Sep 3, 2015 9:00 am

8 facts about American workers

Although the U.S. economy is recovering and appears to be on stable ground compared with other parts of the world, there’s still a lot of debate over how to best secure the future for American workers. Some Democrats have pushed for raising the federal minimum wage, and the Obama administration has proposed new overtime rules that would make millions of Americans eligible for extra pay. Meanwhile, some Republican presidential candidates have maintained that labor unions are too powerful and impede business.

Just in time for Labor Day, here are eight facts about the state of American workers.

A Long Downward Slide for Unions1Over the past three decades, the share of American workers who are union members has fallen by about half.  Union membership peaked in 1954 at nearly 35% of all U.S. wage and salary workers, but it’s fallen to just over 11% in 2014.

The biggest decline in union representation from 2000 to 2014 was in installation, maintenance and repair occupations, a broad grouping that includes everything from auto mechanics to avionics technicians and watch repairers. Americans have mixed views about this trend, with about as many people saying it’s mostly a bad thing as there are saying it’s mostly a good . Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Business and Labor, Educational Attainment, Gender, Generations and Age

Sep 3, 2015 7:00 am

Who are ‘cultural Catholics’?

The share of Americans whose primary religious affiliation is Catholic has fallen somewhat in recent years, and now stands at about one-in-five. But according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Catholics and others, an additional one-in-ten American adults (9%) consider themselves Catholic or partially Catholic in other ways, even though they do not self-identify as Catholic on the basis of religion.

Who Are Cultural Catholics?Who are these “cultural Catholics”? Often, they think of themselves as Catholic in one way or another even though many belong to another faith tradition (such as Protestantism). Others are religiously unaffiliated, identifying as atheist, agnostic or simply “nothing in particular.”

Most of these cultural Catholics (62%) say that for them personally, being Catholic is mainly a matter of ancestry and/or culture (rather than religion). But majorities also point to religious beliefs and teachings as key parts of their Catholic identity. For example, 60% of cultural Catholics say that having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential to what being Catholic means to them. Likewise, 57% say the same about believing in Jesus’ resurrection. A similar share (59%) say that working to help the poor and needy is essential to their Catholicism. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Sep 2, 2015 11:00 am

45% of Americans have a connection to Catholicism

45% of Americans have a strong connection to Catholicism

The new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Catholics provides an opportunity to take stock of Americans’ Catholic identity – not just people who identify primarily as Catholics, but the entire spectrum of those whose lives have crossed paths with the Catholic Church in a meaningful way.

All told, fully 45% of U.S. adults have one of four types of connections to Catholicism:

  • 20% are Catholic: One-in-five Americans say that their current religious affiliation is with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • 9% are “cultural Catholics”: Nearly one-in-ten U.S. adults say that their religion is not Catholic (most are Protestants or are unaffiliated with any religion), but also say they consider themselves Catholic or partially Catholic in some other way. These cultural Catholics most often say they were raised Catholic or had a Catholic parent and still think of themselves as Catholic in terms of ancestry or family tradition.
  • 9% are “ex-Catholics”: These are people who were raised Catholic, but who no longer describe themselves as Catholic (by religion or otherwise). Like cultural Catholics, ex-Catholics also are now largely divided between people who are now Protestant and those who are religiously unaffiliated.
  • 8% have other connections to Catholicism: Some respondents do not fit into one of the above categories but nonetheless have a meaningful connection to the Catholic Church. This could be through a Catholic parent or spouse, or through occasional attendance at Catholic Mass.

While categorizing such a large number of people in such a way is imperfect, these groups show the wide influence of Catholicism in American society. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Sep 2, 2015 7:00 am

Key findings about American Catholics

Many American Catholics are abuzz about Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States as pontiff. Francis’ trip later this month includes a meeting with President Obama and an address to a joint session of Congress in Washington before he goes on to New York (and the United Nations) and, finally, to Philadelphia for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

The trip is part of a busy fall for the pope. The Catholic Church also will convene a synod on family issues at the Vatican in October; the synod will examine the role in the church of divorced and remarried Catholics as well as gays and lesbians. Ahead of these events, the Pew Research Center asked American Catholics for their views about family structures, religious beliefs and practices and other topics.

Here are several key findings from the new survey:

1Most American Catholics are comfortable with family arrangements that have been traditionally frowned upon by the church. For example, most U.S. Catholics say it is at least “acceptable” – and many say it is just “as good as” any other arrangement – for children to be raised by unmarried parents, gay or lesbian parents, single parents or divorced parents. Majorities also are accepting of a husband and wife who choose not to have children, a man and woman living together romantically without being married, and a same-sex couple living together.

Catholics Say Traditional Families Are Ideal

2The survey finds that the share of Americans with some connection to Catholicism approaches half of the country’s adults – 45%. This includes 20% who identify their religion as Catholic. Another 9% are categorized by the survey as “cultural Catholics” – those whose primary religious identity is not Catholic (most are Protestants or religious “nones”), but who say they consider themselves Catholic or partially Catholic in some way. An additional 9% are ex-Catholics – those who were raised Catholic but now eschew any Catholic identity. And 8% have other connections to Catholicism, such as having a Catholic spouse. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Household and Family Structure, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Sep 1, 2015 12:57 pm

Businesses owned by women, minorities lag in revenue share

Businesses Owned by Women, Minorities Lag in Share of RevenueWomen, blacks, Asians and Hispanics have built up substantial positions as business owners in several sectors of the U.S. economy. But based on revenue, those businesses are on average considerably smaller than white- or male-owned firms, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Overall, men owned more than half of the nation’s 27.6 million firms in 2012, according to preliminary results from the Survey of Business Owners, and women owned more than 9.9 million businesses, about 36% of the total. The remaining 10% of firms were either jointly owned by men and women or could not be categorized by gender because they were publicly traded companies or have large, diverse ownership groups.

