KY Policy Blog

More Kentuckians are Hungry During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Congress Must Do More

By Jessica Klein
July 17, 2020

Food insecurity – limited or uncertain access to adequate food – is rising rapidly across the nation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last available, regionally-based analysis suggests it reached 25.8% in Kentucky in April and May compared to 15.3% in February. New real-time, state-specific U.S. Census data shows that at least one aspect of food insecurity, food scarcity – defined as sometime or often not having enough to eat – is currently impacting 1 in 7 adults in Kentucky. Though state and federal interventions thus far are read more

Stimulus Payments Have Propped Up Weak Economy, and Harm Will Grow Without Additional Support

By Jason Bailey
July 14, 2020

Federal stimulus payments have been critical to Kentuckians making ends meet during the COVID-19 crisis and to spurring a modest return of jobs, new data shows. But unless the U. S. Senate agrees to further rounds of payments and other aid in the midst of the resurging pandemic, the recession will be longer, deeper and more painful.

Stimulus payments supported families and boosted the economy

The CARES Act provided federal stimulus payments of $1,200 to adults and $500 for children, payments that totaled $4 billion in Kentucky. Those checks have read more

Half of Kentuckians Report Losing Household Employment Income, and Sources They’re Relying on Are Running Out

By Jason Bailey
July 13, 2020

Half of Kentucky adults say they or someone in their household have lost employment income since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to new Census data. The sources they’re relying on to make ends meet, including enhanced unemployment insurance, stimulus payments and more personal debt, are either running out or limited.

These numbers spell trouble for Kentucky’s economy and families unless federal policy action is taken. As long as the pandemic persists — and especially since prematurely reopening the economy without controlling the disease first is proving to be a growing read more

With Looming Expiration of Federal Aid, 1 in 4 Renting Kentuckians Might Not Make Next Month’s Rent

By Dustin Pugel
July 8, 2020
According to new weekly Census data, 26.1% of all Kentuckians who rent their homes have no confidence or only slight confidence that they will be able to pay next month’s rent. Demonstrating how the pandemic is disproportionately impacting people who already regularly confront structural economic barriers, 57.6% of Black renting Kentuckians have slight to no confidence they’ll be able to make rent. This vulnerability is dangerous to us all. Stable housing is both a key component of preserving families’ economic security, and a critical public health measure to reduce the read more

Letting Enhanced Unemployment Insurance Benefits Expire in a Month Would Harm Families and Weaken Kentucky’s Economy

By Dustin Pugel
June 25, 2020
Since the end of March, when Kentucky began making Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) payments – the $600 per week enhancement to benefits – Kentucky has received at least $1.5 billion through the federally-funded program. This aid has been critical to keeping Kentuckians afloat during COVID-19-related business closures and layoffs, and in reducing further economic harm.

Yet that aid is scheduled to end in in exactly one month, on July 25, despite the continued severe weakness of the economy. The U. S. Senate must agree to extend PUC and preserve its read more

Government Job Losses Are Already Weakening a Modest Return of Private Sector Employment

By Jason Bailey
June 23, 2020
While new jobs data from May shows a small uptick in employment, Kentucky continues to struggle with unprecedented job loss. And a close look at the data shows troubling signs as continued layoffs in state and local government partially counteract the modest number of jobs coming back in the private sector. Congress must provide much more in federal aid or we will see additional cuts in public spending that will further weaken the economy and extend the pain of the recession.

Layoffs have been massive, and the uptick in May read more

Covering All Uninsured Black Kentuckians Is Crucial to Achieving Universal Coverage

By Dustin Pugel
June 17, 2020
Black Kentuckians have had higher rates of infection and death from COVID-19 due to disparities in health caused by historical inequities in wages, the justice system, education, housing, health care and more. Last week Governor Beshear committed to ensuring every Black Kentuckian is covered by health insurance. Using the most recent data available, 6.4% of Black Kentuckians (21,000 people) are uninsured compared to 5.4% of white Kentuckians and 5.5% of all Kentuckians. Implementing strategies to cover all Black Kentuckians tackles the immediate crisis revealed by the pandemic and can pave read more

Kentucky’s Largest Cities Spend a Quarter of Their Budgets on Police

By Dustin Pugel and Pam Thomas
June 11, 2020
Amid growing attention to harmful overpolicing of Black communities, many are calling on cities to begin shifting public resources away from policing toward social services, mental health, affordable housing and other underfunded services that address social inequities and build safe, healthy communities. As evidence of existing priorities, Kentucky’s 5 largest city governments – home to 58.3% of all Black Kentuckians – spend roughly 25% of their General Fund budgets on police, or $277 per resident on an annual basis. Those same cities spend an average of 4.8% on a variety read more

Policy Changes to Address Police Violence

By Jessica Klein and Anna Baumann
June 11, 2020
With the recent police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and David McAtee – in a long history of state-sanctioned violence against Americans who are Black – protests are occurring in the commonwealth and across the nation. Conventional reforms such as the use of body cameras have been inadequate in stopping police violence and there is a growing discussion about reallocating public resources toward more effective investments that address the root causes of challenges facing communities. In addition to immediate justice for the victims of police violence, their families and read more

Black Kentucky Workers Have Been Disproportionately Laid Off During the COVID-19 Downturn

By Dustin Pugel
June 8, 2020
Black Kentuckians are experiencing job loss at a higher rate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic than white Kentuckians, according to new unemployment insurance data. A long history of racist policies (slavery, Jim Crow, segregated schools and neighborhoods and white-favoring hiring practices, tax policies and labor standards) has led to black Kentuckians being disproportionately underpaid, underemployed and less financially able to weather economic shocks. To avoid worsening racial disparities and to protect all Kentuckians during the pandemic, the federal government must provide much more in aid.

According to recently read more