Jan 11, 2017 7:00 am

Key findings on how police view their jobs amid protests and calls for reform

Deadly encounters between police and black citizens in recent years have led to a vigorous debate across the U.S. over police conduct and methods. A new Pew Research Center nationwide survey of 7,917 police officers in departments with at least 100 officers, conducted by the National Police Research Platform, focuses on a wide range of topics about policing, including how police view their jobs, officers’ experiences in the field and how these fatal encounters have impacted the way they do their jobs.

Here are key takeaways from the new report.

1Most officers – 86% – say high-profile incidents between blacks and police have made their jobs harder. Roughly nine-in-ten (93%) say officers in their department have become more concerned about their safety, while about three-quarters say that their colleagues are more reluctant to use force when appropriate or to stop and question people who seem suspicious. Three-quarters also say that interactions between police and blacks have become more tense.

2Black and white officers differ over perceptions of fatal encounters and ensuing protests. About seven-in-ten white officers (72%) say that the deaths of blacks during encounters with police are isolated incidents rather than signs of a broader problem. By contrast, 43% of black officers say these are isolated incidents, while 57% say they are signs of a broader problem.  Read More

Topics: African Americans, Criminal Justice, Race and Ethnicity, Violence and Society, Work and Employment

Jan 11, 2017 12:02 am

Q&A: How Pew Research Center surveyed nearly 8,000 police officers

Jason Doiy via Getty Images/iStockphoto
Jason Doiy via Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pew Research Center released a groundbreaking survey today of nearly 8,000 sworn police officers who work in departments around the U.S. with at least 100 officers. The survey provides a detailed look at how officers feel about their jobs and how they view relations with the communities they serve at a time of increased tensions following high-profile encounters between law enforcement and blacks.

Senior Editor Rich Morin and Senior Research Methodologist Andrew Mercer were part of the team that designed the project, analyzed the survey results and wrote the final report. What follows is an edited interview with the authors about the purpose and methodology of their survey.

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Topics: Criminal Justice, Race and Ethnicity, Research Methods, Work and Employment

Jan 10, 2017 3:10 pm

Blacks and Hispanics face extra challenges in getting home loans

Homeownership in the U.S. has fallen sharply since the housing boom peaked in the mid-2000s, though it’s declined more for some racial and ethnic groups than for others. Black and Hispanic households today are still far less likely than white households to own their own homes (41.3% and 47%, respectively, versus 71.9% for whites), and the homeownership gap between blacks and whites has widened since 2004.

An examination of mortgage-market data indicates some of the continuing challenges black and Hispanic homebuyers and would-be homebuyers face. Among other things, they have a much harder time getting approved for conventional mortgages than whites and Asians, and when they are approved they tend to pay higher interest rates.  Read More

Topics: African Americans, Economics and Personal Finances, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Homeownership, Race and Ethnicity

Jan 10, 2017 2:17 pm

U.S. public sees Russian role in campaign hacking, but is divided over new sanctions

Most Americans believe Russia was behind the hacks of the Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. But they are divided on whether to impose further sanctions on Russia, beyond the steps President Barack Obama took last month.

An overwhelming share of the public (88%) has heard about allegations that Russia was involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Among those aware of the allegations, 72% say Russia was definitely or probably behind the hacks, compared with just 24% who think it was definitely or probably not involved.

When asked how the U.S. should respond, nearly half (46%) of those aware of the hacking allegations say the sanctions already imposed on Russia are about right, while 27% say they do not go far enough and 20% say they go too far, according to a national survey released today by Pew Research Center.  Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Country Image, Elections and Campaigns, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Online Privacy and Safety, Political Party Affiliation, Russia

Jan 6, 2017 1:32 pm

Less than half the public views border wall as an important goal for U.S. immigration policy

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, the public views one of his signature campaign promises – the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border – as a less important goal for immigration policy than several other objectives, such as cracking down on visa overstays.

Asked about eight possible goals for U.S. immigration policy, majorities rate each one as important, except one: Only 39% view building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as a very or somewhat important goal.

Most Americans (58%) say it is important to increase the number of deportations of people in the U.S. illegally, another of Trump’s campaign proposals that he has emphasized since winning the election. The latest Pew Research Center estimate puts the number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. at 11.1 million.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Donald Trump, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Mexico, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties, Unauthorized Immigration

Jan 5, 2017 1:16 pm

Unauthorized immigrants covered by DACA face uncertain future

More than 750,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and deportation relief through the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since it was created by President Barack Obama, according to the latest data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. But they now must wait and see what becomes of the program under the Trump administration.

