Main Street 2012: The Year of Living With Uncertainty

December 28, 2012. CNBC looks at issues facing small businesses in the New Year, including a reference to FPI’s report on immigrant business owners.


And more Americans leaped into entrepreneurship based on their perception of promising opportunities ahead, a group sometimes called opportunity entrepreneurs. In contrast, during the depths of the recession, more people had started businesses because they couldn’t find jobs—a trend known as necessity entrepreneurship.

Speaking of entrepreneurship, immigrant share of U.S. small-business ownership rose to 18 percent from 12 percent two decades ago, according to a Fiscal Policy Institute study. (Read moreHow Immigrants Are Changing US Businesses)


Brooklyn Labor Market Review – Winter 2012

December 20, 2012. Prepared by FPI  for the  Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the latest issue of the BLMR looks at Brooklyn’s food chain including specialty food manufacturing, restaurants, and gourmet food stores. The report finds that when you look at the entire Brooklyn food chain—starting with food manufacturing and wholesale distribution, and including grocery stores, specialty food stores, restaurants and coffee shops—nearly 59,000 people are employed in 7,800 businesses. Thus, the food chain accounts for 16 percent of the 49,000 businesses in Brooklyn, and 12.5 percent of the borough’s 472,000 private sector jobs.

Managing shifting risks: combatting a shrinking safety net with financial empowerment

December 13, 2012, Manhattan. Financial responsibility and risk have shifted from institutions and businesses to individual households over the last three decades. This trend, accelerated by recent state budget cutbacks in social service programs, means many families are left to navigate a more complex system on their own. Can cities use technology and policy innovation to bridge the gap? How are philanthropy and non-profit networks promoting new structures to enable hard working families to meet these challenges?

The program co-hosted by The New America Foundation and The Financial Clinic focused on the impact of risk shifting and how financial development and asset-building tools are empowering families in New York and across the nation. The panelists were James Parrott, FPI’s Deputy Director and Chief Economist; Mae Watson Grote, Founder and Executive Director, The Financial Clinic; Chauncy Lennon, Program Officer, Ford Foundation; and Kristin Morse, Executive Director, New York City Center for Economic Opportunity. The moderator was Justin King, Federal Policy Liaison, Asset Building Program, New America Foundation.

Baltimore says, “immigrants welcome”

December 9, 2012. “All Things Considered” profiles a Baltimore initiative to bring 10,000 new families to the city, making a special point of welcoming immigrants together with native-born Americans. Given the way immigrants are being viewed by government in places like Arizona or Alabama, this may be a way to make Baltimore grow.


“If you think about property taxes for example, having empty buildings is very expensive to a city,” Kallick says. “If you have people moving into a neighborhood, they’re going to be paying some property taxes.”

Deep in the trenches: understanding the dynamics of New York City’s front line workforce development staff

December 7, 2012. Recognition of the crucial role played by front line workforce development workers led Workforce Professionals Training Institute and the Fiscal Policy Institute to undertake a study of this profession in New York City. The objective was to analyze the current state of these jobs and the workers who hold them, with a particular emphasis on issues such as job satisfaction, training, and advancement opportunities, for the purpose of improving the quality of outcomes that workforce professionals are responsible for delivering.

The report concludes with policy recommendations addressed to front line workers, supervisors and senior staff, and workforce development funders. These recommendations are intended to improve the employment practices affecting front line workforce development professionals. A diverse and strong skill set, along with improved morale and the opportunity to advance, can, in turn, enhance performance and the quality of outcomes attained for an organization. Specific recommendations are presented for management staff, front line workers, and sector leaders and funders.


  • Respond to front line workers’ interest in training.
  • Respond to front line workers’ interest in advancement.
  • Capitalize on front line workers’ creativity.
  • Examine retention of front line workers.
  • Recognize the impact that budget cuts have on staff.
  • Address the need for continued leadership development for managers.
  • Openly address staff development needs with funders.
  • Capitalize on your organization’s investments in front line worker training by following through with implementation.

Front line workers

  • Map out a career plan.
  • Recognize that the benefits of training are dependent on implementation.
  • Consider opportunities to diversify skills to enhance job performance and long term career potential.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities.
  • Find a mentor.

Sector leaders and funders

  • Incorporate funding for training into contracts.
  • Act on this report’s findings and recommendations.

Report finds growing income disparity in NY state

November 19, 2012. Karen DeWitt of the Innovation Trail writes about FPI’s report: Pulling apart: The continuing impact of income polarization in New York State.

“We no longer have a growing middle class with rising living standards,” Parrott said.

Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are stagnating, the report finds. The state’s overall poverty rate is unchanged since 1980, but poverty has been increasing in upstate cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, as people with any wealth have moved to the suburbs. 50 percent of children in those cities now live below the federal poverty level, says Parrott.

“That’s pretty horrendous,” said Parrott.

The Fiscal Policy Institute report recommends one key policy change that could help the poorest families, raising the minimum wage.

Analysis: What Is the economic impact of immigration reform?

November 19, 2012. An ABC/Univision report on the economic effects of immigration reform.

“I wouldn’t get too wedded to any particular or exact number, but I think you can learn a lot from the approach of going ahead and trying to make a projection,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, a senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan organization that studies immigration and the economy. “You can see the magnitude of things.”

Study points to continued income polarization in New York

November 15, 2012. A report by WNET (Channel Thirteen) focused on FPI’s Pulling Apart report, featuring a chart and write-up of the report.

James Parrott, the principal author of the report, said the gap between high and low-income earners also strains the middle class.

“Polarization is a major factor behind the erosion in living standards for the middle class–economic growth is no longer as broadly shared as it used to be,” he said. “This result is not inevitable and can and should be addressed.”

Pulling apart: The continuing impact of income polarization in New York State

November 15, 2012. A new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that various income measures all point toward the same conclusions:  In recent years, polarization has intensified; and New York has been one of the national leaders in this undesirable trend. The top one percent share of income dipped during the recession, but has started to rise again in the recovery. Further, no state is more polarized than New York and no large city is more polarized than New York City, (using the broadest measure of income polarization, the Gini index, as estimated by the US Census Bureau). This is in part because poverty is greater in New York State and New York City than in the nation overall, and partly because the finance sector, with its sky-high pay levels, is such a prominent part of the local economy. Other factors are also important, but these are the two that “bookend” New York’s polarization.

In this new report, FPI updates its earlier analyses of income polarization, showing the top one percent share of income, the top-to-bottom and top-to-middle income ratios, the gini index, and other measures. The report uses data from the household surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, income tax data which includes a more accurate indication of capital gains income and high incomes generally, and data from a new national study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute.

While many actions will be needed to reverse New York’s income polarization, an important step currently being considered in Albany is boosting the state’s minimum wage, which the report shows has lost 30% of its purchasing power since the early 1970s.

Low-income immigrants get a hand

November 14, 2012. The San Francisco Chronicle writes about a California nonprofit group that helps low-income immigrants start their own businesses with technical assistance, microfinancing, and networking support.

The 12-person staff operates on an annual budget of $1.2 million to $1.4 million and offers classes in San Jose, Richmond and Oakland, as well as Berkeley. Since 2000, clients have improved their household net worth by an average of 9 percent each, Butler said.

Immigrants own 18 percent of small businesses nationwide, according to a study this year from the Fiscal Policy Institute. In California, it’s much higher: One-third of small businesses are run by immigrants.

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