Tuesday, May 31, 2011

American Public Thinks 25% Are Gay/Lesbian

Percentage who are gay/lesbian according to the American public: 25%.
Percentage who are gay/lesbian according to government surveys: 4%.

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

Smartphone Ownership by Age

Percentage of people who own a smartphone by age...

12 to 17: 33%
18 to 24: 45%
25 to 34: 50%
35 to 44: 39%
45 to 54: 26%
55 to 64: 19%
65-plus: 6%

Source: Arbitron, The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms

Monday, May 30, 2011

Food Desert Locator

That's desert (empty wasteland), not dessert (yummy goodness). Yes, there are many, many food deserts in the United States--neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income people who are far from a grocery store. At this site you can access an interactive map of the United States that reveals our many food deserts by state and local area down to the census tract level. A food desert is defined as a census tract in which at least one-third of the residents live more than one mile (in an urban area) or more than 10 miles (in a rural area) from a supermarket or large grocery store.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Food Desert Locator

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why Crime is Down

Last week the FBI released its preliminary crime report for 2010, showing--once again--a decline in violent crime (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault). The rate of violent crime today is lower than at any time since the early 1970s, and nobody can figure out why. With the large millennial generation now in the most crime-prone age group (40 percent of people arrested are aged 15 to 24) and unemployment stubbornly high, most believed crime would rise rather than fall.

Some say crime is down because so many criminals have been locked up. Others say crime is down because policing has become smarter and more effective. But the steep decline in crime throughout the United States begs for a deeper, sociological explanation.

This is what I think caused the decline in crime: helicopter parents. Yes, you can thank those obnoxious, overbearing parents because--over the past few decades--they have succeeded in transforming the teenage and young adult milieu. The rate of violent crime peaked in 1991. The young adults of that year were born in the late 1960s and early 1970s--just before the baby-boom generation became the nation's parents en masse. Boomers had fewer children and focused more on the success of each one, keeping their teenagers busy with supervised after-school activities. At age 18, they shipped them off to college where they spent their free time drinking and hooking up rather than hanging out on street corners. When they graduated from college into a job market that, by all accounts, should be turning the desperately unemployed into criminals, boomers welcomed them back into their homes and kept them out of trouble.

Surprise. The baby-boom generation managed to do something right.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Mystery of Happiness

Surveys consistently show that Americans aged 65 or older are happier than younger adults. The 2010 General Social Survey, for example, found that 33 percent of people aged 65 or older were "very happy" compared with 28 percent of younger adults. The GSS measures happiness by asking a single, simple question. Other surveys probe people's feelings of happiness more extensively, by measuring it throughout the day and during a variety of activities. These studies confirm the greater happiness of older Americans. Why?

Entire books are devoted to this topic. One of them (Measuring the Subjective Well-Being of Nations: National Accounts of Time Use and Well-Being) solves the mystery.

To get at what makes people happy, well known Princeton economist Alan B. Krueger (the editor of the book) and author of one of the chapters (along with Daniel Kahneman, David Schkade, Norbert Schwarz, and Arthur A. Stone), measures the percentage of time in which people's feelings of sadness, stress, or pain exceed their feelings of happiness--all by demographic characteristic and activity. The results show that people aged 65 or older spend only 16 percent of their time with feelings of sadness, stress, or pain greater than their feelings of happiness. In contrast, people aged 25 to 64 feel bad rather than good a larger 20 percent of the time. By controlling for activity, the researchers nailed it: older Americans are happier because they spend more time engaging in activities that generate happiness (socializing, relaxing, gardening). Working-age adults must work, after all. Most of the happiness gap between older and younger adults is due to differences in their daily activities.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Language of School Children

Percentage of American children aged 5 to 17 who speak a language other than English at home: 21%.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2011

Census Surprise: More Renters

What's up with this? According to new 2010 census data released yesterday, the nation has many more renters--and fewer homeowners--than estimated.

