State of the Nation

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

38% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 50% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

Right track Wrong track
Democrats 69% 20%
Republicans 15% 79%
Independents 28% 60%

[Econ/Yougov 6/15/21]

U.S. adults are more likely to favor the death penalty in surveys conducted using the online American Trends Panel rather than surveys conducted on the phone. Using the online panel, 65% favor the death penalty while only 52% favor it on the phone. [Pew Research Center 4/11/21]

In May 2021, 70% of American adults think that marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. 29% say that such marriages should not be valid. This represents a substantial change since 2011 when 53% thought these marriages should be valid.
In 1999, 35% of American adults thought they should be valid. [Gallup 5/18/21]

The Navajo Nation is now the largest tribe in the United States. The official enrollment is 399,494 people, eclipsing the Cherokee Nation with an enrollment of 392,000 people. [NYT 5/23/21]

U.S. civilians account for 393,000,000 (about 46%) of the worldwide total of civilian-held firearms. About 40% of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun.

As of 2018 there are over one billion small arms distributed globally of which 857 million (about 85%) are in civilian hands. [Small Arms Survey – 9/18/20]

54% of U.S. voters either strongly or somewhat approve of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. 37% oppose the law. [MorningConsult/Politico 6/21/21]

The number of births in the United States fell by 4% last year according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the largest annual decline in the number of births since 1973. [CNN 6/23/21]

Between 2018 and 2020, the decrease in average life expectancy at birth in the United Sates was roughly 1.9 years. This is 8.5 times the average decrease in 16 comparable countries, which was about 2.5 months.

The average life expectancy at birth of white Americans dropped by 1.4 years. The average Hispanic American’s life expectancy decreased by 3.0 years. While the average lifespan of a Black American decreased by 3.25 years. [NBC News 6/23/21]

America is becoming more diverse based on previous and current censuses data.

1980 2000 2010 2019
White 80.00% 69.10% 63.80% 60.10%
Black 11.50% 12.10% 12.50% 12.10%
Latino/Hispanic 6.50% 12.60% 16.40% 18.50%
Asian 1.80% 3.80% 4.90% 5.90%

[Brookings 7/1/20]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May 2021 is 5.8%. That unemployment rate is lower than the 6.1% in April and substantially less than the 13.0% unemployment rate of May 2020.

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 May was 10.2%, down from 10.4% in April and substantially less than 21.2 % a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is 61.6%, down from 61.7% in April 2021.

The Demographics of Unemployment for May 2021

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –4.8% (same as last month)
  • Men –5.1% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 5.1% (down from last month)
  • Black – 9.1% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 7.3% (down from last month)
  • Asian –5.5% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –9.1% (down from last month)
  • High School –6.8% (down from last month)
  • Some college –5.8% (down from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 3.2% (down from last month

In April, 31 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 6.1%. 21 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

The state with the highest unemployment rate in April was Hawaii at 8.5%. [BLS 5/21]

The size of the federal workforce changed during the period of December 2016 to December 2020. Overall, the workforce grew by 3.4%.

12 departments lost full-time permanent employees ranging from a drop of 11.8% at Labor to 0.6% at Justice. Other agencies that fell were Education, State, HUD, Agriculture, Small Business, EPA, Energy, Interior, HHS, and Transportation.

Five departments grew: Commerce 0.2%, Treasury 1.8%, Defense 3.8%, Homeland Security 6.9%, and Veterans Affairs 13%. [WP May 22,2021]

This and That

The G-7 makes up a shrinking share of the world economy. When it emerged in 1975, its members make up 70% of the global economy. Now the members account for just 40%. [WSJ, Morning Note 6/11/21]

Congress passed the 18-year-old vote on March 23, 1971 – 50 years ago. Ratification was on July 1st. [Source Jay Berman]

Who do you think you are? Here are seven generations from which to choose.

  • The Greatest Generation (born 1901-1927)
  • The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born 1946- 1964)
  • Generation X (born 1965 – 1980)
  • Millennials (born 1981-1995)
  • Generation Z (born 1996 – 2010)
  • Generation Alpha (born 2011-2025)

    I (WW) am part of what is described as the Silent Generation. Not sure that description applies to me.

    Is Ranked Choice Voting the wave of the future? It remains to be seen

    What is ranked choice voting? It is a voting system which allows a voter to vote for more than one candidate, ranking them in order from 1 to x.

    A candidate wins outright if they receive over 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated, and those voters’ second choice is added into the mix. The process repeats until a candidate gets a majority of the vote.

    In 16 states, individual cities or towns, have adopted rank choice voting although not necessarily yet implemented it. The largest jurisdiction to implement ranked choice voting is New York City. In the recent New York City primary to select a Democratic candidate for Mayor, voters were able to vote for up to 5 candidates ranking them from one to five.

    In 34 states, no ranked choice voting has been selected or implemented in any jurisdiction. [Ballotpedia]