Friday, February 16, 2018

Has American Culture Changed for the Better?

Young and old disagree about changes in the American way of life, according to a PRRI survey analyzed by William H. Frey in his study of the Millennial generation. Most people aged 35 or older believe American culture has changed for the worse since the 1950s, while most adults under age 35 believe it has changed for the better.

"Since the 1950s, do you think American culture and way of life has mostly changed for the better, or has it mostly changed for the worse?" (percent saying it has changed for the better)
Aged 18 to 34: 55%
Aged 35 to 54: 43%
Aged 55-plus: 42%

Older, non-Hispanic Whites are behind this pessimism. Only 39 to 40 percent of non-Hispanic Whites aged 35 or older believe American culture has changed for the better since the 1950s. Among non-Hispanic Whites under age 35, the 51 percent majority say it has changed for the better. Minorities, regardless of age, believe America is better today than it was in the 1950s.

Source: Brookings, The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America's Diverse Future

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What's Up with Americans' Low Well-Being?

Well-being fell in 21 states in 2017, according to a Gallup survey, a record decline surpassing the 15-state drop in 2009. No state saw an improvement in well-being—the first time without a winner since Gallup started tracking well-being by state in 2008. Gallup's well-being index is based on a number of questions probing five areas: sense of purpose, social support, financial security, sense of community, and physical health.

On a scale of 0 to 100, national well-being fell to 61.5 in 2017, down from 62.1 in 2016 and "the largest year-over-year decline since the index began in 2008," according to Gallup. Among states with declines in well-being, the metrics that worsened included...

  • more experiencing worry on a given day
  • decline in reports of receiving positive energy from friends and family members
  • decline in those who have a leader who makes them "enthusiastic about the future"

Fifteen of the 21 states with declines in well-being were in the South and West, reports Gallup, and include biggies such as Florida, Texas, and California. The six states in the Northeast and Midwest with declines in well-being included New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio.

Scoring the highest in well-being were South Dakota, Vermont, Hawaii, Minnesota, and North Dakota. At the bottom were West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

Source: Gallup, Record 21 States See Decline in Well-Being in 2017

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

8% of Americans Experience Depression

Depression is a common condition, according to a National Center for Health Statistics study. Among adults aged 20 or older, 8.1 percent were found to be depressed in a given two-week period of 2013–2016. The NCHS measured depression by administering a nine-item depression screening instrument to a nationally representative sample of the population.

Women are more likely to be depressed (10.4 percent) than men (5.5 percent). Asians are much less likely to be depressed (3.1 percent) than any other race or Hispanic origin group. Interestingly, the prevalence of depression falls as family income increases...

Percent of people aged 20-plus with depression by family income
Less than 100% of poverty level: 15.8%
100% to 199% of poverty level: 10.9%
200% to 399% of poverty level: 7.8%
400% or more of poverty level: 3.5%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Prevalence of Depression among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 2013–2016

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Millennials: A Demographic Bridge

The Millennial generation is "a demographic bridge to America's diverse future," according to a Brookings analysis of the generation by William H. Frey. Millennials (defined as 18-to-34-year-olds) are only 55.8 percent non-Hispanic White. The generations ahead of them are dominated by non-Hispanic Whites (61.5 percent of 35-to-54-year-olds and 75.0 percent of people aged 55-plus). The generation behind them is almost minority majority (51.5 percent of people under age 18 are non-Hispanic White). Millennials are the bridge for this "cultural generation gap" between old and young.

Frey's study calculates the cultural generation gap for states and large metropolitan areas. He defines the gap as the difference between the non-Hispanic White share of the pre-Millennial population (aged 35 or older) minus the non-Hispanic White share of the post-Millennial population (under age 18). Nationally, the gap is 16 percentage points (68 minus 52 percent). But in some states and metropolitan areas, the gap is much larger. By state, the gap is largest in Arizona—27 percentage points (67 minus 40 percent). By metropolitan area, the gap is largest in Cape Coral, Florida—30 percentage points (78 minus 48 percent).

The lasting legacy of Millennials is yet to be determined, says Frey. It will be "based on how successfully they serve as a social, economic, and political bridge to the next racially diverse generation," he concludes.

Source: Brookings, The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America's Diverse Future

Monday, February 12, 2018

Household Size by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2017

The average household in the United States is home to 2.54 people. But household size varies by race and Hispanic origin. Hispanics have the largest households and non-Hispanic Whites the smallest...

