State of the Nation

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

31% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 60% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 35% 58%
Female 27% 61%
Democrats 50% 38%
Republicans 16% 79%
Independents 26% 63%
Northeast 32% 56%
Midwest 24% 67%
South 27% 63%
West 42% 49%

[Econ/YouGov 2/14/23]

In the previous issue of the Washington Watch, on January 14, 2023, 30% said the country was headed in the right direction and 54% said it was on the wrong track.

At 98+ years, President Jimmy Carter is the longest-lived President in history and the President with the longest post-presidency. And his 76+ year marriage makes him the longest married president. [Wikipedia 2/12/23]

40 million U.S. homes have gas stoves. A CPSC announcement this week about safety was interpreted by many as a planned ban. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer noted that the Energy Department and the commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission have denied that there are any plans brewing to declare gas stoves unsafe and ban them. [Forbes Tate 1/12/23 and The Hill 2/3/12]

The following demonstrates the federal government’s total spending as if it were a dollar.

  • 62 cents is spent on benefit programs that Americans are entitled to receive at certain ages or income thresh holds.
    • 22 cents to Social Security
    • 17 cents to Medicare
    • 10 cents to Medicaid
  • Almost 14 cents to national defense
  • Almost 8 cents interest to holders of Treasury bonds
  • The 16 cents left are spent on the rest of the federal government and its programs – things like border protection, air traffic control, and farm subsidies.

[WP 1/26/23]

During 2022, people moved into: Houston, Miami, Atlanta, the District of Columbia, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Riverside California, Boston.

In the same time frame folks moved out of: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, New York, Seattle
[Axios visuals]

41% of Americans say they are not as well off financially as they were when Biden became president. 42% they are about the same as they were when he became president. Only 16% say they are better off now. [ABC/WP 2/1/23]

Global Life Expectancy: Closing the Gap

Estimated life expectancy at birth for both sexes in 1950, 2000 and 2050 by region in years.

Year North America Europe Asia
1950 68 62.8 42
2000 77 73.5 67.6
2050 84 83.8 79.5

[Statista Inc – Thanks to Jay Berman]

3 of 4 U.S. voters see police violence as a problem and there has been little
change in views over the last couple of years.

All voters Dems Ind GOP
June 2020 73% 90% 77% 52%
January 2023 75% 89% 74% 56%

[Politico 2/1/23]

Metropolitan areas with the highest inflation, 2022

Region % Increase
Miami 9.9%
Phoenix 9.5%
Seattle 8.4%
Atlanta 8.1%
Philadelphia 6.4%
New York-Newark 6.3%
Baltimore 6.3%
Detroit 6.2%
St. Louis 6.2%
Chicago 5.5%

[Mike Allen 2/2/23]

An overwhelming majority of Democrats (94%), 77% of Independents, and 67% of Republicans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements including background checks. [NBC poll January 2023]

The number of Black people living in the United States reached a new high of 47.2 million people in 2021.

  • The Black population of the U.S. has grown by 30% since 2000, rising from 36.2 million then to 42.1 million in 2010 and 47.2 million people in 2021.
  • The arrival of new immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere has been an important contributor to Black population.
  • More than half of the nation’s Black population (56%) lived in Southern states in 2021, up from a historic low of 52% in 1970.
  • With 4 million Black residents, Texas is the state with the largest Black population.
  • New York has more Black residents than any other metropolitan area.
  • Here are the 10 largest metropolitan areas by Black population in 2021. Each city is part of a larger metropolitan area.
    Region Share of Metro Area Population
    New York 19%
    Atlanta 37%
    Washington, DC 28%
    Chicago 18%
    Philadelphia 23%
    Dallas 18%
    Miami 23%
    Houston 19%
    Detroit 24%
    Los Angeles 8%
  • The Black population of the U.S. is relatively young. In 2021, the median age of Black Americans was 33 years.
  • Educational attainment among Black Americans is on the rise. In 2021, 26% of Black adults ages 25 and older – 7.5 million people – had earned a bachelor’s agree or more up from 15% in 2000. In 2021, 29% of Black women ages 25 and older had earned at least a bachelor’s degree up from 16% in 2000. Among Black men of the same age, 22% had earned at least a bachelor’s degree in 2021, up from 13% in 2000. [PEW 2/10/23]

40% of Americans are very/somewhat satisfied with the level of immigration in the U.S. today.

The desire to curb immigration has increased among all parties since 2021 but remains more common among Republicans than Independents or Democrats.

The percentage of Republicans dissatisfied with immigration levels for being too high jumped from 40% in 2021 to 69% in 2022 and remains about the same today at 71%.

The percentage of Democrats dissatisfied and desiring less immigration was nearly nonexistent in 2021, at 2%. Last year, it rose to 11% and is now 19%.

