Archive for September, 2010

New Jersey Has Thousands of “Excess” Workers

That is at least what this report – Identifying States with the Most (and Least) Justification for Paring State Public Employment Costs – says. Employing regression analysis and factoring in variables such as population, state GDP, and other criteria, this report maintains that New Jersey has between 19,000 and 28,000 “excess” workers (p.11);  the low end of the scale is costing the state over $400 million annually (p.14). The report goes on : “Among the most populous states, New Jersey stands out as the strongest candidate for exploring reductions of both the number and pay of public employees.” (p.15) This conclusion is tempered on the following pages: “It is of course possible that in places like New Jersey and Iowa, public sector workers are much more efficient than elsewhere, leading to higher pay, and that they do a wider variety oftasks, leading to more employees. Or it may be that New Jersey and Iowa have made a conscious decision to use public sector employment as a policy strategy for redressing inequality or helping disadvantaged groups. The analysis here therefore reminds us that further in-depth study of particular states may illuminate sensible explanations for the “excesses” and “insufficiencies” revealed here.” (p.17-18)

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Hispanic-Owned Businesses in the United States

According to this report – Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Businessess: 2007 – Hispanic businesses increased by almost 50% between 2002 and 2007. (The Survey of Business Owners is done every five years. Other reports in this series dealing with other minority owners, women, and veterans will be released between now and June 2011.) In this report, the term “Hispanic” is broken down into four major groups: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other; i.e. Colombian, Dominican, etc. Where does New Jersey rank among the other states? We are third in the country with 1.5% of firms owned by Puerto Ricans; second at .9% of Cuban businesses; and fourth overall with 5.7% of all businesses owned by Hispanics.(Summary) Also, between 2002 and 2007 New Jersey saw a 37.2% increase in the number of Hispanic businesses and an accompanying 40.6%  increase in  their receipts. (Table C )  You can drill down to a specific town to find how many Hispanic businesses are located there. Here, for example, is Jersey City’s profile ; another search yields Hudson County’s profile.  Articles from the Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Business Journal, and the Press of Atlantic City provide additional information. This interview with Javier Palomarez, chief executive of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will also prove enlightening.

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School District Breakdown of Federal Education Jobs Bill

Here is the listing of school districts (listed by county, then municipality) and how much each is to receive from the state. An FAQ is provided on how the monies can be spent.

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New Jersey Government Watchdogs

In this well-researched and lucidly-written article, Reloading at the Statehouse, Mark Lisheron documents the dwindling number of reporters that news media assign to state capitols with the resulting dimunition of reliable news of vital concern to the states’ residents. New Jersey figures very prominently in this report, and Mr. Lisheron directs us, gentle reader, to other sources of information, among them: NJ Spotlight, NJ101.5, statehousesteps.com, New Jersey Foundation for Open Goverment, and Politicker NJ. These are all “government watchdogs” which are independent, non-governmental monitors at the local, state and federal levels;  they ferret out corruption, bribery, waste, fraud, and mismanagement. Other Jersey watchdogs include:  New Jersey Watchdog, New Jersey Citizen Action, Union County Watchdog Association, DataUniverse, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Watchdog (Asbury Park Press), and Watch-Dog-Report (Press of Atlantic City). And do not forget to visit Harvard’s Niemen Watchdog  – “Questions the press should ask.”

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Toxic/Non-Toxic Plants for Animals

If I find Miss Fifi eating my aloe plant, should I be concerned? What if Tabby Cat is happily chewing away at an avocado? The ASPCA has provided lists of plants that are or are not toxic for your pets. While it is not a full list, well over 400 plants are included, along with their scientific names, symptoms, and toxicity. The ASPCA also provides a poison hotline number to its Animal Poison Control Center (a fee may be charged). The American Animal Hospital Association maintains a list and Cornell hosts Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Other Animals.

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Poverty and Uninsured Rates Increase

According to this just-released Census report  Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, the official poverty rate for the country now stands at 14.3%, while those lacking health insurance has gone up to 16.7%. A summary of key findings is also available. Of interest to New Jerseyans is this February 2010 report from the Poverty Research Institute – Poverty Benchmarks 2010: Assessing New Jersey’s Progress in Combating Poverty.

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U.S. Universities Once Again Dominate World Universities Rankings

Two recent rankings of world universities – Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings – have U.S. institutions figuring prominently at the heads of both lists. (We are glad to see three of our almae matres in the top thirty on both.) In fact, U.S. institutions continue to head up all lists of ranked universities as they have done for years. Why? Maybe Jonathan Cole’s  Can American Research Universities Remain the Best in the World? can help answer the question.

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