Compared to the March 2010 Current Population Survey estimates, the April 1, 2010 census counted 3.6 million more renter-occupied housing units and 2.8 million fewer owner-occupied housing units. The homeownership rate for the March-April 2010 time period was lower than estimated--just 65.1 percent according to the census rather than the 67.0 percent estimated by surveys. As economist Tom Lawler says on Calculated Risk, "From a demographer's standpoint, these are HUGE differences." He's right, it is huge. Expect heads to roll and thinking about the housing market to be revised--downward.

Interestingly, average household size according to the 2010 census (2.58 people) was little different from the estimated number (2.59).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More 2010 Census Data

Age and Sex Composition: 2010
The Hispanic Population: 2010

Schizophrenic or Generational?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently called the public "schizophrenic" about Facebook--admiring it for its social capabilities and at the same time fearing it for invading their privacy.

This is no mental health problem. It is a generational problem. Take a look at the percentage of Americans who have a personal profile page on a social networking site, according to Arbitron research (The Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms):

12-17:  76%
18-24:  80%
25-34:  68%
35-44:  63%
45-54:  45%
55-64:  31%
65 + :   15%

Also note that the average age of the politicians grandstanding about Facebook for their aged constituents is 56.7 (Congress) and 62.2 (Senate).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

College: Expensive Insurance

Why parents send their children to college, according to PayPal founder Peter Thiel in Forbes:
It’s basically a way to buy insurance to make sure your kids don’t fall out of the middle or upper middle class. The broader social questions we should be asking is why has the cost of insurance gone up so much…. our society has become less stable, if you don’t do things the exact right way, if you deviate, you get whacked.

Getting the News

Where college graduates get most of their news...

Internet: 42%
Television: 27%
Newspaper: 21%
Radio: 10%

Source: General Social Survey

No Health Insurance by State

States with the smallest percentage of people without health insurance...
Massachusetts 4.4%
Hawaii 8.2%
Minnesota 8.8%
Wisconsin 9.5%
Vermont 9.9%

States with the largest percentage of people without health insurance...
Texas 26.1%
Florida 22.4%
New Mexico 21.7%
Nevada 20.8%
Georgia 20.5%

Source: Census Bureau, Health Insurance Coverage by State

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mass Transit Blues

No matter how high gas prices climb, the 52 percent majority of Americans say they will not use mass transit as their main source of transportation, according to a Gallup poll.

This is not snobbery, but necessity. Fully 46 percent of households in the United States do not have public transportation in their area, according to the American Housing Survey. They have no choice but to keep pumping no matter how high the price.

Mobility Rate High for Young Renters

Percentage of renters aged 20 to 24 who moved in the past year: 46%.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility, 2009 to 2010

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homeowner Mobility Rate Unchanged

The mobility rate of the nation's homeowners remained at the record low of 5.2 percent in 2009-10, unchanged from the rate of 2008–09. In data released this morning, the Census Bureau's figures show a nation of movers paralyzed by the collapse of the housing market.

Among renters, 29.0 percent moved in 2009-10, down slightly from the 29.6 percent who moved between 2008-09. Renter mobility has changed little over the past decade--it peaked at 30.8 percent in 2001–02.

During the past decade, homeowner mobility has been as high as 8.1 percent. That was in 2001-02, a year when nearly 16 million homeowners moved. In 2009-10, only 10.8 million homeowners moved.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility, 2009 to 2010

Americans Still Stuck

The nation's geographic mobility rate barely changed as the United States emerged from the Great Recession. According to data released this morning, only 12.51 percent of Americans aged 1 or older moved between 2009 and 2010, almost identical to the 12.49 percent who moved between 2008–09--during the depths of the recession.

