Category Archives: Poverty

Traveling to Philippines to Change One Man’s Life

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Julian and Michael Omidi have long been involved in sponsoring charitable causes that range from standing up to animal abuse to delivering aid to the poor around the world. Aside from donating money and initiating fundraising programs, however, the Omidi brothers also like to go beyond the usual philanthropic efforts. Indeed, in certain exceptional cases, they actually roll up their sleeves and put their skills to directly assist those in need. A remarkable example of their propensity for direct involvement in charitable work took place in the summer of 2013 when Julian and his mother, Cindi, sponsored Michael Omidi’s mission to travel to Philippines and operate on a man suffering from a massive neck lump caused by a thyroid goiter.
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The 20-year-old patient in question had lived with his condition for 10 years. Since his large neck mass set him apart from the rest of people in his village, he found himself alienated from the rest of community, unable to keep a stable job or maintain a romantic relationship. Incapable of supporting himself financially, the man had been living with his aunt and her 6 children since both of his parents had passed away a while ago. For many years, he had been trying unsuccessfully to seek medical care for his condition by applying for various social programs that sometimes covered his doctor visits, but were generally insufficient to provide for any sort of effective treatment.

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When local physicians advised him to undergo tests such as MRI and CT scan, he often found himself unable to follow up on these recommendations. In the absence of adequate medical facilities in his village, the patient’s only option was to travel to the cities in order to have the aforementioned diagnostic procedures done. Unfortunately, not only did he lack the funds to travel, but his social programs did not even cover the tests. Making the mattes worse, local medical facilities required a long wait to undergo the MRI and CT scan, thus delaying the much-needed treatment.

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Upon hearing the patient’s story, Julian and Cindi Omidi promptly gathered the funds to organize a charitable mission and deliver assistance as quickly as possible. To ensure success of the mission, the Omidi family also reached out to Yolanda Abaca, an experienced nurse and philanthropist who helped organize social workers and handled communications with the governor. Her daughter, Maria Abaca, oversaw the surgical details of the medical mission and, working closely with Yolanda, took care of innumerable tasks in preparation for the trip. The success of this mission could not have been possible without their invaluable contributions.

When Dr. Michael Omidi, a renowned plastic surgeon based in the Los Angeles area, arrived in the city of San Miguel, Bulacan Province, to perform an in-person exam, he was greeted with scorching heat. With the temperature outside being as high as 105 degrees, the patient came in wearing a scarf around his neck, immediately raising concerns about the severity of his condition but also attesting to his longstanding plight. Given the urgency of the situation and a limited amount of time at their disposal, Dr. Omidi and his staff quickly made arrangements for a CT scan. In order to guarantee safety of the procedure, they also made a thorough assessment of the facilities at a district hospital and, upon finding them inadequate to handle cases of this magnitude, insisted on access to the university hospital. In order to secure approval, Dr. Omidi convincingly demonstrated that the patient would need blood work, access to intensive care unit, and potent medications to manage the cardiovascular status (e.g., drop the pressure around large vessels, increase the blood pressure, ventilator to manage the airway overnight).

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On the first day of surgery, Dr. Omidi and Dr. Lee Au removed the tumors from the front section of the neck. Following this procedure that took 16 hours, the patient remained in the intensive care unit overnight, intubated on the ventilator. On the second day, the patient was brought back to the operating room and Dr. Omidi spent an additional 8 hours to remove the tumors from the backside of the neck.

In the end, the surgery was a resounding success. All the tumors were removed along with half of the thyroid that was responsible for causing the neck mass. Dr. Omidi and his staff were careful to ensure that there were no injuries to any of the numerous nerves in the head and neck area. The patient recovered well and was sent home 4 days after the surgery.

 

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In the months that followed, the Omidi brothers kept in touch with the patient who has now effectively assimilated back into his community. He no longer has to wear a scarf in the midst of a summer heat to earn acceptance from the townsfolk. The last time we have heard from him, this man has found a girlfriend and is currently studying at the local university to realize his goals of entering the construction industry. His dream is to build a new house for his aunt who lives in an old and rundown shack.

Sometimes, it takes not only financial assistance but also personal commitment and hard work to make a difference in someone’s life. At the end of the day, Julian and Michael Omidi know that helping a fellow human being in need is worth every effort, penny, and time spent.