3.25 people in the average Hispanic household
2.90 people in the average Asian household
2.51 people in the average Black household
2.37 people in the average non-Hispanic White household

The younger age of the Hispanic population (median age = 29) explains their larger household size, with many Hispanics in the family formation years. The older age of the non-Hispanic White population (median age = 43) explains their smaller household size, with many non-Hispanic Whites in the empty-nest lifestage. Non-Hispanic Whites head 70 percent of the nation's single-person households and 74 percent of two-person households. But as household size increases, non-Hispanic Whites are a shrinking share of householders: they head 61 percent of three-person households, 60 percent of four-person households, 53 percent of five-person households, 47 percent of six-person households, and just 41 percent of households with seven or more people.

Source: Census Bureau, 2017 Current Population Survey

Friday, February 09, 2018

How Workers Manage Increases in Health Care Costs

Among American workers aged 21 to 64, health care is the most critical issue in the United States, according to the 2017 EBRI/Greenwald and Associates Health and Workplace Benefits Survey. Thirty-one percent of workers say health care is the number-one issue, well above second-place terrorism, cited by 21 percent.

Most workers consider health insurance extremely important when considering whether to stay with an employer or take a new job. Fully 60 percent say health insurance benefits are extremely important versus a smaller 42 percent who feel that way about retirement benefits.

Nearly half of workers say their health care costs increased in the past year. Among those who reported an increase, here's how they managed the higher cost...

43% decreased their contributions to savings
36% had difficulty paying other bills
34% increased their credit card debt
30% used up most or all of their savings
28% had difficulty paying for basic necessities
27% delayed retirement
26% decreased their contributions to retirement plans
22% borrowed money

Source: Employee Retirement Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, Workers Rank Health Care as the Most Critical Issue in the United States

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Does Delayed Retirement Increase Inequality?

With defined-benefit pensions a thing of the past for most retirees, many older Americans are working longer to allow their retirement savings and Social Security benefits to grow. But will the rising labor force participation of older Americans result in greater income inequality? It already is, according to an analysis by Richard W. Johnson of the Urban Institute. His study examines the growing economic polarization between older Americans healthy enough to delay retirement and continue to work and older Americans whose poor health prevents them from working longer.

Analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey of Americans aged 50 or older, Johnson's analysis compared the health and economic status of people aged 63 to 65 in 2014 with their counterparts in 1996. Over the time period, the health of people in their early sixties worsened...

  • A larger share of 63-to-65-year-olds reported having health-related work limitations in 2014 (31.8 percent) than in 1996 (28.5 percent).
  • The trend is most pronounced among the least educated—those who never attended college. Among 63-to-65-year-olds who never attended college, 42.3 percent had health-related work limitations in 2014, up from 33.6 percent in 1996. 
  • Among 63-to-65-year-olds who had attended college, 25.5 percent had health-related work limitations, up from 19.6 percent in 1996.

Older Americans with health-related work limitations are falling behind as the healthy work longer and add to their retirement incomes, Johnson finds. Between 1996 and 2014, he says, gains in real, median household income among people in their early sixties were limited to those in robust health. "As older adults have delayed retirement and worked longer, the impact of health status in late working life on retirement income has grown," Johnson concludes. "These finding are particularly concerning as evidence mounts that health status at midlife and older ages is worsening and health disparities by income and education are growing."

Source: Urban Institute, Delayed Retirement and the Growth in Income Inequality at Older Ages

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

What Happens to Young Adults Who Don't Go To College?

Is going to college pretty much the only path to financial security for today's young adults? That's what is suggested by the results of the National Center for Education Statistics' longitudinal survey of the ninth grade class of 2009. The 2016 follow up, seven years later, provides a disturbing look at the financial situation of those who did not go to college.

A substantial 28 percent of the nation's 2009 ninth graders had not enrolled in a postsecondary institution since graduating from high school, according to the 2016 follow up. When asked why they never went to college, 43 percent cited personal reasons and 42 percent financial.

Anxiety was widespread among these young adults, with 60 percent worried about having enough money to pay for regular expenses. Many depended on parents to get by: 26 percent said their parents regularly helped them pay for their rent or mortgage; 26 percent said their parents regularly helped with health care costs; and 19 percent said their parents regularly helped pay their monthly bills. Among those who were employed, 39 percent reported having an income of less than $10,000 in the previous year.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) Second Follow-Up: A First Look at Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders in 2016

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Facts about Child Support

Child support is an important source of income for millions of Americans. That's why the Census Bureau regularly examines the characteristics of those who receive child support and the size of child support payments. Here are the latest findings...
  • Of the nation's 83 million children under age 21, more than one in four (27 percent) lives in a custodial-parent family.
  • Of the 13.6 million custodial parents, only 50 percent had child support agreements.
  • Those with agreements were supposed to receive an average of $5,760 in child support in 2015.
  • Among those with agreements, 69 percent received payments in 2015.
  • Among those who received payments, the average received was $3,447
When the Census Bureau asked custodial parents without child support agreements why they did not have a formal arrangement, the single biggest response was that the other parent provides what he or she can. 

