State of the Nation

*Any statements in this issue of the Watch which are not sourced are mine and identified by “WW”.

32% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 56% say it is on the wrong track. [Economist/YouGov, 6/6/17]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2017 is 4.3%.

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 May 2017 is 8.4%. [BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

Early in the 2nd week of June 2017, Gallup found an unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.5%. It also found an under-employment rate of 14.0% (unemployed + those working part-time but wanting full-time). [This is based on those 18 years of age and older.]

In 2016, the unemployment rate for those with at least a bachelor’s degree was 2.7% with a median weekly wage of $1,156. The unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma or less was 5.2% with a median wage of $692 per week. [BLS]

In 1975, 47% of mothers worked outside the home, today that number is 70%. Mothers are the primary bread winners in 40% of U.S. families. In 46% of households with a mother and father, both parents are employed full time. [PEW, 5/11/17]

A new study by economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger of Princeton (the latter was the Chairman of the WH Council of Economic Advisers under Obama) indicates that “94% of the 10 million new jobs created during the Obama era were temporary positions.” During the Obama era the number of people working in these temporary jobs increased from “10.7% of the population to 15.8% of the population”.

Temporary or alternative work includes “temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers, independent contractors or freelancers.” The work is generally unsteady, without a fixed paycheck and with virtually no benefits. [US News, 5/15/17]

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt claimed on at least three occasions that the U.S. created 50,000 coal and mining jobs under President Trump. The reality is that 1,000 jobs have been created, less than the 1,400 jobs created in the last four months of the Obama administration. [FiveThirtyEight Newsletter, 6/7/17]

44 million Americans owe $1.4 trillion on their student loans. One in six American adults has a student loan of an average of $37,172 per person. Nearly two-thirds of these loans are owned by women. Women tend to borrow 14% more than men in a given year. And women typically owe $1,500 more than men when they complete their degree. [Bloomberg, 6/5/17]

The richest 0.1% of U.S. households now control about as much wealth as the poorest 90% of the country combined.” [Economists at UC Berkley, 5/24/17]

70% of U.S. adults think that criticism from news organizations “keeps political leaders from doing things that shouldn’t be done” while 28% say it “keeps political leaders from doing their job.” However, there is a 47% spread between the attitude of Democrats and Republicans when it comes to this question. 82% of Democrats say the media stops leaders from doing things that they should not do while 42% of Republican have that view.

87% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans believe that news organizations tend to favor one side. Only 11% of Republicans believe that “information from national news organizations is very trustworthy”. 34% of Democrats say it is very trustworthy. [PEW, May 10, 2017]

The population of the 28 NATO countries is 603,000,000. Since 1983 the European NATO countries have “reduced their military strength in categories considered vital to defending the continent.”

Year Soldiers Tanks Frigates Destroy-ers Fighter Planes
1983 2.16 M 15,581 173 84 2,672
2017 1.02 M 6,885 92 54 1,897
[WSJ, 6/17]

For the first time in the last 130 years, in 2016 those 18-34 years of age are “slightly more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they are to be living with a spouse or partner in their own household.” [Pew Research Center]

Those age 65 and older (46 million) represent 15% of the overall U.S. population. By 2050 seniors will represent 22% of the population. It’s no surprise but seniors are not as involved in the “digital” life as adults general.

Here is what U.S. adults say about their use of a variety of electronic devices.

  Adults Seniors (65 years of age and older)
Internet 90% 67%
Home broadband 73% 51%
Smart phone 72% 42%
Tablet 51% 32%
Social media 69% 34%

As you would expect, the usage of the internet among seniors drops as they grow older.

Use of the internet:

65-69 – 82%
70-74 – 75%
75-79 – 60%
80+ – 44%
[PEW, 5/17/17]

Senate Republicans are considering taxing the value of employer-sponsored health insurance plans as if it was ordinary income. This would affect the roughly “177 million people who get insurance through their employer.” [WSJ, 6/2/17]

Canadians and Mexicans are more positive than folks in the United States about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 74% of Canadians and 60% of Mexicans but only 51% of Americans think it has been a good thing for their countries. 39% of Americans think it is a “bad” idea followed by 33% of Mexicans and 17% of Canadians.

In the U.S., 68% of Democrats but only 30% of Republicans think it has been a good thing for the country. 62% of those 18-29 years of age think it is a good deal but only 44% of those 50 and older support the deal. [Pew, 5/9/17]

There is a growing gender gap between men and women as relates to optimism about the country’s future. In October 2015, 47% of men were optimistic about the future of the country and women were not far behind with 43% being optimistic.

