State of the Nation

Second quarter GDP hit 4.1% which is up from 2.2% in the first quarter. Quarterly GDP has exceeded 4.1% four times since the fourth quarter of 2009: 4.5% – Fourth quarter 2009; 4.7% – Fourth quarter 2011; 5.1% – Second quarter 2014 and 4.9% – Third quarter 2014. [Steve Rattner]

The question for which we will all wait with bated breath is whether these growth numbers will sustain. [WW]

38% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, 53% say it is on the wrong track. [Economist/YouGov, 7/24/18]

In June, 63% of Americans were satisfied with the state of the U.S. economy while 37% were not satisfied. [NBC/WSJ, 6/18]

In mid-June, 38% of us were satisfied with the way things were going in the United States. This is up from 29% in March/April. In March/April, satisfaction among Republicans had fallen to 54%; in May/June it rebounded to 68%.

A similar rebound occurred among Independents which had dropped to 25% in March/April. In June it was 36%. Among Democrats, there was no increase in satisfaction from March/April to May/June.

Other significant changes in satisfaction between March/April and May/June occurred among those living in towns/rural areas where the increase was +14 points and among those 55 years of age and older where the increase was a +12 points. [Gallup, May/June 2018]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2018 is 4.0%. This is an uptick from May when the rate was 3.8%.This increase is likely driven by the fact that nearly 600,000 people who have been on the sidelines decided to enter or re-enter the workforce.

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 June 2018 is 7.8%, also an uptick from May.

The Demographics of Unemployment

There has been an uptick of various sizes in all of the circumstances below.

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)
Women – 3.7%
Men – 3.7%

Unemployment by Race (all races)
White – 3.5%
Black – 6.5%
Hispanic – 4.6%
Asian – 3.2%

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)
Less than high school – 5.5%
High School – 4.2%
Some college – 3.3%
Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.3%

“Between the first and second quarters of 2018 – after the tax cuts were enacted – real wages fell by 1.8%.” [Ezra Klein]

In 2016 the fertility rate in the United States was the lowest it has ever been.
It was 1,765 births per 1,000 which is below the replacement rate. [Center for Disease Control]

The U.S. has the highest maternal death rate among the world’s developed nations. There are 26.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In every other developed nation, the death rate has been stable or falling. In the U.S. it has been getting worse. Two women die in childbirth almost every day in America. [USA Today, 7/26]

In 1978, 58% of 16-19 year olds were employed in the summer. By 1989 the number was 57% of teens. In 2017 that number had dropped to 35%. There seem to be a number of reasons for this change. There are fewer low-skill/entry-level jobs than in decades past; more students are enrolled in high school or college during the summer; more students are taking unpaid internships; more teens are doing unpaid community service work as part of their graduation requirements or to burnish their college applications. When it comes to the rest of the year, in 1978 45.1% were employed and by 2017 the number was 28.7%.

Millennials (21-36 years of age) became the largest generation in the labor force in 2016 and continued to grow in 2017. 35% of the American labor force participants were millennials in 2017. [PEW Research Center, 4/18]

Between 2000 and 2015, American companies hired 4.3 million people in the United States but added 6.2 million jobs overseas. [Steven Rattner, 7/2/18]

This and That

The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017.
That trend has been accompanied by a drop in the share of children living with two married parents, down from 85% in 1968 to 65% in 2017. Some 3% of children are not living with any parents.
21% of children under the age of 18 are living with a solo mom. That number has been about the same since 1997. In 1968 that number stood at 12%.
4% of children are living with a solo father and 7% are living with cohabiting parents. [PEW analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and current population data]

64 million people now live in multigenerational households. This is up from 32.2 million people living in multigenerational households in 1950.

By 2040, eight states will be home to nearly half (49.5 percent) of the country’s entire population. An implication of that bit of trivia: 30 percent of the American population will control 68 percent of the U.S. Senate. “The House and the Senate will be weighted to two largely different Americas,” the Post writes. [WP, 7/16/18]

The Trump Administration has significantly reduced the number of people attempting to legally move to the United States. The number of people receiving visas to move to the U.S. permanently will drop 12 percent through Trump’s first two years in office. Setting aside dramatic drops from countries targeted by the administration’s ban on travel from a set of Muslim-majority countries, the number of visas approved for Africans is on pace to fall 15 percent and applications for the H-1B visa fell for the first time in five years. [WP]

Within the past few months, we have seen things occur on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high positions in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. [WP, 6/22]

“There’s been a shocking increase in the backlog of citizenship applications. Nearly three-quarters of a million legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship are awaiting processing of their naturalization applications,” Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, told ABC News. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government agency that oversees the naturalization process, rejected claims made by the report. (Meena Venkataramanan, ABC News)

The U.S. Supreme Court

66% of Americans have a favorable view of the Supreme Court. This is a substantial increase from July 2015 when 48% had a favorable view of the court.

71% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents have a favorable view of the court, up from 51% in August 2016. 62% of Democrats and Dem-leaning independents have a favorable view of the court, down from 70% in August 2016 and about the same as July 2015.

