Safer Streets, Stronger Economies

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Safer Streets, Stronger Economies
Source: Smart Growth America

What do communities get for their investments in Complete Streets? In this study of 37 projects, Smart Growth America found that Complete Streets projects tended to improve safety for everyone, increased biking and walking, and showed a mix of increases and decreases in automobile traffic, depending in part on the project goal. Compared to conventional transportation projects, these projects were remarkably affordable, and were an inexpensive way to achieve transportation goals. In terms of economic returns, the limited data available suggests Complete Streets projects were related to broader economic gains like increased employment and higher property values.

These findings are based on data collected directly by local transportation and economic development agencies as reported to Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition. The Coalition surveyed Complete Streets projects from across the country, and found 37 with transportation and/or economic data available from both before and after the project.

Safer Streets, Stronger Economies analyzes that data and explores the outcomes communities get for their investments in Complete Streets. In this tight budget climate, transportation staff and elected leaders want to get the most out of every dollar. This research shows Complete Streets projects can help them do just that.

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Annual Report 2015

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Annual Report 2015
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

We’re pleased to submit to Congress our fourth annual report summarizing activities to administer the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This year’s report describes activities conducted by the CFPB and the FTC during 2014 in relation to debt collection. The CFPB and the FTC work closely to coordinate debt collection enforcement actions among other matters related to debt collection.

This report provides a background of the debt collection market; contains an overview of consumer complaints submitted to the CFPB in 2014; summarizes the Bureau’s supervisory activities in the debt collection market; describes the Bureau’s and the Commission’s enforcement actions; presents the CFPB’s and FTC’s consumer education and outreach initiatives; and discusses developments in the Bureau’s rulemaking activities, and the FTC’s policy and research initiatives.

Asylum applications in industrialized world soar to almost 900,000 in 2014

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Asylum applications in industrialized world soar to almost 900,000 in 2014
Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The UN refugee agency reported on Thursday that the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as armed conflicts, human rights violations and deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in other countries, pushed the number of asylum applications in industrialized countries to a 22-year high last year.

The Asylum Trends 2014 report puts the estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000, a 45 per cent increase from 2013, when 596,600 claims were registered. The 2014 figure is the highest since 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Share of Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in Production, Construction Jobs Falls Since 2007
Source: Pew Research Center

In a reflection of changes in the overall economy since the Great Recession, the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still works in low-skilled service, construction and production occupations, according to new Pew Research Center estimates.

The size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force did not change from 2007 to 2012, but its makeup shifted slightly. The number of unauthorized immigrants in management or professional related jobs grew by 180,000, while the number in construction or production jobs fell by about 475,000, mirroring rises and declines in the overall U.S. economy. The share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13% in 2012 from 10% in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29% from 34%.

Despite these shifts, unauthorized immigrant workers remain concentrated in lower-skill jobs, much more so than U.S.-born workers, according to the new estimates, which are based on government data. In 2012, 62% held service, construction and production jobs, twice the share of U.S.-born workers who did. The 13% share with management or professional jobs is less than half of the 36% of U.S.-born workers in those occupations.

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package
Source: Urban Institute

A package of five policies—a transitional jobs (TJ) program, a $10.10 minimum wage, expanded earned income tax credits, a tax credit for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and expanded child care subsidies—could cut the national poverty rate by at least half. Using the TRIM3 microsimulation model and the Supplemental Poverty measure, the analysis shows the national poverty rate falling fall from 14.8 percent to either 7.4 percent or 6.3 percent, depending on the take-up rate assumed for the TJ program. Poverty is greatly reduced for all age groups and race/ethnicity groups.

Comparison of Two Watch Schedules for Personnel at the White House Military Office President’s Emergency Operations Center

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Comparison of Two Watch Schedules for Personnel at the White House Military Office President’s Emergency Operations Center
Source: Human Factors

Objective
The aim of this study was to assess effectiveness of an alternative, 24-hr-on/72-hr-off watchstanding schedule on sleep and morale of personnel assigned to the President’s Emergency Operations Center (PEOC).

Background
As part of the White House Military Office, PEOC personnel historically worked a 12-hr “Panama” watch schedule. Personnel reported experiencing chronic insufficient and disrupted sleep patterns and sought advice for improving their watchstanding schedule.

Method
Participants (N = 14 active-duty military members, ages 29 to 42 years) completed the Profile of Mood State (POMS) three times: before, during, and after switching to the alternative schedule with 5-hr sleep periods built into their workday. Participants completed a poststudy questionnaire to assess individual schedule preferences. Sleep was measured actigraphically, supplemented by activity logs.

Results
As indicated by POMS scores, mood improved significantly on the new schedule. Although average total sleep amount did not change substantively, the timing of sleep was more consistent on the new schedule, resulting in better sleep hygiene. PEOC personnel overwhelmingly preferred the new schedule, reporting not only that they felt more rested but that the new schedule was more conducive to the demands of family life.

Conclusions
Demands of family life and time spent commuting were found to be critical factors for acceptance of the alternative schedule. This new schedule will be most effective if personnel adhere to the scheduled rest periods assigned during their 24-hr duty.

Application
A successful schedule should avoid conflicts between social life and operational demands. Results may lead to changes in the work schedules of other departments with similar 24/7 responsibilities.

Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2014

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2014 (PDF)
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

As one of the first two states in the nation to legalize retail marijuana, the Colorado Legislature mandated that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) study the potential public health impacts of marijuana. Though medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000, it was largely viewed as an individual doctor/patient decision outside the scope of public health policy. However, the legalization of retail (non- medical) marijuana and the potential for greater availability of marijuana in the community, prompted a closer look at potential health impacts on the population at large.

Legalized retail marijuana presents a paradigm shift, grouping marijuana with other legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, as opposed to illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. As with alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs, misuse of marijuana can have serious health consequences. Standard public health approaches to alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs is to monitor use patterns and behaviors, health care utilization and potential health impacts, and emerging scientific literature to guide the development of policies or consumer education strategies to prevent serious health consequences. This report presents initial efforts toward monitoring the changes in marijuana use patterns, potential health effects of marijuana use, and the most recent scientific findings associated with marijuana use to help facilitate evidence-based policy decisions and science-based public education campaigns.

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