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Significant Digits For Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

4.8 percent

A Color of Change study examining 234 television shows has found that only 4.8 percent of the 3,817 staff writers were black. Indeed, two-thirds of television shows didn’t employ a single black writer. [The Hollywood Reporter]

23 percent

That’s the percentage of food waste that qualifies as prepared foods and leftovers, the second-highest source of trashed food (inedible food parts are number one). Turns out that Americans aren’t eating leftovers anymore, which could pose a bit of a waste management problem. [The Washington Post]

63 percent

An American Psychological Association study found that 63 percent of Americans are stressed about the future of the nation, a concern beating out both money and work stressors, and one that cuts across partisan lines. Grimly, 59 percent consider it the lowest point in the nation’s history they can recall, a figure that holds regardless of generation. [Bloomberg]


It’s projected that by 2030 Catholics will become a religious minority in Brazil. One contributing cause to this is the rise of Pentecostal churches throughout Latin America and Africa: a quarter of Brazilians are Pentecostal, and that number is going up. One American export — the prosperity gospel, which says the more money you give to the church the more money you will get back — is selling very well in Brazil. [The Washington Post]

33,500 mining jobs

That’s the number of mining jobs lost in the Appalachian region since 2011, and how to fix that job deficit is a bit of catch-22. Due to the price of coal relative to the price of other ways to make power, it’s unlikely that the market is going to require 33,500 more people to mine coal. One solution is to retrain miners for other jobs, but herein lies the pickle: On one hand, why would miners enter retraining courses when there are no immediate job prospects near their home in the new discipline? On the other, why would employers who need trained employees move to a place where there are no such trained employees? This chicken and egg problem is making it difficult to help improve the economy of coal country through retraining. [Reuters]

$4.5 trillion balance sheet

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has raised borrowing costs four times since 2015, and she has begun to reduce the amount of money on the Fed’s balance sheet (a cool $4.5 trillion as of this summer). That work appears like it will be continued by Jerome Powell, reportedly President Trump’s pick for the chair. [Bloomberg]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.