Thursday, July 31, 2014

United States among the few countries without a guarantee of paid maternity leave.

There are 185 nations studied in the International Labour Organization's report, Maternity and paternity at work. "Oman, New Guinea and the United States are the only ones without a guarantee of paid maternity leave. In the States, if you have worked long enough for a company with 50 or more employees, you get 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child. Only in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island is any provision made for paid leave in these circumstances."

Read more in the Daily Kos.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Regulation of Bitcoin in Selected Jurisdictions

Source: Library of Congress

This report surveys forty foreign jurisdictions and the European Union, reporting on any regulations or statements from central banks or government offices on the handling of bitcoins as well as any significant use of bitcoins in business transactions. Topics covered include whether bitcoins are recognized as legal tender, the possibility of negative impacts on the national currency, concerns about fraud, and how transactions using the Bitcoin system are viewed by tax authorities.

Of those countries surveyed, only a very few, notably China and Brazil, have specific regulations applicable to bitcoin use. There is widespread concern about the Bitcoin system’s possible impact on national currencies, its potential for criminal misuse, and the implications of its use for taxation. Overall, the findings of this report reveal that the debate over how to deal with this new virtual currency is still in its infancy.

June 2014 update

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dancing statistics: explaining the statistical concept of correlation through dance

A four minute film demonstrating the statistical concept of correlation through dance.

Project title: 'Communicating Psychology to the Public through Dance' (AKA 'Dancing Statistics')

Founder & Co-Producer: Lucy Irving
Project Manager & Co-Producer: Elise Phillips
Statistical Lead & Co-Producer: Professor Andy Field
Choreographer: Masha Gurina
Filmmaker: Kyle Stevenson

These films were funded by a BPS Public Engagement with additional funding from IdeasTap.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How much do you know about the laws that govern us? And have you ever wanted to know exactly what they say?
The “Laws and Regulations” page at is a good place to find out. Get details on recent laws like the Affordable Care Act, or laws that differ from state to state like gun regulations. You can also see bills that have been introduced in Congress and learn how to get involved and contact your elected officials.

United Nations metadata

UN data sets include:

The United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) stores more than 1 billion trade data records from 1962.

The Energy Statistics Database contains comprehensive energy statistics on the production, trade, conversion and final consumption of primary and secondary; conventional and non-conventional; and new and renewable sources of energy.

The Environment Statistics Database contains selected water and waste statistics by country.

FAOSTAT provides access to over 3 million time-series and cross sectional data relating to food and agriculture.

The United Nations Industrial Commodity Statistics Database provides annual statistics on the production of major industrial commodities by country.

International Financial Statistics (IFS) is a standard source of international statistics on all aspects of international and domestic finance.

The LABORSTA is an International Labour Office database operated by the ILO Department of Statistics which has data and metadata on labour statistics for over 200 countries or territories.

Other entities address health, marriage and fertility, population, telecommunication, tourism, weather, and other statistical information.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let’s Stop Pretending the Death Penalty Is a Medical Procedure

An editorial from Scientific American:

The idea of testing how to most effectively kill a healthy person runs contrary to the spirit and practice of medicine. Doctors and nurses are taught to first “do no harm”; physicians are banned by professional ethics codes from participating in executions. Scientific protocols for executions cannot be established, because killing animal subjects for no reason other than to see what kills them best would clearly be unethical. Although lethal injections appear to be medical procedures, the similarities are just so much theater.

Yet even if executions are not medical, they can affect medicine. Supplies of propofol, a widely used anesthetic, came close to being choked off as a result of Missouri's plan to use the drug for executions... The manufacturer feared that if the drug was used for lethal injection, E.U. regulators would ban all exports of propofol to the U.S....

Propofol is the most popular anesthetic in the U.S. It is used in some 50 million cases a year—everything from colonoscopies to cesareans to open-heart surgeries—and nearly 90 percent of the propofol used in the U.S. comes from the E.U. After 11 months, Missouri relented and agreed to return the drug.

Such incidents illustrate how the death penalty can harm ordinary citizens.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26

July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
Population Distribution
56.7 million
Number of people in the United States in 2010 with a disability. People with disabilities  represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Persons with a disability have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework. A disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life.
By age —
• 8 percent of children under 15 had a disability.
• 21 percent of people 15 and older had a disability.
• 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had a disability.
• 50 percent of adults 65 and older had a disability.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 
Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 17 percent of males.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 
Where They Live
Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in West Virginia with a disability ─ the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table R1810

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What local government employees make in New York State

The Empire Center for Public Policy released the 2014 edition of "What They Make," an overview of local government payrolls (outside New York City) for the period of April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

The Center's analysis revealed that 1,803 local government employees were paid more than the statutory salary of Governor Andrew Cuomo ($179,000).

