Friday, October 21, 2016

College Enrollment Declined in 2015

College enrollment fell again in 2015, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Only 19.1 million students were enrolled in college in 2015—74,000 fewer than in 2014 and 1.2 million fewer than in 2010. College enrollment has been declining since 2011.

Almost all of the enrollment decline is occurring at two-year schools. Behind the decline is the improving economy, luring two-year students back into the job market.

College enrollment in 2015 (and change since 2010)
Total enrollment: 19.1 million (–1,174,000, a 5.8% decline)
Two-year schools: 4.7 million (–1,187,000, a 20.1% decline)
Four-year schools: 10.7 million (+266,000, a 2.5% increase)
Graduate schools: 3.7 million (–253,000, a 6.5% decline)

Source: Census Bureau, School Enrollment

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Who's Afraid of Clowns?

Not many of us are afraid of clowns, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Only 7.8 percent of adults report being "afraid" or "very afraid" of clowns, which places this fear close to the bottom of the 79 things that frighten Americans—ahead of only "others talking about you behind your back" (6.8%). Of course, Chapman University fielded its survey last April, months before the first clown sightings and subsequent mass hysteria.

According to the Chapman survey, the number-one fear is of corrupt government officials. Fully 60.6 percent of Americans are "afraid" or "very afraid" of public corruption. Also ranking among the top 10 fears...

41.0% are afraid of a terrorist attack
39.9% are afraid of not having enough money for the future
38.5% are afraid of terrorism
38.5% are afraid of government restrictions on firearms and ammunition
38.1% are afraid of people they love dying
37.5% are afraid of economic/financial collapse
37.1% are afraid of identity theft
35.9% are afraid of people they love becoming seriously ill
35.5% are afraid of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare

Interestingly, more people are afraid of Obamacare (35.5%) than of high medical bills (33.1%). More are afraid of public speaking (25.9%) than of dying (19.0%). And more are afraid of whites no longer being the majority in the U.S. (17.9%) than of 17 other items including computers replacing people in the work force, germs, zombies, strangers, ghosts, and clowns.

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, America's Top Fears 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Measuring Rides and Rooms

Another day, another study of the gig economy—whose presence can be felt, but whose size and shape remain a mystery. That's because the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not measured what it calls "alternative work arrangements" since 2005 (it will do so again in 2017). To fill the gap, a number of economists have attempted to measure the gig economy by adding questions about alternative work to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Survey of Consumer Expectations and to RAND's American Life Panel.

Now researchers at the Brookings Institution have mined the Census Bureau's data on nonemployer firms (the majority are self-employed, unincorporated sole proprietors), and they find a rapid rise in these small businesses over the past few years—particularly in the transportation (rides, such as Uber and Lyft) and accommodation (rooms, such as Airbnb) industries. Most of the gig growth in these industries has taken place in the 25 largest metro areas, with 92 percent of rides growth and 70 percent of rooms growth taking place in the top 50 metro areas. But—and surprisingly—the analysis also shows that rides and rooms gigging has not yet cut into payroll (traditional) employment.

"These data lend credence to the contention that Uber and Airbnb are meeting unmet consumer demand or stimulating new demand through innovative service offerings," the researchers conclude. "Yet it is still early," they caution.

Source: Brookings Institution, Tracking the Gig Economy: New Numbers

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Occupations Dominated by Men

Men accounted for 53 percent of employed workers in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the male share of workers by occupation ranges from a low of just 1.4 percent (see this post) to a high of 100 percent (after rounding). Here are the 10 occupations in which men account for the largest share of employed workers...

Occupations with the largest share of male workers
100.0% of heavy vehicle service technicians
99.9% of bus and truck mechanics
99.8% of cement masons
99.4% of automotive body repair workers
99.3% of pipe layers and plumbers
99.3% of brickmasons
98.8% of electrical power-line installers and repairers
98.7% of construction helpers
98.5% of automotive service technicians
98.4% of drywall installers

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Monday, October 17, 2016

Occupations Dominated by Women

Women accounted for 47 percent of employed workers in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the female share of workers by occupation ranges from a low of less than 0.5 percent to a high of nearly 99 percent. Here are the 10 occupations in which women account for the largest share of employed workers...

Occupations with the largest share of female workers
98.6% of speech-language pathologists
96.8% of preschool and kindergarten teachers
96.4% of dental hygienists
94.9% of childcare workers
94.6% of dietitians
94.5% of secretaries
94.2% of hairdressers
94.1% of dental assistants
92.1% of word processors and typists
91.4% of teacher assistants

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Friday, October 14, 2016

Most Support Legalizing Marijuana Use

The 57 percent majority of Americans think the use of marijuana should be legal, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only the oldest continue to oppose it...

Marijuana use should be legal
71% of Millennials
57% of Gen Xers
56% of Boomers
33% of older Americans

Source: Pew Research Center, Support for Marijuana Legalization Continues to Rise

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fewer Births Expected

One of these days the baby bust will end, but it might not be anytime soon. Women aged 15 to 44 in 2013-15 expect to have an average of 2.2 children in their lifetime—down from 2.4 children expected by their counterparts in 2006-10—according to the National Survey of Family Growth. Among childless women aged 15 to 24, fully 86 percent expect to have children someday. Among childless women aged 25 to 34, the figure is 77 percent.

