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2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure; Taking the Pulse of Main Street: Small Businesses, Health Insurance and Prioritie

2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure - The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation a D average grade for its poorly maintained, often crumbling infrastructure, estimating that $2.2 trillion in investments are needed to repair and upgrade it.  They emphasize the threat to the long-term economic health from the problem and the need for long-term planning to make the investments needed.

Taking the Pulse of Main Street: Small Businesses, Health Insurance and Priorities for Reform - The loudest business voices in D.C. and state capitols are often conservative opponents of needed reforms, but this survey of 1200 small business owners by the Main Street Alliance, a network of small business health care coalitions, found that actual small business owners are deeply concerned about the affordability of health insurance.  They also support government health care plans as an alternative to private coverage and even support funding proposals where those businesses pay a share towards financing such public health care alternatives. 

Stimulating Broadband: If Obama Builds It, Will They Log On? - This survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project highlights that lack of access and the high cost of broadband are key barriers to those currently not using high-speed Internet, barriers that both federal and state leaders need to address to bridge the digital divide.  However, what is also clear from the survey is that many non-users also need training and support in using the technology to benefit from making technology more available and affordable.  

Jump in Public Sector Unionization Raises Overall Rate Again in 2008 - Union membership increased significantly in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual union membership report released this week.  The unionized share of the U.S. workforce climbed to 12.4 percent last year from 12.1 percent in 2007, an addition to union rolls of more than 420,000 members.  The Center for Economic and Policy Research has additional key facts, including the fact that unions seem to be weathering the beginnings of the economic downturn, which bodes well for the future.