State of the Nation

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

35% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction. This includes 42% of men and 27% of women. 52% say it is on the wrong track including 48% of men and 57% of women. [Economist/YouGov 3/26/19]

In March, 33% of us were satisfied with the way things were going in the United States while 65% were dissatisfied. [Gallup 3/10/19]

Nearly 4 million babies are born in the U.S. annually but roughly 23,000 babies die each year. An American baby is less likely to reach its first birthday than a baby born in 33 other countries. [BCBS Progress Health 2/27/19]

“The United States could see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, impacting patient care across the nation, according to new data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Estimates conducted in 2015, 2016, and 2017, show a projected shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by the end of the next decade.”

“America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce in the U.S., and nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. By 2025, the shortfall is expected to be “more than twice as large as any nurse shortage experienced since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s.” [The Atlantic]

Government statisticians rank home care as one of the nation’s fastest growing occupations, with an additional million home health aides needed by 2026; that’s an increase of 50% from 2014. [Forbes]

There is strong evidence that we are thinking about this the wrong way. In 2014, the Institute of Medicine released a thorough analysis on graduate medical education that argued there was no doctor shortage, and that we didn’t really need to invest more in new physicians.

The system isn’t undermanned. It’s inefficient.

We rely too heavily on physicians and not enough on midlevel practitioners, like physician assistants and nurse practitioners, especially because evidence supports they are just as effective in primary care settings. [New York Times – A Doctor Shortage? Let’s Take a Closer Look]

Equal gender representation could be closer than we think in the medical field. In Latin America more than 50% of doctors are women. In 2017 more women were enrolled in U.S. medical schools than men. [TicToc 3/23/19]

As of the end of 2018 the amount of student loan debt hit $1,569 trillion. A growth of $1,089 trillion in the last 12 years. This debt load is second only to Americans mortgage debt which is $8,880 trillion. [NBC News; Federal Reserve Bank of New York]

In America, powerful commercial firms are becoming even more powerful.

  • Apple has a 62% market share in America.
  • American Express, Mastercard and Visa control 95% of the credit card market.
  • Google has 60% of the browser market.
  • 3 Networks control 78% of the telecoms market.
  • 4 airlines control 69% of journeys within America.
  • Hilton controls 12% of all rooms in America.
  • Expedia has 27% of the North American online travel market.
  • 4 companies control 66% of hog slaughtering, 85% of steers, 50% of chickens and 85% of corn seed sales.

[Axios 3/30/19]

“Americans over 65 are now the fastest growing age group in the country. U.S. Census projects that by 2035 the population past retirement age will outnumber the population under 18 for the first time in history.”

“Older Americans are more likely to vote than millennials and Gen Xers, particularly in midterm and primary elections…they are clustered in rural and sparsely populated states, giving them disproportionately large Senate and Electoral College representation.” [HuffPost 3/11/19]

Democrats and Republicans are united in their view that polarization in the United States will worsen in the future.

  Less polarized More polarized
All adults 26% 65%
Rep/Lean Rep 23% 68%
Dem/Lean Dem 28% 62%

A slight majority of Americans are optimistic about the future of the U.S. over the next 30 years, to 2050.

  Very optimistic Somewhat optimistic Somewhat pessimistic Very pessimistic
All adults 12% 44% 31% 13%
White 9% 42% 35% 14%
Black 20% 50% 19% 10%
Hispanic 17% 50% 24% 9%
[Pew Research Center 3/21/19]

The House passed legislation last Thursday to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, despite opposition from the majority of Republicans, bowing to NRA pressure. The bill, which reauthorizes the landmark 1994 domestic violence law for another five years, easily passed. But 157 Republicans and one Democrat voted against it. [HuffPost 4/5/19]

The residents of 43 U.S. states describe themselves as more conservative than liberal. In one state, California, the number of folks who describe themselves as conservative equals the number who describe themselves as liberal. In the remaining six states the number of folks who describe themselves as liberal is greater than the number who describe themselves as conservative.

In one state, Florida, the number of folks who describe themselves as conservative equals the number who describe themselves as moderate.

In 25 states the number of conservatives is greater than the number who describe themselves as moderate and liberal.

In 24 states there are more moderates than conservatives and liberals combined.
[Gallup 2/22/19]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2019 is 3.8%.

The unemployment rate for adult men is 3.6%; adult women 3.3%; whites 3.4%; blacks 6.7%; Hispanics 4.7%.

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 is 7.3%.

These overall results are identical to the February numbers, the one big change is the number of jobs created. In February, 20,000 jobs were created. In March there was a rebound to 196,000 jobs. [BLS 4/5/19]

This and That

On March 22, 2019, Jimmy Carter became the oldest living president ever.

Between 2008 and 2016, shipping companies lost over 1,500 containers on average each year, according to a survey by the World Shipping Council. [NYT 3/30]

Recently when WW was doing some research about generations, I found that “boomers” were described as 18-29 years of age. Then I found “boomers” described as 30-48 years of age. So, as I often do, I turned to the PEW Research Center and found the following.

