State of the Nation

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

50% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, that includes 48% of men and 52% of women.

36% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction. This includes 39% of men and 33% of women. [Econ/YouGov 1/14/20]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2019 is 3.5%, the same as November and lower than the 3.9% of a year ago.

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 in December is 6.7%, down from 7.6% a year ago.

145,000 jobs were created in December. A year ago, 227,000 jobs were created in December.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for December is 63.2 the same as November. [BLS 1/10/20]

The Demographics of Unemployment for December 2019

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)
Women – 3.2% (same as last month)
Men – 3.1% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race
White – 3.2% (same as last month)
Black – 5.9% (up from last month)
Hispanic – 4.2% (same as last month)
Asian – 2.5% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)
Less than high school – 5.2% (down from last month)
High School – 3.7% (same as last month)
Some college – 2.7% (down since last month)
Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 1.9% (down since last month)

In November 2019, one state had the same unemployment rate as the national average for that month, 3.5%; 27 states had unemployment rates below the national average; 22 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

Alaska, at 6.1%, had the highest unemployment rate in the country. (Puerto Rico at 7.9% was higher.) Mississippi and D.C. had unemployment rates greater than 5% but less than 6%. 11 states had unemployment rates that were 4.0% or greater but less than 5.0%. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

Below is the median pay in 2017 of the following physicians.

Oncology, hematology $388,697
Ophthalmology 381,320
Emergency Medicine 348,652
Other internal med/pediatrics 283,750
Hospitalist 277,120
Internal Medicine 249,206
Family Medicine 241,985
Psychiatry 241,200

[Urban Institute]

53 million Americans – 44% of all workers aged 18-64 – have low wage jobs. This significant portion of the nation’s labor force is earning median hourly wages of $10.22 and median annual earnings of $17,950. Women account for 54% of low-wage workers, higher than their total share of the workforce (48%). 49% of female workers earn low wages, compared to 39% of male workers. [Brookings 11/7/19]

Women outnumbered men in the workforce this past December for the first time since 2010. [WSJ 1/11-12/20]

1.6 million secretarial and administrative assistants have vanished since 2000. [WSJ 1/18-19/20]

The nation’s population grew by less than 0.5% in 2019 – part of a steady decline since 2015. Experts say they believe the decline stems from a lack of migrants entering the country, in hand with a drop in so-called “natural increase”, which is the difference between births and deaths.

The 0.48% increase to 328.2 million marks the slowest growth rate in the United States since 1917-1918. Natural population increase accounted for only 957,000 people from 2018 to 2019, which is the first time the marker has fallen short of 1 million in four decades, according to the Census Bureau. Immigration has been at a steady decline since 2016, when 1 million migrants were added to the population. In 2019, immigration added only 595,000 people to the population.
[U.S. News 12/30/19]

Four states had more deaths than births; West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. [Axios PM 12/30/19]

The share of Americans who believe that technology companies have a positive impact on society has dropped from 71% in 2015 to 50% in 2019. [PEW 2019]

Meat and dairy production alone account for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – as much each year as from all cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined. [NYT 1/1/20]

Around the world, 375 million workers will need to retrain or find new jobs in the next decade. Countries must put millions of more women and young people to work if they are to ride the waves of change.

The U.S. has a higher share of single-parent households than 129 other countries. 23% of U.S. children live with a single adult. Rates of single parent households of 130 countries – Pew surveyed – around the world averages 7%. [Morning Beacon Newsletter 12/15/19]

The past decade was the warmest ever recorded. Also 2019 was the second-hottest year in recorded history. Last year fell just shy of 2015 which remains the hottest year in NOAA’s 140-year climate record. [NBC News 1/15/20]

Since 1989 the Wall Street Journal/NBC survey has been asking a series of questions of Americans. The following are their responses on a series of these questions.

Share of Americans saying these issues are important to them:

1998 2019
Patriotism 70% 61%
Religion 62% 48%
Having children 59% 43%
Community Involvement    47% 62%
Money 31% 41%

Share of Americans who are comfortable voting for a presidential candidate who is:

1998 2019
A woman 80% 85%
Hispanic 73% 83%
Gay or lesbian 43% 68%
An evangelical Christian 41% 54%
Muslim 32% 49%

[WSJ 12/28-29/19]

Here are the Demographics of race and ethnicity in the United States from 1970 to 2018.

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2018
Whites 83.5% 79.6% 75.6% 69.1% 63.7% 60.4%
Black/African Americans 11.1% 11.7% 12.1% 12.3% 12.6% 13.4%
Hispanic or Latino 4.4% 6.4% 9.0% 12.5% 16.3% 18.3%
Asian/Pacific Island 0.8% 1.5% 2.9% 3.8% 4.9% 6.1%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0.4% 0.6% 0.8% 0.9% 0.9% 1.3%

65% of black American adults say it is a bad time to be black in America.

70% of black Americans do not trust community police to treat races equally.

52% of black adults say that less than half/very few black children have a good opportunity to achieve a comfortable standard of living.

75% say that most/nearly all white children have a chance to achieve that standard of living.
[WP/Ipsos 1/8/20]