Friday, February 15, 2019

Everyday Newspaper Readers Are Disappearing

Only 20 percent of Americans aged 16 or older say they read the newspaper every day, according to the  2016 General Social Survey. This figure is likely even lower today. In 2000, more than one-third (37 percent) of the public read the newspaper every day. In 1990, more than half (53 percent) were daily newspaper readers. Here is the percentage of Americans by generation who were daily newspaper readers in 2016...

Read a newspaper every day
Millennials: 10%
Gen Xers: 15%
Boomers: 30%
Older: 38%

A substantial 48 percent of Millennials, 39 percent of Gen Xers, 28 percent of Boomers, and 22 percent of older Americans say they never read the newspaper.

Note: In 2016, Millennials were aged 22 to 39; Generation Xers were aged 40 to 51; Baby Boomers were aged 52 to 70; older Americans were aged 71 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Giving Money Away in 2016

Forty-eight percent of American households gave money to persons or organizations outside the household in 2016, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Among those who did, the average amount given was $4,298. Here is the percentage of households that gave money away during the year by type of recipient (and average amount given by donors)...

25.16% gave money to churches/religious organizations ($2,970)
16.54% gave cash gifts to family/friends outside the household ($2,391)
16.11% gave money to charitable organizations ($2,462)
  3.15% paid child support ($7,142)
  2.84% gave money to support students in college ($3,580)
  2.30% gave money to political organizations ($837)
  2.26% gave money to educational institutions ($2,716)
  0.46% paid alimony ($20,754)
  0.15% gave gifts of stocks/bonds/mutual funds to family/friends ($25,717)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Relationship between Cash Contributions, Pretax Income, and Age

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

37% Retire Earlier than Planned

A substantial 37 percent of Americans retire before their planned retirement age, according to the Center for Retirement Research. The Center's researchers came to this conclusion after examining longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study for the years 1992 to 2012 to determine how many older Americans ended up retiring before their planned retirement age—one of the questions asked by the survey. The older the age at which people plan to retire, the more likely they are to retire before they planned...

Percent retiring earlier than planned
20% of those who planned to retire at age 61 or younger
26% of those who planned to retire at age 62
38% of those who planned to retire at ages 63 or 64
42% of those who planned to retire at age 65
55% of those who planned to retire at age 66 or older

What accounts for all these early retirements? Of the four factors considered by the researchers (health, employment, family, and financial), the most important is health. Absent health problems or a change in health status, the percentage who retire earlier than planned would drop from 37 to 32 percent, the researchers report. That's not much of a decline. In fact, the four factors considered by the researchers can explain only one-quarter of early retirements. What accounts for the rest? Perhaps "soft" factors, say the researchers, "like the lure of leisure time."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Retiring Earlier than Planned: What Matters Most?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

19% Have Experienced Identity Theft

Millions of Americans have been the victims of identity theft, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly one in five (19.4 percent) people aged 16 or older has been a victim at least once in his or her lifetime, and 10 percent have been a victim in the past year. These findings come from the 2016 Identity Theft Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Identity theft is not only common, but affects a growing share of the population. The 10 percent who were victims in 2016 is greater than the 7 percent measured in 2014. The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines identity theft as "fraud that is committed or attempted using a person's identifying information without authority." The three types of identity theft are the misuse of an existing credit card, bank, or other account; the opening of a new account in a person's name; and the misuse of personal information for fraudulent purposes—such as to get medical care.

The most common type of identity theft is misuse of an existing credit card account. In 2016, a substantial 4.3 percent of Americans aged 16 or older—or 11 million people—were the victims of credit card fraud. How did the victims discover the identity theft? Most were alerted to suspicious activity by a financial institution, the Bureau of Justice Statistics' reports. Only 7 percent of victims reported their identity theft to police, while 88 percent reported it to a credit card company or bank.

