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Chart Oct 9, 2018

The foreign-born share of the U.S. population has returned to its late-19th-century level.

Immigration during the second half of the 19th century lifted the foreign-born share of the population to 14 percent. Starting in the 1910s, however, immigration to the United States fell precipitously, and the foreign-born share of the population reached a historic low of 4.7 percent in 1970. The foreign-born fraction of the population rose steadily from 1970 to its 2017 level of 13.7 percent.

Chart Oct 9, 2018

Immigration flows and low fertility of native-born individuals increase the foreign-born share.

Though the foreign-born fraction has risen to its late-19th-century levels, the net migration rate is just half the level that prevailed around 1900. With declining native-born population growth in recent years, even a diminished level of net migration has been enough to raise the foreign-born fraction. In addition, recent growth in the number of prime-age children of immigrants has continued at more than 3 percent, supporting overall U.S. population growth. 

Chart Oct 9, 2018

Most immigrants today come from Asia or Latin America, while in 1910 most came from Europe.

The countries of origin of immigrants to the United States have changed dramatically over the past century. In the early 20th century the overwhelming majority of migrants entering the United States came from Europe. Today, the makeup of U.S. immigrants is much different: nearly 60 percent of the foreign-born emigrated either from Mexico (which accounted for only 1.6 percent of the foreign-born in 1910) or Asian countries (which accounted for only 1.4 percent in 1910).

Chart Oct 9, 2018

Immigrants are much more likely than others to work in construction or service occupations.

Immigrant workers are 39 percent less likely to work in office and administrative support positions and 31 percent less likely to work in management, while being 113 percent more likely to work in construction. However, these gaps tend to diminish across generations. There are almost no appreciable differences in occupations between the children of immigrants and children of natives.

Chart Oct 9, 2018

Immigration in the United States does not increase crime rates.

Immigrants to the United States are considerably less likely than natives to commit crimes or to be incarcerated. Recent immigrants are much less likely to be institutionalized (a proxy for incarceration that also includes those in health-care institutions like mental institutions, hospitals, and drug treatment centers) at every age. In addition, 30- to 36-year-old immigrants are less likely to have been recently arrested, incarcerated, charged, or convicted of a crime when compared to natives

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Concentration is high in markets with large returns to scale and network effects.

In industries such as “search engines,” “wireless carriers,” and “delivery services,” there are clear cost savings from large scale. High fixed costs—the infrastructure and technological expertise necessary to maintain a quality service—can be spread across many customers. Consequently, the respective top two firms in each market command 87 percent of the search engine market, 69 percent of the wireless carriers market, and 76 percent of the delivery services market.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Many firms have substantial power in labor markets.

Many firms have at least some wage-setting power derived from the willingness of their employees to accept lower wages than they could earn elsewhere. Economists attempt to quantify this employee willingness to accept lower wages in terms of the so-called labor supply elasticity. That is, what percent lower employment would a firm expect if it offered 1 percent lower wages? In general, firms face relatively inelastic labor supply.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Fewer mergers are being blocked when at least five competitors would remain.

The Federal Trade Commission almost always blocks mergers that would leave only one or two remaining competitors, while mergers leaving three or four competitors are only sometimes challenged. In recent years, antitrust regulators have become much less likely to act against mergers that would leave five, six, or seven competitors, while becoming slightly more likely to block mergers that would leave only one to four competitors.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Businesses are taking longer to form, while business applications have declined.

A new dataset from the Census Bureau—the Business Formation Statistics—reveals that the typical time between application and business formation has steadily increased in recent years, from 4.5 months to 5.7 months between 2004 and 2013. In addition, the number of high-propensity business applications, defined as those applications that have characteristics associated with becoming an employing business, has declined from about 350,000 in 2004 to 290,000 in 2013.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

The entrepreneurship rate has fallen by almost half for workers with a bachelor’s degree.

This chart examines trends in entrepreneurship—defined here as self-employment with at least 10 employees—by the educational attainment of entrepreneurs. For people with more than a high school diploma, entrepreneurship is a less common vocation than it was 25 years ago. The decline is especially pronounced among those with advanced degrees: in 1992 4.0 percent of 25- to 54-year-olds with an advanced degree (beyond a bachelor’s) were entrepreneurs. By 2017 this rate had fallen to 2.2 percent.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

State subsidies to businesses have tripled since 1990.

