Amy Traub

Amy Traub is Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. She is the author of "The Plastic Safety Net: Findings from the 2012 National Survey on Credit Card Debt of Low- And Middle-Income Households," and "Discrediting America: The Urgent Need To Reform The Nation's Credit Reporting Industry," among other reports and research. 

Recent Articles

How Vast Error-Prone Databases Are Trashing Our Economic Lives

Our personal information is compiled, traded, analyzed, and sold off as never before. Not only do business and government track us online, but retailers trace our cell phones through stores , and vast, little-known databases can keep us from getting jobs, qualifying for loans, and opening bank accounts. Three news reports this week highlight the growing impact of these databases on our daily lives—and the critical need for oversight to ensure that information is compiled accurately, that errors can be fixed, and that the resulting data is used fairly rather than becoming a new means of discrimination against already-disadvantaged citizens. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, whose director was finally confirmed by Congress after more than two years of delay, will have its work cut out for it. Consider the report in today’s New York Times finding that more than a million low-income Americans have been denied the opportunity to open bank accounts because of little-known databases...

Confirm Cordray Already!

The Senate confirmation vote on Richard Cordray this week won’t have much to do with Richard Cordray. As I wrote when the Senate Banking Committee considered the Cordray nomination back in March, nobody disputes the idea that the former Ohio Attorney General, who has led the CFPB since January 2012, is highly competent and supremely qualified to continue in his position. Nor is the impact of the agency itself in doubt: in 2012 alone, 6 million U.S. consumers received refunds from financial services companies as a result of CFPB enforcement actions, according to Americans for Financial Reform, and the agency has handled more than 130,000 consumer complaints since it opened its doors less than two years ago. Whether it’s protecting consumers from the type of reckless and deceptive mortgage lending that sparked the economic downturn or beginning to oversee the massive credit reporting companies that shape the financial lives of American consumers , the CFPB has proven itself to be a...

How Our Tax Dollars Are Fueling Inequality

(Good Jobs Nation)
My name is Roxanne Mimms and I work for a food service contractor at the National Zoo. I work full time but make barely minimum wage. I’m here because workers can’t live off what contractors pay us. I’m here because I don’t want my two children to grow up on public assistance. I’m here because I have dreams – My American Dream is a good job with fair wages to provide for my children, being able to pay my bills on time and save for the future. I’m here because I want to help all the workers at the National Zoo whose dreams are on hold.” I was proud to stand with Ms. Mimms—and see her beautiful little ones—at the launch of Good Jobs Nation Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C. Ms. Mimms and other employees working for federal contractors and other private businesses serving the American public joined together to speak out about their wages and working conditions. Faith leaders, community groups, and members of Congress—including Representatives Keith Ellison and Eleanor Holmes Norton—...

What New York’s (Partial) Victory on Paid Sick Days Means

New York Paid Leave Coalition
The news broke last night: a deal to bring paid sick days to a vote in the New York City Council has been reached. As I noted in my recent testimony on the bill , paid sick time is far from a pie-in-the-sky idea. It is the law in 145 countries around the world as well as the state of Connecticut, and the cities of San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. Based on how this policy has operated in practice, the evidence strongly suggests that this is a successful policy and that it does not harm employment or the growth of small businesses as opponents have argued. The majority of New Yorkers —and indeed the majority of Americans —believe that one shouldn't lose a day's pay (or their job itself) just because they get sick. Every working person should be guaranteed at least a few paid days off a year for illness. My case was based on careful studies from McGill University, the Urban Institute, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Community Service Society...

Low-Wage Workers Say It's Not Getting Better

Flickr/ Walmart Corporate
It’s not getting better. That’s the key finding of a new survey of low-wage workers out yesterday from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago. Eighty-one percent of low-wage employees surveyed said their family’s financial situation was the same or worse than it had been four years ago, while 64 percent reported that their wages have been stagnant or declined over the past five years. The survey queried 1,606 workers earning $35,000 or less annually. According to the survey: Less than half of lower-wage workers agree that their employer offers good benefits (48%) or that they are paid well for their job (32%). Only 30 percent of lower-wage workers report receiving any promotion to a higher position that pays more while working for their current employer. Although the proportion of workers who have received a promotion increases with the length of time the worker has been with their employer, only 41 percent of lower-wage workers...