Actions taken by identity theft victims in the past 12 months
75.6% checked bank or credit statements
67.5% shredded documents with personal information
44.3% checked their credit report
36.8% changed passwords on financial accounts
16.2% used an identity-theft security program on a computer
11.7% purchased identity-theft insurance or credit monitoring service
4.7% purchased identity-theft protection

While the above list makes it look as though identity theft victims have learned their lesson and are getting serious about protecting their personal information, in fact the percentages who undertake these security enhancing activities are about the same for identity theft victims as they are for nonvictims.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Victims of Identity Theft, 2016

Monday, February 11, 2019

E-Cigarette Use: Young Adults by State, 2017

Young adults are the biggest users of e-cigarettes but their use varies by state, according to the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Here are the five states in 2017 with the largest percentages of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes...

States with largest percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes
1. Oklahoma: 15.4%
2. Wyoming: 15.2%
3. Arkansas: 14.7%
4. Tennessee: 14.5%
5. Missouri: 13.9%

Maryland had the smallest percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes, with only 5.4 percent doing so in 2017. Vermont (6.1 percent) and California (6.4 percent) followed.

Source: CDC, BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data

Friday, February 08, 2019

Median Household Income Stable in December 2018

Median household income in December 2018 was stable at $63,517, according to Sentier Research. This was not significantly different from the November 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. The December 2018 median was 2.7 percent higher than the December 2017 median. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

Median household income in December was 15.4 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,051)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in December 2018 was 104.3 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2018

Thursday, February 07, 2019

More People Aged 65-Plus Are at Work

Two decades ago, the percentage of older men and women in the labor force was negligible. Marketers could safely ignore them and target only retirees in their messages to the 65-plus age group. Not so anymore. More than one-third of men aged 65 to 69 and one-fourth of those aged 70 to 74 are still working. More than one in four women aged 65 to 69 has a job...

Labor force participation rate of people aged 65-or-older, 1998 and 2018
      2018     1998
Aged 65 or older      24.0%     16.5%
  Aged 65 to 69      37.6     28.0
  Aged 70 to 74      23.8     16.5
  Aged 75 or older      11.9       7.5
Age 65 or older     15.9%       8.6%
  Aged 65 to 69     28.9     17.8
  Aged 70 to 74     15.8       9.3
  Aged 75 or older       6.4       2.9

Between 1998 and 2018, the number of workers aged 65 or older more than doubled (up 161 percent) because of the double whammy of rising labor force participation rates and the aging of the baby-boom generation. These increases will continue, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force participation rate of men aged 65 or older is projected to rise to 25.9 percent by 2026, and women's rate should climb to 18.3 percent. The number of workers aged 65 or older will expand by another 46 percent between 2018 and 2026.

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

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The 6 Most Commonly Purchased Groceries

During an average week, nearly every household spends money on groceries. But shopping carts are disproportionately filled with only a handful of items. These are the 6 items purchased by at least one-third of households during the average week of 2017...

Percent of households buying item in an average week
1. Fresh fruit: 56%
2. Fresh vegetables: 56%
3. Milk: 47%
4. Bread: 44%
5. Cheese: 39%
6. Prepared food from the supermarket deli: 38%

Bananas are the most frequently purchased fruit (34 percent). Tomatoes are the most frequently purchased vegetable (22 percent). During an average week, nonwhite bread is added to more shopping carts (40 percent) than white bread (35 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Only 5.0% of Workers Have More than One Job

Really? If we are to believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects monthly employment figures through the Current Population Survey, then only 5.0 percent of workers had two or more jobs during an average week of 2018. But there is growing evidence that this number is way too low.

A National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger raises serious doubts about the 5.0 percent figure. Not only do Katz and Krueger think the number is too low, they are also skeptical of Current Population Survey data that show a decline in multiple job holding over the years—from a peak of 6.2 percent in 1996 to the 5.0 percent of today. So they designed an experiment to test the accuracy of the CPS's multiple jobs question.