More details later.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility, 2009 to 2010

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real Estate Industry Is Aging--Fast

The collapse of the housing market is transforming the National Association of Realtors, the professional association of the real estate industry. According to demographic research produced by Nikolai Kolding, a partner in the real estate consulting group REAL Trends, the median age of NAR members is rising rapidly, climbing from 51 to 56 between 2006 and 2011. Behind the aging of NAR is its changing demographics. Not only is total membership shrinking, but the biggest declines are occurring among younger members.

Overall, NAR's membership fell 21 percent between 2006 and 2011, says Kolding, from 1.36 million to 1.07 million. By age group, the changes look like this...

under age 35: -50%
35 to 44: -45%
45 to 54: -32%
55 or older: +4%

Kolding comments: "The industry is very rapidly aging in part due to the fact that younger sales agents appear to be leaving the business in droves....this may be greatly hurting an industry that is trying to relate to an ever-younger pool of potential buyers."

As a profession, the real estate industry is not alone in coping with enormous demographic change as younger adults look elsewhere for economic opportunity. According to unpublished tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of the overall labor force climbed from 40.8 in 2006 to 42.0 in 2010 (the latest data available) because of the aging of the baby-boom generation. Some occupations are aging more rapidly, however, as younger adults shy away from uncertainty. The median age of bookkeepers, for example, climbed from 45.2 to 47.7 between 2006 and 2010. Postmasters aged from 51.5 to 53.5, travel agents from 46.0 to 48.5, and bridge and lock tenders aged by nearly 10 years--from 46.7 to 56.6. Bottom line: The age composition of occupations can change rapidly depending on perceived economic opportunity.

In his monthly newsletter, Kolding offers advice to the real estate industry: "We believe brokers would be well served building the rental and property management businesses to prepare for the growing proportion of the population that will rent rather than buy. Many of the companies we deal with that have strong rental and brokerage units tell us that the rental division often attracts a younger professional who, in time, moves on to the brokerage side. It would seem that expanding your rental business could potentially address two challenges at once."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Very Cool Interactive Map

Want to know 2010 census details about housing in your area? Check out the Census Bureau's interactive map that allows you to click and zoom in on any state, county, or place in the United States and get owner-occupied, renter-occupied, vacant, for rent, and for sale housing unit counts.

Population by race, ethnicity, age, and sex are also on tap at the site. Note that data for 13 states are still to come. The final state release (for Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia) and national totals are scheduled for Thursday, May 26.

How Many Kids?

Average number of children born in lifetime to American women
by race and Hispanic origin...

Asian: 1.96
Black: 2.03
Hispanic: 2.73
Non-Hispanic white: 1.78

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

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Word of God

Percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word: 34%.

Source: General Social Survey

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's Education Got To Do with It?

Among the 3.7 million women who had a baby in the past year, those with the least education are also the ones least likely to be married. Percent of women who gave birth in the past year who were married, by educational attainment...

Less than high school: 39%
High school graduate only: 48%
Some college: 58%
Bachelor's degree or more: 89%

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility of American Women: 2010

Most Think Spanking is OK

Percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who agree that it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking: 69%.

Source: General Social Survey

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ex: How Many Are Out There?

51 million. According to a new Census Bureau report, 21 percent of men and 22 percent of women aged 15 or older have ever divorced. Do the math, and this translates into roughly 51 million exes haunting their former spouses in the United States.

Most likely to have an ex are men born in the 1940s (aged 60 to 69 in 2009, the year of the analysis) and women born in the 1950s (aged 50 to 59). Thirty-seven percent have divorced at least once.

Source: Census Bureau, Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009

How Much Do Young Adults Spend?

If you want to know, then check out this new report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In "Do two live as cheaply as one? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," BLS researchers examine the per capita spending of singles and married couples in their twenties on a variety of products and services. The best part is, the researchers have analyzed spending by detailed age group: ages 21 to 23, ages 24 to 26, and ages 27 to 29.

How much do 21-to-23-year-old singles spend on alcohol? Answer: $622 annually in 2008-09. Those aged 24 to 26 spent $546, and singles aged 27 to 29 spent $635. On a per capita basis, their married counterparts spent far less.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Third World Nation

One in five American workers is a...