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Child Poverty in America Ranked 2nd Highest in Industrialized Nations

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the current epidemic of Child Poverty in the US.

America 2nd Highest Child Poverty Rate in Industrialized World

The U.S. Census reported last month that 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That means, a total of about 15 million U.S. children are living below the poverty level. That’s only a total of $24,000 in annual income for a family of four. This highlights the sad fact that the U.S. is ranked second for having the highest level of child poverty in the 35 industrialized nations. The question is, are we making progress?

Before the housing crash of 2007, a total of 1 in 8 children were receiving food stamps. So, it would appear we have made progress seeing how those numbers are down. However, in 2014 a total of sixteen million children received food-assistance program benefits compared to only nine millions in 2007. What is the impact of these startling statistics?

Impact of Child Poverty in the U.S.

What is so alarming about these statistics, is that the top 1% of American income earners are on track to own most of the world’s wealth by 2016. Yet, we only out rank Romania when it comes to child poverty? Let’s examine the implication of child poverty has for the future of our country.

The implications associated with child poverty cost a total of 3.8% of the GDP. That is roughly a half a trillion dollars a year. This is because of lost productivity, as well as health and crime costs.

Since 2007, the rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled! This clearly shows that the problem, if not addressed, will only substantially get worse. We must do something.

Relieving Child Poverty as a Country

We can no longer turn a blind eye to this topic. The astronomical income gap is making it too apparent that some families are disadvantaged, and their children will need help. If you look towards our capital, there are huge debates on the solution. Both sides want the solution, but are unable to work together on the solution. We must advocate for these little ones in hunger. They, after all, are our nation’s future. If we do not find a way to alleviate these statistics, more children will grow up disenfranchised. That will lead to more cost to the government in the future due to likely costs from crime and poverty relief.

If we can learn to work together, we could be on our way to healing our nation as a whole. Individually, we all can make a difference by working with various charitable organizations that help feed hungry children, whether you donate your time or volunteer. You can also get involved in the political process, by writing you representatives and asking them to take action. There is no reason that a nation as great as America should be ranked second in child poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

(Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are philanthropists who founded various charitable organizations including No More Poverty.)

 

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Poverty Rate in Appalachia & Causal Factors

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The war on poverty is hardly over, and in some areas, the progress that was made in the 1960s is now coming undone.  Julian Omidi discusses the poverty rate in Appalachia, and its causal factors.

In the United States, poverty can hit a community as quickly and effectively as a sledgehammer; a region whose economy was largely based on one particular industry finds itself destitute if that industry folds.  While many of us might think of the economic downturn as being the harbinger for the new and rapidly dividing economy, there are some segments within the U.S. that were never prosperous, and whose statistics seem unlike what should even be possible in the nation that was globally viewed as the “Land of Opportunity” for more than a century.

In Appalachia (the region in the Eastern and South Eastern United States stretching from the southern portion of New York State down to Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi), there was always poverty; during the Great Depression, photographs of locals created the widely recognized face of rural hardship.  However, in the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” was established largely to address this horribly underserved community by providing welfare and meal stability programs.  The bit of federal security combined with the coal mining industry managed to keep the locals in a manageable economic condition for a time, even though the poverty rate was still high, tens of thousands of people were saved from destitution.[1]

Fast forward to the 1990s, when the coal mining industry was on the decline.  The residents with the highest levels of education, the most drive and the most prospects were beginning to leave for greener pastures, and those who remained were largely older, less educated and dependent upon governmental assistance to get by.  Combined with a burgeoning drug culture and an increase in unplanned teenaged pregnancies, the poverty rate began to climb – and climb and climb.  Today, in the southern portion of West Virginia, the poverty rate is a staggering 41 percent among families with children.

The fact that nearly half of families are living in poverty is nothing short of astonishing; the fact that 46 percent of children in McDowell County do not live with a biological parent is heartbreaking.  These statistics are due to the absurdly high number of parents either in prison, dead or simply gone – having abandoned their kids to the care of relatives or neighbors.  Furthermore, the use of narcotics and prescription drugs is overwhelming.  According to data from Welch Community Hospital, out of 115 babies born in their facilities, 40 had been exposed to drugs prenatally.

