Aug 27, 2015 9:25 am

Remembering Katrina: Wide racial divide over government’s response

A man pushes his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans on Aug. 31, 2005. Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay.
A man pushes his bicycle through flood waters near the Superdome in New Orleans on Aug. 31, 2005. Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay.

Ten years ago this weekend, Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,000 people (the true death toll may never be known). From the start, the tragedy had a powerful racial component – images of poor, mostly black New Orleans residents stranded on rooftops and crowded amid fetid conditions in what was then the Louisiana Superdome.

Ten Years Later, a Look Back at the Racial Divide Over Government's Response to Hurricane KatrinaInitial reactions to the government’s response to the crisis were starkly divided along racial lines. In a national poll conducted Sept. 6-7, 2005, a week after the storm made landfall, African Americans delivered a scathing assessment of the federal government’s relief efforts. Two-thirds (66%) said that “the government’s response to the situation would have been faster if most of the victims had been white.” Just 17% of whites agreed – most whites (77%) said the race of the victims would not have made any difference.

Just 19% of blacks rated the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina as excellent or good, compared with 41% of whites. And nearly three times as many whites (31%) as blacks (11%) said then-President George W. Bush did all he could to get relief efforts going quickly.

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Topics: Disasters and Accidents, Federal Government, Race and Ethnicity

Aug 26, 2015 7:00 am

Manners 2.0: Key findings about etiquette in the digital age

Some 92% of Americans now have a cellphone of some kind, and 90% of those cell owners say that their phone is frequently with them. This “always-on” mobile connectivity is changing the nature of public spaces and social gatherings. It is also rewriting social norms regarding what is rude and what is acceptable behavior when people are together, a new Pew Research Center report finds.

Here are some key takeaways about how Americans view manners in the mobile age:

1Americans see cellphone use as OK in key public spaces, but not in more private or intimate gatherings. For instance, about three-quarters of Americans think it is generally acceptable for people to use their cellphones while walking down the street (77%), on public transit (75%) or waiting in line (74%). But only 38% think it is generally OK to use cellphones at restaurants, and very few say cellphone use is OK at a family dinner (12%), during a meeting (5%) or at church (4%). Read More

Topics: Mobile, Social Values

Aug 24, 2015 2:17 pm

What Americans want to do about illegal immigration

A gap in the fence near the U.S.-Mexico border overlooking Tijuana, Mexico, in 2014. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Reportage by Getty Images)
A gap in the fence near the U.S.-Mexico border overlooking Tijuana, Mexico, in 2014. (Photo by Charles Ommanney/Reportage by Getty Images)

The debate over the future of the nation’s estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants is on the political front burner once more.

President Barack Obama set the stage in November when he announced new executive actions (now tied up in court) to prevent the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants, expanding 2012’s original program aimed mostly at providing relief to those brought to the United States as children. Illegal immigration has dominated the Republican presidential campaign, particularly after Donald Trump’s call for deporting all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Others have called for a changing the constitutional amendment that guarantees birthright citizenship.

Among the public overall, there is little support for an effort to deport all those in the U.S. illegally, but surveys in past years have found greater support for building a barrier along the Mexican border and for changing the Constitution to ban birthright citizenship.

Republicans have long been conflicted over U.S. immigration policy. On the one hand, consistent majorities of Republicans favor providing a path to legal status for people in the U.S. illegally. Yet most Republicans also worry that granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would amount to a tacit reward for illegal behavior. And in the past, nearly half of Republicans supported changing the Constitution to bar birthright citizenship, and a majority supported building a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.

Here’s a breakdown of public opinion on some key immigration issues: Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Immigration Attitudes, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 24, 2015 10:42 am

Proposal could make nearly 5 million workers newly eligible for overtime

Jobs Most Likely To Benefit From New Overtime RuleThe Obama administration’s proposed overtime rules would make nearly 5 million white-collar workers newly eligible for time-and-a-half, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. Most of them, we estimate, would be retail and food service managers, office administrators, low-level financial workers and other modestly paid managers and office professionals.

