In an exclusive essay the Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) chairman and CEO explains why women are key to America's prosperity.
By Warren Buffett @FortuneMagazine
Fortune) - In the flood of words written recently about women and work, one related and hugely significant point seems to me to have been neglected. It has to do with America's future, about which - here's a familiar opinion from me - I'm an unqualified optimist. Now entertain another opinion of mine: Women are a major reason we will do so well.
Start with the fact that our country's progress since 1776 has been mind-blowing, like nothing the world has ever seen. Our secret sauce has been a political and economic system that unleashes human potential to an extraordinary degree. As a result Americans today enjoy an abundance of goods and services that no one could have dreamed of just a few centuries ago.
But that's not the half of it - or, rather, it's just about the half of it. America has forged this success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country's talent. For most of our history, women - whatever their abilities - have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.
By Tami Luhby, @CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - The net worth of American households grew by $5 trillion in the first two years of the economic recovery, but not everyone shared in the riches.
The top 7% of American families saw their wealth grow to $25.4 trillion in 2011, up from $19.8 trillion two years earlier. The remaining 93% of Americans experienced a decline in net worth to $14.8 trillion, down from $15.4 trillion, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.
(CNNMoney) - Ideally, gender wouldn't affect the jobs people train for and get, or how they are compensated. But we're certainly not there yet. At the same time, certain American jobs have shifted from majority male to majority female over the past few decades. Here are five professions that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women rule.
By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - When Debbie Bruister buys a gallon of milk at her local Kroger supermarket, she pays $3.69, up 70 cents from what she paid last year.
Getting to the store costs more, too. Gas in Corinth, Miss., her hometown, costs $3.51 a gallon now, compared to less than three bucks in 2012. That really hurts, considering her husband's 112-mile daily round-trip commute to his job as a pharmacist.
Bruister, a mother of four, received a $1,160 raise this school year at her job as an eighth-grade computer teacher. The extra cash - about $97 a month, before taxes and other deductions - isn't enough for her and her husband to keep up with their rising costs, especially after the elimination of the payroll tax break. Its loss shrunk their paychecks by more than $270 a month.
"If you look at how much prices are going up, you get in the hole really quick," Bruister said. "It's a constant squeeze."
In the wake of the Great Recession, millions of middle-class people are being pinched by stagnating incomes and the increased cost of living. America's median household income has dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and the typical trappings of middle-class life are slipping out of financial reach for many families.
Families with young kids are struggling to afford childcare and save for the ever-climbing costs of college. Those nearing retirement are scrambling to sock away funds so they don't have to work forever. A weak labor market means that employed Americans aren't getting the pay raises they need to keep up - especially with big-ticket items such as health care eating away at their paychecks.
Economists say it boils down to two core problems: jobs and wages. The traditional "middle-class job" is disappearing.
(CNNMoney) - The wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances, according to a new study by Brandeis University.
That type of inequality can be a drag on economic growth for everyone, said Thomas Shapiro, director of the university's Institute on Assets and Social Policy, which conducted the research.
The difference in wealth between typical households in each racial group ballooned to $236,500 in 2009, up from $85,000 in 1984, according to the study, released Wednesday. By 2009, the median net worth of white families was $265,000, while blacks had only $28,500.
Brandeis researchers looked at the same set of 1,700 families over the 25-year period to see how their actual work and school experiences affected their wealth accumulation.
What they found is that home ownership is driving the growing gap. Price appreciation is more limited in non-white neighborhoods, making it harder for blacks to build equity. Also, because whites are more likely to have family financial assistance for down payments, they are able to buy homes an average of eight years earlier than black families and to put down larger upfront payments that lower interest rates and mortgage costs.
The home ownership rate for whites is 28% higher than that of blacks.
Editor's note: Van Jones, a CNN contributor, is president and founder of Rebuild the Dream, an online platform focusing on policy, economics and media. He was President Obama's green jobs adviser in 2009. He is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy.
By Van Jones, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - Tonight, our nation's first black president will deliver the first State of the Union of his historic second term. The time has come for him to say something about the disproportionate pain that his most loyal voting bloc - black Americans - are experiencing today.
Winning two successive elections hasn't just proven that this nation is great enough to rise above the racial discrimination of its very recent past. It's also opened the door to more frank conversations about continuing racial challenges in America.
Just look at the fierce debate over immigration going on in America today. We have progressed to the point where commentators and politicians freely discuss how to court "the Latino vote." They happily and eagerly insist that politicians should court the "Latino vote" and champion so-called "Latino" issues, like immigration reform. Discussing the promise, contributions and the needs of particular, ethnic communities in a big, diverse nation is no longer taboo.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama should acknowledge that while economic pain in today's American is not limited to any one community, some communities are in more trouble than others. Prioritizing broad prosperity for all doesn't mean ignoring the fact that some folks are further behind.
The truth is, the black community finds itself in the worst of all possible situations - both economically and politically. FULL POST
By Annalyn Kurtz @CNNMoney
(CNNMoney)– Doctors are still mostly men, and nurses are almost all women. But pharmacists are another story.
Pharmacists are a fast-growing profession offering a six-figure salary - and the pay is nearly equal for men and women.
"The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today," Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in a paper on the subject they published in September.
Women make up slightly more than 50% of all full-time pharmacists, according to Census data collected in 2011. Once you factor in part-timers, they make up around 55% of the profession.
Full-time female pharmacists earned a median salary of $111,000 in 2011, about 92 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts.
Yes, there's a small pay gap there, but it can be almost entirely explained by some men working longer hours - not discrimination.
by Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
(CNNMoney) - Though blacks' job prospects have improved from the depths of the Great Recession, they still suffer from disproportionately high unemployment.
Pegged to Black History Month, the U.S. Congress' Joint Economic Committee put out a stats sheet highlighting the gap. It takes longer, on average, for black workers for find a job, and even having a college degree doesn't help as much as it does for other job-seeking populations. The black unemployment rate is currently 13.8% unemployment rate, far higher than the 7.9% national rate.
"Congress can help ensure that the economic situation of black workers and their families continues to improve by supporting programs that provide assistance to those who are struggling to make ends meet and examining new approaches to alleviating unemployment and poverty," the bipartisan JEC wrote in its release.
By Annalyn Kurtz @CNNMoney
(CNN Money) - What's the most common job for American women?
The same as it was in the 1950s: secretary.
About 4 million workers in the United States fell under the category of "secretaries and administrative assistants" between 2006 and 2010, and 96% of them were women, according to the U.S. Census.
How secretary became women's work
The rise of the secretary began with the Industrial Revolution, which created an enormous amount of paperwork. In the early 20th century, it became a female job as companies realized they could pay women lower wages to do the work.
Secretarial schools offered professional training, which made it possible for many women to enter the career without a full college education.
It wasn't until 1950 that it became the most popular job among women. Back then, 1.7 million women worked in a category the Census defined as "stenographers, typists or secretaries."
While the title has evolved since then, it remains the top female job.
By Jason Kessler, CNN
New York (CNN) - New York City's attempt to keep people from fattening up on sugary soft drinks, by banning some of them, would disproportionately hurt small, minority-owned businesses, according to the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation.
The two groups have filed a joint brief supporting a lawsuit by the American Beverage Association in which they say New York's unelected Board of Health overstepped its power in approving the ban the sale of sugary drinks bigger than 16 ounces in certain city venues.
Due to take effect in March, the ban is meant to combat obesity and encourage residents to live healthier lifestyles, according to the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office. But many have decried the ban as a sign of the growing "nanny-state" and an unfair intrusion on personal freedom.
It was passed in September by the New York City Board of Health, following weeks of intense debate.
In their jointly-filed amicus brief, the NAACP New York State Conference and the Hispanic Federation repeatedly claim that small, minority-owned businesses will suffer from the ban while their much-larger competitors will get a pass.
The ban will "selectively and unfairly harm small and minority-owned businesses by discriminatorily preventing them from selling large 'sugary beverages' while allowing their large competitors such as 7-11 and grocery stores to carry the banned sugary beverages," according to the brief.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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