State of the Nation

35% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 60% say it is on the wrong track. (CBS News, 2/21/17)


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January 2017 is 4.7%.

If one takes into account the total number of unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the unemployment rate for January 2017 is 9.4%. [BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

In the 4th week of February 2017, Gallup found an unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.6%. It also found an under-employment rate of 9.4% (unemployed + those working part-time but wanting full-time). [This is based on those 18 years of age and older.]

There were 5.5 million job openings at the end of December 2016. During that month 5.3 million people were hired and 5.0 million were separated from their employment.

In the 12 month period ending in December there were 62.5 million hires and 60.1 million separations yielding a net employment gain of 2.4 million. [BLS]

41% believe the economy will get better in the next 12 months while 21% say it will get worse. Of those who think it will get better, 73% think it will be a result of Trump’s new economic policies. [NBC/WSJ, 2/22/17]

Most internet traffic comes from “bots”, not people.

  Total Bots Good Bots Bad Bots Humans
2012 51% 20% 31% 49%
2013 61.5 30.5 30.5 38.5
2014 56 27 29 44
2015 48.5 19.5 29 44
2016 51.8 22.9 28.5 48.2
[Axios Visuals]

If you are not intimately familiar with “bots”, as WW was not, an internet bot is “software that performs an automated task over the internet.” “A bot is an automated application used to perform simple and repetitive tasks that would be time-consuming, mundane or impossible for a human to perform.” [Techopedia]

An example of a “good bot” is when “Google uses bots to crawl and catalog the web so when you run a search, the site can deliver appropriate results”. An example of a “bad bot” is when “hackers also use bots for all sorts of nefarious reasons, from lifting credit card numbers from an online store to scraping the text off an article and posting it on some random blog.” [Time, 5/2015]

27% of Americans say that the Fox News cable channel is their most popular source of information about politics and current events. CNN is in second place with 23%. The broadcast networks, ABC, CBS and NBC together as a group are considered most popular by 30%. National newspapers, plus your local newspaper, are seen as most popular by 24%. Facebook and Twitter and other social media are scored at 16%. MSNBC is cast as most popular by 10%. 20% select either conservative media outlets (11%) or liberal media outlets (9%). (The above outlets add up to 156% because respondents were allowed to pick one of two of the list of news sources.) [NBC/WSJ, 2/22/17]

You cannot bring guns onto an airplane in a carry-on bag. That line in the airborne social contract was apparently news to the flyers responsible for the 3,391 guns confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration in 2016. That’s a record number and up 30 percent from 2015. Eighty-three percent of the guns were loaded. [USA Today]

The 1.1 million-square-foot Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills, a Pennsylvania mall that opened in 2005 which was foreclosed on last year, was auctioned off for $100 this week. [Yahoo]

Americans wrote 17.3 billion checks in 2015. Compare that number to the 69.5 billion debit card purchases in the same year. [Wall Street Journal]

Zero is the number of refugees who have been implicated in a major fatal terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the Refugee Act of 1980.

The median credit card debt of someone with a bachelor’s degree is $1,668. Business school graduates have the highest median credit card debt according to LendEDU, a marketplace for student loans: The typical MBA is $4,604 in the hole. [Priceonomics]

Gregg Phillips, a self-proclaimed voter fraud authority who has said–without any evidence–that there was illegal voting this past election, has enjoyed the ear of the president on such matters. Mr. Phillips, who focuses on people registered to vote in more than one state, was found to be registered to vote in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi. That doesn’t mean he — or anyone, really — votes in more than one state. It just means that sometimes people decide to go to another state to live their lives. Shocking, I know. [Associated Press]

The average one-way commute (in the U.S.) increased to 26.4 minutes in 2015 and the percentage of people who telework (from home) has increased to 4.6 % (6.8 million). [Washington Post, 2/26/17]

U.S. auto loan debt hit a record $1.16 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016. That averages out to $6,100 in car payments per licensed driver. [Bloomberg]

“In this new world order of unfiltered or make-believe-news, the wall between real journalism and fake journalism is becoming blurred and sometimes almost invisible. When people doubt the credibility of legitimate journalism, people are robbed of the facts that underlie our entire democratic process. Elections depend on citizens making informed decisions, but that’s impossible if raw sewage is polluting their news feed. – Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report

Ten million American adults identify as LGBT. Since 2012 that number has grown from 3.5% to the current 4.1% of the adult population. In that same period of time, the number of LGBT Millennials (those born 1980-1998) has grown from 5.8% to 7.3%. Only 1.4% of those born between 1913 and 1945 identify as LGBT currently. That number is down from 1.8% in 2012.

4.4% of females identify as LGBT, up from 3.5% in 2012. 3.7% of males so identify which is up slightly from the 3.4% who identified as LGBT in 2012.

In July 1986, just 32% believed that gay and lesbian relationships between consenting adults should be legal. As of May 2016, 68% of Americans supported legalization. [Gallup, 1/2017]

A study from Johns Hopkins University, Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital found that suicide attempts among lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers dropped 14 percent when their state legalized same-sex marriage. [The Guardian]

David Winston and Myra Miller of the Winston Group presented the following analysis of the level of engagement/interest in the political process among various ideological groups following the last election.

  More Same Less
Overall 50% 41% 7%
Very Conservative 69 26 5
Somewhat Conservative 54 40 6
Moderate 39 50 8
Somewhat Liberal 44 45 11
Very Liberal 65 28 6

Tom Perez was elected Chairman of the Democratic Party on February 25th. The final vote was between Tom Perez and Congressman Keith Ellison. Ellison was elected deputy chairman by acclamation. Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and the only other person with significant support, dropped out of the race before the voting started.

The last time there was a contest for the DNC Chairmanship was in 1985 when Paul Kirk beat Terry Sanford. That year Nancy Pelosi withdrew before the vote and endorsed Sanford. (Thanks, JM)