Nov 14, 2014 7:00 am

More and more Americans are outside the labor force entirely. Who are they?

FT_14.11.12_laborForce_200pxAccording to the October jobs report, more than 92 million Americans — 37% of the civilian population aged 16 and over — are neither employed nor unemployed, but fall in the category of “not in the labor force.” That means they aren’t working now but haven’t looked for work recently enough to be counted as unemployed. While that’s not quite a record — figures have been a bit higher earlier this year — the share of folks not in the labor force remains near all-time highs.

Why? You might think legions of retiring Baby Boomers are to blame, or perhaps the swelling ranks of laid-off workers who’ve grown discouraged about their re-employment prospects. While both of those groups doubtless are important (though just how important is debated by labor economists), our analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggests another key factor: Teens and young adults aren’t as interested in entering the work force as they used to be, a trend that predates the Great Recession. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment

Nov 13, 2014 11:58 am

Obama job rating flat after midterm losses, unlike Bush, Ike, Truman

The midterm elections that handed losses to many Democrats across the country haven’t resulted in much change for President Obama’s approval rating – it has barely moved in over a year and remains at 43%.

FT_two-term-president-ratingsIn fact, the share of Americans approving of Obama has wavered between 41% and 45% in 13 consecutive Pew Research surveys dating back to September 2013.

While Obama’s recent job approval isn’t high by historical standards, his second-term numbers overall have been more stable than those of his predecessors. Although many factors contribute to a president’s approval in the public’s eye, it often declines after an election when a president’s party loses.

George W. Bush’s rating, for instance, dropped consistently after his 2004 reelection, including five points after his second midterm election in 2006 (to 32%), when Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress. Ronald Reagan, who entered the 1986 elections with a 63% approval rating, dropped 16 points by December — largely due to the damage done by the Iran-Contra affair, which came to light in November 1986. Like Obama, Reagan’s party gave up the Senate and lost seats in the House. Read More

Topics: 2014 Election, Barack Obama, Presidential Approval

Nov 13, 2014 9:00 am

Obama vs. the Republicans on environmental issues: How the public views them

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Newly empowered Republicans are promising to challenge President Obama’s agenda on the environment, particularly his administration’s proposed regulations to sharply cut emissions from coal-fired power plants and construction of the Keystone pipeline. Public opinion is on Obama’s side when it comes to limiting emissions, but the GOP is in sync with most Americans on Keystone.

Across nine issues tested, President Obama has a clear advantage over congressional Republicans on only one: 35% say he has the better approach on the environment, while just 20% prefer the Republican approach.Broadly speaking, Obama has an advantage over Republicans when it comes to environmental matters. The environment is the only one of nine issues tested in a post-election poll where Obama enjoys a clear edge, with Americans favoring his approach to the subject over that of the Republicans by a 35% to 20% margin. About four-in-ten (41%) see no difference between the two. Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Political Issue Priorities

Nov 13, 2014 7:00 am

7 key takeaways about religion in Latin America

A new Pew Research Center survey of 18 Latin American countries and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico asked people from Mexico to Argentina about their religious affiliation, beliefs and practices. The survey also explored Latin Americans’ views on a wide variety of topics, including support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, the morality of divorce and how best to aid the poor.

Here are a few of the key findings:

1Shifting Religious Identity in Latin AmericaLatin America remains overwhelmingly Catholic, but Catholics have declined substantially as a share of the region’s overall population. As recently as 1970, Catholics comprised more than 90% of Latin America’s population, according to the World Religion Database and the Brazilian and Mexican censuses. Today, the Pew Research survey shows that 69% of Latin Americans identify as Catholic – 15 percentage points lower than the share of adults who say they were raised Catholic (84%).

2Losses for Catholics have meant gains for Protestant churches and the category of people who do not identify with any religion. Just 9% of adults in the region were raised Protestant and 4% were raised unaffiliated, but twice as many now describe themselves as Protestants (19%) or unaffiliated (8%). Most Protestants across Latin America identify as Pentecostal Christians or are members of Pentecostal denominations. Read More

Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Latin America, Religious Affiliation

Nov 12, 2014 9:53 am

Facebook and Twitter as political forums: Two different dynamics

Last month’s report from the Pew Research Center on political polarization and media habits shows that social media is a prominent way people learn about government and politics. Indeed, this recent survey shows that 48% of internet-using adults reported getting news from Facebook in the previous week, rivaling well-known news media organizations. New data released here support the notion that two of the most prominent social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter, function very differently as sources of political information.

Political Content on Social MediaOverall, Facebook continues to have a much larger base of users than Twitter (with 77% of web-using adults on Facebook compared with just 22% on Twitter). Vast majorities of both Facebook users (86%) and Twitter users (77%) see at least some political content, such as posts from friends, news organizations and political leaders, and links to news stories. And a significant percentage of each – 24% of Twitter users and 19% of Facebook users – say political posts account for at least half of the posts they see. Read More

Topics: Politics Online, Social Media

Nov 12, 2014 8:00 am

Unrest in the Middle East taking a toll on people’s outlooks

The pervasive conflicts that have gripped the Middle East over recent years — from political turmoil in the wake of the Arab Spring to the rise of Islamic State militants — have taken a serious toll on the outlook of people across the region, according to a Pew Research survey conducted this year.