This chart documents the sharp rise in state and local use of targeted business incentives for export-base industries (businesses that sell outside the local area or compete with goods and services from outside the local area). These incentives—job creation, investment, and R&D tax credits, as well as property tax abatements and job training subsidies—collectively rose from 0.5 percent of business value added in 1990 to 1.4 percent in 2015.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Occupational licensing is common and associated with diminished worker mobility.

More than a fifth of all employees hold licenses, but the fraction varies considerably across professions. Health-care practitioners and legal workers are the most likely to be licensed, with 73 and 61 percent of workers licensed, respectively. Additionally, licensed workers—who generally must pay to be relicensed after an interstate move—are much less likely to move across state lines than are comparable workers without licenses, but only slightly less likely to move within their state.

Chart Jun 13, 2018

Health-care licensure rules vary in ways that matter for competition and mobility.

This chart focuses on one large licensed occupation, showing how licensing policies vary for nurse practitioners across the states. Though public discussion of the institution often focuses on occupations that have been more recently licensed (e.g., interior designers or tour guides), the economic impacts of licensure are likely to be especially important in the economically large health-care sector, which accounts for more than one-quarter of all licensed workers.

Chart Dec 13, 2017

Patenting is Closely Related to Innovation

Though many patents are certainly valuable to workers and firms that possess them, it might be less immediately obvious whether patents are closely associated with innovation. Measuring this link is critical to understanding both the social benefits of the patent system and the usefulness of the patent-based approach to analyzing innovation. In this chart the share of firms reporting that they had implemented an improved product, service, or business method is plotted against the number of patents generated by every 1,000 employees.

Chart Sep 26, 2017

Labor Market Slack has Declined Since the Great Recession

While in the long run real wage growth depends on productivity and the distribution of gains from productivity, over shorter time horizons wage growth can be determined by the supply and demand for labor. When there is extensive slack in the economy—such as during a recession or the early phase of a recovery, when labor and capital are underutilized—wage growth can be temporarily lower. At these times, there are more unemployed workers and hiring demand is low, both of which put downward pressure on wages.

Chart Sep 26, 2017

Nominal Wage Growth is Lower than in Past Business Cycles

This figure shows that nominal annual wage growth has been just 2.4 percent since the start of the Great Recession, contrasting with nominal wage growth above 3.0 percent in each of the previous business cycles. Typically, nominal wage growth rises later in expansions and falls during recessions, while real wage growth may jump up or down with variation in inflation. But the most recent expansion has seen little uptick in nominal wage growth, especially in contrast to the previous three expansions.

Chart Apr 26, 2017

Fraction of Defaulters, by Amount of Student Loan Debt

This chart shows the distribution of the amount of debt on which students who entered repayment in 2011 defaulted on their debt. Defaulting on federal student loans has consequences for borrowers beyond affecting credit scores. There are direct financial consequences to default such as wage garnishment and offsets of tax refunds and Social Security payments. Among those who defaulted on their student loans, two thirds defaulted on less than $10,000.

Chart Apr 26, 2017

Age Distribution of Undergraduate Students, by Type of Institution

This chart shows the age distribution of undergraduate students by the type of institution in which the students were enrolled in 2015. While the plurality of students at both four-year and public two-year institutions are between the ages of 18 and 24, students at for-profit institutions tend to be older: almost half are age 30 or older. Nonetheless, more than 20 percent of undergraduate students at four-year institutions are over the age of 24.

Chart Mar 27, 2017

Share of Cumulative Global GHG Emissions, 2010–2100 (Projected)

The U.S. share of GHG emissions is projected to drop over time as developing countries’ emissions grow and the United States continues to limit its new GHG emissions and experience relatively slow economic growth. By 2050 the shares of cumulative GHG emissions accounted for by China and India will be larger, at 20 and 6 percent, respectively, while the U.S. share will have dropped to 16 percent. By 2100 China and India will have produced over one-third of global cumulative GHG emissions.

