The digital news industry in the United States is facing a complex future. On one hand, a steadily growing portion of Americans are getting news through the internet, many U.S. adults get news on social media, and employment at digital-native outlets has increased. On the other, digital news has not been immune to issues affecting the broader media environment, including layoffs, made-up news and public distrust.
As digital journalists gather for the Online News Association’s annual conference this week in New Orleans, here are some key findings about the way Americans get news online – as well as how digital newsrooms in the U.S. are faring, compiled from recent Pew Research Center surveys and analyses.
1The share of Americans who prefer to get their news online is growing. In 2018, 34% of U.S. adults said they preferred to get news online, whether through websites, apps or social media. That’s compared with 28% in 2016. (Television remains the most popular source of news, with 44% of Americans citing a preference for TV.) Read More →
Today’s active duty military is smaller and more racially and ethnically diverse than in previous generations. The gender dynamics also have changed over the course of the past 50 years, with more women serving in the military – and as ranking officers – in 2017 than ever before.
The overall size of the U.S. military has been on a downward trajectory for several decades. Some of the declines in military participation that followed the Cold War and Gulf War were halted with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Later, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan increased the overall size of the military.
Millennials have often led older Americans in their adoption and use of technology, and this largely holds true today. But there has been significant growth in tech adoption since 2012 among older generations – particularly Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
More than nine-in-ten Millennials (93% of those who turn ages 23 to 38 this year) own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers (those ages 39 to 54 this year), 68% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73) and 40% of the Silent Generation (74 to 91), according to a new analysis of a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in early 2019.
Similarly, the vast majority of Millennials (86%) say they use social media, compared with smaller shares among older generations. While the share of Millennials who say they use social media has remained largely unchanged since 2012, the shares of Gen Xers, Boomers and Silents who use social media all have increased by at least 10 percentage points during this period.
The deep differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the federal government go beyond policy. Partisans have markedly different levels of confidence when it comes to the type of personnel who hold government jobs – presidential appointees or career employees.
Six-in-ten Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence that officials appointed by a president to oversee government agencies will act in the best interest of the public, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in late 2018. A smaller share of Republicans (48%) express a great deal or fair amount of confidence that career government employees who are not presidentially appointed will act in the public’s best interest.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, by contrast, are much more likely to say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in career employees at government agencies than in presidentially appointed officials (71% vs. 28%).
As the experiences of people who don’t identify as a man or a woman have gained attention, a majority of Americans say they have heard at least a little about the use of gender-neutral pronouns. And about one-in-five (18%) say they personally know someone who goes by such pronouns.
There is a partisan gap in the United States over how much the federal government should spend for scientific research.
Overall, about half of U.S. adults (52%) say they would increase federal spending for scientific research, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March, up 15 percentage points since 2013. Just 14% say scientific research funding should be decreased, while roughly three-in-ten (31%) think it should stay the same.
But Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support increased spending for scientific research. Around six-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (62%) favor this now, up from 46% in 2013. Four-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners support increased spending for scientific research today, up from 25% six years ago.
How many U.S. adults use the internet? This might seem like a straightforward question, with a straightforward way to find out: Just ask. Indeed, there is a lot of information available from large, high response rate federal surveys as well as from surveys conducted by Pew Research Center and other organizations. However, these different sources of information measure internet use in ways that can be tricky to reconcile. Depending on the source, the estimated share of Americans who were online as of 2017 and 2018 is as low as 79% or as high as 89%.
Pew Research Center has been tracking Americans’ internet behavior for years, all the while focusing on personal use from any location. While our approach has evolved over time, the current measurement consists of two questions: “Do you use the internet or email, at least occasionally?” and “Do you access the internet on a cellphone, tablet or other mobile handheld device, at least occasionally?” In a January 2018 phone survey, 89% of U.S. adults said “yes” to at least one of these questions.
As the debate over abortion continues, here are five key facts about Americans’ views on the topic, based on recent Pew Research Center polling:
1About six-in-ten U.S. adults (61%) said in a 2019 survey that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 38% who said it should be illegal all or most of the time. On both sides of the issue, Americans are more likely than not to leave room for exceptions, with more saying abortion should be legal or illegal most of the time, rather than always. Public support for legal abortion remains as high as it has been in two decades of polling, and there is virtually no difference between the views of men and women.
More than 157 million Americans are part of the U.S. workforce, and many of them (but not all) will spend the Labor Day holiday weekend away from their desks, assembly lines and checkout counters. As we mark the day, here’s what we know about who American workers are, what they do and the U.S. working environment in general.
1Over the past 35 years, the share of American workers who belong to labor unions has fallen by about half. Union membership peaked in 1954 at nearly 35% of all U.S. workers (excluding the self-employed), but in 2018 the unionization rate was just 10.5%. (The share of workers represented by unions is a bit higher, 11.7%, because about 1.6 million workers who aren’t union members are in jobs covered by a union contract.) The actual number of union members was 14.7 million last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2012, union membership hit its lowest point since the current data series began in the early 1980s, falling below 14.4 million, before turning modestly upward.
The industry with the biggest decline in the rate of union representation from 2000 to 2018 was transportation and material moving, from 21.7% to 14.5%. This industry includes a wide swath of occupations – from air traffic controllers to bus drivers to flight attendants. Unionization rates actually have risen, albeit slightly and from low bases, in a few occupational groups: In legal occupations, for instance, the unionization rate rose from 5.1% in 2000 to 5.9% last year.
In a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 51% of Americans said the decline in unionization has been mostly bad for working people, while 35% regarded it as mostly good. More recently, 45% of respondents in a July 2019 survey said labor unions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country; 28% described their impact as negative.
The share of Americans calling global climate change a major threat to the well-being of the United States has grown from 40% in 2013 to 57% this year, Pew Research Center surveys have shown. But the rise in concern has largely come from Democrats. Opinions among Republicans on this issue remain largely unchanged.
Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overall, 84% say climate change is a major threat to the country’s well-being as of July 2019, up from 58% in a March 2013 survey. Views among Republicans and Republican leaners have stayed about the same (27% in 2019 vs. 22% in 2013).
Nearly all liberal Democrats (94%, including independents who lean to the party) consider climate change a major threat to the nation now, up 30 percentage points from 2013. Three-quarters of moderate/conservative Democrats say the same, up from 54% in 2013.
By contrast, there has been no significant change among either moderate or conservative Republicans on this issue. (While the share of moderate/liberal Republicans who see climate change as a major threat is up 9 percentage points since 2013, this change is not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.)
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.