The Pew Forum On Religion and Public Life’s publication on Asian American religious affiliations illustrates the wide variety of faiths amongst the Asian demographic. 42 percent of Asian Americans are Christian, an additional 14% are Buddhist, and one in ten practice Hinduism. Over a quarter of Asians are also religiously unaffiliated. Inspecting Asian-American subgroups further displays the wide range of beliefs. For instance, 65% of Filipino Americans are Catholic, 43% of Vietnamese Americans are Buddhist, and 61% of Korean Americans are Protestant. Additionally, one-third of Asian adults no longer ascribe to the religious group of their upbringing.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
According to the U.S. Department of Education, almost half (46%) of American 4th graders read for fun almost every day, and nearly three quarters read at least one to two times a week. Just 15 percent read never, or hardly ever. 8th graders on the other hand, read markedly less. Almost one in three (29%) report never or hardly ever reading, and just 21 percent read for fun almost every day. Female 8th graders read far more than male 8th graders, with nearly a quarter reading every day compared to 40 percent of males. 4th grade girls are also more likely to read frequently than boys.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
In an article for the New York Times, author Robert Pear dissected the Congressional Budget Office’s revised estimates on the effects of the Affordable Care Act after the landmark Supreme Court decision to uphold the law. A key portion of the decision alters the legislation to permit States to opt out of the proposed Medicaid expansion. The CBO predicts that an additional 3 million people will now go without health insurance due to this new aspect of the law, but the agency also expects the federal government should save approximately $84 billion over the next 11 years. The Affordable Care Act is still projected to provide coverage to 30 million of the 60 million presently uninsured Americans at a price tag of $1.7 trillion over the course of 11 years. The bulk of the cost emerges after 2014, when many provisions of the Affordable Care Act will take effect.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 7,630 people died in motor vehicle accidents during the first quarter of 2012. This figure represents a 13.5% increase from the 6,720 traffic fatalities during the first quarter of 2011. The NHTSA notes that the number of traffic fatalities is typically lowest during the first quarter of each year due to inclement winter weather, though this year’s winter was unusually warm – a possible explanation for the jump in fatalities. The 7,630 fatalities is quite low compared to the first three months of previous years, however. Just six years ago in the first quarter of 2006, 9,558 Americans lost their lives in traffic accidents, but since then, fatalities fell considerably. The NHTSA attributes that consistent decline to drops in crashes involving young drivers.
Monday, July 23, 2012
The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that American manufacturing corporations posted $148.0 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2012. These profits, though only marginally higher than the net income of $145.4 billion in 2011, are still at a level unseen even before the recession. In the fourth quarter of 2008, manufacturing corporations truly felt the brunt of the recession, and actually recorded a loss of almost $75 billion, but since then, profits have rebounded swiftly to their current levels of nearly $150 billion. Sales on the whole also increased. In the first quarter of 2012, sales reached almost $1.7 trillion, up from about $1.57 trillion in the first quarter of 2011.
Friday, July 20, 2012
On July 19th, The Economist highlighted a report from UNAIDS, a United Nations Agency with the goal of fighting AIDS. AIDS-related deaths surged upwards from 1990 to its peak in 2005 of 2.3 million per year, but since then, the number of those who have lost their lives to the virus have dropped off. The decrease in deaths can be partially attributed to the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PREFAR), which President Bush initiated in 2003 and President Obama renewed in 2008. Since then, the number of people receiving antiretroviral medication has dramatically increased; the figure stands at over 8 million in poorer regions of the world. Today, while AIDS remains a serious crisis, the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen to 1.7 million, a level unseen since 2000.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
A new Pew Charitable Trusts report demonstrates the surprisingly high number of Americans who utilize payday loans. These payday loans are generally short-term, high-interest cash advances that average $375. The typical borrower takes out eight of these loans each year and spends $520 on interest. The report states that 12 million Americans use payday loans annually. 69 percent use these loans for everyday expenses, such as credit card bills, mortgage payments, groceries and the like, whereas only 16 percent take out a payday loan to cover unexpected expenses such as unanticipated medical costs or car repairs. The most common borrower is white, female and between 25 and 44 years old, but the study also found five other groups of Americans that are more likely to take out these loans: those without a college degree; Africans Americans; home renters; those who earn less than $40,000 a year; and those who are divorced or separated.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Gallup’s assessment of obesity in America illustrates some interesting trends. Blacks are more likely to be obese than any other race. 20.8% of Blacks received the distinction of falling into the obese class I. 8.8% were in obese class II and 6.0% in obese class III. The latter two categories are recognized as very obese. Asians were the least likely to be obese with only 7.6% falling into obese class I, 2.1% in obese class II, and 1.0% in obese class III. Overall, men are more likely than women to be obese, but a slightly higher percentage of women are categorized in obese class III (4.0% versus 2.9%). Additionally, unemployed Americans are more likely to be obese than those who possess a job.
