Zika concerns fuel spike in bug spray sales, new report shows

Zika woes have caused a spike in bug spray sales, according to online shopping statistics from New York-based 1010data.

The data show online insect repellent sales were up 323 percent during the three-month period ending in April compared to the same three months in 2015.

In dollar amounts, the growth comes out to a total sales increase of more than $4.5 million year-over-year, with consumers spending nearly $6 million on repellant between February and April. The increase also represents an increase in units sold of 243 percent – from 137,000 units sold in the three months ending in April 2015, compared to 470,000 for the same quarter this year.

The increase in repellent sales far outpaces the sales growth in consumer products as a whole, which the 1010data’s Ecom Insight’s Panel said grew 44 percent year-over-year.

In addition to the boom in sales, insect repellent is also commanding higher prices. Prices from February through April were an average of 23 percent higher than a year ago, with the mean selling price jumping from about $10.28 to $12.66.

Since Zika entered the news, there have been more than 500 cases of the mosquito-borne virus reported in the U.S. and, as of Thursday, 122 cases in Florida. Of those cases, nearly half are in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, though 17 other Florida counties have at least one reported case.

A full report on 1010data’s sales statistics, complete with charts, graphs and a more in-depth analysis is expected to be released at the end of next week.

Trying to get jump on Zika preparations with money in limbo

Beg, borrow and steal: Zika preparation involves a bit of all three as federal, state and local health officials try to get a jump on the mosquito-borne virus while Congress haggles over how much money they really need.

With that financing in limbo, health officials are shifting resources and setting priorities — and not just in states where mosquitoes are starting to buzz. All but six states so far have seen travel-associated cases of Zika.

“Stealing money from myself” is how Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health describes raiding his agency’s malaria, tuberculosis and influenza programs to fund a Zika vaccine.

He needs more cash by the end of June to keep the vaccine on schedule. And there’s no guarantee those other critical diseases will recoup about $20 million.

“If we don’t get something soon, then we’re going to have a real problem,” Fauci said.

Adding to the stress: What if another health emergency comes along at the same time?

“It’s Zika now, but three months from now, who knows what it might be?” said Dr. Tim Jones, state epidemiologist in Tennessee, where few counties have mosquito eradication efforts.

Yet with funding pleas unanswered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted $44 million to Zika from emergency preparedness grants that help state and local health departments with crises from flu outbreaks to hurricanes.

“You have to be careful when you take cuts from core infrastructure for the disease of the day,” Tennessee’s Jones said. “That’s a risky way to do things.”

Zika can cause devastating birth defects and fetal death if pregnant women become infected. Mosquitoes aren’t yet spreading Zika in the continental U.S., but the epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean has experts predicting small outbreaks here as mosquito season heats up. The more than 540 U.S. cases diagnosed so far involve travel to outbreak areas or sex with infected travelers. The CDC is tracking the outcomes of 157 Zika-infected pregnant women in the U.S., plus another 122 in U.S. territories.

Three months ago, President Barack Obama requested $1.9 billion in emergency funding to fend off Zika. The House and Senate are arguing over how much to grant — and whether the money should come from cuts to other programs — with no final agreement in sight. House Republicans say the administration has padded its Zika request.

The Obama administration already shifted nearly $600 million from funds for Ebola flare-ups in West Africa and other accounts. On Friday, the president said lifetime care for a child born with Zika-caused brain damage may cost up to $10 million.

“Add that up. It doesn’t take a lot of cases for you to get to $1.9 billion. Why wouldn’t we want to make that investment now?” Obama said.

Many state and local health departments aren’t waiting, but efforts vary widely:

—Florida is no stranger to mosquito-borne outbreaks — it has handled small outbreaks of dengue, carried by the same mosquito as Zika — and is squeezing money out of its usual budget to step up training and traps for areas that need extra help. Officials opened a Zika information hotline that has fielded more than 1,700 calls since February. Miami-Dade County is stepping up enforcement of standing water violations and statewide, residents are being told to screen windows and rid their property of containers that trap rainwater.

Gov. Rick Scott has said the threat of a Zika outbreak should trigger the same response as an approaching hurricane and last week lobbied in Washington for more resources. While Scott hasn’t named a dollar figure, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has supported Obama’s request. “It’s a mistake for Congress to try and deal with Zika on the cheap,” he said on Friday.

