State of the Nation

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

28% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 58% say it is on the wrong track. [Reuters/Ipsos, 12/5/17]

68% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country today. 27% are satisfied. [Pew, 12/4/17]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November 2017 is 4.1%, this is identical to the October number and the lowest it has been since January 2001 when the rate was 3.9%.

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 November 2017 is 8.0%. [BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

Looking at October state data (November is not yet available), 26 states have unemployment rates that are lower than the national rate, the state of North Carolina is even with the national rate and 24 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates that are higher the national rate.

11 states have unemployment rates of 4.8% or higher: Alaska 7.2%;
D.C. 6.6%; West Virginia 5.1%; Kentucky 5.0%; Nevada 5.0%; Ohio 5.0%;
California 4.9%; Illinois 4.9%; Mississippi 4.9%; New Jersey 4.9%; New York 4.8%.

November’s job growth of 228,000 jobs is the 85th straight month of job growth.

There are 554,000 homeless people in the United States. 193,000 do not have access to nightly shelter. This is one percent higher than in 2016 and the first increase in the homeless population since 2010. [Associated Press, 12/8/17]

In recent weeks sexual harassment has increasingly been a central part of the public dialogue.

66% believe that recent allegations of sexual harassment and assault mainly reflect widespread problems in society. Another 28% believe they are mainly isolated incidents of individual misconduct. [PEW, 12/4/17]

81% of Americans think sexual harassment goes on in most American workplaces today (31% a lot, 50% some).

67% believe that sexual harassment incidents have not increased of late but are reported more because people are willing to speak up.

66% say if a politician has been accused of sexual harassment, they would not support him/her even though he/she had good leadership skills and shared their view on the issues.

46% of men say that due to the recent stories they have given more thought to their own behavior towards women. 52% say they have not given more thought to their own behavior.

46% of women say that having seen the recent stores about sexual harassment they are more likely to speak up about the issue.

Of those who are currently employed, 90% say sexual harassment is not a problem in their workplace. 87% say they would be comfortable reporting sexual harassment in their workplace. [NBC/Survey Monkey, 11/30/17]

Respondents to the recent PEW survey were asked how important each of the following issues are to them. They are listed below in the order of most selected to least selected, they were offered in a different order in the survey.

  Very Important Somewhat Important Not Important
The issue of sexual assault and harassment 74% 18% 8%
Proposed changes to the federal tax system 69% 18% 8%
Possibility of a federal government shutdown in the next few weeks 59% 19% 17%
Status of immigrants who came into the country legally when they were children 52% 28% 19%
Investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election 49% 17% 30%
[PEW, 12/4/17]

There is a religious gap between Republicans and Democrats

  Republicans Democrats
  2006 2016 2006 2016
White evangelical Protestant 37% 35% 17% 8%
White mainline Protestant 22% 18% 16% 11%
White Catholic 20% 16% 16% 10%
Mormon 2% 4% 1% 1%
Black Protestant 2% 1% 18% 17%
Hispanic Protestant 3% 3% 3% 4%
Hispanic Catholic 3% 3% 8% 10%
Jewish 1% 1% 3% 2%
Other world religions 1% 1% 2% 3%
Unaffiliated 4% 11% 9% 26%
[PRRI 2016 American Value Atlas, PEW]

54% of African Americans think the City of Boston is unwelcoming to people of color. Following Boston on that list, are Charlotte (38%), Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco (34%), New York (28%), Miami (24%), and Atlanta (16%). [The Boston Globe]