Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Web Index Report

Targeted censorship of Web content by governments is widespread across the globe. Moderate to extensive blocking or filtering of politically sensitive content was reported in over 30 percent of Web Index countries during the past year.

Legal limits on government snooping online urgently need review. 94% of countries in the Web Index do not meet best practice standards for checks and balances on government interception of electronic communications.

The Web and social media are leading to real­world change. In 80 percent of the countries studied, the Web and social media had played a role in public mobilisation in the past year, and in half of these cases, had been a major catalyst.

Rich countries do not necessarily rank highly in the Web Index. The Philippines, with a per capita income of $4,410 per year, is more than 10 places ahead of Qatar, the world’s richest country, with an average income over 20 times greater than the Philippines. Saudi Arabia is outperformed by 10 of the sub-­Saharan African countries in the Index. Switzerland, the world’s third wealthiest nation, is only one place ahead of Estonia. The study shows that once countries surpass a GDP threshold of US$12,000 per capita, the link between wealth and Web Index rank weakens significantly.

The rights and priorities of women are poorly served by the Web in the majority of countries researched. Locally relevant information on topics such as sexual and reproductive health, domestic violence, and inheritance remain largely absent from the Web in most countries. Only 56 percent of Web Index countries were assessed as allocating ‘significant’ resources to ICT training programmes targeting women and men equally.

Read the Full Report (PDF) from World Wide Web Foundation.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Canadian Charities Listings

From the Hill Library:

Questions on companies or industries located outside of the U.S. are always challenging, even in those best-case scenarios where everything is in English. While we are pretty familiar with sources of information in the U.S., we are often starting from scratch when looking into foreign sources.

And so we were happy to find a reliable source for nonprofit filings in Canada. Here in the U.S. we generally look to the GuideStar database or the National Center for Charitable Statistics for access to nonprofits' 990 filings. In Canada it's the Canada Revenue Agency that maintains a list of registered charities, called the Charities Listings. This database allows people to confirm that an organization is a registered charity, and also provides access to the Registered Charity Information Return, which, like the 990 form in the U.S., provides information on a charity's activities and finances.

Charities and nonprofits play a big part in the Canadian economy, with 7.8% of the GDP and 10.5% of the labor force, according to Imagine Canada, and so it's nice to have a resource that provides the official filings of these organizations. The Canada Revenue Agency is now just one more reason why we love Canada.
In the advanced search section, you can find what charities are registered in Canada that are based in other countries. There are 24 US firms that are registered charities in Canada, according to the database.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Census App Helps Users Find Local Statistics on the Go

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released dwellr, a new mobile app that delivers on-the-go access to key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics for thousands of places across the nation.
Powered by American Community Survey statistics, dwellr can pull up a list of U.S. locations that matches users’ preferences for such variables as city size, geographic region, job type and income. Users can also learn more about where they are by a simple tap of the screen that reveals educational levels, housing values and commute times.
“With dwellr, people considering a move, homebuyers, travelers and military families can easily access and explore information on U.S. towns and cities based on data compiled through the American Community Survey,” Census Bureau Director John Thompson said. “With dwellr and our previously released America’s Economy app, the Census Bureau is using 21st century technology to accomplish our centuries-old mission to measure America and make the results accessible to the public anytime, anywhere on any device.”
The customizable demographic and community variables featured in dwellr include:
• • city size
• • commute type
• • housing value
• • income
• •
• • educational attainment and
• • demographic variables including age, race, marital status and family type
The mobile app is now available for download through the Apple app store and Google Play store for Apple iPhones and iPads and Android phones and 10-inch tablets. Privacy protection is built into the app, and all information is stored only on the user’s device.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top 5 Cyber Monday Safety Tips

What to Know Before Shopping Online This Holiday Season

The internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.

But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn't without risks. These tips from can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:

1. Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there's a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won't have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can't withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.

2. Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you're using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it's not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.

3. It's risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.

4. Be careful if you're buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.

5. Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can't be given away as gifts if they've been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to "gift an item" but it varies depending on the provider.

Monday, November 25, 2013

America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2013

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 76 percent of American parents living with children under 18 are married. Another 16 percent have no partner present, and 8 percent cohabit with a partner.

Among parents living with an unmarried partner, two-thirds (66 percent) share a biological child with their partner.

This information comes from America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2013, tabulations released using data from the 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The table package provides a current portrait of the composition of families and households and shows historical changes in living arrangements in the United States. New this year is a table that profiles American parents living with their children.

