Statistical Snapshots Worth Noting
Stats are like still photographs—they reveal something about a specific place and time. One of the greatest sources for stats in the United States is the Statistical Abstract, published annually. It’s been around a long time (since 1878), and it is often used as a gauge for other national studies. Robert J. Samuelson recently reported on the just-released 2010 abstract. Here are some interesting tidbits about our culture as it stands today:
- 76% of Americans drive to work alone. Only 10% carpool, and 5% use public transportation, while 3% percent walk to work. On average, Americans spend 25 minutes commuting each way (I once was above average here, now I’m glad to be well below average. Living in a small town has its advantages).
- Smoking has declined from 25% of adults in 1990 to 20%.
- Five-year survival rates for cancer are up. The percentage of people voting is also up—the 57% turnout in 2008 was the highest since 1968.
- Garbage per person has remained constant—it was 4.5 pounds per day in 1990, and it is now 4.6 pounds per day.
- Almost two-fifths of all U.S. births were to unmarried women, double the amount in 1980.
- The share of children under the federal poverty line has not changed in 1980.
- Nearly one-quarter of elementary and high school students are immigrants or have immigrant parents.