We are very pleased to announce the release of our latest report Living on the Edge: Economic Insecurity Among Jewish Households in Greater Rhode Island. Below we interview Fern Chertok, principal investigator of the study and research scientist at CMJS.
Can you tell us a little about the impetus for the study?
Rhode Island families, including Jewish households, were especially hard hit by the 2008-2011 recession and, even in the face of a modest improvement in the economy, many face continued economic hardship. Rhode Island still has among the highest rates of unemployment in the nation.
Rhode Island is also home to the oldest surviving synagogue in the United States and its Jewish community has a long history of helping each other dating back to the 1870s with the founding of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association. Following in this long tradition of assisting members of the Jewish community in difficulty, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island is now facing a host of tough decisions about how and where to best deploy its resources to address economic needs of Jewish households. The Alliance sought the assistance of CMJS to conduct research that would aid their understanding of the economic challenges and needs of Jewish households in the Alliance’s catchment area communities.
What is “living on the edge” How did you define economic insecurity?
We used the term “living on the edge” to describe the economic reality of the substantial group of families that stretch to meet their basic living costs and don’t earn enough to create their own safety net of personal savings that they can employ in the case of an emergency expense. Even modest unexpected costs can topple the economic stability of these households.