State of the Nation

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

22% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 69% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 24% 67%
Female 18% 70%
Democrats 39% 50%
Republicans 9% 87%
Independents 14% 72%
Urban 33% 58%
Suburban 18% 71%
Rural 13% 76%

[Econ/YouGov 8/2/22]

In the previous issue of the Washington Watch, on July 2, 2022, Econ/YouGov reported that 27% of registered voters said the country was on the right track and 67% said it was on the wrong track.

On July 12th, for the first time in 20 years, the Euro and the US dollar are at parity. [CNN 7/12/2022]

In the year between June 2021 and June 2022, there was a significant decline in Americans’ confidence in 16 major U.S. institutions ranging from 0 to -15 percentage points. Only one of these institutions has had no change in the country’s confidence: Organized Labor.

Of the 3 institutions which happen to be a part of the federal government (the Supreme Court, the presidency, and the Congress) the average drop in confidence is 11 percentage points.

Only 2 institutions, small business and the miliary, have a confidence score over 50%.

2021 Great Deal 2022 Great Deal Change % Points
Small Business 70 68 -2
The military 69 64 -5
The police 51 45 -6
The medical system 44 38 -6
Church/organized religion 47 31 -6
Public Schools 32 28 -6
Organized labor 28 28 0
Banks 33 27 -6
Large Tech companies 29 26 -3
U.S. Supreme Court (In 2014 the great deal number was 30%) 36 25 -11
The presidency 38 23 -15
Newspapers 21 16 -5
Criminal Justice system 20 14 -6
Big business 18 14 -4
Television news 16 11 -5
Congress 12 7 -5

[Gallup 7/5/22]

The Future of Abortion Rights

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade there has been a growing response from folks who support the decision as well as those who oppose it.

There are two states in which there has been complete and fulsome action.

Kansas voters resoundingly decided 59 to 41% in a referendum, against removing the right to abortion from the State Constitution, a major victory from the abortion rights movement in a reliably conservative state. Abortion is legal in Kansas up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The battle is not over in Kansas, but it was unexpected in turns of the result, the large turnout, and the spread.

Indiana became the first state in the country after the fall of Roe v. Wade to pass sweeping limits on abortion access. Republican Gov. Holcomb signed into law a bill that constitutes a near-total ban on the procedure.

The Republican-dominated state Senate approved the legislation after it passed Indiana’s lower chamber. It allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormality or when the procedure is necessary to prevent severe health risk or death. [NYT 8/2/2022, WP 8/6/22]

America is getting older: Since 2000, the national median age – the point at which half the population is older and half younger – has grown by 3.4 years, to 38.8 years. Only one state, Maine became slightly younger.

America is getting more diverse: Every race and origin group grew from July 2020 to July 2021 – except the white population, which fell 0.03%. “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander” was the fastest growing category, increasing 1.54%. Hispanic was the largest category in numerical gain (800,000) and second-fastest growing, up 1.24%. [Axios local 7/5/22]

The National Fraternal Order of Police said that shootings of police officers are up 19% from this time last year. 178 officers have been shot this year and 33 of them were killed. [NBC nightly 7/1/22]

One-third of American newspapers that existed roughly two decades ago will be out of business by 2025. 2,500 dailies and weeklies have shuttered since 2005; there are fewer than 6,500 remaining.

Seventy million Americans now live in areas without enough local news to sustain grass-roots democracy. More than 200 American counties have no local newspaper and in most cases, nothing has come along to replace those that once served their communities. [WP 6/30/22]

More about Guns

43 million guns were purchased between 2020 and 2021 and now there are 400 million guns in the United States. There were 90,498 gun deaths in 2020-21 of which 38,796 were homicides. [WP 7/8/22]

More than 95% of gun homicides this year have been shootings with one to three victims. [NYT 7/9/22]

Assault weapons makers have pulled in over $1 billion in revenue over the past decade as gun violence across the country has surged. [NYT 7/27/22]

In 2020 and 2021, of 1,002,274 background checks, 4.2% took longer than the three days that the FBI has to complete a background check. After the three days, a gun dealer may sell the weapon to the customer whether they’ve received the results of the background check or not. This could, therefore, result in a sale to someone who legally can’t own a gun because of mental illness or criminal history.

The FBI ultimately completed about 1/4th of those delayed background checks and discovered that 11,564 people were able to buy guns who should not have been allowed to do so. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives then had to retrieve the weapons.

The FBI never completed the remaining 734,604 background checks from January 2020 through November 2021 because they took longer than 88 days, after which the Bureau must stop and purge the unfinished checks from its system.

Some dealers choose not to sell weapons without a completed check. [NBC news 7/8/22]

454 people were killed in workplace homicides in 2019. 80% of these homicides were shootings. In 1992 there were 1,044 workplace homicides. [Axios Closer 7/21/22]

74% of the Supreme Court cases in the term that ended on June 30 had a conservative ruling. This year, with a six-justice conservative majority, was the most conservative since 1931. The two justices who agree most often in divided rulings were Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh at 98%. The two justices least likely to vote together in such cases were Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas at 14%. Among appointees of presidents of different parties, the highest rate of agreement was Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan at 48%. [Axios 6/30/22]

Roughly one in three American adults have criminal records. [NYT 7/10/22]

1.6% of U.S. adults say their gender is different from their sex assigned at birth. They are transgender or nonbinary. This description applies to 5.1% of those aged 18-29; 1.6% of those aged 30-49; and 0.3% of those aged 50+.

