Monday, January 22, 2018

Medicaid Expansion Makes a Difference

Medicaid expansion has greatly increased health care access among low-income Americans. For proof, look no further than a series of tables recently released by the National Center for Health Statistics. The tables compare health care access in 2016 for two groups of low-income adults aged 19 to 64: those who live in Medicaid expansion states, and those who don't...
  • No usual place of health care: 32 percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states do not have a usual place of health care versus a smaller 18 percent of those in expansion states.
  • Did not get needed medical care due to cost: 20 percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states did not get needed medical care due to cost in the past 12 months. For those in expansion states, the figure was only 9 percent.
  • Delayed medical care due to cost: 21 percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states delayed medical care due to cost in the past 12 months. In nonexpansion states, just 11 percent were forced to delay care.
  • Did not get needed prescription medicine due to cost: 18 percent of low-income adults in nonexpansion states needed but could not afford prescription medicine in the past 12 months. The figure was just 10 percent in expansion states. 
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Access and Utilization by Medicaid expansion status for low-income adults aged 19 to 64: Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, United States 2016

Friday, January 19, 2018

One in Five Americans Has Past-Due Medical Bills

Medical debt looms over millions. Fully 21 percent of Americans aged 18 or older had unpaid, past-due medical bills in 2016, according to a FINRA Investor Education Foundation survey.

Women are more likely than men to have unpaid, past-due medical bills—23 percent of women versus 18 percent of men. Younger adults are more likely to have past-due medical bills than older Americans. Among adults under age 55, nearly one in four (24 percent) had unpaid, past-due medical bills. Among those aged 55 or older, the figure was 14 percent.

Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, Financial Capability in the United States 2016

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Student Loans: "Worse than We Thought"

"Worse than we thought" — those chilling words are in the title of a Brookings report on student loan debt and repayment. Analyzing data from the Department of Education's Beginning Postsecondary Student survey, a nationally representative longitudinal survey of first-time college students, Brookings' senior fellow Judith Scott-Clayton has produced "the most comprehensive assessment yet of student debt and default from the moment students first enter college to when they are repaying loans up to 20 years later." Her analysis of the 1996 and 2004 college-entry cohorts lays bare so much bad news...

  • For the 2004 cohort, "nearly 40 percent may default on their student loans by 2023."
  • Behind the sky-high level of default are for-profit schools. For the 2004 cohort, the 12-year default rate for students who ever attended a for-profit school was 43 percent. For those who never attended a for-profit, the default rate was 11 percent.
  • "Debt and default among black or African-American college students is at crisis levels." Among Blacks in the 2004 entry cohort who ever attended a for-profit school, the 12-year default rate was 58 percent. 

There's much more bad news in the 10-page report, which concludes: "The results provide support for robust efforts to regulate the for-profit sector, to improve degree attainment and promote income-contingent loan repayment options for all students, and to more fully address the particular challenges faced by college students of color."

Source: The Brookings Institution, The Looming Student Loan Default Crisis is Worse than We Thought

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Counties Without Businesses

Some of the nation's 3,142 counties lack certain essential businesses. These "business deserts" were tallied recently by the Census Bureau's Andrew W. Hait, using data from the bureau's 2015 County Business Patterns...

Number of counties lacking employer establishments
Gas stations: 22
Commercial banks: 37
Religious organizations: 42
Grocery stores: 48
Offices of lawyers: 215
Child care services: 287
Dentist's offices: 305
Doctor's offices: 344
Hardware stores: 489
Beauty salons: 802
Drinking places: 926
Movie theaters: 1,586

While counties may have no employer establishments, Hait notes, their populations may be served by nonemployers—independent contractors and sole proprietors. He cites the example of child care service. While 2,855 counties in the U.S. have at least one employer child care service, a larger 3,117 have nonemployer (home-based) child care services.

Source: Census Bureau, Filling the Void in Counties Lacking Key Businesses

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

7% of Households Do Not Have a Bank Account. Why?

Seven percent of U.S. households are "unbanked," meaning they have no bank or credit union account. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York examined the geography of the unbanked to determine the reason why—in particular, they wanted to know whether households lack bank accounts because they live in a "banking desert." Similar to food deserts (neighborhoods without grocery stores), banking deserts are neighborhoods without physical banks. In the study, the researchers defined a neighborhood as a census tract and the area within 10 miles of the census tract's center.

