Mobile Broadband: Strategy for Reducing Unemployment and Inequality

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In the United States and elsewhere around the world, racial and ethnic minorities experience large and widening inequalities in employment, income, wealth, healthcare and education. However, in all of these areas, the mobile broadband revolution can provide a unique solution.

Some Facts about Racial and Ethnic Inequality in America:

Fact 1: Blacks and Hispanics make up 27.5% of the US labor force and 40% of all unemployed workers. Blacks alone comprise 11.9% of the workforce, but 20% of all unemployed workers.

Fact 2: Between 2005 and 2009, the median wealth in white households declined by 16% to $113,149. Among black households, wealth declined by 53% to $5677; however, among Hispanics wealth declined by a whopping 66% to $6325. Pew Research Center

Fact 3: In 2010, median household income of whites was $51,848, while for blacks and Hispanics; it was $32,068 and $37,759 respectively. As such, 27.4% of the black population lived in poverty while 26.6% of the Hispanics did. During the same year, 9.4% of non-Hispanic whites lived in poverty. Census Bureau’s measure of household poverty

Fact 4: Each day, 12% of whites go without health coverage. At the same time, 21% of Blacks and 32% of Hispanics do not have health coverage.

Mobile broadband can reduce racial and ethnic inequalities because it makes it easier and cheaper for individuals in low-income communities to start and operate businesses more competitively. The technology also increases access to high-quality low-cost online education and healthcare services.

Small businesses and startup ventures in minority communities have fewer resources than do their nonminority counterparts. They also have less market power, lower access to capital, and are more likely to encounter discrimination when seeking loans. Therefore, minority entrepreneurs must be more creative in using technology, such as mobile broadband, that allows them to overcome barriers to market entry and compete more efficiently at a lower cost.

Minority businesses have a natural advantage when it comes to smart phone technology. Studies have documented the highest penetration of smart phone users in the US occurs among racial and ethnic minorities: Asian/Pacific Islanders (45%), Hispanics (45%), African-Americans (33%), and whites (27%).

Access to mobile broadband services allows small businesses to lower the cost of market entry, reduce their dependence on external loans and finance, and become more competitive even in an economic slowdown.

Additionally, mobile broadband technology makes it possible for healthcare providers to access medical records and conduct tests remotely; thereby reducing the cost of healthcare services. At the same time, individuals in low-income communities can monitor their health status more closely.

Finally, mobile devices also give consumers in low-income communities access to high-quality, low-cost online educational services.

In short mobile broadband has the potential to reduce racial and economic disparities significantly, in multiple areas. It provides a unique solution to the persistent problem of inequality.