But when will they have children? Will it be in the next year or two, causing a baby boom? Or will their childbearing stretch out over years, lengthening the baby bust. It looks like it will be a stretch. When childless women are asked when they expect to have their first child, only 12 percent say it will be within two years, 29 percent say in two to five years, and the largest share—36 percent—say more than five years from now.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Expectations of U.S. Women Aged 15-44

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Non-Hispanic Whites Are a Minority of Public School Students

The non-Hispanic White share of students in the nation's public elementary and secondary schools slipped below the 50 percent mark in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2024, non-Hispanic Whites will account for only 45.6 percent of public school students...

Non-Hispanic White share of public elementary and secondary students
2024: 45.6%
2016: 48.7%
2010: 52.4%
2000: 61.2%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2024

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Disgruntled White Working Class

When asked whether America's best days are ahead of us or behind us, a substantial 47 percent of working-class whites (defined as those without a college degree) say our best days are behind us. A much smaller 28 percent of college-educated whites feel the same, according to a Kaiser/CNN poll. But working-class whites are no monolith, the survey finds. The percentage of working-class whites who think America's best days are behind us varies greatly by demographic characteristic...

Working-class whites who think America's best days are behind us
61% of Evangelical Christians
59% of Republicans
58% of rural residents
47% of suburban residents
42% of those with no religion
41% of urban residents
25% of Democrats

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/CNN Working-Class Whites Poll

Monday, October 10, 2016

News Delivery Preferences of Young and Old

The 42 percent plurality of young adults prefer reading rather than watching the news. Most young adult readers prefer to read news online (81%) rather than in print (10%), according to a Pew survey. In contrast, the 58 percent majority of people aged 65 or older prefer watching rather than reading the news, and among older watchers television is by far the preferred medium (89%).

News delivery preferences of 18-to-29
Reading: 42%
Watching: 38%
Listening: 19%

News delivery preferences of 65-plus
Reading: 27%
Watching: 58%
Listening: 10%

Interestingly, among the 10 percent of older Americans who prefer listening to the news, 48 percent prefer listening to television while a smaller 43 percent prefer listening to radio.

Source: Pew Research Center, Younger Adults More Likely Than Their Elders to Prefer Reading News

Friday, October 07, 2016

Number of Times Married

Percent distribution of Americans aged 15 or older by number of times they have married...

34% never married
50% married once
13% married twice
  4% married three or more times

Source: Census Bureau, American FactFinder, 2015 American Community Survey

Thursday, October 06, 2016

New Analysis Reveals Working Class Decline

Everyone knows the working class has been falling behind. A new Sentier Research analysis of trends in wage and salary income by age over time shows how far behind the working class has fallen. For the purposes of the study, Sentier defined the working class as white men with a high school diploma and no further education.

Sentier analyzed trends in wage and salary income for cohorts of white men as they aged from 1996 to 2014. The researchers examined trends for the working class (men with a high school diploma and no further education) and for college-educated men (with a bachelor's degree or more education). Among men with a bachelor's degree, wage and salary income per capita grew 23 percent between 1996 (when they were aged 25 to 44) and 2014 (when they were aged 43 to 62), after adjusting for inflation. Among men with no more than a high school education, wage and salary income fell 9 percent as they aged over the time period.

Wage and salary income per capita for college-educated men (2014$)
Aged 43 to 62 in 2014: $94,601
Aged 25 to 44 in 1996: $77,209
Difference: +23%

Wage and salary income per capita for men with a high school diploma (2014$)
Aged 43 to 62 in 2014: $36,787
Aged 25 to 44 in 1996: $40,362
Difference: –9%

Source: Sentier Research, Comparing Earnings of White Males by Education for Selected Age Cohorts

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Climate Change: "What, me worry?"

The results are in: On average, Americans just shrug their shoulders about global climate change, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. Only about a third of adults care a great deal about climate change, and fewer than half believe global warming is mostly due to human activity. The Pew survey also reveals the origin of this "What, me worry?" attitude—the country is of two minds when it comes to climate change. Republicans are highly skeptical and Democrats are deeply worried. Average those extremes, and it looks like Americans don't care much about the issue...

Attitudes of Americans toward global climate change
36 percent say they care a great deal about the issue of climate change
38 percent think people reducing their carbon footprint will make a big difference
41 percent think climate change is very likely to cause sea levels to rise and erode shore lines
42 percent think climate change is very likely to make storms more severe
48 percent think Earth is warming mostly due to human activity
49 percent think international agreements to limit carbon emissions will make a big difference

Source: Pew Research Center, The Politics of Climate

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Pet Health Care Spending Looks Very Human

Americans love their pets. They love them so much that spending on pet health care mirrors spending on human health care. "Many features of the American pet health care sector are, qualitatively, remarkably similar to those of the American human health care sector," reports a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. Here are the similarities...

  • Spending on pet and human health care surged between 1996 and 2012. Human spending grew 50 percent and pet spending grew 60 percent during those years, after adjusting for inflation. 
  • For both types of health care, spending rises with household income. 
  • The number of human health care providers (physicians) and pet health care providers (veterinarians) soared between 1996 and 2013—a 40 percent increase in physicians and a near doubling in veterinarians.
  • At the end of life, spending spikes for both pets and humans.

These similarities suggest, say the researchers, that the rapidly rising cost of human health care may have less to do with health insurance and government involvement (as some theorize) and more to do with "deeper primitives"—such as our desire to keep alive those we love, regardless of the cost.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Is American Pet Health Care (Also) Uniquely Inefficient?, Working Paper 22669 ($5)