Americans owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loans at the end of June, more than two and a half times what they owed a decade earlier. The increase has come as historically high shares of young adults in the United States go to college and the cost of higher education increases.
Here are five facts about student loans in America, based on a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released data from the Federal Reserve Board’s 2016 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking:
1About four-in-ten adults under age 30 have student loan debt. Among adults ages 18 to 29, 37% say they have outstanding student loans for their own education. (This includes those with loans currently in deferment or forbearance, but excludes credit card debt and home and other loans taken out for education.) Looking only at young adults with a bachelor’s degree or more education, the share with outstanding student debt rises to 53%.
Student debt is less common among older age groups. Roughly one-in-five adults ages 30 to 44 (22%) have student loan debt, as do 4% of those 45 and older.
While age differences may partly reflect the fact that older adults have had more time to repay their loans, other research has found that young adults are also more likely now than in the past to take out loans to pay for their education. About two-thirds of college seniors ages 18 to 24 took out loans for their education in the 2011-2012 school year, up from about half in the 1989-1990 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In an April Pew Research Center survey, two-thirds of U.S. adults (67%) said serving on a jury “is part of what it means to be a good citizen.” Just 31% took the opposite view and said jury duty service “does not have much to do with being a good citizen.”
Majorities in most demographic groups connect jury duty service with good citizenship, but younger people, racial and ethnic minorities and those without a college education are less likely to do so.
For example, only half of those ages 18 to 29 say jury service is part of being a good citizen, compared with seven-in-ten or more in older age groups. Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than whites to see jury duty as a part of good citizenship, as are those with a high school diploma or less when compared with people with at least some college education.
The U.S. and China engender roughly the same level of goodwill. China is particularly well-liked in Latin America and the Middle East, while the U.S. fares better in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
However, America’s weakening image in many nations has taken a toll on the country’s once-solid lead over China. And China’s own favorability has strengthened in recent years in Canada, Australia, Lebanon and Turkey.
Since the most recent year Pew Research Center polled in 36 nations – 2014, 2015 or 2016, depending on the country – the number of nations in which the U.S. holds a competitive advantage in favorability over China has halved, from 25 to 12. (Differences of less than 6 percentage points are considered ties.) Whereas the U.S. once had a 12-point lead over China in terms of a global median, that lead has shrunk in 2017 to 2 points.
In six nations – Spain, Mexico, Turkey, Australia, Peru and Senegal – the dynamic between the two superpowers has flipped, with China overtaking the U.S. in favorability.
The number of active-duty U.S. military troops stationed overseas has dipped below 200,000 for the first time in at least 60 years. The decline, reflecting a broader one in active-duty U.S. forces, has occurred in multiple countries – including South Korea, which has become a focus of attention amid escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.
There were around 1.3 million total active-duty U.S. military personnel in 2016. Of these, 193,442 – or 15% – were deployed overseas. That’s the smallest number and share of active-duty members overseas since at least 1957, the earliest year with comparable data, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of information from the Defense Manpower Data Center, a statistical arm of the Department of Defense.
The most liberal and conservative members of the 115th Congress have attracted more Facebook followers than moderates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
In both legislative chambers, members’ ideology is a strong predictor of the number of people who follow them on Facebook. The most liberal and most conservative House members had a median of 14,361 followers as of July 25, compared with 9,017 followers for those in the middle of the ideological spectrum. The median number of followers for the Senate’s most liberal and conservative lawmakers was 78,360, while moderates had 32,626. (These figures reflect each member’s total number of followers since the creation of their official Facebook page, not the number gained since the 115th Congress began.)
The Center’s analysis determines each lawmaker’s ideology based on a score calculated through their congressional roll call votes. This widely employed measure, created by two political scientists in the 1980s, assigns each member a score that falls between -1 (most liberal) and +1 (most conservative).
The most ideological lawmakers in this analysis are defined as the 10% whose scores are farthest from zero, whether liberal or conservative, while the most moderate members are defined as those in the 10% closest to zero, again regardless of political leaning. The analysis only evaluates the number of followers for members’ official profile pages; it does not examine the number of followers for members’ campaign or unofficial Facebook pages, nor does it evaluate their Facebook posts. Following a member’s page translates into more exposure to that lawmaker’s messaging, as it increases the likelihood that the content shared by that member appears in a user’s Facebook feed.
Since 2002, Pew Research Center has conducted more than 500,000 interviews with people in 64 countries to learn their views about international and domestic politics, economics and other front-burner topics. Our newly updated Global Indicators Database serves as an interactive repository of these findings. You can use the database to explore public opinion around the world on issues that interest you by country, region and subject area.
