August 18, 2022

China buys more GM cars than US; Best States for 2014 job growth

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RTR2CPNA1From newsmax

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):

1. U.S. Fertility Rate Hits All-Time Low

2. North Dakota, Arizona Best for Job Growth in ’14

3. Christian Pastor Freed in Iran After Christmas Arrest

4. Israel Naming Anti-Missile Facility for Sen. Inouye

5. U.S. Ranks Low for Traffic Congestion

6. China Buying More GM Cars Than America

1. U.S. Fertility Rate Hits All-Time Low

The fertility rate in the United States fell to a record low for the second year in a row in 2012, new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal.

And for the fifth consecutive year, more than 40 percent of babies born in the country were born to unwed mothers.

The fertility rate is the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. According to the CDC’s report “Births: Final Data for 2012,” the rate was 63, breaking the record low of 63.2 set the previous year.

The rate in 2007 was 69.3. It fell to 68.1 in 2008, then to 66.2 in 2009. It continued to fall in 2010, reaching 64.1.

Rates declined 1 percent for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women, and were essentially unchanged for non-Hispanic black women from 2011 to 2012.

The U.S. fertility rate has declined 46.6 percent since 1960, when the rate was 118.

The CDC also disclosed that the fertility rate for teens aged 15 to 19 dropped to 29.4 in 2012, down 6 percent from the previous year and the lowest rate ever reported.

The mean age of a mother at first birth rose to 25.8 in 2012, up from 25.6 in 2011.

Of the 3,952,841 births registered in the United States in 2012, 40.7 percent were to unmarried women. The percentage first reached 40 percent in 2008, and has remained over 40 percent every year since then.

The percentage of babies born to unwed mothers has more than doubled since 1980, when only 18.4 percent of babies were born to unmarried women.

While the U.S. fertility rate has been steadily declining, America’s birth rate — the number of births during a year per 1,000 persons — is actually higher than that of 74 other nations and territories.

The U.S. rate was around 13, according to the CIA World Factbook’s figures for a recent year. The lowest rate was in Monaco, 6.85, and the highest in Niger, 50.06.

2. North Dakota, Arizona Best for Job Growth in ’14

The United States is projected to create 2.6 million new jobs this year, up from 2.2 million last year, due largely to the strength of the healthcare, energy, and high-tech sectors, Stateline reports.

At the end of 2013, the nation had regained about 85 percent of the 9 million jobs lost during the recession, creating around 200,000 new jobs a month.

The national unemployment rate was at its lowest in five years, 7 percent, down from the 10 percent peak in October 2009, according to Stateline, a publication from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The strongest job growth will be in North Dakota, thanks to the ongoing boom in oil and natural gas production. The state’s growth rate is expected to be 3.57 percent.

Arizona will be second in job growth at 3.08 percent due in part to a boost from the high-tech sector. Apple and Intel are both opening new job-creating facilities in the state.

Texas will be next at 2.75 percent, followed by Colorado at 2.6 percent. Florida will see a surge of 2.34 percent.

Rounding out the top 10 are Georgia, South Carolina, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.

The slowest job growth will be in Illinois — an increase of just 0.98 percent — followed by Maine (1.02 percent), Vermont (1.11 percent), and New York (1.12 percent). Other slower-growth states are Alaska, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

In raw numbers, Texas will generate the most new jobs, an estimated 308,000 in 2014, followed by California with 264,000 new jobs. Florida will add 176,000 jobs, many of those in construction and tourism, and Arizona will generate 77,000 jobs.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicts that the American economy will reach full employment, estimated as a 5.75 percent jobless rate, within three years.

But even as the economy improves, Stateline observes, “State lawmakers may be under increasing pressure to do more to help the nearly 11 million Americans who are still unemployed.

“Republicans likely will continue to press for tax cuts as a way to create jobs, while Democrats will try to boost job training and education programs and push for increases in the minimum wage.”

3. Christian Pastor Freed in Iran After Christmas Arrest

An Iranian pastor who was previously sentenced to death for embracing Christianity has been released from jail after being arrested again on Christmas Day.

Youcef Nadarkhani, in his early 30s, spent nearly three years in prison before being freed from death row in 2012 when apostasy charges were dropped.

But he was taken into custody again on Christmas and spent 14 days behind bars before his release, CNS News reported.

This would have been the first time in three years that Nadarkhani, who embraced Christianity at age 19, spent Christmas with his family, according to The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“The ACLJ welcomes his release from this unjust and illegal imprisonment,” the organization said in a statement. “Iran must not be allowed to persecute individuals because of their faith.

“His re-arrest on Christmas Day shows Iran’s intent to make an example of Pastor Youcef to intimidate people of minority faiths.

“Pastor Youcef’s release is a direct result of people across the world standing up and demanding his freedom.”

Mohabat News reported that Iranian police and security officials raided a private home in Tehran where “approximately 50 newly converted Christians had gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the occasion of Christmas.”

The group included Nadarkhani and a pastor of Armenian descent, Vruir Avanessian, who suffers from kidney disease.

The British Foreign Office said in a statement that the arrests “show the depths of intolerance with which the Iranian government treats its own citizens.”

The ACLJ pointed out that while Nadarkhani has been freed again, American pastor Saeed Abedini remains in prison.

