecedented 30-year trend of decreasing child poverty. Key findings point to governmental safety net programs as key drivers.

Further, the US Census Bureau released pandemic-era child poverty estimates (through 2021) this week, saying “the new data show the significant impact the expansion of anti-poverty programs during the COVID-19 pandemic had on reducing child poverty.”

Additional recent studies, including from our partners at DataHaven in Connecticut found that food scarcity and child poverty rose after safety net programs ended.

What does that mean for social sector leaders?

First, the scale of government interventions offer opportunities to have the greatest impact. But blanket policies will always leave some households falling through cracks: immigrants, mixed-status and undocumented households, families that are newly navigating human services, digitally disconnected, underemployed, housing burdened, and others. Our role then, is (1) advocate for expanded policies and educate officials of the impact; and (2) find and directly serve the families that are left behind.

Second, the new philanthropic role of counties and cities distributing ARPA funds offers an opportunity, and maybe a model, to (1) build relationships with elected officials and (2) provide guidance in funding and programming decisions that have systemic impacts.

August 18, 2022 / General

Historical context increases belief in racial and structural inequities and decreases racial resentmentInsight

New research published this month found evidence that sharing historical context increased beliefs that (1) racial inequities exist and (2) that they are structural (not individual) in nature. It was most effective among White independents and Republicans. This research supports the importance of including historical narrative along with data and narratives when describing and addressing systemic inequities.

The housing treatment increased belief in racial inequality’s existence and belief in discrimination against African Americans as a structural cause of racial inequality among both white Independents and Republicans, but decreased racial resentment only among white Independents (and not white Republicans). By contrast, among white Republicans, the jobs treatment decreased racial resentment and increased belief in discrimination and a lack of educational opportunities among African Americans as causes of racial inequality, but did not increase belief in the existence of racial inequality itself.

Taken together, these results provide evidence that information about the historical roots of contemporary racial inequality can in fact shape racial beliefs. In particular, we found that white respondents in the treatment conditions, rather than engaging in motivated reasoning and exhibiting divergent beliefs, seem to update their beliefs in the direction of the information they receive about the existence of racial inequality and the extent to which it is caused by structural factors when presented with specific information about past discriminatory policies.

August 7, 2022 / Early Childhood, Economics, Equity

Childhood friendships across economic classes key to upward mobilityImage

In new research from Raj Chetty’s team at Opportunity Insights (published in two parts in Nature and summarized in NYT), a massive analysis of economic and social networks found that exposure to and friendships among people of different social classes is one of the strongest predictors of upward mobility.

The study found that lower socio-economic groups make connections in their home neighborhood and at religious institutions, while higher SES groups tend to make their bridging connections in college. This research builds on their prior economic mobility analysis and development of the Opportunity Atlas.

So what do we do with this information?

Programs, services, policies, and investments that facilitate interactions across diverse economic groups will likely have lasting impacts. Policy level solutions might include inclusive housing and planning decisions. At a more local level, effort might be made to reduce in-school student segregation. Programmatically, even experiential programs outside of participants’ own neighborhood may have an impact.

July 10, 2022 / General

Debt disparities contribute to the racial wealth gapImage

Through June 2022, an Urban Institute analysis found significant racial and geographic disparities in debt—a factor that contributes to the wealth gap. According to the data, debt and the racial gap are higher in Georgia than the national average. The disparity is significantly higher in several Metro Atlanta counties.

 

June 24, 2022 / Education

Learning loss due to the pandemic will likely have lasting effects for metro Atlanta students.Gallery

Learn4Life’s State of Education 2021 reveals a concerning trend: metro Atlanta students experienced interrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighth grade math proficiency dropped 14 points from the 2018/19 academic year to the 2020/21 academic year. Reading proficiency has also declined since the 2018/19 academic year, reversing progress made in the year prior to the pandemic. Teacher burnout has exacerbated challenges in education, making it likely that learning loss will have lasting effects and be difficult to reverse.

