Thursday, March 31, 2011

A New Baby Bust?

Fertility rates fell more rapidly between 2007 and 2009 than they have in any two-year period during the past thirty years, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Birth rates fell among women in every age group under age 40. Among women aged 20 to 24, the birth rate fell to the lowest level ever recorded (96.3 births per 1,000 women). Births also fell in every race/Hispanic origin group, with the largest decline among Hispanics.

By state, fertility rates fell or were unchanged in every state. The biggest declines were in Arizona (-12%) and Nevada (-10%). Other states with an above average decline in fertility (more than 4%) were: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Recent Decline in Births in the United States, 2007-2009

Little Savings

Percentage of workers who have saved $100,000 or more: 24%.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Boomer Inheritance

How has the Great Recession affected the long anticipated inheritance of the baby-boom generation? According to a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the total amount still to be inherited by the baby-boom generation fell from $6.0 trillion in June 2006 to $5.2 trillion in June 2010 as stock and housing values declined.

Overall, two-thirds of boomer households will ultimately receive an inheritance. According to the researchers, $2.4 trillion has already been inherited by the 17 percent of boomer households that have so far received an inheritance. Median value: $78,000 per household. Fifty-eight percent of boomers still have at least one living parent, so most have yet to receive an inheritance, say the researchers, who estimate the median amount still to be inherited at $47,000 per household.

The researchers caution that the amounts to be inherited by boomers "are typically not large enough to be life-changing. Therefore, boomer households need to make many of their key financial decisions before they ever receive any inheritance."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, "How Important Are Inheritances for Baby Boomers?"

Media Out of Sync

"The public's news interests this week are far out of sync with the news media's coverage," reports the Pew Research Center. Take a look:

Percentage of people who are following the news about Japan very closely: 57%
Percentage of news coverage devoted to Japan: 15%

Percentage of people who are following the news about Libya very closely: 15%
Percentage of news coverage devoted to Libya: 41%

Source: Pew Research Center, Public Stays Focused on Japan as Media Turns to Libya

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Televisions, Computers, and Rechargeables

Number per household (percent distribution)...

0 1.5%
1 24.2%
2 37.5%
3 26.6%
4 14.2%
5+ 9.7%
0 27.4%
1 46.9%
2 24.3%
3 9.5%
4 3.6%
5+ 2.0%
Rechargeable Electronic Devices:
0 11.4%
1 to 3 57.9%
4 to 8 36.4%
9+ 7.9%


Eighty-three percent of Americans live in one of the nation's 366 metropolitan areas.
One in ten lives in New York or Los Angeles.

Source: Bureau of the Census, Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vehicle Values Fall

Car and truck sales plunged during the Great Recession. Instead of buying new models, Americans clung to their depreciating automobiles. This explains the steep drop in the median value of household vehicles between 2007 and 2009.

In 2007, the median value of the vehicles owned by the average household was $16,200 (in 2009 dollars). By 2009, the figure had dropped to $12,000--a 26 percent decline, according to the Federal Reserve Board's analysis of household wealth. For much more data by demographic characteristic, see the appendix tables that accompany the Fed report, Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm: Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009. For important information on how to interpret the tables, see my earlier post.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An Average Day: Sleeping

On an average day, amount of time people aged 15 or older spend sleeping...

Weekdays: 8.40 hours
Weekends: 9.34 hours

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Obama Effect on Racial Identification

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of people who identified themselves as black and white more than doubled, climbing from 785,000 to 1.8 million, a 134 percent increase. This combination alone accounted for nearly half the increase in the nation's multiracial population during the decade.

In 2000, the black/white combination accounted for only 11 percent of the total multiracial population. This group was greatly outnumbered by white/other (many "others" were Hispanics who were unaware that Hispanic is an ethnicity rather than a race), white/Asian, and white/American Indian.

In 2010, the black/white mix surged ahead of all the others, accounting for 20 percent of the total multiracial population. Why? Most likely, it is the Obama Effect. The nation's first multiracial president has boosted the popularity of asserting a multiracial identity, particularly the black/white combination. It is also likely that many of those doing the asserting are parents of children under age 18. As of 2009, the median age of the multiracial population was just 20, well below the median age of 37 for all Americans. We do not yet know the age distribution of the multiracial in 2010, but it is likely to be much more youthful than the general population. What accounts for this? Parents. When answering the census, parents supply the information for children under age 18, including racial identification. Many parents identify their children as multiracial (and increasingly so), but when those children become adults they may choose to adopt a single-race identification. Unless, that is, the Obama Effect permanently changes racial identification in the United States.

