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The Page That Counts: Spring 2012

Estimated average student debt of 2011 college graduates: $27,200; Percentage of 2011 college graduates moving back into their parents’ house: 85.

Landfill photo by D'Arcy Norman

Photo by D'Arcy Norman.

Percentage of 5,006 Occupy Wall Street protesters surveyed who identified politically as Independent: 70.2  [1]

Percentage of U.S. registered voters identified as Independent: 35  [2]

Percentage of U.S. Congress identified as Independent: .004  [3]


Estimated average student debt of 2011 college graduates: $27,200 [4]


Pounds of leaves that end up bagged in landfills each year: 8 million

Percentage of all necessary nutrients trees can glean from decomposing leaves: 50 to 80 [6]


Estimated number of barrels of oil recoverable from Alberta’s tar sand deposits: 171.3 billion [7]

Gallons of water required to extract all recoverable barrels: 2.7 trillion [8]

Years that 2.7 trillion gallons could supply Seattle with potable water: 57 [9]


Pounds of recyclable office paper thrown into landfills in 2005: 42 million

In 2009: 26 million [10]


Percentage by which the value of the minimum wage has increased since 1990: 21

Percentage by which the cost of living has increased since 1990: 67 [11]


Effective tax rate Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the United States, paid in 2010: 17.4

Average effective tax rate paid by his staff members in 2010: 36 [12]


Average number of text messages sent or received per day by adults ages 18–24: 109.5

By adults ages 45–54: 14 [13]

Percentage of Facebook users ages 18–34 who check their account before getting out of bed in the morning: 28 [14]


Number of American adults unemployed and seeking work in October 2011: 13.9 million

Number of job openings: 3.3 million [15]


Estimated miles driven by Walmart’s truck fleet in 2011: 700 million [16]

Gallons of diesel fuel consumed, based on the 6.3 miles per gallon average for diesel freight trucks: 111.1 million [17]

Gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s 2010 oil spill: 205.8 million [18]


Editor's Note: This article originally recited that 85 percent of 2011 college graduates moved back into their parents' homes. This is incorrect. We regret the error.

1. “Who is Occupy Wall Street?” Sean Captain, Fast Company, Nov. 2, 2011.

2. “Party Affiliation,” Gallup Organization, Nov. 3-6, 2011.

3. “Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present,” U.S. Senate, November 2011.

“Party Division in the House of Representatives, 1789-Present,” Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, November 2011.

4. “College Graduates’ Debt Burden Grew, Yet Again, in 2010,” Tamar Lewin, The New York Times, Nov. 2, 2011.

5. “Survey: 85% of New College Grads Move Back in with Mom and Dad,” Erica Ho, Time Newsfeed, May 10, 2011.

6. “Want to Improve Your Lawn? Don’t Bag Those Leaves,” All Things Considered, NPR, Oct. 28, 2011.

7.  “Alberta Energy: Facts and Statistics,” Government of Alberta Energy, 2011.

8. “Canada's Oil Sands: Opportunities and Challenges to 2015 - Questions and Answers,” National Energy Board of Canada, Oct. 28, 2011.

9. “Celebrating Seattle’s Water: Drinking Water Quality Report 2009,” Seattle Public Utilities, 2009.

10.  “State of the Paper Industry 2011: Steps Toward an Environmental Vision,” Environmental Paper Network, 2011.

11. “Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil,” Dave Gilson, Mother Jones, August 2011.

“Despite recent increases, minimum wage far below historic levels,” Economic Policy Institute, Jan. 28, 2011.


12. “How Do We Coddle the Super-Wealthy?” United for a Fair Economy, Sept. 30, 2011.

 “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” Warren E. Buffet, The New York Times, Aug. 14, 2011.

13. “The Daily Number: 87.7 Messages - Americans and Text Messaging,” Pew Research Center, November 4, 2011.

14. “Infographic: Obsessed with Facebook,” Alex Trimpe, Onlineschools.org, 2010.

15.  “The Employment Situation: November 2011,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dec. 2, 2011.

“Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dec. 13, 2011.

16.  “Celebrating Our Truck Drivers,” Wal-Mart Corporate, 2011.

17. “Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors,” Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, November 19, 2009.

18. “New Estimate Puts Gulf Oil Leak at 205 Million Gallons,” Maureen Hoch, PBS NewsHour, August 2, 2010.

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