Project America - Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Minorities’ Category
Issue of the Day Archive for the ‘Minorities’ Category

New Diagnostics Help CDC Map HIV Infections
Published Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

One of the major problems of mapping and prevention efforts facing the Centers for Disease Control’s effort to battle the spread of HIV/Aids happens to be accurate tracking. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the CDC’s efforts to monitor trends in new HIV infections has been hampered by HIV diagnosis occurring years after infection. New technology developed by the CDC can now distinguish recent from long-standing infections. Called Serologic testing algorithm for recent HIV Seroconversion (STARHS), the technology is used to develop the nation’s first surveillance system that is based on more concise estimates of the annual number of new HIV incidence than before. The first estimates from this system, issued in August 2008, revealed that the rate of HIV infections in 2006 were roughly 40% higher than former estimates reported. Also, as of April 2008, reporting for new infections has been nationalized as all 50 states, D.C. and territories all comply with the confidential Name-Based Reporting system.

Better diagnostics and reporting systems will help health care officials focus plans and evaluate prevention care and treatment programs on persons most at risk. According to the CDC, even with the new diagnostics, the rate of cases of HIV per year has remained steady since the late 1990’s. Analysis of the data points to a male to female ratio of 4-1 for new cases, plus new cases are rising for nearly every age group. Of those new cases, those infected are more likely to be of a minority or gay or bisexual.

School Readiness Depends on Several Factors
Published Friday, June 5th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The idea that pre-school should be as universal as K-12 has been getting ever more attention by educators and public officials. The thinking is for government to provide education to all 4-year-olds in an effort to close the school-readiness gaps that exist and persist beyond kindergarten. The Obama administration has stated that early childhood education is one of the top priorities of his term, and the federal government intends to spend an additional $10 billion per year on enhancing early childhood education. A report by the Rand Corporation states that the achievement gap can be narrowed by 10 to 20% by increasing the number of underprivileged children attending pre-schools and by improving the quality of education.

School readiness studies measure a child’s ability to recognize letters, count to 20 or higher, write their own name and/or pretends to read. A child’s ability to accomplish these tasks rests on a myriad of conditions including gender; females out-perform males in almost every category for the last 13 years. Children of a two parent home fair 4-7% better at all skills measured than those of single or no parent households. Household income also impacts readiness since those above the poverty threshold are found to possess skills 15% more than those below the threshold. Strikingly, children whose mothers’ work and those not in the labor force also fair better than those whose mothers are unemployed. Readiness by race is close for whites, blacks and others; however, many Hispanic children fall behind as much as 5-15% compared to their counterparts.

Gaps Exist for Declining Cancer Deaths
Published Friday, May 29th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The American Cancer Society has announced this week that 650,000 cancer deaths have been averted between 1991 and 2005. Overall this means a total of a 19% drop in men’s overall cancer death rates and an 11% drop for all types of women’s cancer death rates over the 15 year period. The drop in death rates was gradual but steady, the report stated, at about 1 to 2% a year. The decline can be attributed to increased access to screening and health care. However, the ACS states that cancer is still the leading cause of death for those who are younger than 85 and estimates 562,340 people will succumb to cancer in 20091500 people a day. For men the top types of cancer remain prostate cancer, at 192,280 new cases a year; for women, breast cancer is the most diagnosed at 192,370 cases a year. Yet, for both men and women, lung cancer will be the most deadly.

Despite the improved rate of cancer deaths overall, the survival rate divided by race states that white cancer patients survive more often than black patients. A 14 percentage point gap existed between black and white survival rates in 1987 to 1989, yet that gap has narrowed to 10 percentage points between 1996 and 2004.

Atheists & Agnostics
Published Monday, May 4th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

According to the American Religious Identification survey, those who claimed no religion, atheism or “Nones” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Many atheists have started to ‘come out of the closet’ as groups like the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (South Carolina) have started to advertise. Over the last two decades, 10 national organizations identifying closely with Humanism, Atheism, freethinkers and others have united to form the Secular Coalition for America, complete with lobbying. The movement’s momentum also comes from groups on college campuses called the Secular Student Alliance, which has increased 104 chapters in 6 years to 146 chapters nationwide.

Besides the Muslim religion, Non-believers are the only category to expand; all others decreased by 10ths of a percentage point. Yet nationally, the numbers of the US population who identified their religious self-identification as ‘Nones’ and Atheist have nearly doubled from 8.2% in 1990 to 15.7% in 2008. Historically, “Nones” have concentrated in the West region.  However, this pattern has changed dramatically as Nones increased their numbers in all fifty states, something no other religious group can claim. Further research is ongoing to explore whether religious switching is a reason for the “Nones” doubling during the time period.

Education Makes a Difference in Number of Self-Employed
Published Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

A recent report by the Small Business Administration surveyed self-employed women and how they used their time between work and home life. Over the past decade, the number of self-employed women has shown a proportional increase over the past 35 years. The self-employment rate for women was 42% of the rate for men in 1979; it remained near 55% from 1994-2003. In 2003, 6.8% of women in the labor force were self-employed, compared with 12.4% of men. Data suggest that women choose self-employment because of family factors, and self-employed women are not as motivated by earnings. The administration suggest that programs that enhance work-life balance or facilitate secondary child care opportunities and increase paths to education would serve to encourage greater numbers of women to seek self-employment.

