Unemployment in America is slowly improving. The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report on metropolitan area employment and unemployment shows that from July of 2011 to last month, unemployment rates decreased in 305 of 372 metropolitan areas. The number of areas posting over 10.0 percent unemployment nearly halved from 112 to 67. Overall, the unemployment rate was 8.3% in July, illustrating a comeback – albeit a sluggish comeback – from when unemployment topped off at nearly 10.0% nationally. Still though, just 18 of the 372 metropolitan areas registered unemployment rates of less than 5.0%. To put that figure in perspective, before the recession, the national unemployment rate dipped below 5.0% for over a year.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
The Census Bureau's report on the status of state and local government pensions shows that pension assets have recovered to levels seen in 2007. In 2011, the holdings and investments of these pensions totaled $2.5 trillion. These pension systems maintain large investments in financial markets; consequently, the funds' successes and failures are largely dependent on market performance. Thus, just as the stock market suffered a substantial setback from 2008 to 2009, state and local pension funds experienced a similar loss and bounceback. In 2011, earnings on investments were $410.6 billion, 2.3% higher than in 2007, and much improved on the $71.7 billion and $511.5 billion losses in 2008 and 2009 respectively. California's pension system is the largest of any state with over $433 billion in assets, over 8 times the holdings and investments of the average state's pension system.
Monday, August 27, 2012
The California Health Care Foundation recently released its 2012 report on health care costs. The report illustrates how America pays for its health care, as well as how these costs have evolved over the past half-century. In 1960, health spending represented just 5.2% of GDP. By 2010, that proportion ballooned to 17.9%. Per capita spending has experienced an even more dramatic increase. In 2000, health spending per capita was $4,878, but after just a decade, that figure rose to $8,402. Compared to other countries, the U.S. spends far more on health care both per capita and as a percentage of its GDP. Switzerland’s $5,270 spent on health care per capita makes the nation a distant second to the U.S. in health spending.
Over the past 50 years, the question of who foots the health care bill has constantly changed. In 1960, the bulk of health care funds came from out-of-pocket spending. Today, however, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid along with private insurance cover the majority of costs, and hospital care, physician and clinical services, and prescription drugs all necessitate far less out-of-pocket spending. For instance, in 1960, nearly all of the money for prescription drug costs (96%) came from the consumers’ pockets. In 2010, out-of-pocket spending accounted for just 19% of the expenditures.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Census Bureau's weekly data visualization shows the change in population density by county of the United States each decade from 1920-1950. In the 1920s, predominantly rural counties in the East saw declining population densities due to a trend of migration to cities. The 1930s saw the Great Plains decline in population while rural areas in the East became more densely populated again. As World War II ended, the United States saw increased geographic mobility, which led to 21.5 percent of civilians moving to different counties or states between 1940 and 1947. The map shows that urban and populated Northeast and Midwest counties saw the largest growth in the 1940s, while predominantly rural counties in the Great Plains and the South continued to see declining population density.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
|From Nielen's Report on Mobile Consumers|
Nielsen reports that smartphones are most popular among the younger and higher income demographics in America. 81% of those aged 18-24 and earning over $100,000 possess a smartphone representing the highest usage of any age and income category. Overall, smartphones are a popular product: 60% of those aged 25-34 and making less than $50,000 still own a smartphone; and 72% of Americans aged 25-34 earning between $50,000 and $100,000 possessed one. In early 2012, smartphones achieved the majority share of users in the mobile phone market, and today, 55% of cell phone owners have a smartphone. Additionally, women are more likely to use apps frequently. While men retain the greater share of app users, 58% of women actually rank in the top third of app users. Finally, consumers continue to embrace the iOS and Android operating systems. In May of last year, the number of Android and iOS users topped off at 49 million, but this figure pales in comparison to the number of users by May of 2012: 90 million.
Monday, August 6, 2012
The drought currently overwhelming much of the U.S. ranks among the worst in American history and is the worst since the Dust Bowl. Since 1999, the National Drought Mitigation Center has tracked the spread and intensity of droughts, and according to the center, 11 states possess regions with an "exceptional drought," characterized as resulting in "widespread crop losses," and water emergencies. The "exceptional drought" category is the center's most extreme classification. CNN provides an animated map to display the growth of the drought, which is now entering its eight month. The expansive region experiencing the seriously low water levels covers land throughout the South, Midwest and West. Additionally, the NOAA's most recent projections paint a picture of a clear and swift recovery in the near future.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
President Bill Clinton’s approval rating has reached its highest point yet. According to Gallup, 66% of Americans hold a favorable view of the ex-President, twenty points higher than President Obama’s approval rating. And while President Clinton enjoys widespread favorability among his Democratic base - with 90% of Democrats holding a favorable opinion of Clinton - the historically moderate Democrat also won over many Republicans: 44% view President Clinton favorably.
With the Games of the XXX Olympiad underway, this week’s edition of The Economist’s daily chart features an analysis of the Olympics’ most successful countries. The magazine established its rankings based on the number of competitors per medal won. The most successful country – though it is now nonexistent – was East Germany. The communist nation undertook effective but controversial training methods; however, the country’s practices yielded a highly competitive team, and its 3.3 medals per competitor topped the rankings. The Soviet Union placed second, with 3.4 medals per competitor. The U.S., though easily boasting the highest medal count of 2,292 total medals, ranked third with 4.1 medals per competitor.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Last Friday, Matthew Brault from the Health and Disability Statistics Branch of the Census Bureau appeared on C-SPAN to discuss Americans with disabilities in the U.S. There were 56.7 million people with a disability in 2010, up 2.3 million from 2005. 38.3 million possessed a severe disability – a disability that totally prevents the survey respondent from doing many different activities listed in the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Of Americans aged 21 to 64 with a disability, just 4-in-10 were employed, and 11% of Americans aged 15 to 64 with a severe disability experienced persistent poverty.