Capitol Comments

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases in the month of October while five states posted rate increases, and nine states remained the same, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The national unemployment rate stayed about the same at 9.0 percent. Compared to a year ago, 40 states experienced unemployment rate decreases, while eight states plus D.C. saw increases, and two states had no change. The national jobless rate dropped 0.7 percentage points since October 2010. 

According to White House data recently requested by The Council of State Governments, over $66 billion worth of funds1 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act remain unspent.  While nearly 85 percent of stimulus dollars have been paid out and almost all of the remaining funds have been obligated for projects, the 15 percent left to be spent adds up to a hefty sum.  And as states continue to feel the fiscal and economic effects of the Great Recession, $66 billion could go a long way in helping states get on the road to recovery.

According to recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state government employment continued to fall in October, dropping 20,000 jobs last month and reaching the lowest point since the Great Recession began in late 2007.  The recession has had an unprecedented effect on state and local government employment as the number of jobs in state and local governments has been trending down since the latter half of 2008.  Private sector jobs[1], on the other hand, continue to trend up, adding 80,000 jobs in October.

As we are exposed to more and more data and statistics on a daily basis, it has become even more important to understand how to interpret that data – and how to spot when they are being manipulated.  This series is designed to explain the common ways that data and statistics are used and to arm you with the information you need to ask the right questions and understand the true meaning behind all of those numbers.

Determining the difference between the terms average, mean and median is the subject of this blog. 

There’s been a lot of news lately about rising income inequality, or how income is distributed across the population.  The spike in attention is largely due to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that found that between 1979 and 2007, after-tax income for the nation’s wealthiest households grew significantly more than any other income group. And according to a new poll from the The Hill, 55 percent of likely voters say they believe income inequality has become a big problem for the country.