Monday, February 12, 2018

Has Poverty Prevention Worked in California?

Trends in Poverty in the US, CA, MS, NH, and PA
Recently I did a post on The Hill Talk on how a writer for the National Review falsely claimed that California had the highest poverty rate in the US.  The data from the Census Bureau for the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) showed that California was ranked 20th in its poverty rate which was only slightly ahead of the national rate.  For this post, I decided to look at the past trends in the poverty rates for the US as a whole, for California which the article also claims have had failed anti poverty policies, for Mississippi which has the highest poverty rate, Pennsylvania my home state, and New Hampshire which had the lowest poverty rate of any state plus DC.  

The graph above shows that four states considered have mirrored the national rate since 2013.  California and the other states did see a spike in their poverty rates in 2012 when the US poverty rate peaked at 15.9% in 2011.  California's peaked at 17%, Mississippi's at 23.8% (it rose to 23.9% in 2013 but that was within the 90% confidence interval), 13.7% in Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire's peaked at 9.7%.For all four states there was a one year lag in the decrease in the poverty rate from the decrease in the national rate.

Of course in every state there is considerable variability in the poverty level at the county level.  In the graph above there were 30 counties with poverty rates higher than the state rate in 2013 of 16.8% and 32 above the national rate of 15.8%.

As for the effect of the anti poverty programs in California, they had the second largest percentage drop of the four states considered in the rate from 2012-2016.  Mississippi had the largest decrease in the rate at 2.8% followed by California and then New Hampshire at 2.1% but there is greater uncertainty in their rates as shown by the width in the confidence interval.  This is due to Mississippi's and New Hampshire's smaller populations.  It seems clear that Pennsylvania had the smallest decrease in poverty at 0.8% of the frour states considered.  The US poverty rate decreased by 1.9% over this period.

State  Year All Ages SAIPE Poverty Universe All Ages in Poverty Percent 90% Confidence Interval (All Ages in Poverty Percent) Decrease in the rate 2012-2016
United States 2016 315,165,470 14 13.9 to 14.1 1.9
2012 306,086,063 15.9 15.8 to 16.0
California 2016 38,513,333 14.4 14.3 to 14.5 2.6
2012 37,303,312 17 16.9 to 17.1
Mississippi 2016 2,892,926 21 20.5 to 21.5 2.8
2012 2,890,915 23.8 23.3 to 24.3
New Hampshire 2016 1,292,241 7.6 7.2 to 8.0 2.1
2012 1,280,031 9.7 9.2 to 10.2
Pennsylvania 2016 12,368,248 12.9 12.7 to 13.1 0.8
2012 12,353,852 13.7 13.5 to 13.9
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Super Bowl That May be Someday: A Steagles Super Bowl

I've been busy lately.  I've had more consulting work lately so it has been more difficult to post here.  I have a new post on The Hill Talk on Trump's 1st year approval ratings.  It is very time consuming to post a new data analysis.  Today I will focus on a lighter subject.

I was so disappointed when the Steelers lost to Jacksonville in the divisional playoffs.  Many in Pennsylvania were hoping for a Steelers-Eagles Super Bowl but it was not to be this year.  They have come close to having one several times in the past.  In WWII the two teams combined to form the Steagles as there was a shortage of players then.  They went 5-4-1 and finished 3rd in the Eastern Division that year.

The Steagles Uniforms
The Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl of the 70's in 1979 over the LA Rams.  The Eagles made their first SB the next year under coach Dick Vermeil.  They were heavy favorites against the Oakland Raiders but looked tight and lost 27-10.

In the 2001 season, both teams made their respective conference championships but the Steelers lost to the New England Patriots and Tom Brady who went on to win their first Super Bowl and the Eagles lost to the St. Louis Rams.  Another close call came in 2004 when the Eagles won the NFC championship but the Steelers lost in the AFC Title game to New England.  Another close call came in 2008 when the Steelers made Super Bowl XLIII but the Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title game.  

This year may not have been quite as close a call as the others but if both teams plug away it could still happen in the future.  The ideal place to play such a Super Bowl would be Beaver Stadium in State College, PA.  The home of the Penn State Nittany Lions.  It is halfway in between the two cities and can seat over 107,000.  It wouldn't be much more hectic than a normal football weekend in Happy Valley.  The fans don't care about the weather.  A man can dream can't he?  #PhillyPhilly
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Johnstown, PA has Been Crawling with Documentary Filmmakers

Katie Couric enjoying  the Johnstown High-Bishop McCort Football Game
Since the 2016 election have been many documentary filmmakers here in my hometown, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The most famous of these would be Katie Couric.  I never had the opportunity to be interviewed by Couric (but I'm available Katie) but I have met three other filmmakers who came here.  

With the rain from Siobhan Furnary on Vimeo.

Above is the documentary by Siobhan Furnary and Hunter Zepeda titled With the Rain.  They were students from Oberlin College who who filming here in town.  I met Siobhan while working at Sunnehanna Country Club and was happy to help her by giving her background information on the city and introducing her to my friend Catherine Anne McCloskey. In the opening scene you can see Fr. James Crookston saying mass.  Fr. Crookston was principal at my high school, Bishop McCort when I was there.  

