Tag Archives: Gallup poll

Average daily discretionary spending by Americans not increasing…

Gallup just released the results of a poll asking Americans how much money they spent in a day on discretionary items, excluding major home purchases and regular bills. Respondents are asked how much they spent “yesterday,” or the day before they were contacted by the pollster.

The results of this poll show a lot of seasonal variation in daily spending, with upticks during the summer months and before Christmas, and lower spending in the winter and fall. This means the most useful comparisons to make to the current poll are with responses from June in previous years.

Gallup noted that, while self-reported spending is up from the years following the financial crisis and the Great Recession, June 2015’s average daily spending of $90 is essentially unchanged from June 2013 and 2014:

Discretionary spending in US

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  You will see above that spending was substantially lower in the 2009 to 2012 period, when it slowly began to increase as people felt more confident about the US economy’s recovery. But if the economy IS recovering, why has discretionary spending remained level during the past three years? This is the question the Gallup poll is asking…along with many other Americans.


As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis


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“Official unemployment rate is one big lie,” says head of Gallup Poll organization…

Government's unemployment rate "one big lie"...

The chairman of the venerable Gallup research and polling firm says the official U.S. unemployment rate is really an underestimation and a “big lie” perpetuated by the White House, Wall Street and the media.

What CEO and Chairman Jim Clifton revealed in his blog Tuesday about how the Labor Department arrives at the monthly unemployment rate is no secret — including that Americans who have quit looking for work after four weeks are not included in the survey.

The department’s current rate of 5.6 percent unemployment is the lowest since June 2008, with President Obama using his State of the Union address and campaign-style stops across the country to tout an economic recovery.

“Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” Obama said in the opening lines of his January 20 address before Congress.“Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.”

Clifton says the “cheerleading” for the 5.6 number is “deafening.”

“The media loves a comeback story,” he writes. “The White House wants to score political points, and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.”

Since the start of the Great Recession, which economists largely agree began in late 2007, the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in October 2009 and finally got under 6 percent in September 2014.

Clifton says Americans out of work for at least four weeks are “as unemployed as one can possibly be” and argues that as many as 30 million of them are now either out of work or severely underemployed.

He points out that an out-of-work engineer, for example, performing a minimum of one hour of work a week, even mowing a lawn for $20, also is not officially counted as unemployed.

In addition, those working part time but wanting full-time work — the so-called “severely underemployed” — also are not counted.

“There’s no other way to say this,” Clifton says. “The official unemployment rate … amounts to a big lie.”

His arguments are similar to those made by Washington Republicans after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the rate each month during the height of the recession. However, Gallup is an 80-year-old, nonpartisan firm.

The government bureau did not return a request for comment.

Clifton suggests the biggest misconception about the official rate is that it doesn’t denote “good” full-time jobs.

“When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth — the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real — then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t ‘feeling’ something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class,” he said.

[reported by FOX NEWS]


As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis


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How Obama lost the middle class…

A gradually improving economy—and plunging gas prices–have finally brought Mr. Obama a modest boost in his long-depressed job-approval rating. But the voters who are least impressed with Obama are the middle-income Americans every politician needs to succeed—and the very people whose interests Obama claims to be fighting for.

The latest poll numbers from Gallup put Obama’s approval rating at 46%, the highest reading since the summer of 2013. But there are telling disparities among income groups that help explain why Obama’s Democratic party lost control of both houses of Congress during the last two midterm elections, and why Obama may be able to accomplish little during his last two years in office.

One of the emerging ironies of the Obama presidency, in fact, is the sagging fortunes of the American middle class while those on either end — rich and poor alike — have arguably fared better under Obama. The poor have been direct beneficiaries of many Obama programs — most notably, Obamacare—while the rich have benefited from a roaring stock market that has helped restore all the wealth lost during the 2008 financial meltdown, and then some. Middle earners, however, still face soaring costs for healthcare and education, while incomes have stagnated and many are sliding sideways or drifting backward.

It’s no surprise, then, that Obama is most popular with the lowest earners, with an approval rating of 52% among people earning less than $2,000 per month. That’s the highest approval rating of four income brackets. Obama’s lowest marks come not from the wealthy, as conventional wisdom might suggest, but from middle earners with incomes between $5,000 and $7,499 per month, who only give Obama a 44% approval rating.

A breakdown of the numbers since 2009 shows that the president has enjoyed higher support among low earners than among middle earners for all but four weeks of his presidency, as this chart illustrates:

How Obama lost the middle class...

There’s obviously nothing wrong with helping the underprivileged, as Obama has. But since low-income workers are least likely to vote, Obama’s strongest constituency is a group with minimal political power or ability to support the president’s agenda. Many middle earners who do vote, meanwhile, feel (legitimately or not) that Obama has shifted resources from the middle to the lower class, in a zero-sum game with one loser for every winner.

That’s unfair to Obama, who has backed many middle-class priorities, such as better schools, ongoing jobs programs, affordable health care, elaborate consumer protections and cheaper college tuition. Obama will no doubt tout his middle-class agenda during the upcoming State of the Union address. Yet most of his proposals have been mere talking points, with Congressional Republicans blocking many of Obama’s plans. The things Obama has been able to accomplish, meanwhile, tend to benefit lower earners most of all, while those in the middle feel little or no relief. Here are four reasons Obama has lost the confidence of middle-class voters.

