Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Minorities’
Project America - Issue of the Day Posts Tagged ‘Minorities’

Congress Acts to Regulate Tobacco Industry
Published Monday, June 15th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

Congress has successfully — after a decade of political wrangling — passed a bill that gives the FDA wide powers to regulate the tobacco industry’s manufacture, marketing and selling of cigarettes. This bill overcame the Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that said that the agency did not have the right to regulate the industry on its own. The bill highlights: bars the use of terms like “lite” and “low tar”, bans all flavorings except menthol, sets new restrictions on advertising, requires larger warning labels, allows the FDA to lower the level of nicotine but not to zero, and bans sponsorship of sporting events or entertainment events. This bill neither raise taxes on cigarettes nor bans them.  Also, this year 16 states are considering raising cigarette taxes to cover the near $47.4 billion shortfall that will exist at the end of FY2009.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking attributes to about 400,000 deaths per year in the US; nearly 25% of the US adult population smokes. The number of youth and adult smokers has dropped over the last several decades, yet it has leveled off in recent years. Updated information on the survival rate from cancer has risen slowly yet steadily to top 67.5% for whites and 57.5% for blacks. Studies suggest that reasons for the gap range from biological differences to sociological factors.  

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.

Report Predicts Child Well-Being Index to Worsen
Published Thursday, May 28th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

According to the Child and Youth Well-Being Index Project at Duke University, gains made since 1975 in family economic well-being could be endangered over the next few years. The measure of family economic well-being is measured by a combination of poverty rate, median annual income, parental employment and health insurance coverage for children. The report describes a connectivity between the different measures and predicts that more than one out of five American children will live in poverty in 2010, with African-American and Hispanic children experiencing twice the level of poverty.

The United States has remained near the bottom of the industrialized countries in regards to child poverty rates, exceeded only by that of Mexico. The rate of child poverty in the US has in recent years flattened at the rate of 16.9% as of 2007. As for the other measures of the index, the average hourly real earnings for US workers has shrunk to $8.23 an hour (1982 dollars) in 2008. Except for the Asian population, the characteristics of families living in poverty suggest that children are more likely to live with their mother and be impoverished. Plus, since 2000, the number of children enrolled to the SCHIP (State Child Health Insurance Program) has more than doubled from 2000 to 7.145 million in 2007.

US Education Test Scores
Published Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

The National Assessment of Education Progress trend data released last month shows that average scores for 9- to 13-year-olds in both reading and mathematics have risen significantly since the test was established in the 1970s. Reading scores for 17-year-olds, despite an increase from 2004-2008, are still considered by NAEP to have not increased significantly since the test’s beginning. Math scores, which did not experience the recent increases that reading scores saw, remained relatively flat for 40 years. The NAEP test scores trend data suggest that the gender gap in both reading and math have remained the same since the test’s beginning. Racial and ethnic achievement gaps have narrowed in both reading and math, yet they did not change in either from 2004 to 2008. Also in March, President Obama stated that American schools should expand their school days, like South Korea, in order to stay competative in a global century.    

Currently, the average US math scores come in at the bottom 4th of selected countries along with Russia, Italy and Mexico; on top are China, Finland and South Korea. In regards to reading scores, the United States fairs a bit better; we are in the middle along with Denmark and France. Canada, South Korea and Finland are at the top with nearly 40 points difference.  In fact, the US remains near the bottom or at least theUS middle for problem-solving and science scores.   

Health Care to be Addressed by President Obama
Published Monday, May 11th, 2009 by Lacey Loftin

In an effort to influence the Health Reform that President Obama is determined to initiate, hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors will voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years, potentially adding up to $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years. 6 major health groups pledged to cut the rise in health care costs by 1.5 percentage points each year. This move will help provide health insurance to the growing 50 million who now have no health insurance. Obama’s plan is estimated to cost the federal government $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, only half of that has been accounted for by the White House. Health groups who discouraged the health reforms prescribed by the Clinton administration seem to be coming forward to help President Obama for a variety of reasons.

By 2007, overall annual consumer expenditures for Private and public health care has reached 1.2 trillion and 1.02 trillion respectively. The difference in public and private expenditures has not always been so wide; between 1977 and the present, the range has slowly grown wider, except between 1994 to 2000 where private shrank and public grew. The number of uninsured has grown from 14% in 2000 to 15.3% of the population in 2007. The percentage includes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which has grown from 3.4 million in 2000 to 6 million in 2005. Most prone to be uninsured are minorities, who are disproportionately uninsured at 24.5-21.8% and those who of 18-44 years of age. All of which has lead to a steady increase in government health care rolls from 10.3% in 2000 to 13.2% in 2007.

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.

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.

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