State of the Nation

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

21% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 73% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track. The wrong track number is up 13 points from a 10/31/20 survey.

Right track Wrong track
Democrats 37% 57%
Republicans 7% 90%
Independents 13% 79%

73% believe the nation will remain divided over the next four years while 24% think it will be able to unite.

By 53% to 44%, voters say they are worried and pessimistic about the nation’s future. This is the first time since 1998 those who are “worried and pessimistic” outnumber those who are “hopeful and optimistic”. [NBC/1/13/21]

Nearly 60% of Americans withdrew or borrowed money from their IRA or 401(k) during the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 32% of respondents said they withdrew $75,000 or more from a retirement account, while 58% of those who took loans borrowed between $50,000 and $100,000. [Kiplinger Personal Finance]

January 15, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the date that the Virginia Legislature made Virginia the 38th state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. [Grandjay]

Newly released Census Bureau population estimates through mid-year 2020 reveal record lows in U.S. Population growth, annually and for the 2010 – 2020 decade.

From July 1, 2019 to July 1, 2020 the nation grew by just 0.35%, the lowest single year growth rate since the beginning of the 20th century.

As of April 1, 2020, the estimated population in the United States is 329.2 million people. If those numbers stay, it will be the lowest decade of growth in U.S. history, 6.6%. (See Congress section of newsletter for potential reapportionment impact.) [Brookings 12/22/20]

The United States will become a ‘minority white’ country in 2045. During that year Whites will comprise 49.7% of the population, 24.6% Hispanics, 13.1% for Blacks, 7.9% of Asians, and 3.8% for multiracial populations. [Brookings 3/14/18]

31% of registered voters think the economy will get better over the next year while 35% say it will get worse and 33% say it will remain the same.

Is the overtaking of the U.S. Capitol the start of a major increase in violent political protests and riots in the United States or it will prove to be an isolated incident? 49% say it represents a major increase in violent political protests and riots while 45% say it is an isolated incident. [NBC/1/13/21]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2020 is 6.7%. That unemployment rate is lower than the 8.4% in August, 7.9% in September, 6.9% in October, the same as the 6.7% in November, and greater than the 3.6% 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 is 11.7%, down from 14.2% in August, 12.8% in September, 12.1% in October, and 12.0% in November, and up from 6.8% a year ago.

10.7 million people were unemployed in December and no jobs were created in that month. In fact, 140,000 jobs were lost, all of them held by women.

The number of unemployment claims filed in the week of January 4th jumped to 965,000, a jump of 181,000 from the week before. [WP 1/14/21]

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is 61.5%, the same as last month. [BLS 1/20]

The Demographics of Unemployment for December 2020

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –5.7% (up from last month)
  • Men –5.8% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 6.0% (up from last month)
  • Black – 9.9% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 9.3% (up from last month)
  • Asian –5.9% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –9.8% (up from last month)
  • High School –7.8% (as last month)
  • Some college – 6.3% (same as last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 3.8% (down from last month)

In November, 34 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 6.9%. 15 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had unemployment rates that were above the national average. The unemployment rate in one state is even with the national average.

The state with the highest unemployment rate is New Jersey at 10.2%.

Employers of half of the private-sector workers in America – 55 million people – do not offer a retirement savings vehicle. [NYT 12/27/20]