Mar 25, 2014 11:45 am

Data Feed: Catholic voting, March consumer confidence, low-wage workers, geography of smoking

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

GOP, Democrats even in generic Congressional ballot, GWU Battleground Poll
Obama better at protecting environment than improving energy policy, Gallup
Catholic vote tends to track the broader electorate, The Wall Street Journal
Little relationship between public opinion, policymakers’ agendas, The Washington Post
Comparing top GOP and Democratic advertisers’ activity, The Cook Political Report
Most Americans say U.S. doesn’t have a responsibility in Ukraine, CBS News

Consumer confidence rebounds in March, The Conference Board
Millennials aren’t abandoning brick-and-mortar banks, Bankrate via Washington Post
4.3% of hourly paid workers earned federal minimum wage or less, BLS
Manufacturers ended 2013 with strong profit growth, The Wall Street Journal
Grad students driving growing student-debt burden, New America Foundation via WSJ
Are low-wage workers more likely to lose their jobs to computers? FiveThirtyEight
Who pays the most income taxes? People ages 45 and older, CNN Money
Most payday borrowers take out at least seven loans in a row, CFPB via CNN Money

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 24, 2014 11:00 am

Data Feed: GOP picked to take Senate, mortgage tax breaks favor the rich, no pay for NCAA athletes

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

U.S. whites more solidly Republican in recent years, Gallup
In N.Y., Gov. Cuomo still leads challenger Astorino, but ratings slip, topline, Siena
Americans are still unhappy with Congress, USA TODAY/Bipartisan Policy Center
GOP’s very slow shift on gay marriage, The Wall Street Journal
GOP picked as slight favorite to win control of Senate, FiveThirtyEight

San Jose, D.C. tied for highest in economic confidence, Gallup
Study: Mortgage-interest deduction mainly benefits the rich, The Wall Street Journal
CEO pay for Fortune 100 executives, Huffington Post
How unconventional monetary policy effected financial institutions, Harvard via Brookings
New model of how education affects health, and wages, NBER

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 24, 2014 9:40 am

Census Bureau explores new Middle East/North Africa ethnic category

Organizations representing people of Middle Eastern and North African descent are asking the Census Bureau to add a new ethnic category on forms. People of this heritage are now categorized as “white,” a decades-old practice advocacy groups say is inaccurate.

Arab-American Population in the U.S.The new category would be broader than the Arab ancestry data collected by the Census Bureau since 1980. The Arab-American population is small but growing, and its exact size is disputed. The Census Bureau estimates there are 1.8 million Arab-Americans in the U.S., up 51% since 2000. But the Arab American Institute Foundation estimates there are nearly 3.7 million Arab Americans living in the country. The Arab-American population is also diverse, with people claiming ties to 22 countries and various religious backgrounds.

“When immigrants come here they’re very confused by American race classifications,” said Helen Hatab Samhan, former executive director of the Arab American Institute Foundation. “They don’t necessarily relate to them, and they don’t know where they fit.”

A coalition of groups and individuals—including the Arab American Institute Foundation—sent a letter to the Census Bureau last summer that asked for a separate “Middle East/North Africa” ethnic category.

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Topics: Middle East and North Africa, U.S. Census

Mar 24, 2014 7:00 am

5 questions about the Hobby Lobby case and contraceptive coverage

Hobby Lobby is a plaintiff in a case before the Supreme Court challenging the health care law's requirement that employees' coverage include contraception services.
Credit: Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday in two related cases which involve a challenge to regulations in the Affordable Care Act that require many employers to include free coverage of contraceptive services in their employees’ health insurance plans. These cases – Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius –  should not be confused with court challenges to the contraceptive mandate by religiously affiliated nonprofits, which also may soon be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Here are five questions that explain what these cases are about and why they are important:

How did the cases arise?

The owners of both companies  are devout Christians who oppose abortion and do not want to provide their employees with emergency contraception because they believe such methods often destroy embryos. The Affordable Care Act exempts churches and provides religiously affiliated nonprofits, such as hospitals and charities, with an alternative mechanism for ensuring that their employees are covered. But those accommodations do not extend to for-profit employers who may also have religious objections to artificial birth control. The owners of a number of these businesses sued the federal government, claiming that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) entitles them to be exempted  from the mandate.  Read More

Topics: Health Care, Religion and Government

Mar 21, 2014 11:30 am

Data Feed: City/country political divide, long-term unemployment, educational inequality

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

How where we live deepens nation’s political divide, The Wall Street Journal
Americans prioritize protecting environment over economic growth, Gallup
Clinton’s top selling point in 2016: first female president, Gallup
Majority opposes employer opt-out from contraception mandate, NBC News/WSJ

Unemployment fell in most metro areas over past year, BLS
Who are the long-term unemployed and what happens to them? Brookings
Map: How much stimulus spending did your district receive?, Washington Post
Houston leads metro areas on job creation index, Gallup
Wages booming in some industries, but many workers left behind, The Wall Street Journal
It’s not just the poor who are living paycheck to paycheck, Washington Post
Veterans’ unemployment edges down but remains high, Associated Press
36% of U.S. workers have less than $1,000 in retirement savings, EBRI
Trends in economic inequality and how tax policy can reduce it, Urban Institute
Symposium on economic inequality and opportunity, American Enterprise Institute

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 21, 2014 7:00 am

Chart of the Week: Do firefighters or musicians have richer parents?


