NPI Releases New Report: Realizing the Full Value of Crossborder Trade With Mexico

Posted on December 9, 2011by Kristian Ramos
Today the New Policy Institute’s 21st Century Border Initiative released a major new report researched by The North American Center For Transborder Studies (NACTS) at Arizona State University, “Realizing the Value of our Cross Border Trade with Mexico.”

NDN/NPI President Simon Rosenberg released the following statement on the release of the report: “This compelling new report underscores what a vital economic partner Mexico has become for the people of the United States. We hope this work, and the work of our 21st Century Border Project, will help lead to a greater appreciation in the minds of many, of just how important the bi-lateral relationship is for the US today. That we trade more Mexico than we do with the UK, Germany and Japan combined, and almost as much as we do with China, will certainly be eye-opening to many.”

The full report can be read here.

The general public will have an opportunity to discuss the contents of the report with Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN/NPI, Rick Van Schoik, Director of NACTS and Erik Lee, Deputy Director of NACTS by going to the NDN/NPI channel at 3 pm EST today on the webcasting platform, Spreecast.

Among the key statistics presented in the report:

Mexico has become the U.S.’s third-ranked commercial partner and the second most important market for U.S. exports; Mexico spent $163 billion on U.S. goods in 2010.
U.S. sales to Mexico are larger than all U.S. exports to the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) combined, as well as all combined sales to Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Twenty-two states count Mexico as their No. 1 or No. 2 export market: Mexico is the largest export market to the two largest economies in the country in Texas and California. Other states that count Mexico as their largest export market are Arizona, New Mexico, and New Hampshire. It is the second largest export market for states such as Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.
Remember to join us at 3pm EST Today for a Webcast. Anyone can join this live event by going to the NDN/NPI channel on the webcasting platform, Spreecast.

For more on NDN/NPI’s work in this area, visit our new website, www.21border.com, and its YouTube site, which features dozens of videos of leaders from the border region talking about the very real challenges and opportunities they face.

As Poverty Rises, Wrong Time to Cut Safety Net

By Desmond Brown, Sep 16, 2011 10:47 AM

Center for American progress Action Fund
Tuesday’s U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty in the United States shows record numbers of Americans fell into poverty, more families lost access to health care, and child poverty increased dramatically between 2009 and 2010. More than 15 percent of the U.S. population or 46 million people fell below the official poverty level in 2010 — defined as a family of four with income below $22,314 in annual earnings. The real median income fell 2.3 percent to $49,445 and 50 million people went without health care coverage.
While the overall poverty rates tracked up dramatically in 2010, a closer look at subsections of the data reveals a grim picture: Some of the most vulnerable Americans continue to fall deeper into poverty. The share of children in poverty jumped from 20.7 percent to 22 percent or 16.4 million children. Individuals living in deep poverty (50 percent of the poverty level or less than $11,157 for a family of four) increased to 21 million people.
Poverty increased for all racial groups but the data show continued disparities among racial minorities, with poverty among blacks and Hispanics, at 27.4 percent and 26.6 percent respectively, more than double that of whites. Families in communities hardest hit by high unemployment are falling further behind as the jobs deficits continue to impact workers. Since the start of the recession in 2007, the number of men and women working full time, year round with earnings decreased by 6.6 million and 2.8 million respectively. This significant reduction in jobs is a primary cause of the 16.4 million children falling into poverty.
For these children and families, falling below the “official poverty level” means that too often a parent works in a minimum-wage job or works part time and cannot find sufficient work to lift his or her income. It means that children frequently go to school hungry or constantly worry about where they will spend the night. And unfortunately, it means that too often parents must rely on the support of relatives and neighbors to keep their families together. What the poverty numbers fail to fully capture are the stresses that families face as they attempt to make ends meet. The numbers don’t show the hard choices families must make about food, clothing, and other daily necessities that millions of Americans take for granted.