The report includes:
Regional rankings of average pay for county, city, town and village employees.
Lists of the highest-paid local government employees in each region.
A list of the 50 highest-paid local government employees in the state.
Regional highlights: Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Earth just experienced hottest June ever recorded

From BoingBoing

"The world just experienced its hottest June on record. The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago. That makes this the third-warmest start to the year." This follows the hottest May recorded.

When looking at land areas only, this was the 7th-hottest June. Temperatures averaged over land were 1.7°F above average.

It’s the ocean surface temperatures that put the month over the top.

But, according to NBC News, it was only the 33rd warmest June in the United States.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big city living costs more, but still gives you more bang for the buck

One thing you'll notice, if you stare hard enough at demographic data (or if you just travel around the country with eyes open), is the circular relationship between place, income, education, and housing costs. Whether that's a vicious circle, or a virtuous one, depends largely on whether you've been able to get inside the circle or not.

In other words, a place with well-paying jobs is likely to have higher housing costs, because more people wanting to live there to access well-paying jobs creates more demand, and landlords or sellers are better able to demand a bigger premium from those people. To have enough money to be able to find a place to live in a city with well-paying jobs, though, you already have to have a well-paying job (or a willing benefactor).

Likewise, well-paying jobs usually require more education. Obtaining more education requires tuition and fees, and the ability to defer wages temporarily while getting educated ... again, requiring a well-paying job (or that same benefactor). And getting a good education requires living in a place where a good education can be obtained, which tends to overlap with places with well-paying jobs and high living costs, again requiring you to already have money to get your foot in the door. It's a difficult carousel to get on, and a hard one to get back on if you get thrown off.

The increasing speed of this carousel—the greater disparity in pay between jobs that do and don't require a lot of education, the greater disparity in costs of living between places that do and don't have well-paying jobs—helps drive the growing inequality in this country, both economic and spatial inequality. Two different recent studies... shed some new light on the growing segregation.

More from Daily Kos.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New college data give fuller picture of graduation rates — and show challenges

From the Washington Post:

Dozens of public universities across the country..., report that fewer than half of their full-time freshmen in 2007 earned bachelor’s degrees after six years at those schools or after switching to other schools.
That finding emerges from an unusual cache of data posted on a nongovernmental Web site to provide what sponsors call “a more comprehensive and accurate picture” of college outcomes than can be found in federal records. The new data put a rare spotlight on a crucial group: transfer students.
The government tracks graduation rates for first-time, full-time students who finish where they began. But that omits the huge number who hop from school to school. Colleges are now stepping forward to fill in gaps in public knowledge through a site called Student Achievement Measure.
So far, 250 public colleges and 16 private schools have disclosed details about outcomes for the class that entered in fall 2007, including the proportions that:
●Graduated from their original school within six years.
●Graduated from other schools.
●Were still enrolled in quest of degrees.
●Had dropped out or were for some other reason untrackable.
These questions matter because every college student who fails to finish has invested a significant amount of money and effort — possibly going into debt — without reaping any of the economic or social benefits of obtaining a degree. Students of modest means, whose parents never went to college, are often those who face the highest hurdles in the effort to graduate.
This chart shows data for 266 colleges and universities, tracking outcomes for first-time, full-time students who entered college in 2007. See the chart.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics

The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program is part of the Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau. The LEHD program produces new, cost effective, public-use information combining federal, state and Census Bureau data on employers and employees under the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership. State and local authorities increasingly need detailed local information about their economies to make informed decisions. The LED Partnership works to fill critical data gaps and provide indicators needed by state and local authorities.
Under the LED Partnership, states agree to share Unemployment Insurance earnings data and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data with the Census Bureau. The LEHD program combines these administrative data, additional administrative data and data from censuses and surveys. From these data, the program creates statistics on employment, earnings, and job flows at detailed levels of geography and industry and for different demographic groups. In addition, the LEHD program uses these data to create partially synthetic data on workers' residential patterns.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have joined the LED Partnership, although the LEHD program is not yet producing public-use statistics for Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. The LEHD program staff includes geographers, programmers, and economists.
The mission is to provide new dynamic information on workers, employers, and jobs with state-of-the-art confidentiality protections and no additional data collection burden.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2012 Economic Census Shows U.S. Household Appliance Manufacturing is Down from 2007

