Proposals to raise the minimum wage, both nationally and locally, have gotten increased attention in recent weeks. President Obama renewed his call for a higher federal minimum wage during a speech on the economy at Knox College in Illinois last month. And fast-food workers in several cities have held one-day strikes or walkouts to demand higher minimum wages locally.
The public has long supported increasing the minimum wage. In a February survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, 71% said they favored raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour, as Obama has proposed. Just 26% opposed raising the minimum wage. That is lower than the 84% who backed a higher minimum wage in January 2007, prior to the last increase in the minimum wage approved by Congress. (For more on this issue, see “Who makes minimum wage?” July 19, 2013.)
The proposal faces stiff opposition in Congress from Republicans, particularly in the House. After Obama called for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union speech, House Speaker John Boehner said the action would cost jobs among lower-income workers (video from AP).
Overall, Republicans are evenly divided over raising the minimum wage (50% favor, 47% oppose). By contrast, large majorities of Democrats (87%) and independents (68%) support the minimum wage hike.
The Supreme Court may rule on gay marriage this week. Advocates both for and against are glad the issue didn’t reach the court any sooner.
They didn’t want a repeat of the abortion issue. With its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, the high court stepped in and guaranteed a right to abortion but also triggered a backlash that has lasted for 40 years.
With same-sex marriage, by contrast, legislators and voters in nearly every state had the chance to make their feelings known before the Supreme Court weighs in.
“People forget that durable rights don’t come from courts, they come from consensus and strong support from society,” says Jonathan Rauch, author of Denial, a recent memoir about growing up gay. “We are winning the right to marriage in a bigger, deeper way by winning it in the court of public opinion.”
After losing political battles in a majority of states, gay marriage supporters have won a number of legislative victories and ballot measures in recent years. Sensing momentum is in their favor, it may not be surprising that they’re glad they’ve had time to make their case to the public.
A Pew Research Center poll this month found that 72 percent of Americans believe universal gay marriage rights are “inevitable,” including 59 percent of those opposed to the idea.
During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.Our uneven Recovery
From 2009 to 2011, the mean wealth of the 8 million households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3,173,895 from an estimated $2,476,244, while the mean wealth of the 111 million households in the less affluent group fell to an estimated $133,817 from an estimated $139,896.
These wide variances were driven by the fact that the stock and bond market rallied during the 2009 to 2011 period while the housing market remained flat.
Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial holdings, while less affluent households typically have their wealth more heavily concentrated in the value of their home.
From the end of the recession in 2009 through 2011 (the last year for which Census Bureau wealth data are available), the 8 million households in the U.S. with a net worth above $836,033 saw their aggregate wealth rise by an estimated $5.6 trillion, while the 111 million households with a net worth at or below that level saw their aggregate wealth decline by an estimated $0.6 trillion.1
These findings are part of a broader examination of whether and how the structure of television news content—on cable, on broadcast network newscasts and on local television—has changed in the past few years. Pew Research studied the first five months of 2007 and 2012 for network and cable news, including both morning and evening network news and a mixture of midday and prime-time programming on cable. For local television, the comparative years are 2005 and 2012, for six stations in 2005 and eight in 2012.
Among the key findings:
Interview segments are now as prominent in daytime cable as they are in prime time. Coverage of live events and live reports dropped in daytime programming by about one-third—from 33% of the newshole in 2007 to 23% in 2012. And the airtime devoted to interviews rose from 39% to 51%, equaling the percentage of airtime they fill on cable at night, when partisan talk and debate drive the programming.
In 2007, CNN spent far less time airing interviews and far more time running edited packages than either Fox or MSNBC on prime time. But that had changed markedly by 2012. The percentage of CNN evening programming filled with interviews jumped from 30% in 2007 to 57% in 2012. At the same time, the airtime for edited packages plunged from 50% to 24%
A separate analysis of cable in late 2012 finds that, over all, commentary and opinion are far more prevalent on the air throughout the day (63% of the airtime) than straight news reporting (37%). CNN is the only channel to offer more reporting (54%) than opinion (46%), though by a small margin. By far the highest percentage of opinion and commentary is on MSNBC (85% to 15% reporting). Fox was in between at 55% commentary and 45% reporting.
The average story length on local television news decreased substantially over time. In a separate Pew Research Center analysis of local news content from 1998 to 2002, some 31% of the stories were more than a minute long and 42% were under 30 seconds. In 2012, only 20% of the local television stories exceeded a minute while 50% lasted less than 30 seconds.
The already considerable amount of time devoted to sports, weather and traffic on local newscasts rose even higher among the stations studied, from 32% 2005 to 40% in 2012. The biggest increase came in the airtime devoted to sports, to 12% from 7%. The traffic and weather components of the newscast increased by a smaller percentage (to 29% from 25%), but four in ten of the newscasts examined here led with a weather story.
One measure of the unchanging nature of the broadcast network news format, particularly in the evening, is the story length. The average evening news story package lasted 141 seconds in 2007 and 142 seconds in 2012. The average interview was nearly identical as well: 110 seconds in 2007 and 108 in 2012. And the time allotted to the average stand-up report decreased only slightly, from 91 seconds to 88 seconds, in that five-year interval.