—New Orleans’ health department has begun sending staffers into neighborhoods to educate residents about Zika and advise them on making their yards less mosquito-friendly — workers also preparing for hurricane season.

“Whether we get money or not, we’re going to do what we got to do,” said health director Charlotte Parent. “But it sure would help to have those extra bodies to get that work done.”

—Virginia took about $700,000 remaining from a federal Ebola grant to hire two mosquito biologists, pay for some testing of mosquitoes and travelers, and educate the public, including plans to hang information on 450,000 doors.

This marks Virginia’s first mosquito surveillance program since 2007.

—Texas can perform dozens of blood tests a week for Zika, but that capacity could easily be overwhelmed if there’s an outbreak, Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt said.

The state is spending $2 million in federal emergency preparedness money on public awareness but can’t estimate how much more it needs, in part because mosquito control, like in many states, is funded almost entirely at the county and local level.

—Savannah and surrounding Chatham County has Georgia’s best-funded mosquito-control department at $3.8 million and will send some mosquitoes for Zika testing at the University of Georgia.

“A lot of these counties wouldn’t be able to afford to do that,” said Savannah mosquito control director Jeff Heusel.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Review: ‘Weiner’ is riveting fly-on-the-wall filmmaking

There are lots of fly-on-the-wall documentaries. But occasionally there’s one that makes you want to ask the fly: Just HOW did you get onto that wall, and how did you manage to stay there?

In the case of “Weiner,” the compulsively watchable new film about Anthony Weiner and the implosion of his 2013 New York mayoral run amid a revival of his sexting scandal, part of the answer is clear. Director Josh Kriegman once worked for Weiner, who was forced to resign his congressional seat in 2011. And Weiner clearly hoped Kriegman and co-director Elyse Steinberg would be documenting an inspiring comeback.

At first, it seemed like they were, as the charismatic Weiner chipped away at public skepticism (if not the media’s) and climbed to the top of the polls. Then it all came crashing down, as more lurid photos and text exchanges emerged, some that occurred after Weiner’s resignation. And for some reason, Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin – a longtime top aide to Hillary Clinton, and current vice chair of her presidential campaign – let the filmmakers keep going.

As Kriegman himself asks at one low point, inches away from the miserable couple in their own kitchen:

“Why are you letting me film this?”

Why, indeed. But it makes for riveting filmmaking – as a portrait of a campaign in crisis, of a fascinatingly flawed politician, and especially of a marriage. Watch Abedin’s face as she stares at Weiner on the day the scandal breaks anew, disappointed and stunned, with no words spoken and none necessary.

We begin with a chastened Weiner, at the end of the race, reflecting: “I guess the punchline is true about me. I did the things,” he acknowledges. But he adds, sadly: “I did a lot of other things, too.”

And the film, which seeks neither to judge nor ignore Weiner’s actions, sets out to show it. A prelude includes footage of Weiner’s impassioned speeches in Congress, on behalf of 9/11 responders, for example. We see why voters liked him. Then we see that Twitter image of bulging underwear, the humiliating media coverage, the resignation.

Two years later, though, Weiner’s ready to try again. The early days of his mayoral campaign are encouraging. We see Abedin smiling, laughing, and quipping lightheartedly to her husband in an elevator: “I’m not crazy about those pants.”

We meet the campaign’s energetic and loyal young volunteers. We see the couple making fundraising calls, Abedin expertly buttering up her contacts, and Weiner exclaiming “Kaching!” when she succeeds. Suddenly Weiner’s leading in the polls.

And then the other shoe drops. We see campaign staffers in battle mode. Abedin’s face is drained of its smile – for the rest of the film. Nervously, she tells a packed news conference that she loves her husband, and they’re moving forward.

But, of course, they can’t. Weiner’s besieged with scandal questions. We watch a painful meeting in which campaign staffers express their hurt. Abedin, ever the pragmatist, suggests to Weiner’s visibly upset top aide that when she exits the building, “You will look happy” – lest reporters see her crying.

Can it get worse? Yep. After a painful, combative TV interview, Weiner watches at home and laughs. Abedin stares. “Why are you laughing?” she asks. “This is crazy.” Asked later how she’s doing, she replies: “It’s like living a nightmare.”

