News

Economic opportunity falling, but signs point to broader gains

Economic opportunity falling, but signs point to broader gains

OPPORTUNITY:Graduating student Katherine Thomas has "I Did It" written on her mortar board during Commencement Exercises at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts May 19. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

By Moriah Costa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Economic opportunity has dropped in the United States over the past 40 years, but a broader gauge of opportunity incorporating crime, education and healthcare has been on the rise, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study released by advocacy group Opportunity Nation and research group Measure of America showed that opportunity increased 13 percent from 1970 to 2010, even as economic opportunity decreased by 22 percent.

“I think that the important thing to recognize is that opportunity is more than just the unemployment rate,” said Mark Edwards, executive director of Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan group that seeks to expand economic mobility.

“Access to education is important, access to healthcare is important. These are all pieces that are critical to opportunity,” he said.

The study measured data from a variety of government sources to determine a measure of success in each state and Washington, D.C., in terms of economics, education and community life. The study took into account a range of factors from access to healthcare to household income and violent crime.

It found that educational opportunity rose by 80 percent and community opportunity increased by 20 percent, more than offsetting the decline in terms of economics.

The slow recovery from the 2007-2009 recession weighed on the measure of economic opportunity, as did a 30 percent increase in income inequality and a 12 percent rise in poverty.

Based on the broad measure, however, almost every state has seen opportunity increase over the past four decades, with the biggest gain in Virginia. Only Nevada and Michigan registered declines.

(Reporting by Moriah Costa; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Ban on “Conversion Therapy” Passes Legislature

gay_marriage

The Illinois Senate has approved a ban on therapy designed to "convert'' gay young people to heterosexuals.

in Local

Union Legislation Would Prohibit Strike or Rauner Lockout

afscme

The House has approved a measure that changes government-employee contract negotiations just a month before the deadline for a new contract.

in Local

Mark Hart Named Interim Springfield Fire Chief

springfield fire dept

Springfield has an interim fire chief.

in Local

Hastert Resigns from Wheaton College Board

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2007, file photo, Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, front, R-Ill., announces that he will not seek reelection for a 12th term as he stands on the steps of the old Kendall County courthouse with, from left, his son Josh; wife Jean; and daughter-in-law Heidi, grandson Jack, in Yorkville, Ill. A newly unveiled indictment against Hastert released Thursday, May 28, 2015, accuses the Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime schoolteacher silent about "prior misconduct."

The resignation was the latest fallout from a federal indictment accusing Hastert of violating banking laws.

in Local

Rauner: No Special Session if No Agreement Reached by Sunday

rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not call lawmakers back into session if there's no agreement on a budget by Sunday.