Low-income and poverty population lives deteriorated. One in seven Americans, or at least 45 million people, lived in poverty (www.dailymail.co.uk, September 10, 2016). A Pew survey showed 49 percent of Americans said they could not make ends meet; 42 percent said they managed to strike a balance between incomes and expenditures (www.pewsocialtrends.org, February 4, 2016). By the end of 2015, homeless people stood at about 500,000 (www.theatlantic.com, February 11, 2016). The number of homeless people surged in large cities. There were more than 60,000 homeless people in Wisconsin (www.usatoday.com, October 16, 2016). Thousands of low-income people in industries including fast food, home care and airport went on strike repeatedly for the minimum wage standard of 15-U.S.-dollar per hour (www.theguardian.com, November 21, 2016).
Life expectancy dropped. Life expectancy in the United States in 2015 declined for the first time in more than two decades, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics on December 8, 2016. Life expectancy for men fell from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015, while that for women decreased from 81.3 to 81.2. Overall life expectancy dropped from 78.9 to 78.8 years (www.bbc.co.uk, December 8, 2016). At the same time, suicide rate in the United States rose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 41,149 suicides in the United States in 2013, up by about 41 percent from 1999. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of all deaths in the United States in 2013, claiming twice as many lives than homicide (www.bls.gov, December 2016). In 2015, the suicide rate in the United States surged to its highest level in almost three decades (www.bbc.co.uk, April 22, 2016).
Health conditions declined. For U.S. residents, self-reported health status had fallen among each age group between 25 and 59 since 1990, according to a report from Gallup. The share of the working-age population suffering from a disability that prevented them from working rose from 4.4 percent in 1980 to 6.8 percent in 2015, adjusting for age. That situation was related to the exorbitant costs and weak efficiency of the U.S. health system (www.gallup.com, December 15, 2016). The convoluted and opaque system of paying for prescription drugs enabled executives of drug companies to set extraordinary prices on modest medicines that had been around for years, and some companies even used free coupons for patients to raise drug prices by 10 times, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 6 (www.chicagotribune.com, December 6, 2016).
Social security system was seriously flawed. The Des Moines Register reported that there were 1,136,849 applicants of federal disability benefits on the waiting list, which meant they could wait up to 26 months to get an administrative-law hearing on their claim for benefits (www.desmoinesregister.com, December 25, 2016). Statistics released by the singlemotherguide.com showed only 22.4 percent of the single mothers who had been laid off or looking for work received unemployment benefits in the United States (singlemotherguide.com, September 17, 2016). CNN reported that 16 state prison systems in the United States had no formal procedure to enroll prisoners in Medicaid as they reentered the community. The story said nine states had only small programs in select facilities or for limited groups of prisoners. It went on to say that these 25 states collectively release some 375,000 inmates each year. The CNN report also said two-thirds of the 9,000 chronically ill prisoners released each year by Philadelphia' s jails were not getting enrolled as they left (edition.cnn.com, December 12, 2016).
IV. Racial Discrimination Worsened
In 2016, racial relations in the United States continued to deteriorate. There were repeated incidents of African Americans being shot by white police. Racial discrimination heavily influenced law enforcement and justice fields. There were systematic gaps between minority races and white people in employment and income. Minority people endured various discriminative treatments in schools and social lives. The USA Today website reported on July 14, 2016 that a poll found 52 percent of Americans believed racism against black people was an "extremely" or "very" serious problem. According to a New York Times-CBS News survey, 69 percent of poll respondents said race relations in the United States were generally bad. Six in ten Americans said race relations were growing worse, up from 38 percent a year ago (www.usatoday.com, July 14, 2016).
Incidents of police killing African-Americans happened repeatedly. According to the Mapping Police Violence website, American police killed at least 303 African-Americans in 2016 (mappingpoliceviolence.org, December 2016). On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African-American man, entered into clashes with others outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Indiana. After police arrived, they held him to the ground, straddled over his body and killed him with multiple gunshots (edition.cnn.com, July 8, 2016). On July 6, 2016, police in Minnesota stopped a car with mal-functioning rear light and shot an African-American man Philando Castile when he was getting his license and registration. Castile's mother said her son was "black in the wrong place" and said there was "a silent war against African-American people." The U.S. government admitted that the two fatal shootings were not isolated incidents, but symptomatic of the broader challenges within the U.S. criminal justice system (www.bbc.com, July 7, 2016). Two consecutive police killings of African Americans triggered violent protests nationwide. On July 7, 2016, during the protests in Dallas, Texas, five police officers were shot and killed and nine more were injured by an African-American veteran, who said he wanted to kill white police officers to protest against police brutality (www.usatoday.com, July 14, 2016). A Washington Post website report on police shootings in 2015 found that black Americans were 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police as white Americans. Unarmed black men were five times as likely to be shot and killed by police as unarmed white men (www.washingtonpost.com, December 6, 2016). On February 17, 2016, Paul Gaston, a 37-year-old Cincinnati man, had just been in a serious car accident before he was shot and killed by three police officers. Police claimed Gaston appeared to reach for a gun in his waistband, but it turned out to be a fake one. A day before, a white man pointed a similar fake gun at the police in Cincinnati, but the police did not fire a shot, only peacefully arrested the man and charged him with menacing. The New York Daily News website commented that the two incidents and their differing outcomes highlighted the different police attitudes towards black and white men and the racial double standards in America were real (www.nydailynews.com, February 19, 2016). The Washington Post website reported on December 6, 2016, that Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 years old, entered a restaurant in northwest Washington while carrying a semiautomatic rifle. Welch walked backward out of the restaurant unarmed and with his hands up, and the police did not shoot him (www.washingtonpost.com, December 6, 2016). In sharp contrast, on September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher had his hands up and back turned. Police officer also deployed Taser gun on him (www.cbsnews.com, September 19, 2016).