Then on Election Day (spoiler alert: he loses!) Weiner’s erstwhile sexting partner, Sydney Leathers, seeks to confront him. Aides conspire to avoid her by detouring through a McDonalds. In an excruciating exchange, Abedin is heard saying to her husband: “I am not going to face the indignity of being accosted by this woman.”

Weiner and Abedin apparently haven’t seen the film. One wonders if now, they regret allowing the directors such intimate access. Either way, the filmmakers have done a compelling job as flies on that wall.

“Weiner,” an IFC Films release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for language and some sexual material.” Running time: 100 minutes. Three stars out of four.

MPAA definition for R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Stone knife shows evidence of first Americans

Archaeologists say they’ve uncovered a stone knife in a sinkhole near Tallahassee that dates back 14,550 years.

The scientists published their results last week and say the knife is evidence that people were in North America prior to the Clovis period. For most of the past century, archaeologists believed the first people known as the Clovis Culture arrived about 13,000 years ago. But they say the knife, along with other evidence, show people gathered around a small pond near what’s now the Gulf of Mexico more than 14,000 years ago. They believe the pond was covered and became a sinkhole under the Aucilla as sea levels rose, burying the evidence from their lives.

The Florida Times-Union reports the stone knife was found at the Page-Ladson sinkhole under four meters of sediment that was radiocarbon-dated to 14,550 years ago.

“It’s the breakthrough site,” said Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University and part of the team that explored the sinkhole. “The evidence is unassailable: We have everything, all the evidence that scientists would want to see that tells us people were here in North America prior to the Clovis period.”

Scientists have been searching the area since the 1980s and have found other stone tools, the bones of extinct animals and a giant mastodon tusk, although many scientists have been skeptical. However, the latest finding was uncovered under preserved mastodon dung amid orderly layers, with the newest layers on top and older ones below.

The team acknowledged there isn’t a lot of physical evidence to go on, but said even small clues can help get at some long-buried truths.

“The plan is just to learn as much as we can about these early people as we rewrite the story of the first Americans,” Waters said. “Now we need to get the data, the hard data, to try to piece it all together. It’s an exciting time right now to be in this field.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Man-eating monster crocodile may be Florida’s newest invasive species

Spotting native alligators and crocodiles in Florida is common, but  anyone who sees a large reptile may want to take a second look— man-eaters that can grow to 18 feet long and weigh as much as a small car have been found in the Sunshine State.

Using DNA analysis, University of Florida researchers have confirmed the capture of multiple Nile crocodiles in the wild.

The ancient icon eats everything from zebras to small hippos to humans in sub-Saharan Africa. Now three juveniles of the monster crocodile, have been found in South Florida, swimming in the Everglades and relaxing on a house porch in Miami.

The invasive crocodiles were captured between 2000 and 2014, leading UF scientists to analyze their DNA, study their diet and one of the animal’s growth. Scientists verified the animals were Nile crocodiles linked to native populations in South Africa, and confirmed the species can survive in Florida—and potentially thrive, said Kenneth Krysko, herpetology collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus.

In other words, there likely are more.

“The odds that the few of us who study Florida reptiles have found all of the Nile crocs out there is probably unlikely,” said Krysko, co-author of the study published in April in the Journal of Herpetological Conservation and Biology. “We know that they can survive in the Florida wilderness for numerous years, we know that they grow quickly here and we know their behavior in their native range, and there is no reason to suggest that would change here in Florida.”

Nile crocodiles, Crocodylus niloticus, were responsible for at least 480 attacks on people and 123 fatalities in Africa between 2010 and 2014. They are generalist predators and eat a wide variety of prey. In Florida, everything from native birds, fish and mammals to the state’s native crocodile and alligator would be fair game for the carnivorous croc.

The study found one juvenile grew nearly 28 percent faster than wild Nile crocodile juveniles from some parts of their native range.

DNA analysis revealed the three similar-size Nile crocodiles were genetically identical, suggesting they were introduced via the same source, but Krysko said the source has not been confirmed. Prior to graduating in 2013, former UF doctoral student and co-author Matthew Shirley extensively sampled DNA of live Nile crocodiles housed in U.S. zoos, including Florida. The DNA of the three crocodiles did not match any of those Shirley sampled, suggesting they were either acquired by a permitted source later, or introduced by someone without a permit.

