Jun 2, 2016 7:04 am

Where wages are worth the most and least in the U.S.

Biggest and smallest U.S. paychecks, after cost-of-living adjustment

Silicon Valley has the highest average pay in the United States – $2,069 a week, according to federal wage data. That might not be too surprising, but here’s what is: Even after factoring in the region’s notoriously high cost of living, the high-tech hub’s wages come out on top in terms of relative purchasing power.

As we’ve noted before, prices for everything from housing to groceries vary widely from place to place, with the result being that a given income can mean very different things in New York, New Orleans, or New Bern, North Carolina. To get a handle on those variations, one can use the “regional price parities,” or RPPs, developed by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. The RPPs measure local price levels in each of the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas, as well as the nonmetropolitan portions of states, relative to the overall national price level.

Following up on our recent post about growth in average weekly wages, we decided to see how wages in the nation’s 381 metro areas stack up against each other when adjusted for regional price variations. We used the most recent available data for wages (the third quarter of 2015) and the latest set of RPPs (from 2013).

Even though California’s San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area, which covers Silicon Valley, has the third-highest cost of living in the country (after Honolulu and New York-Newark-Jersey City), its adjusted wage ($1,706) is still more than $400 higher than the runner-up, the California-Lexington Park, Maryland, metro area.  Read More

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Income

Jun 1, 2016 2:00 pm

5 facts about the global Somali diaspora

Somali refugees fleeing Libya demonstrate at the Choucha refugee camp near the Tunisian border in March 2011. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali refugees fleeing Libya demonstrate at the Choucha refugee camp near the Tunisian border in March 2011. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Somalia has faced lawlessness and strife during its decades-long civil war. As the country of 10.8 million continues to experience political and economic instability, its people are increasingly living outside of Somalia. New migrants are making their way to places like Europe, but they face a long and dangerous journey over land and sea. Hundreds of Somalis reportedly died in April 2016 while crossing the Mediterranean Sea and after crossing over land through Northern Africa. And as a result of its long civil war, many Somalis have lived outside the country for many years. Recently, though, Kenya pledged to remove Somalis living in refugee camps from within its borders, potentially sending hundreds of thousands of people back to Somalia who have not lived there for many years, or possibly elsewhere.

Here are five facts about the increasingly global Somali diaspora:

1Number of Somali migrants living abroadBetween 1990 and 2015, the total number of people born in Somalia but living outside the country more than doubled, from about 850,000 to 2 million. The share of Somali migrants abroad grew 136% between 1990 and 2015, according to United Nations estimates. At the same time, the population of Somalia itself has grown less quickly at 71%, increasing from 6.3 million in 1990 to 10.8 million in 2015. (The global Somali diaspora includes all migrants, both refugees and other migrants.)  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Immigration Trends, Sub-Saharan Africa, Wars and International Conflicts

Jun 1, 2016 11:45 am

10 facts about atheists

Estimating the number of atheists in the U.S. is complicated. Some adults who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. At the same time, some people who identify with a religion (e.g., say they are Protestant, Catholic or Jewish) also say they do not believe in God.

But one thing is for sure: Along with the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans (many of whom believe in God), there has been a corresponding increase in the number of atheists. As nonbelievers and others gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Reason Rally,” here are key facts about atheists and their beliefs:

1The share of Americans who identify as atheists has roughly doubled in the past several years. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 3.1% of American adults say they are atheists when asked about their religious identity, up from 1.6% in a similarly large survey in 2007. An additional 4.0% of Americans call themselves agnostics, up from 2.4% in 2007. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

May 31, 2016 7:00 am

Oil and gas boom feeds greatest real wage growth in U.S., but will it last?

Largest increases in weekly wages driven by oil and gas production

Workers in America’s oil and gas patches have enjoyed some of the country’s biggest gains in the buying power of their paychecks over the past decade and a half, while workers in several small and mid-sized manufacturing-oriented cities have watched their buying power shrink over the same time period.

A Pew Research Center analysis of federal wage data found that since 2000, most of the biggest inflation-adjusted gains in average weekly wages have occurred in metropolitan areas that have directly benefited from the boom in U.S. energy production – places like Midland and Odessa, Texas; Bismarck, North Dakota; Casper, Wyoming; and Houma and Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Read More

Topics: Economic and Business News, Income

May 27, 2016 9:15 am

Mixed verdict from public on America’s global standing

Mixed verdict from public on America’s global standingAt a time when Donald Trump is vowing to “make America great again,” Americans think the country already is pretty great – at least when compared with other nations. Our recent report on views of America’s Place in the World found that 72% think the United States is the world’s leading military power, while 54% say it is the top economic power.

While the U.S. has long been viewed as the dominant military power, this marks the first time in surveys since 2008 that more than half said the U.S. is the top global economic power. China ranks a distant second in the public’s view – just 34% rate China as the top economic power. A year ago, 46% said the U.S. was the leading economic power, while 36% cited China.

But while most Americans see the U.S. as the global economic and military leader, many also said the U.S. is not quite as powerful a player on the world stage as it used to be. In a separate survey, nearly half of Americans (46%) said the U.S. plays a less important and powerful role now than a decade ago, compared with 31% who said its role is still as important and 21% who saw it as having increased in importance. Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Political Attitudes and Values, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism, U.S. Political Figures

May 26, 2016 9:55 am

How the 2016 presidential campaign is being discussed on Reddit

News is a major part of Reddit, an online discussion forum that calls itself “the front page of the internet.” The site has hosted Q&A sessions with newsmakers from President Obama to Amy Poehler, and it sends many of its millions of daily visitors to news sites and other publishers.