Retail salesperson
Office clerk
Food preparation/serving worker
Registered nurse
Waiter or waitress
Customer service rep

Only one of these occupations pays more than $16 per hour. Registered nurse is the exception, with an average wage of $32.56 per hour.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages--May 2010

Death the Old-Fashioned Way

Number of Americans who died from...

Measles: 2
Scarlet fever: 5
Whooping cough: 15
Syphilis: 33
Abortion: 34
Tuberculosis: 547
Childbirth: 839

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

More Shopping Centers

The number of shopping centers in the United States increased 19 percent between 2000 and 2009 (the latest data available), to 104,919.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 Statistical Abstract

Trouble for American Men

Percentage of men with full-time jobs, by age...

25-34: 61%
35-44: 70%
45-54: 67%
55-64: 54%

Source: Census Bureau

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fewer Doctor Visits

An article in the New York Times ("Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care") notes that Americans are putting off doctor visits and medical tests as out-of-pocket costs mount, reducing expenses for health insurers and boosting their profits.

The latest edition of the government's Bible of health care statistics, Health, United States, 2010, confirms the fact that millions are thinking twice before going to the doctor. The number of physician office visits fell between 2007 and 2008 (the latest data available, and the first year of the Great Recession) from 994 million to 956 million. The number of visits per person fell from 3.32 to 3.15.

Another government survey shows that the out-of-pocket share of expenses for doctor visits among people under age 65 with private health insurance grew from 15.2 to 16.6 percent of the total median cost of a visit between 2007 and 2008. By my calculation, out-of-pocket expenses for the insured under age 65 climbed from $46 to $53 per visit.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Mystery of the Billboards

On a recent road trip, with nothing better to do, I decided to count and categorize every billboard on my side of the highway for a stretch of interstate the length of one state. I did this on the return trip as well. The total distance of my billboard census was 210 miles, and the total number of billboards was 202. While not representative of billboards nationally, the results do raise disturbing questions. Here is what I saw:

      number       percent
Total billboards 202 100.0%
Land for sale 23 11.4%
Home/office for sale/rent 21 10.4%
Motels 20 9.9%
Outlet malls 20 9.9%
Blank billboards 15 7.4%
Restaurants 12 5.9%
Radio/Internet/television 8 4.0%
Vehicles 8 4.0%
Alcoholic beverages 5 2.5%
Gas or gas/restaurant combos 5 2.5%

The remaining billboards, with one to four in each category, were a hodgepodge that included medical services, churches, events, household furnishings, home improvement, camping/RV, community promotions, exit promotions, antiques, flea markets, military recruitment, public health, service organizations, department stores, clothing, lawn and garden supplies, insurance, banks, boats, docks, food products, and museums.

1) Most billboards looked faded and yellowed. Did the business still exist? 
2) Most billboards were difficult to read. Few communicated their brand.
3) Of the 20 billboards for outlet malls, 19 were for a single mall.
4) Among the 202 billboards, only 6 were digital.

1) Are GPS devices and smart phones undermining the billboard industry?
2) Why are so many billboards selling things that nobody wants? Is this an advertising medium of last resort? One in five billboards was selling real estate in one form or another. A large proportion of billboards were blanks or advertising their own space.
3) Is the sorry state of billboards an indicator of a crippled economy, the slow descent of portions of America into third-world status? Are rural stretches of the United States hollowing out, leaving the lamest businesses behind as creativity and gumption move to urban centers?

Just asking.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Welfare Queens Rule Very Tiny Kingdom

Percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who are on welfare: 0.96%

Source: Census Bureau

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Affluence of Same-Sex Couples

Among the nation's 6.5 million unmarried couples, 581,300 are same-sex couples, according to a Census Bureau analysis of data from the 2009 American Community Survey.

Male same-sex couples are far more affluent than married couples. Female same-sex couples are equally as affluent as married couples. Here is average household income by type of couple...

