Thursday, January 29, 2015

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2014

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2014: 47.4%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 was nearly a full percentage above the all-time low of 46.5 percent recorded in the second quarter of 2014. Still, the figure is well below the 50-percent threshold that once marked this age group as the nation's first-time homebuyers. 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. The latest number is another datapoint in the ongoing trend.

The new age of first-time home buying is 35 to 39, but even this age group is slipping. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds fell to 55.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014—a record low. Since peaking in the first quarter of 2007, the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds has fallen by more than 10 percentage points. 

Nationally, the homeownership rate slipped to 64.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from 65.2 percent a year earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Children in the Household by Generation, 2014

Overall, 28 percent of American households include children under age 18 and a larger 39 percent include children of any age. By generation, here are the numbers...

Households with children under age 18
Millennials: 46.8% 
Generation X: 55.7%
Baby Boomers: 11.5%
Older Americans: 1.1%

Households with children of any age
Millennials: 47.6% 
Generation X: 64.9%
Baby Boomers: 30.2%
Older Americans: 12.5%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2014

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Household Income Rises in December 2014

Good news: Median household income climbed to $54,417 in December 2014, according to Sentier Research—$738 more than the November median, after adjusting for inflation. The statistically significant increase was due in part to the decline in consumer prices as the cost of gasoline fell. The December 2014 median was 3.3 percent higher than the December 2013 median and 5.7 percent above the $51,459 median 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. Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey. 

Median household income
 in December 2014 was 1.5 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 3.2 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 4.4 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for December 2014 stood at 95.6 (January 2000 = 100.0).


Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2014

Monday, January 26, 2015

Labor Force by Generation

Percent distribution of Americans aged 16 or older in the labor force by generation...

iGeneration: 2.8%
Millennials: 36.7%
Generation X: 25.6%
Baby Boomers: 31.4%
Older Americans: 3.4%

Note: Labor force as of 2013, when the iGeneration was 16-18; Millennials were 19-36; Generation X was 37-48; Boomers were 49-67; older Americans were 68-plus.
Source: New Strategist Publications, American Generations Series

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spending on Books Plunges

In 2013, the average household spent almost as much on digital book readers ($30.18) as it did on books ($32.53). Since 2000, average household spending on books has fallen 58 percent, after adjusting for inflation—almost as steep a decline as the 65 percent plunge in spending on newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Workers Feel More Insecure

Workers today feel more insecure about their jobs than their counterparts a generation ago, according to an analysis of data in the Monthly Labor Review by business school professor Charles N. Weaver. A comparison of worker attitudes in the 1970s (1977 and 1978) with attitudes in the 2010s (2010 and 2012) reveals a growing fear...
  • In the 1970s, only 7.7 percent of workers were afraid they would lose their job. In the 2010s, the figure had climbed to 11.2 percent. 
  • In the 1970s, the 59 percent majority of workers were confident in their ability to find a comparable job. In the 2010s, only 48 percent of workers had confidence.
The loss of confidence has been greater for some workers than others. Confidence has plunged the most for workers aged 30 to 49 (a 12.6 percentage point decline), men, (-12.8), high school graduates (-15.5), workers with some college but no degree (-23.1), and clerical workers (-23.9).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Worker's Expectations about Losing and Replacing their Jobs: 35 Years of Change

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How Much Is "Some College"?

Nearly 35 million Americans aged 25 or older have "some college" but no degree. The "some college" group, in fact, is the second largest in the United States. It is outnumbered only by the 55 million who have a high school diploma but no further education. But what does "some college" mean, exactly? The Census Bureau has the numbers...

Percent distribution of people with "some college" by years of college completed
Less than one: 16%
One year : 32%
Two years: 37%
Three years: 10%
Four-plus years: 4%

Source: Census Bureau, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2014

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lower Gas Prices and the Average Household

Gasoline is one of the largest household expenses. How large? According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average household spent $2,549 on gasoline in 2013. Gasoline ranks a lofty 5th among items on which the average household spends the most (after deductions for Social Security, groceries, vehicle purchases, and rent/mortgage interest).

