The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on extant structural inequality. Differences in labor market outcomes and economic security between unionized and non-unionized workers are no exception. It has become increasingly clear that non-unionized workers are less shielded from the economic impacts of the pandemic and that many of these workers are disproportionately Black and Hispanic.
Unions do a great deal to challenge economic inequality. Unions do this by increasing baseline wages among workers, stabilizing promotion decisions reducing their arbitrariness, and providing other resources like job training and skill development. Although unionization benefits all workers, its effects are particularly apparent among already marginalized groups.
Children are expensive. Almost any parent will attest to
this. For 2015, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that raising a child into
adulthood cost approximately $234,000 in total for a middle-income family.
Families face many similar expenses with childrearing, which
vary over the child’s lifetime. Upon the birth of a child, there are immediate
costs. Parents must purchase food, clothes, and many other items to support
their children on a day-to-day basis. Children bring long-term costs, too, as
parents often have to save money for their children’s futures, particularly for
Although the costs of childrearing may be similar, families have very different resources available to attend to these costs. As a result, higher-income families tend to spend more on their children in absolute dollars, but lower-income families spend a greater proportion of their income on their children, often at a cost to their own financial wellbeing.
As expected, President Trump touted the “hottest” economy in years in his State of the Union address. As evidence for a booming economy, Trump noted that, “Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.” And that “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”
focus on a minority group with historically low rates of employment — people
with disabilities — and examine some of these claims. Employment rates for people with disabilities have
declined since the late-1980s. An analysis of employment trends over time also shows similar declines even when
accounting for differences in age, education, and family background. Despite
these overarching trends, the President claimed in his address that
“Unemployment for Americans with disabilities is at an all-time low.”
To be sure,
many organizations have fact checked Trump’s SOTU speech. True:
unemployment among people with disabilities did decrease slightly from 10.5% to
9.2% in 2017 and rates are lower for other minority groups. This isn’t,
however, a record low nor did Trump mention that unemployment among people with
disabilities is still about twice as high as the rest of the population. It also masks the fact that while
unemployment may have declined, it is still highest among African Americans and
Hispanics with disabilities.
The bigger problem isn’t the hyperbolic tone we’ve come to expect in a SOTU address and especially one delivered by Donald J. Trump. It’s trying to convince American voters that the economy is doing well because of increased employment.