Saturday, October 30, 2010
According to the College Board's annual report on trends in college prices, increases in tuition this past year were matched by higher levels of financial aid. Published in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities increased $555 (7.9%), to an average of $7,605. With room and board, the figure for the past year totaled $16,140 (up 6.1%).
Tuition at private nonprofit colleges and universities increased to an average of $27,293 (4.5%); with room and board, $36,993 (up 4.3%). A New York Times article on the report points to decreases in state financing as the main culprit for the higher prices.
But Sandy Baum, an economist and lead author of the report, quoted in the article, points out that price increases have been offset by increases in financial aid. In the past year, students received $28 billion in Pell grants--$10 billion more than the year before. According to the article, despite sharp tuition increases in the past five years "in each sector [public four-year colleges and universities, private nonprofit four-year institutions, and public two-year colleges], the net inflation-adjusted price, taking into account both grants and federal tax benefits, decreased over the period."
Full-time students "receive an average of about $6,100 in grant aid and federal tax benefits at public four-year institutions, $16,000 at private nonprofit institutions, and $3,400 at public two-year colleges." Of course, the increase in Pell grants this past year, while enabling many low-income students to get an education, does not help those families not eligible for financial aid, few of whom have seen an increase in their income in line with the 8% rise in tuition costs.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Recent protests in France over raising the minimum age at which an individual can receive reduced retirement benefits from 60 to 62 and full benefits from 65 to 67 have brought to light a difference in French retirement patterns as compared those of other countries, according to an article by the New York Times. Although the proposed retirement policy in France is almost identical to current policy in the U.S.--where the minimum age at which an individual can receive partial Social Security benefits is 62, and total benefits 66, and scheduled to rise to 67--France "stands out...in how many people do retire when they are still relatively young."
Research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that in 2009 only one in five Frenchmen aged 60-64 was in the work force (either holding a job or looking for one). Comparisons of France with some countries produces alarming differences. A Korean man over 75 years of age, for example, "is more likely to be working than a Frenchman in his early 60s."
The issue of retirement benefits and when an individual should be eligible to receive them is of particular concern to many European governments seeking to reduce their country's debt.
The U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) today released an "advance" estimate of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the third quarter of 2010, and the results were not encouraging. The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 2% in the third quarter, similar to what had been expected, and only a small increase over growth in the second quarter (1.7%). According to a New York Times article on the report, an economy growing at 2% annually "cannot produce nearly the demand needed to bring down the nation’s painfully high 9.6 percent unemployment rate. And the trade gap remains wide, as imports outpaced exports."
Although there were small signs of recovery, "demand...appeared flaccid in the third quarter," as income growth slowed and prices excluding food and energy increased. There are hopes that the fourth quarter of 2010 will show some real signs of economic recovery, as the three quarters of mild economic growth give people and businesses more confidence in the market.
But the effects of the stimulus are going to become less and less significant in coming months and "states face a sea of red ink as they look at next year’s budgets." And just how much confidence will increase after mild growth has yet to be determined: there is nothing close to a guarantee, experts say, that consumer spending will increase significantly in the face of such modest economic growth.
The "numbers are unlikely to provide much of a morale boost for President Obama and Democrats," who find themselves "just days away from crucial midterm elections."
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, self-employment rates remained higher among older workers than younger workers in 2009. Among the unincorporated, self-employment rates ranged from 1.6% for those aged 16 to 19 years to 18.1% for those aged 65 years and older. Among the incorporated, rates ranged from 0.1% for those aged 16 to 19 years to 7.7% for those aged 65 years and older.
Self-employment rates were also higher among men than women. 8.3% of male workers were unincorporated self-employed and 5.4% were incorporated self-employed. Those rates compare with 5.6% and 2.3%, respectively, for women.
Unincorporated self-employment rates were lowest for individuals with an Associate's Degree, checking in at 6.6%, and highest among those with less than a high school diploma (9.9%). Only 2.0%, on the other hand, of individuals with less than a high school diploma were incorporated self-employed, as opposed to 6.6% of individuals with advanced degrees.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
An article in the New York Times questioned whether a currency war has started over the U.S. dollar's continuing devaluation, with a number of people arguing that "Washington is deliberately devaluing the dollar at others' expense." The dollar's value has decreased by about 10% since June against major currencies and the decline is expected to continue as the Federal Reserve "is expected to inject vast sums of money into the economy in another attempt to spur growth" through quantitative easing measures, examples of which can be found here. Although such policies may boost the U.S. economic outlook, other countries fear their effects.
