Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 U.S. Statistical Abstract just released

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Robert Samuelson of the New York Times said in a recent article that he often starts a column in the Stat Abstract because it substitutes evidence for speculation. That is a great idea and here are a few gems from the most recent issue:

Food is cheaper here than almost anywhere else. In 2007, only about 6.9 percent of U.S. consumer spending went for food at home; Germans spent more (11.4 percent), as did Italians (14.5 percent) and Mexicans (24.2 percent). Low food prices may contribute to Americans' obesity. In 2006, about 34 percent of U.S. adults were judged obese, triple France's rate (10.5 percent) and four times that of Switzerland (7.7 percent).

Three-quarters of Americans (76.1 percent in 2007, to be exact) get to work by driving alone. Only 10.4 percent carpool, while 4.9 percent use public transportation and 2.8 percent walk. On average, Americans spend 25.3 minutes commuting each way.

Americans commit suicide at fairly low rates, 10.2 for every 100,000 people in 2004, less than the 11.9 average for all industrial countries or Japan's 20.3 and France's 15.1.

Smoking has declined, from 25.3 percent of adults in 1990 to 19.7 percent in 2007. Five-year survival rates for cancer are up: from 62.4 percent in 1990-92 to 69.1 percent in 1999-2005 for whites; and from 48.2 percent to 59.4 percent for blacks.

Among young adults (18 to 29), Internet usage is almost universal: 92 percent in 2009, up from 72 percent in 2000.

Garbage per person has stabilized; it was 4.5 pounds per day in 1990 and 4.6 pounds in 2007.

In 2007, nearly two-fifths of all U.S. births were to unmarried women, double the share in 1980.

The share of children under the federal poverty line in 2007 (17.6 percent) was almost the same as in 1980 (17.9 percent).

Since 1970, the student-teacher ratio in schools has declined dramatically, from 22 to 1 to 15 to 1 in 2007, with little effect on test results.

By 2050, the U.S. population is projected at almost 440 million, up from 304 million in 2008.

Almost one-quarter of elementary and high school students are immigrants or have immigrant parents.

In 2007, the average American spent 1,613 hours watching TV, the equivalent of 67 days.

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