Another documentary filmmaker I had the pleasure of working with was Gary Younge who is a writer at The Nation Magazine and Sugarfilms.  Whilst I never met Younge I did work with his associate Paddy Duffy showing him around town and giving him background information.  Above is an interview given by Younge to The Nation Magazine.  Their project was interviewing people from Portland, Maine to Louisiana about their economic situation.  I have yet to see the finished product.  It's being shown on the BBC channel four in Britain.

The third documentary filmmaker I met was Vince Grassi who is from nearby Bedford, PA.  His project is titled This Town Won't Die.  Currently he is done filming and is in the editing process.  A premiere date should be announced soon.  I was interviewed by Vince on election day when I was running for council.  I look forward to seeing the finished product.

These are the documentary projects that I know about.  There could be others that I don't know about.  It's a lot easier to make films these days.  The hard part is getting people to see them.  A lot of news people have also been here to see how a county that was once solidly democratic would vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

As for this writer/amateur journalist I have a new piece on the new state laws taking effect.  More specifically 20 states have minimum wage increases this year and California is the seventh state to legalize recreational marijuana.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Closer look at Hate Crimes in DC, Massachusetts and Washington state: DC has more LGBT Crimes

In a recent post on The Hill Talk I looked at the latest FBI report on hate crimes reported to law enforcement.  The three states reporting the highest rate of incidents (after adjusting for population) are the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Washington.  These states with the highest rates were surprising because they are some of the most progressive states in the US.  I thought I would take a closer look at the types of hate crimes reported in these states by the five categories that they consider: Race/ethnicity/Ancestry, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Gender (specifically targeting men or women) and Gender Identity (ie. Transgender, gender fluid).  The raw number of incidents were adjusted for the population covered by the reporting entities to allow for the comparison of one state to another and one type of crime to another.  The numbers in the table above are reported as crimes per million residents.

Race/ Ethnicity/ Ancestry
Sexual orientation
Gender Identity
% Population Covered

The % of the population covered is lower for the US as a whole because in other parts of the country some law enforcement agencies do not participate in the FBI uniform crime report.  The state of Hawaii does not participate at all.

For Massachusetts, Washington, and the US a a whole, racial/ethnic motivated attacks had the highest rate of incidence of any subcategory comprising more than half of the total incidents.  These two states had higher rates than the US rate for every category.  Some incidents can fall into more than one category.

DC had considerably higher rates of incidents in each category than the US as a whole except for gender motivated incidents.  There were no such incidents reported there in 2016.  Unlike the other two states profiled and the US, the largest incident rate there was ones that target those of a different sexual orientation.  The graph below shows the rates for each category and entity on a logarithmic scale.  This is done to show differences in the less common categories of gender and disability.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Update

The past few weeks have been rough.  I battled the flu, worked.  I have been writing for other online publications.  I have two posts on The Hill Talk, one is on new hate crime data from FBI while the other is on new data from the Census Bureau on poverty in every county in the US.  I also published on the website  on how logistic regression can be used by data journalists to investigate relationships between a categorical outcome and more than one predictor variables.

I should have more time to elaborate on these posts later this holiday.  I'll leave you with this video I took at the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2015.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Minimum Wage and Veterans at the State Level

In my last post on cities with living wage ordinances and the percentage of veterans in that city, the percent of the city who are veterans was negatively associated with the amount of the living wage that was passed.  For this post I thought I would take a look at what variables were associated with the amount of the minimum wage passed at the city or county level.  

All but six states have their own minimum wage laws:  Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Tennessee.   Georgia and Wyoming have minimum wages below the national minimum at $5.15/hour.  Thirty states plus DC have minimums above the national minimum of $7.25/hour.  

First I looked at the univariate relationship between veteran percentages and the state minimums.  I coded the states without minimums as zero.  All of the zero states except Alabama had percentages of veterans above the national rate.  There was a weak negative correlation between these two variables of -0.214 which accounts for only 5% of the variability.  This relationship was not statistically significant at p=0.13.  The graph below shows the nature of the relationship.

Next I thought I would conduct an analysis of the 30 states plus DC with minimum wages above the federal minimum.  This was done to make it comparable to the analysis I conducted for the living wage cities and % veterans.  This time the univariate correlation was significantly negative with a value of -0.389 and a p-value of 0.03.  This relationship accounts for 15% of the variability in the state minimum wage.  The graph below shows this relationship.

The relationship at the state level is not as strong as it is for the living wage cities.  There veterans accounted for 28% of the variability.  To see which other variables might be at play I added the percents of the 30 states plus DC that voted for Trump.  When I did this the effect was no longer present for veterans but it was for Trump's % of the vote.  There was a fairly strong positive correlation of 0.55 for these states with suggests that states with higher veteran populations are more politically conservative.  For all states the correlation between veterans and Trump's % was slightly weaker at 0.46.

Standard Error
t Stat
Trump %
% Veterans

The District of Columbia was included in both the analyses for cities and states.  Removing DC did not radically alter the results.

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