Friday, August 22, 2014

The Police: Friend or Enemy?

"Do you generally think of the police more as friends, more as enemies, or don't you think of them in either of these ways?" asks a New York Times/CBS News poll.

Overall, 42 percent of Americans regard the police as their friend, 10 percent regard the police as their enemy, and 44 percent say the police are neither friend nor enemy. Here is the percentage of Americans who think of the police as their friend (or their enemy)...

Blacks: 23% (13%)
Whites: 49% (9%)

Men: 36% (15%)
Women: 48% (7%)

Aged 18-44: 29% (16%)
Aged 45-plus: 53% (5%)

Source: New York Times and CBS News, Reactions to the Shooting in Ferguson, Mo., Have Sharp Racial Divides

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trends in Household Debt, 2000 to 2011

Percentage of households with any debt (and median debt), 2000 to 2011 (in 2011 dollars)...

2011: 69.0% ($70,000)
2010: 69.6% ($74,300)
2009: 72.0% ($72,900)
2005: 73.6% ($71,800)
2004: 73.8% ($69,000)
2002: 74.9% ($56,400)
2000: 74.2% ($49,600)

Source: Census Bureau, Detailed Tables on Debt

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Plunge in Teen Birth Rate

Teen births were not a problem in 1960. They were the norm. For every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 in 1960, fully 89.1 babies were born. Today, there are only 26.6 babies born for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 19—a 70 percent decline. The overall birth rate in 2013 (62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44) is lower than the teen birth rate of 1960.

Teen births became a problem as marriage became less important. In 1960, half of women were married by age 20.3. Most "teen" births were to married women. Today, the median age at first marriage is 26.6 and most teen births are to single mothers.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National and State Patterns of Teen Birth in the United States, 1940-2013

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Carries the Most Cash?

Austrians carry the most cash, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston analysis of payment diary surveys in a number of countries. In Austria, the average person has $114 in his or her wallet (in US dollars). Germany is second, with the average person carrying $94. In the United States, the average person carries only $37.

The popularity of cash varies by country. Austrians and Germans carry more cash than Americans because they use cash more often. In both Austria and Germany, fully 82 percent of transactions are paid with cash versus 46 percent of transactions in the United States. Debit cards are more popular in the U.S., accounting for 26 percent of transactions versus only 13 to 14 percent of those in Austria and Germany. Credit cards account for a substantial 19 percent of transactions in the United States versus just 2 percent in Austria and Germany.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data

Monday, August 18, 2014

Death Rates by State

The overall age-adjusted death rate was 741.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011. By state, the death rate ranged from a low of 584.9 in Hawaii to a high of 956.1 in Mississippi. These are the five states with the lowest and highest age-adjusted death rates...

1. Hawaii
2. California
3. Minnesota
4. Connecticut
5. New York

1. Mississippi
2. West Virginia
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Kentucky

Source: CDC, QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates, by State—United States, 2011

Friday, August 15, 2014

Eating Organic

Overall, 45 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they actively try to include organic food in their diet. The figure is highest in the West (54%) and in cities (50%). By age, this is the percentage who try to eat organic...

Aged 18 to 29: 53%
Aged 30 to 49: 48%
Aged 50 to 64: 45 %
Aged 65-plus: 33%

Source: Gallup, Forty-Five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Foods

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time Spent Looking for Work

Looking for work became a bigger job after the Great Recession, according to an analysis of American Time Use Survey data by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

On an average day in 2003-07 (before the Great Recession), 20 percent of the unemployed searched for a job. On an average day in 2008-12 (during and after the Great Recession), a larger 24 percent of the unemployed spent time looking for work.

The intensity of the job search varies by educational attainment. On an average day in 2008-12, only 17 percent of unemployed high school dropouts spent time looking for work versus 23 percent of those with a high school diploma or associate's degree and fully 35 percent of those with a bachelor's degree. Among those who looked for work on an average day, the time devoted to job search ranged from a low of 28 minutes among unemployed high school dropouts to 67 minutes for unemployed college graduates.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Job Search Before and After the Great Recession

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Most Out-of-Wedlock Births are In-Cohabiting-Union

Among the nearly 4 million babies born in 2013, a substantial 40.6 percent were born to a single mother, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This figure has barely changed despite the 14 percent decline in the birth rate of unmarried women since 2007.