As the Insider Report disclosed earlier, Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence on charges of endangering national security. But supporters say he was in Iran working to build an orphanage with permission from the Iranian government, and his wife maintains he is being punished for converting from Islam to Christianity.

In November, Abedini was transferred from a prison in Tehran to another jail considered one of Iran’s most brutal, and penned in a 10-foot-by-10-foot cell with five inmates who were likely imprisoned for murder or rape.

The ACLJ has been sharply critical of the Obama administration for not doing more to secure Abedini’s release.

4. Israel Naming Anti-Missile Facility for Sen. Inouye

Israel will name an Arrow anti-missile facility after Daniel Inouye, the longtime Hawaii senator who was a strong supporter of the Jewish state.

It will mark the first time that Israel has named a military facility for a non-Israeli. The naming ceremony will take place on Jan. 14.

Democrat Inouye, who died in December 2012, served in the Senate for 50 years. At the time of his death, he was president pro tempore of the Senate and chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Inouye sold State of Israel bonds in Hawaii in the 1950s before becoming a lawmaker, and championed Israel as a top appropriator during his long tenure in Congress.

For a time he even considered converting to Judaism, according to the Jewish Daily Forward.

His interest in Israel reportedly stemmed from learning the fate of Jews during the Holocaust after he served in Italy in a unit of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Marshall Wittmann, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, declared: “The naming of this site after the late Senator Inouye is very appropriate since he deeply understood the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and he worked tirelessly and effectively to ensure that America’s ally Israel had the necessary resources to defend her people, particularly in the area of missile defense.”

5. U.S. Ranks Low for Traffic Congestion

Los Angeles may be notorious for its crowded freeways and traffic tie-ups, but it doesn’t even rank in the world’s top five urban areas for excess time spent traveling due to congestion.

In fact, of the 24 most congested urban areas in high-income countries, just four are in the United States, according to TomTom International, an Amsterdam-based automobile navigation services company.

For its recently issued TomTom Traffic Index, the company analyzed data for 122 urban areas in the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, including nearly all urban areas with more than 1 million population.

“It might be expected that the ‘sprawl’ of U.S. urban areas, and their virtual universality of automobile ownership, as well as the paucity of transit ridership in most metropolitan areas, would send the U.S. to the netherworld of worst traffic congestion,” NewGeography observed in a report on the Index.

“This is not so, and not by a long shot.”

Surprisingly, the nation with the most traffic congestion in its urban areas is New Zealand, where the average excess time spent in traffic was 31.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013. This means the average trip that would take 30 minutes without congestion would take about 40 minutes.

Australia ranks second at 27.4 percent, followed by Canada at 24.8 percent, and Western Europe at 22.2 percent.

The United States ranks fifth with an average of 18.3 percent.

“Residents of the United States benefit because employment is more dispersed, which tends to result in less urban-core-related traffic congestion. Lower density and employment dispersion are instrumental in the more modest traffic congestion of the United States,” according to demographer Wendell Cox, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and author of the NewGeography report.

Among the largest urban areas in high-income countries, Marseille, France, and Palermo, Italy, have the most traffic congestion, with a TomTom Traffic Index of 40 percent, followed by Vancouver, Rome, Paris, and Stockholm.

Los Angeles ranks at No. 7 with an excess travel time of 35 percent. The only other U.S. urban areas in the top 24 are San Francisco at No. 11 (32 percent), and Honolulu and Seattle, tied at No. 20 (28 percent).

Of the 122 urban areas in the index, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Detroit, Columbus, and Birmingham are the least congested metropolitan areas, with an index of just 14 percent.

Rochester, N.Y., Salt Lake City, Louisville, and Oklahoma City also have an index lower than any non-U.S. city, ahead of Seville, Spain. And six other American metros rank in the top 22 for the least traffic congestion.

6. China Buying More GM Cars Than America

General Motors sold more cars in China last year than in the United States — nearly 3.2 million vehicles compared to 2.78 million in America.

GM sales in China were up 11.4 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year. The company sold an average of one vehicle every 10 seconds and nearly 9,000 a day, according to a report from MSN’s Detroit Bureau.

Most GM cars sold in China are manufactured locally by GM and its 10 joint ventures there. The first China-built GM car, a Buick, was produced in 1998, and the Cadillac was introduced in 2004.

Buick sales in China rose 15.7 percent, finishing 2013 at an all-time high of 809,918 vehicles, while Cadillac sales were up 66.6 percent to a record 50,005 vehicles.

But rival carmaker Volkswagen is expected to outpace GM in China sales. Like GM, Volkswagen sells more cars in China than in its home market of Germany and the European Union.

One of GM’s joint ventures, Shanghai GM, sold a record 1.512 million vehicles last year. The company has broken ground for a new Cadillac plant.

China now has 4,250 dealerships nationwide.

“GM maintained good growth momentum in our company’s largest market, despite a modest slowdown in demand for commercial vehicles,” said Matt Tsien, president of GM China. “We expect sales to remain robust in 2014, driven by ongoing strong demand across China for personal four-wheel transportation.”

Sales of Ford Motor Company vehicles also surged last year, rising 49 percent to 935,813 units, while Toyota sold 917,500.

Postscript: GM began making Chevrolets in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1993.

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PHOTO: reuters

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