State of the Nation

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

41.2% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 52% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Right track Wrong track
Democrats 70% 17%
Republicans 13% 79%
Independents 29% 57%

[Econ/Yougov 4/6/21]

In 2020, Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Heart Disease – 690,000; Cancer – 598,000; Covid-19 – 345,000. [CDC 3/31/21]

A majority in Germany, the UK, and France are satisfied with the functioning of Democracy. This is not the case in the United States.

Germany UK France United States
Very satisfied 39% 18% 11% 9%
Somewhat Satisfied 41% 42% 44% 36%
Not too satisfied 11% 23% 29% 29%
Not at all satisfied 9% 15% 16% 24%

Satisfaction with democracy is up in Germany, the UK, and France but not
in the United States. [PEW 4/3/21]

From the 1940s through 2000, church membership among U.S. adults remained pretty steady from a high of 76% in 1945 to 70% in 1999. Since then,
membership has dropped 23 points to 47% in 2020.

The decline in membership is a result of an increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who expressed no religious preference has grown from 8% to 21%.

Not surprisingly, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church. Around the year 2000 an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. That average has fallen to 60%. [Gallup 3/29/21]

There are approximately 77 million dogs in U.S homes. [ProLawCLE 3/24/21]

Virginia became the 23rd state and the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. The state has executed more people than any other state. The state has executed more than 1,300 people.

“Each day in the United States, more than 300 people are shot and more than 100 of them die. Some lose their lives in mass shootings that garner national attention. Others – the vast majority – die as the result of suicides or domestic homicides.” [Hubbell 4/9/21]

Data on gun background checks and sales is all over the map. Therefore, the numbers below should be treated as approximate. Sources of the information below range from various national research firms, universities, other usually reliable sources, and Google. [WW]

More than 4.3 million firearm background checks were conducted in January 2021, 3.4 million checks were conducted in February, and 4.6 million background checks were conducted in March.

Nearly 40 million firearms were purchased in 2020, a 40% jump from the previous year.

Sales topped:

  • 25,000,000 in 2016
  • 20,000,000 in 2013
  • 15,000,000 in 2011
  • 10,000,000 in 2006
  • 9,138,000 in 1999

An estimated 8.4 million people were first-time gun buyers in 2020.

About 40% of adult Americans own a gun or live with someone who does.

22% of individuals in America report owning a gun.

Of the more than 310 million background checks that have been done since 1998, there have only been 1.5 million denials.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll was taken March 26-29, 2021 among registered voters. The following are summaries from that survey.

Who do you trust to handle gun policy?

  • Democrats in Congress – 44%
  • Republicans in Congress – 35%
  • Don’t Know/No – 21%

Do you support or oppose stricter gun control laws in the United States?

  • Strongly/somewhat support 68%
  • Strongly/somewhat opposed 34%

The survey includes a series of questions about whether respondents support or oppose certain policies relating to guns. Respondents were asked whether they strongly/somewhat support or strongly/somewhat oppose a particular policy.

Summarizing the responses to various policies in the list below is limited to support or oppose and does not include all of the policies described in the survey.

Support Oppose
Requiring background checks on all gun sales 85% 11%
Barring gun purchases by people on federal no-fly or watch lists 77% 11%
Creating a national database with information about each gun sale 70% 11%
Banning assault-style weapons 64% 27%
Preventing sales of all firearms to people who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider 83% 10%
Making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks 79% 13%
Requiring a mandatory waiting period of three days after a gun is purchased before it can be taken home 75% 17%
Banning firearms from all workplace settings nationally 55% 32%
Banning firearms from schools and college campuses nationally 68% 23%

How much do you blame easy access to guns for mass shootings? A lot: 49%, Some: 21%, Not much: 11%, Not at all: 14%.

Americans often have access to new medicines years earlier and can access more medicines than any people in any other country…In many other countries the government determines what medicines are worth it and which ones are not – and availability of medicines suffers as a result.

In the United States, nearly 90% of new medicines launched globally since 2011 are available, compared to less than half on average in OECD countries which allow the government to determine whether and how much to pay for medicines.

More than 90% of all medicines dispensed in the United States are lower-cost generic medicines. Only 69% of medicines prescribed in other OECD countries are generics. Generics are generally less expensive in the United States on average than in other developed countries. [ 3/24/21]

According to Asian adults surveyed, “How responsible are each of the following for the discrimination against Asian people living in the United States?”