Drugs, entire industries leaving communities and crime have all played a part in creating a seemingly hopeless environment.  There are no simple solutions; we can only open our eyes to the way our fellow Americans are being forced to live and do our best to ease some of their burdens.

By Julian Omidi

 

[1] Gabriel, Trip: 50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back New York Times 4/20/2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/us/50-years-into-the-war-on-poverty-hardship-hits-back.html?src=me&_r=0

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Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan

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A medical and humanitarian crisis is burgeoning in South Sudan, as hundreds of thousands of people face mass famine after months of deadly conflict.  Julian Omidi discusses the reaction of representatives from Doctors Without Borders to the United Nations peacekeeping response to the devastating events in South Sudan.

In South Sudan, the peacekeeping operation initiated by the United Nations came under critical fire from representatives from the international medical nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, due to the gruesome conditions in the Tomping compound, located in Juba, the capitol of South Sudan.  There are currently 21,000 refugees sheltering in the compound, which has become a massive public health hazard.[1]

The United Nations has worked with Doctors Without Borders providing aid in numerous nations in crisis states, and both organizations have served South Sudan throughout its turbulent history.  Currently, South Sudan is in the middle of a catastrophic humanitarian event, made worse by the rampaging violence.

Nearly 4 million people face starvation, and several hundred thousands find themselves without shelter save what is provided by the United Nations.

Doctors Without Borders has released a statement lambasting the reaction of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (known as Unmiss) during this crisis.  In the statement, the UN is accused of ignoring the pleas to assist with improvements at Tomping, which is currently situated in low ground.  During the rains, latrines were overturned, and the waters flooded the compound with sewage, causing the immediate threat of water-borne illnesses.  The compound is surrounded by barbed wire fencing, and just beyond the fence is higher, dryer ground with warehouse space.

The refugees within the compound are experiencing an overwhelming flood of diarrheal, respiratory, and skin infections all due to the bacteria-laden water in which the inhabitants are situated.  The Doctors Without Borders staff say that such diseases account for over 60 percent of the illnesses reported in the compound.

The fact that the UN has refused to allow the residents to relocate has confounded the relief workers, particularly since better conditions are relatively close by.

Representatives from the UN insist that the camp will be closed by the end of April, and that they acknowledge that the compound has turned into a massive health hazard and have already relocated approximately 1,300 people.

Nevertheless, it is not clear if the remaining refugees can be moved before the rainy season begins.  According to the UN, there is simply not enough space for all of the inhabitants in the Tomping compound, but the aid workers insist that better, dryer conditions are so close by, that they are actually within eyeshot.

In addition to the crisis in sanitation for the Tomping refugees, the displaced residents, unable to tend to crops after facing months of unimaginable violence, could potentially face starvation.  According to the United Nations South Sudan relief coordinating officer, the region needs approximately $230 million in order to combat what could be the most devastating example of mass starvation since the famine in Ethiopia.

By Julian Omidi

 

[1] Gladstone, Rick: U.N. Ignores South Sudan Camp Crisis, Charity Says 4/9/2014 New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/africa/medical-charity-sharply-criticizes-un-operation-in-south-sudan.html?ref=africa

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Doctors Without Borders Removed from Myanmar

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Myanmar Protesters surround Sittwe in Rakhine late February – Photo credited to CNN.com

In the following article, Julian Omidi discusses the expulsion of Doctors Without Borders from the Rakhine region of Myanmar.  The organization was dismantled due to the government’s assertion that Rohingya Muslims were being favored over the Rakhine Buddhists, but tensions between the two groups extends far beyond access to medical services.  Julian Omidi is cofounder of the organization No More Poverty with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi.


The activities of the nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders have been suspended in Myanmar, due to governmental accusations that Rohingya Muslims were receiving preferential treatment over Rakhine Buddhists.  The two ethnic groups have been in conflict since the British colonial era, and the hatred of the Muslim population is widespread and generally accepted.  It has been theorized that, by shutting down Doctors Without Borders, there will be fewer international witnesses to violent outbursts against Rohingya Muslims.[1]


The medical services provided by Doctors Without Borders are the only treatments available to the Rohingya Muslims.  They have been denied citizenship in Myanmar by order of law, and in 2012 were forced to relocate to internment camps and ethnic ghettos.  Although Doctors Without Borders has been accused of giving Muslims special favor, there are no medical facilities available to the Rohingya Muslim population, as the government-run clinics are situated outside of the districts in which the Muslims are allowed to live.


