ISSUE 91 | January 14, 2021
The Institute is an economic research and applied research and consulting group that provides customized client solutions and strategies to facilitate decision making and planning that enhances growth, impact, and sustainability for organizations.
From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Pennsylvanians continue to seek safety net programs
Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s public assistance programs, such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has continued to rise due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medicaid enrollment has increased by more than 300,000 people since last March, and SNAP enrollment has grown by about 96,000 people.

Officials say the need for these programs would be even higher without assistance from federal relief programs.  

Thousands of PA children with autism set to lose access to services in mid-January
Due to a change to state policy, a popular type of therapy for children with autism will no longer be paid for by federal Medical Assistance.

Without support from Medical Assistance, many families will be unable to afford this service.

The therapy (applied behavior analysis) is credited with helping children reach communication milestones. 

PA State Police resume tracking racial data during traffic stops
A 2019 report by Spotlight PA revealed that the Pennsylvania State Police had ended the practice of recording racial data during traffic stops in 2012.

This week, the law enforcement agency announced that it has resumed collecting the data in order to better detect racial biases and profiling in policing.

State police say the data will be publicly available, and that it will be analyzed by the University of Cincinnati. 

Research Spotlight: As Pennsylvanians continue to seek assistance from safety net programs, those social services must navigate pandemic-induced barriers to meet community needs. Institute Insights into COVID-19 reveals more about these dynamics.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
A national paid sick leave policy may provide a lifeline for Americans
The latest federal pandemic relief package did not include an extension of the national paid sick leave guarantee, which expired at the end of 2020.

There is evidence that paid sick leave has economic and public health benefits—one study found that the expired program may have prevented 15,000 COVID-19 cases per day.

A new brief from the Urban Institute explores how a modified reimbursement program could reduce the cost of paid sick leave for small employers.  

2021 could be the year of guaranteed income experiments
At least 11 cities are planning to implement guaranteed income pilot programs in 2021, and many others have expressed interest in launching similar experiments.

These programs are based on the idea of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which provides direct cash payments to households.

There are no work requirements or stipulations regarding how the money can be spent.

This concept has gained some support following the federal government’s direct stimulus payments. 

Why providing Pell Grants to prison inmates is a sound investment
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has passed legislation that will lift a ban on incarcerated individuals qualifying for Pell Grants.

The ban has been in place since the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed in 1994.

Research shows that participating in postsecondary education reduces the likelihood of recidivism and helps inmates find jobs upon release.

Research Institutions
Relaying Relevant News & Research to Local Stakeholders