US SNAPSHOT 2019--a statistical look at where US history has brought us
Though many of these statistics suggest unfinished efforts or are negative, it is important to recall that most people in the US today are living far happier and more prosperous lives than our ancestors, and enjoy better access to education, health care, and opportunities than most people in the world and during human history.. With that said, there is still much to be done! Additions or suggestions are invited; send to Note: Please don't use this paragraph as it does not contain stats!

The 85 richest people on Earth have the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of the population, according to a new report that highlights growing income inequality as political and bsuiness leaders gather for the annual World Economic Forum…The findings undermine democracy and make it more difficult to fight poverty, the report said. (Puzzanghera).

The percentages of income held by the richest 1 percent in the United States has grown by nearly 150 percent since 1980. That small elite has received 95 percent of wealth created since 2009, after the financial crisis, while the bottom 90 percent of Americans have become poorer (Puzzanghera).

The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007 (the period for which these data are available), according to data the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued last week. Taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928....In 2007, the share of after-tax income going to the top 1 percent hit its highest level (17.1 percent) since 1979, while the share going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level during this period (14.1 percent) (Sherman).

Income inequity has steadily worsened in recent decades, according to government data and academic studies. The mos recent census figures show that the average income for the wealthiest 5 percent of US households, adjusted for inflation, has surged 17 percent in the past 20 years. By contrast, average income for the middle 20 percent of households has risen less than 5 percent (Rugaber B8).

The growing gap between richest Americans and everyone else is hurting the economy: Higher pay and outsize stock maket gains are flowing mainly to affluent Americans. Yet these households spend less of their money than do low- and middle-income consumers who make up most of the population but whose pay is barely rising (Rugaber B8).

In the United States, CEOs earn about 354 times the average worker’s pay, according to the AFL-CIO. That’s up from a 201-to-1 ratio in 1992 and a 42-to-1 ratio in 1982. CEO pay has skyrocketed at the same time average wages have stagnated, one reason the Securities and Exchange Commission will soon require public U.S. companies to disclose the ratio of a chief executive's salary to that of the average worker (Newman.)

According to Census Bureau, median household income for American Indians and Alaska Natives, based on a 1998/2000 average: $31,799. This is higher than for African -Americans ($28,679), not statistically different from Hispanics ($31,703) and lower than for non-Hispanic Whites ($45,514), and Asians and Pacific Islanders ($52,553) (Glaczko).

In 2009, 6.7 million people in the US were defined as having "very low food security" because they regularly lacked sufficient to eat. Among them, 96% reported that the food they bought did not last until they had money to buy more. Nearly all said they could not afford to eat balanced meals. Although few reported that this was a permanent situation throughout the year, 88% said it had occurred in three or more months (McGrail).

More than a million children regularly go to bed hungry in the US, according to a government report that shows a startling increase in the number of families struggling to put food on the table.President Barack Obama, who pledged to eradicate childhood hunger, has described as "unsettling" the agriculture department survey, which says 50 million people in the US – one in six of the population – were unable to afford to buy sufficient food to stay healthy at some point last year, in large part because of escalating unemployment or poorly paid jobs. That is a rise of more than one-third on the year before and the highest number since the survey began in 1995.The agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said: "These numbers are a wake-up call … for us to get very serious about food security and hunger, about nutrition and food safety in this country."Vilsack said he expected the numbers to worsen when the survey for this year is released in 2010 (McGrail).

A majority of students in public schools through the American West and South are low-income for the first time in at least four decades…By 2011, almost half of the nation's 5 million public-school students, 48 percent, qualified for free or reduced-price meals. In some states, such as Mississippi, that proportion rose as high as 71 percent (Layton).

Second Harvest Food Bank is now serving more than 250,000 people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month--that's an astonishing 1 in 10 people--and the number keeps going up. We are distributing 1 million pounds of food every single week (Jackson A 18).


More than one in seven Americans were living in poverty [in 2012]…the sixth straight year the rate had failed to improve (Yen US poverty A 10).

Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families--those earning less than $20,000 a year--have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression. US households with income of more than $150,000 have an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, a level traditionally defined as full employment. At the same time, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage jobs. Many of them are in turn displacing lower-skilled, low-income workers (Yen Jobs Gap A 18).

It is more difficult than at any point since WWII for people to climb socially. In 1978, 23 percent of the men whose fathers were in the bottom 25 percent of the population according to social and economic status were able to make it to the top 25 percent. Now only 10 percent of the men with poor fathers have been able to rise that far (Krugman 16).

Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65. (US Hunger.)

The ranks of the working age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work, leaving 1 in 7 Americans in poverty....Child poverty rose from 19 percent to 20.7 percent (Yen).

Approximately 45 percent of children in the United States who are raised by divorced mothers and 69 percent of those raised by never-married mothers live at or below the poverty line (Hughey).

One in six children in the United States continues to live in poverty. Three out of four poor children live in families where someone worked and one in three poor children lives with a full-time year-round workers. More than 5.1 million children live in extremely low-income households spending at least half of their income on housing. Twenty-two million adults and 13 million children live in households suffering from hunger or "food insecurity without hunger"(State of America's).


African Americans are unemployed at twice the rate of white Americans. They are more likely to leave high school without a diploma. Tey have significantly less wealth. They are far more likely to be victims of serious violent crime than other Americans ("African Americans and Civil").

As of 2011, the median white household in the United States had net wealth of $89,537, according to Census Bureau data. By contrast, the median black household had net wealth of only $6314--or just 7 percent of the median white household ("African Americans and Civil").

Black and Latino families faced a shocking loss of wealth during the Great Recession. Between 2007 and 2010, the average net wealth of White families decreased by 6.7 percent. By comparison, Black families lost 27.1% of their average net wealth and Latino families lost 41.3 percent (State of the Dream 2013).

Black and Latino families came out of the Great Recession much more highly leveraged (holding more debt relative to their net assets) than White families. White families on average have a debt burden equal to just 17% of their net worth, while Black and Latino families owe 53% and 58%, respectively(State of the Dream 2013).

White families hold far more wealth in assets that are easily accessed than do Black and Latino families. White families on average have over 10 times more financial assets (held in bank accounts, stocks, and bonds) than Black and Latino families (State of the Dream 2013).

Black and Latino families have far less saved for retirement than White families. White families on average hold over $109,000 in retirement accounts, while Black and Latino families both own just slightly more than $17,000 in their retirement accounts(State of the Dream 2013).

Housing value is more significant to the wealth of Black and Latino families than it is to White families. Home value accounts for 51.6% of the total assets held by Latino families, 48.6% for Black families, but only 27.9% of the assets of White families on average(State of the Dream 2013).

In 2010, Black adults were 60 percent as likely to have a college degree as White adults while Latino adults were only 42 percent as likely to have a college degree. By 2042, if current trends continue, some progress in closing the education gap will be realized for Blacks, but for Latinos, the gap will be even wider (State of the Dream 2012).

The mass incarceration of people of color is historically unprecedented. Blacks are six times more likely to be in prison than Whites, and people of color make up over 65 percent of the prison population. This disparity has serious economic consequences. The economic effects of incarceration follow former inmates after they have served their sentence. Finding a job or a home and pursuing an education are much more difficult for people with a criminal record. An astounding 68 percent of Black men born since the mid-1970s have prison records. These startling incarceration numbers stem primarily from the war on drugs (State of the Dream 2012).

Forty years after the Watts uprising in South LA, the city's African-Americans still lag behind whites in education, housing, health care, and income. African-Americans in LA are ten times more likely to be murdered than whites, and 35 percent less likely to graduate from high school in four years. Household income trails by forty percent. African-Americans and Latinos are also four times more likely to be searched by LAPD officers (Little).