Finally, both income and education are related to obesity levels. As Americans obtain higher levels of education (the study tracks those with high school or less up to postgraduate degrees), they are less likely to be obese. 5.2% of those who earn less than $36,000 a year have BMIs high enough to be categorized in obese class III, compared to just 1.8% of Americans who earn greater than $90,000 a year.
To be considered obese, one must have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. For a person who is 5 feet 9 inches, his/her weight would need to rise above 203 pounds to be classified as obese. To fall under obese class III, that same person would need to weigh over 271 pounds.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The monthly retail and food services report came out on Monday, and experts across the board agree that the numbers do not support a vigorous recovery. Retail sales dropped for the third straight month, a trend that has not occurred since 2008. On the other hand, retail sales increased by 3.8 percent since June 2011, and the auto industry, which faced grave prospects just a few years ago, experienced a healthy rebound, with sales growing 8.7% over the past year.
Monday, July 16, 2012
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its monthly report on U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services on July 11th. As of May, America is running a $48.7 billion trade deficit. The trade deficit was revised downward from its previous estimate of $50.1 billion in April. Exports of goods and services rose $0.4 billion during May – due mostly to an increase in the exports of services – and imports decreased by $1.6 billion. While the imports of goods decreased, imports of services actually increased. America’s goods deficit with China contributes greatly to the overall trade deficit, and in the month of May, the goods deficit with the nation of over 1.3 billion increased $1.4 billion to $26.0 billion total.
Friday, July 13, 2012
A previous Data in the News post focused on the rising participation rate in means-tested assistance programs, and an interactive map on The New York Times website this week displayed the geographic distribution of government benefits. Welfare programs accounted for 17.6% of personal income in 2009, the highest in history. In 1929, total entitlements accounted for just 1% of Americans’ incomes, but with the expansion of Social Security, the initiation of Medicare and many other government programs, and the overall growth in entitlement spending, the share of income via welfare programs has risen substantially.
And while all regions have experienced a greater flow of government benefits to their residents, states in the South and in the western portion of the Sun Belt have seen their dependence on government welfare programs rise the most. States such as Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arizona, New Mexico and Tennessee possess many counties with a high level of dependence on government benefits; some counties have a level of transfer income per capita of over $10,000.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
With the 2012 presidential election only months away, Gallup’s Election 2012 Trial Heat: Obama vs. Romney pits the two candidates in a tight race – so tight, in fact, that the two are in a statistical tie. Registered voters were asked: “Suppose the presidential election were held today. If Barack Obama were the Democratic Party’s candidate and Mitt Romney were the Republican Party’s candidate, who would you vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat or Mitt Romney, the Republican?” Undecided voters were asked which candidate they leaned towards, and their responses were incorporated into the results. If the election were held today, Gallup's results (with the margin of error falling at ±3%) indicate that the result is too close to call.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The Census Bureau reports that 18.6%, or 44.8 million, of noninstitutionalized civilians participated in one or more major means-tested assistance programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance (GA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and Housing Assistance). This percentage is up from 17.1% in 2004, driven mostly by a 2.6 percent increase in citizens who receive Food Stamps. The average monthly participation rate for those under 18 was 34.6% in 2009, far greater than the 13.7% and 12.6% for civilians aged 18 to 64 and 65 years and over respectively. Blacks and Hispanics were the most likely races to utilize means-tested programs. 38.9% of Blacks, 33.0% of Hispanics, 14.9% of Asian and Pacific Islanders, and 11.8% of Non-Hispanic Whites participated in means-tested programs.