Obamacare doesn’t help those in the middle. Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, provides generous subsidies to low earners, but aid levels decline as incomes rise and phase out altogether around income levels of $47,000 for an individual and $95,000 for a four-person family. The law does virtually nothing to lower healthcare costs for people who don’t qualify for subsidies.

Meanwhile, the cost of medical care and prescription drugs has risen about 5% per year under Obama, as wages have grown by less than 2%. The cost of health insurance has risen by less than 2% annually during Obama’s six years, but that’s partly because deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket expenses have soared . Obama pursued a noble goal by seeking to make health care coverage available to more people—but he hasn’t done anything, really, to help families above the Obamacare subsidy levels finance medical care.

College is more expensive than ever. College tuition and fees have risen by 5.2% per year under Obama, making the cost of higher education another huge middle-class expense that’s growing faster than wages. That’s not really Obama’s fault, since the government doesn’t control what colleges charge. Obama is keenly aware of the problem and has tried to address it, by signing legislation boosting federal aid for students and taking other steps that might someday help lower the cost of getting a degree. Yet the amount of student debt outstanding has soared by 58% under Obama, to a staggering $1.3 trillion, according to the latest Federal Reserve numbers. Middle-class families are mortgaging their future to pay for college, with the outcome uncertain, at best.

Obama’s stimulus spending didn’t trickle down far enough, or fast enough. Obama has basically admitted he overpromised on the $840 billion stimulus bill that was the first big piece of legislation he signed in 2009. Jobs returned far more slowly than Obama and many economists predicted, and when they did, many paid less than the jobs lost during the 2007-09 recession. There was — and is — no silver-bullet solution to economic problems that formed long before Obama took office, and would have bedeviled any president, Republican or Democrat. But Obama clearly thought the 2009 stimulus plan would get the job done, which is why he turned to health care and other matters after it passed. Mission unaccomplished, as another top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer, admitted late last year.

Obama’s other priorities don’t help the middle class today. Obama may well establish a lasting legacy as the first modern president to make a difference on global warming and other environmental issues. If so, it will help Americans for generations to come. But it doesn’t put money in anybody’s pocket today, and Americans consistently say environmental concerns are less important than jobs and economic issues.

Other Obama priorities, such as more muscular consumer protection, federal support for high-tech manufacturing and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, may ultimately help the middle class too, but for now these initiatives are essentially invisible to ordinary Americans. If they truly work, the best evidence may be an absence of problems down the road, something that’s mighty tough to claim credit for.

Obama is likely to get a natural lift during the last two years of his presidency, as the unemployment rate–which was 7.8% when he took office in 2009–declines further from its current 5.6% level. Wage gains ought to kick in and middle-class living standards should finally begin to recover. But he may still leave the middle class struggling, and it may be Obama’s successor who ultimately gets credit for the widespread return of prosperity—if it actually happens.

[by Rick Newman, writing for YAHOO! FINANCE]


As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis



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People of faith being discriminated against in job searching…


Religious persecution is alive and well in America.

Despite the incessant whining and petulant foot-stomping about discrimination based upon the phony designation of same-sex “orientation,” it turns out that people of faith are actually the ones who have something to complain about.

A Gallup poll found that 7 out of 10 Americans identify as very or moderately religious. Nevertheless, two recent studies have disclosed that religious identification remains a primary target for employment discrimination. Job applicants, who make reference to membership in a university-related religious organizations on their resumes, can experience up to a 26% reduction in callbacks by prospective employers.

The Washington Times reports:

Scholars with the “Religious Affiliation and Hiring Discrimination” field experiments, conducted in the South and New England, found that “applicants who expressed a religious identity were 26 percent less likely to receive a response from employers.”

The New England study was conducted between July and October 2009, and involved submitting 6,400 resumes for 1,600 job postings within 150 miles of Hartford, Connecticut.

The study in the South was conducted between March and May 2010, and involved 3,200 resumes sent to 800 jobs posted online within 150 miles of two “major Southern cities.”

The jobs included positions in customer service, hospitality, media, retail, real estate, shipping and clerical duties. The postings only required an emailed resume.

Both studies submitted resumes to jobs where a resume could be emailed, and for each posting, several resumes were submitted with similar templates but a variety of faith-based information.

According to the studies, each “candidate” graduated in 2008 or 2009, achieved a 3.7 or higher grade point average, and was “randomly assigned” one of seven religious classifications – atheist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Jewish, pagan, Muslim, and a fictional “Wallonian” faith. As a control group, they also submitted resumes for which no religious affiliation was mentioned.

“Including such religious information on resumes is realistic for college graduates because they generally lack extensive work histories and tend to compensate by listing involvement in extracurricular activities and volunteer experiences. These activities include participation in political, community, or identity-based organizations,” the studies indicated.

The results clearly revealed an appreciable bias against people of religious belief. For some individuals, in fact, admitting to personal faith can prove fatal to their career aspirations.

In the New England study, 8.5 percent of the control group received a phone call or email from a potential employer, compared to the 7.5 percent average of the seven religions included in the survey.

For the American South, 18.2 percent of the control group received a call or email, while the religious candidates averaged 15.7 percent.

Finally, these two studies are providing a quantitative value to what many of us have known for quite some time – a growing number of employers have a palpable animus towards the faith of prospective candidates. This also exposes the sad fact that there is currently a new unwritten anti-religious employment qualification: People of faith need not apply.
[by Jeff Allen, writing for Matt Barber’s BARBWIRE]


As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis

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