Black Americans still get far fewer operations, tests, medicines and other lifesaving treatments than whites despite year of efforts to erase racial disparities, according to three major new studies. They are much less likely to undergo heart bypasses, appendectomies, mammograms, tests and drugs for heart disease and diabetes. The research paints a discouraging picture of African-Americans receiving unequal care (Stein). students of all ages are suspended and expelled at a rate that's three times higher than that of white children. Even as boys receive more than two-thirds of suspensions, black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race or most boys (Hefling).

Problems black men face begin early; black children are twice as likely to be expelled from preschool than other children (Fulbright).

Black infants are nearly two and a half times more likely to die as European-American infants before age one, a gap greater than in 1970 (UFE).

Black males account for about 6 percent of the US population, but 43 percent...homicide victims in 2011, according to the FBI ("African Americans and Civil").

US has highest population behind bars in the world: One in eight black men in their 20s and 30s are incarcerated, compared to 1 in 63 white men. (based on Justice Dept. figures) (Shane 7A).

Though African-Americans are roughly 12 percent of the US population, they comprise about half of those who are behind bars (Street 39).

About 8.4 percent of the country's black men between 25 and 29 were in state or federal prison in 2004. Black men made up an estaimted 41 percent of inmates with a sentence of more than one year (Carroll.)

A study of 328 criminal cases in which the imprisoned party was exonerated, or shown to be innocent, over the last 15 years suggests that thousands of innocent people are in prison today. Most of the exonerations were in rape and murder cases. and most cases involved mis-identification by witnesses. The problem was especially pronounced in rape cases involving African-American men: while 29 percent of those in prison for rape are African-American, 65 percent of those who were exonerated of the crime in this study were African-American, suggesting mis-identification of witnesses across races (Thousands).

The US Senate apologized Monday for never having outlawed lynching, which took the lives of at least 4,700 people between 1880 and 1960. Eight percent occurred in Southern states. Fewer than one percent of the lylnchings were followed by serious attempts to bring those responsible to justice. More than 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in the first half of the 20th century, and seven presidents unsuccessfully urged their passage. (Markoe.)

In California, the median household income for Latinos in 2011 was $44,401 compared to $58,328. Many work very low income jobs. Sixty percent of Latinos have been in the US for 30 years or more. The drop-out rate of Latino high school youth is 16.2 percent , compared to 13.2 percent overall (Wozniacka B1).

Jobs held by Mexican immigrants are killing workers at a fast rate. Mexicans represent 1 in 24 workers in the US, but 1 in 14 die in work related accidents. Though Mexicans often take the most dangerous jobs, they are more likely than others to be killed even when doing similarly risky work (Pritchard 10A).

In the mid-1990s, Mexicans working in the US were about 30 percent more likely to die on the job than native-born workers; now they are about 80 percent more likely. Mexicans are nearly twice as likely to die at work than other immigrants (Pritchard 10A).

European-American home ownership has jumped from 65 percent in 1970 to 75 percent today. African American home ownership has risen from 42 percent in 1968 to 48 percent today (UFE.) Home ownership by ethnicity is as follows: European-American 73 percent, Asian American 54 percent, African-American and Hispanic 48 percent. Average US rate is 68 percent (Vasquez Latinos F1).

According to the Census Bureau, 37 percent of households led by Latino women - mostly Mexican - remain below the poverty line(Rizvi)

For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy--trust in the other fellow--has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question. Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say "you can't be too careful" in dealing with people (Cass A6).

Over 80 percent of the population currently resides in urban areas, with about a third of the population living in the 10 largest metropolitan areas of the United States. Another 11 percent live in the second tier of metropolitan areas. Note that between 1982 and 1997, the total amount of "urbanized" land in the United States increased from around 51 million acres to about 76 million acres, an increase of some 47 percent(Hughey).

In the United States today, there are more private vehicles on the road than people licensed to drive them, the Worldwatch report points out. The average size of refrigerators in U.S. households increased by 10 percent between 1972 and 2001, and the number per home rose as well. New houses in the U.S. were 38 percent bigger in 2000 than in 1975, despite having fewer people in each household on average. As a result of these consumption patterns, the United States, with just 4.5 percent of the world's population, releases 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions (Richer).