These rising poverty levels—particularly among children—present a troubling outlook for the United States. With millions of families struggling to find employment and regain their foothold on the middle class, far too much is at stake for us not to focus more attention on jobs and ways to get more Americans employed and earning once again. Without these urgent investments in jobs, millions more Hispanic and African American children who are disproportionately impacted will come of age in families where their parents are out of work for months, even years. With the increasing diversity of the United States, this type of inequality among a large segment of the population will present unimaginable long-term consequences.

Among the disturbing news, however, the new data included a positive sign that shows the impact of government intervention. The earned income tax credit and unemployment insurance kept 8.6 million people out of poverty, showing the ongoing need for these critical safety net programs. The overall 2010 poverty data offer a bleak outlook for the fragile U.S. economy but they also provide a clear sign to policymakers that government interventions work to keep more families from falling deeper into poverty and facing further economic hardship.

As our policymakers in Washington and state capitals around the country work to make difficult spending decisions in the coming months, they must abandon the heated political rhetoric and start to implement a balanced approach of budget reductions and investments in job creation and education and training opportunities for more low-income people. If our leaders look instead to a cut-only approach, more struggling families will be pushed further into poverty and away from the middle class.

At a time when 46 million Americans are living in poverty and more than 100 million are facing real economic hardship, cuts in programs such as SNAP, job training programs, and investments in youth programs is the wrong approach. Investments in programs for those at the bottom of our economy help all Americans because they promote demand, which helps drive the U.S. economy. On the other hand, draconian cuts during the fragile economic recovery could push the country back into a recession, causing more Americans to be out of work.

Desmond Brown is a consultant to the Half in Ten antipoverty project at the Center for American Progress Action Funf

Costco Class Action Suit Blocked

By Jeanine Poggi09/16/11 – 03:33 PM EDT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Costco Wholesale(COST_) won a ruling to block class-action status for a lawsuit filed by a group of women alleging gender bias.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco sent the case back to a lower court, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wal-Mart>(WMT_), but left open the possibility for each woman to file an individual class-action suit.
Costco was sued in 2004 by a group of 600 women for allegedly limiting promotions of female employees and making it harder for them to be promoted to general managerand assistant general manager.

-Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

U.S. Supreme Court Backs Wal-Mart and Halts One of the Most Expansive Class Actions in History

On June 20, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. __ (2011). The decision reversed the Ninth Circuit’s 2010 en banc decisionand effectively halted what would have been the largest employment discrimination class action in history against the nation’s largest private employer. The Court’s 5-4 opinion is a decisive victory for businesses that reshapes the landscape for employment-related class action litigation and class action litigation in general.The Dukesplaintiffs sued Wal-Mart on behalf of a nationwide class of 1.5 million current and former female Wal-Mart employees, alleging that the company discriminated against them on the basis of sex by denying them equal pay or promotions. Plaintiffs claimed that Wal-Mart discriminates against women by allowing Wal-Mart’s local managers to exercise discretion over pay and promotions, which results in male employees disproportionately being favored over female employees. The District Court certified the class action and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the District Court properly certified the case as a class action under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.Plaintiffs Failed to Establish a Common Policy of DiscriminationJustice Scalia declared that the “crux of this case is commonality.” In order to commence a federal class action, the named plaintiffs must satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) by demonstrating that “there are common questions of law or fact” as to all potential class members.To determine whether plaintiffs could meet the “commonality” standard, the Court scrutinized whether the plaintiffs could demonstrate that Wal-Mart “operated under a general policy of discrimination.” The Court noted that plaintiffs “wish to sue about literally millions of employment decisions at once. Without some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together, it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members’ claims for relief will produce a common answer to the crucial question why was I disfavored.”After making a detailed analysis of Plaintiffs’ proofs, which consisted largely of statistical evidence about pay disparities, anecdotal reports of discrimination, and sociological testimony from plaintiffs’ expert, the Court held that those proofs failed to identify a “specific employment practice” that resulted in discrimination against women employees, “much less one that ties all their 1.5 million claims together.” Indeed, the only corporate policy that plaintiffs’ evidence convincingly established was “Wal-Mart’s ‘policy’ of allowing discretion by local supervisors over employment matters.” The Court went on to state that “[o]n its face, of course, that is just the opposite of a uniform employment practice that would provide the commonality needed for a class action; it is a policy against havinguniform employment practices.” As there was no “convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy,” the five-justice majority concluded that plaintiffs had failed to establish “any common question” to satisfy Rule 23(a) and that class certification was therefore improper.Claims for Backpay Cannot Be Certified Under Rule 23(b)(2)

