State of the Nation

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

55% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, including 51% of men and 59% of women. 33% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction. This includes 39% of men and 28% of women. [Econ/YouGov 9/10/19]

The U.S. budget gap has reached the $1.09 trillion mark in the first 11 months of the fiscal year. This is the first time in seven years that the year-to-date deficits have topped the $1 trillion mark. [Congressional Budget Office/WSJ 9/13/19]

5.5 million seniors, 8% of Americans 60 and older, were “food insecure” in 2017. While keeping people fed is important it is also cheaper than caring for them down the line when they’re sick – which is what often happens to people who don’t have the food they need to live a healthy life. [Axis Vitals 8/29/19]

There are five million Native Americans in the United States, 78% of whom live outside reservations. [Wikipedia]

60% of Americans currently have an unfavorable view of China while 26% have a favorable view. This is the highest unfavorable and lowest favorable rating that China has received since 2005 when the question was first asked. [8/13/19 Global attitudes Survey – reported by PEW]

67% of Democrats/Leaners said that colleges have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country while 59% of Republicans/leaners say they have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country. [PEW 8/28/19]

57% of Americans generally are satisfied with the state of the U.S. economy today while 41% are dissatisfied.

69% are satisfied with their personal financial situation today while 30% are dissatisfied.

67% are not confident that the life of their children’s generation will be better than it has been for them while 27% feel confident that their children’s lives will be better.

70% of respondents feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than working to help every-day people get ahead. [NBC/WSJ 8/14/19]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2019 is 3.7%, the same as the previous two months.

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 7.2%, as opposed to 7.4% a year ago.

130,000 jobs were created in August, down from 159,000 in July. The average monthly growth so far this year is about 158,000 jobs. [BLS 9/8/19]

The Labor Force Participation (LFPR) for August is 63.2%, up from 63% in July.

The Demographics of Unemployment for August 2019

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)
Women – 3.2% (increase since last month)
Men – 3.0% (no change since last month)

Unemployment by Race
White – 3.4% (increase since last month)
Black – 5.5% (decreased since last month)
Hispanic – 4.2% (decreased since last month)
Asian – 2.8% (same as last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)
Less than high school – 5.4% (increased since last month)
High School – 3.6% (same as last month)
Some college – 3.1% (decreased since last month)
Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.1% (decreased since last month)

In July 2019, 32 states had unemployment rates below the national rate; 20 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico had unemployment rates that were above the national rate.

Alaska, at 6.3%, had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Mississippi and D.C. had unemployment rates of 5.1% or more but less than 6.0%. 14 states had unemployment rates that were 4.0% or greater but less than 5.0%. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

The percentage of U.S. workers who are union members fell from 20.1% in 1983 to 10.5% in 2018. [PEW, Axios AM 9/2/19]

64% of Americans approve of labor unions. In 2009, only 48% of Americans approved labor unions. The current approval is the highest found by Gallup in the last 50 years except for March 1999 – 66%, August 1999 – 65%, and August 2003 – 65%. [Gallup 8/28/19]

157 million+ are part of the U.S workforce. Three in ten U.S. jobs are held by the self-employed and the workers they hire. About 16 million American are self-employed.

Millennials (aged 23-38 in 2019) are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force as of 2016. Whereas American women earn an average of 85 cents on the dollar compared to men, millennial women earn 89 cents on the dollar. [PEW 8/29/19]

For the first time since 2009, the overall number of Americans with health insurance dropped in 2018. The Census Bureau reports that 8.5% of the population, lacked health insurance in 2018, up from 7.9% the year before. This means that 27.5 million people lacked health insurance last year. [PRRI/Morning Buzz

As of 2017, 156.2 million people (54% of all insured Americans) receive their health insurance from their employers; 20.5 million people purchase their insurance directly; 65.2 million people receive their coverage through Medicaid; 42.8 million people are covered thru Medicare and 4.6 million receive coverage through other public sources. [Kaiser Family Foundation – Steve Rattner, MSNBC 9/13/19]

Total household debt in the U.S. increased to $13.86 trillion in the second quarter of 2019. The current total is $1.2 trillion higher than the previous high of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008.

The largest component of household debt is home mortgages which hit $9.4 trillion in the second quarter.

Outstanding student debt is at $1.48 trillion.

[Federal Reserve Bank of New York 8/13/19]