Using data from a nationally representative survey and a content analysis of around 165 million Reddit comments, Pew Research Center looked at the role of news on the site – and how Reddit users were discussing the presidential candidates in the lead-up to the primaries. Here are five key findings from the report:

1Just 4% of U.S. adults are Reddit users, but seven-in-ten Reddit users say they get news on the site. Nearly half (45%) of Reddit users report learning something about the 2016 presidential campaign in a given week on the site, a share comparable to those of Facebook and Twitter users and higher than other social networking sites.

2Fully 47% of Reddit news users consider themselves liberal, compared with just 24% of all U.S. adults. In addition, they are especially likely to be young (59% are 18-29 years old) and male (71%).  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2016 Election, Election News, Internet Activities, News Sources, Political Party Affiliation, Social Media

May 25, 2016 7:00 am

Israeli Jews, Arabs have different perspectives on discrimination in their society

Israel has been a Jewish-majority country since its founding in 1948, and its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities – including some groups within the Jewish community – has persisted as a hotly debated topic throughout the nation’s history.

That debate continues today. For example, the issue recently arose when Moshe Yaalon resigned as Israel’s defense minister. Yaalon said he had “fought with all my might against phenomena of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society that threaten its fortitude,” but had lost faith in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to The New York Times.

Vast majority of Israeli Arabs see 'a lot' of discrimination against MuslimsAnd yet most Israeli Jews do not believe that intolerance is a major problem in Israel, even when it comes to their frequently tense relations with the country’s Arab population. For example, only about one-in-five Israeli Jews (21%) say there is a lot of discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, who make up the vast majority of Israeli Arabs. Read More

Topics: Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Religion and Society, Religious Beliefs and Practices

May 24, 2016 9:55 am

In the U.S. and abroad, more young adults are living with their parents

FT_16.05.20_livingWithParents_EuropeMore young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents than at any time since around 1940, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. This trend is not, as you might assume, solely a consequence of the 2007-09 Great Recession, nor is it limited to the U.S. Across much of the developed world, researchers have noted that more young adults are living at their parents’ homes for longer periods – in some cases because they never left, in others because they moved back after being on their own in college or the working world.

Across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014, according to the EU statistical agency Eurostat. Though the Eurostat data, which are gathered by individual countries, may not always be comparable with Pew Research Center’s analysis of the U.S., most EU members appear to have notably higher rates of young adults living at home than does the U.S. And like the U.S., young European men are more likely than young women to live in their parents’ home: 54.4% versus 41.7%, respectively, according to Eurostat.

However, European countries differ widely in what some researchers term their “co-residence rates.” The Scandinavian countries have the lowest rates, with Denmark coming in at 18.6%. Southern and eastern European countries tend to have higher rates, led by the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia: 72.5% of 18- to 34-year-olds reportedly were living with their parents. Read More

Topics: Europe, Family and Relationships, Household and Family Structure

May 23, 2016 10:25 am

5 facts about how Americans view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Far more Americans continue to sympathize more with Israel (54%) than with the Palestinians (19%) in the Middle East dispute, according to our recent foreign policy survey. And half of Americans (50%) think a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, while 42% say this is not possible. But attitudes on both measures are deeply divided along ideological, generational and religious lines, and in some cases these gaps have widened markedly in recent years.

1FT_16.05.20_IsraelPalestiniansC_partyViews of Israel and the Palestinians have become more ideologically polarized. In early September 2001, just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there were only modest partisan and ideological differences in Israeli-Palestinian sympathies. But since then, and especially over the past decade, the share sympathizing more with Israel than with the Palestinians has increased among all ideological groups, with the exception of liberal Democrats.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Generations and Age, Middle East and North Africa, Political Party Affiliation, Religion and U.S. Politics

May 23, 2016 7:00 am

Q&A: The impact and evolution of the sharing economy

Last week, Pew Research Center released a new report that examined Americans’ usage of and exposure to the sharing economy, as well as their views on a number of issues associated with some of its services. To further examine the potential impact of these new digital services on the future of work, government regulations and the economy as a whole, we interviewed Arun Sundararajan. Sundararajan is a professor of business at New York University, a leading expert on the sharing economy and the author of the new book “The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism.”

Arun Sundararajan
Arun Sundararajan, professor of information, operations and management sciences at New York University. (Photo Credit: New York University)

In your view, what are the key characteristics of the sharing or peer-to-peer economy that make it interesting to study?

Before we begin, I’ve been reading through your findings, and they are fascinating. They represent some of the most interesting results I’ve seen about the sharing economy to date. True, there’s a fair bit of ambiguity about what the sharing economy is – perhaps in part because “sharing” has a noncommercial connotation that isn’t ideally descriptive. I prefer the term “crowd-based capitalism,” but continue to use “sharing economy” because it maximizes the number of people who know what I’m talking about (and now, with the new book out, I’m pretty committed). Read More

Category: Social Studies

Topics: Economic and Business News, Economics and Personal Finances, Emerging Technology Impacts