Source: Bureau of the Census, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2010 and Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin 2000

Bet You Didn't Know

Number of American families with an unemployed family member: 1 in 8.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Characteristics of Families

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Is Where Your Customers Went

Any business wondering where the customers went can find out by taking a look at the Federal Reserve Board's new estimates of household debt. Millions of households, it turns out, are carrying the baggage of education loans, preventing them from buying homes, cars, furniture, going to restaurants, or taking vacations.

In 2009, a substantial 18 percent of households in the United States had education loans. This was up from 16 percent in 2007. By age, the percentage of households with student debt extends well into middle age. Take a look:

Under age 35:  37%
Aged 35 to 44: 20%
Aged 45 to 54: 18%
Aged 55 to 64: 10%

These loans are not trifling either. The size of student loans exceeds vehicle loans and far surpasses credit card debt. For households with student debt, the median amount owed was $15,000 in 2009, up from $12,400 in 2007 (in 2009 dollars)--a 21 percent increase in two years. For the record, the median amount households owed on vehicle loans was a smaller $12,400. The median amount owed on credit cards was just $3,300.

The households most burdened by student loans are the same ones many businesses were counting on to spend their way out of the Great Recession: married couples with children (24 percent have student loans, and they owe a median of $15,000), renters (24 percent have student loans, and they owe a median of $12,000), and college graduates (25 percent have student loans, and they owe a median of $20,000).

A funny thing happened on the way to where we are today. Your customers signed on a dotted line, and now their current and future income is being siphoned off by someone else.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confusing Numbers

If you are digging into the updated Survey of Consumer Finances data, released earlier today, watch out for a confusing presentation of changes in medians. The percent change columns in the tables are median percent changes, not the percent change in median values. Likewise, the dollar change columns are median dollar changes, not the dollar amount by which the median changed.

Between 2007 and 2009, for example, median household net worth fell from $125,400 to $96,000 (in 2009 dollars), a 23 percent decline in the median value. But the table provided by the Federal Reserve shows "median % change" to be -18 rather than -23. That's because the Feds are measuring the median percent change in net worth rather than the percent change in median net worth. In other words, half of households saw their net worth decline by more than 18 percent between 2007 and 2009 and half saw their net worth decline by less than 18 percent. Likewise, the dollar change in median net worth between 2007 and 2009 was $29,400. Yet the Feds show "median $ change" to be $11,400. This means that half of households saw their net worth decline by more than $11,400 between 2007 and 2009 and half saw their net worth decline by less than that amount.

Insanely confusing.

Race & Hispanic, 2010 Census

This was a big day for demographers. Not only did the Federal Reserve Board release the long-awaited update on household wealth (see post below), but the Census Bureau released the 2010 population totals by race and Hispanic origin. Here they are (numbers in thousands):

          % change
2010             2000–10
Total population  308,746 9.7
Asians (race alone)  14,674 43.3
Blacks (race alone)  38,929 12.3
Hispanics  50,478 43.0
Non-Hispanic whites  196,818 1.2

How Much Did Net Worth Fall?

The answer: 23 percent.

The Great Recession reduced median household net worth by 23 percent, according to the long-awaited update of the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances. This unprecedented update was undertaken by the Federal Reserve Board solely to determine the impact of the Great Recession on household net worth, assets, and debt.

Median household net worth fell from $125,400 in 2007 to $96,000 in 2009 (in 2009 dollars). The decline in wealth occurred across the board, affecting nearly two out of three households.

The biggest reason for the decline in wealth was the loss of housing equity, which is the single largest asset owned by the average household. The median value of owned homes fell from $207,100 in 2007 to $176,000 in 2009 (in 2009 dollars). Unfortunately, the decline in housing values continues.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm: Changes in Family Finances from 2007 to 2009

The Detroit Surprise

The city of Detroit's population loss between 2000 and 2010 was not a surprise. The magnitude of the loss was a surprise. Here's why: 

2009 estimate of Detroit's population: 910,848
2010 census count of Detroit's population: 713,777

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

North and South

Percentage of people who do not have health insurance, by region...

Northeast:  11%
Midwest: 12%
South:  20%
West: 19%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2010

Are You Past Your Prime?

