2014 was a year that was filled with highs and lows. In a year again marked by conservative obstruction in Congress, President Obama’s “Year of Action” yielded historic announcements on climate, immigration, and more. Millions of Americans gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But while the economy showed some important indications of growth, inequality continues to widen and the challenge to make ends meet remains for many working Americans.
As 2014 comes to a close, we wanted to take you through the year’s accomplishments and disappointments in numbers. Here are our most important of 2014:
- 2.65 million: The number of jobs that have been created in 2014, more than in any other calendar year since the 1990s.
- 30 percent: The amount that the new standards in President Obama’s Clean Power Plan aim to cut in carbon emissions from the power sector by the year 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The reduction could prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children and has economic benefits estimated to be up to $93 billion per year by 2030.
- 6.6x: The number of times the median wealth of the nation’s upper-income families ($639,400) is larger than the median wealth of the nation’s middle-income families ($96,500). In a testament to the persistent problem of income inequality, that is the widest wealth gap seen in the 30 years the data has been collected.
- 10 million: The number of people who gained health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act this year.
- 78 cents: The amount of money the average woman earns for every dollar a man earns. The gender wage gap remains virtually unchanged from the year before, when it was 77 cents.
- 5-for-5: The success rate of state ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in the 2014 elections, including in the red states of Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Voters came out in favor of an increase by an average of 26 points.
- 18: The number of states who now have marriage equality after a wave of positive 2014 court decisions.
- 88: The number of federal appeals and district court judges that the Senate confirmed in 2014. That brings the total during Obama’s six years in office to 303 — more than the 298 confirmed during President Clinton’s first six years or the 253 George W. Bush got through in the same time period.
- 4.9 million: The number of undocumented immigrants that could be shielded from deportation under President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration.
- 60: The number of school shootings this year. There have been 96 school shootings in the two years since Newtown.
- 292 million: The number of acres of land and water that President Obama protected this year by designating them as national monuments. They included California’s San Gabriel Mountains, Washington’s San Juan Island, and, most recently, Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
BOTTOM LINE: In many ways, 2014 brought tremendous victories for the progressive agenda. But it also offered a number of setbacks and reminders of challenges we face. This list certainly does not capture all of either. 2015 will undoubtedly bring more wins, more losses, more battles to fight, and, with effort, more progress. We hope you’ll stay with us as we work through the good, the bad, and the ugly in the year to come.
The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.