Friday, December 09, 2016

How Many Americans Are Foodies?

A Pew Research Center survey of the public's attitudes toward food may have revealed how many Americans are foodies. According to Wikipedia, "a foodie is a person who seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger."

Pew revealed the size of the foodie population by asking respondents how well a series of four statements described their eating habits. The statements are...
  • I focus on the taste sensations of every meal.
  • My main focus is on eating healthy and nutritious.
  • I usually eat whatever is easy and most convenient.
  • I eat when necessary but don't care very much about what I eat. 
Twenty-three percent of Americans say the statement "I focus on the taste sensations of every meal" describes them "very well." Those are the foodies.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Throwing A Wrench into the ACA

If Republicans partially repeal the Affordable Care Act early in 2017 through a reconciliation bill, then the following critical elements of the ACA would disappear: Medicaid expansion, financial assistance for Marketplace coverage, and individual and employer mandates. An Urban Institute study takes a look at the consequences of eliminating these provisions from the ACA with no alternative plan in place...
  • The number of uninsured Americans will more than double: Partial repeal would raise the number of uninsured in 2019 to 58.7 million versus 28.9 million under the ACA.
  • More than one in five Americans under age 65 will be uninsured: Partial repeal would raise the percentage of people under age 65 without health insurance to 21 percent in 2019 versus 11 percent under the ACA.
  • The majority of those losing insurance will be the white working class: 56 percent of the newly uninsured will be non-Hispanic white, 80 percent will not have a college degree, and 82 percent will be in working families. 
"This scenario does not just move the country back to the situation before the ACA," warns the Urban Institute. "It moves the country to a situation with higher uninsurance rates than before the ACA reforms."

Source: Urban Institute, Implications of Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Neither Spouse Works: 19% of Couples

The percentage of couples in which neither husband nor wife is in the labor force grew to a record high of 18.9 percent in 2016, according to Census Bureau data. Behind the increase is the retirement of the baby-boom generation.

Labor force status of married couples in 2016
Husband and wife in labor force: 51.3%
Husband only in labor force: 22.2%
Neither spouse in labor force: 18.9%
Wife only in labor force: 7.6%

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

One in Four Americans Is First or Second Generation

Nearly 25 percent of Americans are first or second generation, according to the Census Bureau. The bureau defines "first generation" as the foreign born, "second generation" as those with at least one foreign-born parent, and "third generation" as those with two native-born parents. Here's how the U.S. population splits by generation...

Generational status of U.S. population
12.9% first generation
11.7% second generation
75.4% third-or-higher generation

Among non-Hispanics, 84 percent are third-or-higher generation. In contrast, Hispanics are almost evenly split by generation...

Generational status of Hispanic population
34.9% first generation
31.5% second generation
33.6% third-or-higher generation

The report examines the demographics of the generations, including educational attainment, labor force status, income and earnings, homeownership, and voting.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of the U.S. Population by Generational Status: 2013

Monday, December 05, 2016

New Survey of Occupational Requirements

There's a new survey in town: the Occupational Requirements Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides information about the physical demands, environmental conditions, education, training, and mental requirements of occupations in the United States. Here are some of the survey's first findings for all workers (and workers in specific occupations)...
  • Workers at the average job spend 4.4 hours standing or walking (construction workers spend an average of 7 hours standing or walking).
  • Workers at the average job spend 3.0 hours sitting.
  • 48 percent of jobs require prior work experience (78.5 percent of architecture and engineering jobs require work experience, with an average length of 4.5 years).
  • 47 percent of jobs require outdoor work (all landscaping and groundskeeping jobs require outdoor work and 88 percent require working outdoors constantly—defined as at least 67 percent of the work day).
  • 31 percent of jobs have no minimum education requirement (the 57 percent majority of transportation and material moving jobs have no minimum requirement).
  • 17.5 percent of jobs require at least a bachelor's degree (60 percent of management jobs require at least a bachelor's degree).  
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirement in the United States—2016

Friday, December 02, 2016

Median Household Income Stable in October 2016

Median household income in October 2016 stood at $57,929. according to Sentier Research, not significantly different from the September 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. The October 2016 median was 0.6 percent higher than the October 2015 median and 9.8 percent above the $52,764 median of August 2011, which was the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Median annual household income in 2016 has not been able to maintain the momentum that it achieved during 2015," says Sentier's Gordon Green. Despite the flattening, however, Sentier notes that "there has been a general upward trend in median household income since the post-recession low point reached in August 2011." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in October 2016 was 2.4 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was slightly higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The October 2016 median was still 0.6 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for October was 99.4 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

CPS Redesign Still A Problem

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is still unhappy with the redesigned Current Population Survey. The changes to the CPS questionnaire, introduced to the full sample in 2014, were designed to better capture pension income. That they did, but the changes also resulted in sharp declines in estimated retirement plan participation among workers. The declines are larger than any in the past, notes EBRI, and they are inconsistent with the steady participation recorded by other government surveys.

Last year EBRI examined the problem with the CPS redesign in an analysis of 2014 data (see the Demo Memo post about it here). Now with 2015 data in hand, EBRI finds the problem not only continuing but worsening. Among full-time wage and salary workers aged 21 to 64, the percentage who work for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan fell by a whopping 12 percentage points between 2013 (traditional questions) and 2015 (redesigned questions). Something is wrong with this picture.

Although EBRI admits that pension income estimates are improved by the redesigned CPS, it believes something must be done to improve retirement plan participation estimates. "Currently the U.S. Census Bureau has no plans to revise the CPS," EBRI states. "Rather modest modifications could be made within the CPS questionnaire along the lines of other federal government surveys to improve the retirement plan participation estimates. Until that time, any person or organization using the data or those reading analyses from the data need to be aware of the issues with the data."

