Thursday, December 18, 2014

Young Adults Aren't Buying It

Young adults aren't the consumers they once were. A Demo Memo analysis of Consumer Expenditure Survey data shows older Americans overtaking them as better customers in many important categories. Here is how the average spending of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds (young adults) compares to the average spending of households headed by 65-to-74-year-olds (old folks) in 2006 and 2013...

Dinner at full service restaurants
2006: young adults spent 16 percent more than old folks
2013: young adults spent 22 percent less than old folks

Groceries
2006: young adults spent 4 percent more than old folks
2013: young adults spent 5 percent less than old folks

Entertainment
2006: young adults spent 9 percent more than old folks
2013: young adults spent 11 percent less than old folks

Women's clothes
2006: young adults spent 18 percent more than old folks
2013: young adults spent 5 percent less than old folks

Personal care products
2006: young adults spent 13 percent more than old folks
2013: young adults spent 8 percent less than old folks

Household furnishings and equipment
2006: young adult spending was the same as old folks
2013: young adults spent 13 percent less than old folks

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Questions about Sexual Orientation

It's not easy to ask people about their sexual orientation. In fact, the federal government spent 11 years studying the best way to phrase the question for the 2013 National Health Interview Survey, using in-depth interviews to determine the right words. One finding from this research was that the terms "gay," "lesbian," and "straight" are less confusing to the public than the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual."

Overall, 97 percent of men and women aged 18 or older identified themselves as "straight" in the 2013 survey, and 2 percent said they were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Some (0.6 percent) refused to answer the question and the same small percentage said they were "something else" or "don't know."

When the few who said they were "something else" were further questioned by interviewers, the 39 percent plurality said they didn't use labels to identify themselves. When the few who answered "don't know" were questioned further, the 30 percent plurality said they were in the process of figuring out their sexuality.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Sexual Orientation in the 2013 National Health Interview Survey: A Quality Assessment (PDF)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Health Insurance: Where You Live Matters

The Affordable Care Act is moving the needle: fewer Americans are without health insurance. Among 18-to-64-year-olds, the percentage who were uninsured when interviewed by the National Health Interview Survey fell from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 17.0 percent in January-June 2014. Demographically speaking, that decline is big news.

But the growing safety net of health insurance is not evenly distributed. In states that refused to participate in Medicaid expansion and the marketplace program, a much larger percentage of working-age adults is uninsured. By geographic region, here are the percentages of working-age adults without health insurance in January-June 2014...

Percent of 18-to-64-year-olds without health insurance
25.9% West South Central
21.2% South Atlantic
18.6% Mountain
17.0% Pacific
16.5% East South Central
14.4% West North Central
12.7% East North Central
12.3% Middle Atlantic
7.6% New England

For working-age adults, the 18-percentage-point health insurance coverage gap between the West South Central states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) and New England means where you live matters more than ever.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Who Uses Birth Control?

American women aren't fooling around. Their use of contraception is nearly universal. Overall, 62 percent of women aged 15 to 44 are currently using contraception, but that figure is deceivingly low. It includes women who don't use birth control because they aren't having sex, and it includes women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or just had a baby.

In fact, only 6.9 percent of women aged 15 to 44 aren't using contraceptives and should be using them because they're sexually active and don't want to become pregnant. That means fully 93.1 percent of American women have taken control of their fertility, which may explain why the fertility rate is at a record low.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Current Contraceptive Status among Women Aged 15-44: United States, 2011-2013

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Projections: Minority Majority in 2044

Although population growth is slowing in the United States because of the baby bust, one thing hasn't changed. Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics will become the majority of Americans within three decades. The Census Bureau's new projections show minorities becoming the majority in 2044, only one year later than in the bureau's previous projection series released two years ago. Here are the projections by race and Hispanic origin for 2015 and 2050...

Non-Hispanic White population (and share of total)
2015: 198 million (61.7%)
2050: 188 million (47.3%)
The non-Hispanic White population will peak in 2025 and then decline. The non-Hispanic White share of the population will fall below 50 percent in 2044.

Hispanic population (and share of total)
2015: 57 million (17.7%)
2050: 106 million (26.5%)
The new projections forecast 6 million fewer Hispanics in 2050 than the previous projection series, a consequence of slowing immigration and fewer births.

Black (alone or in combination) population (and share of total)
2015: 46 million (14.4%)
2050: 67 million (16.9%)
The new projections forecast 2 million fewer Blacks in 2050 than the previous projection series, a consequence of fewer births.

Asian (alone or in combination) population (and share of total)
2015: 21 million (6.4%)
2050: 42 million (10.6%)
The new projections forecast nearly 4 million more Asians in 2050 than the previous projection series, a consequence of greater immigration.

Source: Census Bureau, 2014 National Population Projections

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Census Bureau Projects Fewer Births

The Census Bureau's new population projections correct a major flaw in the previous set of numbers released two years ago—the failure to account for the ongoing baby bust. The new forecast incorporates the baby bust, adjusting births downward by 200,000 to 400,000 a year over the projection time period. The numbers add up. From 2015 to 2060, the Census Bureau forecasts nearly 15 million fewer births than it had projected in the previous series. Here's a comparison of the birth projections for 2015...

Number of births projected for 2015
New projections: 3,998,730
Old projections: 4,290,077

According to the new projections, the annual number of births will exceed 4 million again in 2016. But the number will not surpass the 2007 record of 4,316,233 until 2044. The old projections had that record being broken in 2017.

