The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, December 07, 2002
Quality of Life: Home Ownership -- Minnesota has the fourth highest rate of homeownership in the U.S. at 76.1%. Michigan was number one at 77.2%, South Carolina and Maine tied for second at 76.5%. The District of Columbia has the lowest home ownership rate at 41.9%. (Source, U.S. Census reported in the Star Tribune, December 8, 2002 p. AA12). (241).

Friday, December 06, 2002
Healthcare in Crisis in U.S. Writing in the December 9, 2002 issue of U.S. News & World Report former White House advisor David Gergen makes a plea for acting on the healthcare issues facing the country. Medical insurance premiums rose 12.2 percent in 2001, 8.1 percent in 2002 and are projected to increase by 13.6 percent in 2003. In total, 41 million Americans do not have health insurance. The publicly funded systems of Medicare and Medicaid are in trouble with lowered reimbursement rates leading to refusals to serve publicly funded patients. The full column may be accessed at: (240)

Thursday, December 05, 2002
Economic Competitiveness. Twin Cities Ranks Number One in Knowledge Competitiveness in World. Robert Huggins Associates, of Cardiff, Wales, compiled the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index 2002. Knowledge competitiveness is defined as a reflection of a region's economic buoyancy. The index is based on 17 measures of economic performance including the number of managers per 1,000 residents; the number of information technology, computer manufacturing, biotechnology and automotive engineering employees per 1,000 residents; the number of patents registered per 1 million residents; mean gross monthly earnings; unemployment rates; and per-capita public expenditures on education. Minneapolis-St. Paul scored 147.6 on the Huggins' World Knowledge Competitiveness Index 2002. The San Francisco-Silicon Valley region is second with 146.4 points and Austin, Texas, third at 145.1. The worldwide average was set at 100. According to the index, U.S. regions accounted for 49 of the top 90 of the world's most competitive areas. The highest-ranked region outside the United States is Stockholm, Sweden, at No. 22. Tokyo is the only Asian region to make the list (54th place). A story on the index may be found at: (239)

Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Quality of Life: Minnesota Leads U.S. "State of Caring" Index. The United Way State of Caring Index™, created by United Way of America measures the health and well being of the U.S. -- a quality of life index. The Index analyzes 32 leading social and economic indicators at the state and national levels in six key areas: economic and financial well-being, education, health, voluntarism/charity/civic engagement, safety, natural environment and other factors. The charts are interactive and users can compare any state to national averages or to any other state. The general webpage on the materials may be found at: (238)

Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Demographics and Economics: Self-Check Outs Comes to Retail Chain. The large retail chain Home Depot's is adding do-it-yourself checkout counters to produce shorter lines and faster service. The touch-screen checkout counters have been used in supermarkets since 1995. Nationwide, more customers are embracing self-scan checkouts at grocery and discount stores, prompting big chains to increase the number of do-it-yourself registers. The nation's largest home improvement store chain has partnered with NCR Corp. for the equipment and Microsoft for its Windows software. The technology is called FAST, for Front-end Accuracy and Service Transformation. The Home Depot self-checkout terminals walk customers through the process, with computerized voices talking to them as they scan their items. Customers can choose between English or Spanish. Optimal Robotics Corp. of Montreal sold the first self-checkout scanner in 1995, and has since put more than 5,000 units in grocery and retail stores. The full CNN Online story may be found at: (237)

Monday, December 02, 2002
Healthcare: Canada's Big Report on Healthcare on Web. The so-called Romanow commission on the future of healthcare is on the web. The report is entitled: Building on Values -- The Future of Healthcare in Canada. The full report address is: (236).

Economics: Greater China Becoming An Economic Powerhouse. A major story in the December 9, 2002 issue of Business Week covers the economic integration of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan into a major global economic player. After adjusting for prices, figures show the U.S. GDP at 10.4 trillion, the E.U. at 9.3 trillion and Greater China at 7.8 trillion dollars. The projections for 2007 are 13.7 U.S., 12.4 Greater China, and 11.3 E.U. The long-term impact of the economic rise of China with full membership in the World Trade Organization may well dwarf NAFTA. The full story may be found at: (235)

Technology. Minnesota Technology Re-launches Website. A freshly redone Minnesota Technology site contains information for economic development in Minnesota. The site is at: (234).

Opinion on the News: K-12 Education. Minneapolis Graduates Less Than Half Its 12th Grade Class. Despite the headline in the Star Tribune on December 2, 2002 that Minneapolis has increased its graduation rate, the 46% figure, up from 43% last year but likely to dip back down next year is far from good news. While the headline "spin" was positive, having less than half the students graduate in a district spending about 13 thousands dollars per student is not good news. Failure to complete school is a virtual "economic death sentence" for many students. The doubling of the graduation rate for Native American students from 14 percent to 27 percent was heralded as good news as well. About 4 percent of the district's 46,000 students - about 1,840 - are Native American. Of these 11 more than last year graduated in 2001.These numbers are a disgrace and citizens must demand more from schools and other public and private programs to dramatically increase the success rate. Despite the spin on the headline, these numbers are dismal and reflect a dim economic and social future for a very large number of students. The full story is at: (233)

Sunday, December 01, 2002
Post-Secondary Education. MIT Launches Open Courseware Site. MIT has a program to open all of its course materials to internet publication between 2002 and 2007. Representative courses from five major areas were made available in September 2002. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the evolving online world and use of materials by other institutions. The website is at: (232)