Sep 8, 2014 12:34 pm

Who makes minimum wage?

federal minimum wage over timeGiven the continuing campaigns by unions, workers, politicians and others to raise the federal minimum wage, it bears asking: Just who are minimum-wage workers, anyway?

Perhaps surprisingly, not very many people earn minimum wage, and they make up a smaller share of the workforce than they used to. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year 1.532 million hourly workers earned the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour; nearly 1.8 million more earned less than that because they fell under one of several exemptions (tipped employees, full-time students, certain disabled workers and others), for a total of 3.3 million hourly workers at or below the federal minimum. Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, National Economy

Sep 5, 2014 12:21 pm

What drove spike in public comments on net neutrality? Likely, a comedian

Since the Federal Communications Commission announced its proposed rule changes governing net neutrality in May, the agency has released nearly 450,000 comment records that it received from the public. The Pew Research Center analyzed the full corpus of comments from the open comment period that ended on July 18th on the agency’s proposal to allow internet providers to create and charge a premium for “fast lanes” to deliver internet content.

While other researchers analyzed the content of the comments, we focused on the volume and submission dates of when the FCC received comments from the public in order to deduce possible influences on the public’s response. While some evidence suggests that the amount of news media coverage mirrored that of the public’s comments, our analysis found that more likely drivers were grassroots efforts, as well as a popular comedian’s 13-minute segment on net neutrality that aired on cable television and found a large audience online.  Read More

Topics: Digital Media, Federal Government, Internet Activities, News Content Analysis

Sep 5, 2014 7:00 am

Journal Study: Half of government-rebel power-sharing agreements fail

Study: Most government-rebel power-sharing agreements fail
Protestors attacked riot police in central Kiev, Ukraine last January. Efforts to reach a power-sharing agreement between government and opposition failed. (AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky)

One approach in trying to deal with the violent internal conflicts that have gripped countries like Iraq and the Ukraine is the idea of power sharing between the regimes and those challenging them. The former Russian-backed president of the Ukraine tried it — unsuccessfully — in January. And, in Iraq, the U.S. and its allies have pressed the Shiite-dominated government to pursue such a strategy by bringing more Sunni factions into the fold in hopes of defusing challenges from Sunni militants.

A new study, published in the journal of Conflict Management and Peace Science, looked at power-sharing agreements negotiated after civil conflicts and found that they have a mixed record.

Read More

Topics: Wars and International Conflicts

Sep 4, 2014 1:14 pm

5 takeaways on how Americans view a world in crisis

After a decade of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, surveys by Pew Research have depicted an American public weary of foreign conflicts and wanting to turn attention to issues back home. Our poll last November found that half of Americans (52%) said the U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own, a view held by only 30% in 2002. But since then, there have been a host of new foreign crises that have further shaped public opinion about the threats facing the U.S. and what role the nation should play in the world.

Here are some key indicators of how Americans view U.S. standing in a time of turmoil abroad:

1 The American public is still wary about the U.S. getting too involved in military action. The public’s reluctance about U.S. engagement in foreign conflicts was evident in earlier surveys during the uprising against former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and the lack of support for U.S. intervention in the civil war in Syria in 2012. Our August survey found that the public backed President Obama’s decision to launch air strikes against the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by a 54% to 31% margin, but the sense of caution about new U.S. involvement was still there. About half (51%) of Americans expressed concern that the U.S. would go too far in getting involved militarily in the conflict with ISIS. Read More

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy

Sep 4, 2014 10:30 am

Moonlighting is less common now, despite what you might have heard

Americans who have more than one jobBased on recent media reports, many people may think that, because of the tough economy and stagnant wage growth, more and more people are working multiple jobs. You may have read that more Americans are moonlighting with a part-time night shift at Target, selling homemade jam at farmers’ markets on the weekend, or cobbling together two, three or more part-time jobs to approximate a living income.

However, that assumption would be wrong. Both in terms of raw numbers and as a share of all employed people, fewer Americans are working more than one job than in the mid-1990s. Working two jobs or more has become less common, not more, since the end of the Great Recession. Read More

Topics: Work and Employment

Sep 3, 2014 10:00 am

Religious divides persist heading into fall campaign

Issues at the intersection of religion and politics – including objections to parts of the Affordable Care Act, battles over same-sex marriage laws and a push for new state laws seeking to restrict access to abortions – have been a part of public debate since the 2010 midterm elections.

Political preferences of major religious groupsBut when it comes to major religious groups’ preferences at the voting booth, there appears to be more stability than change when compared with recent elections, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Among registered voters overall, 47% say that if the congressional elections were being held today, they would vote for (or lean toward) the Democratic Party’s candidate, while 42% would vote for the Republican candidate. (The survey was conducted Aug. 20-24.)