The Court also unanimously ruled that the District Court improperly certified plaintiffs’ claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). Rule 23(b)(2) allows a class to be certified if the employer “acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole.”The Court noted that one possible reading of Rule 23(b)(2) is that “it applies only to requests for injunctive or declaratory relief and does not authorize the class certification of monetary claims at all.” Notwithstanding, the Court did not need to reach that broader question because it found that “claims for individualizedrelief (like the backpay at issue here) do not satisfy the rule.” The Court stated that:
Rule 23(b)(2) applies only when a single injunction or declaratory judgment would provide relief to each member of the class. It does not authorize class certification when each individual class member would be entitled to a different injunction or declaratory judgment against the defendant. Similarly, it does not authorize class certification when each class member would be entitled to an individualized award of money damages.

The Court further reasoned that a class claim for money damages (such as individualized backpay) would fall under Rule 23(b)(3), which requires additional procedural protections, such as mandatory notice and the choice to opt-out. The Court cautioned that a class action for money damages without notice (such as classes certified under Rule 23(b)(2)) could potentially violate the due process clause of the Constitution.

The Impact of Wal-Mart v. Dukes

While the Dukes opinion is clearly a victory for employers, it remains to be seen what its practical impact will be.

National employers that permit local managers to exercise discretion with respect to hiring, firing, promotion, and compensation can take some comfort in the fact that potential class action plaintiffs must now establish sufficient proof of a common policy or practice in order for class certification to be granted. The Dukes decision makes clear that such a policy cannot easily be established via statistical evidence about pay disparities, anecdotal reports of discrimination and/or sociological testimony. Going forward, plaintiffs will not meet their burden by simply alleging or pleading the existence of such a policy — they must be able to demonstrate its existence.

Although the Dukes decision sets a high bar for class action plaintiffs seeking to establish a common policy or practice, the decision does not prevent employment claims from being litigated on a class basis. Although the high hurdle for class certification may result in the end of nationwide employment class actions where no nationwide policy relating to employment matters exists, it may simultaneously produce an uptick in regional or local class actions, in which the decision-making of local managers and local policies and procedures are scrutinized on a regional or area basis.

Employers — particularly those with nationwide operations — should consult with their employment counsel regarding the impact of the Dukes ruling. In order to most effectively defend against potential class action employment litigation, employers should ensure that they not only adopt effective, written equal employment opportunity policies prohibiting workplace discrimination, but also consistently train managers on these policies.

If you have any questions regarding the Dukes decision or its impact on your business, please feel free to contact any of the attorneys in the Gibbons Employment Law Department.

Settlement on discrimination against Hispanic borrowers

SAN ANTONIO, TX — A small South Texas bank has agreed to pay nearly $100,000 and take other measures to settle federal allegations that it discriminated against Hispanic borrowers.

A Justice Department statement says Nixon State Bank will pay $91,600 to compensate affected borrowers for their monetary damages. The bank also has agreed to conduct employee training and establish uniform pricing policies to resolve the federal complaint.

That complaint alleged the bank in the small town of Nixon, 45 miles southeast of San Antonio, charged higher prices on unsecured consumer loans made to Hispanic borrowers.

Bank President Brad Akin tells the San Antonio Express-News the bank denies that it discriminated.

The bank has three branches and reported more than $71 million in assets, almost $65 million in deposits and $65 million in liabilities.

Latino Population Growth Fuels $1 Trillion Buying Power, reveals Packaged Facts

When it comes to the impact of Latinos on the American economic and cultural landscape, there’s only one word that adequately describes the group’s influence: growing.
According to figures recently released by the Associated Press based on 2010 Census Bureau data, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase over the past 10 years and crossed a new census population milestone by reaching 50 million—the equivalent of 1 in 6 Americans. Market research publisher Packaged Facts’ Latino Shoppers: Demographic Patterns and Spending Trends among Hispanic Americans, 8th Edition predicts that Hispanics will be responsible for more than half of the growth in the U.S. population between 2010 and 2015.

