New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg



FRONT PAGE
SiteSearch
About us
Directories


US mayors fight inequality
NYC mayor's welfare policies
NYC Mayor to tackle poverty
New York's hidden poverty
Non-profits vital to urban USA
US poverty 2011
US urban inequality
2009 homelessnees in US cities
US socio-economic trends
US mayors silent on racial profiling
US poverty underestimated
Catholic Church in urban USA
America's children of prisoners
Health care in the US
US affordable housing crisis
US population reaches 300m
Poverty in US cities
Social services in US schools
Nonprofits versus US cities
Black American men
$1.4 billion for US homeless
US migration
Los Angeles migration
USA: Demolition as planning tool


City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa | Events |


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa are competing for the annual World Mayor Award. More


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world and questions them about their achievements, policies and aims. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


City Mayors invites readers to write short stories about people in cities around the world. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More

NYC Mayor’s policies on welfare
contribute to city’s rising poverty

By Moshe Adler*

14 May 2006: According to his deputy Linda Gibbs, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes that "every New Yorker who can work should work." Acting on this belief, the mayor has just refused to extend the period during which an able-bodied adult can get food stamps beyond the current three months. The mayor is, of course, entitled to his beliefs, but not when hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will be harmed.

As a result of his refusal to extend the availability of food stamps, 14,000 poor workers who can't find decent paying jobs will now be forced to accept whatever low wage jobs are being offered to them. And when they do, they will exert a downward pressure on the wages of other workers as well. The mayor's policy is not only cruel, it's anti-labor.

In fact, for low-wage New Yorkers Bloomberg Time has been even worse than Giuliani Time. Since 2001, the median wage of workers with low levels of education (high school or below) has increased by a mere 25 cents, from $9.75 an hour to $10 an hour. When adjusted for inflation this constitutes a 10 per cent decrease. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in higher poverty. In 2004, the last year for which this figure is available, the rate of poverty in NYC was 20 per cent, as compared to 19 per cent in 2001. There may be several reasons for these negative developments, but Bloomberg's anti-welfare policies have no doubt had an impact.

On the one hand, Bloomberg has continued Giuliani's policy of removing people from the welfare rolls. Between 2001 and 2005, the number of welfare caseloads in the city decreased by 80,000. On the other hand, people who do get welfare have been forced to replace well-paid city employees through a variety of "programs" with doublespeak names such as the Work Experience Program (WEP), the Parks Opportunity Program (POP) or the Parks Career Training Initiative (PACT). Between 2001 and 2005, the city's workforce was reduced by 15,000 workers. How many of these workers lost their jobs to welfare recipients is not known, but the Parks department alone employs 6,000 WEP workers and 4,000 POP workers. Welfare recipients are also forced to work in other departments, but those numbers aren't available.

"Work-at-any-wage" has become such an idee fixe that even advocates for the poor are reluctant to fight for welfare. Education, training and career ladders are now widely seen as the solution to poverty. But in New York City, which has close to 800,000 workers whose highest educational attainment is high school, this is a diversion and not a serious proposal for how to raise wages.

And in any event, the jobs that these workers with low levels of education do are all socially necessary. They include home care nurses who take care of the old and the sick, janitors who clean offices and schools, and retail workers. They are also security guards, cooks, and childcare workers. Even if everyone could have a Wharton MBA or a Columbia law degree, we'd still need people to do these jobs. The problem is not that these workers do unnecessary jobs, but that they're paid too little for doing essential jobs. The median hourly wage of home care nurses is $9.15. For janitors, cooks, and security guards it is $10. Child care workers make just $9 an hour. No New York City family can possibly live on such low wages.

The workers are poor because they get low wages and they get low wages because they are poor to begin with. Because they have little savings they are unable to take the time to look for better paying jobs, and when they are offered jobs, they are in no position to negotiate. Contrary to what Mayor Bloomberg believes, a policy that permits people to get on welfare rather than to accept wages they can't live on would actually reduce the need for welfare by forcing employers to pay a living wage.

Rather than believing that every New Yorker should work it would be better if the mayor believed that every New Yorker who works should earn a living wage.

*Moshe Adler teaches economics in the department of urban planning at Columbia and is the director of Public Interest Economics, a consulting firm. He can be reached at: ma820@columbia.edu and via his website www.columbia.edu/~ma820.


The average wage for janitors in New York City is $10 an hour


Also by Moshe Adler
Attacks on welfare lead to hidden poverty
One of the poignant questions that Hurricane Katrina raised was this: How could so many people be so poor for so long without anybody noticing? But poverty is just as invisible in New York City as it was in New Orleans. The last five years of the 1990s were widely touted as years of a spectacular boom. Yet when Census 2000 was released, it revealed that poverty in New York City had increased by 10 per cent during the course of the 1990s. How could the euphoria of the boom be reconciled with the alarming census figures?

A New York Times front-page article claimed that the census figures drew a distorted picture. The conditions of New Yorkers who were long-term residents of the U.S. must have improved, the experts the article quoted argued, but as a result they moved "up and out." These affluent long-term residents were then replaced by poor new immigrants, and hence the higher poverty figures. "Immigration Cut Into Income in New York, Census Finds," was the article's headline. The truth is, the census found no such thing. In fact, the census figures that were released at the time did not distinguish between the incomes of new immigrants and the rest of New Yorkers. More