Largely because it is linked to the dollar, the Chinese renminbi has also declined (one reason the U.S. trade deficit has increased despite the dollar's devaluation), forcing developing countries to devalue their exchange rates "to bolster their export-driven economies." A weaker renminbi threatens to cut exports in these fast-growing developing countries, slowing that growth.
Another fear among other countries is that "investors will flee America's low interest rates and declining dollar and instead pour capital into their markets, overheating their economies and...[creating] bubbles in stocks and housing that burst with...devastating effects." There are already signs of this speculation, as American investment in foreign stocks has seen a large jump. Both Brazil and South Korea have taken action to limit speculative foreign investment in their economies.
Some maintain that the dollar's decline is a natural reaction to the economic recession and that it will recover soon; others "fear that Washington may be stoking dangerous inflationary pressures that will have repercussions around the world."
A currency war? It depends on who you ask.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment declined in 296 of the 326 largest U.S. counties from March 2009 to March 2010. Collier Florida was hit the hardest in terms of percentage of employment lost, registering a loss over the year of 6.0% of its jobs. The nation as a whole lost 2.1% of jobs. On the other side, Elkhart Indiana had the largest percent increase in employment during the year among large U.S. counties, gaining 5.7%.
During the same period of time--through the first quarter of 2010--the average weekly wage nationwide increased by 0.8% to $889. Among the largest U.S. counties, New York, N.Y., had the largest increase, gaining 11.9% in average weekly wages over the year. Financial activities benefited the most in New York, registering an increase in wages by 22.7%. San Mateo experienced the largest decrease in average weekly wages, which dropped 17.7%.
As of March 2010, the 326 largest counties accounted for 70.9% of total U.S. employment and 78.4% of total employment decrease from March 2009 to March 2010.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics article posted today, real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees fell 0.1%, seasonally adjusted, in the month of September. Real average hourly earnings fell despite an increase of 0.1% in average hourly earnings because of a 0.2% increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, which measures the change in pricing of certain items and goods purchased by urban consumers. Real average weekly earnings also saw a 0.1% decrease, as the working week remained the same while real average hourly earnings fell.
Even with the decrease this month, real average weekly earnings have increased 2.1% since a low point in June 2009. The article cites information from a report filed recently, also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report also compares wage earnings of people of different races, ages, genders, ethnicity groups, occupations and education levels.
Among racial groups, Hispanics who worked full time in the third quarter of 2010 had the lowest median earnings, making only $522, as compared with blacks ($611), whites ($759) and Asians ($854).
Friday, October 15, 2010
Set for November 8-11, the Data Fair will bring together representatives and users from several social science data organizations to offer in-depth orientations to the data and teaching resources developed by the participating groups.
Topics include data management plans, management of confidential data, census chances around the world, and the issues surrounding access and use of data from international sources.
All sessions will be recorded and available for viewing on the Web.
The Data Fair is being organized for the social science data community at large, including researchers, librarians, teaching facutly, students, and policy makers. We hope you can join us!
If you wish to comment on this announcement, visit the ICPSR Blog.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
According to a new report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Hispanics in the U.S. have a higher life expectancy than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, a result that may be surprising to many given the Hispanic population's lower socioeconomic status.
In 2006, life expectancy for Hispanics in the U.S. checked in at 80.6 years, 2.5 years higher than the non-Hispanic white population's 78.1 years, 7.7 years higher than the non-Hispanic black population's 72.9 years, and 2.9 years higher than the 77.7 year life expectancy for the U.S. population in its entirety.
According to the report's authors, the results are "consistent with the findings of numerous studies which show a Hispanic mortality advantage despite this population's lower socioeconomic status." The largest differential in life expectancy between these groups when split by sex was found when Hispanic females, with a life expectancy of 83.1 years, were compared with non-Hispanic black men, who have a life expectancy of 69.2 years, the total difference totaling 13.9 years.
The higher life expectancy for Hispanics as compared with non-Hispanic white and black people is consistent every year until the age of 95, "when Hispanic male and non-Hispanic black male life expectancy is equal at 3.5 years."
