State of the Nation

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

67% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track, that includes 61% of men and 71% of women.

26% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. This includes 30% of men and 20% of women. [Econ/YouGov 8/11/20]

Here are some examples of what happened in the past, in a presidential election when the “right direction” numbers are in the tank.

Year Right Direction # Party Change in White House?
1980 20% Yes
1992 16% Yes
2008 12% Yes
2020 19% ? (As of early July)
[Peter Hart]

Political polarization will be at a high point as we head into the final days of the 2020 election. Conservatism among Republicans is the highest it has been in the last 20 years and liberalism among Democrats hit a new high a year ago.

In 2001-2002, 50% of Republicans called themselves conservatives. On average this year 71% of Republicans call themselves conservatives. 10 points of that increase came about in the last three years. Currently 43% of Democrats describe themselves as liberals. Down from 46% a year ago.

Among those younger than 50 years of age, the percent of Democrats who describe themselves as liberal has grown from 33% in 2001 has grown to 49%, while among those 50 and older those describing themselves as liberals has grown from 27% to 36%.

Among those younger than 50 years of age, the percent of Republicans who describe themselves as conservative has grown from 47% to 70%. Among those 50 and older describing themselves as conservative has grown from 56% to 70%.
37% of Americans identify themselves as independents. 29% say they are Democrats and 24% identify as Republicans. In terms of ideology alone, 22% are liberals, 35% are conservative and 39% are moderates. [ABC News/ Langer Research/ 217,489 interviews in 22 years of ABC News/ABC/Post polls]

Trends in Food Insecurity Experienced by Children

About 14 million children in the U.S. are not getting enough to eat.

In a late April survey of mothers with young children, 17.4% of mothers with children 12 and under reported “the children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food”.

In June 2020, around 16% of households with children reported that their children were not eating enough over the last week due to a lack of resources.

About 30% of Black households with children, 25% of Hispanic households with children, and about 10% of white households with children reported not having sufficient food due to a lack of resources. [The Hamilton Project, The Brookings Institution]

From June 24–July 6, 2020 the Harris poll surveyed 34,026 adults about their views on a variety of industries since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The public’s view of almost every industry has improved.

75% of respondents agreed that during the pandemic, companies have been more reliable than the federal government in keeping America running.

Respondents were asked how their view of each of the following industries has changed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers below represent the net approval of each industry.

Doctors/Nurses/Hospital 47%
Grocery 35%
Technology 28%
Food & Beverage 23%
Telecommunications 19%
Pharmaceutical/drugs 17%
Retail 17%
Manufacturing 14%
Automotive 12%
Entertainment 7%
Financial services 7%
Oil 6%
Media -5%
Airlines -7%

Poverty rates for women rise with age

Women age 65-69 6.6%
Women 80 or over 13.5%

Among elderly women:

Women who were married 4.3%
Widows 13.9%
Divorced women 15.8%
Never married women 21.5%
[Brookings/Gender Equality Series 7/2020]

On October 28, 2011, issue #103 of the Washington Watch was entitled,
What is the Name? Has the United States become a country in which living well has become a contest best described as survival of the fittest?” Click on the title to read the issue. If you find yourself with some extra time, you might give it a glance. [WW]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2020 is 10.2% that unemployment rate is lower than the 11.1% rate in June and greater than the 4.0% unemployment rate 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 July is 16.5% down from 18.00% in June and up from 6.9% a year ago.

1.8 million jobs were created in July and 4.8 million jobs were created in June, bringing to 6.6 million the number of jobs created in June and July. A year ago, 164,000 jobs were created in July.

Since March 21, 57.4 million people have filed for unemployment compensation. [Politifacts-Angie Holan 8/21/20]

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for July is 61.4%, down from 63% in July 2019. [BLS 8/20]

The Demographics of Unemployment for July 2020

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)
Women –10.5% (down from last month)
Men – 9.4% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race
White – 9.2% (down from last month)
Black –14.6% (down from last month)
Hispanic – 12.9% (down from last month)
Asian –12.0% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)
Less than high school –15.4% (down from last month)
High School – 10.8% (down from as last month)
Some college – 10.0% (down as last month)
Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 6.7% (down from last month)

In July, 31 states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rates below the national average of 10.2%; 19 states had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

Massachusetts at 17.4.%, had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Utah at 5.1%, had the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

[Bureau of Labor Statistics]

As of August 24th, 28 million people were receiving unemployment benefits. [ 8/24]

As of August 7th, the country had recovered fewer than half of the 20 million jobs lost since March 2020. [WP 8/6/20]

42% of the American workforce is now working from home full-time. [Politico 8/18/20]