Value of shipments for the nation’s 95 household cooking appliance manufacturing establishments totaled $4.3 billion in 2012, according to the latest 2012 Economic Census statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This value is down 10.8 percent from $4.9 billion in 2007.
The household cooking appliance manufacturing industry employed 10,324 people in 2012, down 34.0 percent from 15,638 in 2007. Average payroll per employee increased 23.0 percent from $30,199 in 2007 to $37,143 in 2012. The average number of employees per establishment in this industry decreased 20.1 percent, from 136 in 2007 to 109 in 2012.
Other highlights for the household cooking appliance manufacturing industry (NAICS 335221) include:
·          Total value of product shipments decreased 6.7 percent from $4.7 billion in 2007 to $4.4 billion in 2012.
·          Electric household ranges, ovens and surface cooking units comprised 57.2 percent ($2.5 billion) of the total value of product shipments in 2012, while 26.3 percent of units ($1.1 billion) were fueled by gas.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Majority of STEM College Graduates Do Not Work in STEM Occupations

The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that 74 percent of those who have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math — commonly referred to as STEM — are not employed in STEM occupations. In addition, men continue to be overrepresented in STEM, especially in computer and engineering occupations. About 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men.
      “STEM graduates have relatively low unemployment, however these graduates are not necessarily employed in STEM occupations,” said Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist in the Census Bureau’s Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch. 
       According to new statistics from the 2012 American Community Survey, engineering and computer, math and statistics majors had the largest share of graduates going into a STEM field with about half employed in a STEM occupation. Science majors had fewer of their graduates employed in STEM. About 26 percent of physical science majors; 15 percent of biological, environmental and agricultural sciences majors; 10 percent of psychology majors; and 7 percent of social science majors were employed in STEM.
      Approximately 14 percent of engineers were women, where they were most underrepresented of all the STEM fields. Representation of women was higher among mathematicians and statisticians (45 percent), life scientists (47 percent) and social scientists (63 percent). The rates of mathematicians and statisticians, and life scientists are not statistically different from each other.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Global Peace Index

From the Institute for Economics and Peace

This is the eighth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks nations according to their level of peace.
The Index is composed of 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and ranks 162 independent states, covering 99.6 percent of the world’s population. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarisation.
In addition to presenting the findings from the 2014 GPI and its seven-year trend analysis, this year’s report includes an updated analysis of the economic impact of violence as well as a detailed assessment of country risk using risk models developed by IEP based on its unique datasets....
Iceland tops the Index again, with the ten highest ranking nations being all relatively small, stable democracies. Nordic and alpine countries are particularly well represented. Asia-Pacific is also represented at the top, with New Zealand 4th and Japan 8th.
The most peaceful region continues to be Europe while the least peaceful region is South Asia. Afghanistan has been replaced at the bottom of the Index by Syria due to a slight improvement in its peace combined with further deterioration of the situation in Syria. South Sudan experienced the largest drop in the Index this year falling from 145th to 160th and ranking as the third least peaceful country. Major deteriorations also occurred in Egypt, Ukraine and Central African Republic.
Direct link to Index (PDF; 9.4 MB)
Highlights (Infographic) (PDF; 2.7 MB)
Map (PDF; 1.6 MB)
Press Release (PDF; 339 KB)

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Global Destination Cities Index

The impacts of travel on destination cities that receive visitors are very significant from the business, social, and cultural perspectives. International visitors’ spending constitute an increasingly important source of business revenue in a destination city, encompassing the hospitality, retail, transport, sports, and cultural industries, among many others. In many instances, it is a major economic engine for employment and income generation for the city in question. Along with the flow of visitors comes the flow of new ideas and experiences that benefits both the visitors and the destination cities, which are just as important as the flow of spending. As a result, the more connected a destination city is to other cities, the more vibrant and dynamic it becomes.

MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, now in its fourth year, provides an annual ranking of 132 of the most important destination cities in the world. It generates estimates of the total number of international visitors to each of these cities each year, their cross-border spending in these cities, and breakdown of their numbers by feeder cities. The index is therefore a global map of how these 132 cities are connected and the business potential generated in each of them by the inflows of visitor spending.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Why Classic Rock Isn’t What It Used To Be

Led Zeppelin is classic rock. So are Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne. But what about U2 or Nirvana?
What precisely is classic rock? As it turns out, a massive amount of data collection and analysis, and some algorithms, go into figuring out the answer to that very question.

No one starts a band with the intention of becoming classic rock. It’s just sort of something that happens. Figuring out which genre a band fits into... has always been a tricky part of the music business. Identifying what’s classic rock is particularly challenging because it’s a constantly moving target, with very different kinds of music lumped together under the same banner. How the people who choose what music you hear — whether on the radio or an Internet streaming service — go about solving this problem reveals a deep connection between data and music.

