New research shows that after 20 years, Texas’s “Top 10 Percent” plan is a poor substitute for affirmative action.

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For about the last 20 years, after a federal court decision banning affirmative action in college admissions, the state of Texas has relied on the “race-neutral” strategy of automatic admission for every high school senior graduating in the top 10 percent of their class.

This so-called “Top Ten Percent Plan” is intended to mimic affirmative action by broadening the pool of high schools sending students to the state’s colleges and universities — including especially the flagship campuses of the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and Texas A&M University in College Station (Texas A&M). …


Women are told to negotiate. But research finds that’s not enough.

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As a freelance writer, I find that the hardest part of the job isn’t coming up with ideas or sitting down to write. Rather, it’s putting a fair dollar value on my work. I have yet to figure out how much to ask for or what my time is worth. So I tend to accept the first offer, grateful for the chance to be published (hey, it’s tough out there).

I’m not alone. Many women I know — even those who are extraordinarily successful — confess they hate negotiating their pay. …


Trade is now a top-tier concern for many U.S. voters, a new series of polls finds.

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U.S. presidents rarely put international trade at the heart of their economic agendas, preferring instead to focus on domestic priorities. President Donald Trump, however, was unique in making trade a defining issue of his presidency. Trump’s trade war with China was a focal point of his administration, as was the renegotiation of NAFTA as the USMCA. Trump’s often aggressive stance on trade also often served as a proxy for his broader populist messaging on the economy.

One result is that trade is now a top-tier concern for many voters, according to three polls I helped draft through TradeVistas (a nonprofit…


A conversation with Dorothy Tucker, President of the National Association of Black Journalists

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After George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police this summer sparked protests nationwide, multiple news outlets found themselves embroiled in controversies over insensitive and racist coverage of the unrest.

The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined a story “Buildings Matter Too,” about the impacts of Black Lives Matter protests on city infrastructure. The ensuing uproar led to a staff walkout, a public apology and the ouster of a top editor. The New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton supporting military intervention to shut down demonstrations. Days later, the Times’ editorial page editor James Bennet resigned. …


Photo by Florian Steciuk on Unsplash

Skills of the Trade: Asphalt Technologists Wanted

There are 2.2 million miles of roads and highways that criss-cross the United States. Chances are that you’ve never thought about the blacktop asphalt beneath your wheels as you drive across the country, the state or to your local grocery store.

Asphalt is, however, the obsession of Allen Miller, who works at the Cedar Mountain Stone Corporation in Culpeper, Virginia, as one of five apprentices learning industrial maintenance and the emerging discipline of “asphalt technology.” Under the tutelage of a mentor at the company, Miller spends his days learning how to operate the asphalt plant that operates 24–7 at Cedar…


They are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coronavirus recession.

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A little more than a decade ago, millennial college students graduated into what was then the worst economy in decades. In the United States, the Great Recession wreaked long-term damage on young people, many of whom faced slim job prospects along with mountains of student debt. Compared to earlier generations, these young adults today have less wealth, more debt and are less likely to be financially secure.

Today’s youngest workers could have it even worse. Young workers — who make up a disproportionate share of workers in hospitality, food service, retail and other service industries hit hardest by the COVID-19…


Labor provisions are an increasingly important feature in trade agreements. But do they work?

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How countries treat their workers might seem unconnected to the movement of goods and services across national borders. Yet in many trade negotiations, a trading partner’s labor standards are an increasingly important concern.

The fate of the pending United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), for instance, hinged for months on bipartisan support for the pact’s provisions around labor. In fact, the Trump Administration made major efforts to woo organized labor and ultimately secured the support of the AFL-CIO, thereby ensuring the agreement’s passage through the Democratically-controlled House.

But despite the attention paid to labor provisions in trade deals like USMCA, domestic policy…


A community’s store of “social capital” can determine how well it rebounds from adversity.

Cities Rise and Fall

As one of the nation’s largest producers of steel, the city of Youngstown, Ohio, helped drive American prosperity in two of its most consequential eras — during the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century and after World War II, when the nation assumed its place as an economic and industrial superpower.

In a neighboring state, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, also rose to global pre-eminence as a manufacturing powerhouse, in this case for the breadth and quality of its furniture production. …


Low unemployment rates mask soft spots in the job market, especially among rural Americans and minorities.

For the last several months, Republicans have been resting on the laurels of positive job growth and low unemployment — proof, they say, of the Trump economy’s strength. In March, the nation’s official jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent, the lowest it’s been since the peak of the Great Recession and a level that many economists say is at or approaching “full employment.”

Certainly on paper, the labor market looks to be nearly as tight as it was during past expansions, such as during the boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. …


Research finds same-day voter registration and vote by mail to be the most effective strategies. Robo-calls? Not so much.

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Despite the all-consuming attention paid to presidential elections, U.S. voter turnout is among the worst in the world compared to other advanced economies. The Pew Research Center reports that America ranks near the bottom among the countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (31st out of 34), behind such places as Turkey, Slovakia and Poland.

States have launched a variety of experiments to increase voter turnout, such as same-day voter registration, robo-calls and vote by mail (see Vote from Home, Save Your Country). And since 1996, voter turnout in presidential elections has risen slightly, from 58.4 percent in…

Anne Kim

I write about politics, economics, poverty and opportunity. Author of Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection, from the New Press.

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