A screenshot of Nashville from the Neighborhood Map of U.S. Obesity, which overlays different types of Census and national health data, visualizes where obesity is more highly concentrated around the city. The scale ranges from blue, which is zero to 24.24 percent obesity to red, which is 52.39 percent to 100 percent.
1. High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University
Ashley Gross and Jon Marcus, NPR
“The reported death of the middle economy is greatly exaggerated,” according to a Georgetown University study called “Good Jobs that pay without a BA.”
In fact, there are 30 million jobs in the U.S. that pay a median earning of $55,000 a year without a bachelor’s degree.
But many states, including Tennessee, have been pushing traditional higher education even though academic institutions don’t often offer the skills for trade jobs that can pay what a Tennessee commissioner called a “family sustaining wage.”
The NPR piece highlights the friction between the cost of a bachelor’s degree, burden of debt and potential earnings: “While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor’s degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.”
States in the South and West saw the biggest jump in what are called “good jobs” (those that don’t require a BA) from 1991 to 2015.
Skilled jobs, such as those found in the health and financial services industries, account for the biggest increase but Tennessee was one of about half the states that saw an increase in “good” blue collar jobs in the same time period, according to the study.
Tennessee state officials are trying to find ways to encourages businesses to create apprenticeships in order to train people to be the workers the businesses need. The goal is twofold, to create a pipeline to fill the skilled trade-type jobs and continue to attract new employees to the respective companies in a tight economy.
Raising the level of education of Tennesseans has been a top priority for Gov. Bill Haslam as he seeks to grow and sustain the state’s economic viability.
The Economist philosophizes on how the “social sorting mechanism” of universities leads to governments “overestimating the economic benefits of higher education.”
From WPLN’s Emily Siner: Does Free Community College Mean More Graduates? First Tennessee Promise Data Is In
2. The next frontier in workplace wellness: financial health
Beth Pinsker, Reuters
This is a really interesting read that highlights how financial unwellness, whether that’s needing to turn to the occasional payday loan or being burdened by student loan repayment, is impacting employees on the job.
Excerpt: “The latest study, released by PwC on Tuesday, found that a quarter of U.S. workers said financial worries caused them health problems.”
The piece highlights how Eastman Chemical, based in Kingsport, Tenn., is expanding the types of “financial wellness offerings” it offers employees.
3. As rich children slim down, poor ones are getting fatter
A study in the U.K. found that children from poor families have gained more weight than those from wealthy families in recent years despite a public awareness campaign about the consequences of obesity.
The percent of overweight 10- and 11-year-olds in families in the wealthiest decile has dropped since 2009, while the percentage of obese children in families with average income or those that are in the poorest decile has increased.
Experts hypothesized that more junk food ads might be seen by children in poorer families, the cost of food could be rising, and that buying healthy food might become a lower priority for parents who are trying to pay rent and keep the lights on.
The U.K. instituted a new tax on sugary drinks earlier this year — a move that echoes policies in a handful of municipalities around the United States.
Obesity in the U.S. is a public health crisis that the Commonwealth Fund’s David Radley says is on par in severity as the opioid crisis. Tennessee, by one ranking system, has the highest percentage of obese children in the U.S.
The gap in health care for the rich and poor in the U.S. has been widening even as the health care industry begins to think (marginally) more about the behaviors and lifestyle factors that influence health.
The income status of a child’s family is a harbinger for longer term success, as illustrated in a redesign of the infamous marshmallow test at Stanford University that linked a propensity for delayed gratification in children with achievement, later in life. A new version of the marshmallow test that controlled for socioeconomic factors found different correlations linked to education and income of parents.
The Neighborhood Map of U.S. Obesity visualizes where obesity is prevalent. Granted, given the high percentage of obesity in Tennessee there is a weight problem in communities across the state. Yet, the map shows that poorer Nashville neighborhoods have higher concentrations of obesity.
4. NFL player Laurent Duvernay-Tardif graduates medical school
When the NFL season starts up again, a lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs will have “Dr.” added to his jersey. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif graduated with a medical degree from McGill University in Montreal in the last week — a degree that he’s balanced with his pro football career.
For the optimists out there…
Katherine Doherty, Bloomberg