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Another Year After the Current Population Survey Redesign and More Questions about the Survey's Retirement Plan Participation Estimates

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Most Homes Do Not Have Inside Stairs

Most homes in the United States do not have inside stairs (defined as three or more steps), according to the 2015 American Housing Survey. Overall, 49 percent of households have stairs inside the home and 51 percent do not. The figure varies greatly by region...

Percent of households with inside stairs
Northeast: 69%
Midwest: 68%
South: 36%
West: 37%

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 American Housing Survey

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Everything You Wanted To Know about Uber Drivers

How many Uber drivers are there? A lot—460,000 as of the end of 2015 (defined as those who have provided four or more Uber trips in the past month). How much do they make? They earn an average of $19/hour. Why do they drive? They partner with Uber not only to earn extra money (91 percent) but also to have more flexibility in balancing work and family (85 percent). Those are just a few of the findings presented in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by Uber's Jonathan V. Hall and Princeton economist Alan B. Krueger.

Analyzing Uber's administrative records and two surveys of drivers, Hall and Krueger examine the characteristics of the rapidly growing ranks of Americans who have partnered with Uber. The authors offer this eyebrow-raising perspective on Uber's rapid growth: "The number of active Uber driver-partners approximately doubled every six months from the middle of 2012 to the end of 2015. At this growth rate, every American would be an Uber driver within five years."

Why are we so eager to drive for Uber? In a word, flexibility. The great majority of drivers say Uber has made their lives better by giving them more control over their schedule. Most drivers work only 1 to 15 hours a week (two-thirds of drivers have another full- or part-time job), and their hours vary greatly from week to week. Fully 65 percent of drivers report driving 25 percent more or 25 percent less in the current week than they drove in the previous week.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber's Driver-Partners in the United States, Working Paper #22843 ($5)

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Many Households Are Home to the Disabled?

A substantial 22 percent of American households include someone with a disability, according to the 2015 American Housing Survey. The percentage of households with a disabled member rises from just 8 percent of households headed by people under age 35 to the 55 percent majority of households headed by people aged 75 or older...

Percentage of households with a disabled member
Total households: 22.2%
Under age 35: 7.8%
Aged 35 to 44: 11.3%
Aged 45 to 54: 16.9%
Aged 55 to 64: 25.7%
Aged 65 to 74: 33.9%
Aged 75-plus: 55.2%

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 American Housing Survey

Friday, November 25, 2016

Importance of Living Near Arts and Culture

More than one-third of American households say it is important for them to live near arts and cultural events. The importance of proximity varies greatly by educational attainment of householder...

Percent saying it is important to live near arts and cultural events
Total households: 37%
Less than high school: 28%
High school graduate: 30%
Associate's degree: 36%
Bachelor's degree: 47%
Graduate degree: 55%

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 American Housing Survey

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Time Use Is Different on Thanksgiving

The intrepid researchers at the USDA's Economic Research Service analyzed more than a decade of data from the American Time Use survey to zero in on a single day—Thanksgiving. Then they compared time use on Thanksgiving with time use on an average weekend day...

Food preparation and cleanup
Thanksgiving: 128 minutes
Average weekend day: 34 minutes

Eating and drinking
Thanksgiving: 89 minutes
Average weekend day: 71 minutes

Socializing
Thanksgiving: 148 minutes
Average weekend day: 64 minutes

Watching television/movies
Thanksgiving: 209
Average weekend day: 192

Shopping
Thanksgiving: 17 minutes
Average weekend day: 34 minutes

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Yes, Thanksgiving Really Is a Day of Cooking

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

123 Million Home Improvement Projects

American homeowners tackled 123 million home improvement projects in the past two years, according to the 2015 American Housing Survey. The 62 percent majority of projects were done by professionals (median expense $2,000) and 38 percent were do-it-yourselfers (median expense $600). These are the 10 most common projects and their median expense...

Number of professional home improvement projects (and median expense)
1. Water heater/dishwasher/disposal: 9.3 million ($700)
2. HVAC: 8.9 million ($3,400)
3. Flooring/carpeting: 7.2 million ($2,246)
4. Roofing: 6.6 million ($6,000)
5. Windows/doors: 5.6 million ($2,000)
6. Plumbing: 4.3 million ($525)
7. Bath remodel: 3.4 million ($5,000)
8. Electrical: 3.2 million ($900)
9. Security system: 2.9 million ($300)
10. Driveways/walkways: 2.7 million ($2,000)

Number of do-it-yourself home improvement projects (and median expense)
1. Water heater/dishwasher/disposal: 6.5 million ($400)
2. Flooring/carpeting: 4.8 million ($800)
3. Plumbing: 4.8 million ($250)
4. Landscaping/sprinkler systems: 3.6 million ($500)
5. Bath remodel: 3.1 million ($1,500)
6. Windows/doors: 3.1 million ($600)
7. Kitchen remodel: 2.1 million ($3,000)
8. Fencing/walls: 2.1 million($600)
9. Electrical: 1.8 million ($240)
10. Insulation: 1.7 million ($400)

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 American Housing Survey

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Steep Decline in Households with Children

In 2016, only 27.6 percent of the nation's households included children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau. Not only is this a record low, but it is more than 21 percentage points (!) lower than the 48.7 percent of 1960.

Households with own children under age 18
2016: 27.6%
2010: 30.0%
2000: 33.0%
1990: 34.6%
1980: 38.4%
1970: 45.4%
1960: 48.7%

Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements