Monday, January 23, 2017

Population Loss Varies by Type of Rural County

Rural America has been struggling with population loss, reports the Population Reference Bureau. Between 2000 and 2015, fully 60 percent of rural counties lost population. But the extent of population loss varied by type of rural county...

Percent of counties losing population, 2000 to 2015
All rural counties: 60%
Farming counties: 78%
Mining counties: 43%
Manufacturing counties: 42%
Recreation counties: 27%

PRB analyzes how two age groups—young adults and retirees—have helped to curtail population loss in some types of rural counties. In 49 percent of mining counties, for example, the number of 20-to-34-year-olds grew faster than the national average between 2000 and 2015, lured there by jobs in shale gas and oil production. In 64 percent of recreation counties, the number of people aged 65 or older grew faster than the national average as retirees flocked to amenity-rich areas.

Source: Population Reference Bureau, Baby Boomers and Millennials Boost Population in Parts of Rural America

Friday, January 20, 2017

When Boom Goes Bust, Stay or Go?

When boom turns to bust, is it better to hunker down and stay put or pull up stakes and move elsewhere? Move appears to be the answer.

"We find that geographic mobility following the bust is associated with stronger consumer financial health," say researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The researchers examined the credit records of people living in counties experiencing oil rig boom and bust between 2011 and 2014. The finances of movers and stayers were similar during the boom times, but they diverged in the bust. Those who left ended up better off financially than those who stayed (lower credit utilization, fewer derogatory accounts, lower past-due balances, and greater access to credit). "Our analysis implies that geographic mobility could have quantifiable benefits for consumer financial health," they conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Geographic Mobility and Consumer Financial Health: Evidence from Oil Production Boom Towns

Thursday, January 19, 2017

IRA Balances Are Growing

Americans are saving more in their IRAs. The median balance of IRA accounts has grown since 2011, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Here is the trend...

Median IRA balance
2014: $33,185
2013: $32,179
2012: $27,987
2011: $23,785
2010: $25,296

These medians are for all accounts, including recently opened IRAs. The EBRI report also examines the IRA balances of "consistent account owners"—those who owned an IRA in every year from 2010 through 2014. The median IRA balance of consistent account owners grew from $26,508 in 2010 to $40,980 in 2014.

One reason IRA balances are not growing faster is that most owners do not contribute. Among consistent account owners for the 2010-to-2014 time period, the 61.5 percent majority contributed nothing in any of those years. Only 10.4 percent contributed in all five years.

Source: EBRI, Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, Withdrawals, and Asset Allocation Longitudinal Results 2010–2014: The EBRI IRA Database

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Carbonated Beverages as a Share of Grocery Spending

The New York Times created a stir when it reported on a USDA study with the alarming headline, "In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda." Yes, the USDA study found food stamp households devoting a large share of their grocery spending to carbonated beverages. But so did households that were not receiving food stamps. The real story in the USDA study is the outsized importance of soda in the shopping cart of most American households regardless of demographic or socioeconomic characteristic.

The USDA findings were based on point-of-sale data from a leading grocery retailer—data that could be skewed by the retailer's own customer demographics. Using a different and more comprehensive data set (the 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey), Demo Memo calculated the carbonated beverage share of spending for the average household and for households by demographic characteristic. The share is huge, regardless of the demographics. For the average household, soda ranks 4th as a share of grocery spending. In other words, carbonated beverages are the grocery item on which the average household spends more than all but three other items—fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and miscellaneous prepared food (i.e. food from the supermarket deli). The carbonated beverage share of grocery spending varies a little—but not all that much—by demographic characteristic...

  • Carbonated beverage share is highest among low-income households: Among households with incomes below $30,000, carbonated beverages rank 3rd as a share of grocery spending. Among households with incomes of $200,000 or more, they are in 14th place.
  • Carbonated beverage share is highest in two age groups: Soda ranks highest as a share of grocery spending among households headed by young adults under age 25 and older adults aged 55 to 64 (4th place). Soda is lowest as a share of grocery spending among householders aged 35 to 44 (7th place) because many are parents, and parents devote less of the grocery dollar to carbonated beverages. 
  • Carbonated beverage share is highest for the less educated: Among households in which no household member has a bachelor's degree, soda ranks 3rd as a share of grocery spending. Among households with at least one college graduate, carbonated beverages rank 10th as a share of grocery spending. 

Source: USDA study Foods Typically Purchased by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households and Demo Memo analysis of the 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Master's Degree is the New Bachelor's Degree

As the bachelor's degree has become commonplace, the master's degree is the new mark of distinction. The percentage of Americans aged 25 or older with a master's degree was 8.7 percent overall in 2015, 10 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds, and 12 percent among women in the 35-to-44 age group, according to the Census Bureau.