The report "presents the first ever U.S. life tables by Hispanic origin and race for the non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black populations," due to a lack of available data in recent years--an issue the report addresses. The authors suggest three possible reasons for the higher Hispanic life expectancy: It is a data artifact, produced by differences in ethnic classifications, age misstatements or failures in linking data sets; caused by migration effects; or the result of cultural differences. Though the authors feel they addressed the first possible cause effectively, they called for future research to determine the validity of either or both of the other theories.
UMass economics professor Nancy Folbre argues in the New York Times that among married couples, wives have been less hard hit by the economic downturn, thus helping somewhat to shield those couples from deeper suffering during the recession. She notes a recent paper by Kristen Smith that points out that employed women now account for 47% of their families' income -- the highest level ever. Married mothers of children are also contributing their highest ever level to household earnings, but, likely due to the pressures of child care, they still contribute just 40% of household earnings.
Two reasons account for this increase in wives' contributions to household earnings. First, traditionally female jobs have weathered the recession better than traditionally male jobs. Second, in contrast to earlier recessions where the duration of unemployment was typically much shorter and where family assets like the home were increasing rather than decreasing in value, women are more likely to enter the workforce when their husbands lose their jobs. While increasing contributions by married women have sheltered families to some extent, women still tend to work at lower-paying jobs (with full-time employed women earning just 83% of what full-time employed males do) and haven't made-up the decline in their husband's earnings,.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
According to a recent article published by ABC News, consumer confidence has yet to respond to recent increases in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which jumped to over 11,000 last Friday for the first time since May. Instead, consumer confidence currently seems more closely related to the unemployment rate, which has been above 9 percent (it is 9.6% today) since May 2009.
Historically--as measured the past 25 years by ABC News--both the Dow (.82) and employment (.76) correlate closely with consumer confidence levels, and it is expected that the correlation between the Dow and consumer confidence will be seen once again.
Today, however, the situation is grim. The Consumer Confidence Index for the week ending October 10th stood at -45, an improvement over the previous week, which saw an Index of -47, but far from its long-term average of -13. According to the article, "91% of Americans rate the economy negatively, 72% think it's a bad time to spend money and 55% say their personal finances are hurting. These are, respectively, 29, 9 and 11 points more than their 24-year averages."
The most growth in consumer confidence has been visible among the nation's citizens earning $100,000 or more, perhaps in part because that group has large stock holdings that have seen gains in recent weeks.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The unemployment insurance weekly claims report released this Thursday by the Department of Labor revealed a decrease in the number of filings for unemployment benefits from 456,000 claims to 445,000 for the week ending October 2nd. This decrease makes it four of the past five weeks that there have been fewer claims, a sign the Associated Press took in an article posted on the New York Times website to indicate that "layoffs are declining."
The 445,000 jobless benefit claims represented the "lowest level since coming in at 427,000 in the week ended July 10th," according to one source. While this is considered good news for the U.S. jobs market, the report also included rising figures for the number of people who have gone on extended benefits, increasing by about 250,000 in the week ending September 18th (the last time data was available) to just over 5 million people.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
According to a new poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino support for Democrats remains as strong as ever with registered Latino voters supporting Democratic candidates for Congress by a margin of 65%-22% (compared with a statistical tie of 47%-45% for all registered voters). This gap is typical for Hispanic voters who supported Barack Obama by a margin of 67%-31% (the total vote was 53%-46%). Yet the New York Times speculates that Hispanic disillusionment with the Democratic Party seems to be outweighing backlash against nativism and a new anti-immigrant law in Arizona in one major way; only 51% of registered Latinos are "certain" to vote, compared with 70% of the general registered population. And while immigration issues certainly matter heavily to Hispanics -- far more likely to be immigrants themselves than the general population -- they are less likely to determine Latino voting patterns than Democrats might hope. Hispanics listed "general" issues of education, jobs, healthcare and the budget deficit as more important than immigration issues. Education and the War in Afghanistan were also within the margin of error at the 95% confidence level signaling the possibility that they, also, could be as important as Latinos as immigration.
The full report including sampling information is available for download here.
What is a "Social Sciences Data Fair?"
ICPSR has invited representatives, practitioners, and users of several intriguing social sciences data organizations to provide in-depth orientations to the data and teaching resources developed by those organizations. Presenters have been asked to answer two primary questions: "What data/teaching resources are available from the organization(s)?" and "How does the data user/instructor access those resources?"
You are encouraged to stroll through the social sciences data fair and sample what each organization has to offer by attending the webcast associated with that organization. The fair will feature data plan and confidential data management, data in North America, international data, and data for use in instruction.
