Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Who Spends the Most on Women's Clothes?

Boomers spend more than any other generation on women's clothes, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey. While the average household spent $580 on women's clothes in 2017, households headed by Baby Boomers spent $661...

Average household spending on women's clothes, 2017
$661 spent by Boomers
$647 spent by Gen Xers
$493 spent by Millennials
$419 spent by the Silent Generation
$209 spent by the World War II generation

Baby boomers also control the largest share of the women's clothing market...

Distribution of aggregate household spending on women's clothes, 2017 
39% controlled by Boomers
30% controlled by Gen Xers
21% controlled by Millennials
10% controlled by Silent and WWII

In an average week, a substantial 20 percent of Boomer and Gen X households buy women's clothes. Among Millennials, the figure is 18 percent.

Note: BLS definitions of the generations are as follows: WWII generation born in 1927 or earlier; Silent generation born from 1928 to 1945; Boomers born from 1946 to 1964; Generation X born from 1965 to 1980; Millennials born in 1981 or later.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, December 10, 2018

27% Say They Have a Pre-existing Condition

Only 27 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they have a pre-existing condition, according to a Gallup poll. Among people aged 65 or older, just 38 percent say they have such a condition. These unrealistically low figures show that the public either doesn't understand the meaning of "pre-existing condition" or is afraid to admit they have one—even to a pollster. Government data show that a much larger share of Americans have what could be considered a pre-existing condition. For example...


Clearly, millions more Americans have pre-existing conditions than are willing to admit it, including the majority of older Americans. Why, then, is there any debate at all about whether health insurance companies should be prohibited from denying coverage because of a person's medical history?

Source: Gallup, One in Four U.S. Adults Say They Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Friday, December 07, 2018

Student Debt in 2017

Average student debt upon graduation grew to $28,650 in 2017, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. This is the debt owed by 2017 graduates from the nation's four-year public and nonprofit colleges. It does not include amounts borrowed by parents for their children. It also does not include the amount owed by graduates of for-profit schools, who typically owe the most.

Overall, 65 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. The figure varies by state. It was highest in New Hampshire, South Dakota, and West Virginia, where 74 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. It was lowest in Utah, where only 38 percent have student loan debt. Graduates in Connecticut have the highest average debt ($38,510), followed by Pennsylvania ($36,854), and Rhode Island ($36,250). Average debt is lowest in Utah ($18,838).

In California, the state with the most bachelor's degree recipients, a below-average 50 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. Those with loans owe an average of $22,785—20 percent less than the average college graduate with debt.

Source: Institute for College Access and Success, Student Debt and the Class of 2017

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Retirement Readiness Lags, Especially for Hispanics

The retirement readiness of Americans took a hit from the Great Recession and has yet to recover, according to study by the Center for Retirement Research. CRR researchers assessed retirement readiness by race and Hispanic origin using the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) and found Hispanics to be worse off than Blacks or non-Hispanic Whites.

The National Retirement Risk Index is calculated by comparing a household's pre-retirement income with the income they are projected to have in retirement based on Social Security benefits, retirement savings, and the hypothetical annuitization of all their assets including housing. Households whose estimated retirement income falls at least 10 percent below their pre-retirement income are considered at risk of having insufficient funds to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. CRR determined NRRI for households headed by 30-to-59-year-olds by race and Hispanic origin using data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. In 2016, 50 percent of the nation's households fell below the target, meaning half of households are at risk of not being able to maintain their current standard of living in retirement. The 2016 NRRI is lower than the 53 percent of 2010 but significantly higher than the 44 percent of 2007.

National Retirement Risk Index by race and Hispanic origin in 2016 (and 2007)
Total: 50% (44%)
Black: 54% (52%)
Hispanic: 61% (51%)
Non-Hispanic White: 48% (42%)

Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, more households were at risk of running short of money in retirement in 2016 than in 2007. But Hispanics were worse off than Blacks or non-Hispanic Whites, the CRR study found. "The deterioration for Hispanics reflects their buying housing in the wrong places at the wrong time," explain the researchers. Fully 40 percent of Hispanic households live in the states hardest hit by the Great Recession (Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California) compared with only 20 percent of non-Hispanic White or Black households. Consequently, the value of the homes owned by Hispanics took a bigger hit, losing twice as much in value between 20017 and 2016 (41 percent) as the homes of non-Hispanic Whites or Blacks (21 and 22 percent, respectively). The stability in the NRRI for Black households, the researchers say, is due to Blacks' relatively low pre-retirement standard of living, which is easier to achieve in retirement because of Social Security's progressive benefit formula.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Trends in Retirement Security by Race/Ethnicity

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

10.7 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S.

The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States is shrinking, according to a Pew Research Center report. In 2016, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., down from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007. Behind the decline are fewer unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, their number falling from 6.95 million in 2007 to 5.45 million in 2016. As the number of Mexicans has declined, the number of Central Americans has grown, rising from 1.50 million in 2007 to 1.85 million in 2016.

