Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

October 4, 2014 12:00 PM

State of the Nation

In early September the NBC/WSJ poll found that 67% of us think the country is on the wrong track. At mid-month, the CBS/NYT survey found 66% saying the country is on the wrong track.

76% are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States. 23% are satisfied. [Gallup 9/14]

Americans are split evenly, 39% to 40%, as to whether they trust the Democrats or the Republicans more in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years. [WP/ABC 9/14]

As of 2010, “One in four women (24.3%) and one in seven men (13.8%) age 18 and older in the United States have been the victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” (Black et al, 2011)

13,079 U.S. women experience domestic violence every day, and nearly 1 in 3 women have been physically abused. [Time 9/22/14]

The official BLS unemployment rate for August 2014 is 6.1%, down a point from the previous month, and down 1% point from a year ago. If one takes into account the total unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the rate is 12 %. This is down from 13.6% a year ago. 2.9% of the work force has been unemployed for 15 weeks or more.

In the fourth week of September, Gallup found an unemployment rate of 6.8%. It also found an underemployment rate (unemployed +those working part- time, but wanting full time) of 15.4%, up a touch from mid-August.

Indications are that, over the past year, unemployment rates dropped for various groups within the community between August 2013 to August 2014, although for several groups there was a slight uptick from July to August 2014.

Unemployment among those 25 years and older:

  8/13 7/14 8/14
Less than high school diploma 11.3% 9.6% 9.1%
High school graduates, no college 7.5 6.1 6.2
Some college or associate degree 6.1 5.3 5.4
Bachelor’s degree and higher 3.5 3.1 3.2

The annual GDP (gross domestic product) for the 2nd quarter of 2014 was 4.6%, making it the economy’s best quarter since 2006. [WP 9/27/14]

By 56% to 42% Americans believe that the economy has begun to recover. However, among those who think it is recovering 63% say the recovery is weak. [WP/ABC 9/14]

Throughout 2014 attitudes about the healthcare law passed in 2010 have been static. In each of four surveys taken this year, 41% have approved of the law and 50-53% have disapproved of the law. [NYT/CBS 9/14]

Inversions are the topic du jour in Washington. The Winston Group asked respondents what they would do if they had the option to legally file their income taxes in a State with a lower rate or to continue to pay a higher rate in their home State. By 53% to 43% respondents opted to file in the State with lower rates. Among Republicans, 59% would opt to pay in the lower rate State and 51% of Independents would do the same. Only among Democrats would a slight majority, 49% to 48%, opt to continue to pay the higher rate in their home State.

Currently, trust in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is at 43%. The lowest recorded, 40%, occurred a few months before Richard Nixon resigned. It was also in the low 40s during the last two years of George W. Bush’s Administration.

Trust in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government is at 28%. Trust in the Judicial Branch of government continues to stand above it all at 61%.

Trust in the American people “to make judgments about political issues facing the country”, at 61%, is also at a new low. Trust in politicians to make these judgments is at 45%, 1% point above the all time low recorded in 2012. [Gallup 9/14]

As of 2007 there were 89,476 local governmental units in the United States; 3,033 counties, 19,462 municipal governments, 16,519 townships, and 13,051 school districts. [US Census Bureau]

About 2% of American adults say they have run for Federal, State or local elected office. Of this group, 75% are men and 25% are women. [Pew]

The 2014-2015 school year is the first time racial and ethnic minorities make up the majority of public-school students nationally. [NJ 9/14]

Perhaps it should be no surprise that local government, which on a day-to- day basis is closer to the people, is more trusted than State government. And Americans believe that the Federal Government wastes 51 cents of every dollar. [Gallup 9/14]

While the median income of single parent households (83% of which are headed by women), in 2013 dollars, has grown by +12.4% in 24 years (1989- 2013), that group of households has not yet recovered from the recession which officially ended in 2009. The change in their income from 2010-2013 is still down 11.7%.

Set out below are the relative changes in median incomes of a variety of families in the 1989-2013 period.

Median value of before-tax family income (thousands of 2013 dollars) by Family Structure

  Single with children* Single, no child age <55 Single, no children age >55 Couple with children Couple, no children
1989 24.9 32.1 18.8 68.3 58.5
2001 29.7 37.8 22.3 82.0 67.6
2010 31.6 32.7 26.0 72.5 66.2
Change 2010- 2013** -11.7% -3.1% -2.3% +2.9% +.9%
Change 1989-2013 +12.4% -1.2% +35% +9.2% +14.1%

*Single mother homes make up 83.3% of all single parent homes.

**2009 marked the end of the Recession.

Americans continue to express an interest in a third party. 54% say a 3rd party is needed. This is up from 40% who had this view ten years ago. [Gallup 9/24/14]

Return to Home Page