State of the Nation

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

34% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 60% say it is on the wrong track. [CBS News, 1/16/18]

29% of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country while 69% are dissatisfied. [Gallup, 1/7/18]

54% of Americans believe that government should do more to “solve problems and help meet the needs of people.” 38% think the government is “doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.” [NBC/WSJ, 1/18/18]


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

The unemployment rate for African Americans is 6.8%. The white unemployment rate is 3.7%.

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 December 2017 is 8.1%. This is a slight increase from October and November when the rate was 8.0%. [BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

Looking at December state data, 23 states have unemployment rates that are higher than the national rate, 4 states are even with the national rate and 23 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates that are higher than the national rate.

Of the 23 states with unemployment rates that are higher than the national average, 12 were won by Trump and 11 were won by Clinton.

December’s job growth of 148,000 jobs is the 85th straight month of job growth. The total job growth for 2017 is 2.1 million jobs added. In 2016, the number of jobs added was 2.2 million. 2.7 million jobs were added in 2015.

82% of the world’s wealth went to the richest 1% in 2017. 42 billionaires hold as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.7 billion people. [, 1/22/18]

Lately, the FBI has been under “attack” by folks who are looking to undercut one or more investigations or simply distract. The public at large is not buying it.

Since 1995, the NBC/WSJ survey has regularly asked its respondents whether they have positive or negative feelings about the FBI.

In July 1995, 49% had positive feelings about the FBI and 23% had negative feelings.

In January 2018, 53% of respondents had positive feelings about the FBI and 19% had negative feelings. In fact, the number of people who have very positive feelings about the Bureau has increased from 15% in 1995 to 22% in January.

  Positive Feelings Negative Feelings
January 2018 53% 19%
June 2017 54% 14%
December 2016 37% 27%
July 2016 40% 37%
December 2014 42% 16%
June 2013 48% 15%
June 2006 42% 20%
June 2002 40% 33%
July 1995 49% 23%
[NBC/WSJ, 1/17/18]

57% have confidence in the FBI while 39% do not have confidence in that organization. Among those having confidence/no confidence are:

  Confidence No Confidence
Democrats 63% 30%
Republicans 54% 41%
Independents 56% 41%
Households making Less than $50,000 53% 42%
$50,000 or more 59% 36%
Whites 62% 34%
African American 57% 38%
Latino 52% 43%
Men 55% 42%
Women 57% 36%
[NPR/PBS Marist poll, 1/10/18]

Americans have various levels of confidence in a variety of institutions in addition to the FBI.

  Confidence No Confidence
Military 87% 12%
The Supreme Court 59% 36%
Organized religion 58% 39%
FBI 57% 39%
Public schools 53% 44%
The courts 51% 45%
Organized labor 49% 43%
The presidency 43% 54%
Big business 39% 57%
Democratic party 36% 62%
Media 30% 68%
Republican party 29% 68%
Congress 25% 71%
[NPR/PBS Marist poll, 1/18/18]

69% of Americans are at least somewhat satisfied with the state of the U.S. economy today. This is up from 56% in April 2017 and it compares to 28% who were at least somewhat satisfied in January 2014, one year after the first year of Obama’s second term.

35% believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months while 20% think it will get worse. Of the 35% who believe it will improve, 65% believe it will be because of Trump’s new economic policies. Among all adults, only 23% believe improvements in the economy are because of Trump’s policies.

39% believe that 2018 will be a time of “economic expansion for you and your family” while 53% are more cautious, believing that the coming year will be a time to “hold back and save” because of harder times ahead. [NBC/WSJ, 1/18/18]

This and That

Fox News is a megaphone for Republicans and conservatives generally.

MSNBC is a megaphone for Democrats and liberals generally.

CNN is a microphone for those in and looking for the middle. [WW]

The following is how Americans responded when asked of which political party they considered themselves to be a member.

  NBC/WSJ (1/17/18) ABC/WP (1/18/18)
Democrats 33% 31%
Independents 33% 40%
Republicans 28% 23%

When they were asked whether they considered themselves to be liberal, moderate or conservative they responded:

  NBC/WSJ (1/17/18)
Liberal 28%
Moderate 33%
Conservative 37%

The Republicans in Congress want to reduce the federal government’s influence and leave as much governing as possible up to the states. This means that individuals needing assistance who live a block apart but in different states will get a different level of assistance. [WW]

Americans are split down the middle on whether the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants and the reduction in the federal workforce is a good thing for the country.

By 47% to 46%, respondents think the crackdown on undocumented immigrants is a bad thing for the country and by 44% to 43% they think the reduction of the federal workforce is a good thing.

By 63% to 34%, Americans oppose building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. [ABC/WP, 1/18/18]

There are many differences between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Washington D.C. The following is one example.

At a Minneapolis hotel, a breakfast of two eggs (any style), two pieces of toast, a selection of meat or sausage and an order of potatoes costs $13.00, exclusive of tax or tip.

Exactly the same order at an upscale Washington hotel costs $47.00, exclusive of tax or tip.

45% of Americans believe that abortion should be generally available to those who want it. Another 32% believe that it should be available but under stricter limits than it is now. 21% say that abortion should not be permitted. [CBS News Poll, 1/18/18]

81% of Americans believe that young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children should be allowed to stay. [CBS News, 1/16/18]

In an ABC/WP poll taken at the same time, 87% express that view.

87 million rotisserie chickens were sold by Costco in 2017. [WSJ, 1/5/18]

An embryo that was frozen on October 14, 1992 was born a healthy baby girl to a happy couple on November 25, 2017. The embryo spent 24 years on ice. [CNN, 12/21/17]

In making a judgment about how you think the economy is doing, which of the following is most important to you? This is how Americans answered:

Personal economic issues like income, wages and cost of living – 59%

Economic figures like growth rate, inflation or interest rates – 18%

State of the job situation and the unemployment rate – 11%

How the stock market is doing – 8%

[Winston Group, 1/26/18]

  Positive Negative Don’t know/Unsure (< 5 unless noted)
Barack Obama 57 29  
Joe Biden 54 22  
Oprah Winfrey 48 24  
Donald Trump 36 56  
Mike Pence 33 39 11
Mitt Romney 29 30  
Robert Mueller 28 14 37
Paul Ryan 28 33 15
Mitch McConnell 13 39 27
Steve Bannon 5 49 29
The Me Too Movement 37 10 33
[NBC/WSJ, 1/18/18]

Respondents were asked to rate their feelings toward a variety of individuals and groups.