Mar 20, 2017 6:57 am

What backgrounds do U.S. Supreme Court justices have?

When President Donald Trump nominated federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, he chose a candidate whose professional background is very much in line with previous and current justices. Like Gorsuch, many of the 112 former or sitting justices had previously worked in the U.S. Department of Justice, appellate courts or private practice.

If confirmed, Gorsuch, who currently serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, would join at least 68 others with prior experience as judges. Of these, at least 30 also came from U.S. appellate courts. And like the vast majority of Supreme Court justices – 104 so far – Gorsuch would bring private practice experience to the court. While less common, Gorsuch’s previous role as principal deputy to the associate attorney general puts him in line with at least 23 justices who served in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Unlike a majority of justices, however, Gorsuch has never been elected to any public office, a Pew Research Center analysis of biographical information from the Supreme Court and other sources has found.

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Topics: Supreme Court, Federal Government, U.S. Political Figures, Donald Trump

Mar 17, 2017 10:15 am

The fading of the green: Fewer Americans identify as Irish

On this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s news that might dampen the party: The ranks of Americans who trace their ancestry back to Ireland – long one of the most prominent subgroups in American society – are slowly declining.

In 2015, 32.7 million Americans, or one-in-ten, identified themselves as being of Irish ancestry, making it the second-largest ancestry group in the U.S. after Germans. In addition, nearly 3 million Americans claimed Scotch-Irish ancestry, or just under 1% of the entire population. (The Scotch-Irish were mainly Ulster Protestants who migrated to the British colonies in the decades before independence, while Irish Catholics didn’t begin arriving in large numbers until the 1840s.) By comparison, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a combined population of about 6.6 million. Read More

Topics: Immigration, Demographics, Country of Origin, Race and Ethnicity, National and Cultural Identity

Mar 16, 2017 11:00 am

China outpaces India in internet access, smartphone ownership

India and China, the world’s two most populous countries, have long had a competitive relationship and have emerged as major economic powers. But in the digital space, China has a clear advantage. Since Pew Research Center began tracking advanced technology adoption in the two countries in 2013, the Chinese have consistently reported rates of internet and smartphone use that are at least triple that of Indians. That trend has continued through 2016.

In our latest poll, 71% of Chinese say they use the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone, our definition of internet users. In contrast, only 21% of Indians say they use the internet or own a smartphone.

The gap between China and India is similarly large when it comes to smartphone ownership alone. Nearly seven-in-ten Chinese (68%) say they own one as of spring 2016, compared with 18% of Indians. Reported smartphone ownership in China has jumped 31 percentage points since 2013, but only 6 points in India over the same time period. And while virtually every Chinese person surveyed owns at least a basic mobile phone (98%), only 72% of Indians can say the same.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Technology Adoption, Digital Divide, Social Media, Internet Activities, China, Future of the Internet, Mobile

Mar 16, 2017 9:00 am

Immigrants don’t make up a majority of workers in any U.S. industry

Immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born workers to be employed in a number of specific jobs, including sewing machine operators, plasterers, stucco masons and manicurists. But there are no major U.S. industries in which immigrants outnumber the U.S. born, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

All told, immigrants made up 17.1% of the total U.S. workforce in 2014, or about 27.6 million workers out of 161.4 million. About 19.6 million workers, or 12.1% of the total workforce, were in the U.S. legally; about 8 million, or 5%, entered the country without legal permission or overstayed their visas. (Roughly 10% of unauthorized immigrants have been granted temporary protection from deportation and eligibility to work under two federal programs, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status.)

There are two main ways to look at the kinds of work people do: by industry (that is, the business their employer is engaged in) and by occupation (the kind of work they do on the job). To get a sense of the work immigrants to the U.S. do most frequently, we relied on 2014 workforce estimates by Pew Research Center. The estimates, based on augmented data from the Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey, cover all workers ages 16 and older who reported being in a civilian industry or occupation, including both lawful and unauthorized immigrants. Read More

Topics: Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration, Work and Employment, Business and Labor

Mar 15, 2017 9:29 am

Many smartphone owners don’t take steps to secure their devices

Cybersecurity experts recommend that smartphone owners take a number of steps to keep their mobile devices safe and secure. These include using a pass code to gain access to the phone, as well as regularly updating a phone’s apps and operating system. Many Americans, however, are not adhering to these best practices, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this year.

More than a quarter (28%) of smartphone owners say they do not use a screen lock or other security features to access their phone. And while a majority of smartphone users say they have updated their phone’s apps or operating system, about 40% say they only update when it’s convenient for them. Meanwhile, some users forgo updating their phones altogether: Around one-in-ten  smartphone owners report they never update their phone’s operating system (14%) or update the apps on their phone (10%).

The security of mobile phones has drawn new attention following disclosures by WikiLeaks that the CIA reportedly has the capability to hack into some devices and bypass encryption software. There have also been several high-profile cases of smartphone hacking in recent years.  Read More

Topics: Technology Adoption, Internet Activities, Online Privacy and Safety, Emerging Technology Impacts, Mobile

Mar 15, 2017 6:58 am

European asylum applications remained near record levels in 2016

A migrant waits at a police registration point for asylum seekers in Erding, Germany, on Nov, 15, 2016. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)
A migrant waits at a police registration point for asylum seekers in Erding, Germany, on Nov. 15, 2016. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images)

Europe’s record for annual asylum applications was nearly broken last year, but the numbers trailed off considerably by the end of 2016 and fell short of the previous year’s peak surge in late summer and early fall.