A closer look at the nation's "single" mothers, based on 2006-10 data from the National Survey of Family Growth, reveals that most are not single at all. The 58 percent majority are in a cohabiting union, according to NCHS.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Recent Declines in Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Household Economic Well-Being in 2013

Disturbing findings have emerged from a Federal Reserve Board survey of the economic well-being of American households in 2013. While the average household is doing alright, many are not. The struggling segments are large enough to raise eyebrows and pose a potential threat to the stability of the overall U.S. economy. These are the some of the worrisome findings...
  • 34% of households say they are worse off financially than they were five years ago. 
  • 45% did not save any portion of their income in 2012.
  • 58% do not have a rainy day fund that could cover expenses for three months.
  • 45% of renters say they rent because they can't afford a down payment.
  • 24% of households have education debt, owing a median of $15,000.
  • 37% of those with education debt say the cost outweighs the benefits.
  • 44% of households bought lottery tickets in the past year; only 33% own stock.
  • 54% would have to go into debt or be unable to pay an unexpected $400 expense.
  • 28% of householders aged 60-plus say their retirement plan is to keep working.

Source: Federal Reserve, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2013

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Demographics of Lying

Who lies? Apparently older people lie more than younger ones, according to a Harris survey that asked Americans about lying.

When asked whether they have ever lied to their parents, a substantial 61 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds admitted lying to their parents at some point in their lives. The percentage of Americans who say they have ever lied to their parents falls steeply with age to just 25 percent of people aged 65 or older. The older folks are either lying about lying or they are memory impaired.

Another question on the survey about lying: did respondents think others would lie when answering the survey? The 69 percent majority said "yes," they thought others would lie. But when respondents were asked whether they themselves had lied when answering the survey, only 6 percent said yes.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Death by Heat, Cold, Lightning

The weather killed more than 10,000 Americans in the 2006-10 time period, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. Here is the breakdown of deaths by type of weather...

Heat: 3,332
Cold: 6,660
Storms: 657

The heat-related death rate is highest in the West's largest cities. The cold-related death rate is highest in West's rural areas. The storm-related (flooding, lightning) death rate is highest in the rural South.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006-2010

Thursday, August 07, 2014

How Many Shop for Groceries?

Fourteen percent of Americans aged 15 or older (one in seven) shop for groceries on an average day. Women are more likely than men to get groceries, but not much more...

Percent grocery shopping on an average day
Men: 11%
Women: 17%

The likelihood of grocery shopping on an average day peaks among men aged 55 or older (13 percent) and women aged 35 to 54 (21 percent).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished data from the 2013 American Time Use Survey

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Very Slow Recovery in Consumer Spending

The recovery in consumer spending in the aftermath of the Great Recession has been unusually slow, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its Liberty Street Economics blog. Both nondiscretionary service spending (housing, financial, and health care) as well as discretionary service spending (everything else) fell off a cliff during the Great Recession and remain well below expected levels based on past trends.

  • Real per capita consumer spending on discretionary services in the first quarter of 2014 was only 4.4 percent above the level of the Great Recession trough. In an average slow recovery, this spending would be 10.0 percent above the trough. 
  • Real per capita consumer spending on nondiscretionary services in the first quarter of 2014 was only 4.1 percent above the level of the Great Recession trough. In an average slow recovery, this spending would be 9.2 percent above the trough. 

The lingering effects of the Great Recession still grip the nation. "It appears that households remain—almost five years after the end of the recession—wary about their future income growth and employment prospects," conclude the researchers.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, The Slow Recovery in Consumer Spending

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Median Retirement Savings Is Growing

Median amount households have saved for retirement, 2014 (and 2007), by generation...

Boomers: $127, 000 ($75,000)
Gen Xers: $70,000 ($32,000)
Millennials: $32,000 ($9,000)

Note: Median excludes those who said they were unsure or declined to answer—23 percent of Millennials, 17 percent of Gen Xers, and 19 percent of Boomers.
Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 15th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, The Retirement Readiness of Three Unique Generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials