Millennials Write Off Social Security; Grads Not Ready for Jobs; Golf in Decline

Sunday, 06 Jul 2014 12:52 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Most Millennials Not Expecting Social Security Benefits
2. Study: Food Trucks Safer Than Restaurants
3. Golf Losing Players, Courses, Fans
4. Los Angeles Still Worst for Traffic Congestion
5. Survey: Just 19% Think H.S. Grads Are Ready for a Job
 

1. Most Millennials Not Expecting Social Security Benefits

More than half the members of the millennial generation, 51 percent, believe they will not receive any Social Security benefits at all when they reach retirement.

Just 6 percent of millennials — Americans born after 1980 —think they will get benefits at the level enjoyed by current retirees, and 39 percent believe they will receive benefits at reduced levels, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center disclosed.

Millennial adults are now ages 18 to 33, and they comprise 27 percent of the total U.S. population.

They are even more pessimistic today than they were when Pew conducted a similar poll in 2011. At that time, 42 percent said they expected to receive no Social Security payments, while 72 percent said benefits would not be a "main source" of their retirement income.

Among Americans already retired, 58 said that benefits were their main source of income, and 28 percent said the payments were their only source of income.

There are ample reasons for the millennials' concerns. Within 15 years, the number of Americans reaching retirement age will increase 70 percent, while the number of working-age Americans will rise by just 6 percent.

When Social Security started in 1935, there were 17 workers for each retiree. By 2035, it's estimated that there will be only two workers per retiree, according to The Daily Caller.

Social Security already accounts for 23 percent of the federal budget, and the trust is estimated to run out of funds by 2042.

Most of the increase in benefits being paid out is attributable to Americans' longer life expectancy. In 1940, life expectancy after age 65 was about 12 years. Today it is 19 years.

To deal with the looming crisis, most millennials favor changing Social Security to allow younger workers to put their payroll taxes into private investment accounts. Pew found that 86 percent of millennials favored such an approach, while only 40 percent favored raising the Social Security retirement age.

Editor's Note:



2. Study: Food Trucks Safer Than Restaurants

A new study refutes the oft-held notion that meals from food trucks are unsafe, and finds that food trucks are actually safer than brick-and-mortar restaurants in terms of health code violations.

The Institute for Justice, a libertarian advocacy firm, conducted the study as part of its "Street Eats, Safe Eats" campaign to relax food truck regulations across the nation.

The IJ reviewed more than 260,000 food-safety inspection reports from seven large American cities where mobile vendors are covered by the same health codes and inspection rules as restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses.

In each of the seven cities, food trucks did as well as or better than restaurants.

In six of the cities — Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Louisville, Miami, and Washington, D.C. — food trucks averaged fewer sanitation violations than restaurants, and the differences were statistically significant.

In Washington, for example, mobile food vendors averaged 1.8 total violations during a two-year period studied, while restaurants averaged 4.3 violations.

In the seventh city, Seattle, food trucks averaged fewer violations, but the difference was not statistically significant.

"Some people have claimed that food trucks are unsanitary and nothing more than 'roach coaches.' The results suggest that the notion that street food is unsafe is a myth," the IJ states in its report. "They also suggest that the recipe for clean and safe food trucks is simple — inspections.

"More burdensome regulations proposed in the name of food safety, such as outright bans and limits on where mobile vendors may work, do not make street food safer — they just make it harder to get."

Editor's Note:



3. Golf Losing Players, Courses, Fans

It was not too long ago that golf was enjoying tremendous popularity across a broad spectrum of Americans, but in recent years the sport has fallen on rough times.

The number of U.S. golfers has dropped to about 23 million, down 24 percent from its peak of nearly 30 million in 2002. In 2013 alone, the sport lost 1.1 million players, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

The number of golfers is now lower than in 1990 even though the U.S. population is 27 percent larger today.

The number of golf courses has plummeted as well. Only 14 new courses were built last year, while about 160 shut down, according to the National Golf Foundation. As recently as 2008 there were 17,672 courses in the United States, but the number has dropped for eight straight years; by the end of 2013 there were only 14,564.5.