About six-in-ten (62%) of Americans regard the Republicans as out of touch with the American people while 46% have that opinion of the Democrats.
But Republicans are more critical of their party than Democrats are of theirs on most issues, according to a survey conducted in February.
For example, 36% of Republicans say the GOP is out of touch with the American people. Just 23% of Democrats say their party is out of touch. And while 30% of Republicans say their party is not open to change, just 10% of Democrats make the same criticism of their party.
A majority of independents think both parties are out of touch. About two-thirds (65%) of independents regard the Republicans as out of touch with the public; 51% say that of the Democrats.
I will grant you that the results of this latest poll from the folks at the Pew Research Center ought to be scarifying to the Republicans in Congress.
Now just 22% of Americans, nearly a record low, consider themselves Republicans.
Read more: Pew Poll Republican Party - Pew Is Not Just The Name On A Poll - Esquire: esquire.com
* (For 27% Crazyfication Factor info, please see kfmonkey.blogspot.com )
Seriously, all humor aside, that’s pretty bizarre. Have we passed peak wingnut or just peak GOP wingnut?
One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. If lapsed Catholics were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest religious subgroup in the country.
That’s a lot of people.
But faith is a fraught and deeply personal thing for so many of us, and religious experience can’t always be neatly captured with labels or quantified through survey data.
So when Salon asked our lapsed Catholic readers if Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation might signal a new direction for the church — and what that might mean for their beliefs — the responses we received expressed a thoughtful, sometimes painful, engagement with ideas of faith, family and community
More parents are providing significant financial support for their adult children even as they cope with the needs of their own aging parents, according to a new survey of the middle-aged “sandwich generation.”
The twin financial and emotional burdens on the one in seven Americans who are squeezed between their children and their parents have mounted since the recession, the Pew Research Center said in a report released Wednesday. In 2005, 20 percent of all middle-aged parents were the primary source of financial support for a grown child. Now, 27 percent of parents fit that description.
The increase is striking since the share of middle-aged adults with children and living parents has remained stable.
For at least three decades, sociologists have noticed a trend of more parents paying much of the freight until their children are well into their 20s, but the faltering economy has caused those numbers to spike.
THIS week millions of “Chreasters” — Americans who attend church only on Christmas and Easter — will crowd into pews to sing carols and renew their vague relationship with the Christian God. This year, there may be fewer Chreasters than ever. A growing number of “nones” live in our midst: those who say they have no religious affiliation at all. An October Pew Research Center poll revealed that they now account for 20 percent of the population, up from 16 percent in 2008.
Avoiding church does not excuse Americans from marking the birth of Jesus, however. Most of us have no choice but to stay home from work or school — and if you complain about this glaring exception to the separation between church and state, you must be a scrooge with no heart for tradition. Christmas has been a federal holiday for 142 years.
Yet Christianity’s preferential place in our culture and civil law came under fire this year, and not simply because more Americans reject institutional religion. The Obama administration subtly worked to expand the scope of protected civil rights to include access to legal marriage and birth control. Catholic bishops and evangelical activists declared that Washington was running roughshod over religious liberty and abandoning the country’s founding values, while their opponents accused them of imposing one set of religious prejudices on an increasingly pluralistic population. The Christian consensus that long governed our public square is disintegrating. American secularism is at a crossroads.
The narrative on the right is this: Once upon a time, Americans honored the Lord, and he commissioned their nation to welcome all faiths while commanding them to uphold Christian values. But in recent decades, the Supreme Court ruled against prayer in public schools, and legalized abortion, while politicians declared “war on Christmas” and kowtowed to the “homosexual lobby.” Conservative activists insist that they protest these developments not to defend special privileges for Christianity, but to respect the founders’ desire for universal religious liberty — rooted, they say, in the Christian tradition.
A LITTLE-NOTICED finding from the 2012 exit polls is the rank ingratitude of America’s haute bourgeoisie. Although President Barack Obama pledged to raise taxes exclusively on family income exceeding $250,000, he lost the voting bloc that had the most to gain financially from that unreasonably high threshold: households earning between $100,000 and $250,000. Obama calls these folks “middle class,” but they aren’t. They’re “hautes.” The poorest among them earn more money than about 80 percent of their fellow Americans, while the richest earn more than about 98 percent.
The hautes may not dazzle you, dear reader, with their richesse (The New Republic’s demographic skews high). But when the Pew Research Center recently asked how much income a family of four would need to be wealthy, fully 39 percent of respondents said the haute salary range would do very nicely. These are, for the most part, college-educated workers, some of them doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Most are in a position to consider sending their kids to private school or purchase a modest vacation home. They feel broke all the time, because just about everyone in the United States does, and in big cities like New York or Los Angeles, you seldom find them in the fancier neighborhoods. No one would mistake hautes for Masters of the Universe. But defining them as “middle class” does violence to any geometrically plausible conception of “middle.” If taxes on the rich need to go up in 2013—and they do—the hautes’ taxes ought to rise, too.