As a result of above-average population growth and improved earning power over the past three decades, Latinos have been responsible for an ever-increasing share of consumer buying power in the U.S. Packaged Facts estimates that in 2009 Latinos accounted for more than 9% of total buying power, compared to less than 4% in 1980. The buying power of Hispanics exceeded $1 trillion in 2010, and the population includes a significant number of high-income households. With an estimated buying power of $616 billion, Latinos of Mexican heritage represent the single most influential segment of the Hispanic market. By 2015, Packaged Facts forecasts the buying power of the Latino population as a whole will reach $1.3 trillion.

“The idea that there’s strength in numbers certainly applies to Latinos and what this powerful demographic is poised to achieve over the next several years, especially in regards to the influence Latino consumers will have on retail and how manufacturers market their products,” says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Marketers must be aware of how increasing acculturation will affect the decisions of Latino shopping behaviors. Compared to their low-acculturation counterparts, high-acculturation Latinos are much more likely to own credit cards, take out loans and have health and life insurance, according to the report. They are also less influenced by advertising and product placements but are much more alert to in-store promotions. Additionally, they are far more likely to shop and buy online and from catalogs. Packaged Facts further reveals that more education leads to better paying jobs and increasing influence among high-acculturation Latinos, who are more likely than their low-acculturation counterparts to work as managers and professionals, are more likely to own their own homes, and are twice as likely to have a household income of $75,000 or more.

Latino Shoppers: Demographic Patterns and Spending Trends among Hispanic Americans, 8th Edition provides an in-depth look at the shopping habits and spending patterns of Hispanic consumers today. It also provides a glimpse into Latino shoppers of the future. As more acculturated Latinos become an ever-larger share of the population, marketers may need to address the potential for a significant change in the profile of the Latino consumer. This Packaged Facts report provides important insights into the way acculturation may affect the shopping behavior and buying decisions of Latinos in the years to come. For further information, please visit: http://www.packagedfacts.com/Latino-Shoppers-Demographic ….

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About Packaged Facts – Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet products and services, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services. To learn more, visit: www.packagedfacts.com. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:
Daniel Granderson
Assistant Editor
(240) 747-3035
dgranderson@marketresearch.com

Paycheck Fairness Act is a big step toward the nation’s economic recovery

By Guest OpinionPublished: April 19, 2011 at 7:17 am

Equal Pay Day symbolizes the point in the next year to which a woman must work, on average, to achieve pay equity with men. Put in more concrete terms, to achieve pay equity, women had to work all of 2010 plus almost four extra months, from January to April 12, 2011, to match men’s earnings during the 12 months of 2010.

Women have made remarkable strides in education during the past three decades, but these gains have yet to translate into full pay equity — even for college-educated women who work full time. For the entire full-time U.S. workforce, during 2007, a typical woman earned $35,745 compared with $46,367 for a typical man, a pay difference of $10,622. (In Arizona, these figures were $34,556 for a typical woman and $41,524 for a typical man, or nearly $7,000 less.) On average, the pay gap of nearly $11,000 a year means $430,000 in lost earnings over a woman’s lifetime. That translates to months of food bills, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and thousands of gallons of gas lost to American families at a time when they’re struggling and the economy desperately needs their consumer spending.

Equal pay for women is critical to families’ economic security and our nation’s economic recovery.

Women’s wages are essential to putting food on families’ tables and keeping a roof over their heads. For the first time, American women make up roughly half of the nation’s workforce: nearly four in 10 mothers are primary breadwinners in their households and nearly two-thirds are significant earners. Women should be able to bring home everything they have rightfully earned. Forward-looking employers recognize that eliminating pay differentials makes good business sense and that pay equity can help with competitiveness, worker retention and productivity. Pay adjustments would cost no more than 3.7 percent of hourly wage expenses.