Independents’ dissatisfaction and preference for less immigration has about doubled since 2021, rising from 19% at that time to 36% today. [Gallup 2/13/23]

The United States is on track to add nearly $19 trillion to its national debt over the next decade, $3 trillion more than previously forecast. This is a result of rising costs for interest payments, veteran’s health care, retiree benefits, and the military, the CBO said on Wednesday.

The new forecasts project a $1.4 billion gap this year between what the government spends and what it takes in from tax revenues. [NYT 2/15/23]

29% of credit card customers pay only the minimum payment or close to it, even when they can afford to pay more, according to data from the National Bureau of Economic Research. [NYT 2/26/23]

Americans are increasingly foregoing or delaying marriage. Over the last 50 years the marriage rate in the U.S. has dropped by nearly 60%.

High school seniors’ attitudes toward marriage have remained relatively stable over the past several decades. In 1976, 74% of seniors said they expect to get married; in 2020, 71% said so.

Marriage is now becoming the last step into adulthood. The number of women entering their first marriage between the ages of 40 and 59 has jumped 75% since 1990.

Roughly 4% of U.S. marriages in 2021 took place in Nevada. The share of U.S. marriages in Nevada has exceeded the share of the U.S. population residing in that state every year since 1920.

Here are a few facts about the war in Ukraine after one year.

  • Russia has launched 5,000 missile strikes, 3,500 air strikes and 1,000 drone strikes.
  • 18% of Ukrainian land is controlled by Russian forces: 18% down from 27% in March, but up from the 7% held by Russia and Russia-aligned separatists when the war started.
  • Potential Russian war crimes – 71, 905 killings, kidnappings, indiscriminate bombing and sexual assaults – under investigation by Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
  • 8,006 civilians killed and 13,287 civilians injured.
  • Russian troops killed and wounded – 200,000; Britain estimates that 40,000 – 60,000 Russian troops have died.
  • 9,000 Ukraine troops confirmed as killed.
  • 100,000 Ukraine troops killed or wounded.
  • 8.1 million refugees fled Ukraine.
  • 5.4 people were driven from their homes but stayed in Ukraine.
  • 5.6 million have returned to their homes either within Ukraine or abroad.
  • 17.6 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid.

[NBC News 2/24/23]

Democracy stands on the principle of equality for all people, and those who are turning away from Democracy, including the right wing in the United States, object to that equality. They worry that equal rights for women and minorities – especially LGBTQ people- will undermine traditional religion and traditional power structures. They believe democracy saps the morals of a country and are eager for a strong leader who will used the power of the government to reinforce their worldview. [Heather Cox Richardson 2/10/23]

The following is the support for abortion legality, 2010-2022 by party affiliation.

Party Percent who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases Percent who say abortion should be illegal in all cases
Democrats 87% 3%
All Americans 65% 7%
Republicans 37% 14%

[PRRI 2/23/23]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January 2023 is 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 is 6.6 % in January 2023, less than the 7.1% it was a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in January 2023 is 62.4%, down from 62.2% in January 2022.

The Demographics of Unemployment for January 2023

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

Women –2.8% (same as last month)
Men –2.9% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Race

White – 3.1% (up from last month)
Black – 5.4% (down from last month)
Hispanic – 4.5% (up from last month)
Asian –2.8% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

Less than high school –4.5% (down from last month)
High School –3.7% (up from last month)
Some college –2.9% (same as last month)
Bachelor’s Degree or higher –2.0% (up from last month)

In December 2022, 24 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.5%. 24 states, including the District of Columbia, had unemployment rates that were above the national average. 3 states had unemployment rates the same as the national average.

The state/territory with the highest unemployment rate was Nevada at 5.2%.

The following is the government spending on pensions as a percent of GDP.

Region Percent
Italy 15.7%
France 14.1%
Japan 11.3%
Germany 10.2%
OECD average 8.2%
United States 7.1%
United Kingdom 6.0%
Australia 5.0%

[NYT 1/21/23]

Job cuts by major companies since mid-to-late 2022.

Company People
Amazon 18,000
Alphabet 12,000
Meta 11,000
Microsoft 10,000
Salesforce 8,000
Disney 7,000
HP 6,000
Cisco 4,000
Pay Pal 2,000

There are many companies laying off less than 1,000 [Miscellaneous sources]

The share of the workforce in labor unions has dropped to 10.1%, the lowest on record even though the total number of union members grew by 273,000 last year. In 2022, union membership in the public sector was at 33.1%. Outpacing the private sector which was at 6%. [WP 1/19/23]

The average executive in the U.S. spends 23 hours a week in meetings, that is up from 10 hours in the 1960s. Since 2020 the time spent in team meetings increased by 252% and the time spent in Zoom meetings increased by 3,300% [Mike Allen 2/8/23]

The average American household is now considered “rent-burdened” with a record high share of renters spending more than 30% of income on rent each month. [Axios Markets 1/23/23]

The size of the average U.S. family – defined as people related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together – is now around three people down from almost four in 1960. [NBC News – 1/12/23]