Although the International Red Cross is still permitted to operate, Doctors Without Borders is the largest healthcare provider in the Rakhine region.  More than a quarter million people receive treatment from Doctors Without Borders facilities.  Since the restriction of services began, it has been estimated that 150 people have died due to having been denied medical care.


Doctors Without Borders was the only resource for chronically ill Rohingya Muslims.  Those with tuberculosis, malaria and H.I.V. who have depended upon medications supplied by Doctors Without Borders might not have a reliable supply for the foreseeable future.  Government officials have stated that medications donated by Doctors Without Borders will continue to be distributed, but exactly how this is to be achieved has not been made clear.


For the past several years, anti-Muslim actions have been intensifying.  Monks regularly include anti-Muslim rhetoric in their sermons; local politicians are lobbying to prohibit the Rohingya from identifying themselves as such on the national census for fear of confirming the numbers are higher than governmental estimates.  However, the most disturbing trend is the violence against whole families – including children.  One gruesome incident involved the slaughter and decapitation of 10 Rohingya men, whose heads were left in a water tank.  While the violence is not technically sanctioned by the government, little has been done to prevent it or punish those who have perpetrated it.


Because Myanmar is working to gain international acceptance, it is critical that the United Nations as well as both western and eastern governments make it perfectly clear that ethnic cleansing will neither be encouraged nor tolerated.  The lessons of Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan have been recently learned – we can only hope that they have also not been quickly forg [1] Perlez, Jane: Ban on Doctors’ Group Imperils Muslim Minority in Myanmar New York Times 3/13/2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/world/asia/myanmar-bans-doctors-without-borders.html?src=recg&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Recommended&pgtype=article&_r=0 By Julian Omidi

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How Donated Unusable Medical Equipment Impacts Under Developed Regions

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Julian Omidi discusses the impact the donation of unusable equipment has upon medical clinics in under developed regions.

Many hospitals and private organizations donate their unused supplies and medical equipment to clinics and nonprofit health initiatives in remote, undeveloped locations in order to give them the opportunities to perform the best and most modern treatments that they can.  Without these donations, many medical centers in poor regions wouldn’t have access to life saving drugs, gloves, sterilization tools, swabs, bandages and numerous other items that are essential for proper medical care.

However, there are many items that, although delivered with the best intentions, wind up being thrown away.  These items clog up landfills, waste valuable time for volunteer workers who have to sort through the equipment and cost quite a bit of money in shipment fees.[1]

Medical supply companies and hospitals who wish to donate equipment more often than not believe that health care centers are glad to get anything they can.  While this is largely true, it is unfortunate that the donations aren’t given much consideration.  Heavy electronic devices are sent without their instruction manuals, or even with all of the appropriate parts and accessories.  Machines that require consumables – fuel, water and electricity, which simply aren’t available in extremely deprived regions – are sent and are never operational.  Machines that are operational can’t be fixed when something goes wrong, and there is no one qualified to make repairs.  As a result, clinics are overrun with heavy equipment that is, essentially, junk.

Even the equipment that is useable can put tremendous strain upon delicate operations.  Clinics that operate with generators or old electrical systems can have most of their useable power eaten up by energy-sapping equipment.  This can actually put people’s lives in jeopardy.

In a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was found that only between 10 and 30 percent of all donated equipment is ever used by the receiving hospitals.

How can foreign hospitals and medical suppliers ensure their donations are put to good use?  They can send only what all clinics, without exception, need.  Gloves, crutches, bandages, sanitation materials, feminine hygiene products, bandages and other supplies that developed world hospitals take for granted are desperately needed in the undeveloped world.

Another way donators can save themselves and the recipients time and money is to go through all of the equipment slated for donation and determine whether or not it actually works, if the parts and accessories are available and if the instructions are included.

The third and most effective method for donating successfully is asking the healthcare workers in the clinic exactly what they need and what equipment their facilities can handle.  If the donating party knows that the region has no one available to repair nonfunctioning equipment, or if the repair service is only qualified to work on the devices from a certain manufacturer, then they won’t waste resources shipping devices that cannot be maintained.

