Oct 6, 2016 10:07 am

Key findings about the American workforce and the changing job market

The employment landscape in the U.S. has undergone profound changes, and the public is adapting to the new realities of the workplace and rethinking the skills they need to compete. A new Pew Research Center survey, conducted in association with the Markle Foundation, and analysis of government data finds that employment in occupations requiring more education and training is on the rise, and many workers are realizing that retraining and upgrading their skills needs to be a lifetime commitment.

Here are six key takeaways on the state of American jobs:

1Employment has been rising faster in occupations requiring more preparation. As of 2015, some 83 million people worked in jobs that require an average or above average level of preparation (including education, experience and job training), up from 49 million in 1980 – a 68% increase. This was more than double the 31% rise in employment in positions requiring a below average level of job preparation. Employment in these jobs increased from 50 million to 65 million over the same time period.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Business and Labor, Education, Educational Attainment, National Economy, Work and Employment

Oct 6, 2016 7:00 am

Younger adults more likely than their elders to prefer reading news

When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.  Read More

Topics: Audio and Radio, Digital Media, E-reading, Generations and Age, Internet Activities, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Sources, Newspapers, Online Video, Technology Adoption

Oct 5, 2016 12:01 pm

Americans strongly favor expanding solar power to help address costs and environmental concerns

As the solar energy industry gears up to add more electricity-generating capacity than any other source this year, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that almost nine-in-ten U.S. adults (89%) favor expanding use of solar power, while only 9% oppose it. That sentiment bridges the partisan divide, with large majorities from across the political spectrum favoring more use of this alternative source.

Planned large-scale solar farms are expected to add 9.5 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a government agency that collects and analyzes information about the energy industry. Natural gas is expected to add 8 gigawatts and wind 6.8 gigawatts. And that figure for solar doesn’t count electricity-generating capacity from distributed solar, such as rooftop panels. (In 2015, distributed solar added nearly 2 gigawatts of capacity.)

To put all this in context, the total in-service electricity-generating capacity in the U.S. was about 1,070 gigawatts as of July 2016.  Read More

Topics: Energy and Environment, Homeownership

Oct 5, 2016 10:50 am

Key facts about the world’s refugees

With the number of displaced people in the world at more than 60 million in 2015 – a total that counts both those living inside and outside of their home countries – the plight of refugees has gained new prominence as countries, including the U.S., have taken in displaced people. To address the issue, the United Nations General Assembly will host a summit on refugees and migrants on Sept. 19, and President Barack Obama will hold his own Leaders’ Summit on the topic the following day.

Here are 10 key facts about the world’s refugees as well as those entering Europe and the United States.

1Nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide are now displaced from their homes, the highest share of the world’s population that has been forcibly displaced since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees began collecting data on displaced persons in 1951. Displacement levels are higher in some regions of the world than others. For example, more than one-in-twenty people living in the Middle East (5.6%) are displaced. Meanwhile, about one-in-sixty people living in continental Africa (1.6%) are displaced (not including Egypt, which is considered part of the Middle East). In Europe, 0.7% of the population is displaced, similar to levels following the collapse of Eastern Bloc countries in the early 1990s.

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

Oct 5, 2016 9:00 am

U.S. admits record number of Muslim refugees in 2016

A total of 38,901 Muslim refugees entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2016, making up almost half (46%) of the nearly 85,000 refugees who entered the country in that period, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. That means the U.S. has admitted the highest number of Muslim refugees of any year since data on self-reported religious affiliations first became publicly available in 2002.

Almost the same number of Christian (37,521) as Muslim refugees were admitted in fiscal 2016, which ended Sept. 30. A slightly lower share of 2016’s refugees were Christian (44%) than Muslim, the first time that has happened since fiscal 2006, when a large number of Somali refugees entered the U.S.

People seeking to enter the U.S. as refugees are processed overseas. As part of the process, they are asked a series of questions, including their religious affiliation. When their applications are approved, refugees travel to the U.S. to be resettled by nonprofit groups associated with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Refugees to the U.S. are different from asylum seekers, who claim asylum after already being in the U.S. or crossing into the U.S. via an airport or land border.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Christians and Christianity, Middle East and North Africa, Migration, Muslims and Islam, Religious Affiliation

Oct 4, 2016 2:45 pm

Deep divides between, within parties on public debates about LGBT issues

Over the last few years, contentious public debates have emerged on issues involving religious liberty, traditional values and civil rights for LGBT people, including whether wedding-related businesses should be required to provide their services to same-sex couples, and – more recently – over the use of public restrooms by transgender people.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) could face questions about these issues in the vice presidential debate tonight. Pence, a Republican, signed a state law in 2015 that provides a legal defense for business owners who deny services to LGBT couples on religious grounds.