Study scientists note that over the last decade, large groups of Nile crocodiles have been imported from South Africa and Madagascar for display at places like Disney’s Animal Kingdom and to supply Florida’s flourishing pet trade, with the latter being the most likely introduction pathway, according to the study.

While there is currently no evidence of an established population, study scientists recommend a scientific risk assessment to evaluate the potential for Nile crocodiles to breed and spread across the state. According to the study, Florida’s Atlantic coast and the entire Gulf of Mexico coastline provide favorable climate for Nile crocodiles.

Florida’s subtropical climate is one reason the state has the world’s largest number of invasive species—from the Burmese python that has invested the Everglades to the Cuban tree frog, which has been found as far north as Jacksonville on the East Coast and as far north as Cedar Key on the Gulf Coast.

“My hope as a biologist is that the introduction of Nile crocodiles in Florida opens everyone’s eyes to the problem of invasive species that we have here in our state,” Krysko said. “Now here’s another one, but this time it isn’t just a tiny house gecko from Africa.”

— via Stephenie Livingston of the University of Florida.

Florida Retail Federation to honor Retailer of the Year June 9 in St. Pete

The Florida Retail Federation will name a Tallahassee businesswoman the “2016 Florida Retailer of the Year” during an awards luncheon June 9 in St. Petersburg.

Lisa Mergel, owner of Kanvas Spa & Boutique, will be presented with the award at the Vinoy Renaissance Hotel next month, and businesswomen Kristen Keen of Jacksonville and Debbie Farah of Winter Park will be recognized as “Outstanding Retail Leaders” during the same event.

“Lisa is a tremendous representative of the positive impact that retailers and the state’s entire retail industry have made on Florida, by not only helping their customers, but their community as well,” FRF President & CEO Randy Miller said. “We are proud to recognize her accomplishments of providing world-class products and services in her store and providing world class help to those in need outside of it.”

In addition to many spa services, Mergel’s business sponsors many community events in and around Tallahassee, including the LeMoyne Chain of Parks Art Festival, FSU Opening Nights, Junior League Operation Prom Dress, the Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation’s Tail & Trails and the Young Actors Theatre.

“I am honored to be selected as the 2016 Florida Retailer of the Year, and I want to thank the Florida Retail Federation for their continued support of our industry and for shining the spotlight on the larger role that retailers can play in their local community,” Mergel said. “I also want to thank my incredible team at Kanvas for their hard work, support and dedication toward ensuring that all of our customers have the best experience possible.”

Keen, the owner of Rethreaded in Jacksonville, uses her business to help victims of the sex trade by giving them specialized training and helping them establish a work history. Her clothing store has helped more than 2,200 women by selling their original crafts and creations.

Farah, founder of Bajalia International Group, sells jewelry, fashion accessories and home décor crafted by women in emerging economies and has a social enterprise business model that connects consumers with the women who create these products. In addition to her work with Bajalia, Farah promotes the retail industry through engagements as a WeVenture Founding Board member, an Advisory Board Member of Women’s Worth, and through Rollins College Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Initiative among others.

FRF’s Retailer of the Year award, started in 1999, honors Florida retailers who blend sound business practices with commitments to their communities, customers and employees. Eligibility is limited to those who work for, own, or operate a Florida retail business that has an annual sales volume of $5 million or less. Nominations are gathered through a statewide call and the winner is selected by a panel made up of small-business owners and other retail experts who rate the nominees in several categories, including community service and business acumen.

Opportunities and hurdles with Google’s Daydream VR vision

Upcoming virtual-reality headsets based on Google’s new Daydream VR system won’t be as sophisticated as Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

But they could give more people a taste of VR and make better games and applications affordable.

On Wednesday, Google said it will develop a range of VR headsets that promise to be more comfortable and durable than its ultra-cheap Cardboard headset. Google will make one and share design guidelines with other manufacturers.

There will also be a wireless motion controller — functioning like a fishing rod, a steering wheel or a pointer — to permit more-sophisticated VR experiences.

Sophisticated systems such as the Rift and the HTC Vive are expensive, limiting their appeal to gamers and other tech enthusiasts. Alternatively, cheaper VR headsets that tap the power of smartphones are typically tied to one manufacturer’s phones, such as Samsung’s or LG’s.

Daydream headsets will work with a range of phone brands. Gartner analyst Brian Blau says he believes the Daydream-powered devices could prove to be a “thorn in the side” of both Samsung and Oculus, which teamed up to make a similar VR headset , called Gear VR, late last year.

