Aug 6, 2014 10:06 am

Reshaping the workplace: Tech-related jobs that didn’t exist (officially, at least) 15 years ago

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
A Comcast worker stands among the cables and routers at the company’s distribution center in Pompano Beach, Fla., from which regional video, high speed data and voice are piped out to customers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Technological innovation has been changing the jobs people do, and the way they do them, at least since the first spinning jennies went into service in England’s textile industry in the 1760s. And for about as long, people have sought to forecast what new technologies might mean for the world of work — predictions that tend to be either utopian (2-hour workdays!) or dystopian (massive unemployment).

A new Pew Research Center report joins that tradition, gathering the opinions of nearly 1,900 experts on how advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will affect employment in the future. And again, opinions were divided, with about half saying robots and digital agents would leave significant numbers of workers — white and blue collar — idle by 2025, and the other half saying those technologies would lead to more new jobs than they displace. (Nor is this issue confined to the U.S.: The Belgian think tank Bruegel recently estimated how many current jobs in the 28 EU countries were vulnerable to computerization; the rates ranged from 47% in Sweden and the U.K. to 62% in Romania.)  Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Work and Employment

Aug 5, 2014 7:00 am

27 countries limit a woman’s ability to pass citizenship to her child or spouse

Citizenship laws countries policies policy

To most Americans, citizenship, like DNA, seems like something a parent passes to a child without thought or effort. And indeed, for fathers around the world, that’s almost universally true.

But one-in-seven countries currently have laws or policies prohibiting or limiting the rights of women to pass citizenship to a child or non-citizen spouse, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. The U.N. data show these types of laws or policies were present in most countries around the world 60 years ago. In the past five years, multiple countries have taken steps to change these laws — including Kenya, Monaco, Yemen and Senegal. Just last month, Suriname changed its nationality laws to allow women to pass citizenship to spouses and children.  Read More

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, International Governments and Institutions

Aug 4, 2014 12:52 pm

Many Mexican child migrants caught multiple times at border

With the surge in unaccompanied children apprehended at the Southwest border, much has been written about the unusually high numbers of kids arriving from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The number of apprehensions of Mexican child migrants rivals those of the other three countries, but many of those caught are ones who tried to cross multiple times — meaning that the total number of child migrants from Mexico is lower compared with the Central American nations.

Out of the more than 11,000 apprehensions of unaccompanied Mexican minors during this fiscal year (October 1 through May 31), only 2,700 children (24% of all the apprehensions) reported being apprehended for the first time in their lives, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Mexican government data obtained from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The other three quarters of the apprehensions were of children who reported that they had been apprehended multiple times before — 15% were of children who had been apprehended at least six times.

Read More

Topics: Immigration, Mexico, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 4, 2014 7:00 am

U.S., China compete to woo Africa

The U.S. and China have been jockeying for economic influence in Africa in recent years as the region experiences robust GDP growth and presents more opportunities for investment.

FT_africa-views-of-us-chinarecent Pew Research Center survey shows that neither world power has a clear advantage when it comes to the hearts and minds of people in Africa. Among the seven sub-Saharan African countries polled this year, at least six-in-ten in each nation say they have a favorable view of the U.S., including roughly three-quarters or more in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal. Broad majorities also rate China positively. The one exception is South Africa – just 45% express a favorable view of China, compared with 68% for the U.S. Read More

Topics: China, Sub-Saharan Africa, World Economies

Aug 1, 2014 3:37 pm

As news business takes a hit, the number of black journalists declines

The financial challenges of the journalism industry have resulted in significant declines in the number of employed reporters, editors, anchors and photographers. Minority journalists, who were already underrepresented in newsrooms, have, for the most part, experienced the same type of decline in recent years. The National Association of Black Journalists, founded in 1975, meets in Boston this week for its annual convention. Here are some facts about the state of black and minority journalists.

1The number of black journalists working at U.S. daily newspapers has dropped 40% since 1997, according to the latest data from the American Society of News Editors. That represents a loss of almost 1,200 journalists — from 2,946 in 1997 to 1,754 in 2013.

It’s also a steeper decline than the rate of job losses for white journalists — a 34% decrease during the same time period. In the last 16 years, the ranks of Hispanic and Asian journalists have also declined, though not as steeply — losing 13% and 2%, respectively.

Black Employment at Newspapers

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Topics: News Media Trends, Newspapers, Newsroom Investment and Resources, Race and Ethnicity

Aug 1, 2014 11:11 am

Kaiser: Americans’ views of Hobby Lobby ruling are evenly divided

The U.S. Supreme Court often issues some of its most controversial decisions at the very end of its term, and this year was no different. On June 30 – the final day of the term – the high court released its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, ruling that some for-profit corporations have religious rights and can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

The U.S. public is evenly split in its view of the decision, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Roughly half of Americans (49%) say they disapprove of the ruling, while a similar share (47%) approve. Neither side seems to feel more strongly than the other: Most people say they feel either “disappointed but not angry” (35%) or “satisfied but not enthusiastic” (35%), and fewer feel “angry” (12%) or “enthusiastic” (11%) about the ruling.