Staying on top of your finances is getting more and more complex. So complex, in fact, that doing it successfully is often beyond the capabilities of the inexperienced (such as young adults) and the naive (such as older adults). In fact, a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (What Is the Age of Reason? ) shows that younger and older adults do not make the best choices when managing their personal finances. Who does? To be precise, people aged 53.3.

That's right. A series of tests on people of different ages, asking them to make real-world decisions regarding credit cards and interest rates, for example, revealed that 53.3 is the average age when people make the fewest financial mistakes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of whites who feel close to blacks, by age...

Aged 18 to 30: 54%
Aged 30 to 64: 38%
Aged 65 or older: 35%

Note: On a scale of 1 (not at all close) to 9 (very close), percent who say 6 to 9.
Source: 2010 General Social Survey

Why Do Renters Move?

Ask renters why they moved and "for a job" is often what you hear, according to the American Housing Survey. Twenty-five percent of renters who moved in the past year did so for employment reasons.  

The job factor is especially important for renters who moved into new housing--newly built apartments or single-family homes. Thirty-two percent of renters who moved into a new unit in the past year cited a new job, a job transfer, or the need to be closer to their job. 

With gasoline approaching $4.00 per gallon, the job factor is likely to become increasingly important to renters as they decide where to live. 

Source: Bureau of the Census, American Housing Survey

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poor Demographics

Percent distribution of the poverty population by race and Hispanic origin...

Non-Hispanic whites: 43%
Hispanics: 28%
Blacks: 24%

Source: Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kids and Parents

Percentage of children under age 18 who live with...

at least one biological parent: 94%
at least one stepparent: 6%
at least one adoptive parent: 2%

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2010

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An Average Day: Socializing

Thirty-eight percent of Americans socialize on an average day, a figure that varies little by age. Socializing is defined as hanging out with friends, hanging out with family, talking to neighbors, accompanying friends or family while they run errands, giving gifts, and visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes. 

Those who socialize spend an hour and 40 minutes hanging out.   

Follow me on Twitter @TrendCop

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wave of Change

Percentage of people who support the right of same-sex couples to marry, by generation (and age in 2010)...

Millennials (18 to 33): 62%
Generation X (34 to 45): 45%
Boomers (46 to 64): 41%
Older Americans (65+): 34%

Source: 2010 General Social Survey

The Mystery of the High School Graduate

This is not a rant against the educational system or teachers. It is a rant against the morons who presume to "measure" their success with the so-called "averaged freshmen high school graduation rate." This rate makes headlines in every local newspaper across the country, purporting to show how poorly local schools are performing. Nationally, the rate was 74.9 percent in 2007-08 (the latest data available)--which is interpreted by the news media and by many experts who should know better to mean that only 74.9 percent of American children graduate from high school. The rate varies widely by state, from a low of 51.3 percent in Nevada to a high of 89.6 percent in Wisconsin.

You probably think this rate is calculated as it should be--by tracking individual high school freshmen and determining how many eventually graduate from high school. You would be wrong. It is calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics this way: headcount of high school graduates in a given year divided by headcount of freshmen in the school district four years earlier. 

Do you see the problem here? Students who move out of a school district or even transfer to a local private school become "dropouts." Students who get their GED rather than a high school diploma are "dropouts." Students who are held back a year for whatever reason are counted as "dropouts." This explains why states with high levels of migration (Nevada) have lower graduation rates than states with little migration (Wisconsin). The resulting "graduation rates" that make headlines--and bring the wrath of taxpayers down on their local schools--have nothing to do with the success or failure of schools and everything to do with broader demographic trends.

The National Center for Education Statistics also calculates high school completion rates another way, a way that actually measures educational success. Using data from the Current Population Survey, the NCES statisticians calculate the percentage of people aged 16 to 24 who have a high school diploma or GED (see table here). By this calculation, 89.9 percent of the age group had completed high school in 2008--an all time high.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Watching Japan

Fifty-two percent of Americans followed news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan "very closely" during the days of March 10-13, according to Pew Research Center. Pew regularly tracks interest in specific news events.

While the majority were following the Japan story "very closely," the percentage was below the level of interest in other disasters in recent years, as you can see below...