  1975 1994 2015 2019
Generation Z       7-22
Millennials     18-34 23-38
Generation X   18-29 35-50 39-54
Boomers 18-29 30-48 51-69 55-73
Silent 30-47 49-65 70-87 74-91
Greatest 48-60      
[PEW Research Center – Michael Dimock, President]

52% of Gen Z consumers say they find out about new products on social media instead of TV or other mediums. [Morning Consult 3/29/19]

In 2018, happiness among young adults in America fell to a record low. The number of 18-34 years old who said they were very happy fell to 25%, the lowest level in the General Social Survey. Only 28% of young women and 22% of young men reported being very happy. [Atlantic 4/6/19]

Given all of the discussion about changes in the American health care system with many Democrats promoting Medicare-for-All and Republicans wanting to do away with the Affordable Care Act, Americans were asked:

Which of the following health care systems would be better?

  Overall GOP Ind Dem Women
Current System 35% 51% 33% 22% 30%
Single payer/Medicare-for-all 42% 24% 38% 60% 41%
Don’t know 23% 24% 29% 18% 29%
[Winston Group 3/28/19]

Since at least 2010, more than 50% of Democrats have expressed a positive view of socialism.

In a late February survey by Winning the Issues, respondents were asked whether capitalism or socialism would be a better economic system.

35% of Democrats selected capitalism while 31% chose socialism and 35% were not sure. Among Republicans, the preference for capitalism is clear. When asked the same question, 73% of Republicans chose capitalism and 10% chose socialism. [Winston Group 3/8/19]

The following are the percentage of shoppers who consider certain behaviors to be in appropriate.

  • Leaving perishable items you no longer want, somewhere else in the store – 97%
  • Tasting produce before purchasing – 80%
  • Leaving non-perishable items you no longer want somewhere else in the store – 79%
  • Consuming items you plan on purchasing before paying for them – 78%
  • Leaving the checkout line while your items are being scanned to grab a forgotten item – 68%
  • Shopping minutes prior to closing time – 47%
  • Giving special bagging instructions (aside from paper or plastic) to an employee – 35%
  • Verbally disciplining your child while shopping – 27%
  • Handing the cashier items you no longer want to purchase – 26%

[TreadMill Reviews 12/1/18]

51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 do not have a steady romantic partner. That is up from 33% in 2004 and 45% in 2016.

Among the overall public, 35% say they have no steady partner which is up slightly from 33% in 2016.

42% of American adults did not live with a spouse or partner in 2017.

41% of Democrats are without a steady partner compared with 29% of Republicans.

51% of black Americans are more likely than 32% of white Americans to not have a steady partner.

Among those who are unemployed, 54% do not have partners. This is up from 44% in 2016. 32% of employed adults do not have a partner. [General Social Survey and Current Population Survey, WP 3/22/19]

Do you keep quiet about political views online to avoid conflict with friends and family? 49% of Americans answer that question “yes” while 45% say “no”.

Of the 49% who consider themselves in this category, they are 49% of GOP men, 48% of independent men and 39% of Democratic men, 63% of GOP women, 52% of Independent women and 43% of Democratic women. [Winston Group 3/15/19]

Next year’s census will be the biggest ever, which tends to be the case given the population inevitably grows larger every decade. Still, this coming year’s census will be a major investment, costing $15.6 billion, up from $12.3 billion spent on the 2010 census and well over the $9.4 billion spent in 2000 (inflation adjusted). Much of the census money is spent chasing people down who forgot to fill out the census. The 2020 Census will spend $1.43 per U.S. resident on marketing, with a particular focus on digital and social media spending. That’s up from $1.22 in 2010. [Ted Mellnick and Reuben Fischer-Baum, WP]

Every 15 minutes a baby is born in the United States with opioid withdrawal symptoms. [Axios 3/28]

751 pitchers played in the big leagues last year. [NYT 3/27/19]

Social Media

54% of us are not satisfied with the amount of federal government regulation and oversight of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. 36% are satisfied.

When it comes to protection of their personal information, 60% of folks don’t trust Facebook “at all”, 37% don’t trust Google “at all”, 28% don’t trust Amazon “at all” and 35% don’t trust the federal government “at all”.

A majority and then some believe that social media:

  • does more to spread lies and falsehoods – 55%
  • does more to divide us – 57%
  • does more to spread unfair attacks and rumors against public figures and corporations – 61%
  • does more to waste our time – 82%

Social media companies collect your personal data and allow advertisers to target users based on that data. The argument is that this use of data is an acceptable tradeoff because it allows social media companies to provide free or low-cost services and better products that fit our needs and interests. 26% of us accept this use of our personal data.

74% have a different take on this practice. They say this is not an acceptable tradeoff because it gives social media companies too much influence over our lives and to use our information in ways we might not want.

When faced with the question of whether the federal government should break up companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google into smaller competing companies, 50% believe they should not be broken up while 47% would do exactly that.

On the other hand, when faced with the argument that these companies should not be broken up because competition should be left to the free market, 68% would not breakup these companies because the government should not pick winners and losers. 28% have the opposite view.

94% believe that companies that operate online should be required to get a consumer’s permission before sharing or selling access to his/her personal information and online activity. And 93% believe that the same companies should be required to delete a consumer’s personal information on the consumer’s request.

[All of above from NBC/WSJ 3/27/19]