May 18, 2017 6:59 am

More foreign grads of U.S. colleges are staying in the country to work

A growing number of high-skilled foreign workers find jobs in the United States under a program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows foreign graduates from U.S. universities to work in the country on a temporary basis. The federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications in fiscal years 2008 through 2014, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data received through a Freedom of Information Act request. Data suggest that the total number of foreign graduates using OPT may continue to increase in subsequent years: More than 1 million foreign students studied at U.S. higher educational institutions in the 2015-16 school year, a record high.

U.S. college graduates with F-1 visas for foreign students may apply to OPT, and those approved may work in the U.S. for up to 12 months in their field of study. Foreign students majoring in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field may work in the U.S. for longer – up to 36 months. Unlike other U.S. visa programs, OPT has no cap on the number of foreign graduates who can participate. OPT is not subject to congressional oversight, though the program, which was created in 1947, can be changed by a U.S. president.

Here are some key facts about foreign college graduates working in the U.S. under the Optional Practical Training program.

1The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in fiscal 2008 to 136,617 in fiscal 2014, a nearly fivefold increase. This growth happened after the Bush administration in 2008 extended the amount of time STEM graduates may work in the U.S. to a maximum of 29 months. About half of STEM graduates have extended their OPT program beyond the initial 12-month period in recent years. In 2016, the Obama administration again expanded the work period for STEM graduates to its current 36-month maximum.

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Topics: Education, Work and Employment, Educational Attainment, Science and Innovation, Migration, Asian Americans

May 17, 2017 7:00 am

5 facts about U.S. political donations

Americans are increasingly likely to make political donations, with the share of adults who say they have donated directly to candidates doubling since 1992, according to data from American National Election Studies (ANES). Political donations from individuals represent a large share of campaign funding: In the 2016 election cycle, 71% of Hillary Clinton’s fundraising total and 40% of Donald Trump’s came from individual contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Here are five facts about political donations from individual donors:

1More Americans are making political donations. Americans are now more likely to contribute to political candidates and parties than they were two decades ago, according to surveys conducted as part of ANES. The share of Americans who say they have donated to an individual running for public office within the past year has doubled, increasing from 6% in 1992 to 12% in 2016. (The survey does not specify type of candidate.) The share of those who say they have donated to parties has also increased, rising from 4% to 9% across the same period, while the share making donations to outside groups working to elect or defeat a candidate – such as political action committees – has remained between 3% and 6%. Overall, the share of Americans who say they have donated to at least one of these groups within the past year has increased from 11% in 1992 to 15% in 2016.

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Topics: U.S. Political Parties, Elections and Campaigns

May 16, 2017 10:00 am

On gender issues, many in Orthodox Christian countries have conservative views

A substantial share of adults in Central and Eastern Europe hold traditional views of the role of women and the family, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 18 nations in the region. This is especially true in the 10 countries surveyed with Orthodox Christian majorities.

For instance, majorities of respondents in all 10 of these Orthodox countries agree with the statement, “Women have a responsibility to society to bear children,” including at least three-quarters in Armenia (82%), Romania (81%) and Bulgaria (77%) and about six-in-ten in Russia and Belarus (59% each). Generally, smaller shares in the eight Catholic-majority, religiously mixed or majority-unaffiliated countries surveyed (Bosnia and Hungary are exceptions) take this position.

Respondents in Orthodox-majority countries also are more likely than those in the other countries to hold conservative gender views on marriage and hiring practices. A median of 42% across the Orthodox-majority countries surveyed say a wife should always obey her husband, compared with only 25% in those countries without an Orthodox majority. Similarly, a median of 44% of respondents in Orthodox-majority countries, versus 31% elsewhere in the region, agree that “when jobs are scarce, men should have more rights to a job than women.”  Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Europe, Gender, Religion and Society, Lifestyle, Family Roles, Household and Family Structure, Religious Affiliation

May 16, 2017 7:00 am

Today’s young workers are more likely than ever to have a bachelor’s degree

Graduates at the June 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology commencement. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
(David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As U.S. college graduates earn their bachelor’s degrees and enter the job market this month, data from the Census Bureau show that the share of college-educated young adults in today’s workforce is higher than ever before.

Four-in-ten Millennial workers ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. That compares with 32% of Generation X workers and smaller shares of the Baby Boom and Silent generations when they were in the same age range.  Read More

Topics: Education, Baby Boomers, Generations and Age, National Economy, Educational Attainment, Asian Americans, Millennials

May 15, 2017 1:15 pm

U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout

By international standards, U.S. voter turnout is low

Country % of voting-age population % of registered voters
Belgium (2014)* 87.2% 89.4%
Sweden (2014) 82.6% 85.8%
South Korea (2017) 77.9% 77.2%
Denmark (2015) 80.3% 85.9%
Australia (2016)* 79.0% 91.0%
Norway (2013) 78.0% 78.3%
Netherlands (2017) 77.3% 81.9%
Iceland (2016) 76.8% 79.2%
Israel (2015) 76.1% 72.3%
New Zealand (2014) 73.2% 77.9%
Finland (2015) 73.1% 66.9%
Italy (2013) 70.6% 72.2%
France (2017) 67.9% 74.6%
Germany (2013) 66.1% 71.5%
Mexico (2012)* 66.0% 63.1%
Austria (2013) 65.9% 74.9%
UK (2016) 65.4% 72.2%
Hungary (2014) 63.3% 61.8%
Canada (2015) 62.1% 68.3%
Greece (2015)* 62.1% 56.2%
Portugal (2015) 61.8% 55.8%
Spain (2016) 61.2% 66.5%
Czech Republic (2013) 60.0% 59.4%
Slovakia (2016) 59.4% 59.8%
Ireland (2016) 58.0% 65.1%
Estonia (2015) 56.8% 64.2%
United States (2016) 55.7% 86.8%
Luxembourg (2013)* 55.1% 91.1%
Slovenia (2014) 54.1% 51.7%
Poland (2015) 53.8% 55.3%
Japan (2014) 52.0% 52.7%
Latvia (2014) 51.7% 58.8%
Chile (2013) 50.6% 49.4%
Switzerland (2015)* 38.6% 48.4%
Turkey (2017)* NA 85.4%

Pew Research Center

About 55.7% of the U.S. voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election, according to newly released Census Bureau figures – a slight uptick compared with 2012, but less than the record year of 2008 and well below turnout levels typical in most other developed democracies.