55% of Americans say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution means in current times rather than what it means as originally written. On this question there is a substantial difference between the views of Republicans and Democrats.

67% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say the judges should decide cases based on the Constitution’s original meaning while 78% of Democrats and Dem-leaning independents say that they should rule according to what the constitution means in current times.

Not surprisingly, the younger of age a person is when appointed to the court the longer he or she serves. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who just announced his retirement, joined the court in 1988.

Eight of the current Supreme Court justices served previously as federal appeals court judges. 69 of the 113 justices had previous experience as judges. 105 of the justices had experience in private practice. Of the 113 justices some 58 also held some form of elected office.

Only 4 women have served on the court and 3 are currently serving. Only 3 non-whites have served and 2 are currently serving. [PEW, 6/12/18]

The United States has found a place on the list of the ten most dangerous countries in the world for women.

Seven years ago the Thomson Reuters Foundation convened a panel of 550 experts on women’s issues to rank the five most dangerous countries for women in the world. In that 2011 survey the rank order was Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia.

The survey was repeated earlier this year and the list was expanded to ten.
Here is the list in rank order: 1) India, 2) Afghanistan, 3) Syria, 4) Somalia, 5) Saudi Arabia, 6) Pakistan, 7) Democratic Republic of Congo, 8) Yemen, 9) Nigeria, 10) United States.

56% believe that immigration helps the United States more than it hurts. 31% have the opposite point of view. [NBC/WSJ, 7/18]

72% of Americans, including 86% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats, believe it is at least somewhat likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints. [Axios, 6/28/18]

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has issued U.S. Patent #10,000,000.
For what was it issued, you ask? “Coherent Ladar Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection”.

On average, 43% of the volume of a bag of chips is air. An experiment measured the difference between water displacement of the unopened bag and the vacuum-sealed contents of the snacks. On the high end, Cheetos bags are 59 percent air, while on the low end 19 percent of a bag of Fritos is air. [Numlock, 7/16/18]

The U.S. Mint made over 1.3 billion nickels in 2017, and despite the fact that they literally print money, the Mint made all those coins at a loss. The penny has long been a money-loser for the Mint, with each coin costing more to make than the cent its worth. The nickel has been a money loser since 2006. The copper and nickel in a five cent piece went up in price and is now about 7 cents, and in 2017 the mint lost $9.5 million making them. Changing the composition of the coin isn’t easy – vending machines and coin counters in America use conductivity to delineate different coins and the reprogramming would cost tens of billions of dollars. [Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz]

At least for now, Maggie Haberman of the N.Y. Times will no longer send tweets.

“After nearly nine years and 187,000 tweets, I have used Twitter enough to know that it no longer works well for me. I will re-engage eventually, but in a different way.”
She went on:

“”The viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight. It is a place where people who are understandably upset about any number of things go to feed their anger, where the underbelly of free speech is at its most bilious.”

“Twitter is now an anger video game for many users. It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face. For me, it had become an enormous and pointless drain on my time and mental energy.”

“Twitter is a useful and important platform. It’s a good aggregator for breaking news. I still check my feed to see breaking news developments, and I will continue to.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey replies with a thoughtful Twitter thread, acknowledging that she has a “lot of fair critiques”:

“Fundamentally, we need to focus more on the conversational dynamics within Twitter. We haven’t paid enough consistent attention here. Better organization, more context, helping to identify credibility, ease of use.”

[Maggie Haberman, NYT Sunday Review]

Over the past two years, merchants have passed off the equivalent of 10 million bottles of cheap Spanish wine as French rosé to fuel insatiable American demand. I really can’t decide here between a Spanish joke, a French joke and an American joke. [WP, 7/16]

Smoking in America continues to decline. 14% of U.S adults (about 30 million people) were smokers last year, down from 16% the year before, and 42% in the 1960s, per government figures out today. [AP, 6/19]

Sylar lives in a $500,000 mansion in Beijing. Sylar is named after a character on the TV show “Heroes.” Sylar did tricks. Sylar went viral. Sylar got hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Sylar made his owner rich. Sylar is a border collie. [WP]

For those who cannot begin their day without checking cable early morning news programs, here are the Nielsen ratings for the 2nd quarter of 2018.

Total Viewers/Age 25-54:
Fox & Friends: 1.55 million/329,000
MSNBC’s Morning Joe: 1.06 million/232,000
CNN’s New Day: 564,000/183,000

If instead you start your day watching one of the major broadcast network morning shows, here are the Nielsen ratings for the week of July 16th.

Total Viewers/Age 25-54:
ABC: 3.68 million/1,071,000
NBC: 3.485 million/1,147,000
CBS: 2.775 million/692,000

Americans have varying degrees of confidence in our institutions.

  Great deal/Quite a lot Not much/None
The Military 88% 11%
The U.S. Supreme Court 58% 38%
The FBI 56% 40%
The Presidency 43% 54%
The Media 25% 70%
[NPR/PBS/Marist, 7/22]