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Mortgage Rejections Surge after Age 50

You’re over 50. You have built up a lot of equity in your home, and your life savings is finally gaining some critical mass. And yet, your odds of being rejected for a refinancing mortgage start going up rapidly after age 50 and really accelerate around 70, according to a study by Natee Amornsiripanitch at […]

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Advantage Plans Deny 6% of Treatments

Here’s something you should know about Medicare Advantage plans: the vast majority of these insurance policies require prior approval before a person can receive some medical treatments and services. Historically, that was not the case, and prior authorizations are still very unusual for people who are enrolled in original Medicare and a Medigap supplement. But […]

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Burden of High Rents Surged during COVID

As the bad first two years of the pandemic recede in the rear-view mirror, a new report reminds us how tough things got for renters. In 2021, a record 21.6 million U.S. families were paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, which is the real estate industry’s benchmark for people whose housing […]

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Great Depression Holds Lesson for Our Time

Photograph by Lewis Hines, West Virginia 1937. The Great Depression, sparked by a devastating collapse in stocks followed by 25 percent unemployment, remains the deepest recession in U.S. history. A new study laying out the long-term negative impacts to Americans born during that time might be consequential for today’s youngest citizens –  teenagers born during […]

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Big COLAs in State Minimum Wages Kick in

During the long and tranquil period for inflation that ended with COVID, 18 states passed legislation requiring employers to pay a minimum wage that automatically increases every year to protect their lowest-income workers from inflation. With inflation surging to 7 percent in 2021 and running even higher this year, the cost-of-living increases are paying up. […]

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The Shrinking Middle and Shrinking Wages

Henrietta and Joseph Virchick My husband likes to tell a story about his father, Joseph Virchick, who was a pipefitter for the Standard Oil refinery in Bayonne, New Jersey, starting in the 1950s. It was a union job – the Teamsters – paying solid middle-class wages that supported his family in an upscale Levitt development […]

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Paid Sick Time Spreading in the COVID Era

The pandemic has done good things for paid sick time. Today, 77 percent of all employees in the private sector get paid time off for short-term illnesses and preventive medical care. That’s a modest four points higher than in 2019 but at least it’s going in the right direction. However, coverage remains low at the […]

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Good News on Health Insurance in Pandemic

To paraphrase a U.S. senator in 1977, the moral test of government is how it treats the sick, the poor, and children. That rings especially true during an historic public health emergency like COVID. Congress came through with financial relief to blunt the pandemic’s impact, and the money that flowed through the economy provided more […]

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Suburban ‘Rent Deserts’ are a Problem

Boston, a city of fewer than 1 million people, is surrounded by layers and layers of suburbs linked to the city by subways, ferries, and a commuter rail. The suburbs’ opposition to a new state law requiring them to zone some land for apartments illustrates why U.S. rental housing is scarce and rents have soared. […]

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