June 17, 2022 / Workforce

Three rural Georgia counties lead the nation in job postings growth.Image

Emsi Burning Glass recently released a report analyzing the shifting trends in rural and urban job postings. They found:

  • 3 of the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest growth in job postings were in Georgia. Madison, Putnam, and Franklin Counties ranked 2nd, 4th, and 5th, respectively.
  • 90% of the top 50 counties with the highest growth in job postings were rural.
  • Rural jobs have experienced major growth in high-tech skills.
  • Remote work has allowed for traditionally urban opportunities to move outside of urban areas.
  • Job growth in rural areas has supported wage growth.
June 8, 2022 / General

The nonprofit sector has changed over the last two years. Here’s how much.Insight

The Nonprofit Finance Fund surveyed 1,100 nonprofit leaders about the impact of the last two years on their organizations.

  • 71% of survey respondents saw an increase in service demand during the pandemic
  • Almost twice as many Black-led organizations (49%) were impacted a great deal by the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd versus all organizations (28%)
  • 88% of nonprofits changed the way they work
  • 51% think changes are permanent
  • The top three staffing challenges were employing enough staff to do all the work (55%), offering competitive pay (51%), and staff burnout (36%)

Read the full findings of NFF’s 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector report.

May 11, 2022 / Basic Needs, Food, Inflation

Image

Both the pandemic and higher prices have increased reliance on nonprofits. The Atlanta Community Food Bank’s (ACFB) President and CEO Kyle Waide said, “The current challenges that we’re all experiencing with higher prices, for gas, for food, for supplies, are causing demand for food assistance to increase and it’s making it more expensive and more challenging for the food bank to respond to that demand.” With high inflation and increasing demand for their services, ACFB’s food costs are 30% higher this year than last year.

January 28, 2022 / Basic Needs, Equity, Housing

Preliminary findings from Atlanta’s recent homeless count indicate the pandemic likely exacerbated homelessness in the city.Insight

Atlanta recently conducted its annual “Point in Time” count to evaluate the number of homeless individuals in the city. The count was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, but 3,240 people were counted in the city of Atlanta in 2020. The official numbers for the 2022 count will not be released until later in the year, but recent trends have shown that the pandemic may have worsened homelessness. Recently, more people have been sleeping outdoors rather than in shelters. In Atlanta, there are 2,800 beds available in shelters, but many individuals have turned down a bed due to COVID-19 concerns. Another new trend has emerged: there are more individuals that are newly homeless than ever before. There is some good news, though. As many as 700 previously homeless individuals were able to secure stable housing with pandemic-relief funding.

Takeaway: Reducing homelessness in the wake of the pandemic will rely on improved housing aid and policy as well as creative sheltering options to safely house individuals.

January 10, 2022 / Aging, Education, Equity

GPEE recently released their list of ten issues to watch in 2022 with the goal of ensuring 65% of GA’s residents aged 25-64 will hold a postsecondary credential by 2032.Insight

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) recently released their report listing the top ten issues to watch in 2022. The report highlights the lasting effects of the pandemic on education, especially for Georgia’s most vulnerable populations including students of color, low-income youth, rural residents, workers lacking postsecondary training, and adults caring for children and elders. GPEE is focusing on equity as the state recovers from the pandemic, and the list of ten issues to watch serves as a starting point for GPEE’s goal of ensuring 65% of GA’s residents aged 25-64 will hold a postsecondary credential by 2032. The ten issues are:

  1. Equity – Shifting Mindset and Strategy
  2. Unfinished Instruction – Equity through Acceleration
  3. Non-Academic Barriers – The School’s Role
  4. Improving School Culture – The Imperative of School Leaders
  5. Funding – School Transformation on a Deadline
  6. Accountability – What’s the Future?
  7. Early Learning – Protecting Investments in Early Learners
  8. Revamping the Teaching Profession – A New Moonshot
  9. Workforce Readiness – A Strategy that Pays Off
  10. Rural Transformation – From the Inside Out
January 6, 2022 / Policy, Workforce

The Georgia Restaurant Association serves an important purpose: advocating for the needs of restaurants in Georgia which make up the second largest public industry in the state.Insight

The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) is one of the newest restaurant associations in the US. The GRA was created 19 years ago to advocate, educate, and create awareness about restaurants in the state. The Georgia restaurant industry is the second largest public sector employer with more than half a million workers in nearly 19,000 locations. GRA’s President & CEO, Karen Bremer, recently spoke to Metro Atlanta CEO about supporting the restaurant industry during the pandemic. Karen remarked that the pandemic initially devastated restaurants, but they have adapted to stay open while keeping employees and customers safe. Further, the GRA has advocated for pandemic-relief legislation at the state and federal level to keep Georgia’s restaurant industry thriving.