The data for the Census Bureau’s twice-a-decade survey includes all firms — incorporated or not, with and without paid employees — with receipts of $1,000 or more in 2012. A handful of firm types are excluded, including farms, railroads, funds and trusts, churches, foundations, civic groups and professional organization, the Postal Service and the Federal Reserve. About two-thirds of the 1.75 million businesses in the survey sample responded.

Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Economic and Business News, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census

Aug 31, 2015 9:45 am

Current Congress is looking a little more productive – so far

laws passed by each Congress by August recessWith the House and Senate on their August recess until after Labor Day, it seems like a good time to check on how the 114th Congress stacks up against its predecessors when it comes to legislative productivity – both in total laws passed and in the share of them that make substantive changes in the law.

As it turns out, there are early hints that congressional productivity may be on an upswing, after two successive Congresses that enacted the fewest- and second-fewest laws in at least four decades. According to the Library of Congress’ THOMAS database, Congress passed 49 measures before its summer break (though some of them weren’t formally signed into law by President Obama until afterward). We categorize 35 of those acts as “substantive” by our deliberately generous criteria – that is, any legislation other than renaming buildings, giving out medals, commemorating historic events and other purely ceremonial acts. Read More

Topics: Congress

Aug 28, 2015 7:00 am

Men catch up with women on overall social media use

Social Media Gender Gap NarrowsHistorically, women have been more avid users of social media than men – a finding consistent across several Pew Research Center surveys. In fact, in November 2010, the gender gap was as large as 15 percentage points.

More recent data, however, show that these differences are no longer statistically significant. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that a similar share of men and women say they used social networking sites this year, consistent with what we found in 2014. Some 73% of online men use social media, which is on par with the 80% of online women who say they do so.

Although the overall percentage of men and women who report using social media is now comparable, there are still some gender differences on specific platforms. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have a larger female user base, while online discussion forums like Reddit, Digg or Slashdot attract a greater share of male users. Gender differences on Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn are not significant.

Read More

Topics: Gender, Social Media

Aug 27, 2015 2:51 pm

10 facts about religion in America

It’s a fascinating time for conversations about faith in the United States, with Pope Francis set to visit next month, a presidential election on the horizon and major trends reshaping the country’s religious landscape.

Changing U.S. Religious LandscapeOne of the most important and well-documented shifts taking place over the past decade is the steadily rising share of people who are religiously unaffiliated – from 16% in 2007 to 23% in 2014. As journalists and others gather in Philadelphia for the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference this week, here are 10 other things we’ve learned from our recent research:

1Protestants no longer make up a majority of U.S. adults. Closely tied to the rise of the religious “nones” is the decline of Christians, including Protestants. The U.S. has a long history as a majority Protestant nation, and, as recently as the 2007 Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study, more than half of U.S. adults (51.3%) identified as Protestants. But that figure has fallen, and our 2014 study found that 46.5% of Americans are now Protestants.

2Religious switching is a common occurrence in the U.S. Depending on how “religious switching” is defined, as many as 42% of U.S. adults have switched religions. That definition counts switching between Protestant traditions, but even if Protestantism is regarded as a single group, about a third of Americans (34%) identify with a different religious group than the one in which they were raised. Read More

Topics: Abortion, Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Evangelical Protestants and Evangelicalism, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Religion and Society, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Affiliation, Religiously Unaffiliated, Restrictions on Religion

Aug 27, 2015 9:25 am

Remembering Katrina: Wide racial divide over government’s response

A man pushes his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans on Aug. 31, 2005. Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay.
A man pushes his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans on Aug. 31, 2005. Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay.

Ten years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,000 people (the true death toll may never be known). From the start, the tragedy had a powerful racial component – images of poor, mostly black New Orleans residents stranded on rooftops and crowded amid fetid conditions in what was then the Louisiana Superdome.

Ten Years Later, a Look Back at the Racial Divide Over Government's Response to Hurricane KatrinaInitial reactions to the government’s response to the crisis were starkly divided along racial lines. In a national poll conducted Sept. 6-7, 2005, a week after the storm made landfall, African Americans delivered a scathing assessment of the federal government’s relief efforts. Two-thirds (66%) said that “the government’s response to the situation would have been faster if most of the victims had been white.” Just 17% of whites agreed – most whites (77%) said the race of the victims would not have made any difference.

Just 19% of blacks rated the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina as excellent or good, compared with 41% of whites. And nearly three times as many whites (31%) as blacks (11%) said then-President George W. Bush did all he could to get relief efforts going quickly.

Read More

Topics: Disasters and Accidents, Federal Government, Race and Ethnicity

Aug 26, 2015 7:00 am

Manners 2.0: Key findings about etiquette in the digital age

Some 92% of Americans now have a cellphone of some kind, and 90% of those cell owners say that their phone is frequently with them. This “always-on” mobile connectivity is changing the nature of public spaces and social gatherings. It is also rewriting social norms regarding what is rude and what is acceptable behavior when people are together, a new Pew Research Center report finds.

Here are some key takeaways about how Americans view manners in the mobile age:

1Americans see cellphone use as OK in key public spaces, but not in more private or intimate gatherings. For instance, about three-quarters of Americans think it is generally acceptable for people to use their cellphones while walking down the street (77%), on public transit (75%) or waiting in line (74%). But only 38% think it is generally OK to use cellphones at restaurants, and very few say cellphone use is OK at a family dinner (12%), during a meeting (5%) or at church (4%). Read More

Topics: Mobile, Social Values