Flash forward to April 2017. Men are even more optimistic than they were in 2015; 53% have a lot of confidence in the future of the U.S., an increase of 6%. The outlook of women has gone the other way. Their confidence in the future has dropped from 43% in 2015 to 29% in April 2017, a drop of 14%. [Pew, 5/18/17]

When a party becomes consumed with hate and contempt, reason and moderation get thrown out of the window. Knee-jerk behavior replaces careful planning and execution. That’s what happened to Republicans. Are Democrats about to follow suit? At a time when Democrats could project themselves as the adults in the room, the clamor for “resistance” and militant rhetoric is growing louder and louder. There is a pressing need for pragmatic, moderate voices on health care, climate change, and panoply of other issues, but Democrats seem to be unhinged by their animus toward the leader of the opposition party. [Charlie Cook, 5/29/17]

This and That

A 14-year-old-young man by the name of Gabe Fleishner produces a daily newsletter called, “Wake Up to Politics”.

He starts each column with the following “I’m Gabe Fleishner, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom.” 

It is rather interesting. You can email him at If you want to receive the newsletter in your inbox, go to

The Kansas state legislature on Tuesday voted to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and roll back $1.2 billion of tax cuts over two years. The vote marked a bipartisan repudiation of what Brownback had described as an “experiment” in a particular brand of anti-tax fiscal conservatism.

“Members of the public might not like paying taxes, but they do like the services those taxes pay for. When it looked like Kansas’s budget gap would lead to big cuts to education and highway spending, voters responded by throwing conservative legislators out of office and replacing them with the Democrats and moderate Republicans who this week overrode Brownback’s veto.”

[FiveThirtyEight Newsletter 6/9/17]

“Taste your words before you spit them out.” [Andy Card on MSNBC, 4/28/17]

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most common shared news outlet of them all? MSNBC, Fox News and CNN are the most shared news outlets by the 115th Congress.

  Shares of article By Democrats By Republicans
MSNBC 1,641 1,288 337
FOX News 1,507 196 1,311
CNN 1,395 911 463
Tablet 1102 706 396
Wash Post 631 396 232
[Quorum Analytics]

90% of advertisers have deserted it. [WP, 6/9/17]

According to the Department of Transportation, in 2016 roughly 660 million people flew on commercial airlines. 434,425 people voluntarily gave up their paid seats in that year, presumably for some form of compensation. 40,629 were involuntarily bumped. [WSJ, 4/29/17]

The number of U.S. households that subscribe to cable in 2017 has dropped to 52 million homes from 68 million homes in 2000.

The percentage of Americans who say they have donated to someone running for public office has grown from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016.

10% of Republicans and those leaning Republican reported making a contribution in 2016 compared to 22% of Democrats and those leaning Democratic.

21% of those who vote regularly said they made contributions compared to 4% of those who seldom voted.

28% of those who say they pay attention to public affairs most of the time make donations while those who say they don’t pay much attention to public affairs donate at a rate of 7%.

32% of those aged 65 and older reported making political donations while those 18-29% reported donations at the 9% level. [PEW, 5/17/17]

Most Loved Brands in the United States:
76% Amazon
75% Google
74% UPS
73% Hershey
73% FedEx
71% Campbell’s
71% You Tube
70% Sony
70% Home Depot
70% Lowe’s
[Morning Consult Intelligence]

$5 out of every $10 spent buying products online goes to Amazon. [Bloomberg]

[At 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 14th, I decided that I wanted a particular add-on photo lens for my Samsung cell phone. I went and ordered it from Amazon and at 3:00 p.m. on Monday May 15th it was delivered to our apartment.]

10% of the drinks served at my local Starbucks were ordered on an app so they are ready when they arrive. The goal is to have 20% of drinks ordered before the customer gets there. [Conversation with barista]

A friend who is retiring for the third time passed out the following at a party honoring his retirement:

Yes No
Retired Remorse
Rejoicing Retread
Recycled Regrets
Regain Repeats
Relieved Refraining
Repose Retraining
Repurpose Responsibilities
Reuse Rebates

In the 2016 election, voter turnout among whites increased by 2.4% over 2012 and turnout among African Americans dropped by 4.7% . [WP Monkey Cage, 5/8/17]

Who would believe that the U.S. government, in the form of the Social Security Administration, would keep track of the most popular names of boys and girls when they are named at birth?

My favorite name, Michael, finished as #8 in 2016. Michael was the most selected boy baby name from 1954 – 1998, except for David which took the top place in 1960. In 1954, 4.3% of baby boys were named Michael. Thus Michael remained supreme for 43 out of 44 years.

In 2015 and 2016, the top name for girl babies was Emma and the top name for boy babies was Noah. [WSJ, 5/12/17]

In 1996, there were 57,000 newspaper journalists. Today there are 33,000. [WP, 6/7/17]

Describing the coming testimony of James Comey, Steve Schmidt described the proceedings as “moral rectitude versus moral turpitude”. [Morning Joe, 6/7/17]

64% of Americans oppose laws that allow business owners to refuse to serve gay and lesbian people on account of their religious beliefs. 52% of Republicans believe they should be able to refuse service while 66% of independents and 81% of Democrats believe they should not be able to refused service.

63% of Americans favor allowing same sex marriage, a marked increase from the 52% who supported it in 2013. Support includes 66% of independents and 76% of Democrats. 51% of Republicans oppose same sex marriage. [PRRI, 2/17]