More from

Thanks to Dustbury for the tip.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Young First-Time Mothers Less Likely to be Married

Graphic | JPG | PDF |
The percentage of young first-time mothers who are married is dropping, according to Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012, a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the early 1990s, at least half of all first births to mothers younger than age 23 occurred in marriage. Since 2005, more young mothers were cohabiting (38 percent) than were married (24 percent) at the time of their first birth. However, the majority of all women continue to have their first child within marriage.
Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012 uses data from the 2012 American Community Surveyand the 2012 Current Population Survey. The report examines women’s marital status at the time of their first births, the completed fertility of women up to age 50 and the fertility patterns of young women. Fertility patterns are shown by race, ethnicity, age, citizenship and employment status, as well as state of residence.
“In this report, we explore changes in women’s relationship status at first birth over time, as well as fertility patterns of women up to age 50,” said demographer Lindsay Monte of the Census Bureau’sFertility and Family Statistics Branch, and one of the report’s authors. “It’s important to track these changes in fertility because recent research suggests that childbearing is related to women’s rates of employment, their educational attainment and their economic well-being.”
The following are some highlights from the report on women and fertility:
·         In June 2012, 75.4 million women in the United States were age 15 to 50, of which roughly 44 million, or 59 percent, were mothers.
·         Of the 75.4 million women, 17 percent had one child, 23 percent had two children, 19 percent had three or more children, and 41 percent had not given birth to any children.
·         Roughly 5 percent of all women age 15 to 50, 4.1 million women, reported giving birth in the 12 months prior to the survey. The highest share of births were to women age 25 to 34 (52.3 percent). Only 2.3 percent of births were to women age 45 to 50. 
Other highlights:
·         The average number of children ever born has dropped from more than three children per woman in 1976 to about two children per woman in 2012.
·         More than one in five women who gave birth in the year prior to the survey reported living in someone else’s home at the time of the survey. Seventy percent of these women lived in their parents’ home.
·         The nation’s official poverty rate was 15 percent in 2012, but 48 percent of young women (younger than age 23) who gave birth in the year before the survey lived in households that were below the federal poverty line, and 28 percent were in extreme poverty (below 50 percent of the federal poverty line).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Q&A with Census director John Thompson

Here is a link to a one page Q&A with John Thompson, Director of the Census Bureau, from the current issue of the American Statistical Association newsletter. John, like Bob Groves before him, is working to make substantial improvements at the Census Bureau. The use of technology to modernize the 2020 Census is part of the improvement process.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Half Of The United States Lives In These Counties

Using Census data, we've figured out that half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.

Read more in Business Insider

Friday, July 4, 2014

How Increasing Ideological Uniformity and Partisan Antipathy Affect Politics, Compromise and Everyday Life

Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life. And a new survey of 10,000 adults nationwide finds that these divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process.

The overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10% to 21%. And ideological thinking is now much more closely aligned with partisanship than in the past. As a result, ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished: Today, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.

Today 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican
Partisan animosity has increased substantially over the same period. In each party, the share with a highly negative view of the opposing party has more than doubled since 1994. Most of these intense partisans believe the opposing party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being.”

More from Pew Research.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Worst State in America for Black Children

From Identities.MIC:

Black families pondering a move to the Midwest might want to read this, especially if they have young children. According to a national report, Wisconsin has been ranked the worst state in the country when it comes to racial disparities for children.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a 66-year-old charitable organization concentrating on family issues and well-being, spearheaded the study. "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children" scored states according to 12 different factors, from educational access to socioeconomic status and home life. 
Wisconsin scored a 238 on its ability to prepare black children for educational and financial success, the lowest of all states (the average score was 345). Interestingly, Wisconsin was ranked 10th overall in its preparation for white children.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act: July 2

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. This landmark law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations, in publicly owned or operated facilities, in employment and union membership and in the registration of voters. To mark the anniversary, the U.S. Census Bureau has gathered key statistics that measure changes in some characteristics of different race groups to date.
Note: This analysis uses the closest available year for each race/ethnic group to the historic act. Analysis is limited because of limited historical data for all racial and ethnic groups.
20,671,914 — The total estimated black population in the United States.
10.8% — The estimated percentage of the U.S. population that was black.
41,623,897 — The total estimated black population in the United States.
13.2% — The estimated percentage of the U.S. population that was black.
9.6 million — The total estimated Hispanic population in the United States.
4.7% — The estimated percentage of the U.S. population that was Hispanic.
54.1 million — The total estimated Hispanic population in the United States.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Analysis of the State of the Nation’s 65-and-Older Population

A new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau provides the latest, comprehensive look at the nation’s population aged 65 and older, comprising 40.3 million in 2010.   
The 65+ in the United States: 2010 report contains many findings about the 65-and-older population on topics such as socio-economic characteristics, size and growth, geographic distribution, and longevity and health. For example, Americans 65 and olderliving in a nursing home fell 20 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 1.6 million to 1.3 million. Meanwhile, the share in other care settings has been growing.
“In the United States, older men and women are increasingly participating in the labor force,” said Enrique Lamas, the Census Bureau’s associate director for demographic programs. “The findings released today with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health provide the most detailed information available on the demographic, economic, and  health and wellness characteristics of this rapidly growing dynamic population.”