44% of all adults say they know a trans person. This includes 42% of those who say they are Republican/Lean Republican and 48% of Democrats/lean Democrat. 20% of all adults say they personally know someone who is nonbinary. [PEW 6/7/22]

In 19 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center this spring (24,525 adults from February to June 2022), the people in 17 of these countries see the United States more favorably than they do China. (The order below is based on the positive difference between the two countries.)

China U.S. Difference
South Korea 19% 89% 70
Poland 28 91
U.S. 16 78
Japan 12 70
Sweden 16 66
Germany 20 63
Canada 21 63
Australia 14 54 40
Netherlands 21 60
UK 27 64
Israel 48 83
Spain 29 60
France 26 57
Italy 31 61 30
Belgium 28 56
Hungary 38 55
Greece 44 48 4
Singapore 67 51 -16
Malaysia 60 44 -16

It’s no surprise that Malaysia and Singapore have a greater percentage have confidence in Xi (of China) as a leader than they do of Biden.

In 18 of the 19 countries, folks say that China’s influence in the world is getting stronger. Poland is the single exception. [PEW 6/29/22]

India is set to surpass China as the most populous country in the world sometime next year. It is the world’s largest democracy and is viewed by the West as a key counterweight to China’s influence in the region.

The world’s population will reach 8 billion by November 15 and climb to 9.7 billion in 2050.

More than half of the population growth through 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries – The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Tanzania. [Mike Allen, Axios PM 7/11/22]

Imports Would Give America a Boost

Fred P. Hochberg
Former Chairman and President of the Export Import Bank

Over the past several years, trade has been blamed for much of what is wrong in America, and there is no question that trade policy must take into account labor rights and the environment. Voters today are worried about inflation and how it’s eating into wages. And they are worried about the power of big companies and their unleashed pricing power. Trade can help curb both.

For the eight years I chaired the Export-Import Bank under President Obama, I championed the power of U.S. exports to boost our economy by creating American jobs. Today I’m convinced that imports are what will give us a boost—by easing price increases and effectively putting money back into the pockets of inflation-struggling Americans. To get these benefits, however, we’ll need to embrace trade again.

Inflation may be with us for some time. Monetary policy, the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine are contributing to it, and a needed transition to alternative energy will raise prices in the short run. Transitions are never without cost.

Allowing more imports will give consumers more choice and tame the power of companies to set prices. During the pandemic, American spending habits tilted away from services toward tangible goods and have stayed there. That put a strain on supply, and disruptions to supply chains caused further strain.

Some relief will come as supply chains heal. As the Biden administration identified, some relief will come as supply chains heal, reducing scarcity. Ocean-freight reforms and last year’s infrastructure bill will also help reduce backlogs and ease prices. But another, more immediate way to help lower prices is to reduce or eliminate certain tariffs.

We can start with rolling back the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese goods. But let’s not stop there. Clothes and footwear, which account for a large percentage of U.S. imports, have tariffs as high as 18.7%, well above the 3% average.

American consumers, not foreign businesses, end up paying for tariffs. By one recent estimate, Trump-era restrictions on Chinese goods have cost U.S. households nearly $800 a year. It’s time to put that money—as well as more choice and pricing power—back in the hands of American consumers.

The recent baby-formula shortage is another example of how easing import restrictions can forestall a crisis. From beef to tires and household appliances, our economy is at risk from high levels of concentration. Inflation and rising prices are kitchen-table issues that all voters understand. Easing import restrictions and reducing tariffs need to be part of our toolkit to tame inflation.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2022 is 3.5%. The last time the unemployment rate was less than 3.5% was 1968 when the rate was 3.4%

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 was 6.7% down from 7.0% in April and less than 9.2% a year earlier. The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in July is 62.1%, down from 62.3% in May 2022.

The Demographics of Unemployment for June 2022

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women –2.6% (down from last month)
  • Men –3.0% (down as last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.1% (down from last month)
  • Black –6.0% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 3.9% (down from last month)
  • Asian –2.6% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school –5.9% (up from last month)
  • High School –3.6% down last month)
  • Some college –2.8% (up from last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.0% (same as last month)

In June 2022, 28 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.6%. 22 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average. Two states, Oregon and West Virginia, had unemployment rates that were the same as the national average.

The state/territory with the highest unemployment rate in June was Puerto Rico at 6.1%.

U.S. employers posted 10.7 million job openings in June. [WP 8/2/22]

Here are the most common reasons people gave for quitting previous jobs from April ’21 to April ’22.

Lack of career development/advancement – 41%

Inadequate compensation – 36%

Uncaring/uninspiring leaders – 34%

Lack of meaningful work – 31%

Unsustainable work expectations – 29%

Unreliable/unsupportive colleagues – 26%

Lack of workplace flexibility – 26%

Lack of support for health/well-being – 26%

[Statista 7/25/22 – Thanks to Jay Berman]

As of 7/25/22, 65% of those who quit their jobs in the year described have not so far returned to the same industry

60% of people saw an increase in real earnings after they switched employers, compared with 47% of those who remained in the same job. [Axios/What is Next 7/29/22]