Using a sample of Amazon Mechanical Turk participants, many of whom are multiple job holders, Katz and Kreuger asked their sample the standard Current Population Survey question about multiple jobs ("Last week did you have more than one job or business, including part time, evening or weekend work?") to see how many said yes. They also probed the sample about any additional work they did in the past week ("Did you work on any other... small paid jobs last week that you did not include in your response to the previous question?")

Among those who reported having only one job on the CPS question, fully 61 percent said they had failed to report another small job they had done in the reference week. Among those who reported having multiple jobs on the CPS question, an additional 38 percent reported having even more work than was captured by the CPS.

"The MTurk sample is highly non-representative," the authors note, "but this survey experiment demonstrates that the standard multiple job holding question in the basic monthly CPS is susceptible to underreporting." Interestingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics agrees. While the BLS disputes the notion that its surveys have missed the rise of the gig economy, it admits that the CPS may undercount multiple job holders. For more on this, see the Monthly Labor Review article, Measuring Labor Market Activity Today: Are the Words Work and Job too Limiting for Surveys?

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Understanding Trends in Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, Work Paper 25425 ($5)

Monday, February 04, 2019

State-to-State Student Migration

Among high school graduates who enroll in a four-year institution within 12 months of receiving their high school diploma, most enroll in a school in their home state. Fully 74 percent of students choose an in-state school, according to 2016 data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. But the rate ranges from lows of 39 percent in New Hampshire and 42 percent in Connecticut to highs of 89 percent in West Virginia and 90 percent in Utah.

The net migration of first-year four-year college students also varies greatly by state. Most states gain from student migration, but 13 states lose more students to other states than they attract to their schools. Here are the five states with the biggest net migration streams, both positive and negative...

States with the biggest net gain of first-year college students
Pennsylvania: 15,525
Indiana: 9,656
Alabama: 8,532
Arizona: 7,361
Iowa: 7,358

States with the biggest net loss of first-year college students
New Jersey: –27,262
Illinois: –19,171
California: –14,164
Texas: –12,059
Maryland: –8,564

Other states that lose more first-year four-year college students than they gain are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Wyoming.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics 2017

Friday, February 01, 2019

Homicides at the Nation's Schools

Hundreds of children have been murdered while at school over the past few decades, according to a grim study by the CDC. Nearly 400 children (393) were murdered in single-death incidents while at school from 1994 to 2016. Another 121 children were murdered in multiple-death incidents from 1994 to 2018. There are differences in these two types of crimes, according to the study findings...

Sex of victims and perpetrators: The victims in single-death incidents were mostly male (77 percent), while the victims in multiple-death incidents were evenly split between males and females. Males were the great majority of perpetrators in both types of incidents, with the proportion reaching as high as 98 percent in multiple-death incidents.

Race of victims: Blacks were a much larger share of victims in single-death (53 percent) than multiple-death incidents (12 percent). Non-Hispanic Whites were a much larger share of victims in multiple-death incidents (69 percent) than single-death incidents (23 percent).

Age of victims: Fully 78 percent of victims in single-death incidents were aged 15 to 18, another 19 percent were aged 10 to 14, and 3 percent were aged 5 to 9. In multiple-death incidents, a smaller 54 percent of victims were in the 15-to-18 age group, 23 percent were aged 10 to 14, and 23 percent were aged 5 to 9.

Cause of death: Firearms were the cause of death in 63 percent of single-death incidents. Stabbing accounted for another 24 percent. In multiple-death incidents, fully 95 percent of deaths were caused by firearms.

Source: CDC, Characteristics of School-Associated Youth Homicides—United States, 1994–2018

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Online vs Paper 2020 Census Response

The 2020 census, for the first time, will allow the public to respond online rather than fill out a paper form. According to a 2018 Census Bureau survey of attitudes toward the census, most Americans would prefer to respond to the census online or don't care whether the form is online or paper. Overall, 40 percent would prefer online to paper, 28 percent do not have a preference, and 32 percent would prefer paper. Young adults and Asians are two of the groups who would most prefer to answer the census online...

