The Measure of America 20132014: Pronounced Gaps Continue Across U.S. in Health, Education, and Earnings by Geography, Race, and Ethnicity

(PRWEB) June 19, 2013

Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, today released its latest update to the American Human Development (HD) Index, revealing vast socioeconomic differences across racial and ethnic groups, U.S. states, and the countrys 25 largest metropolitan areas, as well as uneven progress over the past decade. A nonpartisan initiative that seeks to move beyond an overreliance in the U.S. on GDP as a measure of human progress and well-being, Measure of America uses the American HD Index to measure three areas vital to the well-being of ordinary Americans: health, education, and earnings. The report, The Measure of America 20132014, is the third in a series on the American HD Index, first introduced in The Measure of America 20082009 and The Measure of America 20102011: Mapping Risks and Resilience.

In the era of big data, there is an abundance of economic information, including quarterly updates of the countrys gross domestic product and national budget and daily coverage of interest rates and stock market numbers. Yet, the public, policymakers, philanthropists, and nongovernmental organizations rarely hear critical statistics that answer the most relevant questions: How long can a baby born today in Missouri, New Mexico, or Minnesota expect to live? What proportion of adults have completed high school in Houston as compared to Dallas? What wages and salaries are typical of Latinos in the United States, and how do they compare to those of whites or African Americans?

The American HD Index provides the data needed to measure well-being in the three key areas health, education, and earnings – that shape the opportunities available to everyday people and enable them to live freely chosen lives. The American HD Index scores enable a ranking of the 50 U.S. states, Americas 25 largest metro areas, and major racial and ethnic groups and allows for the tracking of progress over time. And by focusing on outcomes, the American HD Index is helpful in determining if investments and resources are moving the needle on the countrys major social and economic challenges. It answers the essential question: How are ordinary Americans doing?

GDP is a useful economic indicator, but it can provide misleading signals when used as a measure of human progress; GDP has tripled over the last 35 years, but the earnings of the typical worker have barely budged, said Kristen Lewis, co-director of Measure of America. The American Human Development Index measures areas vital to all of us health, education, and earnings and moves away from a binary us/them way of looking at advantage and disadvantage, as todays poverty measure does, toward an approach that allows everyone to see themselves along the same continuum.

In The Measure of America 2013-2014, those faring the best and topping the American HD Index for racial and ethnic groups are Asian Americans, followed closely by whites. Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans have lower levels of well-being than Asian Americans and whites at the national level as well as in every state and metropolitan area included in this analysis. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Maryland rank among the top five states on the American HD Index, while Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi hold the bottom rankings. Overall, people living in the nations 25 largest metro areas have higher levels of well-being and access to opportunity than people living in the rest of the country. The best performing metro areas are Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Boston; Detroit, Houston, and Tampa registered the lowest metro area well-being scores.

The American Human Development Index reveals vast differences across racial and ethnic groups, states, and major metropolitan areas, said Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-director of Measure of America. What we are seeing is that some groups of Americans are surging ahead, enjoying longer lives, and reaching higher levels of educational attainment. However, other groups are being left behind in terms of their health and education, and, across the board, earnings are stagnating for ordinary Americans. Leaving people behind hinders our competitiveness and is costly for society as a whole.

Among the key findings of The Measure of America 20132014:

Change Over Time

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