The Urban Institute recently analyzed the characteristics of those who go to graduate school, their success rate, and how much the additional schooling adds to earnings. Here is the bachelor's-master's comparison by age group...

Average earnings, aged 25 to 34
$54,840, bachelor's degree only
$63,050, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 15%

Average earnings, aged 35 to 44
$71,100, bachelor's degree only
$87,320, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 23%

Average earnings, aged 45 to 54
$77,600, bachelor's degree only
$92,760, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 20%

Source: Urban Institute, Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Death Rates Higher in Nonmetro Areas

With the Affordable Care Act and expanded access to health care services under threat, the CDC has released a report suggesting any erosion of care will be a bigger problem for the residents of nonmetropolitan America than for those living in metro areas.

The CDC report compares age-adjusted death rates in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas for the five leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer, accidents (including drug poisonings), chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Result: death rates in nonmetropolitan areas are higher for all five causes of death.

What accounts for the higher death rates? A cluster of characteristics, reports the CDC. The residents of nonmetropolitan areas "tend to have less access to health care services and to be less likely to receive preventive services," explains the report. "In addition, they are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured, delay seeking care, live in poverty, and have lower educational attainment."

Source: CDC, Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, Leading Causes of Death in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas—United States, 1999–2014

Friday, January 13, 2017

Dinner at Restaurants by Age

Most of us eat dinner at a restaurant at least once a week, according to a Gallup survey. When Americans are asked how many nights in the past week they had eaten dinner at a restaurant of any kind, the 61 percent majority said they had done so at least once, a percentage that has been stable for nearly a decade. Not surprisingly, age is an important factor in the frequency of dining out...

Percent who ate dinner at a restaurant in past week
Aged 18-to-34: 72%
Aged 35 to 54: 65%
Aged 50-plus: 50%

The stability in eating out is good news for restaurants, says Gallup, especially as fresh meal delivery services and food bars at grocery stores become increasingly popular. The fact that young adults are the most frequent customers is also good news, Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, Americans' Dining-Out Frequency Little Changed from 2008

Thursday, January 12, 2017

LGBT Identification by Generation

Overall, 4.1 percent of Americans aged 18 or older personally identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, according to a Gallup survey. This figure is up from 3.5 percent in 2012. By generation, the percentage who identify themselves as LGBT looks like this...

LGBT identification by generation
7.3% of Millennials
3.2% of Gen Xers
2.4% of Baby Boomers
1.4% of older Americans

Why are Millennials more likely than older generations to identify themselves as LGBT? "Millennials are the first generation in the U.S. to grow up in an environment where social acceptance of the LGBT community markedly increased," says Gallup. "This may be an important factor in explaining their greater willingness to identify as LGBT."

Source: Gallup, In U.S., More Adults Identifying as LGBT

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Childrearing Costs Up 16% Since 1960

It costs more to raise a child than it once did, but not all that much more. According to USDA estimates for middle America (middle-income, married couples), the inflation-adjusted cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 climbed from $202,020 in 1960 to $233,610 in 2015—a 16 percent increase. The cost of childrearing has grown in some categories and declined in others. The biggest increase has been for the category "child care and education," with parents in 2015 spending more than eight times as much than their counterparts in 1960—and the increase doesn't include college costs because the accounting stops at a child's 18th birthday. Here are comparisons of 2015 costs with those in 1960 (in 2015 dollars)...

  • Housing is the biggest expense for parents. The cost of housing a child from birth through age 17 was $66,240 in 2015, 6 percent more than the $62,630 of 1960.
  • Food is the second largest expense of childrearing. In 2015 this cost was $41,400—15 percent less than the $48,490 of 1960.
  • Child care and education is the third largest childrearing expense for parents today. Not so in 1960. The $38,040 cost of child care for 2015 parents is over eight times more than the $4,040 spent by parents in 1960.
  • Transportation is the fourth largest expense of childrearing for parents in 2015, with $35,490 spent on transportation from birth through age 17—10 percent more than the $32,320 cost in 1960.
  • Health care is the fifth largest expense of childrearing for parents in 2015. The $21,720 needed for a child's health care is nearly triple the $8,080 of 1960.
  • Clothing expenses for children have fallen steeply since 1960. In 2015, the cost of clothing a child from birth through age 17 was $13,260— 40 percent less than the $22,220 of 1960, after adjusting for inflation.
  • Miscellaneous expenses include personal care products and services, entertainment, and reading material. In 2015, the cost of these expenses for a child from birth through age 17 was $17,460, 28 percent less than the $24,240 of 1960.

Source: USDA, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Favorable Views of Obama

Overall, 54 percent of American adults have a favorable view of President Obama, according to PRRI's 2016 American Values Survey. Not surprisingly the percentage with a favorable view varies the most by political party identification, ranging from a high of 91 percent among Democrats to a low of 12 percent among Republicans. Obama's favorability also varies greatly by demographic characteristic...

