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FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace

March 23, 2015 Comments off

FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace
Source: Federal Communications Commission

Broadband deployment in the United States – especially in rural areas – is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced, high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings, according to the 2015 Broadband Progress Report adopted today by the Federal Communications Commission. Reflecting advances in technology, market offerings by broadband providers and consumer demand, the FCC updated its broadband benchmark speeds to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. The 4 Mbps/1 Mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way, the FCC found. Using this updated service benchmark, the 2015 report finds that 55 million Americans – 17 percent of the population – lack access to advanced broadband. Moreover, a significant digital divide remains between urban and rural America: Over half of all rural Americans lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.

The divide is still greater on Tribal lands and in U.S. territories, where nearly 2/3 of residents lack access to today’s speeds. And 35 percent of schools across the nation still lack access to fiber networks capable of delivering the advanced broadband required to support today’s digital-learning tools. While significant progress in broadband deployment has been made, due in part to the Commission’s action to support broadband through its Universal Service programs, these advances are not occurring broadly enough or quickly enough, the report finds. The report concludes that more work needs to be done by the private and public sectors to expand robust broadband to all Americans in a timely way, and the accompanying Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on what additional steps the FCC can take to accelerate broadband deployment.

Changing Patterns in U.S. Immigration and Population; Immigrants slow population decline in many counties

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Changing Patterns in U.S. Immigration and Population; Immigrants slow population decline in many counties
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

An examination of county-level demographic data reveals how immigrants affected population change in specific regions of the country between 1990 and 2012. While the native- and foreign-born populations both grew across most of the United States during that period, there are some areas where the native-born population decreased. This brief illustrates how, in some places, an influx of foreign-born individuals slowed overall population loss and even reversed it. This is consistent with past research that has found that immigration continues to shape the country’s demography, particularly in newer immigrant destinations. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has shown that immigration has mitigated population loss in the Midwest at the state level and in metropolitan areas. Researchers reported in the journal Rural Sociology that immigrants reduced population loss in nonmetropolitan counties during the 1990s. This brief updates and expands on previous research by providing a county-level analysis of the entire nation over two decades and presenting the demographic context for future research on the impact of immigration on state and local economies and budgets.

The Prevalence and Correlates of Lifetime Psychiatric Disorders and Trauma Exposures in Urban and Rural Settings: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)

December 28, 2014 Comments off

The Prevalence and Correlates of Lifetime Psychiatric Disorders and Trauma Exposures in Urban and Rural Settings: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)
Source: PLoS ONE

Introduction
Distinctions between rural and urban environments produce different frequencies of traumatic exposures and psychiatric disorders. We examine the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and frequency of trauma exposures by position on the rural-urban continuum.

Methods
The National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) was used to evaluate psychiatric disorders among a nationally-representative sample of the U.S. population. Rurality was designated using the Department of Agriculture’s 2003 rural-urban continuum codes (RUCC), which differentiate counties into levels of rurality by population density and adjacency to metropolitan areas. Lifetime psychiatric disorders included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders, and substance abuse. Trauma exposures were classified as war-related, accident-related, disaster-related, interpersonal or other. Weighted logistic regression models examined the odds of psychiatric disorders and trauma exposures by position on the rural-urban continuum, adjusted for relevant covariates.

Results
75% of participants were metropolitan, 12.2% were suburban, and 12.8% were from rural counties. The most common disorder reported was any anxiety disorder (38.5%). Drug abuse was more common among metropolitan (8.7%, p = 0.018), compared to nonmetropolitan (5.1% suburban, 6.1% rural) participants. A one-category increase in rurality was associated with decreased odds for war-related trauma (aOR = 0.86, 95%CI 0.78–0.95). Rurality was not associated with risk for any other lifetime psychiatric disorders or trauma exposure.

Discussion/Conclusions
Contrary to the expectation of some rural primary care providers, the frequencies of most psychiatric disorders and trauma exposures are similar across the rural-urban continuum, reinforcing calls to improve mental healthcare access in resource-poor rural communities.

Distribution of U.S. Health Care Providers Residing in Rural and Urban Areas

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Distribution of U.S. Health Care Providers Residing in Rural and Urban Areas (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

Key Findings

  • Among rural residents, there are proportionately more providers in occupations that require fewer years of education and training. Among urban residents, there are proportionately more providers in occupations that require greater years of education and training.
  • Some sectors of the health care workforce have proportionately fewer providers living in rural areas, regardless of amounts of education and training.

Rural America at a Glance, 2014 Edition

November 11, 2014 Comments off

Rural America at a Glance, 2014 Edition
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas, focusing on the U.S. rural economy, including employment, poverty, and population trends.

Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Technology-enabled Public Libraries Can Help Improve the Quality of Life of the Rural Elderly
Source: World Bank

Over the past 40 years, China’s population has been aging at a rate that took more than 100 years in developed countries. In 2010, the number of people over 60 years old reached 178 million in China, accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s total. Many older citizens in China’s rural areas have found themselves increasingly isolated as their younger relatives migrated to the cities. Few older citizens in rural areas use the Internet. But advances in connectivity, including rapidly improving Internet services in rural areas, offer opportunities for greater development and participation in society of the rural elderly.

The World Bank in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been supporting Chinese government’s efforts to improve access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and related services for enhancing the lives of rural residents. As a part of the initiative, a study was recently undertaken to assess the potential of enhancing ICT usage among older people in China and examine the feasibility of leveraging public libraries and library-like institutions to serve as venues to foster digital and social inclusion of senior citizens and improve their well-being. Findings from the report were compiled into a report entitled Fostering a digitally inclusive aging society in China: the potential of public libraries.

Rural Employment Trends in Recession and Recovery

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Rural Employment Trends in Recession and Recovery
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report examines the effects of the recent major recession, and gradual recovery, on employment and unemployment trends, with an emphasis on rural America.

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