The Bottom LineThe Bottom Line

Economics In Brief: $1,000 For 1,000 People In Los Angeles County

And the power and popularity of unions grow.

Photo of rolled up dollar bills

(Photo by NikolayFrolochkin / Pixabay)

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L.A. County Launches Three-Year Guaranteed Income Program

Whether it is called “universal basic income,” “unconditional income,” or “guaranteed basic income,” the idea is becoming increasingly popular with municipalities as a way to fight poverty. This week, Los Angeles County began its own guaranteed basic income program, NBC Los Angeles reports.

County Supervisors voted last year to launch the pilot program, choosing 1,000 county residents from a pool of more than 180,o00 eligible applicants, Business Insider reports. The program would give $1,000 to each resident monthly, over the course of three years, via debit card.

Applicants must have been at least 18 years old and earning an income of $56,000 and under, or $96,000 and under for a family of four. Applicants also had to be negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The county’s efforts join the slew of programs that have launched nationwide, including Stockton California’s Universal Basic Income Program and Magnolia Mother’s Trust in Mississippi.

A New York Architecture Firm Forms Industry’s First Private-Sector Union

With Labor Day weekend just around the corner, employees of Bernheimer Architecture announced that they have just joined the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. It’s reportedly the first time that a private-sector firm within the architecture industry has formed a union.

The plan to unionize has been two years in the making. Workers at Bernheimer told The New York Times they want to be a pioneering voice for the industry hoping to “prompt changes to industry-wide problems like long hours and low pay.” Compared to the growth (or lack thereof) of similar careers that require years of intensive education, such as doctors and lawyers, many architects bring home low six-figure salaries or less, even after a decade in the industry.

While aggressive union-busting tactics of the ’80s had long soured the general public’s views on labor unions for decades, opinions are changing. Gallup finds that 71% of all U.S. workers approve of labor unions, with 40% of union members agreeing that their membership is important. This marks the highest approval rating of labor unions since 1965.

America’s Working Class Builds Wealth Despite Inflation

Inflation is a costly affair, especially for the U.S. middle class, with increased spending on credit cards and with about $3.4 trillion gone from 401(k) and IRA accounts. Despite the big picture, data from RealTime Inequity Tracker shows that the bottom 50% of U.S. households have grown their wealth.

“​​The group, generally those with a net worth of $166,000 or less before the pandemic, are in the strongest relative financial position in a generation,” Bloomberg reports. Adjusted for inflation, the bottom half of U.S. workers increased their incomes by 1.3% in the first six months of this year, while the middle 40% of workers’ incomes decreased by 2%.

Economists say the data shows the economy’s sustained growth, despite the financial hardships from the pandemic. Still, the largest gains this year were earned by the top 0.01%, who have seen a 6.7% increase in their wealth.

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter.

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Marielle Argueza is Next City’s Equitable Cities Reporting Fellow for Racial Justice Narratives in partnership with Triad City Beat in Greensboro, North Carolina. Formerly Next City's INN/Columbia Journalism School intern for Summer-Fall 2022, she’s a journalist with more than a decade of experience reporting on education, immigration, labor, criminal justice, climate and more. Her work in K-12 education is award-winning and she was recognized multiple times by the California News Publishers Association. She is a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School, where she was Toni Stabile Investigative Fellow. Her work includes a story on Harlem’s last assisted-living facility for people living with HIV/AIDS; a profile on New York State’s first Farmers Union; and a database of deaths within the Milwaukee County Jail. She is also a recipient of other fellowships and scholarships from several notable organizations within the news industry including the Asian American Journalists Association, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, ProPublica, and the Journalism and Women Symposium.

Tags: los angelesunionsguaranteed incomeinflation

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