More than half of young adults would prefer the online option: Among people aged 18 to 34, a substantial 56 percent would prefer to fill out the census online, as would 54 percent of those aged 35 to 44. The preference for an online form falls to 39 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds and to just 19 percent among people aged 65 or older. Fully 56 percent of the oldest age group would prefer a paper form.

Most Asians would prefer the online option: The 59 percent majority of Asians would prefer an online form, with only 20 percent expressing a preference for paper. Blacks are least likely to prefer the online option (29 percent) and most likely to prefer paper (44 percent).

Having the option to answer the 2020 census online may boost census response rates, helping communities better attract the government funding they are due because of a more complete count of residents. Those who would most prefer an online form—young adults and Asians—are also the demographic segments least enthusiastic about the census. Just 54 percent of young adults and 55 percent of Asians report being "very" or "extremely" likely to fill out a census form. This compares with a larger 67 percent of all adults, 69 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, and 73 percent of people aged 65 or older.

Source: Census Bureau, 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Final Survey Report

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Number of Homeless Has Declined since 2007

Every January in communities across the country the homeless are counted in a one-night census. The recently released 2018 report on the homeless has both good news and bad. The good news is that the number of homeless has fallen considerably since 2007. The bad news is that there are still more than half a million people living in shelters or on the street and the number has increased for the past two years.

Number of homeless in the U.S.
2018: 552,830
2017: 550,996
2016: 549,928
2015: 564,708
2010: 637,077
2007: 647,258

The nationwide effort to count the homeless divides the homeless population into individuals and families with children. Of the 372,417 homeless individuals in 2018, 52 percent were in shelters and the rest were on the street. Seventy percent of homeless individuals were men and 30 percent were women, transgender, or gender non-conforming, according to the Housing and Urban Development report to Congress. Among homeless individuals, 54 percent were White, 35 percent were Black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Among homeless families with children, Blacks accounted for 51 percent.

Not surprisingly, the most populous state also has the largest number of homeless. California accounted for 30 percent of homeless individuals in 2018 and nearly half (49 percent) of the nation's unsheltered homeless. Among cities, Los Angeles had the largest number of homeless—42,079 in 2018. New York City was second with 33,391 homeless.

The 2019 count of the homeless is happening this week—it is conducted during the last 10 days of January. The 2019 report on the homeless population will be released by the end of the year. It will show us whether the number of homeless ticked upward for the third year in a row.

Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development, The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Student Loans May Explain Rural Population Decline

Rural counties have been losing population in recent years and urban counties have been growing. One factor behind rural population loss is the migration of young adults from rural to urban areas. What's driving young adults away from their rural homes? Student debt may be a factor, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Board. In an analysis of how student debt affects the migration of young adults in rural areas, the Feds examined Equifax/Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel data, comparing student debt levels of young adults in rural areas with changes in their census tract of residence over a six-year time period. These are the findings...

  • Young adults with student loans were less likely to remain in rural areas than those without student loans—52 percent of those with student loans were still in a rural area six years later versus 66 percent of those without student loans.
  • Young adults with the greatest student loan debt were least likely to remain in rural areas—37 percent of those in the highest quartile of student loan debt were in a rural area six years later versus 73 percent of those in the lowest quartile of debt.
  • Young adults who moved to metropolitan areas did better than those who stayed in rural areas. They paid down their loans faster, had higher credit scores, and were more likely to have mortgage debt (own a home).

"With students borrowing at higher rates and in larger amounts to pursue postsecondary education," conclude the Fed researchers, "student loan debt may play an increased role in the dynamics of urban-rural migration."

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Consumer and Community Context, January 2019, "Rural Brain Drain": Examining Millennial Migration Patterns and Student Loan Debt," (PDF)