August 9, 2017 by
Puerto Rico was hit with two lawsuits on Monday that for the first time challenge the constitutionality of a federal control board overseeing the island's finances and its power to start a bankruptcy-like court process for some of the United States territory's more than US$70 billion public debt. One of the lawsuits was filed by US hedge fund Aurelius Capital Management, which holds more than US$470 million in Puerto Rico general obligation bonds, among other debt. It is the same hedge fund that was involved in a 15-year dispute over defaulted bonds issued by Argentina. The second lawsuit was filed by the UTIER, a Puerto Rico union that represents about a third of the 9,550 employees at the island's Electric Power Authority. Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello.   BOARD HAS NO POWER   Both argue that the board's seven members were never approved by the US Senate and thus they have no power. "Because the board is unconstitutional, its acts are void," Aurelius said in its lawsuit. A spokesman for the board declined to comment on a pending legal matter. Last year, the US Congress approved a law that created the board in response to the Puerto Rico government's financial crisis. The measure gives the island a way to restructure its debts since there are no federal or local laws allowing its municipalities or public agencies to declare bankruptcy. Board members were chosen by the administration of then US President Barack Obama from a list submitted by congressional leaders of both parties - three members from the Democratic list and four from the Republican one. The board recently announced it would go to court to restructure a portion of the island's public debt after negotiations with creditors fell apart amid multimillion-dollar defaults that have sparked a flurry of lawsuits. The board also has demanded more austerity measures for the government, including furloughs that will start September 1 and apply to all public employees, except police. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello has said he will not impose furloughs and will go to court if needed, seeking to block them. "If they send me to jail, so be it," he told radio station WKAQ on Monday. Puerto Rico has spent more than a decade in a recession that has left the government short of revenues and also prompted nearly a half million people to flee the island in search of jobs and a more affordable cost of living. source Read More: Aurelius questions Puerto Rico oversight board’s authority

August 9, 2017 by
In 2017, a total of 225 firms make it onto our 33rd annual ranking of America’s largest private companies. Taken as a group, these companies have combined revenues of $1.57 trillion, down 3% from last year, and employ 4.7 million people, up from 4.5 million in 2016. The top of the 2017 is full of familiar faces. Cargill and Koch Industries have a lock on the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Cargill sits at top of the list for the 10th consecutive year. Revenues grew a modest 2% in 2017 to $109.7 billion. Cargill has missed the No. 1 rank only twice since the first private companies list was published in 1985. Koch Industries comes it at No. 2. Revenues for this year’s list don’t reflect the acquisition of Guardian Industries (ranked No. 67 last year’s private companies list.) Koch Industries acquired the Michigan-based glass company in February 2017. Rounding out the top 5 are grocery chain Albertsons (No. 3) and two of the three accounting firms on the list. Deloitte is ranked fourth and PricewaterhouseCoopers is fifth. Albertsons filed for an IPO in 2015, a few months after it completed its acquisition of publicly-traded Safeway, but has put those plans on hold. Mars jumps up one to No. 6. The Virginia-based company, best known for its candy business, announced in January that it would acquire animal hospital chain VCA in a deal worth $9.1 billion. When this deal is complete, the company’s pet care business will make up over 50% of revenues. Mars owns pet brands such as Pedigree, Wiskas and Royal Canin. Dell is the highest ranked company to drop off the list. Last year the Texas-based computer company was ranked fourth. Dell completed its merger with EMC Corporation in September 2016 and began trading as Dell Technologies. Along with Dell, there are eight other companies from the 2016 list that didn’t qualify this year. Trucking company Schneider National went public via an initial public offering in April 2017. International Data Group , the media company behind technology magazines such as PCWolrd and MacWorld, was bought by a Chinese conglomerate earlier this year. Companies don’t qualify for the list for a few reasons; revenues drop below $2 billion, the company is no longer private or foreign ownership. Uber debuts on the list at No. 52, one of 11 newcomers to the list. It’s the first tech unicorn to rank on our private company list. Facebook was a contender for this list back in 2010 but its revenues didn’t cross the $2 billion threshold while it was still a private company. The ride-sharing company’s potential IPO seems uncertain considering the recent scandals. CEO Travis Kalanick announced in June that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence. In addition to Uber, notable newcomers include home security company ADT (No. 114) and restaurant chain Red Lobster (No. 183). The 2017 list of largest private companies includes