In 2016, European Union countries, Norway and Switzerland received more than 1.2 million asylum applications, only about 92,000 fewer than the record 1.3 million applications received in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released data from Eurostat, Europe’s statistical agency.

At the same time, however, the number of monthly asylum applications in Europe decreased considerably at the end of 2016, dropping from 100,000 or more applications per month for most of 2016 to about 80,000 in October, 72,000 in November and 61,000 in December. The monthly number of asylum applications at the end of 2016 was similar to that of the beginning part of 2015, before the refugee surge.

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Topics: Europe, Immigration, Wars and International Conflicts, Immigration Trends, Middle East and North Africa, Migration

Mar 14, 2017 11:02 am

In Trump presidency, nearly 2,500 refugees have entered U.S. from six travel-restricted countries

Note: As of March 15, a federal judge had ordered a freeze on the new travel restrictions issued by President Trump.

A total of 2,466 refugees from six countries under new travel restrictions – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – have resettled in the United States since Donald Trump became president, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. State Department data. The number of refugees from the six travel-restricted countries represents 32% of all refugees who have entered the U.S. since Trump took office.

Trump recently signed a new executive order, scheduled to take effect March 16, that bars new U.S. visas for 90 days for people holding citizenship from the six nations while security measures in those countries are reviewed. (A previous order that took effect Jan. 27 also barred citizens of Iraq, but parts of it were stopped by the courts.) The new order also suspends refugee admissions to the U.S. from all countries for 120 days, pending a review of security screening measures.

During the first full week of Trump’s presidency (Jan. 21-27), 687 refugees from the six restricted countries entered the U.S., accounting for 34% of all refugee admissions that week. The following week, Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, refugee admissions from the six restricted countries all but stopped after Trump’s original executive order on restrictions took effect. They then resumed shortly after a federal judge in Washington state suspended key parts of Trump’s initial order on Feb. 3 and lifted the travel restrictions, a decision that was upheld by a federal appeals court. (For a look at weekly refugee admissions after the initial executive order, see our earlier analysis.)

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Topics: Immigration, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Immigration Trends, Federal Government, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Migration, Donald Trump

Mar 14, 2017 6:57 am

For Pi Day, key figures on math and education in the U.S.

For almost 30 years, math enthusiasts have been taking part in festivities on March 14 to honor an infinitely long number beginning with 3.14 – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, otherwise known as pi.

The first official Pi Day was March 14, 1988, when physicist Larry Shaw led staff and visitors to San Francisco’s Exploratorium in a celebration of all things pi-related. Since then, it has been celebrated across the globe, with universities, conferences and even pizzerias honoring the day.

To mark Pi Day, here are four findings about math and education in the United States:

1Americans rank math as one of the most important skills children need today to get ahead. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, respondents were asked, “Regardless of whether or not you think these skills are good to have, which ones do you think are most important for children to get ahead in the world today?” Roughly eight-in-ten U.S. adults (79%) said math is one of the most important skills needed for youth to get ahead. That placed math on par with teamwork, but slightly lower than communication and reading.

2Despite a recent dip in scores, U.S. students are more proficient in math than they were two decades ago. Four-in-ten fourth-graders and 33% of eighth-graders scored as “proficient” or “advanced” in math in 2015, according to a report released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) last fall. By comparison, only 13% of fourth-graders and 15% of eighth-graders were rated at or above proficient in 1990. However, math scores have declined since the previous assessment in 2013, representing the first drop in proficiency in 25 years.

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Topics: Education, Work and Employment, Science and Innovation, Technology Adoption

Mar 10, 2017 9:06 am

Six countries named in revised Trump travel order accounted for more than 650,000 U.S. entries since 2006

The six nations affected by a new executive order that prevents their citizens from obtaining new visas to enter the United States for 90 days accounted for 649,932 legal U.S. entries between fiscal years 2006 and 2015. This group includes visitors, students and diplomats as well as refugees and new lawful permanent residents, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

Entries from the affected countries made up about 0.1% of the more than 517 million total entries to the U.S. over the same period. (Entries include individuals visiting the U.S. as well as new lawful immigrants and refugees. They do not include unauthorized entries or asylum seekers. One person may account for multiple entries.)

The new order, signed by President Donald Trump on March 6, takes effect March 16 and supersedes a previous order signed on Jan. 27 that was later blocked by U.S. courts. The new order specifies that most citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen cannot enter the U.S. on new visas until security procedures used to evaluate visa applications have been reviewed; it excludes Iraq, which was a seventh country named in the January order. (A previous analysis by the Center estimated there were more than 900,000 legal entries of citizens from restricted countries between 2006 and 2015 when Iraq was included in the list of restricted countries.)

Diplomats, U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals who use a passport from another country and refugees already scheduled to travel to the U.S. are among the groups exempt from the travel restrictions. The president’s new order will also temporarily halt the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days.

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Topics: Immigration, Immigration Trends, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Migration

Mar 9, 2017 1:32 pm

Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population

At a time when divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, so-called “gray divorce” is on the rise: Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.

In 2015, for every 1,000 married persons ages 50 and older, 10 divorced – up from five in 1990, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015.

While the divorce rate for adults 50 and older has risen sharply over the past 25 years, it has remained relatively steady for this age group since 2008, when the Census Bureau began collecting divorce data yearly as part of its American Community Survey.

Still, the divorce rate for those younger than 50 is about twice as high as it is for adults 50 and older. And since 1990 the divorce rate has also climbed slightly for adults ages 40 to 49, though not to the extent of those 50 and older.  Read More

Topics: Marriage and Divorce, Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, Social Values, Older Adults