Feb 2, 2017 7:01 am

The changing face of Congress in 5 charts

Members of the 115th U.S. Congress take their oath of office Jan. 3. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Members of the 115th U.S. Congress take their oath of office Jan. 3. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The 115th Congress took office in January and set to work on an agenda that includes confirming President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, addressing illegal immigration and repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law signed by Barack Obama. Republicans now control both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2007, when George W. Bush was president.

Apart from its political makeup and policy objectives, the new Congress differs from prior ones in other ways, including its demographics. Here are five charts that show how Congress has changed over the long term, using historical data from CQ Roll Call, the Brookings Institution, the Congressional Research Service and other sources.

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Topics: Congress, Demographics, Education, Educational Attainment, Federal Government, Gender, Military and Veterans, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 31, 2017 1:15 pm

World’s Muslim population more widespread than you might think

President Donald Trump’s recent executive order temporarily freezing immigration from seven predominantly Islamic countries would affect only about 12% of the world’s Muslims, according to estimates from a 2015 Pew Research Center report on the current and projected size of religious groups. In fact, of the seven countries named in the new immigration ban – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – only one, Iran, is among the 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations.

As of 2010, there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, making Islam the world’s second-largest religious tradition after Christianity. And although many people, especially in the United States, may associate Islam with countries in the Middle East or North Africa, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Pew Research Center analysis. In fact, more Muslims live in India and Pakistan (344 million combined) than in the entire Middle East-North Africa region (317 million).

However, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest concentration of Muslims of any region of the world: 93% of its approximately 341 million inhabitants are Muslim, compared with 30% in sub-Saharan Africa and 24% in the Asia-Pacific region.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Population Geography, Population Trends, Sub-Saharan Africa

Jan 31, 2017 6:57 am

Women may never make up half of the U.S. workforce

After decades of strong gains, the share of women in the U.S. labor force has plateaued in recent years. Recently released projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the female share of the labor force will peak at 47.1% in 2025 and then taper off to 46.3% by 2060, meaning that women will remain a minority of the labor force.

This overall trend in the composition of the labor force is tied to labor force participation, which the new projections indicate will continue to decline for both women and men.

Most economists say a decline in labor force participation is a matter of concern because improvements in the nation’s standard of living depend on labor force participation and productivity growth. The rapid increase in the share of women entering the labor force between 1950 and 2000 boosted overall labor force participation and spurred an increase in living standards (as measured by gross domestic product per person). The decline in participation since 2000 has worked to the opposite effect, depressing economic growth.  Read More

Topics: Gender, Work and Employment

Jan 30, 2017 1:45 pm

Key facts about refugees to the U.S.

Syrian refugees take notes during their Vocational ESL class at the International Rescue Committee center in San Diego on Aug. 31, 2016. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian refugees take notes during their vocational ESL class at the International Rescue Committee center in San Diego on Aug. 31, 2016. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

An executive order signed Jan. 27 by President Donald Trump suspends refugee admissions for 120 days while security procedures are reviewed, though the resettlement of persecuted religious minorities may continue during this time on a case-by-case basis. Under the plan, the maximum number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in fiscal 2017 will likely decline from 110,000 to 50,000. Separately, admission of Syrian refugees will be suspended pending a revision of security screening measures.

About 3 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program and the current national standard for the screening and admission of refugees into the country.

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Immigration Trends, Migration, U.S. Political Parties

Jan 30, 2017 7:05 am

Most Americans see labor unions, corporations favorably

With President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee set to appear before the Senate next week, the public has broadly positive views of both labor unions and business corporations.

About six-in-ten adults today have a favorable view of labor unions (60%) and business corporations (56%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Views of both have grown more positive since March 2015, when roughly half of adults (48%) expressed a favorable view of each.

The public’s opinions of corporations and unions were largely positive throughout the early 2000s, but turned more negative during the Great Recession. Today, favorable opinions of each are at their highest levels in nearly a decade.