Source: Census Bureau, 2014 National Population Projections

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Turmoil in Children's Lives

Turmoil is the norm for many children, according to a Census Bureau study. Among the nation's children under age 18, the 56 percent majority experience potentially troublesome transitions in their home life over a four-year time period. Using Survey of Income and Program Participation longitudinal data, the Census Bureau examined three types of transitions: 1) a change in the number of parents (or partners) in the home; 2) moving from one house to another; and 3) an employment change for at least one parent.

Some children's lives are much more chaotic than others. Not surprisingly, the lower the income the greater the chaos. Among children with family incomes below poverty level, fully 70 percent experienced at least one transition over a four-year period. Among children with the highest family incomes, only 42 percent experienced a transition.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: Living Arrangements, Nativity, and Family Transitions: 2011 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Household Income Stable in October 2014

Median household income in October stood at $53,713, according to Sentier Research. Although this was $320 less than the September 2014 median of $54,033, the difference was not statistically significant, after adjusting for inflation. The October 2014 median was 1.0 percent higher than in October 2013, however, and 3.7 percent more than the $51,784 of August 2011—the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Our time series charts clearly illustrate that although the economic recovery officially began in June 2009, the recovery in household income did not begin to emerge until after August 2011," explains Sentier's Gordon Green. "While many of the month-to-month changes in median income since the low-point in August 2011 have not been statistically significant, an overall upward trend is still clearly evident," he states. Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.   


Median household income in October 2014 was 3.4 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 5.1 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 6.2 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for October 2014 stood at 93.8 (January 2000 = 100.0).


Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2014

Monday, December 08, 2014

Gas Prices and Housing Values

The higher the price of gas, the lower the value of houses in the suburbs, finds a study by the Brookings Institution. Every 10 percent increase in the price of gasoline lowers average house prices by $7,800 in the outskirts of a city and raises house prices by $5,600 in the city center, report the Brookings researchers. Their findings are based on an analysis of 930,702 home sales in Clark County, Nevada, from 1976 through 2010.

With gas prices falling to a low not seen in years, homeowners in the suburbs may benefit, able to sell their houses for more because buyers will be less averse to a lengthy commute.

Source: The Brookings Institution, Do Gasoline Prices Affect Residential Property Values?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Fast Food = No Fun

People who buy fast food are busy and in a hurry. That's not a surprise, of course, but data from the American Time Use Survey now documents those facts.

Among Americans aged 18 or older, those who purchase fast food on a given day spend more time working and traveling (mostly commuting) and less time watching TV and sleeping than the average person. The fast-food purchasers spent only 57 minutes per day eating and drinking versus the 68 minutes spent by the average person. Fast-food buyers were also more likely to report eating while mostly doing something else—such as working or driving a vehicle.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, The Role of Time in Fast-Food Purchasing Behavior in the United States

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Why So Many 30-Year-Olds Live with Their Parents

The homeownership rate of young adults plunged after the Great Recession. How big a plunge? Among 30-year-olds, the homeownership rate fell by an astonishing 12.5 percentage points between 2006-07 and 2013, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During those years, a growing share of 30-year-olds opted to live with their parents rather than independently.

Consequently, 30-year-olds today are almost as likely to live with their parents (31.5%) as they are to own a home (31.9%). What's behind this sorry state of affairs? The growing burden of student loans is largely responsible, concludes the NY Fed.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Debt, Jobs, or Housing: What's Keeping Millennials at Home? 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Three Stages of Old Age

Old age has three stages: the Go-Go years, the Slow-Go years, and the No-Go years. A Census Bureau analysis of the disability status of Americans aged 65 or older, based on data from the American Community Survey, confirms this reality.

  • The Go-Go elderly are aged 65 to 74. Only 26.4 percent are disabled. 
  • The Slow-Go elderly are aged 75 to 84, when a larger 45.0 percent are disabled.
  • The No-Go elderly are aged 85 or older. Fully 72.5 percent are disabled. 

Among the disabled elderly, the most common problem is difficulty walking or climbing stairs, experienced by two out of three.

Source: Census Bureau, Older Americans with a Disability: 2008-2012

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Trouble with CPS Retirement Income Data

Do census data understate retirement income? That's the question asked by a Center for Retirement Research report. The answer is yes. Here's why: the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), the nation's official source of income data, does not count as income the money withdrawn from IRAs and 401(k)s unless it is taken as an annuity. It's a big problem. The CPS estimates that only $18 billion was withdrawn from defined-contribution accounts (IRAs and 401(k)s) in 2012. The actual amount is closer to $220 billion, according to IRS data. That's a lot of missing money.

Fortunately, the under-reporting of defined-contribution income understates the income only of high-income households because most lower- and middle-income households have no or minimal IRA/401(k) assets. "The CPS provides a reasonably good measure of income for the typical middle-income household," concludes the report. Upper-income retirees, however, are much richer than it appears in the CPS statistics.

Soon, we might know just how rich they are. The Census Bureau is testing a redesign of the Current Population Survey to capture the missing money.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Do Census Data Understate Retirement Income?

Monday, December 01, 2014

Who Likes Their Health Care?

How do Americans rate their health care? It depends on their health insurance status. The percentage who give the health care they received in the past year the highest rating (a 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10) ranges from a low of 37 percent among people without health insurance to a high of more than 60 percent among people on Medicare.

Because health insurance coverage depends on age, how people feel about their health care varies greatly by age. Young adults under age 26, many covered by their parents' health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, have a higher opinion of the health care they received than those aged 26 to 34—the age group most likely to be uninsured. People aged 65 or older, universally covered by Medicare, are the ones most impressed with their health care.

Percent rating their health care a 9 or 10
18 to 25: 45.7%
26 to 34: 39.7%
35 to 44: 42.0%
45 to 54: 47.1%
55 to 64: 55.3%
65-plus: 62.2%

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2012 Quality of Care Tables