The rules governing who must be paid overtime for working more than 40 hours a week are many and subtle, but the general presumption in the law is that all workers are overtime-eligible unless they meet one of several specific exemptions. One of the most significant exemptions affects white-collar workers: They don’t have to be paid overtime if they meet all three of these tests: 1) They’re paid a fixed salary, as opposed to an hourly wage; 2) Their salary is more than a certain threshold amount; and 3) They primarily perform duties of a “bona fide executive, administrative, or professional” nature. Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Income, Work and Employment

Aug 21, 2015 11:00 am

24% of Americans now view both GOP and Democratic Party unfavorably

Double Negatives: More People Express Unfavorable Views of Both PartiesThe rise of “outsider” presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has focused attention on the level of political frustration in the United States. By one measure – the share of Americans who express unfavorable opinions of both political parties – that frustration has grown.

In our July survey, 24% of the public has an unfavorable opinion of both the Republican and Democratic parties. That is up from 19% in January, though little changed from yearly averages in polls conducted in 2014 and 2013 (22% each).

The share expressing negative views of both parties has been higher in recent years than in the 2000s or 1990s. In the 2008 presidential election year, 12% viewed both parties unfavorably. In 2004, 10% did so, and in 2000, just 7% expressed unfavorable opinions of both the Republican and Democratic parties.  Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, U.S. Political Parties

Aug 20, 2015 11:29 am

How having smartphones (or not) shapes the way teens communicate

It may seem as if basic or flip phones are a thing of the past, given that 73% of teens have a smartphone. But that still leaves 15% of teens who only have a basic cellphone and 12% who have none at all, and it makes a difference in the way each group communicates, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Teens With and Without SmartphonesTexting is an especially popular way for smartphone-using teens to communicate with their closest friends, while teens without a smartphone are more likely than their smartphone-using counterparts to use social media and phone calls as their preferred ways for connecting with their best pals.

Teens who have a close friend were asked to name their most common method of getting in touch with their closest friend. Texting is the number one way all teens get in touch with their closest friends. Some 58% of teens with smartphones cite texting as the main way they communicate with their closest friend online or by phone, compared with 25% of teens without smartphone access.

On the other hand, non-smartphone-using teens are more likely than those with smartphones to keep in touch with their closest friend via social media. Some 29% of teens without smartphone access cited social media as their most common online or phone method of communicating with a best friend, compared with 17% for smartphone users who did so. Read More

Topics: Mobile, Online Communities, Social Media, Social Networking, Teens and Technology, Teens and Youth, Texting

Aug 19, 2015 9:00 am

How do Americans use Twitter for news?

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults who use Twitter get news on the platform, according to a recent survey. But we wanted a finer-grained understanding of how they use Twitter for news – not only whether they tweet about news and follow news organizations, but also what news topics they tweet about, and how many news media accounts they follow. We approached these questions through some exploratory research, leveraging one of social media’s greatest advantages for researchers: its openness.

In order to better understand how Americans are engaging with news on Twitter, we built a small but representative sample of 176 Twitter users from an earlier national survey of 3,212 Americans conducted by Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We then analyzed the Twitter activity of these users, with their explicit permission.

About half of the Twitter users in our sample ever tweeted about news, defined here (and in our recent social media work) as information about events and issues beyond just your friends and family. Users in the sample were more likely to send an original post than a retweet when tweeting in general, but when posting about news, the opposite was true. And while news media accounts made up a relatively small proportion of the accounts a Twitter user in our sample followed, tweets from this type of account made up a significant portion of a user’s feed. Our findings are summarized in the infographic below.

