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Significant Digits for Friday, Nov. 8, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.


HIV-1 Group M subtype L

A new, extremely rare strain of HIV, called HIV-1 group M subtype L, was discovered by a research group from the health care and medical device company Abbott. One expert says the new study indicates that the HIV epidemic is “still evolving.” More than 37 million people live with HIV worldwide. [Scientific American]


1,300 flights

If they weren’t already sick of cramped seats and baggage fees, approximately 180,000 passengers will now also experience travel disruptions after Lufthansa cancelled 1,300 flights scheduled to leave on Thursday and Friday. The company lost a last-minute legal bid to prevent a strike by its cabin crew, and the union’s vice president has warned there may be additional strikes. Lufthansa is offering rail tickets and alternative flights to affected passengers. [BBC News]


$15 monthly cell phone plan

T-Mobile has promised to offer 2 GB of monthly data for as little as $15 a month if its planned merger with Sprint is allowed to proceed. The cheap data plan, along with other discounted services like free wireless service for first responders, was offered as a response to concerns that the merger will reduce competition. T-Mobile’s current cheapest data plan costs $30, and a similar 2 GB plan is currently available from competitor AT&T for $30 per month. [The Wall Street Journal]


32 percent of recruits

The New York Times reports on Amherst College’s multi-year initiative to overhaul how it recruits student-athletes so that its teams will better reflect the diversity of its overall student body and include more underrepresented ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Three years ago, only 23 percent of recruited players were people of color, so the recruiting strategy branched beyond the usual youth sports tournaments to include athletic clubs in mixed neighborhoods, small urban gyms and athletes in other countries. The college says athletes of color account for 32 percent of its most recent recruiting class, a significant change from 2002, when that number was only 11 percent. [The New York Times]


47 percent passage rate

New analysis of government data by BuzzFeed News shows that Border Patrol agents conducting initial screenings of asylum-seekers are granting far fewer people preliminary access to the country — Border Patrol agents are approving 47 percent of cases, compared to an 80 percent approval rate for the Citizenship and Immigration Services officers who normally conduct the screenings, according to publicly available data. Initial asylum screenings are used to determine whether a person has a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country; if it is determined that they do, their case is referred to an immigration judge who will hear their case in detail. But Trump administration officials have criticized the screening process for being too lenient and assigned around 60 Border Patrol agents to conduct screenings in June. [BuzzFeed News]


Low wages for 44 percent of workers

Indicators like the unemployment rate and workforce participation might appear to show a strong labor market, but a new report from the Brookings Institution shows that 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 are earning low wages. That includes an estimated 53 million Americans, who make a median wage of $10.22 per hour and an annual income of only $17,950. There’s also not a lot of upward movement either, with the survey showing that even when workers who earn low wages switch jobs, they have a 52 percent chance of remaining in the $10-to-$15-per-hour wage bracket. [Bloomberg]


24 pounds of sea scallops

The effects of climate change are wide-ranging, including shifting water temperatures and mass die-offs of sea creatures. For hundreds of years, bay scallops from the Peconic Estuary fed Long Islanders, but when the scallop season opened Monday, it became clear that most of the adult scallops were dead, likely because the water got into the mid-80s Fahrenheit several times this past summer, which is hot enough to kill scallops. One longtime distributor only sold 24 pounds of local Peconic scallops on the first day of scallop season this year, compared to the 2,000 pounds he sold last year. [The New York Times]


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