While most emerging nations in our survey are satisfied with life today and optimistic about the future, those in the Middle East stand out for being unhappy with their countries, their economies and their lives, and wary about what the future holds for themselves and their children.

Read More

Topics: Middle East and North Africa, World Economies

Nov 10, 2014 12:30 pm

You don’t really have to know a news outlet to trust (or distrust) it

When Pew Research Center sought out ways to measure the amount of trust a news organization has, we quickly found that a news source’s level of trust and distrust is heavily influenced by brand reputation. For nearly all 36 outlets we asked our survey respondents about, more people had heard of the outlet but not gotten political news there in the past week than had heard of it and also gotten news there. For example, 80% of web respondents have heard of The Washington Post, but only 8% had used the Post as a source for political news in the past week, leaving 72% who had heard of it but had not read it within the past week.

Many respondents who knew of but didn’t get political news from a source in the past week abstained from voicing a sense of trust or distrust. (In the Washington Post example, just over half of that 72% expressed neither.) But it turns out that those who did weigh in one way or another often determine the sources’ overall balance of trust to distrust level.

Among those who had gotten news from each source in the past week, there is in nearly every case more trust than distrust. But among those who don’t get their news from a source we asked about, there is no such consistency. Some sources are more trusted than distrusted, while for others, distrust predominates.

For example, among those who have heard of CNN but did not get news there, expressions of trust and distrust are roughly equal – 37% trust and 33% distrust. (Fully 80% of those who heard of it and consumed it say they trust it.) PBS, however (trusted by 84% of those who got news there in the past week), was roughly twice as trusted as distrusted outside its core audience (34% v. 16%).

Trusted News Brands

Read More

Topics: News Audience Trends and Attitudes, News Sources

Nov 10, 2014 11:50 am

5 takeaways about the 2014 Latino vote

Even though some states with the largest Hispanic populations were not part of the most competitive midterm election contests, the Latino vote still mattered. Gearing up for the election, pollsters, journalists and politicians wanted to know how the Hispanic vote would shape the overall results. Would Latinos turn out to vote in greater numbers this year? Would the lack of action on immigration reform by President Obama and Congress depress voter turnout, or raise it? Here are five takeaways about Latino voters in this year’s elections, based on exit poll data.

1Democrats won the Latino vote, but Republican candidates gained a sizable share of this electorate. In several Senate and governor races for which exit poll data are available, we know this is true. For example, in gubernatorial races in Georgia and Texas, Republican candidates won more than 40% of the Latino vote. In House races nationwide, there was little change from the previous midterm election. Some 62% of Latinos voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide, compared with 36% who voted Republican, the national exit poll shows. The Democratic share is similar to the last midterm election in 2010, but down from 2012, when the advantage over Republicans was 68% to 30%.

2Latino Midterm VotersHispanics made up 8% of the nation’s voters, the same as in 2010 and 2006, according to national exit polls. Measuring the demographics of voters is difficult using exit polls. Nonetheless, they can be useful when examining trends. Even as the Latino vote remained flat at 8%, their share among eligible voters has grown from 8.6% in 2006 to 11% this year. (The number of Hispanic eligible voters has reached more than 25 million today, up from 17.3 million in 2006.) This suggests, but does not show, that voter turnout among Latinos may not have surged this year. Indeed, some analysts say voter turnout among the general public nationwide may be equal or down from 2010.

Historically, Hispanic voter turnout rates are among the lowest of any race or ethnic group in midterm elections. In 2010, 31.2% of Hispanics voted, compared with 48.6% of whites, 44% of blacks and 31% of Asians. (More precise voter turnout numbers won’t be available until the Census Bureau releases its data in spring 2015.) Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: 2014 Election, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Voter Demographics, Voter Participation

Nov 8, 2014 2:00 am

With 41% of global wealth in the hands of less than 1%, elites and citizens agree inequality is a top priority

41% of world's wealth in hands of 1% of population

Over the last few years, inequality has become an increasingly important topic in global debates about economics and politics. The Occupy Movement helped put it on the agenda, Thomas Piketty’s best-selling tome renewed intellectual interest in the subject and around the world average citizens say it should be a major priority.

Statistics on the gap between rich and poor around the world are stunning. Crédit Suisse says people with a net worth of more than $1 million represent just 0.7% of the global population, but they have 41% of the world’s wealth. Meanwhile, those with a net worth of less than $10,000 represent 69% of the population, but just 3% of global wealth. Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Income Inequality, World Economies

Nov 7, 2014 4:25 pm

Employment, unemployment and underemployment: Different stories from the jobs numbers

FT_14.11.7_unemployment

Every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a flood of data about employment and unemployment in the previous month. And every month, the lion’s share of the attention goes to one figure — the unemployment rate — as an indicator of where the U.S. economy stands. Today, for instance, the BLS said unemployment last month fell to 5.8%, as 683,000 more people reported finding work, which sounds like good news.

But the unemployment rate isn’t the only, or even necessarily the best, indicator to come out of the monthly jobs report. Simply being out of work isn’t enough for a person to be counted as unemployed; he or she has to have been available to work and actively looking for work, or on temporary layoff. (As the BLS itself noted once upon a time, “Being employed is an observable experience, while being unemployed often lacks that same concreteness.”) In any given month, the unemployment rate can rise or fall depending on the interplay between how many people find or lose jobs and how many join or leave the active labor force. Read More

Topics: National Economy, Work and Employment