Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hispanic Births Surpass 1 Million

The number of births to Hispanics surpassed 1 million for the first time in 2006, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Of the 4,265,996 babies born in the United States last year, 1,039,051 were Hispanic. 

Since 2000, the annual number of births to Hispanics has grown by more than 200,000. The Hispanic share of births has climbed from 20 to 24 percent. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Preliminary Data for 2006 

More Use Cell Phones Only

Almost one-third of young adults aged 25 to 29 are cell phone only users, with no landline phone at home. The figure reached 31 percent this year--up from 10 percent just three years ago, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics. Among 20-to-24-year-olds, a substantial 28 percent have only cell phones. 

Older Americans are less inclined to give up their landline phone. Only 13 percent of people aged 30 to 44 use cell phones only. The figure falls to 7 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds, and is a small 2 percent among people aged 65 or older. But change may be on the way. The latest spending statistics from the 2006 Consumer Expenditure Survey show both young and middle-aged householders spending more on cell phone than landline phone service. Only householders aged 55 or older still devote more of their dollars to landline phones. 

The latest report shows 80 percent of American children and 76 percent of adults in households with at least one cell phone.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Wireless Substitution, January--June 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strange Questions

Percentage of Americans who know someone named Kevin: 67.

Source: 2006 General Social Survey

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who Upholds the Constitution?

According to the 2006 General Social Survey, a shockingly small percentage of Americans uphold the rights granted to them by the Constitution. Only the nation's African Americans are unwilling to give the government free rein in the War on Terror.

More than one-third of African Americans have personally experienced an abuse of power by government authorities. Thirty-seven percent of blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by police, according to one survey. This might explain why blacks are more likely than whites to support the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Blacks are much less likely than whites to believe the government should have the right to randomly stop and search people on the street. More than two-thirds of blacks (68 percent) say the government probably or definitely should not have the right to do this, according to the 2006 General Social Survey. Among whites, a smaller 56 percent think authorities probably or definitely should not have the right to randomly stop and search people on the street.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to object to the government's tapping of people's telephone conversations, with 59 percent saying the government probably or definitely should not have the right to do this. In contrast, only 40 percent of whites think the government should be prohibited from tapping telephone lines.

Blacks, but not whites, also uphold the principal of habeas corpus. The 53 percent majority of blacks think the authorities should not have the right to detain people for as long as they want without a trial. Among whites, only 43 percent think the government should not be allowed to throw people in jail indefinitely.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Parents Are in a Frenzy

Test scores alone are no longer enough to get your kid into the top tier colleges. College admissions officials now demand extracurriculars on top of good grades and high test scores. What a boondoggle for the rich.

Affluent parents have lunged at the chance to improve their children's resumes by signing them up for sports, clubs, and lessons. According to the latest Census Bureau report on children's well-being, the percentage of teenagers from the highest income families (with annual incomes of $72,000 or more) who participate in extracurriculars has soared. The percentage in sports climbed from 54 to 59 percent between 2003 and 2004 (the latest data available). The percentage in clubs increased from 42 to 51 percent. The percentage taking lessons grew from 40 to 46 percent.

Left behind are the nation's poor. A shrinking share of teenagers from the lowest-income families (annual incomes below $18,000) participate in extracurriculars. Only 22 percent are in sports, 20 percent are in clubs, and 16 percent take lessons. What prevents poor children from participating? Money, for one. Poor families cannot afford the fees. Transportation is another factor. Many poor children do not have a car or driver available. Time is the third factor. Single parents head many poor families, and they have little free time to chauffeur their children from one activity to another.

Too bad for them. The gap between rich and poor is growing, aided and abetted by the nation's college admissions policies.

For more about the well-being of the nation's children see the Census Bureau report A Child's Day.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Homeowners Are Stuck

Paralysis in the housing market can be diagnosed in the latest statistics on geographic mobility. Fewer homeowners moved between 2005 and 2006 than in the previous 12-month period, according to the Census Bureau. The number who moved dropped by 888,000, and the percentage who moved fell from 7.5 to 7.1 percent.