Male same-sex couples: $116,749
Married opposite-sex couples: $93,351
Female same-sex couples: $92,213
Unmarried opposite-sex couples: $64,005

Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements, Working Papers

Bet You Didn't Know

Average price of a double-wide mobile home: $72,900.

Source: Census Bureau, Manufactured Homes Survey, February 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rent or Buy?

With home prices continuing to slide, a handful of Americans are finding themselves in the catbird seat, trying to decide whether to rent or buy their next home. Pundits are offering advice, realtors and homebuilders are offering incentives, and the media are dissecting and mapping price-to-rent ratios in cities across the country. Ignore them all. This is a decision that does not require a calculator, but instead an honest appraisal of your life. Only if you meet the following five criteria should you consider buying a house:

1. You love where you live. Buy a house only if you know without a doubt that you want to live in an area--and in a house--for the foreseeable future. Typically, the advice is to buy if you plan to live in an area for at least five years. This is laughable today. You should think decades, not years. In many areas, it takes years just to sell a house. So forget the "starter home," shrewd investment, and flip-this-house concepts. All are out of date. Buy only if you do not plan to sell--ever.

2. Your employer loves you. Buy a house only if you know without a doubt that you have a job or income stream for the foreseeable future. How many working Americans feel that way? Only 52 percent, according to the latest General Social Survey. With the economy still in ICU, even those who think they have job security may be in for a surprise.

3. The economy loves your employer. Maybe your employer really does love you, but does the economy love your employer? If the answer is yes--no matter what Steve Jobs happens to invent next--then you might consider buying a home.

4. You love your spouse (and your spouse loves you). Buy a house only if your marriage will outlast your mortgage. Also, make sure your spouse meets criteria 1, 2, and 3.

5. You can afford the commute. Buy a house only if the commute will not crimp your lifestyle--no matter how high the price of gasoline. House prices may be low in the farflung suburban rings, but you will be trapped in a gasoline ghetto.

Young Adults No Longer Most Likely to be Uninsured

Young adults no longer have the distinction of being the age group least likely to have health insurance. The percentage of 18-to-26-year-olds without health insurance fell from 28.6 percent in 2009 to 24.0 percent in the January-April 2011 time period--a 4.6 percentage point decline. Behind the decline is the provision in the Health Care Reform Act, which went into effect in September 2010, allowing adults under age 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance plan.

Now people aged 27 to 35 are the ones least likely to have health insurance. In the January-April 2011 time period, 26.7 percent of the age group was uninsured, up from 25.2 percent in 2009.

Source: Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where the Bartenders Are

State with the highest concentration of...

Pest control workers: Florida
Fashion designers: New York
Mental health counselors: Pennsylvania
Meeting planners: District of Columbia
Optometrists: Hawaii
Crossing guards: New Jersey
Bill collectors: South Dakota
Bartenders: Montana

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Monday, May 09, 2011

Rounding Problems

For anyone who writes about numbers, rounding is a problem. It always seems to be the case--although it happens only 10 percent of the time--that a percentage figure under discussion ends in a .5, as in 22.5 percent of people aged 65 or older have a bachelor's degree.

When writing about numbers, decimals are messy. It is distracting for readers to lumber over decimals. Readers can get lost in the complexity of decimals and fail to get the point. That's why, when I write about percentages, I like to limit the discussion to whole numbers if possible. Most of the time, this is not a problem. Nine out of ten decimal digits are rounded easily and without torment. There are rules, after all. But .5 is a problem. When a .5 crops up, do you round up when writing about the number?

