Mar 26, 2014 11:44 am

Data Feed: State of the news media, voters attracted to pot measures, returns on a college education

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

Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of Ukraine crisis, CBS News
Seniors have realigned with the Republican party, Gallup
Virginia voters give McAuliffe ‘OK’ grades, support minimum wage hike, Quinnipiac
Voters more likely to turn out if pot legalization is on the ballot, GWU via National Journal
Independent voters looking more like Republicans again, Rothenberg Political Report
Two years before 2016 primaries, Clinton polling like an incumbent, FiveThirtyEight

One-third of mobile phone owners used mobile banking in past year, Federal Reserve
Renting most expensive in Hawaii, D.C., CaliforniaNLIHC via Washington Post
Young adults have held an average of 6.2 jobs by age 26, BLS
In 2013, average personal income growth slowed in every state, BEA
State and local government tax revenue for 3Q, 4Q 2013, Census Bureau
Unemployment rate for veterans edges down in 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics
New residential sales data in February, Census Bureau/HUD
High prices partly to blame for slow new home sales, The Wall Street Journal
Colleges with best returns on investment, methods, Payscale via FiveThirtyEight
Top incomes can be fleeting, CNN Money
Do big banks have lower operating costs? Economic Policy Review, New York Fed
Who benefits when the government pays more in Medicare? NBER

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Category: Data Feed

Mar 26, 2014 9:00 am

5 facts about the news business today

The last year has brought a great deal of momentum and energy to the news media industry, giving rise to new hope and optimism. But these new developments have not yet shown they can offset the underlying problems that have afflicted the news business. Here are five key findings from our latest State of the News Media report about the good news – and the bad news – about the news:

1The explosive growth over the last year at digital native sites includes a wealth of top-name journalists, but the biggest group of journalists – some 38,000 – are still employed by the newspaper industry, and their ranks have decreased dramatically in the last several years.

  • 5,000: Number of full-time editorial  jobs at nearly 500 digital news outlets.
  • 16,200: Number of full-time editorial newspaper jobs lost from 2003-2012. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: State of the News Media

Mar 26, 2014 7:30 am

Kaiser poll: Many Americans were unaware of health care law deadline

With a Monday deadline looming for uninsured Americans to sign up for health care coverage, the Obama administration yesterday announced it would give more time to those who had tried to enroll in a plan through the federal insurance marketplace, but were unable to complete the process. However, many uninsured had not known the deadline was upon them and about half said they would remain uninsured, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll conducted March 11-17.

Under the health care law, those who do not obtain coverage for 2014 face financial penalties of up to 1 percent of their yearly household income, or $95 a person, whichever amount is higher, although even before the deadline extension was announced, there was an array of exemptions for hardships and other reasons.

While most Americans know that the law includes fines for those who do not buy coverage, Kaiser found that just 39% of the uninsured were aware of the Monday deadline. About four-in-ten (43%) said they didn’t know the deadline (or refused to answer), 13% believed it was sometime after March and 5% were under the impression it had already passed.

Uninsured unaware of ACA sign-up deadline

When those surveyed were reminded that they could be fined for not obtaining coverage, half said they would remain uninsured while 40% said they intended to get coverage.

About two-thirds (67%) of the uninsured said they have not tried to get insurance for themselves in the last six months compared with 33% who said they did.

The requirement to obtain coverage or be fined remains an unpopular element of the law: 64% of the public has a somewhat or very unfavorable view of it compared with 35% who see it positively.

Kaiser found the public’s view of the law overall remained negative, but reported the gap has narrowed to 8 points, compared with a recent high of 16 points in November and January. Currently, 46% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law compared with 38% who see it positively. A Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 27-March 16 found the public disapproved of the law by a 53% to 41% margin.

One other finding from Kaiser: Many Americans appear to be getting tired of the debate over the law four years after its enactment. Just over half (53%) expressed that view and said they wanted the country to move on to other issues while 42% believed it was important for the debate to continue.

Topics: Health Care

Mar 25, 2014 1:14 pm

After Hobby Lobby, a nonprofit legal challenge to the contraception requirement

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases involving for-profit business owners’ objections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. But depending on the outcome of these cases – Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius – the high court could end up considering the same issue again, this time in a challenge brought by religiously affiliated nonprofits. Indeed, the Supreme Court already has intervened; it recently delayed the enforcement of the mandate until the case involving nonprofits is resolved.

The new health care law requires most employers who provide health insurance to offer free contraceptive services to female employees. Houses of worship, as well as other religious organizations whose primary purpose is promotion of the faith (such as missionary groups), have always been exempted from the requirement.

Originally, the law treated religiously affiliated nonprofits (such as hospitals, schools and charities) the same way as for-profit businesses and other employers. But on Feb. 1, 2013, the Obama administration revised the regulations, allowing those organizations to opt out and have their insurance companies offer female employees a separate policy that provides free contraceptives.  Read More

Topics: Church-State Law, Health Care

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

Read More

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.

Read More

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

Read More

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