Favorable view of Obama
Women: 59%
Men: 48%

Aged 18 to 29: 62%
Aged 30 to 49: 56%
Aged 50 to 64: 48%
Aged 65-plus: 47%

Blacks: 91%
Hispanics: 69%
College-educated whites: 54%
Working-class whites: 37%

Source: PRRI 2016 American Values Survey, Widely Varying Views of Obama at the End of His Presidency

Monday, January 09, 2017

Few Smokers Are Able to Quit

Among current cigarette smokers, more than two out of three—68 percent—would like to quit. The 55 percent majority tried to quit in the past year. But few were successful, reports the CDC. Only 7 percent managed to quit.

There is little variation in these findings by demographic characteristic. The majority of smokers in every demographic segment wanted to quit—including men, women, young, old, Asian, Black, Hispanic, non-Hispanic White, high school drops outs, and college graduates. The majority in nearly every demographic segment had tried to quit in the past year. The success rate was in the single digits for most.

Source: CDC, Quitting Smoking among Adults—United States, 2000–2015

Friday, January 06, 2017

Race and Hispanic Origin of the Baby Bust

Who is behind the ongoing baby bust—the years-long decline in the number of births. In 2015, there were 338,000 fewer babies born (3,978,497) than in the peak year of 2007 (4,316,233)—an 8 percent decline. But births have fallen more for some women than for others, and not everyone is participating in the bust...

  • Births to Asian women climbed 11 percent between 2007 and 2015, the only race or Hispanic origin group that has not contributed to the baby bust. Asian births now account for 7.0 percent of the nation's total, up from 5.9 percent in 2007.
  • Births to Black women fell 6 percent between 2007 and 2015, a decline of 38,000. Black births climbed as a share of total births, however—from 14.5 to 14.8 percent.
  • Births to non-Hispanic White women fell 8 percent between 2007 and 2015, a drop of more than 180,000. The non-Hispanic White share of births, at 53.5 percent, has not changed since 2007.
  • Births to Hispanic women fell the most—a 13 percent decline between 2007 and 2015. The Hispanic share of births fell from 25 to 23 percent during those years. Among Hispanic women of Mexican origin, births fell by an even larger 24 percent—down by nearly 176,000.  

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2015

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Wireless-Only the Majority in Three Regions

Nationally, 49 percent of adults live in wireless-only households, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In three of four regions, adults who live in wireless-only households are in the majority. Only in the Northeast are they a minority.

Percentage of adults in wireless-only households
Northeast: 32.4%
Midwest: 51.7%
South: 52.3%
West: 54.4%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2016

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

10 Questions for 2017 (Part 2)

As demographic trends unfold, questions arise. This is the second of a two-part post with 10 vital questions about ongoing demographic trends. The fresh data to be released in 2017 may answer some of these questions. (Click here for Part 1.)

6. Is the average American getting richer? It's been a long three years since we had an update on American household wealth. This year, the wait is over. In a few months, the Federal Reserve Board will release the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, providing the first comprehensive look at household net worth and asset ownership since 2013. The past two surveys have produced unsettling results, with a steep decline in net worth recorded in 2010 and a continuing decline in 2013. The new numbers will tell us whether American households have begun to rebuild their wealth.

7. Who voted in the 2016 election? Another important piece of the demographic puzzle will be revealed in a few months when the Census Bureau releases results from the Voting and Registration supplement to the November 2016 Current Population Survey. Shortly after the election, the Census Bureau was in the field asking a nationally representative sample of Americans whether they voted and linking answers to demographics. Was there a surge in voting among older, non-Hispanic whites? Soon we will know.

8. Are we back to square one with health insurance? Between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of Americans without health insurance plunged from 20.4 percent to 12.9 percent—an unprecedented, historic decline. Are we about to see a reversal of this trend? If Republicans carry out their threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of Americans without health insurance is projected to climb all the way back up to 21 percent by 2019.

9. How big is the gig economy? This year the Bureau of Labor Statistics will field a long awaited and much needed update to its 2005 "contingent" workforce survey. A number of studies have revealed tremendous growth in the gig economy, a phenomenon transforming the American workforce. The BLS update, hopefully, will capture this growth and give us a better picture of the gig economy and its workers.

10. Are we over the automobile? Transportation spending may have peaked. In 2015, the average household devoted slightly less than 17 percent of its budget to transportation, down from more than 19 percent in the early 2000s. Americans are keeping their vehicles longer, increasing their use of public transportation, and adopting ride-sharing with enthusiasm. This year is likely to provide more evidence of the cooling American love affair with the automobile.