Yet increased consumption has not brought Americans happiness. About a third of Americans report being "very happy," the same share as in 1957, when Americans were only half as wealthy. (Richer)

A poll commissioned by Hilton Hotels found that only 23 percent of Americans come to work refreshed on Mondays. Our vacations are disappearing ­ a recent Harris survey found that 37% of women earning less than $40,000 a year (and 28% of all working women) receive no paid vacation at all. On average, Americans work nearly nine weeks (350 hours) more each year than western Europeans (deGraaf).

American public policies protecting our family and personal time fall far short of those in other countries. A study released last June by the Harvard School of Public Health, covering 168 of the world's nations concluded that "the United States lags dramatically behind all high-income countries, as well as many middle- and low-income countries when it comes to public policies designed to guarantee adequate working conditions for families." The study found that: 163 of 168 countries guarantee paid leave for mothers in connection with childbirth. 45 countries offer such leave to fathers. The U.S. does neither.139 countries guarantee paid sick leave. The U.S. does not.96 countries guarantee paid annual (vacation) leave. The U.S. does not. 84 countries have laws that fix a maximum limit on the workweek. The U.S. does not. 37 countries guarantee parents paid time off when children are sick. The U.S. does not (deGraaf).

Prison rolls are at an all-time high as of 2004, with 2.267 million people in prisons. In 2004 law officers made more arrests for drug violations than for any other offense (Carroll.) And one in 37 adults in the US have been in jail or prison or are in now--the highest incarceration rate in the world.

More than one third--38 percent--of children younger than age 2 have used a mobile device, up from 10 percent two years ago. Three quarters of children ages zero to eight had access to smartphones and Internet-connected devices (Noguchi B1).

MOre than half of the 2.6 million American dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems temming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of...veterans (Chandrasekaran).

According to the New York Times, the largest corporations in the U.S. have been paying fewer taxes than ever before, since new Bush Administration tax policies were enacted. The 275 wealthiest U.S. companies generated $1.1 trillion in revenue from 2001 to 2003, but only paid taxes on half of that. (Organic Consumers Corporations)

In September 2011, an analysis of over 43,000,transnational corporations (TNCs) has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. Of those companies,
• There was a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownership
• The 1318 companies represents around 60 per cent of global revenues by collectively owning through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms — the “real” economy
An even tighter 147 (about 1%) of these were described as “super entities” that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network (Shah.)

Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs) ("Comparing").

The Top 200 corporations' combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10 ("Comparing").

The Top 200s' combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in "severe" poverty("Comparing").

A full 5 percent of the Top 200s' combined workforce is employed by Wal-Mart, a company notorious for union-busting and widespread use of part-time workers to avoid paying benefits. The discount retail giant is the top private employer in the world, with 1,140,000 workers, more than twice as many as No. 2, DaimlerChrysler, which employs 466,938("Comparing").

U.S. corporations dominate the Top 200, with 82 slots (41 percent of the total). Japanese firms are second, with only 41 slots.Of the U.S. corporations on the list, 44 did not pay the full standard 35 percent federal corporate tax rate during the period 1996-1998. Seven of the firms actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because of rebates). These include: Texaco, Chevron, PepsiCo, Enron, Worldcom, McKesson and the world's biggest corporation - General Motors ("Comparing").

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the number of people out of work for 27 weeks or more hit 6.1 million Americans, or 40 percent of all 15.3 million jobless. This is the most since 1948, when the data was first recorded, according to the Department of Labor. On average, it now takes 20.5 weeks to find a new job – double the amount of time in the 1982-83 recession (Scherer).

Many of the long-term unemployed are older workers, but some are the very young who were the first fired. A significant percentage of them don’t have a college degree, but some do. And many of them are now so discouraged they have lost their belief that a job exists for them (Scherer).