only firms with revenue greater than $2 billion. Revenues are through the end of the most recent fiscal year. Most of the companies on our list have no plans to change their private status. Many businesses like the freedom from quarterly earnings expectations and reduced obligations to Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements. (Private companies with publicly traded debt must file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.) In addition to our $2 billion revenue requirement, the companies on our list have either too few shareholders to be required to file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or have shares whose ownership is restricted to some group, such as employees or family members. We exclude foreign companies, companies that don’t pay income tax (like Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority), mutually owned companies (like State Farm Insurance), cooperatives (like Central Grocers), companies with fewer than 100 employees, and companies that are more than 50% owned by another public, private or foreign company. We also leave out companies whose primary business is auto dealerships or real estate investment and/or management. Whenever possible, our revenue figures for each company exclude sales of publicly traded subsidiaries. Our data sources include voluntary disclosures by companies, Securities and Exchange Commission filing, and estimates from Forbes researchers and outside sources. See the full list here. source

August 9, 2017 by
Consumers are losing trust in major banks and financial service providers. Many institutional investors, traders and most millennials are moving toward Bitcoin and fintech due to the fraudulent activities and inefficiencies of existing banks. Banking scandals Recently, the Wells Fargo car loans scandal swept across the finance industry, in which Wells Fargo allegedly defrauded 800,000 car loan customers, stole 25,000 cars. Various trusted sources including Boing Boing revealed that Wells Fargo forced unwanted car insurance on borrowers, owed money to wrong accounts and increased the monthly payments of car loan payers. “Say, for example, that a customer agreed to a monthly payment of $275 in principal and interest on her car loan, and arranged for the amount to be deducted from her bank account automatically. If she were not advised about the insurance and it increased her monthly payment to, say, $325, her account could become overdrawn as soon as Wells Fargo added the coverage,” reported Boing Boing. More to that, a report obtained by Boing Boing further revealed that the bank owed $73 mln to wronged customers after the attempt to defraud millions of customers was revealed. In response to the Wells Fargo scandal, prominent Bitcoin advocate, security researcher and expert Andreas Antonopoulos stated: Terrifying precedent In July alone, a number of major bank scandals emerged. Apart from the Wells Fargo case, the European Union (EU) states announced that they are actively investigating into methods and measures that would prevent bank clients and users of withdrawing their funds. Sources including Reuters reported that the EU is looking into such measures in order to prevent banks from failing. "The desire is to prevent a bank run so that when a bank is in a critical situation, it is not pushed over the edge,” a source from a German bank close to the case told Reuters. Other sources have also told Reuters that involving banks along with EU states perceive such measure as a feasible option. "The so-called “feasible plan” of EU banks to lock up user funds in order to prevent financial failures and instability of banks sets a terrifying precedent for bank consumers." If banks have the ability to prevent users from withdrawing their money, which they already do, bank users and clients can never remain confident regarding the whereabouts and security of their funds. The vast majority of bank users and consumers reliant on financial service providers are moving toward Bitcoin and innovative fintech applications for the above mentioned reason. They don’t feel safe storing funds in bank-owned accounts that can be locked, suspended, terminated and manipulated at any point in time. Disconnected Cointelegraph also previously reported that according to a Facebook study, the vast majority of millennials have lost trust and confidence in existing banking systems. “Millennials also feel disconnected from the financial services industry. Many financial institutions have yet to realize that winning over the Millennial generation will require a transformative overhaul—from how each institution views its competition to how it connects with clients,” the Facebook research paper read. source

August 7, 2017 by
Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday. The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York. Mr. de Blasio will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades and for reduced fares for more riders, an idea that has been successful in Seattle. His funding push comes as the subway faces a multitude of problems, and leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, have called on Mr. de Blasio to provide more money for the system. Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo, who are Democrats and have long had a strained relationship, have engaged in an acrimonious public skirmish over financing for public transit. Mr. Cuomo controls the transportation authority, but he has called on Mr. de Blasio to help fix the system. Both leaders have been under pressure to address the crisis, with worsening subway service hurting Mr. Cuomo’s approval rating among voters, and with Mr. de Blasio being targeted by a harsh television ad campaign by the subway workers union. “Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move our transit system into the 21st century,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. The tax changes would require approval from state lawmakers in Albany — a difficult hurdle, with Republicans in control of the Senate, though the urgency of the subway’s decline has raised the stakes and captured the attention of both parties. On Sunday, the authority’s chairman, Joseph J. Lhota, responded to the mayor’s proposal by saying that the agency needed emergency financing immediately. “There’s no question we need a long-term funding stream, but emergency train repairs can’t wait on what the State Legislature may or may not do next year,” Mr. Lhota said in a statement. Mr. Lhota, who ran unsuccessfully against Mr. de Blasio for mayor in 2013, also took a jab at Mr. de Blasio, saying he was glad the mayor had “reversed himself” after arguing that the authority did not need additional money. Mr. Lhota recently proposed a roughly $800 million plan for immediate subway repairs and called on Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio to split the costs evenly. Delays have skyrocketed on the century-old subway system, and several recent accidents have raised safety concerns. At the same time, the authority has been raising fares every two years, with the latest increase taking effect in March, when the cost of a monthly MetroCard rose by $4.50 to $121. The mayor’s proposal builds on an effort by State Senator Michael Gianaris, Democrat of Queens, to tax the wealthy to support the subway, and a campaign by transit activists to establish reduced fares for poor residents. The transit system in Seattle began offering reduced fares for low-income riders in 2015 and has signed up more than 40,000 people. San Francisco has a similar program, and cities like Boston and Minneapolis have considered the idea. Mr. Cuomo echoed Mr. Lhota, saying that waiting to approve a new revenue stream when the next legislative session began in January would take too long. “The city should partner with us and match the state funding now so we can begin Chairman Lhota’s overhaul plan immediately and move forward,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “We cannot ask New Yorkers to wait one year to start repairs.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown here on the A train, will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades. Mr. Cuomo faces a re-election campaign next year and is thought to be considering running for president in 2020. For his annual State of the State speech in 2018, Mr. Cuomo’s office was exploring how it might introduce different forms of so-called congestion pricing, including fees on for-hire vehicles, according to a Cuomo administration official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. A decade ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pressed for an $8 congestion fee for drivers in parts of Manhattan during peak hours, but the measure was defeated in Albany. Mr. Gianaris said state lawmakers should not wait until the next session to take up the mayor’s proposal. “I would argue that the M.T.A. is in a full-blown crisis and that would justify our return to Albany to enact this measure in an emergency session,” Mr. Gianaris said. Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said the city should not discuss raising taxes when it had a large surplus. “If the city wants to up its contribution to help shore up the subways for commuters and their families — which we support — it certainly has the means to do that,” Mr. Reif said in a statement. The proposed new tax would raise about $700 million to $800 million a year, with more than $500 million going toward capital costs for subways and buses and about $250 million for the half-price MetroCard program, city officials said. It would increase the city’s highest income tax rate by about half a percentage point, to 4.4 percent from about 3.9 percent, for married couples with incomes above $1 million and individuals who make more than $500,000. City officials estimate that the tax would be paid by about 32,000 New York City tax filers, or fewer than 1 percent of those who file their taxes in the city. New Yorkers already contribute to the authority through various taxes and fees, and the city has committed $2.5 billion for the agency’s current capital improvement plan. Mr. de Blasio’s plan comes with several demands, including that Mr. Cuomo keep his promise for the state to pay $8 billion toward the authority’s current capital plan and an additional $1 billion Mr. Cuomo committed for the subway in June. The new funding would also be separate from the authority’s short-term subway rescue plan, which city officials said should be paid for by returning money to the authority that the state had previously diverted. The mayor’s embrace of half-price MetroCards for poor New Yorkers comes after months of lobbying from transit activists and could be a popular proposal as Mr. de Blasio runs for re-election in November. About 800,000 people in New York City who are at or below the federal poverty level — about $24,500 for a family of four — could qualify for half-price MetroCards, city officials said. Women are more likely to live in poverty in New York City, and the poverty rate is higher among black, Hispanic and Asian residents, according to the city’s statistics on poverty. Under the program in King County in Washington, which includes Seattle and its suburbs and has a population of more than two million, residents with household incomes of less than double the federal poverty level — about $49,000 for a family of four — can qualify for a special discount card to ride buses and light rail. Riders must apply in person at an enrollment center and provide documentation to verify their income. John Raskin, the executive director of the Riders Alliance, a New York City advocacy group that has called for reduced fares, applauded the mayor’s push for new revenue and his support for half-price MetroCards. “We need to get the subway system working again so that New Yorkers can get to work,” Mr. Raskin said, “but we also need to make the system accessible for the poorest New Yorkers so they can find jobs, education and economic opportunities in the first place.” source

August 5, 2017 by
The fix is in — for the step street located at West 229th Street between Heath Avenue and Kingsbridge Terrace. Step streets, by the way, are a flight of stairs located between two avenues separated by a steep hill. The West 229th Street step street connecting Heath Avenue and Kingsbridge Terrace will undergo a $6.6 million reconstruction. Work is expected to be completed by the end of next summer. These particular steps were “deteriorated and dangerous,” said Laura Spalter, chair of Community Board 8’s environment and sanitation committee. Spalter’s committee and community volunteers recently inspected 20 of 26 step streets in CB8’s jurisdiction, creating a number of reports on the conditions of each steps. Those reports included details like trash in the area, graffiti scrawled along the sides of adjacent buildings, and in the case of this particular structure at West 229th, the steps were uneven and broken in some parts. “When surveying the steps we found them in terrible shape: deplorable dumping, garbage and weeds on the shoulders, missing railings, uneven steps, crumbling cement, tons of graffiti,” Spalter said, who inspected the West 229th Street step street this past spring. The stairs are 230 feet long, stretching 10 flights on a 65-foot climb leading from Heath to Kingsbridge Terrace. Work includes replacing the stairs with wider granite steps to help it meet modern safety standards. The outer stone retaining walls will be repaired while sloped concrete terraces and pavers will be replaced with new pavers set in a concrete bedding, according to the design department’s website. Additionally, a bicycle channel will be added to both sides, making it easier to move up and down the steps. Benches also will be available at two of the step street’s landings. The entire project is a collaboration between the city’s design and construction department as well as its transportation department. It’s expected to cost $6.6 million, and will be completed in Summer 2018. The original plans called for the construction of a temporary staircase for pedestrians while the main step street was overhauled. However, design and construction spokesman Ian Michaels said those plans were scrapped after the city realized it could shave six months from total construction time by doing away with the wooden staircase. During construction, city officials advise those in the neighborhood to use the step street at West 230th Street near P.S. 360. source

August 5, 2017 by
A question remains: Will the new owners rename the place Potsylvania? Now that one of the nation's largest cannabis companies has bought the entire California desert town of Nipton, a question remains: Will the new owners rename the place Potsylvania? The name Weed already belongs to an old mill town in Northern Calfornia. American Green Inc. announced on Thursday it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old West-style hotel, a handful of houses, an RV park and a coffee shop. Its plans are to transform the old Gold Rush town into what it calls “an energy-independent, cannabis-friendly hospitality destination.” The town's current owner, Roxanne Lang, said the sale is still in escrow, but confirmed American Green is the buyer. She declined to reveal price before the sale closes, but noted she and her late husband, Gerald Freeman, listed the property at $5m when they put it up for sale last year. Laura Cavaness sweeps out a lodge at the Hotel Nipton, in Nipton, California. American Green Inc., one of the nation's largest cannabis companies, announced it has bought the entire 80 acre California desert town. Asked what her husband would think of the buyers' plans to turn Nipton into the pot paradise of the California desert, she laughed heartily. “I think he would find a lot of humor in that,” she finally said, adding that as a Libertarian Freeman had no problem with people using marijuana, and as a proponent of green power he'd be all in favor of energy independence. Over the years he'd installed a solar farm himself that provides much of the tiny town's electricity. American Green says it plans to expand that farm and also bottle and sell cannabis-infused water from Nipton's plentiful aquifer, joint moves that would make the town green in more