Hurricane Katrina: 70%
Haiti earthquake: 60%
Indian Ocean tsunami: 58%
Japanese disaster: 52%

The all-time winner in grabbing the attention of the American public was the Challenger disaster of 1986, followed "very closely" by 80 percent. This surpassed the 78 percent who "very closely" followed news of the 9/11 attacks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Life Expectancy Climbs Again

Life expectancy at birth has resumed its climb, rising from 78.0 years in 2008 to 78.2 years in 2009. Mortality rates fell for 10 of the 15 leading causes of death. Rates (age-adjusted) are lowest in Hawaii and highest in West Virginia.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Retirement Confidence Is Down

Americans are not as confident in having enough money to live comfortably in retirement, according to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey released today. Only 13 percent of the nation's workers are "very" confident the money will be there, down from a high of 27 percent in 2007. This is hardly a surprise.

What is surprising is that only 27 percent are "not at all" confident they will have the money to retire. Although this is the largest proportion ever recorded by the Retirement Confidence Survey, it is far from being the norm. It means the 73 percent majority of workers have at least a little confidence in being able to afford retirement. This may be why: 74 percent expect to work for pay in "retirement."

Not Retiring Anytime Soon

Percentage of workers aged 55 or older who expect to retire at age 66 or older...

2001: 25%
2011: 50%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey

Monday, March 14, 2011

Corporate Shills?

Percentage who think corporations make a fair and reasonable profit...

All registered voters:  39%
Tea Party supporters:  62%

Source: Pew Research Center

Sunday, March 13, 2011

They Don't Trust You

Note to banks, investment companies, health insurance companies, hospitals, drug companies, housing developers, realtors, airlines, car companies, and every other business still trying to market like the Great Recession never happened: They don't trust you. They think you are a crook.

It's only going to get worse because young adults are the most suspicious, according to results from the 2010 General Social Survey. Only 18 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds think most people can be trusted. Only 14 percent have a "great deal" of confidence in major companies. The 51 percent majority think you are trying to take advantage of them.

Rethink your marketing.

Update: How Many Americans Are Gay?

Every few years the National Center for Health Statistics surveys the American public about its sexual behavior and orientation. The latest survey results are out, and they are a lot less interesting than you might expect--mostly because little has changed.   

Asking the kinds of questions that would make your mother blush, the National Survey of Family Growth examines family development from first sexual encounter to ongoing sexual behavior, sexual orientation, sex practices, contraceptive use, fertility, infertility, pregnancy, marriage, and divorce. By focusing on people aged 15 to 44, it captures current trends. The survey was once limited to women, but expanded to include men in 2002. The latest data, from the 2006-08 cycle of interviews, confirms many of the findings from the 2002 survey. 

According to the latest report, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, 4.6 percent of women aged 18 to 44 identify themselves as lesbian or bisexual. This is up from 4.1 percent in 2002. Among men in the age group, 2.8 percent identify themselves as gay or bisexual, down from 4.1 percent in 2002. While the numbers have changed, the changes are minor.    

In another take on the issue of sexual orientation, the survey asks whether people are attracted to the opposite sex or the same sex. Among women aged 18 to 44, 83.3 percent say they are sexually attracted only to men. Among men in the age group, 93.5 percent say they are sexually attracted only to women. These figures are also similar to 2002 results (85.7 percent of women and 92.2 percent of men). 

When asked whether they had ever had any same-sex contact, 12.5 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men aged 15 to 44 answered yes (in 2002, the figures were 11.2 and 6.0 percent, respectively). Among men, same-sex contact was specifically defined as oral or anal sex. Among women, the questions were about oral sex and a broader "sexual experience of any kind." The broader question posed to women may account for the much larger percentage of women who have had same-sex contact.

You may scoff at the notion that respondents will answer questions about sexual behavior and orientation honestly. It is no doubt true that many are lying. But they are lying consistently over the years. Consistency makes this survey a valuable addition to our knowledge about sexual behavior and orientation in the United States. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An Average Day: Spending

Amount spent by the average household per day
on all products, services, and bills: $134.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be Careful

Almost daily, 2010 census data are being released state by state. Most of the resulting census stories have an unreal feeling about them; they are a throwback to earlier times of heady growth in the once booming South and West. For trend spotters, it is our bad luck that the two censuses occurred on either side of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Any analysis of change between 2000 and 2010 will miss the dislocations caused by the Great Recession.  

Arizona's population grew 25 percent during the decade, for example. But does anyone think Arizona has been growing recently? The population of Phoenix was up 9 percent between 2000 and 2010, yet it is probably losing people now. Population experts in Arizona say the state has grown little, if at all, for the past three years.