The golf business has suffered, too. TaylorMade, a golf equipment maker, reported a 34 percent plunge in sales in the first quarter of this year. Thanks to a glut of inventory, a driver that sold at Dick's Sporting Goods for $299 just 20 months ago is now on sale for $99, Businessweek noted.

There are several reasons for the game's decline. First, it is frustratingly difficult to master. Second, it is time-consuming — a round of 18 holes can take more than four hours, not including travel time to and from the course. And it's expensive.

"The baby boomers were supposed to be the salvation of golf," Jim Koppenhaver, president of Pellucid, a consulting company that specializes in golf, told Businessweek. But that has not occurred.

Golf viewership is also down. This spring only 7.8 percent of U.S. television households tuned in to watch the Masters tournament, the lowest rating since 2004 and a 24 percent decline from last year.

But it's not yet time to write the epitaph for a sport that has been around in its modern form since the 15th century.

In fact, the first written record of golf in Scotland dates to 1457, when King James II banned the game — because it distracted from the learning of archery.

Editor's Note:



4. Los Angeles Still Worst for Traffic Congestion

The nation's worst rush-hour traffic can be found, not surprisingly, in Los Angeles. But the No. 2 city is a surprise.

Each year, three organizations produce traffic congestion reports — Tom Tom, an automotive navigation systems manufacturer; INRIX, which provides driver services and traffic information; and the Texas Transportation Institute of Texas A&M University (TTI).

The reports estimate the “excess travel time” lost in traffic congestion during morning and evening weekday rush hours.

This excess time is relative to the travel time that would be expected if traffic were free-flowing and there was no congestion.

The New Geography website has used the three reports to produce a composite congestion index, covering the period from 2011 to 2013.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area notches the worst traffic congestion in all three reports — 44.4 percent excess travel time. The TTI report typically has placed Los Angeles at the top of the list for congestion during its 30-year history. Congestion has worsened in part due to the cancellation of planned freeways and freeway segments in the Los Angeles metro area, according to New Geography.

The second worst congestion is in Austin, Texas, with 34.5 percent excess travel time.

In the mid-1950s, when the final plans for the Interstate Highway System were completed, "Austin was much smaller and only a single interstate route was justified," New Geography observes.

Opposition to freeway construction has also contributed to the congestion.

San Francisco (34.4 percent) is No. 3 and New York (33.4 percent) is No. 4. Both cities have a high population density.

Seattle is No. 5 at 32.4 percent, due in part to the cancellation of some planned freeways.

Rounding out the worst 10 are San Jose, Calif. (32.2 percent); Washington, D.C. (31.3); Boston (29.7); Houston (28.3); and Portland, Ore. (28.2).

The least congested metropolitan area among the 51 on the New Geography list is Richmond, Va., with just 8.7 percent excess travel time.

In some cities, the low congestion can be attributed to population loss, although Richmond has experienced greater than average growth since 2000.

Other metros with low congestion are Kansas City (10.9 percent), Rochester, N.Y. (11.5), Cleveland (12.9), Salt Lake City (13.3), and Buffalo and St. Louis (both at 13.5).

Editor's Note:



5. Survey: Just 19% Think H.S. Grads Are Ready for a Job

A solid majority of Americans — 69 percent — say most high school graduates today do not have the skills needed to enter the workforce, a new Rasmussen Reports poll reveals.

And only 19 percent of the likely voters polled say most graduates have the needed skills, the lowest level of confidence since polling began in March 2012. The rest are not sure.

Similarly, 19 percent think most high school graduates have the skills needed for college, while 67 percent disagree, the highest percentage yet.

Only about a quarter of respondents, 26 percent, give the American public education system a good or excellent mark, while 35 percent rate it poorly and just 18 percent believe U.S. public schools provide a world-class education.

Just 19 percent of those polled think most school textbooks are more concerned about accurately providing information, and 62 percent think they are more concerned with presenting information in a politically correct way.

Parents with children in school are more likely to be critical of textbooks' accuracy than those without them.

The controversial Common Core national education standards have been adopted in 45 states, but only 39 percent of Americans in the Rasmussen poll think it is at least somewhat likely that they will improve student achievement, and a mere 11 percent believe it is very likely.

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