More than 30 million US citizens--one in four workers--are doing low paying jobs (below $8.70 an hour)that do not provide the basics for a decent life. They are security guards, child care givers, fast food and retail clerks, nursing home aides, hotel workers, chicken processors, custodians, call center employees (Shulman 20-21).

The average top executive in the US gets 400 times more in pay than the typical hourly employee at the same company. Comparisons: Brazil 57 to 1, Mexico 45 to 1, Australia 22 to 1, Italy 19 to 1, Japan 10 to 1. (Hightower 1-3).

Number of states in which Wal-Mart is the largest employer : 21 (Harpers June).

If a woman wants to increase her income by taking non-traditional work, she is unlikely to succeed. The Census Bureau compiled statistics on hundreds of job categories in its 2000 count, and found just five where women typically earn as much as men. These are: hazardous-material removal, telecommunications line installers, meeting and convention planners, dining or cafeteria workers, and construction trade helpers. Except for meeting planners, these fields are dominated by men (Armas 5A).

In female-dominated fields, such as kindergarten and preschool teaching, which is 98 percent female, men out drew women by $5000 a year. In nursing, which is 91 percent female, men earned an average of $3,000 more than women (Armas 5A.)

While 98 percent of kindergarten teachers are women, only 37 percent of college professors are. While 98 percent of dental hygienists are women, only four percent of dentists are. Ten percent of management positions are held by women. Of the Fortune 500 companies, two are headed by women (Mantilla 13).
Luntz has identified an issue that could be dynamite. Most Americans, not only mothers, feel increasingly time crunched. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Americans are working 20% longer today than in 1970, while work-time has declined in other industrial countries. A recent poll released by the Center for a New American Dream found 88% of Americans agreeing that "working too many hours results in not having enough time to spend with families." Half say they're willing to sacrifice some pay for more time (de Graaf).

Sixty two percent of US workers say their workload has increased in the past six months, and 53 percent say work leaves them "overtired and overwhelmed." Decades of research link stress to everything from heart attacks to stroke, diabetes, weakened immune systems--and now researchers are connecting the dots back to the workplace. Workplace stress costs the nation more than $300 billion yearly in health care, missed work, and stress reduction industry costs (Schwartz).

Fulltime American workers work on average about 46 weeks per year; fulltime British, French and German workers work only 41 weeks per year (Krugman).

Although the U.S. economy still accounts for 19 percent of the world total, China is closing the gap—now accounting for 16 percent of GWP, up from 15 percent in 2006.9 China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew dramatically in 2007, jumping an estimated 11.7 percent and making up one third of the projected $3.7 trillion in GWP growth in 2007.10 Increases in exports and investments drove this expansion (2010 State of the World).

Percentage of US adults who are overweight: 66. Obese: 33 Percentage of inactive or under-active adults: 60 (Harpers June).

Percentage of US children and adolescents who are overweight: 20. Percentage of children who get recommended daily servings of fruit, veggies, grains: 2 Percentage of children whose cholesterol levels are too high: 33 Percentage of fifth, seventh, ninth graders in CA who did not meet fitness goals in 2001: 75 (Collier E1).

Percentage of inactive or under-active kids ages 12-21: 50 (Harpers June).

Varieties of snack foods for sale in 1960s: 250. Varieties for sale 1999: 2,000 (Harpers June).

For the first time in a decade, the number of new AIDS cases in the US is on the increase. New infections increased 2.2 percent last year, a sign of dangerous complacency about the disease (Heinrichs 7A).

More than half of US citizens will develop a mental illness at some point in life, often beginning in childhood or adolescence, says a comprehensive new survey (Carey).

Costly illnesses lead to about half of all personal bankruptcies, and health insurance offers no protection against ending up penniless, according to a new Harvard University study. Medical-caused bankrupcty affects about two million Americans annually, counting debtors and their dependents, who include 700,000 children. More than three-fourths had coverage at the start of the illness that caused bankruptcy; 38 percent had lost coverage at least temporarily because of job and/or insurance loss(Jewell).