ways than one. The buyers are also reaching out to edibles manufacturers and other pot-industry businesses, hoping they'll be interested in relocating to Nipton and bringing jobs with them. The town's current residents number fewer than two dozen and one of its major sources of revenue is the California Lottery tickets the general store sells to people who cross the state line from Nevada because they can't buy them there. “We are excited to lead the charge for a true Green Rush,” David Gwyther, American Green's president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The cannabis revolution that's going on here in the US has the power to completely revitalie communities in the same way gold did during the 19th century.” Indeed it was a gold rush that created Nipton in the early 1900s when the precious metal was found nearby. But by the time Freeman, a Los Angeles geologist who liked to look for gold in his spare time, discovered the place in the 1950s it was already a ghost town. Even worse it was 60 miles south of Las Vegas and 10 miles off the major highway that connects that city to Los Angeles. “I like to say it's conveniently located in the middle of nowhere,” jokes Lang. Freeman bought the town in 1985 anyway and spent the next 30 years lovingly restoring its boutique hotel and general store, building canvas-covered “eco cabins” and stocking them with wood-burning stoves and swamp coolers. The small hotel has become a popular destination with desert aficionados and fans of the Old West, even though it's located so close to a major rail line that moves freight between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City that guests are handed earplugs with their room keys. Carl Cavaness, who works at the hotel, said Thursday the sale caught him by surprise. He said he hopes the new owners will let him and his wife stay. “We like the quiet and solitude,” the 53-year-old handyman said. source

August 3, 2017 by
Americans have been waiting for a solid pay raise for years. Maybe there's good news awaiting them as the country employs more people. The U.S. economic recovery has gone on for eight long years, and the unemployment rate is at a low 4.4 percent. But wage gains have barely budged. A worker at the Bollman Hat Co. in Adamstown, Pa. Economists say the pickup in U.S. wages has been sluggish. One possible reason is that baby boomers are leaving the workforce in their peak earning years. That's got economists scratching their heads. Andrew Chamberlain, the chief economist at the jobs and recruiting company Glassdoor, says even as the unemployment rate fell to a 16-year low recently, wage growth has slowed. The company's own data for July confirm that. He says it shows "very sluggish growth, the slowest pace we've recorded in about three years and it's the sixth straight month that pay growth has declined." The Labor Department's numbers aren't quite that bad, but they do show wage growth averaging 2.5 percent in the past four months after peaking at 2.9 percent in December. (The latest figures will be part of Friday's employment report for July.) Chamberlain says wage growth at this stage of an economic recovery should be close to 3.5 percent. He says there are a number of theories about why this hasn't happened. One is that many young, inexperienced workers are entering the labor force. He says they "are replacing baby boomers who are leaving near their peak earning years." Those young workers are paid much less and are dragging down the earnings growth for the nation as a whole. Chamberlain says there's another factor in the disconnect: The low unemployment rate doesn't reflect the fact that a large number of prime-age workers remain outside the labor force, so they're not counted as unemployed. These are people between ages 25 and 54 — the prime working ages — who are not looking for a job, but might if the conditions were right, he says. "Sometimes these are stay-at-home parents," he says. "Sometimes these are people with an injury that has kept them out of the labor force, but for the right price, the right offer, it would pull them back in." About 22 percent of this prime-age group remain on the sidelines of the labor force. That number was lower before the Great Recession, Chamberlain says, and a good-paying job is the best way to lure them back. People who are out of the labor force face a trade-off. Chamberlain says they ask themselves, "Is it worth it, when I factor in all taxes and benefits (and the cost of day care). Is it worth it for me [to] take a full-time job or not?" He says rapid wage growth can tip the balance. Economist Dean Baker of the Center for Policy Research agrees. He often sees reports of employers complaining they can't find enough workers and, he says, "I look at it and go, well, have you tried raising wages?" Chamberlain says this prime age group has been slowly returning to the workforce as wages have slowly risen. But, he says, at the current pace it will take at least six months or more to get their participation to levels seen before the Great Recession. Baker says there's a danger that Federal Reserve interest rate hikes could slow the economy before enough of these workers return. For the moment, he says, "it looks like they [the Fed] are going to put off further rate hikes." That's good, he says, because it will allow more growth that can attract more of these people back to work. There are other reasons that wages aren't rising, says Baker, including a decline in unionization and slow productivity growth. But both of those require longer-term solutions. And, of course, the hourly wage numbers in the employment report are an average. If you live in Boston, San Francisco or Seattle, chances are wages are rising much faster than the average for you. And if you're in health care technology, wages are rising rapidly. If you're a buyer for a retail outlet, you're not so lucky. source

