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Looking Back to Move Forward: What We Can Learn from 2014 on Economic Justice

Looking Back to Move Forward: What We Can Learn from 2014 on Economic Justice

While we have seen some positive changes in the economy – such as November’s jobs growth pace of 321,000 jobs a month – the Economic Policy Institute estimates that it will take at least two years before the economy looks like how it did before the recession.

A report from the US Conference of Mayors found that in the past year 71 percent of cities surveyed saw an increase in requests for emergency assistance. Additionally, 43 percent of the cities saw an increase in the number of families experiencing homelessness. However, there were not enough resources available to accommodate everyone– 82 percent of the cities surveyed reported that food pantries and emergency kitchens had to cut the amount of food distributed during every visit, and 77 percent said that food assistance providers reduced the number of monthly visits allowed. The majority of cities expect that the number of requests for emergency food assistance will increase in the year ahead.

The study also showed a 3% increase in the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, yet there was not enough space to be able to accommodate everyone in need. Additionally, the number of children experiencing homelessness has reached a record high, with 2.5 million children in the United States going to sleep without a home each night.

Workers have also not been earning more money over time: wage growth has been flat and stagnant throughout the past year. In over forty counties in the United States, at least one out of every two kids is poor.

As the CRomnibus that passed at the end of the 113th Congress did not fully fund some vital government programs, we must advocate for the federal safety net, which aims to help reduce economic inequality.

Jewish tradition details for us one of the world's earliest social welfare systems. We are taught to leave the corners of our fields and the gleanings of our harvest to the poor (Leviticus 19:9), and to open our hands and lend to people whatever it is they need (Deuteronomy 7-11). We learn that helping fellow human beings in need, tzedakah, is not simply a matter of charity, but of responsibility, righteousness, and justice. The Bible does not merely command us to give to the poor, but to advocate on their behalf. We are told in Proverbs 31:9, to "speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy."

We must continue to advocate for economic justice issues in the year to come. Check out the RAC’s Economic Justice page to learn more!

Published: 1/08/2015

Categories: Social Justice