Although the Census Bureau's latest mobility statistics show no statistically significant change in the nation's mobility rate since the previous report (with 14 percent of Americans moving during each 12-month period), the overall stability masks diverging trends in mobility rates by homeownership status. While the latest report finds homeowners less likely to move, the opposite is true for renters. The number of renters who moved between 2005 and 2006 climbed by 837,000 over the previous 12-month period, and the percentage who moved grew from 30.2 to 30.5 percent.

For more about the nation's movers, see the Census Bureau's latest geographic mobility report.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Health Insurance Coverage Has Fallen

There is more bad news emerging from the 2007 Current Population Survey results. The percentage of people without health insurance climbed to 15.8 percent in 2006, up from 15.3 percent in 2005. The number of people without health insurance increased to 47 million, up by 2 million during the past year.

What explains the growing proportion of Americans without health insurance? Behind the increase is the loss of private, employment-based coverage, the foundation of our health insurance system. Only 59.7 percent of the population had employment-based health insurance in 2006, down from 64 percent a few years ago. Only 9 percent of Americans privately purchase health insurance, an all-time low. Medicaid (the government's health insurance program for the poor) covers 13 percent of the population, and Medicare (the government's health insurance program for the elderly) covers 14 percent.

The percentage of people without health insurance ranges from a low of 11 percent among non-Hispanic whites to a high of 34 percent among Hispanics. Among children under age 18, the percentage without health insurance climbed from 10.9 to 11.7 percent between 2005 and 2006. Perhaps most disturbing, the percentage of people aged 55 to 64 who do not have health insurance climbed to 12.7 percent in 2006. In this age group, health problems not only become more frequent, but also more costly.

The percentage of Americans without health insurance grew in every household income group, with middle-income households experiencing the biggest increase. Fourteen percent of Americans with household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 do not have health insurance.

For more about health insurance coverage, see the Census Bureau report.

Earnings Are Down

This morning the Census Bureau released the latest report on the finances of American households—the results of the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Taken every March, the Census Bureau releases the survey's findings at this time each year, tracking income, health insurance, and poverty trends. The findings might not attract as much media attention as the stock market's ups and downs, but they are probably a more important indicator of the health of the economy.

And it is not looking good. This year's results are disturbing. To find the trouble spots, you have to look beyond the headlines. Here is my analysis of the numbers.

Median household income in 2006 stood at $48,201, a 0.7 percent increase since 2005 after adjusting for inflation. This sounds good until you consider the following: The 2006 median is still 2.1 percent below the peak reached in 1999, after adjusting for inflation.

The number of households with incomes of $100,000 or more is at a record high. The share of households with six-figure incomes reached 19.1 percent in 2006. This sounds promising, but here's the hitch: Workers are losing ground. Household incomes are growing only because more people are working full-time. In fact, earnings are falling for American workers. The $42,261 median earnings of men working full-time in 2006 were 1.1 percent less than in 2005, after adjusting for inflation. Men's earnings today are 5 percent below their peak, reached decades ago in 1978. Women with full-time jobs are also losing ground. Their median earnings of $32,515 in 2006 were also 1 percent less than in 2005, after adjusting for inflation.

How could household incomes grow as earnings fall? This seeming contradiction is explained by the fact that the average household has more earners than ever before. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of households grew by 1.6 million, but the number of full-time workers expanded by nearly 3 million. Household incomes are rising because Americans are working harder to keep up with the rising cost of living.

For more about the latest income statistics, see the Census Bureau report.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Letters on the Decline

Number of first-class letters mailed in the United States...

1994: 55 billion
2006: 42 billion

Source: United States Postal Service, Revenues, Pieces, and Weights Report

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Maybe Schools Are Not So Bad

Percentage of Americans who give
the nation's public schools a grade of A or B: 21

Percentage of public school parents who give
the school their oldest child attends a grade of A or B: 64

Source: Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

How Does Your Salary Compare?