The number of women firms has reached the 6.5 million mark and grossing nearly a billion dollars a year. This has been fueled by an exponential growth in small business loans to minorities. The percentage distribution for the labor force by gender shows a steady parallel for the last 30 years. Of those who are mothers and wives, those who have children under 18 are leaving the work force in greater numbers since 2003. As for the second policy recommendation on education, college graduates in the workforce have overtaken the high school graduates since 2002.

Gaps in Education Threaten US Competitive Edge
Published Friday, April 24th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

According to the Department of Education, countries such as Canada, Japan, and Korea have advanced beyond 50% of their adult populations earning the equivalent of an associate degree or higher. To get the US population to the competition’s level represents a roughly 50% increase in US annual degree production for the next 16 years. Moreover, we would have to pay close attention to the shifting demographics of the US population, which by 2020, whites will decrease to 63%; Hispanic will increase to 17%; and Blacks will reach 13%. A study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education argues that if current gaps remain, the net result would be a projected 2% decline in per capita income over the period from 2000 to 2020. This would result in a shrinking tax base and a weakened global competitive edge.

College degree attainment rates within the US have been relatively flat for two decades at 20-28% for males and 24-30% for women, averaging 29% overall in 2008. Of those aged 25-29, broken down by race, Whites achieve 32%; Blacks earn 19%; and Hispanics are awarded 13% of all degrees. Adding an Associate’s degree increases income by about $10,000 annually; adding a Bachelor’s near doubles income; and a professional degree quadruples a High School annual income. This is especially important when considering that the top 50% of wage earners have paid 96% of our total Income Tax Share in 2007.

EPA Calls Greenhouse Gases Hazard to the Public’s Health
Published Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded a scientific review ordered by the US Supreme Court in 2007. Findings stated that Greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and thus threaten public health or welfare. Concentrations of six gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride) are at an all time high due to human activities. The second finding stated that combined emissions from motor vehicles contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of the six greenhouse gases. This would mean the most complex assertion of authority over the US economy and individuals’ lifestyles. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and President Barack Obama have previously said they prefer comprehensive legislation on climate change over federal regulation. Congress is now considering such bills.

Impacts of such climate change include increased drought, more heavy downpours and flooding, more intense wildfires and heat waves, greater sea level rise, more intense storms and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems. The findings also suggested that the climate change has a disproportionate impact on the life expectancy of the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and indigenous populations. Currently, the US stands at 50th in the world at a life expectancy of 78.11 years in 2009, with White women surviving at all ages better than all other sexes and races.

Supreme Court Hears Case on Affirmative Action
Published Thursday, April 9th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will for the first time hear a case that raises the issue of race in the workplace. The outcome could redefine the hiring and promotion policies for both the public and private sectors. Roberts has stated that he believes it is time to forbid the use of race as a factor in the government’s decisions. At issue is whether an employer can weigh the racial effects of a hiring or promotions standard. Lawyers for the firefighters say the city violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it threw out the test scores for the 15 open positions.  Of the top 15 scorers, 14 were White and one was Latino. However, the NAACP says the claim ignored the history of discrimination that excluded blacks from fire and police departments.

Over the last year, minorities share of the work force have actually gained in most categories by tenths of a point to whole percentage points nationally. Asians and Hispanics gained in Management, Professional Services, Sales, Construction and Production; African Americans only gained in the production industry. Females have obtained parity or better with males in Management, Service and Sales yet have barely made any gain in construction and production.

Languages’ Impact on Democracy
Published Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

During a recent trip to the State Department, President Obama was greeted by a staffer in Bahasa Indonesian, the President responded back with phrase in the same language. The President has, as far back as 2007, pointed to the years he spent in Indonesia as helping to prepare him for the presidency. He stated at a forum for the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington, D.C., that knowledge of another’s language is recognition of their common humanity.

Many presidents spoke a second language; recently the favorite has been Spanish, the US second largest language population.   Federal legislation since 1975 recognizes that many Americans rely heavily on their native languages other than English and provides requirements for information in minority languages. Localities with over 5% of the total voting age citizens who are of a single minority language group, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well are provided voting materials in that minority’s language. That legislation targets: Spanish, Asian, Native American, and Alaskan Native languages. In the US, there are many other languages spoken besides the targeted languages and all have the same rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1975.

Disparities Continue in Minority Communities
Published Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

In President Obama’s inaugural speech, he stated that “We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united.” In the United States minorities make up 33% (Hispanics 15%, Black 13.5% and Asian 5%) of the population where in 67% of the population is Non-Hispanic White. The strides that minorities have overcome are remarkable, but some inequalities still exist.

As for Educational Attainment, in 2006 the Hispanic population experienced the lowest high school degree attainment percentages—55%—of all minorities, other minorities came in at 83% of the Asian Community and 74% of the Black Community. The White community held the highest percentage of HS degrees at 85%. The average income for the white families averages to $54,920, Black families earned $33,916, Hispanics families earned $35,000, and Asian families earned $52,000 annually. Health Insurance coverage varies widely with both White and Asian communities holding the first and second place with nearly 80% privately covered, yet 49% of the Black community and 50% of the Hispanic community holds private coverage. Regarding public health rolls, the Blackcommunity has 24.5%, compared to 21.8% of the Hispanics. The uninsured percentage of the two groups is at 19.7% and 32.7% respectivly.  The greatest disparity is crime, in which the Black community at 13% of the population experiences 49.3% of the total murders and is imprisoned 3200 out of 100,000 of its own population.

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