Many health centers in the developing world exist using exclusively donated equipment and supplies, so it is crucial that hospital and medical supply services keep giving.  However, it is no less important to donate only what can be used effectively.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Jones, Andrew: Medical Equipment Donated to Developing Nations Usually Ends Up on the Junk Heap Scientific American 5/6/2013 http ://www. scientificamerican .com/article/medical-equipment-donated-developing-nations-junk-heap/

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Conflict in South Sudan

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In the following article, Julian Omidi discusses the conflict in South Sudan.

Since civil war erupted in South Sudan in December of 2013, thousands of people have fled to refugee camps in the Sudan and to the United Nations base, leaving their homes, all of their possessions and their livelihoods.  The hundreds of thousands of refugees are facing additional crises, as humanitarian organizations believe that, as fields go unplowed and crops are left to rot, millions could starve.  Moreover, the violence has grown to such an extent that there is no one who isn’t considered a target – including aid workers and people convalescing in hospitals.[1]

The fighting is atrocious. The soldiers, of both the national army and the anti-government forces are conducting their battles in particularly brutal fashion. Hospitals have been ransacked, and patients beaten, raped and killed in their beds. According to the organization Doctors without Borders, the attacks on hospitals is a part of a strategy meant to completely debilitate entire communities down to the most helpless. Entire hospitals have been burned to the ground, and those that remain standing are ransacked, with most of the valuable supplies either stolen or rendered utterly unusable.  The volunteer physicians have been forced to flee to the bush for their own safety.

The soldiers have been destroying civilian homes and livestock in addition to the killings.  The people will likely continue to suffer from the conflict for years to come, even after the active fighting has stopped.  The refugees are vulnerable to any number of infectious diseases, and with medical aid being actively targeted by fighting forces, the casualties from illness could be massive.

South Sudan is an extremely poor nation, with a huge segment of the population on the verge of going hungry even when there is no active warfare.  The infrastructure, previously weak, has been destroyed since the conflict, and necessary provisions will have a great deal of difficulty being delivered long after the fighting stops.

Although a cease-fire agreement was signed in January, it has been observed by neither side.  Doctors without Borders were stationed in Leer, the hometown of the former Vice-President and rebel leader Riek Machar.  Because Mr. Machar still has relatives living in Leer, the national army has specifically made it a target, killing civilians and plundering thousands of homes, and making it impossible for the aid workers to provide needed medical care.

The regions of Sudan and South Sudan have been locked in conflict for more than 50 years.  The Second Civil War fostered a generation of Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who were orphaned children (boys and girls) and former child soldiers.  Many of these children received asylum in other countries, and have since grown up to be advocates for the people of their former nation.

There are Sudanese people who, in middle age, have never known a life that wasn’t threatened or compromised by war.  It is unclear how this conflict will resolve itself, but since the region has known nothing but war for more than a half century, the sad fact is that there will likely always be some measure of unrest in that region.  Hopefully, the returning “Lost Boys,” (many of whom received educations in the United States and Europe) will help their nation overcome its strife, and give their countrymen and women the first glimmer of hope for a peaceful world that they might have ever had.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Kulish, Nicholas: Reports of South Sudan Fighting, Despite Pact, Prompt Worry and Warnings New York Times 2/12/2014 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/13/world/africa/fighting-persists-in-south-sudan-despite-pact-and-aid-groups-issue-warnings.html

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Demand for Food Has Never Been Higher in West Michigan

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Julian Omidi discuses an article about the increasing demand for food pantries in Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank distributed more food than we did in 2013. Last year, the organization sent out 25.6 million pounds of groceries and household goods, approximately 20 million meals, to communities in 40 Michigan counties, an increase of more than 9 percent over 2012.

Currently, hunger affects one in six people in the United States. According to Feeding America’s last nationwide survey, conducted in 2011, that 316,000 are at risk of hunger in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. 2013’s surge in demand indicates that the current number may be higher.

Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in Benton Harbor distributed 96,000 meals through the Food Bank. Diane Dale, coordinator of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, with the help from another local church, turned their ad hoc benevolence ministry into a full-fledged food pantry with regular hours. They are just one of more than 1,200 agency partners fighting hunger in the region.

With the economy as it is, there are limited job opportunities and decreasing public assistance. With no job, people have to turn to food pantries and public assistance. Public assistance has already been cut substantially in the past few months.