The program known as DACA was created through an executive action signed by Obama in August 2012.

It gives unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16 – a group sometimes called “Dreamers” – a chance to stay in the U.S. to study or work, provided they meet certain conditions such as being enrolled in high school or having a high school degree or GED equivalent, and not having a serious criminal conviction. Those approved for the program are given a work permit and protection from deportation for two years. Benefits can be renewed.  Read More

Topics: Citizenship, Domestic Affairs and Policy, Education, Generations and Age, Immigration, Immigration Trends, Unauthorized Immigration

Jan 5, 2017 7:24 am

Federal prison population fell during Obama’s term, reversing recent trend

President Barack Obama is on pace to leave the White House with a smaller federal prison population than when he took office – a distinction no president since Jimmy Carter has had, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The number of sentenced prisoners in federal custody fell 5% (or 7,981 inmates) between the end of 2009, Obama’s first year in office, and 2015, the most recent year for which BJS has final, end-of-year statistics. Preliminary figures for 2016 show the decline continued during Obama’s last full year in office and that the overall reduction during his tenure will likely exceed 5%.

By contrast, the federal prison population increased significantly under every other president since 1981. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, U.S. Political Figures

Jan 4, 2017 12:12 pm

5 facts about the minimum wage


Even though the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, most Americans are now covered by higher minimums set by state and local laws – from Los Angeles to New York state to Washington, D.C. Organized labor and anti-poverty groups continue to push for $15 an hour as the new standard for all workers paid hourly, though given Republican control of Congress that prospect appears dim.

While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, a Pew Research Center survey this past August found clear partisan and racial differences in support. Overall, 52% of people favored increasing the federal minimum to $15 an hour, but that idea was favored by just 21% of Trump supporters (versus 82% of Clinton backers). And while large majorities of blacks and Hispanics supported a $15 federal minimum wage, 54% of whites opposed it,

Here are five facts about the minimum wage and the people who earn it:

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Business and Labor, Economics and Personal Finances, Income, Work and Employment

Jan 4, 2017 7:03 am

Among high school seniors, interest in science varies by race, ethnicity

Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post
Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post

A majority of high school seniors in the U.S. say they enjoy science and around four-in-ten (44%) would like to have a job in the field, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). These sentiments, however, tend to vary by race and ethnicity – a pattern that also is reflected in American students’ test scores in science.

Overall, 71% of 12th-grade students agree with the statement, “I like science.” While majorities of all major racial and ethnic groups report having a fondness for science, Asian and Pacific Islander high school seniors are the most likely group to say this, while blacks are the least.

Similar racial and ethnic differences emerge when 12th-graders are asked whether they want a career in science. Six-in-ten Asian and Pacific Islander high school seniors say they would like a job that involves science and 64% say it is important that they do well in the subject to get the kind of job they want. By comparison, 45% of whites, 40% of Hispanics and 39% of blacks say they want a science-related job, and no more than half of these respective groups agree that they need to do well in science to get the kind of job they desire.  Read More

Topics: Education, Race and Ethnicity, Science and Innovation

Jan 3, 2017 2:04 pm

No consensus among Israeli Jews about settlements’ impact on security

Israel recently vaulted back onto the front pages when the UN Security Council on Dec. 23 voted 14-0 to condemn the continued construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The United States, in a rare show of public displeasure with Israel, abstained from the vote, forgoing the opportunity to veto the resolution. In the days following, the two countries traded criticisms, culminating a week later with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saying that settlements pose a “threat” to peace and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issuing a critical response.

Some Israeli politicians in the current governing coalition have mentioned security implications as one argument in favor of West Bank settlements, but Pew Research Center polling in late 2014 and early 2015 found that there is no clear consensus among Israeli Jews over whether settlements help or hurt the country’s security.

Indeed, while roughly four-in-ten Israeli Jews (42%) said that the continued building of settlements helps the security of Israel, three-in-ten (30%) said the settlements hurt the country’s security, while a quarter (25%) said they do not affect Israel’s security one way or another. Roughly a year earlier, Israeli Jews were less sanguine about the benefits of settlement building: In 2013, only 31% said such construction improved Israel’s security.

Among Israeli Jews, opinion about the role of settlements varies greatly depending on a number of factors.  Read More

Topics: International Governments and Institutions, Jews and Judaism, Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam, Wars and International Conflicts