July 31, 2017 by
July 31st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how long into 2017 an African American woman would have to work in order to be paid the same wages as her white male counterpart was paid last year. Black women are uniquely positioned to be subjected to both a racial pay gap and a gender pay gap. In fact, on average, black women workers are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location. Why does this wage gap exist for black women? Pay inequity directly touches the lives of black women in at least three distinct ways. Since few black women are among the top 5 percent of earners in this country, they have experienced the relatively slow wage growth that characterizes growing class inequality along with the vast majority of other Americans. But in addition to this class inequality, they also experience lower pay due to gender and race bias. In the last 37 years, gender wage gaps have unquestionably narrowed—due in part to men’s wages decreasing—while racial wage gaps have gotten worse. Despite the large gender disadvantage faced by all women, black women were near parity with white women in 1979. However in 2016, white women’s wages grew to 76 percent of white men’s, compared to 67 percent for black women relative to white men—a racial difference of 9 percentage points. The trend is going the wrong way—progress is slowing for black women. Myth #1: If black women worked harder, they’d get the pay they deserve. The truth: Black women work more hours than white women. They have increased work hours 18.4 percent since 1979, yet the wage gap relative to white men has grown. Over the last several decades, both black and white workers have increased their number of annual hours in response to slow wage growth. While men typically work more hours than women, the data reveal that growth in work hours, for both whites and blacks, was heavily driven by the growth of work hours among women. The increase in annual hours is particularly striking for workers in the bottom 40 percent of the wage distribution, where it has been driven almost entirely by women. Among lower paid workers, the growth in annual hours is larger for black women than for white women and men. This trend is particularly striking for the lowest wage workers. In the bottom fifth, annual hours for black women grew 30.1 percent (from 1,162 hours/year to 1,511 hours/year) between 1979 and 2015 compared to a 27.6 percent increase (from 1,086 hours/year to 1,386 hours/year) for white women and a 3.2 percent increase (from 1,553 hours/year to 1,602 hours/year) for white men. Working moms are significant contributors to this trend—half of all African American female workers are moms, as are 55.3 percent of Hispanic working women and 44.5 percent of white female workers – although women often face a wage penalty when taking time out of the workforce to care for children. While all moms are working more hours per year and contributing more to their households financially, African American working moms are uniquely central to the economic well-being of their families. Even when faced with the added demands on their time that come with having a family, in 2015, married black women with children worked over 200 hours more per year than married white or Hispanic women with children, and 339 hours more than black single mothers. Married black working moms also worked 132 hours more per year than childless non-elderly black working women. The data make it clear that there has been no lack of effort on the part of black women workers. Even in the face of persistent racial wage gaps, labor market discrimination, occupational segregation, and other labor market obstacles, black women continue to increase their annual hours and weeks worked per year. Myth #2: Black women can educate themselves out of the pay gap. The truth: Two-thirds of black women in the workforce have some postsecondary education, 29.4 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Black women are paid less than white men at every level of education. The figure below shows average wages for white men and black women in 2016. As black women increase their educational attainment, their pay gap with white men continues to grow. The largest gap, of nearly $17 an hour, occurs for workers with more than a college degree. But even black women with an advanced degree earn less, slightly more than $7 an hour less, than white men who only have a bachelor’s degree. This, again, in part likely reflects labor market policies that foster more-equal outcomes for workers in the lower tier of the wage distribution. It also may be affected by certain challenges that disproportionately affect women’s ability to secure jobs at the top of the wage distribution, such as earnings penalties for time out of the workforce, excessive work hours, domestic gender roles, and pay and promotion discrimination. Myth #3: The wage gap is the result of black women choosing careers that pay less. The