Chart Mar 27, 2017

Estimated Temperature Impact of Combustion

Prior CO2 emissions have already resulted in substantial global temperature increases. A common misconception about climate change is that the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuel resources will act as a natural restraint on CO2 emissions and associated temperature rise. In fact, fossil fuel resources remain extensive, particularly in the form of coal. If world economies used all of the remaining fossil fuel resources that can be profitably extracted with current technology and prices, the total temperature impact is projected to be 2.8°F (1.6°C). Policy actions—and not the natural exhaustion of fossil fuel resources—will likely be required to avoid these outcomes.

Chart Mar 27, 2017

U.S. Energy Production by Fuel and Household Spending on Energy

The United States is experiencing large increases in energy production, including both conventional fossil fuels and renewable sources.The surge in domestic production of both fuels has not only sharply reduced imports, but also created export opportunities that were widely unexpected as recently as a decade ago. Combined with stable demand, the surge in domestic energy production has resulted in lower prices across multiple fuels, most notably oil and natural gas. The result is that American consumers are spending less on energy than at any time in decades.

Chart Mar 27, 2017

Public Spending on Energy-Related Research and Development, 1974–2015

Government investment in energy-related research and development has varied considerably over time, alternately receiving encouragement during periods of perceived crisis and lower support during periods of low prices and abundant supply. Notably, this pattern holds true across the industrialized nations shown in this chart, reflecting the fact that they all experienced the same changes in global energy markets.

Chart Mar 27, 2017

U.S. Net Electricity Generation by Fuel Source, 2000–2050 (Projected)

Even without implementation of the Clean Power Plan, renewable power—derived largely from wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal sources—is projected to exceed coal-powered generation by 2048. This chart displays the net electricity generation by fuel source since 2000 and projected generation to 2050, shoing that production of electricity from natural gas and renewables has increased in recent years, whereas production from coal has fallen.

Chart Mar 2, 2017

Differences in Likelihood of Moving across States for Licensed and Certified Workers

This chart shows that workers who are licensed are different from otherwise comparable certified workers—i.e., workers with a job credential that is not legally required to practice—in their propensity to move. Though licensed workers move within state at about the same rate as comparable certified workers, licensed workers are much less likely to move across states than are certified workers.

Chart Mar 2, 2017

Employment Rates of Women by Marital Status and Children

One of the most important policy changes over the past quarter century was the shift to a work-based social safety net. The data for this chart, which shows the employment rates of women by marital status and number of children, come from the Current Population Survey, which helps answer a variety of important questions. Some of these questions are addressed in annual supplements, like the “Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement,” conducted every March. 

Chart Mar 2, 2017

Unemployment and U-6 Rates

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a number of alternative measures that add information to provide a more comprehensive picture of the labor market. One of these measures, called U-6, includes discouraged workers and others who are outside the labor force but want work, as well as those who have part-time work but would prefer full-time work. As shown in this chart, this measure is substantially higher than the traditional unemployment rate.

Chart Oct 20, 2014

Comparison of U.S. Patents Filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty for Clean Energy and Water Purification, 1999-2011

Solutions to the country’s growing water challenges lie, in part, with the development and adoption of new innovative technologies. Yet, in comparison to the clean energy sector, innovation in the water sector has remained low. Using the numbers of patents filed in clean energy and water purification as indicators, the clean energy sector has exhibited a much higher rate of innovation over the past decade.

Chart Dec 19, 2013

Breakdown of Family Characteristics, by Income Relative to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

Household composition of families in the struggling lower-middle class varies substantially from the household composition of families in poverty. The composition of the struggling lower-middle class—defined here as working-age families with children under age eighteen whose income places them between 100 and 250 percent of the FPL—is markedly different from families in poverty in terms of marriage and presence of earners.