Pew's report examines not only trends in the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States, but also their characteristics. Here are some of the findings...
  • Most unauthorized adult immigrants are long-term residents, having been in the country for a median of 14.8 years.
  • Nearly 700,000 young adults in the U.S. were brought here illegally as children and have temporary protection from deportation under DACA. 
  • 5 million American-born children live with unauthorized immigrant parents.
  • The share of K–12 students who have at least one unauthorized immigrant parent is 20 percent in Nevada, 13 percent in Texas and California, and 11 percent in Arizona and Colorado.
  • Unauthorized immigrants account for 24 percent of the nation's foreign-born population. 
  • Unauthorized immigrants are 4.8 percent of the U.S. labor force. They account for 24 percent of the farm workforce and 15 percent of construction workers.

Pew Research Center, U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Mobility Rate of Renters Falls to 20.1%

The nation's mobility rate hit an all-time low of 10.1 percent in 2017–18, primarily because fewer renters are moving. The mobility rate of renters fell to 20.1 percent in 2017–18, down from more than 30 percent in the early 2000s. One reason for the decline in the mobility rate of renters is that fewer of them are moving after buying a house.

Number of renters aged 1 or older who moved after buying a house (in 000s)
2017–18: 2,350
2016–17: 2,554
2010–11: 1,544 (low)
2005–06: 3,415
2001–02: 4,334
2000–01: 3,942

In 2017–18, about 2.4 million renters moved after buying a house. While this number is higher than the post-Great Recession low of 1.5 million in 2010–11, it is well below the 4.3 million of 2001–02. What are the characteristics of renters who move after buying a house? The 57 percent majority are people aged 30 to 44 and children under age 16. 

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Monday, December 03, 2018

Median Household Income Stable in October 2018

Median household income in October 2018 stood at $63,220, reports Sentier Research, unchanged from September after adjusting for inflation. The September and October medians are the highest recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The October 2018 median was 2.6 percent higher than the October 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.7 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.8 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in October 2018 was 103.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

Another Decline in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy at birth fell to 78.6 years in 2017, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, down from 78.7 years in 2016. Life expectancy also fell in 2015, held steady in 2016 according to revised numbers, then fell again in 2017. "The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s," reports the New York Times about the trend. Behind the decline are rising death rates for 7 of the 10 leading causes of death including unintentional injuries and suicide.

Unintentional injuries: Most drug overdose deaths are included in the "unintentional injuries" cause of death. The number of drug overdose deaths climbed to 70,237 in 2017, up from 63,632 in 2016. The death rate from drug overdoses was 21.7 per 100,000 population in 2017, up from 12.3 in 2010 and 6.2 in 2000.

Suicide: Suicides are also on the rise. Between 1999 and 2017 the suicide rate increased 33 percent, climbing from 10.5 to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 population. Suicide rates are much higher for men than for women. They are much higher in rural than in urban counties, and the gap is growing. The suicide rate in the most rural counties was 36 percent greater than the rate in the most urban counties in 1999. The rural rate was 80 percent higher in 2017.

The decline in life expectancy in 2017 was limited to males and people under age 65. "People are increasingly hopeless," said George Washington University disease prevention expert Dr. William Dietz in the New York Times, "and that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2017 and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017 and Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Which Generation Is In Control?

When the 116th Congress takes over in January 2019, the Baby-Boom generation will account for a shrinking majority of representatives, according to an analysis by Pew Research Center. The Boomer share of the total will fall from 62.1 percent in the 115th Congress to 53.9 percent in the 116th Congress. While Boomers and older Americans are a shrinking share of those in control of the House of Representatives, Gen Xers and Millennials are making gains...

Generational distribution of the 116th Congress (and 115th)
Millennials: 6.0% (1.1%)
Gen Xers: 31.5% (27.1%)
Boomers: 53.9% (62.1%)
Silent: 8.6% (9.7%)

Newly elected House Democrats (median age 45.8) are younger than newly elected House Republicans (median age 48.9), Pew reports, but re-elected House Democrats (median age 64.3) are older than re-elected House Republicans (median age 58.4). House leadership is even older, at least among Democrats. Roll Call political columnist @MrWalter Shapiro notes that all Democratic leaders of the House are members of the Silent generation.

Source: Pew Research Center, Millennials, Gen X Increase Their Ranks in the House, Especially among Democrats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mobility Rate Falls to 10.1%

Another record low: the percentage of the population aged 1 or older who moved from one house to another in the past 12 months fell to a new low of 10.1 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. Today's mobility rate is less than half the rate of 1960-61.

Mobility rate for selected years
2017–18: 10.1%
2016–17: 11.0%
2000–01: 14.2%
1990–91: 17.0%
1980–81: 17.2%
1970–71: 18.7%
1960–61: 20.6%
1950–51: 21.2%

The decline in mobility has been greatest among young adults. Take a look at the decline in the mobility rate of Americans aged 20 to 34 since the turn of the century...

