Archive for October, 2011

New From the GAO

October 31, 2011 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1.  Financial Crisis: Review of Federal Reserve System Financial Assistance to American International Group, Inc.  GAO-11-616, September 30.
Highlights –

2.  USDA’s Application of Administrative PAYGO to Its Mandatory Spending Programs.  GAO-11-921R, September 29.

3.  Private Health Insurance:  Implementation of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.  GAO-11-875R, September 30.

4.  Aviation Security: TSA Has Taken Steps to Enhance Its Foreign Airport Assessments, but Opportunities Exist to Strengthen the Program.  GAO-12-163, October 21.
Highlights –

5.  National Export Initiative: U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Should Improve Performance and Resource Allocation Management.  GAO-11-909, September 29.
Highlights –

6.  Language and Culture Training: Opportunities Exist to Improve Visibility and Sustainment of Knowledge and Skills in Army and Marine Corps General Purpose Forces.  GAO-12-50, October 31.
Highlights –

Polarization, immigration, education: What’s behind the dramatic decline in youth employment?

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Polarization, immigration, education: What’s behind the dramatic decline in youth employment?
Source: Federal Reserve Board

Since the beginning of the recent recession, the employment-population ratio for high-school age youth (16-17 years old) has fallen by nearly a third, to its lowest level ever. However, this recession has exacerbated a longer-run downward trend that actually began in the 1990s and accelerated in the early 2000s. There is little research regarding why teen employment has fallen. Some earlier work emphasized labor supply explanations related to schooling and education, such as an increased emphasis on college preparation (Aaronson, Park, and Sullivan 2006), while others have argued that adult immigrants have crowded out teens, at least in part because adult immigrants and native teens tend to be employed in similar occupations (Sum, Garrington, and Khatiwada 2006, Camarota and Jensenius 2010, Smith 2012). This paper presents updated trends in teen employment and participation across multiple demographic characteristics, and argues that, in addition to immigration, occupational polarization in the U.S. adult labor market has resulted in increased competition for jobs that teens traditionally hold. Testing various supply and demand explanations for the decline since the mid-1980s, I find that demand factors can explain at least half of the decline unexplained by the business cycle, and that supply factors can explain much of the remaining decline.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

Why We Can’t Wait: Taking Action to Reduce Prescription Drug Shortages

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Why We Can’t Wait: Taking Action to Reduce Prescription Drug Shortages
Source: White House

Sometimes the most important component of a patient’s treatment is the type of medication they receive and the consistency at which they receive it. For some Americans, a change in their treatment regimen or a substitution of a medication can seriously threaten their ability to get better.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of prescription drug shortages nearly tripled. While the FDA successfully prevented 137 drug shortages between January 1, 2010 and September 26, 2011, prescription drug shortages continue to threaten the health and safety of the American people. Today, too many people are waiting for their prescription to become available. Some are forced to switch from the medication they prefer, while others go without their medicine altogether. In some cases, drug shortages can even force people to stop a course of treatment before it finishes.

We cannot control the factors that cause these drug shortages. But we are committed to doing our part to counteract them. Which is why President Obama signed an Executive Order today that will lead to earlier FDA notification of any impending shortages for certain prescription drugs. Early notification can help prevent a shortage from becoming a crisis by allowing hospitals, doctors and manufacturers to take action to ensure medications remain available.

In addition, the President’s Executive Order will call on FDA to work with the Justice Department to examine whether “gray market” profiteers are responding to potential drug shortages either by hoarding medications or charging exorbitant prices. In recent months, we’ve heard reports of enormous markups such as a blood pressure medicine usually priced at $26 being sold for $1,200. And under this Executive Order, the Justice Department will watch the market closely to make sure companies are not exploiting drug shortages to raise their profits at the expense of patients.

+ Executive Order — Reducing Prescription Drug Shortages
+ Economic Analysis of the Causes of Drug Shortages (Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation)
+ A Review of FDA’s Approach to Medical Product Shortages (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs

October 31, 2011 Comments off

2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs
Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute

Key Findings

  • The national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home rose 4.4% from $229 in 2010 to $239 in 2011.
  • The national average monthly base rate in an assisted living community rose 5.6% from $3,293 in 2010 to $3,477 in 2011.
  • The national average daily rate for adult day services rose 4.5% from $67 in 2010 to $70 in 2011.
  • The national average hourly rates for home health aides ($21) and homemakers ($19) were unchanged from 2010.

+ Full Report (PDF)

U.S. Neighborhood Income Inequality in the 2005-2009 Period (ACS-16)

October 31, 2011 Comments off

U.S. Neighborhood Income Inequality in the 2005-2009 Period (ACS-16)
Source: U.S Census Bureau

Presents analysis of household income inequality using statistics from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey for the nation, states, metropolitan areas, places and census tracts. The Gini index is used for analysis of all these areas. Included is an analysis of the characteristics of census tracts associated with higher or lower inequality. (Census tracts and places with fewer than 50 interviews in the five-year period under study are excluded from the analysis.) Internet address: <>.

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising
Source: CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University

We present results of a 45-participant laboratory study investigating the usability of tools to limit online behavioral advertising (OBA).We tested nine tools, including tools that block access to advertising websites, tools that set cookies indicating a user’s preference to opt out of OBA, and privacy tools that are built directly into web browsers. We interviewed participants about OBA, observed their behavior as they installed and used a privacy tool, and recorded their perceptions and attitudes about that tool. We found serious usability flaws in all nine tools we examined. The online opt-out tools were challenging for users to understand and configure. Users tend to be unfamiliar with most advertising companies, and therefore are unable to make meaningful choices. Users liked the fact that the browsers we tested had built-in Do Not Track features, but were wary of whether advertising companies would respect this preference. Users struggled to install and configure blocking lists to make effective use of blocking tools. They often erroneously concluded the tool they were using was blocking OBA when they had not properly configured it to do so.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

See: Internet Privacy Tools Are Confusing, Ineffective for Most People (Science Daily)

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993
Source: Gallup

Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.

U.S. Gun Households, 1991-2011

The new result comes from Gallup’s Oct. 6-9 Crime poll, which also finds public support for personal gun rights at a high-water mark. Given this, the latest increase in self-reported gun ownership could reflect a change in Americans’ comfort with publicly stating that they have a gun as much as it reflects a real uptick in gun ownership.

Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) are more likely than Democrats (including Democratic leaners) to say they have a gun in their household: 55% to 40%. While sizable, this partisan gap is narrower than that seen in recent years, as Democrats’ self-reported gun ownership spiked to 40% this year.