Public evenly divided over Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision

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Topics: Religion and Government, Religion and Politics, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Supreme Court

Aug 1, 2014 9:00 am

The political middle still matters

While increased polarization among Republicans and Democrats at both ends of the ideological spectrum has created a sense of unending gridlock in Washington, the parties face a different kind of challenge in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond: how to appeal to the majority of Americans who are somewhere in the political middle.

Between the polarized ideological wings on the left and right in the political parties, there is still a sizable middle that is diverse in its views.The recent Pew Research Center survey on polarization in U.S. politics drew a lot of attention to the fact that the bases of each party were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the last two decades. But, as it has always been, it is still the political middle that determines elections, even in this polarized era.

About 43% of registered voters can be identified as belonging to voting blocs that were “strongly ideological,” with 27% at the strongly conservative end of the spectrum and 17% being solid liberals, according to our political typology study, a follow-up to the polarization report.

But neither party has a base big enough to win national elections without broadening its appeal to the 57% of the electorate who are less partisan and less predictable.

The Typology survey laid out the challenges in doing so this way: “The political landscape includes a center that is large and diverse, unified by frustration with politics and little else. As a result, both parties face formidable challenges in reaching beyond their bases to appeal to the middle of the electorate and build sustainable coalitions.”

Read More

Topics: Political Party Affiliation, Political Polarization, Political Typology, U.S. Political Parties

Aug 1, 2014 7:00 am

Chart of the Week: Which states have the most nurses, and where are they paid the most?


As anyone who’s looked for a job lately knows, there’s no single U.S. labor market but rather a collection of local ones. Occupations that are in high demand in, say, Denver might be oversupplied in Birmingham, or vice versa — and they almost certainly won’t pay the same. But while this might make sense intuitively, it’s hard to visualize just how different one place’s job market is from another.

Which is what makes this chart, from the folks at FlowingData, so impressive — it not only elegantly presents several dimensions of data but easily enables state-by-state comparisons. It shows hundreds of different occupations, organized into 22 major sectors, drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the interactive version, hovering over any square tells you the estimated employment and median annual salary for that occupation; adjust the slider on top and the chart shows which occupations have median salaries above that level.

That’s plenty cool on its own, but switch states via the drop-down box and the boxes grow and shrink proportionally to each occupation’s share of the state’s overall employment base. You can see instantly how important the transportation and production sectors are in Indiana, or how few computer and mathematical jobs there are in Mississippi. You can also see how dominant such high-paying sectors as business, management and legal are in D.C., while Floridians largely work in lower-paying office/administrative jobs or in sales, food service or building-maintenance jobs.

This sort of thing could occupy a curious person for hours. Which state has a relatively bigger farming/fishing/forestry sector — California or Iowa? The answer might surprise you.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

Jul 31, 2014 1:18 pm

Congress continues its streak of passing few significant laws

CongressProductivity_July2014Congress this week scrambled to finish several pieces of business, from increasing aid to Israel to addressing the child-migrant crisis and patching the Highway Trust Fund, before leaving Washington for its scheduled August recess. But being out of town may not noticeably affect Congress’ legislative productivity.

As of Wednesday the current Congress had enacted 142 laws, the fewest of any Congress in the past two decades over an equivalent timespan. And only 108 of those enactments were substantive pieces of legislation, under our deliberately broad criteria (no post-office renamings, anniversary commemorations or other purely ceremonial laws). That’s two fewer than the previous Congress — itself not generally considered a model of productivity — had managed by this point in 2012. (As The Washington Post recently pointed out, Congress has a long history of dithering and squabbling rather than legislating during the dog days of summer.) Read More

Topics: Congress

Jul 31, 2014 9:57 am

Americans divided on how the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution

Star Ideological Divide in Constitutional InterpretationDemocrats and Republicans remain deeply divided about how the U.S. Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center. And there are many differences across demographic groups – especially when it comes to religious affiliation.

About half of the public (49%) say the decisions of the Supreme Court should be based on its understanding of what the Constitution “means in current times,” while roughly as many (46%) say decisions should be based on what the Constitution “meant as it was originally written.”

But Republicans—by more than two-to-one (69% to 29%)—say the justices should base their rulings on the Constitution’s original meaning rather than on what it means in current times. Democratic opinion goes the other way: 70% say the court should base its rulings on an understanding of the Constitution’s meaning in current times (26% say rulings should be based on the document’s original meaning).  Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Religion and Government, Supreme Court