Very/Somewhat Not too/Not at all
White Americans 72% 25%
Donald Trump 69% 18%
The media 64% 19%
Republicans in Congress 62% 19%
The government 59% 23%
Democrats in Congress 44% 45%
Black Americans 43% 36%
President Joe Biden 30% 52%
Hispanic Americans 28% 46%
Asian Americans 22% 61%

[Morning Consult 3/30/21]

The public is less concerned about COVID-19 in March then it was in December 2020.

December 2020 March 2021
Very concerned 59% 51%
Family member or close friend has had COVID-19 30% 43%
Know someone who has died of COVID-19 17% 24%

[Morning Consult 3/29/21]

Child Tax Credit

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan dramatically expands the Child Tax Credit and in so doing cuts the number of children in poverty nearly in half.

Beginning this summer, all but well-off families with children may begin receiving their Child Tax Credits. The plan makes several changes to the Child Tax Credit for one year.

It increases the credit to $3,600 for kids under the age of 6. It increases the credit to $3,000 for older kids, ages 6-17, including newly eligible 17-year-olds.

It provides the authority for the IRS to give out the credit monthly, either deposited directly in recipients bank accounts, or as a check or debit card received in the mail, beginning this July ($300 per month for young kids and $250 per month for older kids), with the balance going to families with next year’s tax return.

If the changes in this law are made permanent the impact will be extraordinary:

  • Child poverty will be reduced by 44.9%
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander child poverty reduced by 37%
  • Black child poverty reduced by 52.4%
  • Hispanic child poverty reduced by 45.4%
  • Multiracial & all other groups child poverty reduced by 38.7%
  • Native American child poverty reduced by 61.5%
  • White child poverty reduced by 38.6%

The estimates above come from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.

In the House, Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been champions of such an expansion for years. Senators Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, and Sherrod Brown have been championing these expansions as well. This past summer, the Biden-Harris campaign came out in favor of such a provision. The expansion is initially for one year. Champions hope to turn it into permanent policy.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2021 is 6.0%. That unemployment rate is lower than the 6.7% in November and December, and greater than the 4.4% 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 10.7%, down from 11.1% in January, and 12.0% in November, and up from 8.8% a year ago.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is 61.5% up from 61.4% in February 2021. [BLS 3/20]

The Demographics of Unemployment for March 2021

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –5.0% (down from last month)
  • Men –5.2% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 5.4% (down from last month)
  • Black – 9.6% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 7.9% (down from last month)
  • Asian –6.0% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –8.2% (down from last month)
  • High School –6.7% (down from last month)
  • Some college –5.9% (same as last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 3.7% (down from last month)

In February, 30 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 6.7%. 20 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average. The unemployment rate in two states is even with the national average.

The state with the highest unemployment rate in February is Hawaii at 9.2%.

62% of health-care workers overall say their mental health has suffered from coronavirus worry. The youngest of these workers seem to be the most affected.

  • 18–20-year-olds 75%
  • 30–39-year-olds 71%
  • 40–49-year-olds 58%
  • 50–64-year-olds 51%
  • 65+ year-olds 40%

55% feel “burned out” going to work. [WP/KFF 3/7/21]

Here are the five strongest job markets with 1 million-plus residents.

  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Austin, Texas
  3. Denver, Colorado
  4. Indianapolis, Indiana
  5. Washington, D.C.

[Wall Street Journal]

There is a gender tariff gap between gender-classified items. The average tariff rate on men’s clothing is 11.9% while the average tariff rate on women’s apparel is 15.1%. [BroadStreet 3/23/21]

In 2015, 76% said they watch television via cable or satellite. This year that number is 56%. 34% of those Americans ages 18-29 get TV through cable or satellite, down from 65% in 2015. [PEW 3/20/21]

The average annual Social Security benefits for women are $15,237 while for men it is $19,391. Within each of these groups there are differences driven by race.

Women $15,237

  • Blacks $14,659
  • Hispanics $13,509
  • Asians $14,964
  • Whites $15,506

Men $19,391

  • Blacks $17,137
  • Hispanics $16,078
  • Asians $17,454
  • Whites $20,033

[AARP 3/24/21]