That was then, when gasoline cost $3.49/gallon. Now, with gas prices at about $2.00/gallon, the average household is projected to spend just $1,461 on gasoline this year—a savings of more than $1,000. Gasoline will fall from 5th to 8th place in the ranking of items on which the average household spends the most—below restaurant meals, health insurance, and property taxes. No wonder Americans' Economic Confidence Index is at a record high and in positive territory for the first time since Gallup started daily tracking of this indicator in 2008.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Financial Status of Baby Boomers

Among people aged 50 to 64, fewer than one in four feels financially secure. These are the responses of a representative sample of the age group to the question, "What is your household's overall financial situation?"

23% say they are financial secure
27% say they have enough money to get by
22% say they're doing okay, but wish they had saved more
22% say they are struggling to make things work out financially
7% say they are in poor financial shape

Source: AARP, Americans Aged 50+ and Stress: An AARP Bulletin Survey

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Rise of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are a large and growing share of health care spending. That explains why the castle-like edifices of Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, and other pharmacy chains now loom over so many street corners and shopping centers. In 2012, the total amount spent (by insurance companies, government programs, and out-of-pocket payments) on the health care received by Americans amounted to $1.351 trillion. Prescription drugs accounted for more than one-fifth of that amount in 2012, nearly double the share in 1996....

Percent of total health care spending devoted to prescription drugs in 2012 (and 1996)
For people under age 65: 21.9% (11.5%)
For people aged 65-plus: 21.3% (12.7%)

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Trends in National Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, Percentage by Type of Service and Source of Payment with Age and Insurance Groups, 1996-2012

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Age at First Birth

The average age of American women giving birth for the first time climbed to 26.0 in 2013, up from 25.8 in 2012 and one full year older than the average age at first birth in 2007—the year births peaked in the United States. Age at first birth varies by race and Hispanic origin...

Average age at first birth
29.4 for Asians
26.8 for non-Hispanic Whites
26.7 for Hispanics of Cuban origin
23.9 for Blacks
23.9 for Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin
23.4 for Hispanics of Mexican origin
22.9 for American Indians

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2013

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Food-Away-from-Home Hits All-Time High

American consumers, businesses, and governments spent $1.4 trillion on food and beverages in 2013. Almost half that spending was devoted to food-away-from-home (restaurants, carryouts, etc.). The 49.6 percent of spending devoted to food-away-from-home in 2013 was an all-time high after a several years of decline following the Great Recession.

Share of U.S. food spending devoted to food-away-from-home
2013: 49.6%
2010: 48.6%
2000: 47.0%
1990: 43.0%
1980: 39.0%
1970: 33.4%
1960: 26.3%

"Two-earner households and busier lifestyles have led consumers to spend less time cooking and seek the convenience of food prepared away from home," explains the USDA's Economic Research Service (U.S. Food Sales Evenly Split between At-Home and Away-from-Home Markets).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday: The Least Happy Day

Tuesday is the least happy day of the week, according to a Gallup Survey. On an average Tuesday in 2014, only 44 percent of Americans reported feeling "a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry." The other weekdays were not much better, with only 45 percent feeling happiness on an average Wednesday, 46 percent on Thursdays and Mondays, and 48 percent on Fridays.

The happiest days are holidays. Fully 68 percent of Americans reported feeling happy on Thanksgiving Day 2014, followed by July 4 (67%), and Christmas Day (63%).

Source: Gallup, Holidays, Weekends Still Americans' Happiest Days of Year 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Most Americans Are On Facebook

The 58 percent majority of American adults use Facebook, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. Among online adults, the figure is 71 percent. Among Facebook users, 70 percent check the site every day. The use of Facebook far exceeds the use of other social media sites, with 28 percent of online adults using LinkedIn and Pinterest, 26 percent using Instagram, and 23 percent using Twitter.

Percentage of online adults who use Facebook by age
Aged 18 to 29: 87%
Aged 30 to 49: 73%
Aged 50 to 64: 63%
Aged 65-plus: 56%

The percentage of online adults aged 65 or older who are on Facebook exceeded 50 percent for the first time in 2014, up from 45 percent in 2013 and 35 percent in 2012.

Source: Pew Research Center, Social Media Update 2014