Forgoing School to Pay Family Bills

Many families are having to rely on their children to help pay the bills these days, according to Molly Scott of the Urban Institute, and the result is that young people with potential are having to shortchange their education.

A report on National Public Radio says, “Starting a career in a struggling economy is difficult, no matter what your background. But for young people in Langley Park, Md., a predominantly immigrant community near Washington, D.C., it is fraught with additional economic and family pressures.

“While some of the challenges Langley Park youth face are common to other children growing up in poverty, according to a new study by the Urban Institute, they tend to face an additional, unique barrier: They are four times more likely than other people their age to leave school early to help provide for their families.

“Molly Scott, lead author of the Urban Institute study, talked to Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about her findings.” More here.


Art: An Economic Engine

It’s no secret that the arts can be a driver of economic development, which is why the Boston Fed’s Communities & Banking magazine has covered many arts initiatives around our six-state New England district.

In western Massachusetts, the arts gave North Adams a new lease on life after it lost its manufacturing base and fell into decline.

Judith Dobrzynski at the NY Times has an update. “The word that Joseph C. Thompson had been waiting for finally arrived on Aug. 8: Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts had signed a $1.4 billion capital facilities bond bill. Inside was a $25.4 million earmark for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which gave Mr. Thompson, the museum’s director, funds to start the last phase of an effort he helped hatch nearly three decades ago: transforming an abandoned 19th-century factory complex into a destination arts center that could help revive the struggling economy of North Adams.

“Despite setbacks that threatened its existence, part of his dream has now been realized. Last year, Mass MoCA attracted a record 162,000 visitors. It adds more than $20 million a year to the regional economy, including the businesses that rent its surplus space, according to the Center for Creative Community Development at Williams College.”

More here. See also the Boston Fed’s Communities & Banking article by Jaye Fox of studio21south on the wider arts community in North Adams, here,


Small Businesses Create Jobs in Connecticut

Here’s a bit of good news on how the state of Connecticut is helping small businesses create jobs.

Mary E. O’Leary writes at the New Haven Register, “Michelle Stonier and Marcia Lafemina run a small manufacturing company with a proud history and an ambitious agenda. PennGlobe, which makes street lighting, was ready to expand and market a new product at its North Branford plant that would combine traditional lighting with a security component.

“To help them do that, the sisters applied to the Small Business Express program run by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, one of 1,160 businesses to receive loans or grants under this rubric since January 2012.

“The bipartisan-approved program, adopted in October 2011, was a way to help small businesses stymied by the credit gap that dragged on after the 2008 recession, when banks were not lending.

“A total of $234 million has been bonded for the program and Catherine Smith, head of DECD, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy count it among the most successful that the department offers.

“ ‘The most the program allows is a $300,000 loan …, but the average is about $175,000 per company,’ Smith said.” More here.

What caught my eye was the “bipartisan” part. I’d love to create a post about bipartisan programs around the country. I’m sure there must be a few others.


A Lost Generation of Workers

People interested in community development, like many of us at the Boston Fed, often talk about youth unemployment in terms of the loss to the youth. A recent National Public Radio story, however, addresses the loss to the nation of a “lost generation of workers.”

Will Stone writes, at NPR “A whopping 5.8 million young people are neither in school nor working. It is ‘a completely different situation than we’ve seen in the past,’ says Elisabeth Jacobs, the senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. …

“Youth unemployment remains remarkably high across the country. In some places, the unemployment rate among 16- to 24-year-olds is more than twice the national unemployment rate, which is currently 6.3 percent.

“It’s a development that experts warn could have ripple effects for decades to come — not only for young people’s lifelong earning potential but also for their contributions to the tax base and the strength of the U.S. economy overall. …

” ‘We risk really having this lost generation of workers,’ Jacobs says. “And what that means in terms of the economy’s ability to innovate and compete, when you’ve kind of wasted the talents of some substantial portion of a generation, is really, it’s alarming.’ “

More here.


Trying to Give the Poor Some Cash

A philanthropist recently ran into difficulties trying to give money to the poor.

Christopher Blattman wrote an op-ed about it for the NY Times:

“A Chinese millionaire tried to give $300 (and lunch) to homeless men and women in New York … This didn’t sit well with the nonprofit New York City Rescue Mission. The Rescue Mission offered to help with lunch, but wouldn’t cooperate in handing out cash. So midway through a meal of sesame-crusted tuna and filet of beef, some 200 homeless people discovered that they would not be getting money. Instead, the Rescue Mission would accept $90,000 on their behalf. You can imagine the anger and humiliation.

“The millionaire, a recycling tycoon named Chen Guangbiao, wanted to set an example of generosity in the world’s financial capital. To announce the $300 giveaway, he’d taken out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.

“The executive director of Rescue Mission said he was worried that people might spend the handout on drugs or alcohol. This pessimism (and paternalism) is common and understandable. But evidence from other countries suggests we should be more optimistic.”

Read why here.


Colleges Offering Joint Workplace Program

In an effort to do a better job of preparing students for well-paying careers, two forward-thinking colleges in New Hampshire are partnering on an advanced-manufacturing program.

The Boston Globe writes, “A new partnership between Nashua Community College and Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America will blend several types of learning focused on advanced manufacturing.

“The program, titled Advanced Manufacturing by Innovation and Design, will be funded by a $2.5 million grant from the US Department of Labor and will create a path for students to move from a certificate in advanced manufacturing to an associate’s degree in precision manufacturing and mechanical design. The program also will allow for the transfer of credits to bachelor’s degree programs. …

“Students will get the benefit of College for America’s curriculum, which is built around online projects, while learning skills in the classroom and gaining experience at Nashua Community College.”

More here.