Now you can find out. Let's say you are a librarian in Chicago, and you are wondering how your pay stacks up against the wages of your colleagues in the metropolitan area. The answer is only a click away at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wages by Area and Occupation web site. Click on "Metropolitan Area Wage Data for 375 Metropolitan Statistical Areas," scroll down to Illinois, then click on "Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL-IN-WI." Once there, scroll down to "Librarians" in the occupation list (under Education, Training, and Library Occupations), and you will see you are one of 5,460 librarians in the Chicago metro area.

Librarians in Chicago earned an annual average of $57,560 as of May 2006. If you want to know where you might get paid more, click on the "Librarians" link, which will take you to a page revealing that librarians get paid the most in San Jose, California—an average of $69,360. (Of course, housing prices are higher there too.) Get fun facts like these for any occupation from this enormously entertaining site.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wanted: Spouse with Health Insurance

Eighty-five percent of Americans have health insurance, and 60 percent are covered by an employer-provided health insurance plan, according to the Census Bureau. These figures are well known and somewhat reassuring.

What is not so well known is how few of us are covered by our own employer's plan. Only 32 percent of Americans have health insurance through their own employer. Everyone else is piggybacking, getting coverage through a spouse or parent and just a divorce or birthday away from having no coverage at all.

Source: Bureau of the Census, Health Insurance Tables

Friday, June 01, 2007

National Pride

Percentage of Americans who "strongly agree" that America is a better country than most other countries...

Aged 18 to 29: 25
Aged 65 or older: 52

Source: General Social Survey

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cell Phone Bias

Sometimes the most interesting bits of information come from the most unlikely places. The latest update on cell phone use is contained in recently released estimates from the federal government's National Health Interview Survey. The stunning finding: As of the last six months of 2006, fully 29 percent of adults aged 25 to 29 are cell-phone-only users and have no landline phone. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, the proportion is 25 percent.

The abandonment of landline phones by young adults has occurred with alarming speed. The percentage of 25-to-29-year-olds with cell phones only more than tripled in the past three years, rising from just 8 percent in 2003. Survey researchers are worried. The rise of cell-phone-only households will skew results of random-digit-dial telephone surveys, they fear. "Coverage bias may exist if there are differences between persons with and without landline telephones," the report concludes.

How's this for potential bias:
(percentage of people aged 18 or older with cell phones only, by age, 2006)

Aged 18 to 24: 25
Aged 25 to 29: 29
Aged 30 to 44: 12
Aged 45 to 64: 6
Aged 65-or-older: 2

Saturday, May 12, 2007

For Some, College Is the Biggest Worry

When it comes to money, what worries you the most? When Gallup asked Americans this question, retirement ranked number one. Fifty-six percent of the public is "very" or "moderately" worried about not having enough money for retirement.

Financial concerns vary by lifestage, however. The number-one financial concern of parents with children under age 18 is not having enough money to pay for their children's college expenses. Fully 68 percent of parents say they are very or moderately worried about college costs. Unlike every other financial concern, the percentage who worry about college costs does not decline as household income rises.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Avoiding the Dentist

Working-age Americans are going to the dentist less frequently. The percentage of people aged 20 to 64 who have been to a dentist in the past year fell from 66 percent in 1988-94 to a smaller 60 percent in 1999-04, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

What explains the decline in dental care? One factor is the increasingly exhorbitant cost of a dental visit. Many Americans do not have dental insurance. Those with insurance are often dismayed to discover that it pays only pittance, leaving dental patients footing most of the bill out-of-pocket.

Perhaps because they are less likely to see a dentist, the percentage of adults who say their teeth are in excellent or very good condition fell from 30 to 26 percent during the years of the study.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of households with access to
public transportation in their neighborhood

American: 54
German: 85

Source: Bureau of the Census, 2005 American Housing Survey and GESIS (German Social Sciences Infrastructure Services)

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Big Three

According to estimates by the United Nations, 175 million people (2.9 percent of the world's population) live outside their country of birth. The three nations with the most immigrants are

United States: 35 million
Russia: 13 million
Germany: 7 million

Source: People Flows in Globalization, Richard B. Freeman, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 12315

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Meaning of Gifted

Who populates the gifted classes, honors programs, and advanced placement courses in the nation's middle and high schools? The nation's elite of course.

