In 2023, people relied on USAFacts for trusted government data for context behind what’s been happening in the world — both in their own communities and around the globe. From foreign aid to teacher pay, these are the 10 reports readers couldn’t get enough of this year:
Counting homeless populations comes with some challenges, but according to the latest reports from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), about 582,000 Americans experienced homelessness in 2022. Many of the states with the highest homelessness rates also had the highest housing costs, including California, Oregon, and Hawaii.
With continued conflict in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, American attention shifted to the country’s role in global politics in 2023. Government data details the more than $3.75 trillion in foreign aid supplied by the United States since the end of World War II, over a quarter of which has gone to Israel, the former South Vietnam, Egypt, Afghanistan, and South Korea.
Keep reading about foreign aid.
With a presidential election coming in 2024, Americans will once again be keeping an eye on the nation’s swing states. While there’s no technical definition of what makes a swing state, Florida and Nevada have had narrow margins in five of the last eight presidential elections, while New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have had tight margins in four.
Check out USAFacts' analysis of swing states.
It wasn’t only where people were affected by homelessness that readers took an interest in, but also who. According to HUD, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders had the highest rates of homelessness in the US at 121.2 people per 10,000 in 2022. Black, Native American, multi-racial, and Hispanic populations all had rates higher than that of the general public.
Read more about collecting data on homelessness.
Supporting Ukraine has been one of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy priorities since Russia’s invasion in 2022. In that time, the US has sent Ukraine over $60 billion in funding and equipment, including over $43 billion in the form of equipment and weaponry. In a December letter to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget warned that the US was “out of money” to support Ukraine.
See the full report on US aid to Ukraine.
President Joe Biden declared the nation’s support for Israel in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attacks that killed over 1,000 Israeli citizens. Since then, countermeasures have created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In late October, Biden expressed a lack of confidence in the figures of over 6,000 casualties reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry; early in November, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf testified that the figures could be “even higher than are being cited.”
Israel has been the largest recipient of US aid since World War II, with American support totaling $317.9 billion. In 2022, the US sent $3.3 billion to Israel, 99.7% of which went to the Israeli military. Since 2000, over 86% of annual American aid to Israel has funded military efforts.
Read more on US aid to Israel.
After adjusting for cost of living, K-12 teachers are paid the most in states in the Northeast and on the West Coast, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. Despite the fact that more than half of teachers in the US have a master’s degree, average teacher salaries are lower than the average salaries of college graduates in all but two states.
See what your state pays the average teacher.
Both the violent crime rate and the property crime rate continued to decrease from 2020 to 2021, but national crime rates fail to show the nuance of the regional experience. In 2021, Northeastern states tended to have lower violent and property crime rates, while states in the West and South tended to have higher rates. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana had the highest violent crime rates at over 650 per 100,000 people, while Colorado, Washington, and Oregon had the highest property crime rates at over 2,800 per 100,000 people.
Read more about crime rates across the US.
Homelessness was a prominent topic in 2023, with three of USAFacts’ top 10 articles covering homeless populations. Of the 48 largest cities in the US, Los Angeles and New York had the largest recorded homeless populations, over four times the size of any other. Six of the 10 cities with the largest homeless populations were in California.
Explore the city-level breakdown on homelessness.
In 2023, government spending — on foreign affairs and on local communities — was top of mind. This piece got into the details on US debt as an asset and why foreign governments are interested in owning it in the first place. The story took off on social media and in the weekly newsletter.
Foreign nations own approximately $7.4 trillion (or 24%) of US debt in the form of US Treasury securities (considered to be among the world’s most secure assets). Nearly half of all foreign-owned debt belongs to five countries: Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
Check out USAFacts' most-read report of 2023.
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