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Kansas City social justice group says too many are left behind in today’s economic growth

“In a time when Wall Street is reporting record profits, many low-income people are feeling the pain,” said Andrew Kling, communication manager for Communities Creating Opportunity.
“In a time when Wall Street is reporting record profits, many low-income people are feeling the pain,” said Andrew Kling, communication manager for Communities Creating Opportunity. The Kansas City Star

When Andrew Kling dug into an economic research project, he was shocked to find there were more payday loan shops in Missouri than there were Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Starbucks locations combined.

“In a time when Wall Street is reporting record profits, many low-income people are feeling the pain,” said Kling, communication manager for Communities Creating Opportunity.

His social justice organization, better known as CCO, held a rally Thursday in front of a small strip center at 63rd Street and Troost Avenue that houses a payday loan company and a fast-food restaurant.

“It’s an appropriate site for releasing our report,” he said.

CCO is seeking support for a “covenant for a moral economy” that among other things asks the Federal Reserve to pay attention to those at the bottom of the economic ladder when it considers raising interest rates this year.

Kling said CCO is concerned that the unemployed and underemployed are being victimized by predatory lending practices, and they’re getting no help because of “political gridlock” and employers that have kept “wages dangerously low.”

The Rev. Stan Runnels, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 East 40th St. in Kansas City and a CCO participant, said a moral economy would include “wages that cover the costs of raising a family, where everyone has access to affordable credit in their communities.”

The rally also was planned to focus on racial inequality in the Kansas City area, where unemployment among blacks is 12.6 percent, compared with 5 percent for whites.

Kling said CCO research also found that from 2000 to 2014, the median wage for workers in Kansas was basically flat and the median wage in Missouri declined 2.5 percent.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com. Read more from Diane at kansascity.com/workplace. Twitter: @kcstarstafford.

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