Are you in the American middle class?

About half of American adults lived in middle-income households in 2014, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. In percentage terms, 51% of adults lived in middle-income households, 29% in lower-income households and 20% in upper-income households.

Our updated calculator below lets you find out which group you are in – first compared with other adults in your metropolitan area and among American adults overall, and then compared with other adults in the U.S. similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity, and marital status.

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Click on graphic to reach article and calculator

New data has updated this calculator – released last December.

Four surveys on 3 or 4 presidential candidates – voters under 30 – Har!

An interesting nugget from the big new Pew Research Center poll of the 2016 election: Among voters under age 30, Donald Trump is at 21 percent … and Gary Johnson is at 22 percent.

Yes, Trump is in danger of finishing third among young voters — at least according to this one poll. But it’s not the only one showing him struggling with them.

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Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party nominee, combining to take slightly more millennials (defined as ages 18 to 34 in this case) than Trump.

They combined for 22 percent, while Trump was again at 21. (Stein wasn’t an option in the Pew poll.)

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I tend to respect the accuracy of Pew Research polls on pretty much any topic. Doesn’t matter if we’re discussing presidential candidates or farm-raised fish.

RTFA for all the details.

Our middle class dwindles to less than the sum of the rich + the poor

In the age of rising income inequality, the task of preserving America’s middle class has been taken on by politicians across the ideological spectrum. A new report from Pew Research Center shows just how much the economic fortunes of this group have changed since the 1970s.

In every decade since then, the percentage of adults living in middle-income households has fallen, according to Pew, which is based in Washington. The share now stands at 50 percent, compared with 61 percent in 1971…

Our politicians have accomplished nothing other than gifting the nation to the rich.

Being a member of the middle-class has long been treated as an American badge of honor. However middle-income households have lost their majority status in the U.S, with the size of their counterparts on opposite ends of the income spectrum overtaking them in number.

Some 120.8 million adult Americans lived in middle-class households this year, according to Pew. That’s slightly less than the combined number of upper-income adults – 51 million – and those at the lower tier – 70.3 million…

Blacks are less likely to be part of the middle class than any other racial or ethnic group, the Pew report finds. Some 45 percent of black adults were in the middle-income tier, down 1 percentage point from 1971.

One positive note is that blacks are the only major racial group to see a decline over that time frame in their share of adults who are low-income, which is down to 43 percent from 48 percent. Still, that percentage is the highest of the ethnic groups, alongside Hispanics.

White Americans are the only racial group where a majority is in the middle class, though their share fell to 52 percent this year from 63 percent in 1971.

Almost half of aggregate earnings in the U.S. is now commanded by the wealthiest families, who are “are on the verge of holding more in total income than all other households combined,” Kochhar and Fry wrote.

The Republicans barely give lip service to this question. Unwilling to risk offending the class of owners they obey on every issue.

Many Democrats are merely cowards. Those willing to fight for us know the fight starts with their peers.

Yes, I know the characterizations are too much shorthand. But, when push comes to shove on any truly critical issue – whether it be war and peace, guns and butter, education and tax breaks for the rich – the fine gradations that give job security to TV talking heads and Wall Street analysts alike break down. Almost no one is willing to commit to the class of the many Americans who create and build the wealth of the few.

Young Americans moving US to be less religious, more rational


Plenty of seating, eh?

Declining levels of religious belief and practice among the generation of Americans born in the last two decades of the 20th century is shifting the US towards becoming a less devout nation, a major new survey has found.

The growing proportion of “millennials” – young adults now in their 20s and 30s – who do not belong to any organised faith is changing America’s religious landscape, says a report by the respected Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 35,000 people.

The religiously unaffiliated or “nones”, who include atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”, have grown to 23% of the US population, compared to 16% at the time of the last comparable survey in 2007.

But three out of four Americans still have some religious faith, mainly Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And 89% of US adults say they believe in God – including a significant proportion of “nones” – making America more religiously inclined than other advanced industrial nations.

“Advanced” referring to industrial economy and GDP. Not necessarily education, quality of life.

Youth largely equates with a lack of religious activity, says the report. One in four millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of those adults born before or during the second world war. Only 38% of adults born after 1990 say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 67% of those born before 1945…

In general…“as older cohorts of adults (comprised mainly of self-identified Christians) pass away, they are being replaced by a new cohort of young adults who display far lower levels of attachment to organised religion than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations did when they were the same age”…

The changes are reflected in support for the two main political parties, with “nones” now forming the largest single religious group among Democrats, while evangelical Protestants make up the largest religious bloc among Republicans.

Nearly all major religious groups have become significantly more accepting of homosexuality, the report says. A majority of all Christians now say homosexuality should be accepted by society, up from 44% in 2007 to 54% in 2014, with the proportion of Catholics up from 58% in 2007 to 70% in 2014.