Percentage of white American adult women with high blood pressure: 26.6% · Percentage of African-American adult women with high blood pressure: 39.5% (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)(Vital Autumn 2004)

A new chemical study of umbilical chord samples from the American Red Cross has found that babies have an average of 200 known toxic chemicals in their blood, including mercury, fire retardants, pesticides and a chemical used in the production of Teflon, even before being born. The tests found that hundreds of chemicals, pollutants and pesticides are stored in body fat over a lifetime and then pumped from mother to fetus through umbilical cord blood. Overall, chemical absorption can be reduced by eating organic foods, and by reducing exposure to toxins at home and at work (Organic Consumers Newborns).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that one of the main sources of pesticide exposure for U.S. children comes from the food they eat. According to the Food and Drug Administration, half of produce currently tested in grocery stores contains measurable residues of pesticides. Laboratory tests of eight industry-leader baby foods reveal the presence of 16 pesticides, including three carcinogens. According to EPA's "Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment," children receive 50% of their lifetime cancer risks in the first two years of life. In blood samples of children aged 2 to 4, concentrations of pesticide residues are six times higher in children eating conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables compared with those eating organic food(Organic Consumers).

Increase in average worker's cost for family health insurance: 50 percent since 2000. Costs have risen from $1,619 to $2,412 per year (Jobs, quoting Kaiser Family Foundation).

The amount of toxic pollution in the air, water, and land in the US increased five percent in 2002, the biggest increase since the government began tracking pollutant levels in 1988. Industries poured 4.79 billion pounds of 650 different poisons into the environment in this year. Mercury and lead, which harm the nervous systems and development of children, increased by ten percent and three percent. Dioxin, another highly toxic chemical, dropped by five percent (Borenstein 10A).

Minimum number of chronic medical disorders linked to exposure to industrial chemicals : 110 (Harpers June)

Average number of industrial compounds and pollutants that can be found in an American's blood and urine : 91 (Harpers May).

Pollution from electric power plants in the United States shortens the lives of more than 30,00 0 people every year, according to a new report released here by environmental and health researchers. The study concludes that soot, or fine particle air pollution, from the nation's aging coal-fired power plants is also causing tens of thousands of asthma attacks, cardiac problems and upper and lower respiratory problems each year (Knight).

Percentage change since 1973 in overall U.S. energy consumption : +27 Percentage change since then in U.S. oil imports : +86 (Harpers June)

The US has two percent of world's oil reserves. (The US has about 4.6 percent of the world's population, based on the US Census Bureau's current estimate of the world population at 6.377 billion and on the's estimate that the US has 293 million people.) The US uses a quarter of the world's oil and 43 percent of the world's gasoline. The US imports 56 percent of its gas and oil. Gas use, and the number of cars on the road, are steadily increasing in California despite higher gas prices (Shore 7B).

Seven out of ten fourth graders cannot read or do math at grade level. (State of America's).

Ninety percent of the nation's children attend public schools. Children in the poorest families are six times as likely as children in more affluent families to drop out of high school. Almost one in ten teens ages 16 to 19 is a school dropout (State of America's).

Three-quarters of the nation's public schools are in need of repairs, renovations, and modernization. The average school building is more than 40 years old. Yet states spend on average almost three times as much per prisoner as per public school pupil(State of America's).

About two-thirds of the nation's 3 million new high school graduates will start college soon, but only half will graduate from college (Matthews 9A) .The nation's 10.6 million public college students are at higher risk than those 2.7 million who are at more costly private schools. Public colleges have fewer means to intervene by helping students with their various needs (Matthews 9A)

College students in virtually every state will be required to shoulder more of the cost of their education under new federal rules for financial aid. Because of the changes, which take effect in the 2005-06 academic year and are expected to save the government $300 million annually, at least 1.3 million low-income students will receive smaller Pell Grants, the nation's primary scholarship, according to two analyses of the new rules. In addition, 89,000 students or so who would otherwise be getting some Pell Grant money will get none, the analyses found (Winter).


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