Census Bureau: Child Poverty Rate Falls Substantially, Number Of Uninsured Ticks Down

America's poverty rate declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent last year, marking the first statistically significant decrease since 2006, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

An increase in the number of year-round, full-time workers helped lower the overall poverty rate, Census Bureau officials said. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of men and women working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million, respectively, the figures showed. In 2013, a total of 60.8 million men and 45.1 million worked full-time.

The child poverty rate also dropped significantly from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013, while the share of uninsured Americans also fell slightly during the same time.

Despite bright spots in the new Census reports on income, poverty and health insurance, Robert Greenstein with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the economy strengthened too slowly in 2013 "to improve the living standards of many middle- and low-income Americans."

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Activists Protest Near West Side Shooting Involving Chicago Police

A weekend shooting involving Chicago police sparked a protest on the city's Near West Side Monday evening.

On Saturday, Denzel Ford, 20, was shot by a Chicago cop after he allegedly attempted to run down an officer with his vehicle. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, officers in an unmarked vehicle stopped Ford near the corner of Western Ave. and Lake St. on suspicion of selling narcotics. Police allege that Ford refused to comply with orders to leave the vehicle and instead accelerated, striking the unmarked police vehicle, which then struck two officers and injured one. A police officer then fired multiple gunshots, wounding Ford.

Community members and relatives of Ford dispute the official story from police.

Kemesha Ford told the crowd of a few dozen demonstrators Monday that her cousin was not a killer.

“We are sick and tired of the police shooting our kids,” said Ford. “Everybody is not a killer. Everybody isn’t doing crime. He was unjustly shot.”

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Town Hall Meeting Illuminates TIF Use In Chicago's 2nd Ward

South Loop residents and other Chicagoans weighed the pros and cons of using tax increment financing (TIF) in the city's 2nd Ward at a community meeting Monday night.

The seven TIF districts located almost completely or 100 percent within the 2nd Ward, which currently includes the South Loop, West Loop and Bronzeville neighborhoods, raked in more than $1 billion in property tax revenue since their inception through the end of 2013, according to city data revealed by the CivicLab at the meeting, hosted by the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, a South Loop community organization.

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Report: Wage Theft Costs U.S. Workers Billions Of Dollars Annually (UPDATED)

The "widespread" problem of wage theft in America might be costing U.S. workers more than $50 billion annually, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

EPI researchers came to the $50 billion estimate based on the findings of a separate, 2008 survey of front-line workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. In the three major cities, workers in low-wage industries experienced close to $3 billion in total annual wage theft, which includes paying employees less than the minimum wage and failing to pay for overtime.

"Survey evidence suggests that wage theft is widespread and costs workers billions of dollars a year, a transfer from low-income employees to business owners that worsens income inequality, hurts workers and their families, and damages the sense of fairness and justice that a democracy needs to survive," the EPI report states. "If these findings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are generalizable to the rest of the U.S. low-wage workforce of 30 million, wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a year."

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Report: Right-To-Work Laws Strain Public Budgets & Would 'Weaken' Illinois' Economy

Workers in collective-bargaining states "are subsidizing the low-wage model of employment" in states with so-called right-to-work laws that limit union power.

That's one of the key takeaways from a new report by researchers at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Labor and Employment Relations.

“Our study found that right-to-work laws weaken state economies and strain public budgets,” said the report's co-author Bob Bruno, a labor professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Right-to-work laws not only sap government revenue in the form of reduced tax receipts, but they also increase government spending in outlays for food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

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