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January 10, 2014 / Christian Clansky

Bad news – the unemployment rate is down

WORKFORCE
– The Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December. But hold the epic fist pump. The rate dropped because huge numbers of people simply stopped looking for jobs. As CNN reports, only 62.8% of the adult population is either employed or looking for work – the lowest level since 1978. (CNN, 1/10) And we all know what 1978 was like.

– The Economic Policy Institute crunched the numbers and published some helpful (and cringe-worthy) charts. If the people who dropped out of the workforce actually started looking for work again, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 10.2%. What’s worse is that the majority of the dropouts are between ages 25 and 54, or “prime working age.” (EPI, 1/10)

DEMOCRACY
– Food for thought about American democracy: In general, the people who show up at the polls on voting day aren’t representative of the general population. In particular, “the disadvantaged” are least likely to vote, even though they might have the most to gain (Atlantic, 1/10):

If inequality has grown worse over the last four decades, they ask, why hasn’t political momentum to do something about it kept pace with the scale of the problem? One potential piece of the answer is that the people most impacted by inequality are among the least likely to vote.

– “Taxation without representation” can seem like an abstract concept. But The Atlantic took an unusual approach at the issue by putting a face on it. They profile a homeless man named Malik and look at how the District’s lack of representation is directly affecting him and others like him. (Atlantic, 1/10)

– And, since many of you are being bombarded by them, check out the Post’s analysis of campaign signs for the D.C. mayoral race. (WaPo, 1/10)

We did a class in grad school about campaign signs and their conscious and subconscious effectiveness. This isn’t an endorsement of his campaign, but Jack Evans has the most effective signs by a long shot.

PHILANTHROPY | “Private foundations are victims of misconceptions and stereotyping, even within the philanthropic community.” No, people don’t get nervous when they see a private foundation walking down a dark street at night.

Instead, a Stanford Social Innovation Review article suggests that foundations are frequently judged by the behavior of the big guns – Gates, Rockefeller, and Ford – which is unfair since most foundations are nothing like them. (SSIR, 1/10)

Related: One of the comments in the article above is about how two-thirds of the nation’s foundations have asset bases below $1 million. As we found in our recent giving report, that number is considerably higher here. Less than five percent of our survey respondents reported assets of less than $2.5 million. (Daily, Nov. 2013)

GIVING | Low morale of federal employees is putting a crimp in charitable giving (WaPo, 1/10)

POVERTY | David Bornstein added his voice to the conversation about the War on Poverty, and his opinion is worth reading. While it might seem easy to call the war a failure, he says, the way that the nonprofit sector operates today, compared to fifty years ago, should give us hope. (NYT, 1/8)

EDUCATION | Fairfax schools chief calls for $96 million in budget cuts; proposal increases class sizes (WaPo, 1/10)


This weather is nuts. We went almost literally from zero to sixty this week. And while 64 degrees sounds really great for tomorrow, it’s supposed to pour all day. Perhaps it’s a good day to catch up on potential Oscar nominees? I hear that Her and American Hustle are fantastic (need to see them still), though they have a lot to prove to convince me they are better than 12 Years a Slave.

On a totally different subject, how would you feel about spending the night in a museum? Here are eight were you can do just that – including the National Archives. 

Have a great weekend!   – Christian

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