Read More

Topics: Internet Activities, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Research Methods, Social Media

Aug 18, 2015 12:19 pm

5 facts about Social Security

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, 14th August 1935. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935. (Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law 80 years ago this month, he said that while “[w]e can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life … we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”

In the decades since then, Social Security has developed into one of the most popular federal programs, though that popularity is tempered by concern over its long-term financial outlook. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, for instance, 50% of Gen Xers and 51% of Millennials said they believed they would receive no Social Security benefits at all by the time they’re ready to retire. Earlier this year, 66% of Americans said taking steps to make Social Security financially sound should be a top priority for President Obama and Congress this year, placing it fifth among 23 issues asked about.

SDT-next-america-03-07-2014-2-08But any reform plan entailing cuts to benefits likely would face an uphill battle for public support. The 2014 Pew Research survey also found large majorities across all generations agreeing that Social Security benefits shouldn’t be reduced; even among Millennials, the generation furthest from retirement, only 37% said future benefit reductions should be considered.

There’s often considerable confusion as to just how Social Security works, which is perhaps not surprising given the program’s complexity. (The original 1935 Social Security Act was 29 pages long; the current law, much amended and expanded, runs nearly 2,600 printed pages.) Here’s a primer on the program: Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Generations and Age, Government Spending and the Deficit, Retirement

Aug 17, 2015 2:45 pm

Brazil’s corruption scandal, economy drive Rousseff’s ratings to record low

Demonstrators protest against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Workers' Party (PT), at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug., 16, 2015. Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators protest against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the ruling Workers’ Party on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo on Aug. 16. Photo Credit: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

Driven by concerns over widespread corruption and a downturn in the country’s economy, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s poll ratings have plummeted to their lowest point since she took office in 2010, with a recent Datafolha survey showing only 8% approving of her. Rousseff’s political woes have raised the prospect of impeachment proceedings and brought out hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country on Sunday, many chanting “Dilma Out.”

Rapid Decline in Brazilians' Assessment of EconomyBrazil has experienced a major economic downturn over the past five years, since President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left office. In 2010, Brazil was enjoying 7.6% GDP growth, making it the world’s seventh largest economy.

In 2010, 62% of Brazilians described the economic situation in their country as good. But as growth diminished more rapidly in recent years, public assessment of the economic health of the nation also has fallen sharply, by 27 percentage points from 2013 to 2014. In addition, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that 63% of Brazilians disapproved of the way Rousseff was handling the economy.

With a projected contraction in Brazil’s economy over the next 12 months, things look even bleaker for this year. Only 13% of those surveyed by Pew Research last spring say economic conditions are good. From 2013 to 2015, Brazilians’ perception of their economy fell by a staggering 46 percentage points. Read More

Topics: Economic Recession, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, Latin America, Non-U.S. Political Leaders, World Economies

Aug 17, 2015 10:54 am

Analysis shows fewer Hispanic young adults ‘disconnected’ from school, jobs

Near the end of the Great Recession, about one-in-five Hispanics ages 18 and 19 were “disconnected youth” – neither working nor going to school. But, helped by the economic recovery, the share of these young Hispanic adults not working or enrolled in school dropped from 21% in 2009 to a historic low of 16% by 2014, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of federal government data.

Share of Hispanic Youth Detached From School and Work on the DeclineOnly among Hispanics has the share of detached youth dropped below recession-era levels. By comparison, 19% of blacks of the same age were neither working nor in school in 2014, a level that has not changed much over the past decade, even during the recession. Among whites of this age, the share of detached young adults (12%) remained above pre-recession levels.

One reason for this decline is that the unemployment rate for Hispanic youth has dropped more quickly than for young whites and blacks in recent years. From 2010 to 2014, the unemployment rate dropped from 32% to 19% among Hispanics ages 16 to 19, a steeper decline than among whites. Another reason for the decline is that more Hispanics than ever are enrolled in school. Among Hispanics, the high school dropout rate is at a record low, while at the same time college enrollment gains have outpaced other groups.

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Topics: Education, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Teens and Youth, Work and Employment