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Big cities post strong growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Urban renewal? New census estimates show that most of the nation’s largest cities further enhanced their allure last year, posting strong population growth for a second straight year.

Big cities surpassed the rate of growth of their surrounding suburbs at an even faster clip, a sign of America’s continuing preference for urban living after the economic downturn quelled enthusiasm for less-crowded expanses.

Farther-out suburbs known as exurbs saw their growth slip to 0.35 percent, the lowest in more than a decade.

Economists generally had played down the recent city boom as an aberration, predicting that young adults in the recovering economy would soon be back on the move after years of staying put in big cities. But the widening gains for cities in 2012 indicate that young people — as well as would-be retirees seeking quieter locales — are playing it safe for a while longer in dense urban cores, where jobs may be easier to find and keep.

Teen pregnancy rate plummets

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s record-low teen birth rate stems from robust declines in nearly every state, but most dramatically in several Mountain States and among Hispanics, according to a new government report.

All states but West Virginia and North Dakota showed significant drops over five years. But the Mountain States of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah saw rates fall by 30 percent or more.

In 22 states, teen Hispanic birth rates plunged at least 40 percent, which was described as “just amazing,” by the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vote due on variable student loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — House lawmakers are ready to pass legislation that links student loan rates to the financial markets in spite of a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

Supported by Republicans, the bill would avoid a rate increase for students with new subsidized Stafford loans if lawmakers pass it, as expected, on Thursday. Democrats generally opposed the measure, which would provide some students a deal in the first years of the new system before ratcheting up interest rates later.

“As the economy continues to recover and at a time when market interest rates are at historic lows, more than 7 million students who rely on these loans to finance postsecondary education should not be burdened with additional college debt as they seek to graduate, launch a career or a business, start a family or buy a house,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a memo announcing its opposition.

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