Jan 10, 2019 12:00 pm

Organic farming is on the rise in the U.S.

A worker picks organically grown tomatoes at a farm in Shaftsbury, Vermont. (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

There were more than 14,000 certified organic farms in the United States in 2016, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This represents a 56% increase from 2011, the earliest comparable year. And while California remains king when it comes to the number of organic farms, several other states saw dramatic growth in organic farming over this time, particularly in the South.

As the number of organic farms has increased, so too have sales of certified organic products: U.S. farms and ranches sold nearly $7.6 billion in certified organic goods in 2016, more than double the $3.5 billion in sales in 2011.

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Topics: Health, Business and Labor, Science and Innovation, Economic and Business News

Jan 9, 2019 11:02 am

The data casualties of the federal government shutdown

The ongoing shutdown of large parts of the federal government – now at 18 days and counting – has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers either furloughed or working without pay indefinitely, reduced staffing at national parks to skeleton levels, and closed down popular museums. It’s also squeezed the daily flood of data from federal agencies down to a trickle, affecting everyone from investors and farmers to researchers and journalists.

Figuring out which of the government’s data streams will continue to flow and which have been stoppered is complicated, not least because some agencies were fully funded before last month’s budget negotiations reached a stalemate, and thus have been able to keep operating. Here’s a look at what data are and are not available during the shutdown, from what we’ve been able to find out via agency release schedules and planning documents, third-party calendars, and our own reporting. Bear in mind that, based on past experience, scheduled data releases may be delayed because of information-gathering backlogs even after the budget impasse is resolved and agencies fully reopen.  Read More

Topics: Government Spending and the Deficit, Federal Government

Jan 4, 2019 7:36 am

More Americans are using ride-hailing apps

A traveler waits to be picked up by a ride-hailing service at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Share of Americans who have used ride-hailing services has more than doubled since 2015The share of Americans who use ride-hailing services has increased dramatically. Today, 36% of U.S. adults say they have ever used a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in fall 2018. By comparison, just 15% of Americans said they had used these services in late 2015, and one-third had never heard of ride-hailing before.

Ride-hailing has become more common across most demographic groupsRide-hailing use has increased across most demographic groups, but adoption figures continue to vary by age, educational attainment and income level. For example, roughly half of Americans ages 18 to 29 (51%) say they have used a ride-hailing service, compared with 24% of those ages 50 and older. Those whose annual household income is $75,000 or more are roughly twice as likely as those earning less than $30,000 to have used these services (53% vs. 24%). And over half of adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree (55%) say they have used these services, compared with 20% of those who have a high school diploma or less.

Ridership also varies substantially in different types of communities. While 45% of urban residents and 40% of suburban residents have used a ride-hailing app, only 19% of Americans living in rural areas have done so. (This survey categorized Americans as urban, suburban or rural based on their own description of their community type.)

Wide urban-rural gaps in ride-hailing among younger, more affluent adultsNotably, adoption gaps between urban and rural Americans are present even within groups that collectively use ride-hailing services at high rates. For example, among Americans who earn $75,000 or more annually, urban residents are more than twice as likely to have used these services as high-income individuals living in rural communities (71% vs. 32%). Substantial urban-rural differences also exist among Americans with a college degree and among those ages 18 to 29.

These differences could be related to the fact that ride-hailing services are less widespread in rural areas. This survey did not specifically ask if people knew whether ride-hailing services were available in their community, but a separate Center survey conducted earlier this year found that rural residents were significantly more likely than those living in other areas to say access to public transportation is a major problem where they live.

Ride-hailing companies have made efforts to expand their services to rural and remote areas. But lower population density, long travel distance and relatively low incentives for drivers are often cited as potential hurdles.

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Topics: Technology Adoption

Jan 3, 2019 1:15 pm

5 facts about crime in the U.S.

Donald Trump made fighting crime a central focus of his campaign for president, and he cited it again during his January 2017 inaugural address. His administration has since taken steps intended to address crime in American communities, such as instructing federal prosecutors to pursue the strongest possible charges against criminal suspects. Here are five facts about crime in the United States.

1Violent crime in the U.S. has fallen sharply over the past quarter century. The two most commonly cited sources of crime statistics in the U.S. both show a substantial decline in the violent crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. One is an annual report by the FBI of serious crimes reported to police in approximately 18,000 jurisdictions around the country. The other is an annual survey of more than 90,000 households conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which asks Americans ages 12 and older whether they were victims of crime, regardless of whether they reported those crimes to the police.

Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 49% between 1993 and 2017. Using the BJS data, the rate fell 74% during that span. (For both studies, 2017 is the most recent full year of data.) The long-term decline in violent crime hasn’t been uninterrupted, though. The FBI, for instance, reported increases in the violent crime rate between 2004 and 2006 and again between 2014 and 2016.

Crime rates have fallen since the early 1990s

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Topics: Criminal Justice, Violence and Society

Jan 3, 2019 12:15 pm

5 facts about the religious makeup of the 116th Congress

The new Congress is slightly more religiously diverse than its predecessor, but it remains overwhelmingly Christian, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of congressional data collected by CQ Roll Call.

For the first day of the 116th Congress, here are five facts about the religious affiliation of members of Congress:

1The religious composition of the new Congress is very different from that of the U.S. adult population. While the number of self-identified Christians in Congress has ticked down slightly, Christians as a whole – and especially Protestants and Catholics – are still overrepresented in proportion to their share in the general public. But by far, the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share of people who are unaffiliated with a religious group. In the general public, 23% say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” In Congress, just one person says she is religiously unaffiliated – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was recently elected to the Senate after three terms in the House.

The religious makeup of the 116th Congress

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Topics: Congress, Federal Government, Religious Affiliation

Jan 2, 2019 11:01 am

Once the same nation, the Czech Republic and Slovakia look very different religiously

Altar boys prepare for Sunday Mass at a Catholic church in Strba, Slovakia. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

On Jan. 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, an event sometimes called the “Velvet Divorce.” But despite having been one nation for roughly 75 years, the two countries have very different religious profiles, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

Czechs are less religious than SlovaksWhile Slovakia is majority Catholic (63%), around seven-in-ten Czechs (72%) are religiously unaffiliated – the highest share of unaffiliated adults in 34 European countries surveyed by the Center. In addition, far more people in Slovakia than in the Czech Republic say they believe in God (69% and 29%, respectively).

The Czech Republic’s largely secular religious landscape is a result of dramatic declines over time in the share of adults who identify as Catholic. In a survey conducted in 1991 by the Times Mirror Center for the People & Press, Pew Research Center’s predecessor organization, 44% of Czech speakers in Czechoslovakia identified as Catholic. Around half that many (21%) identify as Catholic in the Czech Republic today.  Read More

Topics: Eastern Europe, Catholics and Catholicism, Religiously Unaffiliated, Religious Affiliation, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Europe

Dec 27, 2018 10:00 am

7 facts about guns in the U.S.

A customer shops for a handgun at a gun store in Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Guns are deeply ingrained in American society. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, and around three-in-ten American adults personally own a gun. Most of these gun owners say the right to own firearms is essential to their own personal sense of freedom.

At the same time, gun violence – from big-city murders to mass shootings – has spurred debate in Congress and state legislatures over proposals to limit Americans’ access to firearms. Counting murders and suicides, nearly 40,000 people died of gun-related violence in the United States in 2017, the highest annual total in decades.

Here are seven key findings about Americans’ experiences with and attitudes toward guns, drawn from recent Pew Research Center surveys and other data sources.

1Three-in-ten American adults (30%) say they personally own a gun, and an additional 11% say they live with someone who does, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April 2017. Whether or not they personally own a gun, Americans have broad exposure to firearms: Nearly half of U.S. adults (48%) grew up in a household with guns, nearly six-in-ten (59%) have friends who own guns and around seven-in-ten (72%) have fired a gun at some point in their lives – including 55% of those who have never personally owned a gun.