The table shows that living arrangements are different for mothers than for fathers. Fathers living with their children are much more likely to have a spouse present (86 percent) than mothers (67 percent), while 25 percent of mothers with children under 18 have no partner present, compared with only 6 percent of fathers.

“Mothers are more likely than fathers to be raising a child without a partner present and fathers are less likely to live with their children,” said Jamie Lewis, a demographer with the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. In 2013, 36.6 million mothers and 28.7 million fathers resided with children under 18. This includes both married and unmarried parents.

Other highlights:

Sixty-six percent of households in 2013 were family households, compared with 81 percent in 1970. Family households include two or more people (one of which is the householder) living under the same roof related by blood, marriage or adoption; it does not have to include anyone who is married.

Between 1970 and 2013, the share of households that were married couples with children decreased by about half from 40 to 19 percent; the proportion of married couples without children dipped slightly, from 30 to 29 percent.

The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2013, from 17 percent to 27 percent.

Between 1970 and 2013, the average number of people per household declined from 3.1 to 2.5. During the same period, the average number of children per family decreased from 1.3 to 0.9.

The median age at first marriage in 2013 was 29.0 for men and 26.6 for women, up from 23.2 for men and 20.8 for women in 1970.

In 2013, 48 percent of children living with a mother only, had a never-married mother, up from 7 percent in 1970.

Seven percent of American households are maintained by a cohabiting couple. More than one-third (37 percent) of cohabiting-couple households contain children under 18.

Most children under 18 (64 percent) live with married parents; 96 percent of children under 18 live with at least one parent.

Black (55 percent) and Hispanic children (31 percent) are more likely to live with one parent than non-Hispanic white (20 percent) or Asian children (13 percent).

Children living with neither parent (47 percent) or with a mother only (45 percent) are most likely to be below poverty, followed by those living with a father only (21 percent), and those living with two parents (13 percent). The estimates for children living with neither parent and those with a mother only are not significantly different.

Of the 73.9 million children in the United States in 2013, approximately 7.1 million (10 percent) lived with a grandparent. Of children living with a grandparent, 20 percent did not have a parent present.

Forty percent of married parents with children under 18 had at least a bachelor’s degree.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Warm Feelings for Christians

Just how warmly do Americans feel toward religious groups? A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute asked respondents to rate religious groups using a "feeling thermometer" with a scale ranging from 1 (coldest) to 100 (warmest). A temperature of 51 or higher means the respondent feels warmer toward a group. A temperature of 1 to 49 means the respondent feels colder toward a group. If the feeling is neither warm nor cold, the rating would be 50. Here are the temperatures...

74.6 degrees for Christians
67.8 degrees for Jews
64.8 degrees for Catholics
43.0 degrees for atheists
42.4 degrees for Muslims

Interestingly, Americans on the whole feel cold toward atheists (43.0) but more warmly toward "non-religious people," whose temperature on the feeling thermometer was a higher 56.1.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How can I get historical total population data?

If you have looked at the American FactFinder page from the Census Bureau but cannot find the population data you seek, because it's too old:

One source: The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2012.

Another source are the scanned copies of old Census publications. There may be more data in these reports than available through NHGIS, for smaller places.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

The U.S. Census Bureau released a new interactive tool designed to visualize the key economic findings found in the statistical agency’s most recent Business Dynamics Statistics report released in July. The Business Dynamics Statistics Visualization Tool spans four decades of information about America’s economy – providing key insights on job creation and loss during the most recent recession. Economic measures such as employment, number of establishments and number of firms can be analyzed for a single year or multiple years from 1977 to 2011.

The tool has three major components: an interactive thematic map for the 50 states, interactive bar charts that give side-by-side comparisons of states and business sectors as well as time series data comparisons over a range of time.

“We are providing a new and easy way for users to look at key economic trends about America’s economy by visualizing statistics over time,” said Thomas Louis, the associate director for research and methodology and chief scientist at the Census Bureau. “The latest Business Dynamics Statistics report shows older firms dominate the economy, new firms are entering the economy slowly, and there has been an overall decline in job creation in recent years.”

In partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Census Bureau has produced annual data series for the Business Dynamics Statistics since 2008. Go HERE for more information on the Business Dynamics Statistics program.

Find guidance on how to use the visualization tool.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The State of the Nation's Housing

American Consumers Newsletter's Cheryl Russell describes: This annual publication examines current trends in housing markets and looks at the future of homeownership and rental housing. This year's report also examines the demographic trends driving the housing market--such as the slowdown in household formation, growing diversity, income stagnation, and the aging population.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marriage and divorce: patterns by gender, race, and educational attainment

Many changes in the last half century have affected marriage and divorce rates. The rise of the women’s liberation movement, the advent of the sexual revolution, and an increase in women’s labor force participation altered perceptions of gender roles within marriage during the last 50 years. Cultural norms changed in ways that decreased the aversion to being single and increased the probability of cohabitation.1 In addition, a decrease in the stigma attached to divorce and the appearance of no-fault divorce laws in many states contributed to an increase in divorce rates.