We will have to wait another year or two before we have up-to-date data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey that will reveal the trends ushered in by the Great Recession. While the census gives us a good snapshot of the population in 2010, it cannot give us an accurate picture of current trends.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stupid or Selfish?

Among people aged 65 or older...

Percent with government health insurance: 94%.
Percent who think government should help people pay medical bills: 35%.

Source: Census Bureau and General Social Survey

Projections of Education Statistcs

The latest annual Projections of Education Statistics report is now available on the National Center for Education Statistics web site. Projections are for the years 2009 through 2019 and cover school enrollment at all levels, high school graduates, degrees conferred, teachers, and educational expenditures. While the topic seems interesting, the results never fail to be strangely boring because few changes are ever foreseen. No drama here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of people with children who think their children's standard of living will be better than their own, by age...

18-44: 67%
45-64: 54%
65-plus: 47%

Source: General Social Survey

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What's So Special about Detroit?

During the Super Bowl, a two-minute television advertisement aired for the 2011 Chrysler 200 automobile, showcasing Detroit with Eminem as soundtrack. The ad was such a sensation (9 million views on YouTube so far) that the company proceeded to wrap (literally) its Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters with an enormous banner carrying the newly legendary tagline: "Imported from Detroit." T-shirts promoting those strangely powerful words were rushed into production and sold out within hours. Chrysler promises to produce more. 

Americans can't seem to get enough of Detroit. Entire web sites are devoted to images of its abandoned buildings. Some Detroit residents--current and former--are offended by the online ogling of Detroit's "ruin porn," as it is sometimes called. But those coming to the defense of Detroit need not worry. The root of our obsession has shifted from condemnation to admiration. The metropolitan area has become a  mirror of America, and we can't tear our eyes away from what we see. Take a look at Detroit:  
                Unemployment rate: 11.1% (December 2010).
                Median housing value: - 36% (2003 to 2009, after adjusting for inflation).
                Homeowners underwater on their mortgage: 19% (2009).
                Median household income: -23% (1999 to 2009, after adjusting for inflation).

It looks bad, and it is bad. But Detroit is doing no worse than the rest of the United States--it is just a few steps ahead of us. Nationally, the unemployment rate is a stubbornly high 8.9 percent. Nationally, the decline in housing values exceeds that of the Great Depression--a 26 percent loss since prices peaked in 2006, according to the Zillow Home Value Index. Nationally, the percentage of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage doubled from 4 to 8 percent between 2003 and 2009. Nationally, median household income fell 5 percent between 1999 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Detroit has been there, done that.  

The reflective power of Detroit has Hogwarts-like magical properties. In the mirror of Detroit, we can see ourselves as we used to be, as we are now, and as we might be in the future. In Detroit's world-class industries, we see our past glory. In Detroit's devastated landscape, we see our ruined economy. In the rebirth of Chrysler and General Motors, we see our resolve to make things work again.

The metamorphosis of Detroit in the American psyche occurred in three distinct stages. In the first stage we were bystanders watching the train wreck of Detroit from afar. In the second stage we discovered, much to our horror, that we were on the train ourselves. Now in the third stage, we--like Detroit--are climbing out of the wreckage and trying to figure out what happens next. That's why "Imported from Detroit" struck such a chord with the public. It called us back from a faraway land where we had become expatriates from the American experience, separated from what made us great: hard work, real products, modest goals, and good ideas. Americans are obsessed with Detroit because Detroit is us. But to make Detroit's future--and our own--something we want, we have to bet our money on it. So far, sales of the 2011 Chrysler 200 have been disappointing.

Is Life Exciting?

Percentage of people who find life exciting, by age...

18-29: 57%
39-39: 52
40-49: 53
50-59: 56
60 or older: 45

Source: General Social Survey

Trust: The Decline

Over the past four decades, the General Social Survey has been asking Americans this question: Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in life? During those decades, the percentage who say most people can be trusted has fallen steadily from 46 percent in 1972 (the first GSS survey) to 32 percent in 2010. What is behind the decline, demographically speaking? Are people losing their trust in others over time, or are younger less-trusting cohorts replacing older more-trusting ones? 

The answer is behind door number two: younger less-trusting cohorts are replacing older more-trusting ones. The percentage of 18-to-29-year-olds who think most people can be trusted has fallen over the years and was just 18 percent in 2010.