truth: In all occupations—both female-dominated and male-dominated—black women earn less than white men. The table below shows the average wages for black women and white men in a range of occupations. In various industries and occupations across the labor market, black women earn less than white men. Occupational segregation, which pushes black women into jobs mostly populated by other black women, has had an effect on the racial wage gap in recent years. But the racial wage gap is present in jobs dominated by black women and jobs dominated by white men, as shown below. While white male physicians and surgeons earn, on average, $18 per hour more than black women doing the same job, the gap for retail salespersons is also shocking, at more than $9 an hour. As black women continue to be over-represented in low-wage jobs, policies that lift wages at the bottom will have a significant impact on their wages. An increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would affect more than one in four black women workers. The data confirm black women are underpaid. The usual explanations of the pay gap perpetuate racial and gender biases and stereotypes of black workers as unmotivated and lazy, but the data tell another story. Regardless of their connection to the labor market, their level of educational attainment, or their occupation, they are paid less than their white male counterparts. The ongoing gender and racial discrimination faced by black women means that seven months into 2017, black women finally have equal pay with what white men earned last year. source

July 28, 2017 by
Manhattan parents struggling to pay their doctors’ bills jumped to their deaths early Friday — leaving double suicide notes pleading that their two kids be cared for, a law enforcement source told The Post. A couple jumped to their death in Murray Hill early Friday. The bodies of the 53-year-old man and 50-year-old woman — who claimed they had had a “wonderful life” — were found in the middle of the street on 33rd Street between Park and Madison avenues in Murray Hill after the pair jumped from the 9th-floor window of a 17-story corner office building on Madison Avenue at about 5:45 a.m., police said. The woman had a suicide note in her pocket that read, “in sum and substance, ‘Our kids are upstairs, please take care of them,’” the source said. The suicide note recovered by police. The man had a typed note in his pocket that began with “WE HAD A WONDERFUL LIFE.” “Patricia and I had everything in life,” read the note, which touched on the couple’s “financial spiral” and how “we can not live with” the “financial reality.” The source added that a line of the note contained words to the effect: “’We both have medical issues, we just can’t afford the health care.’” The victims’ identities were not immediately released. Area workers who witnessed the aftermath of the tragic incident were stunned. “When I got here at 6:05 a.m., I walked by dead bodies on the ground,” said a woman who would only identify herself as Kazi, who works at the nearby 7-Eleven store. “I was scared. I’ve never seen dead bodies before,” she said. Another man who works at the building next door said when he heard police sirens, he looked out the window and saw the two bodies. “Insane,” said the man, who identified himself as Harry. The couple’s tragic deaths come at a time of national debate on health care reform. source

July 27, 2017 by
It's happened. The wildly inflated cost of just being in the city has spread wast to the tip of Long Island. What could get you a halfway decent pad anywhere else in the country affords you an NYC fifth floor walk-up where the kitchen, bathroom and living room are all one grim space. It's pretty hard to stay in the city without giving away all your money, and now the trend is hitting New York's beaches. Cheaphotels.com compiled the 20 most expensive summer beach destinations in the United States. The travel site looked at the average rates for the cheapest beach-accessible hotel rooms this August. Montauk, the easternmost point of Long Island's South Shore, takes the number-one spot with a $312-a-night minimum. Anyone who has tried to crash for a weekend with seven people crammed into their friend's three-bedroom on Napeague Stretch knows that it's expensive (if not impossible) to book a room in Montauk. The town hosts a seasonal crowd of surfers, celebs and investment banking interns looking to spend their weekend getting trashed at The Sloppy Tuna. With multiple casual bars like The Point and nighttime destinations like Surf Lodge, Montauk is certainly the rowdiest of the Hamptons towns.  But being crowned the most expensive beach spot in the entire country seems more than a little surprising for Montauk, given that the North Atlantic is still positively freezing compared to its southern counterparts. Plus, the beach town does not have nearly as famous vistas as say, Santa Monica—number four on the list. And, notably, Summer House, Bravo's Montauk-based reality television show, will never hold a candle to Laguna Beach—whose namesake only made it to number 14. While most other states on the top list appear more than once—including Massachusetts, Maine, California, and New Jersey—New York only has Montauk to show for itself. So if you don't feel like splashing the cash this summer, try a less trendy Hamptons spot—it's all essentially the same beach, and at least it'll be relatively cheaper. source