White evangelical Protestants express strong support for Republican candidates, just as they have in recent elections. Two-thirds of registered voters who are white evangelical Protestants in the new survey say they would vote Republican (67%), compared to 22% who would vote for a Democrat.

Read More

Topics: Political Party Affiliation, Religion and Politics

Sep 3, 2014 7:00 am

Who runs for office? A profile of the 2%

There are 90,107 government units in the U.S. — everything from county governments (3,031) to independent school district governments (12,880), according to 2012 Census Bureau data. Some governments have appointed officials, but hundreds of thousands of Americans serve in elected office, mostly at the local level.

For the first time, Pew Research asked a question about who seeks out these offices and found that about 2% of Americans say they have ever run for federal, local, or state elected office. With the data from this year’s polarization survey and political typology, we can provide a snapshot of who has ever placed their name on a ballot, although we don’t know how recently they did so.whites, males, educated most likely to run for public office

Our data show that those who say they have sought office tend to be white, male and well-educated. In fact, while women account for half of the adult population, they are just a quarter of those who say they have run for office. This is in keeping with other research that has documented the imbalance. Women who serve in office continue to be underrepresented at all levels of government — 20% of U.S. senators are women, as are 18% of House members; at the state level, only 10% of governors and 24% of state legislators are women. Read More

Topics: Political Polarization

Sep 2, 2014 1:23 pm

7 facts about world migration

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.51.37 AM

Since humans first left Africa 60,000 years ago, they have been migrating around the planet in great numbers – and the advent of international borders certainly did not stop global migration. Although the percentage of the world’s people living outside of their birth countries has remained steady in recent decades, the world’s increasing population means that the sheer number of international migrants has never been higher.

This interactive map, which uses United Nations Population Division data, lets you view the total number of people living outside their birth countries. It also shows migrants in both directions – as emigrants, who have left their origin country, or as immigrants, who have entered a destination country. The U.N. defines an international migrant as a person who has been living for one year or longer in a country other than the one in which he or she was born.

Here are seven interesting global migration patterns we found using the map. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Demographics, Immigration, Migration

Sep 2, 2014 7:00 am

School days: How the U.S. compares with other countries

schoolDays_3By now, most U.S. schoolchildren are either back in the classroom or headed there soon. As they make the transition from summer camp and bug spray to math homework and science projects, their weary parents may well wonder if children in the U.S. spend less time in the classroom than kids in other countries.

The answer: Not really, though it’s hard to say for sure.

Making comparisons between the U.S. and other countries is complicated, mainly because each U.S. state sets its own standards for minimum instructional time (more on that below), while in other countries such standards typically are set at the national level. Because of variations in the length of both the school day and the school year, the best basis for comparison is total number of instructional hours per school year. And since many states have different minimums for different grade levels, we picked three representative grades — one each for elementary, middle and high school.

Among 33 mostly developed nations, annual “total intended instructional time” averaged 790 hours for primary students (ranging from 470 hours in Russia to 1,007 hours in Chile) according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. For the international equivalent of U.S. middle-schoolers, average annual required hours increased to 925 (ranging from 741 hours in Sweden to 1,167 hours in Mexico). The OECD did not have data for high schoolers. Read More

Topics: Education

Aug 29, 2014 1:23 pm

Russian poll: Putin faces limited opposition from his public on Ukraine

Levada poll: Putin faces limited opposition from Russian public on Ukraine
A Russian military helicopter prepares to land near a convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid parked near Ukrainian border in mid-August. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies the Kremlin has had a hand in the continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, even as President Obama and other Western officials say they have proof of “deep Russian involvement.” At home, Putin faces far fewer questions from a public that draws a distinction between support for separatist rebels and having a direct role in the continued violence in eastern Ukraine.

A 56%-majority of Russians say their country has yet to get involved in what is happening in Ukraine, compared with roughly a third of Russians (32%) who think Russia has already intervened, according to a survey conducted August 22-25 by the independent, Moscow-based Levada Center.

The nationwide, representative survey of 1,600 adults suggests that many Russians do not consider support to separatist rebels as actually intervening in Ukraine. Half say the Kremlin actively backs pro-Russian forces in Ukraine and 55% think this is the right thing to do.

Only about a quarter of Russians (26%) think their country and Ukraine are currently at war, compared to six-in-ten (59%) who disagree, according to the Levada poll.

The perception among Russians that the country is principally providing support to the separatists and has not entered the war itself is an important one. The public is split on whether they would support the Kremlin in the event of open military conflict with Ukraine: 41% say yes, 43% say no, while 16% are unsure. And, the share of Russians prepared to back the government in the event of war with Ukraine has fallen dramatically from this past spring, when seven-in-ten or more in March and May (74% and 69%, respectively) said they would back such intervention.

Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Russia, Wars and International Conflicts