As the world evolved—offering new problems and opportunities—Pew rose to the challenge in 2022, finding ways to help communities and people thrive
In this Issue:
Australia remains one of the wildest and most intact places on Earth. And last year the government sought to continue that distinction with several new protections on lands and waters. Surrounding the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, two marine parks announced in March safeguard an area of 287,000 square miles that houses unique underwater reefs and rare aquatic species.
In the Kimberley region, three new marine parks—the Bardi Jawi Gaarra, Mayala, and Maiyalam, which are jointly owned with Traditional Owners Bardi Jawi, Mayala, and Dambeemangarddee—together cover more than 2,300 square miles. Also in the Kimberley, Gooniyandi Traditional Owners together with the government announced the jointly managed Warlibirri National Park along the Martuwarra Fitzroy River, which protects nearly 40,000 acres. And the Queensland Government acquired a new 88,000-acre property for a future national park on the Gudjala First Nations people’s traditional country. Pew has been working with Indigenous leaders throughout Australia to assist their efforts in establishing new conservation areas on the island continent.
With a Pew study showing that governments pay $22 billion a year in harmful subsidies to fishers, the 164 members of the World Trade Organization agreed in June to curb that spending—a driving force behind overfishing around the globe.
Driven by economic upheaval from the digital revolution, the rise of political polarization, and the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, American journalism is in turmoil. The Pew Research Center in June published a survey of nearly 12,000 journalists for their views on an industry vital to American democracy. Overall, journalists recognize many challenges facing their business, but largely feel satisfaction and fulfillment in their jobs.
% of U.S. journalists who ...
Source: Pew Research Center
When people with an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) retire or change jobs, they often roll their savings into an individual retirement account or IRA. A June report from Pew’s retirement savings project showed the risk in those moves. Mutual funds often charge large employer plans lower fees than they do individual investors and an increase as small as 0.19 percentage points can cost a person tens of thousands of dollars over time. The report called for clearer explanations about fees for consumers—and concluded that if investors are happy with an employer’s plan they may want to stick with it even after leaving their jobs or be sure to find IRA funds with equivalent or lower expenses than in their 401(k).
Each year in the U.S., approximately 200 people die and 26,000 are injured in collisions with wildlife. In 2022, the federal government and eight states—California, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming—adopted more than a dozen laws or policies to protect wildlife habitat and fund wildlife bridges, tunnels, culverts, and fencing that conserve well-traveled animal corridors and guide migratory herds away from traffic. Pew’s U.S. public lands and rivers conservation project provided significant technical assistance for these measures, which will safeguard animals, ecosystems, and people.
In September, California banned the seabed mining of hard minerals within 3 miles of shore, building on previous prohibitions by Washington and Oregon to create a protected area along the entire West Coast. The action establishes one of the largest marine areas in the world—more than 7,700 square miles—where seabed mining is explicitly and proactively banned by statute. Pew provided technical assistance to the Legislature. Seabed mining can harm sensitive habitats, for example, from dredges destroying corals and sponges, which could in turn hurt communities that depend on fishing, tourism, and cultural resources.
An April report from the Pew Research Center found that 76% of Black Americans say that being Black is extremely or very important to how they think about themselves. The survey, coming at a time of growing racial consciousness in the U.S., was one of a series of projects exploring the diversity of views and experiences among Black Americans on religion, identity, racial inequality, institutional and social change, household finances, history, science, and politics.
In July, the Chilean government designated the Tictoc Golfo de Corcovado Marine Park to protect species such as blue, humpback, and pilot whales and Chilean dolphins, among others, across 393.5-square miles of richly biodiverse waters. Development of the park’s management plan will involve Indigenous and local communities, who were instrumental in creating this area, and be supported by Pew’s Chilean Patagonia project and the Melimoyu Foundation. Last year, the government also announced the new 286-square-mile Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in the Andean metropolitan region.
When Pew began researching public employee pension plans in 2007, only about a third of the states were making the necessary investments to meet future obligations to their retirees. Since then, Pew’s public sector retirement project has provided technical assistance to more than 20 state and local governments to help them reform and strengthen their pension systems. Last October, the project released a report showing that states collectively had met a crucial benchmark for minimum funding in 2020—it was a first in two decades, showing many states are on the cusp of long-term solvency and sustainability.
Like many U.S. cities, Philadelphia’s economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the city’s recovery has lagged the nation’s. To help city leaders navigate the future, Pew’s Philadelphia research and policy initiative in February released a series of reports on the city’s fiscal future, including “Four Possible Scenarios for Philadelphia’s Economy.” Based on projections for post-COVID economic growth and key factors such as the return of in-person activity, the analysis created scenarios for job growth or contraction across sectors and populations. The pandemic has created significant changes in employment and economic behavior that have the potential to shift businesses’ and households’ decision-making into the future.
Most of the nation’s 25 largest banks over the past year reduced or eliminated overdraft fees and nonsufficient fund fees—a move poised to save consumers more than $4 billion annually. The federal government reported that consumers paid $15.5 billion in these fees in 2019. Pew’s research has highlighted the need for these changes and found they should have outsize benefits for Black and Hispanic customers who pay a disproportionate share of these fees. Also last year, three large banks launched affordable small-dollar loans that meet Pew’s standards, so six of the top eight banks now offer a near-instant small loan accessible to many of their customers who have used payday and similar lenders. Borrowing $500 for three months from a payday lender costs $450 on average; the banks are charging no more than $30.
With an unprecedented $65 billion federal investment in high-speed broadband available to the states, Pew formed the Broadband Education and Training Initiative, which last year worked with 30 states and territories. The no-cost support helps local officials make the most of the new revenue and highlights Pew’s research into effective strategies and other technical assistance available to expand broadband. A Pew-sponsored forum in June brought together hundreds of state and federal officials, digital equity advocates, industry experts, and academic researchers to share ideas and best practices. And to keep momentum on expanding accessibility to this essential technology, Pew and its partners took on leadership of the National Broadband Resource Hub. The hub will empower government and community leaders to build better broadband by providing educational resources and connecting broadband practitioners.