Who should attend the ICPSR Social Sciences Data Fair?
This data fair has been organized for the social sciences data community at large including researchers, librarians, teaching faculty, students, and policymakers from around the world who are interested in the use of social sciences data.
Who is eligible to attend the data fair?
This free fair is open to everyone, including members and non-members of ICPSR.
How do I participate in the fair?
You participate in the data fair directly from your desktop computer during the week of November 8, 2010! Live sessions will be broadcast using GoToWebinar technology. This webinar technology requires no downloads to your computer. All sessions will be recorded and the recordings and presentation slides posted should you desire to view the presentations at a later date.
Interested in a sneak peek?
For a preview of the event, follow this link to our At-a-Glance program: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/files/ICPSR/datafair/DataFairAt-a-Glance.xls The program contains the abridged abstracts, presenters, and times of the webinar broadcast. You also have the opportunity to be the first to register since the registration links for all sessions are live.
We look forward to seeing you virtually in November!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Smith's model looked at immigrants as a group, not at illegal immigrants who are subjects of the most scrutiny
After evaluating the data, researchers discovered that of the students who initially exhibited no outward signs of depression, those who reported using an "unhealthy" amount of internet were 2.5 times as likely to develop depressive symptoms by the time of the second survey. The study classified internet usage according to the categories from Dr. Kimberly Young's Internet Addiction Scale. After employing these categories, about 6% of students from the study qualified as having "moderate" pathological internet use, while another 2% qualified for the "severe" label. 8% of the students developed depressive symptoms by the end of the study.
However it's also important to keep in mind that the study only measured the effects of internet use on depression. What it did not do was measure the effects of other factors, like psychological issues, in developing mental health problems. Although the research does bring to light important themes like addiction and mental health, the article still mentions that there has been too little research on the subject to conclude whether an addiction to using the internet even exists.
However, compare these increases with those for graduate students. At these same 4-year public universities, in-state tuition rose sharply for graduate students who saw their average tuition increase by 60.7% over the 2000-2001 through 2009-2010 period. Out-of-state graduate students, however, saw their tuition increase by 39.3% during that same length of time.
As the cost of higher education at these public universities rises, some other important themes to explore are the economy, the overall shrinking of state funds allocated to institutions of higher education, access to schooling, and trends of the population's educational attainment. While there is a variety of factors contributing to this rise in average tuition, there will be long-term social and economic consequences as well.
The New York Times reports that Netflix, the movie rental company, is seeing a continued increase in its number of subscribers. The company now has approximately 15 million subscribers, an increase of 12 million over the past 6 years. Compare these figures with those in 2004 when the company still had under 3 million customers. Netflix is increasing the number of subscribers at a yearly rate of 50%.
While Netflix is probably best known for its DVD mail service, the way subscribers obtain their movies is swiftly changing. For example, take a look at this press release about the recent partnership between Netflix and NBC to stream media content. Also, the percentage of subscribers streaming at least 15 minutes of movie or TV show time is growing. For example, by December 31, 2008, 28% of users streamed their entertainment. A year later, that proportion jumped to 48%. And within six months on June 30, 2010, 61% of subscribers streamed at least 15 minutes of a movie or television program.
As more people stream their films and TV programs, the company expects to reduce the $700 million dollars it already spends on postage every year. However, despite the success of the company both in attracting customers and in expanding its delivery methods to include streaming, it still faces competition from other companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon, all of which are developing their own ways to share online movies and TV programs.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Many large banks have already paid the government back with interest. The auto companies are in the process of paying back loans, and the government will be able to divest from General Motors when the new GM has its initial public offering later this year. This week the Treasury negotiated a repayment plan with American International Group -- by far the company most indebted to the treasury. While its unlikely,though certainly possible, that both AIG and the auto companies will pay back the Treasury in full, the profits made from loans to the largest banks could allow the government to break even on the program as a whole. The graph below shows TARP expenditures and repayments by industry.
The report, which investigated over 8000 men in 21 major cities, estimates that of all the new HIV infections nearly 53% are from MSM individuals, about half of which had not even known they were infected.
Existent high prevalence of HIV in community, lack of knowledge of HIV status, attitudes toward the risk, social discrimination, substance abuse, and the internet are said to all be contributing factors to the increase risk and exposure for MSM.
Image source: CDC MSM FastFact Sheet
A quick overview of the report can be found here and the full report can be found here.