Among children aged 12 to 17, those from high-income families and those with the most highly-educated parents are most likely to be in gifted classes, including honors and advanced placement courses. Among children in families with monthly incomes below $1,500 ($18,000 per year), only 15 percent are in gifted classes. The figure is 32 percent among children in families with monthly incomes of $6,000 or more ($72,000 per year).

The education gap is even more pronounced. Only 10 percent of children whose parents did not graduate from high school are in gifted classes. Among those whose parents have graduate-level degrees, the figure is 45 percent.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: 2003, Survey of Income and Program Participation

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of parents who say they never
feel angry at their children: 46.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: 2003, Survey of Income and Program Participation

Saturday, February 17, 2007

In the Laundry Room

Now that most women are in the labor force, men are doing more around the house. But women still shoulder most of the burden for a variety of household chores. Which chores are most likely to be done by women rather than men?

Number one is the laundry. On an average day, 27 percent of women do at least one load of laundry compared with a much smaller 6 percent of men, according to the American Time Use Survey. Other chores predominantly shouldered by women are kitchen clean-up after a meal and housecleaning.

Some household chores are more likely to be tackled by men, such as lawn care, exterior home maintenance, and vehicle care. And of course men are still more likely to work at a paying job. Fifty percent of men and 38 percent of women go to work on an average day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Homeownership Rate Falls Again

The homeownership rate fell for the second year in a row, dropping to 68.8 percent of households in 2006. This is down from the record high rate of 69.0 percent reached in 2004. But homeownership rates were higher in 2006 than in 2000 overall and in every age group except one. Among householders aged 45 to 54, the homeownership rate fell between 2000 and 2006.

What is behind the declining homeownership rate? The combination of high housing prices, rising interest rates, and the economic squeeze on the middle class.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Annual Statistics 2006

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of Americans who describe themselves as "dog persons": 70.

Source: The Gallup Poll

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Where Are Teen Workers?

The number of workers aged 16 to 19 fell by a jaw dropping 1 million between 2000 and 2005 (from 8.3 million to 7.2 million). According to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we ain't seen nothing yet. The number of workers in the age group will continue to decline until 2020, when the count will be only 6.0 million.

What is behind the disappearance of teens in the work force? A growing proportion are in school. Consequently, their labor force participation rate has plummeted from 52 percent in 2000 to 44 percent in 2005. The rate is expected to continue falling, reaching 36 percent in 2020.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What the World Thinks

Does the United States have a mainly positive
or negative influence in the world?

Percent answering "positive"...
Americans: 57 percent
Everyone else: 32 percent

Source: BBC survey of 26,381 people in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States, WorldPublicOpinion.org

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Oldest Congress Ever

How do the demographics of Congress compare with those of the average American? This Congressional Research Service report (pdf) can tell you. It examines the age, occupations, education, religion, sex, race, Hispanic origin, nativity status, and military service of House and Senate members.

The Senate has never been older, with an average age of 60. House members are aged 55, on average, which also may be a record high (data on the age of House members has been collected only since 1907). The 109th Congress has a record number of women (85), blacks (43), and Hispanics (30), but the minority and female share is still far from representative of the U.S. population as a whole. There are 218 lawyers in Congress, as well as 13 medical doctors, 6 ministers, 2 FBI agents, and one television talk show host. Ten members of Congress were born outside the United States. This Congress has 139 veterans, 13 fewer than in the 108th Congress.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Evolution at Work

The 51 percent majority of Americans believe in evolution. A smaller 42 percent adhere to the notion of creationism, according to the Pew Research Center. In the years ahead, belief in evolution should strengthen as better educated younger generations replace older, less educated adults. Here is a look at who believes in evolution by age:

aged 18 to 25: 63%
aged 26 to 40: 57%
aged 41 to 60: 47%
aged 61 or older: 42%

Source: Pew Research Center

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of 18-to-25-year-olds who think
their generation is unique: 68.

Source: Pew Research Center