Among Americans who own a gun, nearly two-thirds (66%) say they own more than one, including 29% who own five or more. A large majority of gun owners (72%) own a handgun or pistol, while 62% own a rifle and 54% own a shotgun. About three-quarters of gun owners (73%) say they could never see themselves not owning a gun.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Gun Policy, Social Values, Violence and Society

Dec 19, 2018 7:00 am

5 facts about Catholics in Europe

Catholics participate in a 2018 religious procession in Poland. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

While much of the global Catholic population has shifted to Latin America, Africa and Asia, the Catholic Church remains closely tied to Europe. The church is headquartered in Rome’s Vatican City (itself a European state) and a plurality of the institution’s cardinals (42%) still hail from Europe. Furthermore, Catholics are the largest religious group in many of the continent’s most populous countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, according to an analysis of recent Pew Research Center surveys in 34 European countries.

Here are five facts about Catholics in Europe:

1Europe was once home to most of the world’s Catholics, but that is no longer the case. In 1910, 65% of all Catholics lived on the continent. But a century later, in 2010, the share of the world’s Catholics living in Europe dropped to 24%. Latin America now hosts more Catholics (39%) than Europe or any other region, with sizable shares also in sub-Saharan Africa (16%) and the Asia-Pacific region (12%).

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Topics: Catholics and Catholicism, Christians and Christianity, Religious Affiliation, Europe

Dec 18, 2018 9:00 am

A record number of women will be serving in the new Congress

When the 116th Congress convenes next month, women will make up nearly a quarter of its voting membership – the highest percentage in U.S. history, and a considerable increase from where things stood not too long ago.

The 116th Congress represents the biggest jump in women members since the 1990sA record 102 women will serve in the incoming House of Representatives, comprising 23.4% of the chamber’s voting members. More than a third of those women (35) won their seats for the first time in last month’s midterms. (In addition, four of six nonvoting House members, who represent the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, are women.) And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is poised to reclaim the House speaker’s gavel she last held from 2007 to 2011.

The midterms also sent five new women to the Senate, more than making up for the two female senators who lost their re-election bids. And Arizona Republican Martha McSally, who lost a close Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, got there anyway: She was appointed to fill the seat of Sen. Jon Kyl, who is retiring at the end of the year. All told, 25 women will be serving in the new Senate.

Women have been in Congress for more than a century. The first, Republican Jeannette Rankin of Montana, was elected to the House in 1916, two years after her state gave women the vote. But it’s only been in the past few decades that women have served in substantial numbers. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the 325 women elected to the House since Rankin’s time (including the incoming new members) have been elected since 1992, and nearly half (48%) since 1998.

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Topics: Congress, Federal Government, Gender, U.S. Political Figures

Dec 17, 2018 7:01 am

International relations experts and U.S. public agree: America is less respected globally

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin. International relations scholars and the American public agree the world’s respect for the U.S. has declined. (Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

International relations experts at American colleges and universities overwhelmingly say the United States is less respected by other countries today than it was in the past – and the U.S. public agrees with this assessment, though to a lesser extent.

Among the foreign affairs experts, 93% say the U.S. is less respected by other countries today compared with the past, according to a survey of international relations (IR) scholars conducted in October 2018 by the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) Project at the College of William and Mary. The poll included 1,157 respondents who are employed at a U.S. college or university in a political science department or professional school and who teach or conduct research on international issues. Only 4% of these experts believe the U.S. is as respected as in the past, with a mere 2% saying the U.S. gets more respect from abroad than it has previously received.

Most IR experts and American public think U.S. less respected today than in the past, declining status a major problemThe American public also has seen a decline in other countries’ respect for the U.S., though it is less unified than IR experts in its assessment, according to a separate survey of 1,504 adults conducted in October 2017 by Pew Research Center. Roughly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) said the U.S. is less respected by other countries today compared with the past. About two-in-ten (17%) thought America had maintained its global level of respect, while 13% said the U.S. is more respected. It should be noted, however, that a majority of the American public has expressed belief that the U.S. is less respected every time the question has been asked since 2004, ranging from a low of 56% to a high of 71% holding this opinion.

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Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Country Image, North America