Monthly Archives: December 2017

Why trailer parks are all over rural America, but not Iowa

By Andrew Van Dam

Rosa V. Castro lives alone in a double-wide trailer La Presa, Tex., a community near Laredo. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Trailer-park America is vast — about 18 million people lived in a mobile home in 2015. In most counties, trailers outnumber apartments. In some, mostly in Florida and Georgia, they even outnumber standard single-family homes.

For the most part, the outline of this often-marginalized swath of America conforms to stereotype. It’s rural, and it’s poor.

The highest share of mobile homes are in the rural South and Southwest, in Sun Belt retirement communities, and on Indian reservations. They attract residents of every race and origin (with more American Indians and fewer African Americans than the population at large) and, outside of cities and densely populated coastal areas, they’re everywhere. Everywhere, that is, but the Corn Belt.

For the purposes of this post, mobile homes or trailers are built at a factory and towed to their final destination. They are distinct from RVs, which are not used as stationary residences, and modular homes, which are manufactured in pieces and assembled on site.

It’s an oddball correlation. What is it about corn that made it the antidote to mobile-home living? Is it just a coincidence?

Well, we think we’ve found the key factors, but we’d love to hear your explanations.

1. Farmland isn’t likely to run dry or move to Mexico

The Corn Belt’s deep topsoil, a legacy of the tallgrass prairie that was plowed over by early white settlers and eventually replaced by maize, creates an economic base that isn’t as likely to evaporate (at least within the next century or so) as it is in …read more

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The U.S. has one of the stingiest minimum wage policies of any wealthy nation

By Christopher Ingraham

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and his wife, Louise Linton, hold a sheet of new $1 bills, the first currency notes bearing his and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza’s signatures, on Nov. 15 at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Minimum wage workers in 18 states will see larger paychecks starting Jan. 1, according to the Economic Policy Institute, thanks primarily to minimum wage increases approved by either voters or state legislatures.

Maine’s minimum wage workers will get the biggest pay raise, an 11 percent increase from $9 an hour to $10 an hour, as part of a ballot measure approved by the state’s voters in 2016.

Minimum wage employees will get a 90 cent hourly increase in Colorado, while those in Hawaii will see an extra 85 cents. The minimum wage in Washington state will increase to $11.50 an hour, making it the highest of any state.

Voters and liberal politicians in many states have made minimum wage increases a priority in recent years, a response in part to growing income inequality and stagnant wages across much of the income spectrum.

At the federal level, the minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009, when it was set to $7.25. In inflation-adjusted terms, the federal minimum wage was highest in 1968, when it was equal to $11.18 in today’s dollars.

But Congress hasn’t automatically indexed the minimum wage to inflation, nor has it raised the minimum frequently enough to keep pace. As a result it’s steadily lost value since the late 1960s. It’s already lost close to a dollar, in real terms, since 2009. It does, however, remain higher in real terms than it was for much of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Legislators …read more

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