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79)—a survey of people born during the 1957–1964 period—this study examines the marriage and divorce patterns for a cohort of young baby boomers up to age 46. In particular, the study focuses on differences in marriage and divorce patterns by educational attainment and by age at marriage. This work is descriptive and does not attempt to explain causation or why marriage patterns differ across groups.

Read data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Friday, November 15, 2013

U.S. Census Bureau Releases 2010-2012 ACS 3-Year Estimates

The 2010-2012 American Community Survey (ACS) 3-Year Estimates, the most relied-upon source for up-to-date socioeconomic information every year, has been released. The data cover a three-year period from 2010 to 2012 and more than 40 topics, such as educational attainment, income, health insurance coverage, occupation, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs.

The estimates are available in detailed tables for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 20,000 or more.

Visit the Census Bureau's American FactFinder to find statistics for your area. Get more information about the ACS Data Release Schedule, new ACS products, documentation, and a list of new tables for the 2010-2012 ACS 3-Year release.

In addition, the Census Bureau released a brief titled Home Value and Homeownership Rates: Recession and Post-Recession Comparisons From 2007-2009 to 2010-2012, which uses the ACS 3-year estimates to focus on homeownership rates and home values for smaller areas.

The ACS provides reliable statistics that are indispensable to anyone who has to make informed decisions about the future. These statistics are required by all levels of government to manage or evaluate a wide range of programs, but are also useful for research, education, journalism, business and advocacy. If you have questions about this survey, please call the Customer Services Center on 1 (800) 923-8282.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The 40-Year Slump

From The Prospect:

Since 1947, Americans at all points on the economic spectrum had become a little better off with each passing year. The economy’s rising tide, as President John F. Kennedy had famously said, was lifting all boats. Productivity had risen by 97 percent in the preceding quarter-century, and median wages had risen by 95 percent. As economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted in The Affluent Society, this newly middle-class nation had become more egalitarian. The poorest fifth had seen their incomes increase by 42 percent since the end of the war, while the wealthiest fifth had seen their incomes rise by just 8 percent. Economists have dubbed the period the “Great Compression.”

This egalitarianism, of course, was severely circumscribed. African Americans had only recently won civil equality, and economic equality remained a distant dream. Women entered the workforce in record numbers during the early 1970s to find a profoundly discriminatory labor market. A new generation of workers rebelled at the regimentation of factory life, staging strikes across the Midwest to slow down and humanize the assembly line. But no one could deny that Americans in 1974 lived lives of greater comfort and security than they had a quarter-century earlier. During that time, median family income more than doubled.

Then, it all stopped.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Daylight Saving Time Is Terrible: Here's a Simple Plan to Fix It

From The Atlantic:

Daylight saving time ended Nov. 3, setting off an annual ritual where Americans (who don’t live in Arizona or Hawaii) and residents of 78 other countries including Canada (but not Saskatchewan), most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand turn their clocks back one hour. It’s a controversial practice that became popular in the 1970s with the intent of conserving energy. The fall time change feels particularly hard because we lose another hour of evening daylight, just as the days grow shorter. It also creates confusion because countries that observe daylight saving change their clocks on different days.

It would seem to be more efficient to do away with the practice altogether. The actual energy savings are minimal, if they exist at all. Frequent and uncoordinated time changes cause confusion, undermining economic efficiency. There’s evidence that regularly changing sleep cycles, associated with daylight saving, lowers productivity and increases heart attacks. Being out of sync with European time changes was projected to cost the airline industry $147 million a year in travel disruptions.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013

From the World Economic Forum [PDF]

The press release:

The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 finds 86 out of 133 countries improved their global gender gap between 2012 and 2013, with the area of political participation seeing the greatest progress.

Iceland has the narrowest gender gap in the world, followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Data indicates overall slight gains in gender parity mask the emergence of twin-track paths towards economic equality in many countries and regions....

The eighth annual edition of the Report ranks 136 countries on their ability to close the gender gap in four key areas: economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, political participation and economic equality. Of the 133 countries that were measured in both 2012 and 2013, 86 actually improved their gender gap during this time. Overall, the Report finds Iceland the most advanced country in the world in terms of gender equality for the fifth year running. It, along with Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) and Sweden (4th), has now closed over 80% of its gender gap. These countries are joined in the top 10 by the Philippines, which enters the top five for the first time, Ireland (6th), New Zealand (7th), Denmark (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Nicaragua (10th).

