State of the Nation

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

56% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, that includes 55% of men and 58% of women.

31% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction. This includes 31% of men and 31% of women. [Econ/YouGov 4/14/20]

65% of Americans say the nation’s partisan divide is increasing. This is 13% lower than it was in September 2019. The drop is the same among Republicans and Democrats. However, the number who say the divide is decreasing remains at 7%. [Pew 4/16/20]

In 2018, more than half of 18-34-year-olds didn’t have a steady romantic partner, a figure that is up significantly from 33% in 2004. The average age of first marriage has also ticked up in recent years, now at 30 years old for men and 28 years old for women. [WP 3/3/20]

Many millions of Americans lacked a personal safety net even before these last few months.

  • 53% of U.S. households had no emergency savings..
  • 33,600,000 civilian workers lacked paid sick leave.
  • 27,900,000 non-elderly lacked health insurance.
  • 21,300,000 lacked adequate broadband.
  • 550,000 homeless were living on streets.

[Bruce Mehlman, MCR&T 4/10/20]

Retail sales in March dropped by 8.7%. This is the worst one-month decline
since the Census Bureau began collecting data in 1992. Exclusive of auto and sales
the drop was 3.1%.

Grocery store sales were up by 27% in March while clothing and accessories
sales dropped 50.5%.

61% of Americans are mainly hopeful and optimistic about the future of the
country. 36% are mainly worried and pessimistic.

76% of us describe the current state of the economy as only “fair” (31%) or
“poor” (45%). There has been a 24-point drop in this category since March when 52% described the economy as “fair” or “poor” and a drop of 32 points since December 2019 when 44% described the economy as “fair” or “poor”.

22% currently describe the economy as “excellent” or “good” a drop of some 25 points from March when 47% described the economy as “excellent” or “good” or a drop of 31 points since December 2019 when 53% described “excellent” or “good.” [NBC/WSJ 4/15/20]


The March unemployment data, including the demographics of the unemployment for that month, which is the most recent available, is not included because it is irrelevant given the impact of coronavirus. The following are odds and ends that describe the situation.

26,000,000 have applied for unemployment benefits in the four-week period thru April 23, 2020.

Naturalized citizens will make up a record one–in–ten of eligible voters in the United States in 2020, 23.2 million people. This is an increase of 11.2 million people or 93% since 2000. By comparison, the U.S. born eligible voter population grew by 18% from 181 million in 2000 to 215 million in 2020.

Of the immigrants eligible to vote, 34% are Hispanic, 31% are Asian, 22% are white and 10% are black. [Pew Research Center 2/26/2020]

Foreign born people represent a significant portion of the workers in a variety of essential and important occupations.

In health care occupations: 27.9% of physicians; 25.4% of surgeons, 24.8% of healthcare support workers; health diagnosing, treating practitioners; and 23.4% of dentists are foreign born.

In the non-health related occupations: 61.9% of agricultural graders and sorters; 45.2% of taxi drivers and chauffeurs; 35.4% of chefs, head cooks; 29.8% of dishwashers; and 29.5% of cooks are foreign born. [Axios, New American Economy 4/3/20]

Health spending is 17% of the U.S. economy – more than triple the proportion spent in China. [NYT 3/17/20]

Many federal agencies are viewed favorably by a majority of the public.

  The Public
Republicans Democrats
U.S. Postal Service 91% 91% 91%
Center for Disease Control 79% 84% 77%
Census Bureau 77% 83% 76%
Health and Human Services 73% 80% 70%
Dept Homeland Security 71% 86% 60%
Federal Reserve 69% 76% 65%
Internal Revenue Service 65% 68% 65%
Veterans Affairs 65% 72% 61%
Dept of Justice 60% 76% 50%
ICE 46% 77% 28%
[PEW 4/9/20]

A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that three out of four U.S. workers ages 50-62 did not have an employer-provided retirement plan and health insurance. [NYT 4/12/20]

In the early 1970s, Wisconsin was home to 75,000 dairies. Consolidation and a grueling business cycle have reduced the number of dairies in Wisconsin to 7,400. Half of Minnesota dairies don’t make a profit. Despite the business hardships for producers, demand is the highest it has been in 56 years at 646 pounds of dairy per American in 2018. Currently 53% of American milk is produced by 3% of farms. [Bloomberg]


In 2015 there were 1,085,783 medical doctors in the U.S. of which 160,000 were inactive.

There will be a projected shortage of 121,300 medical doctors by 2020.
[AAMA 12/18/20]

The following are the top ten states by number of active physicians per 10,000 civilian population in 2015.

  • District of Columbia 74.6
  • Massachusetts 47.2
  • Rhode Island 41.1
  • Maryland 40.7
  • New York 39.4
  • Vermont 39.1
  • Connecticut 38.9
  • Pennsylvania 35.1
  • Maine 34.3
  • New Jersey 33.7

[Statista 11/6/2019]

In the United States there are 2.6 practicing physicians per 1,000 people. Here is the data from a select number of other countries.

  • Austria 5.2
  • Germany 4.3
  • Italy 4
  • Australia 3.7
  • France 3.2
  • UK 2.8
  • Canada 2.8
  • USA 2.6
  • Japan 2.4
  • S. Korea 2.3
  • China 2

[Bruce Mehlman MCR&T 4/10/20]

The United States has 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Here is the data from a select number of other countries.

  • S. Korea 12
  • Germany 8.1
  • Austria 7.4
  • Italy 3.2
  • Australia 3.8
  • France 6.1
  • UK 2.6
  • Canada 2.6
  • USA 2.8
  • China 4.1

[Bruce Mehlman MCR&T4/10/20]

It has become clear in recent months, that the supply of hospital beds in most areas of the United States is inadequate. (WW)

A number of items in this issue of the Watch are pulled from “Quarterly Infographics” by Bruce Mehlman of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas. The entire publication, as well as a signup to receive it directly, can be found at