There has been little change in attitudes to abortion, with 53% of all adults saying it should be legal in all or most cases…

11% of all US Christians say they speak or pray in tongues at least once a week…Slightly lower than the generally accepted percentage of Americans who think the Earth is flat.

Analysis of party affiliation — which continues to decline

sheeple

Democrats hold advantages in party identification among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, well-educated adults and Millennials. Republicans have leads among whites – particularly white men, those with less education and evangelical Protestants – as well as members of the Silent Generation…

The share of independents in the public, which long ago surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans, continues to increase. Based on 2014 data, 39% identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling…

When the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, 48% either identify as Democrats or lean Democratic; 39% identify as Republicans or lean Republican. The gap in leaned party affiliation has held fairly steady since 2009, when Democrats held a 13-point advantage…

Race and ethnicity. Republicans hold a 49%-40% lead over the Democrats in leaned party identification among whites. The GOP’s advantage widens to 21 points among white men who have not completed college…and white southerners… The Democrats hold an 80%-11% advantage among blacks, lead by close to three-to-one among Asian Americans…and by more than two-to-one among Hispanics…

Gender. Women lean Democratic by 52%-36%; men are evenly divided…Gender differences are evident in nearly all subgroups: For instance, Republicans lead among married men…while married women are evenly divided…Democrats hold a substantial advantage among all unmarried adults, but their lead in leaned partisan identification is greater among unmarried women…than among unmarried men…

Education. Democrats lead by 22 points…in leaned party identification among adults with post-graduate degrees. The Democrats’ edge is narrower among those with college degrees or some post-graduate experience…and those with less education…Across all educational categories, women are more likely than men to affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic. The Democrats’ advantage is 35 points…among women with post-graduate degrees, but only eight points…among post-grad men.

Generations. Millennials continue to be the most Democratic age cohort; 51% identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 35% who identify with the GOP or lean Republican. There are only slight differences in partisan affiliation between older and younger millennials. Republicans have a four-point lead among the Silent Generation…the most Republican age cohort.

Religion. Republicans lead in leaned party identification by 48 points among Mormons and 46 points among white evangelical Protestants. Younger white evangelicals…are about as likely older white evangelicals to identify as Republicans or lean Republican. Adults who have no religious affiliation lean Democratic by a wide margins…Jews lean Democratic by roughly two-to-one…The balance of leaned partisan affiliation among white Catholics and white mainline Protestants closely resembles that of all whites.

The biggest change in partisan affiliation in recent years is the growing share of Americans who decline to affiliate with either party: 39% call themselves independents, 32% identify as Democrats and 23% as Republicans…

The rise in the share of independents has been particularly dramatic over the past decade…

I was a founding member of the Young Republicans Chapter in my home town. That lasted about six weeks.

I was the chairman of the COPE Committee in a couple of UAW Locals. Like just about everyone in any Local 1199 of hospital workers I was a political activist.

I thoroughly resent the fact that New Mexico hasn’t open primaries. I have to register as a Democrat to have a voice in choosing who I get to vote for when elections roll around. There is no likelihood the Republican Party will offer anyone I could vote for. Today.

Go back to the first sentence in this commentary – and that was in New England in the 1950’s. In the small town I lived in, then, there were honest differences in policy, priorities. Both parties in that town opposed racism, supported my kind of activism in civil rights, civil liberties. Both rejected any serious activism for peace. I became a Progressive Independent.

Democrats have lost most of their backbone since then. Republicans have walked away from any concern for equal rights, opportunity, environment, honest government. I’ll usually settle for a Democrat candidate vs. a Republican thug in my neck of the prairie. The Greens haven’t a clue. Unfortunately.

Expert report condemns continued antibiotic use in US livestock

U.S. regulators and livestock producers have failed to curb the use of antibiotics in cattle, pigs and poultry despite concerns that excessive use in meat production will reduce the drugs’ effectiveness in humans, a panel of experts said.

“Meaningful change is unlikely in the future,” concluded the 14-member panel, assembled by Johns Hopkins University, in a report released on Tuesday that quickly drew protests from livestock industry groups.

The release marked the fifth anniversary of a landmark 2008 Pew Charitable Trust report that called for an end to the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics by livestock producers, as well as an end to practices such as tiny cages for laying hens…

The Johns Hopkins’ report said “additional scientific evidence has strengthened the case that these (non-therapeutic) uses pose unnecessary and unreasonable public health risks” of allowing bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics.

“We have even better science to support the recommendations we have made,” said Mary Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. “We are, in fact, running out of antibiotics. We are seeing infections that are untreatable.”

More than 2 million Americans are sickened by antibiotic-resistant infections each year and 23,000 of them die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.

Livestock industry leaders said “Blah, blah, blah”

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The cracks are still widening, but some light is also getting in

If you’ve been following the media industry over the past year, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you the waves of disruption continue to increase in both height and frequency — so the news that widespread cutbacks have caused dissatisfied readers to flee won’t come as much of a surprise. But while those waves have swamped some traditional players, other parts of the industry have been able to ride the tide, and non-traditional sources continue to play a growing role in how people get their news — although whether that is good or bad is still open for debate.