Several interesting findings emerged from the study. 1) Most banking deserts are in actual deserts. "Our map of U.S. banking deserts reveals that most are not in urban areas, where financial exclusion may be endemic, but in actual deserts—largely in the sparsely populated rural West," explain the researchers. 2) There is no correlation between the percentage of a state's population that lives in a banking desert and the share of the population that is unbanked. The physical location of banks, then, does not explain the unbanked. The results of a 2015 FDIC survey, cited by the researchers, also suggests physical location of banks has little to do with the unbanked. In the survey, the unbanked were asked why they did not have a bank account. Only 2 percent said it was because of "inconvenient location." More important reasons were "not enough money," "don't trust banks," and "account fees too high."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, The 'Banking Desert' Mirage

Monday, January 15, 2018

Growing Trouble for Workers with Little Education

"All occupations are employing workers with more formal education," reports the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and this is bad news for less-educated Americans. The Fed study examines the striking contrast between the education of workers by occupation today with the education of workers in 1950...
  • Professional and technical workers: Only half had a college degree in 1950. Today, 70 percent are college graduates. One in ten professional/technical workers in 1950 did not have a high school diploma. Today the figure is close to zero. The "empiricist professional" of 1950 has all but disappeared, say the researchers. 
  • Managers: In 1950, more than three out of four had no schooling beyond high school, and many did not even have a high school diploma. Today, three out of four have at least some college education, and 46 percent have a college degree. 
  • Sales, clerical, craftsmen, and service workers: The great majority—close to 80 percent or above—had no more than a high school diploma in 1950. Today, more than half of sales and clerical workers have at least some college as do about 40 percent of craftsmen and service workers.
  • Operative workers (machine operators), farmers, and laborers: Virtually no operative workers had a college degree in 1950. Today, 30 percent are college graduates. The figures are similar for farmers and laborers. 
"Needless to say, these changes have led to additional challenges for some groups of workers," concludes the report. "Those with lower levels of education may be unable to find jobs in occupations that their parents held with much less formal schooling."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Shifting Times—The Evolution of the American Workplace

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rural Women Have Had More Children

Among women aged 18 to 44, those in rural areas have had more children than their urban counterparts, according to the National Center for Health Statistics—1.56 children per rural woman and 1.28 children per urban woman, on average. For the NCHS study, urban was defined as living in a metropolitan area and rural as living in a nonmetropolitan area. Here are the urban-rural comparisons by number of births...

Women aged 18-to-44 with no births
Urban: 42%
Rural: 30%

Women aged 18-to-44 with 1 birth
Urban: 18%
Rural: 19%

Women aged 18-to-44 with 2 births
Urban: 21%
Rural: 26%

Women aged 18-to-44 with 3 or more births
Urban: 19%
Rural: 25%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Urban and Rural Variation in Fertility-related Behavior among U.S. Women, 2011–2015

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Is Racism Receding?

Is racism receding in younger generations? That's one of the issues probed by PRRI and MTV in a nationally representative survey of 15-to-24-year-olds. Survey respondents were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "Racism is more of a problem for other generations than it is for my generation." The 55 percent majority of 15-to-24-year-olds disagreed, believing that racism is as big a problem for them as it is for older Americans. But a substantial 45 percent agreed, believing that racism is receding. Young White men are most likely to think racism is less of a problem in their generation, young Blacks are least likely to think so...

Racism is more of a problem for other generations (percent of 15-to-24-year-olds who agree)
White men: 55%
Hispanics: 45%
White women: 41%
Asians: 35%
Blacks: 34%

Source: MTV and PRRI, Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When Will Minorities Become the Majority of Voters?

Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities are projected to outnumber non-Hispanic Whites beginning in 2044, according to Census Bureau population projections. But when will minorities outnumber non-Hispanic Whites among voters? A Demo Memo analysis shows the minority-majority election will not occur in the time frame of the Census Bureau's population projections, which extend to 2060.

In the 2016 presidential election, non-Hispanic Whites accounted for an outsized 73 percent of voters, more than their 64 percent of the voting-age population. Behind their larger share of voters is the higher propensity of non-Hispanic Whites to vote. In 2016, nearly two-thirds of non-Hispanic White citizens cast a ballot (65 percent) versus 59 percent of Black, 50 percent of Asian, and 48 percent of Hispanic citizens.

