September 23, 2021

Economix Blog: The Changing Face of Community Colleges

Students at community colleges increasingly come from low-income families, as I mention in an article for Thursday’s newspaper about a new report. The trends, in their simplest terms:

Source: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, “How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do About It,” in Source: Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, “How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do About It,” in “Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College,” ed. Richard D. Kahlenberg (New York: Century Foundation Press, 2010), 136–37, Figures 3.6 and 3.7.

The ethnic breakdown has also changed, as the report, which is being published by The Century Foundation, explains:

Between 1994 and 2006, the white share of the community college population plummeted from 73 percent to 58 percent, while black and Hispanic representation grew from 21 percent to 33 percent, in part reflecting growing diversity in the population as a whole. By contrast, the change was much less dramatic at the most selective four-year colleges during this time period, when the white share dipped just three percentage points (from 78 percent to 75 percent) and the black and Hispanic shares barely moved (from 11 percent to 12 percent).

Community colleges get much less media attention than four-year colleges — and I’ll plead guilty to that charge, too — but they will play an enormous role in shaping the economy. They enroll more than 40 percent of college students nationwide. They also tend to have distressingly low graduation rates, which means they represent a pool of potential college graduates.

As we have written before, the unemployment rate for college graduates is below 4 percent. For everyone else, it is above 7.5 percent.

The full report on community colleges, from the Century Foundation, is now online.

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Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: A Loss at DreamWorks Animation, and a Cute Interspecies Rescue Was Fake

DreamWorks Animation reported an $82.7 million loss in the fourth quarter after taking an $87 million write-down related to the flop “Rise of the Guardians,” Brooks Barnes reports. DreamWorks shares dropped 1.3 percent in regular trading and less than 1 percent in after-hours trading. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the company’s chief executive, said there would be layoffs of around 350 of the company’s 2,000 employees.

An adorable and widely disseminated YouTube clip that appeared to show a pig rescuing a goat struggling in water was, in fact, carefully staged, Dave Itzkoff reports. The video was shared on Twitter by Time magazine and Ellen DeGeneres; broadcast on NBC’s “Today” show and its “Nightly News” program, ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Fox News. (Brian Williams, anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News,” said “we have no way of knowing it’s real” when the video aired.) The video was staged for “Nathan for You,” a show that will debut on Comedy Central on Thursday. Nathan Fielder, the show’s host, said that the media attention was completely unexpected. “If we were trying to pull an elaborate hoax on the news, I think we could have pushed further,” he said.

Twitter hashtags tied to TV shows saturate many broadcasts, allowing stars and producers instant feedback. Shows are now working to close the feedback loop and incorporate those instant responses on the air, Brian Stelter reports. For instance, “American Idol” will start using Twitter to poll its audience on Wednesday and will incorporate the results into a “fan meter”; the show’s producers hope it will engage younger viewers and encourage people to watch live so that their Tweets are added to real-time results. The most successful way to combine social media and television appears to involve true interactivity rather than “talking to” an audience, said Mark Ghuneim, a co-founder of Trendrr, a company that tracks online chatter about TV shows.

Bounce TV, a network that features programming developed for African-American audiences, is hiring new ad-sales employees and opening a New York office after selling commercial time to blue-chip marketers like General Motors, McDonald’s and Johnson Johnson, Stuart Elliott writes. Bounce TV reaches 77 million American television homes and 86 percent of African-American television homes, Jonathan Katz, its chief operating officer, said. The moves also come after Nielsen began to measure viewership and issue ratings for the network.

ABC News is shoring up its political coverage with a few high-profile hires, Dylan Byers reports on Politico. ABC News’s president, Ben Sherwood, has been courting political reporters from The Washington Post, The New York Times and other outlets to strengthen the network’s Washington bureau after several departures. The network announced the hiring of New York Times political reporters Jeff Zeleny and Susan Saulny this week, which may be an indication that it plans to change the nightly news broadcast’s focus from human interest pieces to more political fare. ABC News’s political coverage already has a strong online presence, through its partnership with Yahoo News, Mr. Byers writes.

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Buying a Trump Property, or So They Thought

Far from the New York City towers that bear his name, in cities like Tampa, Fla., and Philadelphia, house hunters clamor to buy into his developments, sometimes exhausting credit lines and wiping out savings for a chance to own a piece of his gilded empire.

But as Mr. Trump, who is weighing a bid for the White House, has zealously sought to cash in on his name, he has entered into arrangements that home buyers describe as deliberately deceptive — designed, they said, to exploit the very thing that drew them to his buildings: their faith in him.

Over the last few years, according to interviews and hundreds of pages of court documents, the real estate mogul has aggressively marketed several luxury high-rises as “Trump properties” or “signature Trump” buildings, with names like Trump Tower and Trump International — even making appearances at the properties to woo buyers. The strong indication of his involvement as a developer generated waves of media attention and commanded premium prices.

But when three of the planned buildings encountered financial trouble, it became clear that Mr. Trump had essentially rented his name to the developments and had no responsibility for their outcomes, according to buyers. In each case, he yanked his name off the projects, which were never completed. The buyers lost millions of dollars in deposits even as Mr. Trump pocketed hefty license fees.

Those who bought the apartments in part because of the Trump name were livid, saying they felt a profound sense of betrayal, and more than 300 of them are now suing Mr. Trump or his company.

“The last thing you ever expect is that somebody you revere will mislead you,” said Alex Davis, 38, who bought a $500,000 unit in Trump International Hotel and Tower Fort Lauderdale, a waterfront property that Mr. Trump described in marketing materials as “my latest development” and compared to the Trump tower on Central Park in Manhattan.

“There was no disclaimer that he was not the developer,” Mr. Davis said. The building, where construction was halted when a major lender ran out of money in 2009, sits empty and unfinished, the outlines of a giant Trump sign, removed long ago, still faintly visible.

Mr. Davis is unable to recover any of his $100,000 deposit — half of which the developer used for construction costs.

Another casualty: his admiration for Mr. Trump, whose books and television show Mr. Davis had devoured. “I bought into an idea of him,” he said, “and it wasn’t what I thought it was.”

Alan Garten, a lawyer for Mr. Trump’s company, said that, regardless of what Mr. Trump himself or any marketing materials had suggested, his role was disclosed in lengthy purchasing documents that buyers should have carefully scrutinized. But in an interview, Mr. Garten acknowledged that, “without a lawyer, it can be difficult” to understand such documents. He suggested that the housing market collapse, not Mr. Trump, was the cause of their troubles.

“They are people who lost money and are looking for somebody to blame,” Mr. Garten said.

Mr. Trump’s Midas touch as a businessman, sometimes real, other times perceived, is central to his presidential aspirations, which have become increasingly hard for Republicans to ignore, even as some of them cringe at his blunt remarks and boastfulness. In the next month, he is scheduled to visit two key primary-season states, South Carolina and Iowa, as he further tests the waters. “I have made myself very rich,” he said recently, sitting in his palatial suite at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. “And I would make this country very rich.”

But regardless of whether Mr. Trump ultimately seeks the presidency, his attempt to promote himself as a savvy financial manager who can lead America out of its economic rut is bringing new scrutiny to his own business practices.

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