Republicans and Democrats have long been divided in their views of labor and business, and that remains the case today: Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more favorable toward labor unions than business corporations, while the inverse is true for Republicans and Republican leaners.  Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Parties, Work and Employment

Jan 26, 2017 3:00 pm

5 facts about abortion

More than four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, opponents and supporters of abortion rights are still battling over the issue in court, at the ballot box and in state legislatures. On Friday, opponents of the ruling will converge on Washington, D.C., for an annual march to protest the decision. And next week, President Donald Trump is expected to nominate a new Supreme Court justice who he has said will be “pro-life.”

As the debate over abortion continues, here are five key facts about Americans’ views on the topic, based on recent Pew Research Center polling:

1About six-in-ten U.S. adults (59%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 37% who say it should be illegal all or most of the time. Public support for legal abortion is now as high as it’s been in two decades of polling.

2There is a substantial partisan and ideological divide on abortion, with Democrats much more likely than Republicans to say it should be legal in all or most cases. This gap is even larger between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans: Nearly nine-in-ten liberal Democrats (88%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with only about three-in-ten self-described conservatives in the GOP (27%).

3When it comes to the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling, about seven-in-ten Americans (69%) say Roe v. Wade should not be completely overturned. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to hold this view, and there are also significant differences by education level and religious affiliation. Nearly nine-in-ten of those with postgraduate degrees (88%) say the court should not overturn the decision, versus about seven-in-ten of those with a college degree (74%) or some college experience (70%) and 62% of those with a high school diploma or less education. There are no significant differences on this question by gender.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Abortion, Political Attitudes and Values, Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Affiliation, Social Values, Supreme Court

Jan 26, 2017 2:04 pm

Many ‘password challenged’ internet users don’t take steps that could protect their data

In today’s digitally connected world, where accessing medical records, ordering groceries and paying taxes can all be done online, many internet users find it daunting to keep up with all the various passwords associated with their online accounts. One consequence is that a significant minority of users settle for less secure passwords they can more easily remember.

A new Pew Research Center report finds that 39% of online adults report having a hard time keeping track of their passwords. Compared with the 60% of online adults who do not express difficulties keeping up with their passwords, this “password challenged” group also tends to be more worried over the safety and security of their passwords.

Those who do find password management difficult are twice as likely as those who do not to report worrying about the security of their passwords (44% vs. 22%).  Read More

Topics: Digital Divide, Generations and Age, Online Privacy and Safety

Jan 26, 2017 12:26 pm

Americans divided in views of use of torture in U.S. anti-terror efforts

As Donald Trump’s administration reviews U.S. policies on the detainment and interrogation of terrorism suspects, the public is divided over whether it is ever acceptable for the country to use torture in anti-terror efforts.

Overall, 48% say there are some circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts; about as many (49%) say there are no circumstances under which the use of torture is acceptable.

Trump has said he personally believes torture works, but that he will confer with his Cabinet before considering any changes to U.S. policy. The use of torture by the military and all other government agencies is currently banned under U.S. law.

The national survey of 4,265 adults conducted just before the presidential election (Oct. 25-Nov. 8) on Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel finds wide demographic and political differences in views of torture.

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Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Issue Priorities, Political Polarization, Terrorism, U.S. Political Parties

Jan 25, 2017 11:11 am

Most officers say the media treat police unfairly

Most U.S. police officers see significant challenges on the job in the wake of high-profile incidents involving law enforcement and black citizens. Among those challenges is a widespread feeling among officers that police are mistreated by the media, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform.

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Topics: Criminal Justice, News Media Trends, Race and Ethnicity, Social Values, Violence and Society, Work and Employment

Jan 24, 2017 1:51 pm

Europeans favoring right-wing populist parties are more positive on Putin

Although confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership is low across Western Europe, those who favor right-wing populist parties are significantly more likely than those who do not to express confidence in Putin, as well as to prefer to move past disputes over Russia’s foreign policy in favor of a strong economic relationship, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in spring 2016.

This trend comes at a time when the U.S. is engaged in its own debate about its stance toward Russia and Putin. A recent Pew Research Center report found that Democrats are significantly more negative toward Russia’s president than are Republicans, though majorities of both parties view Putin negatively.

Debate over national identity and the specter of Russian interference loom over Europe as people in France, Germany and the Netherlands head to the polls this year. Read More

Topics: Europe, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, Russia, Western Europe