But there are hurdles:

___

YOU MUST BUY A NEW PHONE

You’ll need a higher-end phone running the upcoming “N” version of Android. Existing phones won’t have the right hardware, and cheaper “N” phones won’t either, so you might have to spend a few hundred dollars more for a top-of-the-line model.

Google says at least eight manufacturers, including Samsung, HTC, and Huawei, will make compatible phones this fall. It’s a matter of adding sensors and good-enough screens, among other things.

Because these phones don’t exist yet, it will take time for Daydream to grow, says Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.

Furthermore, Daydream won’t work with Apple’s iPhones, whereas Google Cardboard headsets do.

If anything, Daydream could spark interest in smartphone upgrades. Because the pace of phone innovation has slowed, some people have been holding on to their phones longer.

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CHEAPER, BUT NOT CHEAPEST

Though no price was announced, the Daydream headsets will be more expensive than Cardboard, likely in the ballpark of Samsung’s $100 Gear VR. By contrast, Google sells Cardboard for as little as $15, and many brands, including The New York Times, give them away as part of promotions. The price difference gives you better materials — not cardboard — and a strap to keep your hands free.

Still, the new headsets will be much cheaper than high-end VR systems like the Rift and the Vive. Those cost several hundred dollars, not including a powerful personal computer with fast-enough graphics.

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IT’S NOT FULL VR

You won’t get everything you get with higher-end systems. The Vive, for instance, offers full position tracking. As you walk around a room, images on the headset change to reflect your new perspective.

By contrast, smartphone-based VR is more like a 360-degree movie in 3-D. You’re meant to watch it sitting down at the same spot. Moving around won’t change the perspective.

It’s the difference between climbing Mount Everest by gripping virtual ladders, or watching someone with a 360-degree camera do it.

Where Google’s system advances over other smartphone headsets is in its motion controller. Cardboard and Gear VR don’t offer much control beyond pushing a button on the headset as you move your head. Google’s controller will be able to sense motion, so you can swing it like a tennis racket when playing a tennis game in VR.

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THE COMPATIBILITY QUESTION

The introduction of yet another VR system might create more confusion and persuade some people to wait until it’s clear which will survive. After all, no one wants to be stuck with VR’s equivalent of Betamax recorders after the world has moved to VHS.

On the other hand, these headsets are cheap enough that consumers aren’t taking a huge financial risk, certainly nothing near what it takes to commit to a Rift, Vive or Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR, says Ian Fogg, head of the mobile analyst group at IHS.

And while some people might be buying VR games and apps that won’t work with a future, competing system, Fogg says these are cheap, too — priced like a phone app, along the lines of a few dollars.

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BETTER APPS, BUT NOT THE BEST

Once Google’s devices are in the hands — and heads — of consumers, there will be more incentive for companies, educators and individuals to create VR apps. Google says leading brands like Netflix, HBO, The Wall Street Journal and game maker Electronic Arts have committed to Daydream. More apps and video could encourage even more people to buy headsets.

And the motion controller could lead to better VR experiences, ones where you do more than sit and swivel in a chair to look behind you.

But you’ll need something far more sophisticated to unlock the true power of VR.

“You miss out on rich graphics, the fully immersive audio and the fully simulated environment,” says Jason Paul, general manager for the VR business for Nvidia, which makes chips powering the graphics behind the Rift and the Vive.

But Paul is supportive of mobile headsets, given that casual users aren’t likely to experience a sophisticated VR device.

“Each has their value,” he says. “We can use the mobile platform to get the word out.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

New survey: What Florida man or woman deserves a statue?

Florida wants the public to help decide who should get to replace Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.

The Florida Legislature earlier this year agreed to replace the statue of Smith as one of the state’s two contributions to the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection.

The Department of State announced Wednesday that it’s going to accept recommendations online and in writing between now and June 10. A panel will submit three finalists to the Legislature ahead of the 2017 session.

Potential nominees must have been either born in Florida or a resident of the state. They also must have died at least 10 years ago.

Florida legislators approved the change despite objections from citizens who have called it an attempt to erase Southern heritage. Backers said they pushed for the change because of Smith’s limited contribution to Florida history.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

AT&T announces ‘GigaPower’ service expansion, $2.7B in Florida upgrades since 2013

Telecom giant AT&T announced Monday nearly $2.7 billion in upgrades to Florida’s cell and landline networks since 2013, including adding data capacity at more than 1,400 cell sites last year.

