Nov 17, 2014 12:12 pm

Where near-minimum-wage workers work, and how much they make

As Fact Tank noted earlier this month, about 20.6 million people — 30% of all hourly, non-self-employed workers 18 and older — are what we call “near-minimum-wage workers,” meaning they earn more than the current minimum wage (either the federal $7.25-an-hour minimum or a higher state minimum) but less than the $10.10 hourly rate that emerged over the past year as a consensus goal of many Democrats and labor groups.

We first explored the demographics of this group by workers’ age, sex and race. But we also wondered what jobs they held and how much they earned, so we took another run through the public-use microdata from the 2013 Current Population Survey.

restaurant workers most near minimum wageAs you might have guessed, the restaurant and food service industry is the single biggest employer of near-minimum workers. Last year, according to our analysis, that industry employed 3.75 million near-minimum workers, about 18% of the total. Many of those workers, presumably, are tipped, so their actual gross pay may be above $10.10 an hour. (Federal law, as well as wage laws in many states, allow tipped employees to be paid less as long as “tip credits” bring their pay up to at least the applicable minimum.) Read More

Topics: National Economy

Nov 17, 2014 7:00 am

The up and down seasons of political campaign work

Political Organizations, Election Cycle

As an industry, political organizations – comprising political action committees (PACs) and campaign organizations, among other political clubs – take their cues not from stock markets, but from the quadrennial election cycle. They emerge like pop-up shops ahead of Election Day, and are hastily disassembled shortly thereafter.

We were curious whether, as an industry, political organizations have been growing — in terms of wages and sheer numbers. It turns out, there’s been a steady increase in both. Read More

Topics: Business and Labor, Elections and Campaigns

Nov 14, 2014 1:36 pm

Obama’s expected immigration action: How many would be affected?

UPDATE: The details of President Obama’s executive action on immigration were revealed on November 20, 2014. Read this post for to see who will be eligible for deportation relief under the new programs.

Millions of unauthorized immigrants could receive relief from deportation under an executive action that President Obama will announce as early as next week, according to news reports. The decision is expected to affect immigrants who have already been living in the country for a long period of time and is aimed at families in which some members are U.S. citizens and others are not.

Obama’s expected immigration order: How many would be affected?If it happens, it would be the most significant protection offered to unauthorized immigrants since 1986, when Congress passed a major immigration bill that allowed about 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants to obtain a green card, with many ultimately gaining U.S. citizenship. Currently, an estimated 1 million unauthorized immigrants have temporary relief from deportation through either the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or having Temporary Protected Status.

While details of the president’s new policy are not known, news reports have noted some possible actions. How would the numbers break down? Here are Pew Research Center’s estimates on how many of the nation’s estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants may be affected, based on news reports of the Obama administration’s plans:

  • One proposal mentioned is to extend deportation relief to unauthorized immigrants who are parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. The plan could offer immigration relief to either those who have lived in the country at least five years or those who have lived in the country a decade or more, news reports said. There are about 2.8 million unauthorized adults with U.S.-born children currently living with them at home who have lived in the country 10 years or more but don’t have protection from deportation, according to Pew Research Center estimates. If the executive action affects those who have lived in the country for only 5 years or more, an additional 700,000 immigrants could receive protection, for a total of 3.5 million, according to our estimates.
  • The plan may also include deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as children. Among only those under 18, there are 650,000 unauthorized immigrant children who currently don’t have protection from deportation.

Read More

Topics: Barack Obama, Hispanic/Latino Demographics, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Nov 14, 2014 10:00 am

Why has Pentecostalism grown so dramatically in Latin America?

Tens of millions of Latin Americans have left the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades and embraced Pentecostal Christianity.
(Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)

Tens of millions of Latin Americans have left the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades and embraced Pentecostal Christianity, according to a new Pew Research Center survey on religion in 18 Latin American countries and Puerto Rico. Indeed, nearly one-in-five Latin Americans now describe themselves as Protestant, and across the countries surveyed majorities of them self-identify as Pentecostal or belong to a Pentecostal denomination. Pentecostals share many beliefs with other evangelical Protestants, but they put more emphasis on the “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” such as speaking in tongues, faith healing and prophesying.

With nearly 300 million followers worldwide, including many in Africa and Latin America, Pentecostalism is now a global phenomenon. But present day Pentecostalism traces its origins to a religious revival movement that began in the early 20th century.

We asked Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, to discuss how and why Pentecostalism has grown so dramatically in Latin America in recent years. The interview has been edited for clarity and condensed.

Why have we seen this shift in Latin America in recent decades away from Roman Catholicism and toward Pentecostal Protestantism? Read More

Topics: Latin America, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religiously Unaffiliated

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 21% 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