Chart Dec 19, 2013

Highest Educational Attainment of Family Head, by Income Relative to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

Nearly one out of two families in the struggling lower-middle class is headed by an adult who has attended college. Among household family heads with income between 100 and 250 percent of the FPL, 48 percent have attended some college, and 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In stark contrast to those living at or below 250 percent of the FPL, 77 percent of household family heads above 250 percent of the FPL attended at least some college, and about half have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Chart Jul 18, 2013

Comprehensive Costs, Net Costs, and Instructional Expenditures per Student

The most competitive colleges cost the least for low-income students while providing the most instructional expenditure per student. The most competitive colleges spend over $25,000 on instructional expenditure for each student yet the average low- income family pays less than $8,000 out of pocket for these schools. At the least selective four year colleges, low-income families pay over $15,000 out of pocket yet their students receive only around $5000 in instructional expenditure.

Chart Jul 18, 2013

Probability of Children’s Income Level, Given Parents’ Income Level

While social mobility and economic opportunity are important aspects of the American ethos, the data suggest they are more myth than reality. In fact, a child’s family income plays a dominant role in determining his or her future income, and those who start out poor are likely to remain poor. This figure shows the chances that a child’s future earnings will place him in the lowest the or the highest quintile depending on where his parents fell in the distribution (from left to right on the figure, the lowest, middle, and highest quintiles). 

Chart May 7, 2013

Ratio of Government Employment to Population

While the private sector has added jobs to the economy in every month since March 2010, a total increase of approximately 6.8 million jobs through April 2013, the public sector has contracted. This figure shows the ratio of government employment to the civilian non-institutional population going back to 1980. For the twenty years prior to the Great Recession, this ratio stayed relatively constant, but since then it has dropped precipitously (except for the temporary uptick in 2010 when government employment rose to accommodate demand for U.S. Census workers). 

Chart Apr 5, 2013

Median Earnings and Distribution of Students by Attainment in Community Colleges

Many workers can benefit substantially from worker training programs, which provide education and skill development that lead to increased economic opportunities and better jobs. Students who earn two-year degrees in a high-return field, four-year degrees after a two-year degree, or certain career-oriented certificates, earn median salaries of $34,000 or more per year. Students who earn two-year degrees in low-return fields or who do not complete their programs earn around 33 percent less. 

Chart Mar 14, 2013

Debt-to-GDP Ratio under Various Policy Assumptions, 2012-2023

Over the next ten years, approximately $4 trillion of deficit reduction are set to take place through the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) and the sequestration, which went into effect on March 1, 2013. This graph, from the introduction of The Hamilton Project’s 15 Ways to Rethink the Federal Budget shows how these policies are projected to affect the debt-to-GDP ratio over the next decade. 

Chart Jan 15, 2013

Number of Unemployed Per Job Opening

Millions of Americans lost their jobs during the recession, and even though the economy has been recovering for several years, it is still more difficult for unemployed individuals to find a job now than it was before the recession. One way to observe this is to measure how many unemployed Americans there are per job opening. As this graph shows, although we have come down from the height of the recession—when there were more than six unemployed people per job opening—we still have not reached pre-recession employment levels.

Chart Jan 15, 2013

Return on Investment to a Bachelor’s Degree

Despite widespread claims that a college degree is no longer worth the rising price of tuition, a bachelor’s degree still has about the same return on investment today as it did in the 80s. College still pays for itself, and then some; it will earn you, on average, a 16 percent return, which is a higher rate of return than on investments in the stock market (6.8 percent), corporate bonds (2.9 percent), gold (2.3 percent), long-term government bonds (2.2 percent), or housing (0.4 percent).

Chart May 3, 2012

Federal Spending vs. Tax Expenditures: Total tax expenditures are greater than many critical spending programs

One of the primary reasons America’s tax revenues remain low relative to other industrialized countries is our use of special tax preferences, or “tax expenditures,” that provide individuals and businesses with opportunities to reduce their tax bills by undertaking certain actions. The magnitude of tax expenditures is comparable to the largest government spending programs; in total, they are about 8 percent of GDP.

Chart May 3, 2012

Before-Tax Profits Required to Pay $1 to Investors Across Sectors: Industry-specific tax breaks incentivize investment in specific industries.

This chart shows how different effective corporate tax rates translate into pretax profitability. Companies in high-tax industries, such as steel, trucking, or utilities, must earn more than $1.40 in before-tax profits, on average, to return $1 to investors. On the other hand, companies in low-tax industries, such as biotechnology and Internet services and software, need to earn less than $1.20.