“We’re committed to providing our customers fast, reliable, highly secure connectivity. We want them to be able to access the Internet at any moment, from almost any device and anywhere,” AT&T Florida President Joe York said. “Our continued investment in Florida brings a host of new, innovative opportunities for residents and businesses.”

AT&T also added 29 new cell sites in the Sunshine State last year and made capacity improvements at the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the Daytona International Speedway, and Miami’s Sun Life Stadium.

The improvements come as the company rolls out “GigaPower,” the trade name for its fiber-optic internet service boasting download speeds of up to 125 megabytes a second. The service is already available in 20 U.S. metros, including Jacksonville, Orlando, and South Florida, and St. Augustine and the Space Coast are being eyed for possible upgrades as well.

The boost in capacity will also mesh with the company’s plans to offer no-contract streaming options for its DIRECTV service on smartphones, smart TVs, tablets and PCs this year. AT&T said the streaming options will be available for customers regardless of their internet provider, and the streaming plans will not require a satellite dish or set-top box.

AT&T was recently named Fortune magazine’s “Most Admired Telecommunications Company” in the world for the second year in a row and was also recognized as one of the Top 50 World’s Most Admired Companies for the third year running, coming in at No. 48.

The company earned top marks in each of the nine metrics Fortune uses to make the list, including innovation, financial soundness and quality of products and services.

Report: Black America doing much better than 40 years ago

African-Americans are doing about the same as they have in previous years as the nation rises out of the Great Recession, and much better than they did when its first “State of Black America” report came out 40 years ago, the National Urban League said Tuesday.

The new report, “Locked Out: Education, Jobs & Justice,” looks at how blacks and Hispanics have been doing in the United States over the last few years and how they were doing in 1976, the year the National Urban League began issuing its annual report.

Some things you need to know from the new State of Black America report:

BLACK AMERICA IS IMPROVING

Things are stabilizing for African-Americans and Hispanics.

The National Urban League derives its numbers from an “equality index” that is based on nationally collected data from federal agencies including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With full equality with whites in economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement set at 100 percent, the National Urban League said this year’s equality index for blacks stands at 72.2 percent, compared with last year’s 72 percent. For Hispanics, it’s 77.8 percent compared to 2015’s 77.3 percent.

40-YEAR COMPARISON

Things have clearly gotten better for African-Americans since 1976, said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. Fewer blacks live in poverty — 29 percent in 1976 compared with 27 percent now. More blacks have graduated high school and college — 28 percent in 1976 and 33 percent today for high school, and 6 percent four decades ago versus 22 percent today for college. Life expectancy of African-Americans has increased from 68 in 1976 to 75 today.

The only areas where African-Americans are doing the same or worse is in home ownership, 43.7 percent in 1976 and 43 percent today, and in voting, which was 48.7 percent in 1976 and 39.7 percent today. Morial said the voting difference was likely because they compared a presidential election year, 1976, to a non-presidential election year, 2014.

African-Americans’ numbers are worse than the white population in all categories. “The frontier of the future is confronting these economic disparities,” Morial said.

ECONOMIC AND UNEMPLOYMENT EQUALITY

For the second year in a row, California’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metroplex is the best for blacks when it comes to income equality to the white population. African-Americans make 76 cents to every dollar whites make in those cities, the highest ratio in the nation. For Latinos, Honolulu is the most promising for income equality: Hispanics make 80 cents for every dollar made by whites.

Washington, D.C., and its suburbs are where blacks, whites and Hispanics have the highest median household income. Whites make $109,460, Hispanics make $66,523, and blacks make $66,151.

The cities with the lowest black unemployment rate are Oklahoma City and San Antonio at 8.3 percent. The city with the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate is Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a 4.6 unemployment rate.

THE URBAN LEAGUE’S SOLUTION

Morial is calling for a major commitment from the government to rebuild the nation’s urban communities called the “Main Street Marshall Plan.” He wants $1 trillion over the next five years committed to several programs including universal early childhood education, homeownership strategies, high-speed broadband and technology, and a $15 per hour federal living wage indexed to inflation.

“While education is crucial, education alone is not going to solve the economic gaps in the country,” he said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.