With issues of income inequality, economic mobility and overall opportunity once again part of the national discourse, it was timely of the folks at Planet Money, NPR’s economics blog, to look into the relationship between people’s current incomes and occupations and the circumstances in which they grew up — specifically, whether they grew up in rich or poor families. The result is this graph, which packs in several dimensions of socioeconomic data.

Planet Money used data from the National Longitudinal Surveys, which has been following a nationally representative sample of 12,686 men and women since 1979, when they were 14 to 22 years old. For those in 30 occupational categories (chosen because “we thought [they] would be interesting and understandable”), Planet Money plotted their current income against their median family income in 1979, adjusted for inflation.

Datapoints above the diagonal line indicate people who are now earning more than their parents; points below the line indicate people earning less. As might be expected, people in certain high-earning occupations (lawyers, scientists, financial analysts) tended to grow up in wealthier families, while people in many low-paying jobs (childcare workers, food prep, janitors and maids) grew up in poorer households.

What’s interesting, though, are the departures from that broad trend. Doctors, dentists and surgeons as a group were the highest-paid among the occupations studied, but they grew up in families just slightly above median income. Police officers and firefighters, whose childhood families were around the 45th percentile in income, now out-earn about 75% of the population. But people in artistic/creative occupations, who grew up in relatively well-off families (above the 60th percentile), now are doing considerably worse, income-wise, than their parents.

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Economics and Personal Finances, Income

Mar 20, 2014 1:58 pm

What happens to the internet after the U.S. hands off ICANN to others?

A screen shows a rolling feed of new 'Generic Top-Level Domain Names (gTLDs). (Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)
A screen shows a rolling feed of new ‘Generic Top-Level Domain Names (gTLDs). (Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)

This weekend, hundreds of people from dozens of countries will gather in Singapore to discuss the future of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a multinational organization that oversees the address book of the internet thanks to a contract issued by the U.S. government.

The contract expires in September 2015 and the U.S. Commerce Department announced last Friday that it would eventually transfer key internet “domain name functions to a global multi-stakeholder community.” Some Americans worry this will cede “control” of the internet to nations that will impose regulations that change the basic open character of the internet and make it less hospitable to American interests.

It is important to remember that no one, no government and no organization “controls the internet.” ICANN is a crucial cog in the functioning of the internet because computers (and the people who use them) cannot find each other on the internet without Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. ICANN oversees how those addresses are doled out and how they are named. No IP address; no connectivity between your computer, smartphone, or tablet and others. No IP address; no website.

It is such a huge system that the original creators of the internet in the 1970s-1980s substantially underestimated how many addresses would be needed. They built a system that allowed for about 4.3 billion addresses, and the world has been scrambling in recent years to expand to a system, called Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), that allows for roughly 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses. (Yes, that’s right.)

Top internet domainsICANN’s big job is to ensure that when users try to access a website or send an email, they end up in the right place. It is perhaps best known for coordinating the Domain Naming System (DNS), the key bits of information that fall on either side of the “dot” in a web address. It set up the nomenclature for the right side of “top level domain,” which, for most of the history of the Web consisted of a few familiar suffixes –  .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, .mil and some country-specific domains like .af for Afghanistan and .by for Belarus. A raft of new top-level domains are now being reviewed or have recently been approved, many of which are trying to tie a top-level domain to a particular topic such as .museum or .plumbing.  Read More

Topics: Future of the Internet

Mar 20, 2014 11:34 am

Data Feed: Federal drug prosecutions, American coal exports, social trust, partisan media effects

A daily roundup of fresh data from scholars, governments, think tanks, pollsters and other social science researchers.

NYC voters back Cuomo’s no-tax pre-K plan over de Blasio’s, Quinnipiac
New evidence for partisan media effects, Public Opinion Quarterly

U.K., Netherlands are top importers of U.S. coal…, The Wall Street Journal
…as more U.S. coal-fired power plants are scheduled to shut down, EIA
Which occupations have the oldest, youngest workers? BLS via DemoMemo
VCs not giving most tech startups big valuations out of the gate, The Wall Street Journal
Real spending on travel and tourism accelerated in 4Q 2013, Bureau of Economic Analysis
28% say now is a good time to find a quality job — highest in 6+ years, Gallup

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 20, 2014 9:37 am

Even before Ukraine crisis, views of Putin had grown more negative in U.S., Europe

Views of Vladimir Putin Ukraine Crimea
Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during a signing ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace. (Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin’s third term as Russia’s president had already been marked by clear signs of his intention to reassert his country as a world power before his move to annex Crimea. But whatever impact the latest events have on international opinion about Putin, views about him in the U.S. and allied countries had already turned negative compared with when he was first elected to office in 2000. Read More

Topics: Global Balance of Power, Russia

Mar 20, 2014 7:00 am

New Muslim American council aims to measure a diverse community

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations recently announced its formation, uniting 10 major American Muslim groups and aiming to “serve as a representative voice” for the population of about 2.75 million — a community that Pew Research surveys have found to be diverse in many ways, whether by racial or ethnic identity or political ideology.

At a March 12 news conference in Washington, secretary general Oussama Jammal said the new group’s first project will be to gather information about the community before the 2016 election by conducting what he called a census, with the goal to “build up Muslims’ citizenship rights” and “create a database that will be used to enhance political participation in upcoming elections,” Jammal said. Read More