The extension of the long-term unemployment benefits expired with the end of the last congressional session, leaving nearly 44,000 Michiganders without what may have been their only source of income. Food stamp allotments were reduced for all recipients back in November with further cuts likely to be included in the next Farm Bill.

Food Bank’s record-breaking year shows that charities are capable of doing much to combat food insecurity thanks to support from food donors and financial supporters. Feeding America West Michigan is also seeking new food donors.

No matter where you live, get connected with your local food bank. Hunger affects people throughout the entire country and we can help.

By Julian Omidi

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kenneth-estelle/demand-for-food-never-hig_b_4568718.html?utm_hp_ref=charity

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Job Growth Falls Short of Expectations

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Julian Omidi examines an article about job growth and the unemployment rate in the United States.

U.S. employers added only 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years and far below the 205,000 monthly average of the three preceding months. The disappointing figure ends 2013 on a weak note and raises questions about whether the job market can sustain its recent gains.

According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate fell from 7% in November to 6.7%, the lowest since October 2008. However, the drop occurred mostly because many Americans stopped looking for jobs. Once people without jobs stop looking for a job, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

It is unclear whether the sharp hiring slowdown may lead the Federal Reserve to rethink its plan to slow stimulus efforts. The Fed decided last month to pare its monthly bond purchases, which are designed to lower interest rates.

Cold weather might have slowed hiring in December. Construction firms cut 16,000 jobs, the biggest drop in 20 months. Still, December’s hiring is far below the average gain of 214,000 jobs a month in the preceding four months. Monthly gains averaged 182,000 last year, nearly matching the previous two years.

Many industries posted weaker gains or cut jobs. Heath care cut 6,000 positions, the first cut in 10 years. Transportation  and warehousing cut a small number of jobs, suggesting shippers hired fewer workers for the holidays. Government cut 13,000. The motion picture industry dropped 14,000 jobs.

Manufacturing went up with Factories added 9,000 positions, the fifth straight gain. But that still is down from 31,000 in November. Retailers added 55,000 jobs.

The Federal Reserve’s policy committee meets at the end of the month and will have to decide whether to continue “tapering” their bond-buying program. The have signaled that they will reduce their quantitative easing program by $10 billion or so per meeting, from $85 billion in December to $75 billion in January to potentially, $65 billion in February if they follow through.

The have also signaled that the wind-down could move faster or slowing depending on the data, and the weak December numbers can likely make at least some of the central bank’s officials want to slow down and wait for evidence that the new report was an aberration before continuing the taper.

As to what the Fed will do is hard to guess because we do not have a lot of solid guidance yet on just how sensitive the tapering strategy will be to incoming data. Since the unemployment rate has fallen much more than job growth, as Americans have left the labor force in surpringly large numbers.

By Julian Omidi

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/us-employers-post-5th-month-solid-hiring-21484725

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Raising the Minimum Wage Could Help Close the Income Gap

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Julian Omidi discuses a new study that finds that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could help lift nearly 5 million people out of poverty.

A study released from University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube finds that if Congress were to go through with a plan backed by President Barack Obama to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour would reduce the poverty rate among Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. That would bring about 4.6 million people out of poverty directly and reduce the ranks of the nation’s poor by 6.8 million, accounting for longer-term effects.

To come up with his findings, Dube analyzed 23 years’ worth of data on past minimum wage increases, controlling for things such as regional differences. For comparison, he also reviewed previous literature on the average drop in the poverty rate after minimum wage increase and calculated the average of those averages.

Economist have debated that for some time over how much minimum wage increase affects the poverty rate, arguing that raising the minimum wage would barely make a dent in reducing poverty because many minimum wage workers are young people just working to make extra money.

Co-Director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, Dean Baker, says “…No, actually most of the people we see in the minimum wage are not in that boat. We’re looking at a lot of people that are the sole supporter for the family or main support of their family. There’s a large overlap between the poverty population and the people who would be benefited by the minimum wage increase.”

In addition to reducing poverty, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would offer other benefits. During the initial phase-in period of the increase, the U.S. economy would grow by $22 billion, resulting in 85,000 new jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. It could also help close the income gap.

“If we’re interested in reducing inequality of family incomes, the minimum wage can plan an important role,” Dube said.

By Julian Omidi

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/02/1010-minimum-wage_n_4532723.html

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