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

NYS Counties SNAP (Food Stamps) Historical Benefits 1970-2010

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) increased SNAP benefits across the board as a way of delivering high “bang-for-the-buck” economic stimulus and easing hardship in response to the economic downturn. ARRA increased SNAP maximum monthly benefits by 13.6 percent beginning in April 2009.

ARRA provided that SNAP benefit levels would continue at the new higher amount until the program’s regular annual inflation adjustments to the maximum SNAP benefit exceeded those set by ARRA. The maximum SNAP benefit levels for each household size, which are set each October 1, are equal to the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) from the preceding June scaled to each household size. The TFP is the cost of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food plan for a family of four to purchase and prepare a bare-bones diet at home. At the time ARRA was enacted, food price inflation was expected to be high and the TFP cost was expected to exceed the ARRA level in fiscal year 2014. Food price inflation, however, turned out to be lower than expected over the 2009 to 2013 period, resulting in the pushing out of the date that the TFP was expected to exceed the ARRA level.

More HERE.

Also, monthly NYC (not borough) and county SNAP actuals for households, persons and benefits are available from January 2002 forward in spreadsheet form on Open Data NY. The data are also broken out by Temporary Assistance (cases consisting entirely of cash assistance and/or Supplemental Security Assistance recipients) and non-TA.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Eleven “Americas” in one

If you understand the United States as a patchwork of separate nations, each with its own origins and prevailing values, you would hardly expect attitudes toward violence to be uniformly distributed. You would instead be prepared to discover that some parts of the country experience more violence, have a greater tolerance for violent solutions to conflict, and are more protective of the instruments of violence than other parts of the country. That is exactly what the data on violence reveal about the modern United States.

Most scholarly research on violence has collected data at the state level, rather than the county level (where the boundaries of the eleven nations are delineated). Still, the trends are clear. The same handful of nations show up again and again at the top and the bottom of state-level figures on deadly violence, capital punishment, and promotion of gun ownership.

Consider assault deaths. Kieran Healy, a Duke University sociologist, broke down the per capita, age-adjusted deadly assault rate for 2010. In the northeastern states—almost entirely dominated by Yankeedom, New Netherland, and the Midlands—just over 4 people per 100,000 died in assaults. By contrast, southern states—largely monopolized by Deep South, Tidewater, and Greater Appalachia—had a rate of more than 7 per 100,000. The three deadliest states—Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, where the rate of killings topped 10 per 100,000—were all in Deep South territory. Meanwhile, the three safest states—New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota, with rates of about 2 killings per 100,000—were all part of Yankeedom.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines

We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That's all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails?

Automation, for all its benefits, can take a toll on the performance and talents of those who rely on it. The implications go well beyond safety. Because automation alters how we act, how we learn, and what we know, it has an ethical dimension. The choices we make, or fail to make, about which tasks we hand off to machines shape our lives and the place we make for ourselves in the world. That has always been true, but in recent years, as the locus of labor-saving technology has shifted from machinery to software, automation has become ever more pervasive, even as its workings have become more hidden from us. Seeking convenience, speed, and efficiency, we rush to off-load work to computers without reflecting on what we might be sacrificing as a result.

MORE from The Atlantic.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

U.S. Corporations are Hoarding Wealth at Highest Rate Since 1971

From Sociological Images:

The dominant firms in the U.S. and other major capitalist counties are happily making profits, but they aren't interested in investing them in new plants and equipment that increase productivity and create jobs. Rather they prefer to use their earnings to acquire other firms, reward their managers and shareholders, or increase their holdings of cash and other financial assets.

The increase in profits has swamped the increase in investment over the relevant time period; in fact, investment in current dollars has actually been falling.

Looking at the ratio between these two variables helps us see even more clearly the growth in firm reluctance to channel profits into investment. The investment ratio (investment/profits) was 62% in 1971, peaked at 69% in 1979, fell to 61% in 2000 and 56% in 2008, and dropped to an even lower 46% in 2012.

According to Michael Burke, if U.S. firms were simply to invest at the level they did in 1979, not even the peak, the increase in investment in the American economy would exceed $1.5 trillion, close to 10% of GDP.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving

From the PIRG Education Fund

After 60 years of almost constant increases in driving, since 2004 Americans have decreased their per-capita driving for eight years in a row.