Oxfam ranked the best states for workers during COVID-19. How did Pa. do? | Friday Morning Coffee

September 18, 2020 7:09 am

(Image via Oxfam America)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Things have been tough during the pandemic, there’s no doubt about it. But a new list of the best states for workers during this troubled time holds some good news for the Keystone State.

The Boston-based nonprofit, Oxfamranked all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, on worker protections, health care and unemployment policies during the COVID-19 crisis. Pennsylvania finished 19th on the list.

“When COVID-19 delivered a shattering blow to the economy in 2020, it put millions of working families at risk of illness, homelessness and hunger. The federal government response was slow and halting. In the face of great and urgent need, many states took action to shore up safety nets and to catch working families at risk of falling, while others have failed to respond at all,” Oxfam wrote in its report.

Pennsylvania finished 18th in worker protections; 38th for healthcare, and 9th for unemployment support, according to Oxfam.

“States in the Northeast have been among the most generous in supporting unemployed workers. Connecticut is the only state to offer all three housing protections: moratoriums on evictions and utilities shut offs, and a grace period on rent,” the report concluded. “New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Washington implemented two of the three housing provisions, and worked to battle the possible surge of homelessness created by the pandemic. These same states also increased food assistance.”

(Image via Oxfam America)

Oxfam noted in its report that how states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on workers.

“Sometimes, they can keep a family above water: in their home, with food on the table, with healthcare. For example, a moratorium on eviction means families can rest easy in their homes even when the paycheck stops; increased food assistance provides families with vital nutrition; a face mask requirement slows the spread of the virus; mandated paid sick leave means that workers can stay home when they are ill (and further slows the spread of the virus),” the report concluded.

The pandemic exposed “the hard truth about working in America,” the report’s author’s noted, by “[exacerbating the] challenges facing low-wage working families in the US—but it did not create them. Rather, it has burned off the fog that was masking the ugly reality of deep, structural problems faced by millions of working families.”

They added that “the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on women, people of color, and immigrants and refugees. Their unemployment numbers continue to soar past overall rates. And, as schools remain closed or remote, working parents (especially mothers and single mothers) are being compelled to choose between childcare and employment.”

The Top 10 Best States:
1. Washington
2. New Jersey
3. California
4. Massachusetts
5. Connecticut
6. New York
7. Washington D.C
8. Rhode Island
9. Vermont
10. Oregon

The Top 10 Worst States:
1. Alabama
2. Missouri
3. Georgia
4. Wyoming
5. Mississippi
6. South Dakota
7. South Carolina
8. Utah
9. Tennessee
10. Idaho

The report also included recommendations for policymakers. Among them, states can improve worker protections by passing paid family medical leave and sick time programs for all workers. They can also expand Medicaid, increase unemployment benefits and fund childcare for all workers, the report concluded.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a pair of critical rulings on state election law Thursday, clearing the way for counties to start printing out mail-in ballots. Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison have what you need to know.

Joe Biden was in suburban Scranton on Thursday night for a CNN town hall. NEPA Correspondent Patrick Abdalla followed along, and filed this report.

Rural Pennsylvanians and those seeking to represent them in the Capitol rallied for a ‘Rural Bill of Rights,’ on Thursday. Cassie Miller tells the story in pictures and video.

Local advocacy groups called Thursday for reforms to Pennsylvania’s bail system after a local magisterial district judge reduced the $1 million bail he imposed on most of the nine defendants arrested for protesting the police shooting of city resident Ricardo MuñozCorrespondent Lauren Manelius has the story.

Allegheny County election officials voted unanimously Thursday to approve additional hours and locations for voters to hand in, or apply for and fill out, their mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 general election, Pittsburgh Correspondent Tom Lisi reports.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris toured Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane neighborhood Thursday, where she met with residents and business leaders, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

A Pittsburgh cop who’s being investigated for misconduct makes more than Mayor Bill Peduto, our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper report.

The Human Rights Campaign has beefed up its outreach to Pa.’s LGBTQ voters. Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News have the details.

On our Commentary Page this morningA constituent has a bone to pick with state Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphinover his inaction on redistricting reform. September is Suicide Prevention Month. Lawmakers can honor those we’ve lost — and save lives — by passing an important piece of legislation, Eric Failing, of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, writes.

En la Estrella-Capital:  Cuarto empleado del Senado da positivo para el COVID-19, por Elizabeth Hardison.

Eighteen thousands families in the Philadelphia school district still lack a reliable internet connection, the Inquirer reports.
Spotlight PA and the Tribune Review explain why the ruling against Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 restrictions will face a heavy lift on appeal.
Last call at bars is now 11 p.m. under new Wolf administration guidance, PennLive reports.
Residents of Allentown’s ‘Tent City’ encampment are facing eviction, the Morning Call reports.
The Citizens-Voice has its own take on Joe Biden’s CNN town hall in suburban Scranton on Thursday night.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

The Philadelphia School Board voted Thursday to give tax breaks to a company looking to redevelop a massive refinery site in South Philly, WHYY-FM reports.
NPR reporter Pam Fessler talks to Pennsylvania election workers scrambling to keep up with changes in election law (via WITF-FM).
The board of Erie’s new community college cast a secret ballot to pick its first chairmanGoErie reports.
President Donald Trump will campaign in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, PoliticsPA reports.
The U.S. House has put off a vote to decriminalize marijuana until after the election, Roll Call reports.

They Said It.
‘Healthcare is a right.’ — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden cuts to the chase during his CNN town hall in suburban Scranton on Thursday night.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
9 a.m.: 
Clay shoot for Rep. Andrew Lewis
1 p.m.: 
Golf outing for Sen. Camera Bartolotta
Hit both events, and give at the max, and you’re out a mildly offensive $3,750 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to longtime reader, and Friend O’The BlogJason Gerard, in the Pennsylvania Senate’s Democratic caucus, and to reader Alayna Gallagher, from Pittsburgh, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
We’ll close out the week with a classic from Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Here’s ‘I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
beat New York 2-1 in OT on Thursday night, advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.