All of that and more is contained in the latest State of the Media report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism…There’s a lot to take in, but here are what I believe to be some of the key takeaways:

The Bad News:

Cutbacks continue, and consumers are leaving: Close to one-third of U.S. adults say they have stopped using a news outlet because of dissatisfaction over the content — in other words, because they weren’t getting the news they wanted, or the news they expected to get. Survey respondents mentioned both fewer stories in general and less complete reporting, and while it’s impossible to know whether this phenomenon is related to the repeated rounds of cutbacks and job losses, it seems likely…

The Good News:

Demand for news is growing, not shrinking: Although it may be coming at the expense of some traditional players, there is clearly a large and growing appetite for news, since the top news sites saw traffic increase by 7 percent in 2012, according to Pew. And the impact of social media seems to be clearly positive, in the sense that those who have heard about news from friends and family through such channels show a stronger interest in finding out more…

As with any overview of the media business, there will be those who see this picture as a glass half-empty, and those who see it as a glass half-full — and perhaps a growing number who have completely lost interest in the glass because they are already getting their water elsewhere…upheaval is the order of the day in the media business and will likely be so for some time…

Even now there are new entities being born, and new models being applied — like the Forbes “BrandVoice” model, or Sullivan’s direct-to-readers model — that could either be the savior of the industry or a dangerous distraction. If you like bumpy rides with an uncertain ending, the media industry is definitely the place for you.

RTFA. Lots of meat and potatoes to munch on – both form and content. Producers who come from traditional print journalism are doing better than I thought they might. It may be out of desperation as anything else – like sudden insight – but, the truth will inform you even when it doesn’t set you free.

Christianity and Secularism at a crossroads in America

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…

How accurate is this story of decline into godlessness? Is America, supposedly God’s last bastion in the Western world, rejecting faith and endangering religious liberty?

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Conservatives text less, search for news less, than liberals

Nearly nine out of 10 registered U.S. voters own a cell phone — almost half of which are smartphones. And many voters are using cell phones to get and share election information or news…

In September, Pew surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults and found that — even though text messaging is generally the most popular thing people do with their phones (other than talking) — texting doesn’t appear to be hugely popular in relation to this year’s election. This year, fewer than one in five mobile-enabled voters have sent campaign-related text messages to people they know, and only 5% had subscribed to receive text messages directly from a candidate or other group involved in the election.

Furthermore, while 45% of cell-owning registered voters use smartphone apps, only 8% use apps that come from a campaign, political party or interest group.

Overall, self-designated political conservatives appear to be the least advanced, and active, when it comes to mobile technology. Pew found that while liberal, conservative and independent voters are equally likely to own a cell phone, only 40% of conservative voters own a smartphone, significantly fewer than liberal (56%) or moderate (55%) voters. Also, only 68% of conservatives use text messaging, compared to 78% of moderates and 81% of liberals.

Getting news is a popular election-related activity: 27% of cell phone-owning voters do this, especially those under age 50. Liberals (37%) are more likely to get election or political news on their phones than moderates (28%) or conservatives (25%)…

Members of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican figures they might start a coal shortage if they use their phones too much.

A poll I’m posting because I think it’s wrong — and why!

Social networking sites play a modest role in influencing most U.S. users’ political views, with the biggest impact among Democrats…

The poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project comes as Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are using Facebook pages and other social media as campaign tools ahead of the November election.

“For most of those who use the sites, political material is just a small portion of what they post and what they read. And the impact of their use of the sites is modest, at best,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project, said in a statement.

Thirty-six percent of social networking site users say they are “very important” or “somewhat important” to them in keeping up with political news, the survey showed.

The sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” to 26 percent of site users in recruiting people to get involved in political issues that matter to them.

A quarter of the site users say they are “very important” or “somewhat important” for discussing or debating political issues, the poll showed.

Twenty-five percent of users say the sites are “very important” or “somewhat important” in finding other people who share their views about important political issues.

In each case, Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to say the sites are important…

The telephone survey was conducted from January 20 to February 19 among 1,407 adults.

Pew should know better. Reuters should know better. They limited their sample to a significant portion of the population that starts out behind the times. It was a telephone survey – and Pew is still stuck using landlines for such a survey.

Latest government surveys say a third of all households in America use only cellular service. Those numbers aren’t especially accessible to surveys. Some age groups, like under 30, the number is 50%. None of the surveys I found in a quick Google-around take into account the folks using VOIP services like SKYPE or Vonage – or even the VOIP services from their broadband providers like Comcast – though a number of those folks retain their old landline phone numbers.

All the folks in these unsurveyed demographics are easy to consider a possible vote for a liberal or Democrat candidate. They’ve left behind their father’s phone system – along with a lot of his prejudice and political habits.