Algernon Austin

Algernon Austin directs the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

Children of Color in the Persistent Downturn

At the peak of economic boom times in 2000, the U.S. child-poverty rate reached a historic low of 16.2 percent. Even then, UNICEF ranked the United States as having the second highest child-poverty rate out of 26 rich countries. The United States had a child-poverty rate twice Germany’s, five times Sweden’s, and nearly ten times Denmark’s. The only country scoring worse than the United States was Mexico. The picture is substantially bleaker today. The child-poverty rate reached 21.9 percent in 2011. For many children of color and for immigrant children, poverty rates are typically higher than the overall average, and they have worsened over the prolonged downturn. In the “good” economic times of 2000, the official Latino child-poverty rate was 28.4 percent. By 2011, that rate had jumped to 34.1 percent. For African American children, the child-poverty rate went from 31.2 percent in 2000 to 38.8 percent in 2011. Poverty is also extreme among immigrant children. In 2011, one out of two...

Budget Cuts and Our Children's Future

Deficit hawks invoke the next generation, but an austerity program would balance the budget on the backs of America's most vulnerable parents and children.

Life for Griselda Almanza is not easy. She is a single mother in Oakland, California, with two young children. This year Almanza's life became much harder because budget cuts shut down the child-care program her sons attended while she worked as a house cleaner. Almanza thinks that she will have to quit her job. Many children of immigrants like Almanza's sons are losing a valuable opportunity to learn English and other subjects because of closing child-care centers. Our children's future is in jeopardy because of large cuts to pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education, higher education, and health programs benefiting children and because of continuing cuts in parents' incomes. About 40 percent of America's children under 18 are low-income, meaning their families earn less than twice the poverty level. This translates to a family income of about $44,000 a year for a family of four. About one-third of these children are non-Hispanic white. Low-income children and particularly...