State of the Nation

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

36% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction. 55% say it is on the wrong track. [Economist/YouGov 1/1/19]

In December, 31% of us were satisfied with the way things were going in the United States while 56% were dissatisfied. Satisfaction has dropped from 38% in October. [Gallup 12/12/18].


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2018 is 39%.

If one considers 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 2018 is 7.6%.

The Demographics of Unemployment for December 2018

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)
Women – 3.2% (same)
Men – 3.1% (increase)

Unemployment by Race
White – 3.4% (increase)
Black – 6.6% (increase)
Hispanic – 4.4% (decrease)
Asian – 3.3% (increase)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)
Less than high school – 5.8% (increase)
High School – 3.8% (increase)
Some college – 3.3% (increase)
Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.1% (decrease)

In November 2018, 29 states had unemployment rates below the national average; 3 states had an unemployment rate that was exactly at the national rate of 3.7%; 20 states and D.C. and Puerto Rico had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

Alaska, at 6.5% and Puerto Rico at 7.7%, had the highest unemployment rates in the country. Louisiana, West Virginia and D.C. had unemployment rates of 5.0% or more but less than 6.0%. 16 states had unemployment rates that were 4.0% or greater but less than 5.0%. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Twenty years ago, manufacturing jobs represented 14% of all jobs. Today these jobs represent 8.5% of all employment. In 2000 we had more than 17 million jobs in factories. Today there are 13 million such jobs. [Steve Rattner 12/10/18]

Roughly half of all U.S. zip codes still have lower total employment than they did in 2007. The top 20% of zip codes have added 3.6 million jobs. [John Littieri, Economic Innovation Group. Axios 12/10/18]

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States hit a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In 2016 that number had dropped by 1.5 million to 10.7 million.

The drop over this 9-year period is accounted for primarily by a drop in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico by 1.5 million, a drop of 240,000 from South America, a drop of 130,000 from Europe and Canada and an increase of 375,000 from Central America.

66% of the unauthorized have lived her for more than 10 years and another 18% have been here for 5 years or less. [PEW 12/1/18]

60% of Americans say that the candidates who were elected in 2018 were elected to make compromises on legislation. 29% say they should stick to their campaign positions. [NBC/WSJ 12/12/18]

9% of respondents think that 2018 was one of the best years for the United States while 19% say it was one of the worst years. Another 21% say it was an above average year while 26% say it was a below average year.

When asked how they would rate the year on a personal basis, 35% said it was one of the best or above average year. 25% said that on a personal basis it was a below average year or one of the worst years. [NBC/12/12/18]

During the next 12 months, 28% of us think the economy will get better. That is a drop from January 2018 when 35% thought the economy was going to be getting better and January 2017 when 41% thought the economy would be getting better. [NBC/WSJ 12/12/18]

This and That

Leon Panetta served as the budget director and White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton and as defense secretary and CIA director under President Obama. He also served for 8 terms in the Congress representing California. Panetta recently penned a piece in the Washington Post titled, “Five lessons that never seem to be learned from shutting down the government.”

These are the five lessons.

  • Harming people never works.
  • The more you blame others, the more the public blames you.
  • Negotiations are impossible without trust.
  • Never negotiate in public.
  • If the president fails, Congress must lead.

The full text is worth reading. [WP 12/28/18]

Chicago recorded nearly 1900 homicides between 2015 and 2017. Baltimore, the next closest city, registered around 1000 homicides. Because of these numbers, Chicago has been called the “murder capital”.

The facts are that in 2017, Chicago ranked 14th among cities with at least 100,000 people. Since 2014 the “murder capital” of the United States has been St. Louis, Missouri. The murder rate in St. Louis in 2017 was 66 homicides per 100,000 people. Other cities with murder rates greater than Chicago were Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans. [PEW 11/13/18]

“Justice” is the 2018 word of the year as chosen by Merriam-Webster. Oxford Dictionaries chose the word “toxic” and chose “misinformation.”

In the United States 57% of men and 60% women say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In England, 80% of men and 81% of women say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. [PEW 12/14/18]

29% of U.S. adults say they make no purchases using cash during a typical week. This is up from 24% in 2015. [Pew 12/15/18]

256,000 people were deported in 2018. The record over the last two administrations was in 2012 when 409,849 people were deported.

2018 – 256,000
2017 – 226,000
2016 – 240,255
2015 – 235,413
2014 – 315,943
2013 – 368,644;
2012 – 409,849
2011 – 396,906
2010 – 392,862
2009 – 389,834

[Dept of Homeland Security—ICE]

An increasing number of registered voters say that people cause climate change.

  December 4, 2018 November 23, 2015
Caused by human activity 58% 45%
A natural phenomenon 30% 37%
Not happening 4% 6%
No opinion 8% 12%
[Morning Consult 12/6/18]

For the first time in 75 years, the United States has become a net oil exporter. This is the result of an unprecedented boom in productions from Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. The U.S. is the world’s largest petroleum producer having surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia. [Bloomberg 12/7]

Nebraska has taken a huge hit as a result of Trump’s trade fight with China.

So far in 2018, it is estimated that retaliatory tariffs have caused Nebraska’s farmers to lose between $695 million and $1.026 billion. Factor in labor income losses and the total economic hit to the state is $859 million to $1.26 billion. [Omaha World Herald 12/6/18]

Last year the number of U.S. children without health insurance jumped to 3.9 million children, up from 3.6 million in 2016. [Georgetown University 12/1/8]

47% of U.S. adults prefer to get their news by watching it, 34% prefer to read it, and 18% prefer to listen to it.

Of those who prefer watching the news, 75% chose TV, 20% chose the internet, 2% chose the radio, and 2% chose print.

Of those who prefer watching the news, 61% of those 18-49 years of age choose TV while 34% choose online. Of those 50 years of age and older, 86% chose TV and 10% chose the internet. [PEW 12/3/18]

A new law took effect in California, on January 1st, that gives new “rights” to pets in court cases. In the past, in divorce cases pets have been treated as physical property, now judges may consider the best interests of animals in divorce cases. [NBC News 12/29/18]