Within cohorts, the percentage who trust others has remained relatively stable across the decades. One cohort in particular is consistently the most trusting--people born between 1941 and 1950 (aged 60 to 69 in 2010). The 51 percent majority of today's 60-to-69-year-olds think most people can be trusted.

The 33 percentage point gap in trust between 18-to-29-year-olds (18 percent) and 60-69-year-olds (51 percent) seems like a profound statement about something.  

Monday, March 07, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

The 2010 General Social Survey results are now available for extraction on UC Berkeley's Survey Documentation and Analysis web site. Here is an inaugural finding...

Percentage of people aged 18 or older who agree with the statement, "The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living..."

2010: 58%
2000: 77%

Source: General Social Survey, SDA, UC-Berkeley

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Who's Got Your Back?

Percent rating honesty and ethical standards of workers "high" or "very high," by occupation...

Grade school teachers: 67%
Politicians, state: 12%
Politicians, federal: 9%
Lobbyists: 7%

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Steep Decline in Home Buying among Young

Young adults are buying homes at a sluggish pace. My analysis of the change in the homeownership rate of 25-to-29-year-olds as they age into the 30-to-34 age group shows that young adults are more hesitant to buy a home today than at any time in the past quarter century.

First, some background. The 30-to-34 age group is critical for home buying. This is when the homeownership rate surpasses 50 percent of households, a fact recorded each year by the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey for nearly three decades. In 2010, 36.8 percent of householders aged 25 to 29 owned a home, as did 51.6 percent of those aged 30-to-34.

Here's the catch. Those 30-to-34-year-olds in 2010 were 25-to-29-year-olds in 2005. So let's take a look at what happened to the cohort's homeownership rate over those five years. In 2005, the homeownership rate of 25-to-29-year-olds was 40.9 percent. In 2010, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds was 51.6 percent. So far so good--a big increase in the cohort's homeownership rate! But this increase is far smaller than the one experienced by 25-to-29-year-olds as they aged into their early thirties between 1995 and 2000. In fact, it is only about half as big (10.7 percentage points versus 20.2 percentage points). The gain is also smaller than the one that occurred to 25-to-29-year-olds as they aged into their early thirties between 1985 and 1990 (14.1 percentage points).

Here's the bottom line: Over the past few years, householders aged 30 to 34 experienced a bigger decline in homeownership than any other age group, their rate falling from 56.8 to 51.6 percent between 2005 and 2010. Behind the decline is the fact that millions of young adults--as they enter this critical age group--are deciding they do not want (or cannot afford) to buy a home.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Trouble in Arizona

Percentage of Arizona residents aged 18 to 64...

Who have private health insurance
2004: 61
2010: 48

Who have unmet medical needs
2004: 12
2010: 17

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Trends in Health Insurance and Unmet Medical Need for Persons Under 65 Years of Age, in the United Stats and Selected States from 2004-June 2010

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Who Snores

Percentage of people aged 18 or older who say they snore...

Men: 57%
Women: 40%

New Sexual Behavior Study

The government does ask and it does tell. In a new study of the sexual behavior of Americans aged 18 to 44, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that 6 percent of men and 13 percent of women have had sexual contact with a same-sex partner.

When asked whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, 5 percent of women identify themselves as lesbian or bisexual. Among men in the age group, 3 percent say they are gay or bisexual. These figures are similar to those found in a survey taken in 2002.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fat Americans: The French Version

This may be a first. The National Center for Health Statistics just released a report on obesity in the United States and Canada--in French! For those who can't quite wrap their mind around the French, an English version is also available.

The findings are the same in either language. Americans are fatter than Canadians. In the United States, 34 percent of adults are obese (defined as having a body mass index of 30.0 or higher). In Canada, the figure is a substantially smaller 24 percent. Even after limiting the analysis to non-Hispanic whites, most of the gap remains: 33 percent of Americans are obese compared with 26 percent of Canadians.

Bet You Didn't Know

Percent change in death rates by selected cause, 1960 to 2007...

Pneumonia: -70%
Heart disease: -66%
Accidents: -37%
Cancer: -8%
Homicide: +17%

Source: Bureau of the Census, 2011 Statistical Abstract

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Not so Mobile

Percentage of Americans who access the Internet on a mobile phone: 37%

Source: Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University, Race and Recession Survey

Better Times Ahead

Percent who agree with the statement "America's best times are yet to come"...

Blacks: 59%
Hispanics: 44%
Whites: 40%

Source: Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University, Race and Recession Survey