January 3, 2022 / Health

The current wave of COVID-19 cases is the biggest to hit Georgia yet, and metro Atlanta is leading the surge.Gallery

In the last few weeks, the number of COVID cases rose by 153%, hospital admissions rose 62%, and deaths from COVID rose 27% according to Amber Schmidtke’s latest COVID Digest. Additionally, the number of positive PCR tests rose from 5.7% to 32.6%. Cases and hospitalizations are rising for all age groups, but individuals aged 18-29 have had the sharpest increase in cases and hospitalizations. Metro Atlanta leads the current surge in cases whereas previous surges, such as the Delta wave in August-September 2021, had a greater proportional effect on rural areas. The current surge has been exacerbated by individuals gathering to celebrate the holidays, and cases are expected to continue increasing throughout January. This will likely strain hospitals which are already struggling due to lack of staffing.

Takeaway: Stronger public health measures, including improved vaccination and booster rates, will be necessary to curb the current rise in COVID-19 cases.

December 10, 2021 / Basic Needs, Equity, Food

Despite economic gains in 2021, food bank use is up from 2020 in metro Atlanta.Gallery

This year’s Metro Atlanta Speaks (MAS) survey, the largest public opinion survey in the Atlanta region, showed that 23.9% of respondents reported receiving food from a food bank compared to 17.9% of respondents in 2020. United Way’s 2-1-1 call data, however, found that fewer people were calling to request information about food pantries in 2021 than at the start of the pandemic. Calls about food pantries peaked in March 2020 at 2,255 calls. Comparatively, food pantry calls averaged around 700 calls per month in 2021. This could indicate that many families were concerned about needing to use a food pantry after the initial shock of the pandemic, but actually continued to need assistance over one year into the pandemic. 

Takeaway: The increased use of food banks in 2021 indicates the need for a more aggressive approach to addressing income inequality.

 

December 8, 2021 / Eviction, Housing

Contrary to fears of a massive surge in evictions after the CDC Eviction Moratorium ended in August, recent data show evictions in the past three months are still lower than pre-pandemic levels.Image

A recent Eviction Lab analysis monitoring more than 30 cities across the country found that eviction filings increased after the CDC moratorium ended in August but remained lower than pre-pandemic levels. Atlanta was not one of the cities included in the Eviction Lab analysis, but data from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Atlanta Region Eviction Tracker show that Atlanta also followed this trend. The five core metro Atlanta counties averaged 7,500 evictions during the moratorium compared to 10,000, on average, in the three months since the moratorium ended. Comparatively, there were around 13,000 evictions during the same time span in 2019. Eviction tracking data might not tell the whole story, though. Eviction trackers can only monitor cases filed in court. Displacement due to lease expiration, illegal evictions, or other informal methods may have become more common since the start of the moratorium, especially for undocumented individuals who wish to remain out of the court system. 

Takeaway: Emergency rental assistance and awareness efforts should target renters vulnerable to informal evictions.

November 18, 2021 / Education, Equity, Postsecondary

A new Learn4Life report found that 1,100 fewer students in metro Atlanta completed FAFSA applications during the pandemic with high-poverty schools seeing the biggest drop in completions.Image

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion has decreased by 4% during the past year. The pandemic has likely contributed to this decrease since students have had limited social support from peers and school staff to help them navigate the complex financial aid process. The drop in completions was especially pronounced in high-poverty schools which completed 27% less applications than other schools. FAFSA completion increases postsecondary enrollment from 55% to 90% and increases postsecondary persistence by 4% per $1000 in financial aid. Low-income students are disproportionately missing out on these benefits (Learn4Life).

Takeaway: Building capacity and opportunities for postsecondary enrollment and financial aid support should be prioritized in economically disadvantaged schools.