Here are six noteworthy trends in global public opinion, drawn from the database:
1Views of the economy have rebounded in several large and economically powerful countries. In 2009, during the Great Recession, just 10% of Japanese, 17% of Americans and 28% of Germans rated their country’s current economic situation as good. By 2017, these shares had increased by at least 30 percentage points in each country, including a 58-point jump in Germany, where 86% of the public now describes the nation’s economy as good.
Favorable perceptions of the economy have also risen sharply in India, from 57% in 2013 (the earliest year for which data are available) to 83% today. In some other large countries, opinions have moved in the opposite direction. In Brazil, which has struggled with political and economic crises, just 15% of the public now rates the economy as good, down from 62% in 2010.
Congress and the White House have until the end of September to raise the national debt limit before the federal government is faced with the prospect of either not paying its bondholders on time or deferring other bills. Here’s a primer on the U.S. national debt, the debt limit and interest payments on the nation’s credit line:
1As of July 31, the federal government’s total debt stands at $19.845 trillion, according to the Treasury Department’s monthly reckoning. Nearly all of it is subject to the statutory debt ceiling, which is currently set at just under $19.809 trillion. As a result, as of the end of July there was just $25 million in unused debt capacity remaining.
2The nation’s debt is now bigger than its gross domestic product, which was an estimated $19.23 trillion in the second quarter. Debt as a share of GDP rose steeply during and after the 2008 financial crisis. Since 2013 it has equaled or exceeded GDP, which had not been seen since the end of World War II.
3Though U.S. government debt is perhaps the most widely held class of security in the world, as of the end of July 27.6% of the debt (about $5.48 trillion) is owed to another arm of the federal government itself. The single biggest creditors, in fact, are Social Security’s two trust funds, which together held more than $2.9 trillion in special non-traded Treasury securities, or 14.7% of the total debt. (Social Security revenues exceeded benefit payments for many years; the surplus was required by law to be invested in Treasuries.) Another big holder: the Federal Reserve system, which as of early August collectively held nearly $2.5 trillion worth of Treasuries, or 12.4% of the total debt. (The Fed’s holdings are included in the “debt held by public” category.)
Category: 5 Facts
The U.S. Constitution never explicitly mentions God or the divine, but the same cannot be said of the nation’s state constitutions. In fact, God or the divine is mentioned at least once in each of the 50 state constitutions and nearly 200 times overall, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
All but four state constitutions – those in Colorado, Iowa, Hawaii and Washington – use the word “God” at least once. The constitutions in Colorado, Iowa and Washington refer to a “Supreme Being” or “Supreme Ruler of the Universe,” while Hawaii’s constitution makes reference to the divine only in its preamble, which states that the people of Hawaii are “grateful for Divine Guidance.”
Most state constitutions – 34 – refer to God more than once. Of the 116 times the word appears in state constitutions, eight are in the Massachusetts constitution, and New Hampshire and Vermont have six references each. Perhaps surprisingly, all three of these states are among the least religious in the country, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center analysis.
U.S. employers planned to pay high-skilled foreign workers with H-1B visas a median salary of $80,000 a year in fiscal year 2016, up from about $69,000 a decade earlier, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data.
This is the first time the U.S. government has made salary information about H-1B applicants publicly available. Most H-1B applicants get approved for visas, so the data provide a window into the salaries of high-skilled foreign workers employed in the United States.
The 2016 median salary reported for H-1B visa applicants was higher than the median salary paid to some U.S. workers in similar high-skill occupations. For example, U.S. workers in computer and mathematical occupations had a median salary of $75,036 in fiscal 2016, a slight increase from 2007, when the median salary was $73,979 (adjusted to 2016 dollars), according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on all U.S. workers. The majority (60%) of all H-1B applicants from fiscal 2007 to 2016 were seeking employment in computer and mathematical occupations.
The H-1B visa program is the primary way employers in the U.S. hire high-skilled foreign workers. The program allows employers to hire foreigners to work for up to six years in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge, and workers’ employment may be extended if they have green card applications pending. To participate, employers first submit applications to the U.S. Department of Labor attesting that no U.S. citizen worker would be displaced by the prospective foreign worker. The application is then reviewed by USCIS before the State Department interviews the foreign worker and issues the visa.
Muslims account for only about 1% of the U.S. population, which makes it tricky for polling organizations like Pew Research Center to survey them. Adding to the challenge, most U.S. Muslims are immigrants, some of whom may not feel comfortable discussing their religion in English on the phone with strangers.
In this short video, Pew Research Center researchers explain how they overcame these obstacles to produce the Center’s wide-ranging new survey of 1,001 American Muslims. The survey, fielded from January to May, finds that U.S. Muslims are generally happy with many aspects of their lives in the United States, even as they perceive substantial discrimination against them.