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Significant Digits For Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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

49 pages

House Democrats are suing the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service for access to President Trump’s tax returns. The 49-page suit names Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig as defendants and states that they “have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the Nation’s voluntary tax system.” [The Washington Post]

15 freshmen

Hampshire College typically welcomes about 300 freshmen each fall, but this year the new class has just 15 students. The “unorthodox liberal arts school” has no majors or letter grades, and has been dogged by governance and financial problems that have threatened its accreditation and future as an independent institution. [The Boston Globe]

About 3,000 journalists

In the first five months of 2019, some 3,000 workers in the news business were laid off or offered buyouts. That’s the highest number since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis — 7,914 journalism jobs were cut in the same part of 2009. For scale, about 88,000 people worked in American newsrooms in 2017, per the Pew Research Center. [Bloomberg]

121st month

A record 121 months of U.S. economic expansion have plastered signs of a new Gilded Age all around us, a time “perhaps best characterized by the excesses of extreme wealth and an ever-widening chasm between the unfathomably rich and everyone else,” per Reuters. Among its evidence: increasing numbers of billionaires, skyrocketing tuition, a booming stock market, that the wealthiest fifth of Americans hold 88 percent of the country’s wealth, and the fact that Pink Floyd frontman David Gilmour sold his guitar collection for $21.5 million. [Reuters]

3 “swing” justices

A tried and true summer tradition around here is reflecting upon the recently completed Supreme Court term. My colleague Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux has done just that, finding that the court now has “three justices who could reasonably be seen as ‘swing’ votes of one kind or another: [John] Roberts, [Brett] Kavanaugh and [Neil] Gorsuch.” Ideologically speaking, Kavanaugh is now the median justice, marching as he has in almost perfect lock-step with Roberts. [FiveThirtyEight]

2 M1A1 Abrams tanks

President Trump seems hell-bent on having military vehicles on display at his planned Fourth of July event in Washington, D.C., despite concerns about cost and damage to the city. And indeed, an AP photographer spotted “at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on flatcars in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington.” [Associated Press]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

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

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.