Mobility rate of young adults in 2017–18 (and 2000–01)
Aged 20 to 24: 20.3% (32.7%)
Aged 25 to 29: 20.2% (29.5%)
Aged 30 to 34: 14.4% (20.6%)

Why has the mobility rate of young adults declined so steeply? One factor is student loans. Many young adults live with their parents, rather than on their own, as they pay down their debt.

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The BLS Strikes Back

"You talkin' to me?" That famous line could describe the response of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to a critical NBER study, which suggested that the Current Population Survey's labor force questions undercount the nation's employed and multiple job holders because they fail to capture much of the informal economy—or gig work.

The BLS has fired back, defending the CPS labor force questions in a recent Monthly Labor Review article. In the article, BLS researchers compare results from the CPS with those from the American Time Use Survey, which asks respondents about "income-generating activities" in addition to whether they have a main or other job. The finding: the nation’s overall employment figures are minimally affected by including respondents who report unemployment on the CPS and income-generating activities on the ATUS. This inclusion would increase overall employment by between 0.4 and 3.0 percent. A bigger effect is seen for multiple job holders. By including in the multiple job holder count those who report having a single job on the CPS and additional income-generating activities on ATUS, the increase in multiple job holders ranges from between 3.0 and a substantial 20.7 percent. The increase is especially large for young adults (as high as 42 percent for people under age 25), women (27 percent), and the less educated (23 percent for those with a high school diploma or less education).

While admitting there could be more multiple job holders than the official CPS numbers indicate, the BLS dismisses the notion that the CPS has missed a surge in gig work. The article concludes: "Despite anecdotal evidence of a large increase in the number of gig workers in recent years, ATUS estimates do not show a marked increase since 2003–07 in either the percentage of people who did income-generating activities or in the amount of time spent by those who did these activities."

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Measuring Labor Market Activity Today: Are the Words Work and Job too Limiting for Surveys?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Suicide Rate by Occupation

The suicide rate among the working-age population (aged 16 to 64) is rising, reports the CDC. To try to "inform suicide prevention efforts," the CDC is tracking suicide rates by occupation because "the workplace is an important but underutilized location for suicide prevention."

Among men, those working in construction and extraction have the highest suicide rate, at 53.2 suicides per 100,000 population in 2015. Among women, those working in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media have the highest rate—15.6 suicides per 100,000 population. Here are men's suicide rates by occupation, ranked from highest to lowest...

Men's suicide rate per 100,000 population by occupation, 2015
Construction and extraction: 53.2
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media: 39.7
Installation, maintenance, and repair: 39.1
Transportation and material moving: 30.9
Production: 30.5
Protective service: 28.2
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance: 26.8
Health care practitioners and technical: 25.6
Faming, fishing, and forestry: 22.8
Sales and related: 21.5
Food preparation and serving: 20.9
Health care support: 19.5
Architecture and engineering: 19.4
Legal: 18.7
Management: 17.8
Personal care and service: 16.5
Computer and mathematical: 16.1
Office and administrative support: 15.8
Life, physical and social science: 15.0
Community and social service: 14.6
Business and financial operations: 13.0
Education, training, and library: 10.9

Between 2012 and 2015, men's suicide rate increased the most in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations—up 47 percent. The second largest increase (43 percent) was among those working in food preparation and serving. Among women, the biggest increase in the suicide rate occurred among those in food preparation and serving (54 percent), followed by art, design, entertainment, sports and media (34 percent).

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group—17 States, 2012 and 2015

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How Much Do You Pay for Health Insurance?

The nation's private-sector workers who receive health insurance from an employer pay only a fraction of the cost. Their employer pays the rest. Here are the latest health insurance cost estimates from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and how they compare to costs in 2004...

Average annual cost for single coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $6,368 ($3,705)
Employer contribution: $4,953 ($3,034)
Employee contribution: $1,415 ($671)

Average annual cost for employee plus-one coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $12,789 ($7,056)
Employer contribution: $9,258 ($5,390)
Employee contribution: $3,531 ($1,667)

Average annual cost for family coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $18,687 ($10,006)
Employer contribution: $13,469 ($7,568)
Employee contribution: $5,218 ($2,438)

Employee contributions for health insurance have more than doubled since 2004, and employer contributions have grown 63 to 78 percent. Employer contributions grew more slowly during those years because private-sector businesses are requiring their employees to pay a higher share of the total. For employees with single coverage, their share of the health insurance premium grew from 18 to 22 percent between 2004 and 2017. For those with plus-one or family coverage, their share of the bill climbed from 24 to 28 percent.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, MEPS Insurance Component Chartbook 2017

Monday, November 19, 2018

Use of E-Cigarettes Surges among Teens

More than 3 million high school students use electronic cigarettes, according to the CDC, up from just 220,000 a few years ago. The CDC defines use of e-cigarettes as having one or more in the past 30 days. Here is how use has grown since 2011...

Percentage of 9th-12th graders who used 1 or more e-cigarettes in the past 30 days
2018: 20.8%
2011:   1.5%

Two out of three high school students who vaped in the past month used the flavored variety. No wonder the FDA is planning to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes to teens.

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Notes from the Field: Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2018