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The National Center for Education Statistics recently released its National Indian Education Study 2011, which tracks trends in American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) educational performance. Schoolchildren in grades 4 and 8 across America take the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and their scores highlight the growing disparity in performance between AIAN and non-AIAN children. While reading scores from 2005 to 2011 remained largely unchanged (AIAN students still lag behind non-AIAN in reading scores, however), the gap in scores on the mathematics portion of the test continues to widen. In 2011, 4th grade AIAN students scored 16 points lower than non-AIAN students, compared to 12 points lower in 2005. 8th grade AIAN students scored 19 points less than non-AIAN students, a gap that has increased 4 points since 2005. The study points to several factors that may influence these children’s educational performance. 83% of AIAN 8th graders have a computer at home, compared to 93% of non-AIAN 8th grade students, and only 50% of AIAN 8th graders have over 25 books at home, 13 percentage points lower than the average non-AIAN 8th grade student.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Bill McBride, writer for the blog Calculated Risk, compiled employment statistics from every post WWII recession and displayed them on a graph. The chart illustrates the severity of the current recession and the enduring gap in employment. It took 46 months for employment to return to levels seen in the month prior to the 2001 recession – the longest period of time following a recession. Employment recovered in 31 months during the 1990 recession, and after a more than 5% drop in employment during the 1948 recession, employment losses were cut after just 22 months. The U.S. has experienced a drop in almost 6.5% employment during the current recession, and it’s been over 53 months since the beginning of the recession. Employment has risen considerably since it bottomed out in the 25-month mark, and it is currently about 3.5% below the level prior to the downturn.
Friday, July 6, 2012
In the U.S. Department of Commerce’s press release detailing construction spending, it appears construction is slowly creeping upwards after a precipitous drop off following the recession. The May 2012 estimate of annual construction spending pegged the seasonally adjusted rate at $830.0 billion, up 0.9% from April’s estimate. At its peak in early 2006, the rate topped off at just over $1.2 trillion, and today’s level is similar to that of a decade ago. Additionally, the total construction spending of $310.4 billion during the first 5 months of the year is 9.4% greater than the $283.8 billion spent for the same period in 2011. With that said, there exists a discrepancy between private and public spending on construction. Private construction spending is up 13.1% from 2011, while spending in the public sector has fallen 3.9%.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
map displaying the racial, socioeconomic, and educational composition of the U.S. In terms of income distribution, there is a high density of Americans earning over $200,000 in the Northeast. For instance, more than 15% of the population in Hunterdon, New Jersey, Fairfield, Connecticut, and Westchester, New York earn over $200,000. Another map illustrating the percentage of foreign born residents shows a high concentration throughout much of California, southern Arizona, south and southwest Texas, and southern Florida. Additionally, New York City and the region surrounding it possesses a high percentage of foreign born residents.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
On June 28th the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its County Employment and Wages Fourth Quarter 2011 report. The report states that the average weekly wage decreased by 1.7% to $955 from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter in 2011. This decrease marks only the fifth wage loss since the Census began tracking the figure in 1978. Olmsted, Minnesota experienced the greatest decrease in weekly wages amongst large counties, with pay dropping 21.3%. In Olmsted the education and health services industries faced the most severe losses with a total wage decline of $287.3 million (-29.1%).
The large counties (population of at least 75,000) leading the way in employment gains were Kern, California; Fort Bend, Texas; Weld, Colorad; Williamson, Tennessee; and Utah County, Utah. These counties had the highest percentage increase in employment, all of them seeing gains of at least 4.3%. On a grander scale, the U.S. added 1.8 million jobs since December 2010, putting the national employment at 131.3 million.