SF - Press Briefing Launching Distress Index Friday, Oct. 15 th

SF - Press Briefing Launching Distress Index Friday, Oct. 15 th

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Using Real-Time Data From 11 Monthly Indicators,
New Index Provides The Most Complete Picture Of The Recovery Effort
Where: Friday, October 15, 2010 beginning at 9:00 am, ending at 11:00 am
The San Francisco Foundation 225 Bush Street, Suite 500 in San Francisco
RSVP: Timothy Buckwalter/New America Media at 415-503-4170 or

: Beyond journalistic and anecdotal evidence, official statistics tell very little about how
much economic hardship and distress is increasing, and whether it shows any signs of
abating. Every month unemployment figures are released, but these merely show how many
people in the labor force are currently looking for work. No larger picture is revealed. Official
poverty statistics are even worse.

Developed by New America Media in partnership with The Stanford University Center for the
Study of Poverty and Inequality, the new Distress Index is a comprehensive look at local
economic ups and downs in real time. Combing administrative and public data, the Distress
Index assembles eleven monthly indicators (including CalWORKs Enrollment and Homeless
Assistance Requests, Bankruptcies, Food Stamps Applications and Food Pantry Visits,
MediCal Medically Needy Enrollment, Healthy San Francisco Enrollment, Foreclosures,
Unemployment and Unemployment Insurance Recipients, and County Adult Assistance
Programs Participation) to create a more complete picture of economic distress in a specific
“Amidst the headlines trumpeting a recovery in America, weʼve created a tool for the media to
use to track -- on a local level and in the moment -- how their communities are really doing,”
explains New America Mediaʼs Executive Director Sandy Close. “In this instance weʼve
applied the Index to San Francisco, but as a tool the Index can be applied anywhere in the
When applied to San Francisco, the new Distress Index points to a town badly battered by
the Great Recession. “Things are substantially worse now than they were even at the peak of
the dot-com bust,” says Christopher Wimer of The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty
and Inequality, which pooled together all these indicators. “And whatʼs really scary is that it
doesnʼt seem to be showing any signs of abating.”

The statistics compiled by New America Media and the Stanford Center show that as unique
and specialized as San Franciscoʼs economy is, it is nonetheless subject to major natural and
world trends. There has been a collapse in construction and home values that put the entire
financial sector at risk. At the same time, the world economy turned downward and that hit
local tourism and exports. The Distress Index also shows this recession is hitting different
types of people than earlier downturns.

Though the Distress Index was created by a partnership between New America Media and
The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, it came out of a collaborative
initiative – involving The Bay Citizen, California Watch, KALW FM, Media Alliance, New
America Media, New Voices in Independent Journalism, Oakland Local, The San Francisco
Foundation, San Francisco State Universityʼs Center for Integration and Improvement of
Journalism, SF Public Press, Spot.Us, and The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and
Inequality – to create a tool for adding voices to mainstream discussions.

The Distress Index is funded by The San Francisco Foundation and The Wallace Alexander
Gerbode Foundation. For more information about the project, please visit
newamericamedia.org. To see the results of the Distress Index when applied to San
Francisco, please visit http://www.distressindex.org.

Organizers: New America Media (NAM), based in San Franciscoʼs South of Market neighborhood,
organizes the nationʼs first and largest network of ethnic news services. Founded by the nonprofit
Pacific News Service in 1996, NAM works tirelessly to get stories about and from African-, Asian-,
South Asian-, Caribbean-, Indigenous-, Middle Eastern-, and Latino-American communities out to the
mainstream media as well to more than 3,000 ethnic news outlets. NAMʼs editor and journalists have
won numerous awards and accolades for their reporting efforts. More information is available at

In 2006, Stanford University committed to a new program of research, training, and policy analysis on
poverty and inequality, a commitment that reflects Stanford University's recognition that universities
have a special obligation to provide leadership on one of the most pressing problems of our time. The
Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality has five objectives: to monitor trends in
poverty and inequality, to support scientific analysis of poverty and inequality, to develop science based policy on poverty and inequality, to disseminate data and research on poverty and inequality,
and to train the next generation of scholars, policy analysts, and politicians. For more information
please visit http://stanford.edu/group/scspi-dev/index.html.


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