The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

May 26, 2011
U.S. Hispanic population grew four times faster than nation in past decade

A study by the Census Bureau found that Hispanics accounted for more than half of the growth of the U.S. population from 2000 to 2010. In that decade, the Hispanic population grew 43.0 percent compared to 9.7 percent for the overall population.

The Bureau also found that the percentage of U.S. Hispanics citing Mexican ancestry increased from 58.5 percent to 63.0 percent over the same period.

In California Hispanics accounted for 90.0 percent of the state's increase, the Hispanic population growing 27.8 percent compared to an overall 10.0 percent change.

In the four-county Sacramento region Hispanics accounted for 44.1 percent of the increase, with the Hispanic population growing 55.9 percent compared to an overall 19.6 percent change.

May 24, 2011
California prisoners: the stats

The U.S. Supreme Court's order to reduce the California prison population by 33,000 prompts the question: just who are the men and and women housed in these facilities?

For comprehensive inmate demographics, we can turn to the most recent California Prisoners & Parolees 2009, the annual "compendium of tables, graphs and charts detailing the inmate and parole populations supervised by the California Department of Corrections." The 132-page report contains dozens of tables broken out by age, gender, race, offense and other factors going back 20 years.

As of Dec. 31, 2009 the institutionalized population looked like this:

Total number: 168,830 (reflecting a state inmate rate of 436.4 per 100,000 population).

Gender: Male, 158,018 (93.6 percent); female 10,812 (6.4 percent).

Mean age: 37 (male and female).

Race/ethnic group: White, 43,226 (25.6 percent); Hispanic, 66,374 (39.3 percent); Black, 48,990 (29.0 percent); other, 10,240 (6.1 percent).

Offense: Crimes against persons, 93,674 (55.5 percent); property crimes, 32,677 (19.4 percent ); drug crimes, 28,736 (17.0 percent); other crimes 13,743, (8.1 percent).

May 17, 2011
Latest U.S. crime victimization stats

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released its annual compendium of data on the victims of crime. The 110 tables in Crime Victimization in the United States, 2008 cover virtually all angles of the subject: types of crimes -- violent, property, etc.; demographics of victims -- age, gender race, etc.; circumstances of crimes -- time, place, weapons used, etc.; reporting/non-reporting of crimes, police response time, etc.

It's a lot of numbers. Some bullet points:

* There were 21.3 million crime victimizations in 2008. 23.4 percent were personal crimes (assault, rape, robbery, etc.). 76.6 percent were property crimes (burglary, theft, car theft, etc.).

* Younger people are more likely to be victims of personal crime. The personal crime rate for children 12-15 is 43.6 per 1,000 people. Other age groups: 16-19 (37.4), 20-24 (38.4), 25-34 (23.8), 35-49 (17.4), 50-64 (11.1), 65 or older (3.5).

* African Americans are more likely to be victims of personal crime than other racial/ethnic groups. White only (18.6 per 1,000 people), Black only (26.6), other race only (15.5), Hispanic (17.1).

* Men (21.9) are more likely to be victims of personal crime, compare to women (17.8).

May 12, 2011
Fatal traffic accidents cost U.S. $41 billion a year

Nearly 31,000 people died in vehicle crashes in 2009. Aside from the incalculable human toll on families, traffic fatalities cost the nation about $41 billion a year in medical expenses and work loss. That estimate comes from a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control of 2005 data -- the latest available for this sort of cost analysis.

More than half of the national costs were incurred in ten states: California ($4.16 billion), Texas ($3.50 billion), Florida ($3.16 billion), Georgia ($1.55 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.52 billion), North Carolina ($1.50 billion), New York ($1.33 billion), Illinois ($1.32 billion), Ohio ($1.23 billion), and Tennessee ($1.15 billion).

California's total costs break down with $40 million for medical expenses and $4.12 billion for work losses. Slicing the total by age of victims: children ($280 million), teens ($606 million), young adults ($1.84 billion), adults ($1.34 billion), older adults ($93 million).

May 10, 2011
Divorced after 25 years of marriage: some stats

Today's announcement that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are separating after 25 years of marriage prompts the question: how many couples are still married on their silver anniversary?

The Census Bureau tracks the percentage of Americans still married at various milestones. The latest data available -- for couples wed between 1974 and 1979 -- shows that less than half of this group will still be married at the 25-year mark. Only 46.4 percent of women and 49.5 percent of men will still be in their first marriage. (The numbers are naturally less for second marriages: 36.7 and 42.0 percent, respectively.) Couples married in earlier years display more longevity in marriage.

The divorce rate varies a lot among the states. And surprisingly the divorce rate is generally lower in cosmopolitan coastal states than in many heartland states. Oklahoma leads the country with 16.5 divorces per 1,000 women over 15 (i.e., divorces in 2007 per 1,000 women). Kentucky (15.0), Idaho (14.5) and Arkansas (14.1) are next in line. North Dakota has the smallest rate of divorce, 6.0, followed by New York (7.1), Hawaii (7.7) and Pennsylvania (8.0). California does better than the national average, 9.9 compared to 10.5.

May 9, 2011
Food deserts in Sacramento

One aspect of Michelle Obama's fight against obesity is an initiative to eliminate so-called "food deserts" in urban and rural areas across the country. A food desert is a low income neighborhood whose residents have little access to healthy and affordable food. Specifically this is a census tract with a significant number of families living in poverty who -- because of distance and lack of transportation -- cannot easily get to a grocery store that sells fresh, nutritious food items. Often the only accessible outlets are fast food restaurants and convenience stores.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled its Food Desert Locator, an interactive map that allows you to zoom down to the census tract level. Areas in pink are considered areas with limited access to supermarkets or large grocery stores.

Sacfooddesert.JPGSource: USDA Economic Research Service.

May 6, 2011
Food allergies costing nation half billion a year

Around one to two percent of U.S. adults and four to six percent of U.S. children suffer from allergic reactions of milk, eggs, peanuts and other foods. The resulting visits to hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors' offices, plus lost productivity, cost the nation a lot of money -- an estimated $500 million a year, according to a new study.

CDC researchers, writing in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, say total medical costs associated with food allergies range from $225 to $307 million of which $45 million goes to emergency room visits. Non-medical costs, such as lost work days, are estimated at $115 to $203 million every year.

Another CDC study found that the number of children with food allergies increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007. A helpful CDC brief on food allergies in young people lists symptoms and summarizes essential statistics.

May 4, 2011
Where do you stand in Pew's "political typology?"

The American electorate is increasingly "doctrinaire and ideological" in their political convictions, says a new study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Although many voters have gravitated from the political center toward the partisan extremes, there is still a sizable percentage of independents.

To better understand current political attitudes among voters, Pew devised a typology that "sorts Americans into cohesive groups based on their values, political beliefs and party affiliation." These nine groupings range from Solid Liberals on the left to Staunch Conservatives on the right. Generally those on the extremes show considerable consistency in their views along with strong allegiance to the Democratic or Republican parties, as the case may be. But rather than being wish-washy in their beliefs, independents do have strong opinions about issues, but "they combine these views in ways that defy liberal or conservative orthodoxy."

According to Pew. "Mostly Republican" groups constitute 25 percent of US. voters. "Mostly Democratic" ones, 40 percent. And "Mostly Independent" 35 percent. In the full report, you can see how these types correlate to a large number of social, economic and demographic characteristics.

So where do you fit in Pew's political schema? Take this brief quiz to find out.



About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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