Although non-Hispanic Whites will continue to dominate presidential-election voters in the decades ahead, their power will shrink considerably by 2060. Here is the projected non-Hispanic White share of voters in every presidential election from 2016 to 2060...

Non-Hispanic White share of voters in presidential elections
2016: 73%
2020: 71%
2024: 69%
2028: 67%
2032: 65%
2036: 63%
2040: 61%
2044: 59%
2048: 57%
2052: 55%
2056: 54%
2060: 52%

At this rate of decline, minorities may become the majority of voters in the presidential election of 2064 and most certainly in 2068.

Note: Calculations based on voting rate of citizens in 2016 by race and Hispanic origin applied to Census Bureau population projections by race and Hispanic origin. Population projections adjusted for citizenship status by race and Hispanic origin in 2016.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Quantifying the Money Pit

In the months before and after buying a house, average household spending rises by $3,700 as owners repair, renovate, and decorate their new home, according to an NBER working paper.

Examining Consumer Expenditure Survey and building permit data for the 2001 to 2013 time period, the researchers find the increased spending entirely devoted to household goods and home improvements. Other categories of spending are not affected. The added spending peaks in the first quarter after a home purchase.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Making the House a Home: The Stimulative Effects of Home Purchases on Consumption and Investment, Working Paper 23570 ($5)

Monday, January 08, 2018

37% Say Football is Favorite Sport to Watch

Football is still America's favorite spectator sport, according to a Gallup survey. The 37 percent who say football is their favorite sport is below the peak of 43 percent in 2006 and 2007, but still far above any other sport. Basketball is number two, the favorite of just 11 percent of the public. Baseball is third (9 percent), and soccer is fourth (7 percent). Soccer is now more popular than auto racing (2 percent).

Men are more likely than women to name football as their favorite sport, but for both men and women football is by far the favorite...

Football is favorite sport to watch
Men: 42%
Women: 32%

Fifteen percent of Americans say they don't have a favorite sport, nearly double the 8 percent of 2000. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

Cold Is A Bigger Killer

Among weather-related deaths, cold is a bigger killer than heat, flood, storm, or lightning, according to an analysis by the CDC. In the 2006–2010 time period, cold-weather deaths accounted for 62 percent of the 10,649 weather-related deaths in the United States.

During the time period under analysis, the cold-related death rate was 4.2 deaths per million population, the CDC reports. The rate was below average among people under age 45. It was slightly above average among those aged 45 to 74. The death rate climbs steeply in the 75-plus age groups. The rate was nearly four times the average among people aged 75 to 84 (15.5) and more than nine times the average among those aged 85 or older (39.6).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Statistics Reports, Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006–2010

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Cell-Phone Only Households, January–June 2017

The 52.5 percent majority of the nation's households have cell phones and no landline phone, according to the latest National Center for Health Statistics report. Among adults, 52 percent live in a wireless-only household. Among children, an even larger 62 percent are in a wireless-only household. Here is the percentage of adults in wireless-only households by age...

Percent in wireless-only household
Aged 18 to 24: 64%
Aged 25 to 29: 73%
Aged 30 to 34: 74%
Aged 35 to 44: 64%
Aged 45 to 64: 47%
Aged 65-plus: 24%

Forty percent of households have both a landline phone and cell phones, and just 6 percent have only a landline phone.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January–June 2017

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Obesity by Income and Education, 2011–14

Obesity varies somewhat by income and education, finds the CDC. Analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which measures the heights and weights of a nationally representative sample of Americans aged 20 or older, the CDC determined the prevalence of obesity by household income relative to federal poverty level and by education.

Overall, 36 percent of Americans aged 20 or older were found to be obese in the 2011–14 survey round. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 kg/m² or higher. Here are the results by income and education.

Percent obese by household income, 2011–14
39% of those with incomes ≤130% of poverty level
41% of those with incomes from 130% to ≤350% of poverty level
31% of those with incomes ≥350% of poverty level

Percent obese by educational attainment, 2011–14
40% of those with a high school diploma or less education
41% of those with at least some college experience
28% of college graduates

Source: CDC, Prevalence of Obesity among Adults, by Household Income and Education—United States, 2011–2014