Pay equity is a family issue. Nationally, working families lose $200 billion in income annually due to the wage gap between men and women. If married women were paid comparably to men, they would see nearly a 6 percent rise in their families’ income and their families’ poverty rates would fall from 2.1 percent to 0.8 percent. Pay equity would help workers become self-sufficient and reduce their reliance on government assistance programs. A fact sheet of the National Committee on Pay Equity reports a recent study which found that nearly 40 percent of poor working women could leave welfare programs if they were to receive pay equity increases. Pay equity would bring great savings to tax payers at a minimal cost to businesses.

The wage gap has long term effects on women’s economic security. Women are more likely than men to enter poverty in old age for several reasons. Pay discrepancies continue into retirement when women, with a lifetime of lower wages, have less income to save for retirement and less income that counts in a Social Security or pension benefit formula. Women’s life expectancy is approaching 86 years, which means they outlive men by an average of three years. As a result they will have to stretch their retirement savings — which are less to begin with — over a longer period of time. The median income of older women is almost half of what it is for older men.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was passed with bipartisan support last year in the U.S. House, but stalled in the Senate. This proposed legislation would improve the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by providing important legal methods for employees to address the wage gap.

Please contact your elected officials to tell them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Quinceañera Industry Flourishes With Growth of Latina Population

With the 2010 census showing the Latino population growing extensively throughout the country, it comes as no surprise that the Quinceanera industry is booming as well.

The growth percentage of the Latino population becomes more evident among those under the age of 18. Since one out of every six teens in the United States is of Hispanic origin, every day there are more Quinceañeras looking forward to celebrating their fifteenth birthday by having a huge celebration. This brings a high demand for Quinceañera party related services such as dresses, makeup, transportation, catering, videography, photography, and venue rentals.

In anticipation of this growth, El Clasificado launched Quinceanera.com in 2006, to cater to the needs of Quinceañeras and their families, as well as connect them to businesses serving and creating fabulous Quinceañera parties.

Over 50 exhibitors offering diverse products and services were flocked by 2,000 enthusiastic girls and families, testing cakes, looking for the best DJs and photographers, and, most importantly, securing the best deals at the most recent Quinceanera.com Expo, held on April 10th at the Quiet Cannon banquet facility in Montebello, CA.

“I loved the expo! My parents and I stopped at every exhibitor’s display, but my favorite part was definitely the fashion show,” stated Tiffany Martinez, future Quinceañera and Pomona resident.

The fashion show displayed designs by Roxana Porres of Roxy’s Bridal, whose participation in the April 10 event marked her third time showcasing at the Quinceanera.com Expo. With her experience in the series, Roxana has learned how to reach this growing market in a unique way. Her designs vary from contrasting patterns, bright colors, animal print, and are even offered in dynamic designs that can be worn either as a full gown or as a miniskirt, to accommodate to all fashion senses. According to Roxana, if the Quinceañera girl can imagine her dream dress, she can create it. “This event has become sensational amongst the girls! I highly recommend parents to come prepared to find excellent price quotes for dresses to everything they need for their party in just one place.”

The participation of Roxy’s Bridal in the Quinceanera.com Expo has enabled Roxana to also reach an international audience; the expo’s Youtube video has helped sell her designs in Mexico and Argentina. “Thanks to the Quinceanera.com Expos, our popularity has risen and I will gladly continue to be a part of this,” she adds.

The next “Quinceanera.com Expo and Fashion Show” will take place on June 5th at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort in Orange County. The 2011 Expo series will continue on September 25th in Ontario, and on October 16th in San Diego.

Quinceanera.com is a multi-platform party-planning brand that integrates web, newsletters, a print supplement, mobile, and live events to reach bilingual Quinceañeras and their families. The Quinceanera.com Expo is presented by El Clasificado, a print and verified publication with a weekly circulation of 460,000 and a weekly readership of more than 1.5 million. El Clasificado is distributed to more than 250 cities in Southern and Central California.

For media inquiries or for additional information, please call Alicia Monsalve at 1-800-450-5852 or via email at amonsalve(at)elclasificado(dot)com