Source: Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2015

Monday, February 05, 2018

How Many Millennials Were Born in the United States?

Among Millennials, place of birth varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin, according to the latest bimonthly GenForward Survey. The survey defines Millennials as those aged 18 to 34.

Millennials born in the United States
Whites: 95%
Blacks: 91%
Hispanics: 57%
Asians: 53%

A substantial 26 percent of Asian Millennials are naturalized U.S. citizens, the survey finds. This is a much larger share than in any other group. The figure is only 6 percent among Hispanics, 4 percent among Blacks, and 3 percent among Whites. Eleven percent of Hispanic Millennials say they are undocumented immigrants.

Source: GenForward January 2018—Who Belongs? Millennial Attitudes on Immigration

Friday, February 02, 2018

Average Age at First Birth, 2016

The average age at first birth has reached a new record high, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. At 26.6 years, the average age at first birth was 1.4 years older in 2016 than it was in 2010. The age varies by race and Hispanic origin, however...

Average age at first birth
24.7 for Hispanics
24.8 for Blacks
27.4 for non-Hispanic Whites
30.1 for Asians

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2016

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Medicaid Is the Source of Payment for 43% of Births

Having a baby costs a lot—about $10,000 for a normal delivery. Who pays the price? Private health insurance pays 49 percent of the costs of childbirth, reports the National Center for Health Statistics. Medicaid pays almost as much—another 43 percent.

There's a good reason Medicaid funds such a large portion of deliveries. The federal government requires states to provide Medicaid coverage for pregnancy and childbirth for woman whose incomes are below 133 percent of federal poverty level. Because younger women have children, and because younger adults have low incomes, Medicaid often kicks in.

Percentage of births paid for by Medicaid by age of mother
Under age 20: 76.7%
Aged 20 to 24: 63.5%
Aged 25 to 29: 44.0%
Aged 30 to 34: 28.7%
Aged 35 to 39: 27.0%
Aged 40-plus: 29.1%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2016

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Millennial Generation Faces Perfect Storm

For many Millennials, the future may be dire indeed. A perfect storm of more debt, lower earnings, reduced homeownership, less wealth, and skimpier retirement savings relative to older generations suggests that many will experience a third-world standard of living in old age. The Center for Retirement Research reviews many of these concerns in a report examining whether Millennials will be ready for retirement.

"Many of today's workers will have inadequate income when they reach retirement," the report begins, "but the prospects for Millennials seem more challenging than for the generations ahead of them." CRR researchers count the ways millennials are behind. Compared to Gen Xers and late Boomers at the same age...
  • Their earnings are lower
  • They are less likely to participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan
  • They are less likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance
  • They are less likely to be homeowners
  • They are more likely to have student loans
  • They have accumulated less wealth
"Millennials are well behind other cohorts at the same age even though they will live longer and receive less from Social Security relative to pre-retirement earnings," the report concludes. The only good news is: "retirement is still a long way off for these Millennials."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Will Millennials Be Ready for Retirement?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2017

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2017: 47.1%

Is the long slide over? The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 climbed to 47.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. This is the highest quarterly rate for the age group since the end of 2014. The 47.1 percent rate is fully 2.5 percentage points above the all-time low of 44.6 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2017. While the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds appears to have found a new normal in the mid-forties, perhaps the increase is a sign that the early 30s will once again become the age of first-time home buying.  

Historically, homeownership became the norm in the 30-to-34 age group—rising above 50 percent. But beginning in 2007, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds went into a tailspin. In the second quarter of 2011, the rate fell below 50 percent for the first time. It's been stuck there ever since. The new age of first-time home buying is 35 to 39, but even this age group has been slipping toward the 50-percent threshold. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 56.6 percent, well below the peak of 65.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017—the first time the quarterly rate has cracked the 64 percent mark since 2014. But, cautions the Census Bureau, the 64.2 percent rate is not statistically different from the 63.7 percent of one year ago.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey