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10 things we learned at Brookings in May

As a rainy May turns into a muggy June, a quick look at highlights from another busy month at Brookings shows a breadth of interesting content. Here’s a sample.

1. Among all young people (16-24), 7.6 percent are “disconnected”—neither working nor in school

Martha Ross and Nicole Prchal Svajlenka examine data that show the prevalence of disconnected young people in the U.S. The majority—63 percent—are non-white, and 42 percent have less than a high school diploma. “Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to address youth disconnection or to better connect young people to employment,” they write. “To succeed in today’s economy and earn middle-class wages, a young person needs to graduate from high school or earn an alternate credential, enroll in and complete some post-secondary education or job training, and then enter the labor market with skills that match employer demand.”

2. Nine facts about the Great Recession

During the Great Recession, between December 2007 and June 2009, the U.S. experienced a 4 percent decline in its GDP and severe job losses throughout the country. New data from The Hamilton Project show the scope of the downturn, as well as the effectiveness of stimulus programs as a policy response. “Given the massive human cost of recessions,” the authors argue, “it is incumbent upon policymakers to assess the policy tools at their disposal and identify those that are most effective at hastening economic recovery during a downturn.”

3. The Iran nuclear deal is not unraveling

Suzanne Maloney addresses concerns that recent remarks by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, and Iranian claims that the U.S. is not meeting its side of the bargain, are evidence that the nuclear accord is falling apart. Calling both claims “spurious,” and dismissing the Rhodes affair as “largely an inside-the-Beltway drama,” Maloney says that “the chorus of complaints from Tehran demonstrates the accord signed in July 2015 is working exactly as it was intended—forestalling Iranian nuclear ambitions while amplifying the incentives for further reintegration into the global economy.”

4. Since 2009, the medical information of more than 155 million Americans has been exposed in breach incidents

Medical data breaches are on the rise, with hackers targeting hospital information systems as well as trying to steal personal medical data. Niam Yaraghi examines the problem and offers a set of recommendations to protect patient privacy and prevent breaches.

5. America needs more immigrants

“Immigrants are now twice as likely to start a new business as native-born Americans,” Richard Reeves notes. At a time of declining social mobility and increasing concern about immigration, Reeves argues that we need more immigration, not less, that an “America that closes its doors will be an America that has chosen to settle rather than grow, that has allowed security to trump dynamism.”

6. The new UN climate chief has a crucial job

This month, Patricia Espinosa, former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs and ambassador to Germany, takes over as the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Guy Edwards and Timmons Roberts write that Espinosa is well-suited to her task, which “will be encouraging the ratification of the Paris Agreement and its early entry into force, and ironing out remaining details in the accompanying decision documents to implement the agreement.”

7. A gap in U.S. infrastructure jobs is looming

One out every 10 U.S. workers, 14.5 million people, works in some capacity related to infrastructure—operating, designing, governing, or repairing. Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer argue that the nation still faces a “looming infrastructure workforce gap” as nearly 3 million infrastructure jobs will need to be replaced in the coming years.

8. New laws are needed to combat a new cybercrime: sextortion

Sextortion occurs when an offender uses personal information such as images stolen from a computer to force victims to engage in some form of sexual activity. New research by Ben Wittes and colleagues shows that 71 percent of cases involve minors who are a mix of girls and boys, and 12 percent involve only adults, who are mostly female. All perpetrators are male.

9. Chinese investments in Europe exceed those in the U.S.

According to Philippe Le Corre and Alain Sepulchre, co-authors of a new Brookings Press title, “China’s Offensive in Europe,” Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe represents 19 percent of its total FDI, ahead of the 13 percent to North America. Le Corre and Sepulchre look at the pros and cons of this investment growth.

10. Govern cities more effectively to tackle global challenges

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and that number is expected to rise. Kemal Derviş and Bruce Katz say that “governing cities in ways that maximize economic and social opportunity—and minimize risks to the environment and social cohesion—will be the central challenge facing nearly all countries over the next century.”

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