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Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, World Elections

May 15, 2017 9:33 am

Four research highlights for 2017 from the largest U.S. demography conference

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
New research presented at the PAA conference in Chicago suggests that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gives unauthorized-immigrant college students an incentive to drop out. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

At this year’s annual meeting of the Population Association of America, the nation’s largest demography conference, researchers explored some long-studied topics from new perspectives. For example, what is the impact on educational achievement when college-age unauthorized immigrants are offered protection from deportation? With same-sex marriage on the rise, how can the U.S. Census Bureau accurately count this relatively small group? And how is fertility – that is, the number of births – affected when a city has a winning Super Bowl team?

What follows is a summary of research related to these and other questions, as presented at the PAA conference in Chicago last month. Much of the work presented is preliminary, so results may change.  Read More

Topics: Education, Immigration, Demographics, Parenthood, Birth Rate and Fertility, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

May 15, 2017 7:05 am

In Trump era, women’s views of nation’s prospects take a negative turn

Following a presidential election in which the gender gap was among the widest in recent history, women’s attitudes about prospects for the nation’s future have taken a sharply negative turn.

And the gender divide in Donald Trump’s job approval rating is larger than for most recent presidents at comparable points early in their administrations.

Men are now much more likely than women to say they have “quite a lot” of confidence in the future of the United States, according to an April survey by Pew Research Center. About half of men (53%) and just 29% of women say this.

In October 2015, comparable shares of men (47%) and women (43%) had quite a lot of confidence in the country’s future. Since then, the share of women expressing this degree of confidence has fallen 14 percentage points, while men’s views have shown less change.

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Topics: Gender, Political Attitudes and Values, Presidential Approval, Political Polarization, 2016 Election

May 12, 2017 10:00 am

How can a survey of 1,000 people tell you what the whole U.S. thinks?

Here at Pew Research Center, we are often asked about how we conduct our research. We work hard to make our methodologies transparent and understandable, but we also know that survey mode effects and data weighting aren’t on everyone’s short list of water-cooler conversation topics.

That’s why we’re launching Methods 101, a new occasional video series dedicated to explaining and educating the public about the basic methods we use to conduct our survey research. We hope this effort will make survey methods more accessible, even if you’re not a statistician or pollster. We also hope it will help give our audience the confidence to be savvy consumers of all polls.

Our first video is about random sampling, a concept that undergirds all probability-based survey research. The video explains what it means and why it’s important. We hope you’ll find it useful.

Topics: Research Methods, Telephone Survey Methods, Web Survey Methods

May 12, 2017 7:00 am

Black voter turnout fell in 2016, even as a record number of Americans cast ballots

A record 137.5 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall voter turnout – defined as the share of adult U.S. citizens who cast ballots – was 61.4% in 2016, a share similar to 2012 but below the 63.6% who say they voted in 2008.

A number of long-standing trends in presidential elections either reversed or stalled in 2016, as black voter turnout decreased, white turnout increased and the nonwhite share of the U.S. electorate remained flat since the 2012 election. Here are some key takeaways from the Census Bureau’s report, the data source with the most comprehensive demographic and statistical portrait of U.S. voters.

1The black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012. The 7-percentage-point decline from the previous presidential election is the largest on record for blacks. (It’s also the largest percentage-point decline among any racial or ethnic group since white voter turnout dropped from 70.2% in 1992 to 60.7% in 1996.) The number of black voters also declined, falling by about 765,000 to 16.4 million in 2016, representing a sharp reversal from 2012. With Barack Obama on the ballot that year, the black voter turnout rate surpassed that of whites for the first time. Among whites, the 65.3% turnout rate in 2016 represented a slight increase from 64.1% in 2012.  Read More

Topics: Voter Participation, Elections and Campaigns, Hispanic/Latino Vote, Voter Demographics, Asian Americans, 2016 Election

May 11, 2017 3:00 pm

Buying spree brings more local TV stations to fewer big companies

The local television landscape in the U.S. has undergone major changes in recent years, as a wave of consolidations and station purchases have made some broadcast media owners considerably larger. On Monday, Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the biggest owners of local TV stations, announced that it has agreed to purchase Tribune Media’s 42 stations for $3.9 billion – a deal both Nexstar and 21st Century Fox were reportedly also pursuing.

The merger would give Sinclair an even bigger presence in local TV, which continues to reach more U.S. adults than any other news platform. In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 46% of Americans said they often get news from local TV, compared with 31% for cable and 20% for print newspapers.

In 2004, the five largest companies in local TV – Sinclair, Nexstar, Gray, Tegna and Tribune – owned, operated or serviced 179 full-power stations, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission filings data. That number grew to 378 in 2014 and to 443 in 2016. If approved by regulators, Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune would bring its total to 208, by far the largest among the media companies.

As of 2016, these five companies owned an estimated 37% of all full-power local TV stations in the country, as identified in a Pew Research Center analysis of BIA Kelsey data.

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Topics: Media Ownership, Media Revenue Models, News Media Sectors, News Media Trends, Television, Media Economics, State of the News Media