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Topics: 2016 Election, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality, Gender, Political Attitudes and Values, Political Polarization, Religion and Government, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Beliefs and Practices

Oct 4, 2016 12:52 pm

Federal officials may revamp how Americans identify race, ethnicity on census and other forms

Federal officials are moving ahead with the most important potential changes in two decades in how the government asks Americans about their racial and Hispanic identity. They include combining separate race and Hispanic questions into one and adding a new Middle East-North Africa category.

If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the revisions would be made on the 2020 census questionnaire and other federal government surveys or forms. Federal statistics about race and Hispanic identity are used to enforce civil rights laws, assist in political redistricting and provide data for research that compares the status of different groups.

The changes would be intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of race and ethnicity data by making it easier for people to answer questions about their identity, according to federal officials. Many people, especially Hispanics, Arabs and people of multiple origins, are unsure about how to categorize themselves on census questionnaires and other federal forms.

The potential changes were published Sept. 30 by the Office of Management and Budget, which sets the standards for how federal agencies collect and publish race and ethnicity data, for 30 days of public comment. The agency will publish another notice of the results of its study and possible recommendations for change, and will seek more comments. The Census Bureau recently concluded a major test of possible revisions on its questionnaires and has begun briefing advisory groups and advocates on the results.

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Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Hispanic/Latino Identity, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census

Oct 4, 2016 10:10 am

Conservative Republicans especially skeptical of climate scientists’ research and understanding

Americans at both ends of the political spectrum are polarized on climate issues, and their differences extend to how well they think climate scientists understand climate change, how much they can trust information from them and what they think influences their research.

Conservative Republicans are especially skeptical of how well climate scientists understand climate change and are particularly likely to distrust information from them, according to a new Pew Research Center report. They also are among the most dubious about the influences on and motives behind climate research. Those in other political groups, including moderate and liberal Republicans, are far less skeptical and distrusting.

These are some of our key findings about the views of conservative Republicans:

Many conservative Republicans have a negative view of scientists’ understanding of climate change. Majorities of conservative Republicans say climate scientists have little or no understanding of the causes of climate change or ways to address it. In comparison, majorities of the other political groups, including moderate and liberal Republicans, say climate scientists understand the causes of climate change and ways to address it very or fairly well.

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Topics: Domestic Affairs and Policy, Energy and Environment, Political Party Affiliation, Science and Innovation, U.S. Political Parties

Oct 3, 2016 10:20 am

Smartphones help those without broadband get online, but don’t necessarily bridge the digital divide

Courts and regulators have increasingly seen high-speed internet as a public utility that is as essential to Americans as electricity and water. But many Americans still do not have broadband at home, and some Americans have turned to mobile devices as their primary gateway to the internet, according to Pew Research Center surveys.

But whether smartphones are an adequate substitute is open to question. Those who depend on their smartphones to go online encounter constraints with data caps and small screens, and the device is not their “go to” tool for personal learning at home.

Instead, those with smartphones but not home broadband rely on a kind of “workaround ecosystem” that is a combination of using their mobile devices along with other resources such as computers and Wi-Fi available at public libraries.

A third of American adults do not have high-speed internet at home, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, and slightly more Americans were without broadband at home in 2015 than in 2013.

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Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Future of the Internet, Internet Activities, Mobile, Technology Adoption

Oct 3, 2016 7:01 am

Americans are divided over which public bathrooms transgender people should use

As the visibility of transgender Americans has increased in recent years, it has been accompanied by a contentious political debate over the rights of the estimated 0.6% of U.S. adults who identify as transgender – in particular, which public restrooms they should legally be allowed to enter.

Earlier this year, North Carolina became the focus for much of this debate when it enacted a law prohibiting people from using public bathrooms that do not match their biological sex. The law has prompted a backlash from some businesses, large organizations and others, including the National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is currently being challenged in court by the Obama administration.

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Topics: Gender, Lifestyle, Religion and Society, Social Values