I know, I know. There is a rule. A .5 rounds up. It seems simple, but it's not. What if the number being reported has itself been rounded? Let's say the number 22.5 appears on a government spreadsheet. The question is, did the government round the number up or down to arrive at 22.5? The number could have been 22.478, for example, or it could have been 22.508. If it was 22.478, then rounding up to 23 in the discussion would be incorrect. To be correct requires diving deeper into the decimal places of the number shown. Most of the time this is only an annoyance and not a problem--the cell can be highlighted and additional decimal places produced with a few clicks of the "increase decimal" button, or the division of numerator by denominator can be done by hand, the curtain parted, and the additional decimals exposed. But occasionally the government produces tables with truncated numbers and the rounding direction cannot be determined. In that case, the messy decimal .5 must be retained in the discussion. This is never a happy moment.

FYI, the 22.5 percent of people aged 65 or older with a bachelor's degree rounds up to 23 (22.508).

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Single Mothers, Good or Bad?

A recent Pew Research Center poll asked whether "more single women having children without a male partner to help raise them" was a "bad thing for society." Not surprisingly, the 69 percent majority of the public said it was bad.

This is backwards thinking, however. It's not that single mothers are bad for society, it's that bad societies create single mothers. When men cannot find stable employment that pays a living wage, single mothers are the result. According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2009 report on births, here are the percentages of babies born to single mothers by race and Hispanic origin:

Black: 73%
Hispanic: 53%
Non-Hispanic white: 29%
Asian: 17%

Note the order of the race and Hispanic origin groups, with blacks most likely to have babies out of wedlock and Asians least likely. These numbers are not a measure of morals. They are a measure of the economic opportunity available to men in our society. Asian men are highly educated and typically earn above-average wages. Black men--even today--are often shut out of stable jobs that pay a living wage. Thus, the consequences on women and children.

Knowing these facts about men, women, and children, this trend should set off alarm bells: Between 1970 and 2009, the percentage of Americans babies born to single mothers climbed from 11 to 41 percent.

New Mothers

Average age at which American women have their first baby: 25.1 years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2008

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Does Childbearing Lower Women's Wages?

It has long been assumed that a woman's lifetime earnings are reduced by childbearing. A new study confirms that assumption and also measures the size of the loss. In an analysis (Working Paper 16582) of a longitudinal survey that tracked women aged 14 to 21 in 1979 for more than 25 years, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research discovered that the average high-scoring (i.e., smart) woman loses $230,000 in wages over her lifetime if she has children. Motherhood reduces the average low-scoring woman's wages by a smaller $49,000.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Wanted: Software Engineers

The number of employed Americans fell by 7 million between 2007 (the year employment peaked) and 2010. Employment in some occupations has grown, however. During those years the number of computer software engineers grew 13 percent to surpass 1 million. Here is the age distribution of those workers in 2010:

Under age 25 4.5%
Aged 25 to 34 31.2%
Aged 35 to 44 30.5%
Aged 45 to 54 23.0%
Aged 55 to 64 9.3%
Aged 65+ 1.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished table

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Get Ready for More Census Data

Today the Census Bureau began its release of 2010 census demographic profile data on a state-by-state basis. Tables include total, male, and female populations in five-year and selected age groups, Asians and Hispanics by ethnic group, household type, household relationship, housing occupancy, and housing tenure. Local area data within states are also available for these characteristics. Data for 13 states will be released each week, with data for all states (and local areas) available by the end of May.

Today's release is for the following states: Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Next week's release (May 12) will be for the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.

Interesting nugget from today's release: In Florida, households with people aged 65 or older (31 percent) outnumber households with children under age 18 (30 percent).

Dental Work

Percentage of adults who have been to a dentist in the past year, by household income...

Less than $35,000: 45%
$35,000 to $49,999: 54%
$50,000 to $74,999: 66%
$75,000 to $99,999: 72%
$100,000 or more: 80%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2009

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What is Wrong with this Article?

"New Households Form at Fastest Rate Since '07 in Resurgent U.S.," headlined a recent Bloomberg article. The premise of the article: pent-up demand for independent households among young adults who have been doubling up with mom and dad is going to boost housing starts in the near future.

No doubt there is pent-up demand for independent housing among young adults, but at best they will become renters not owners. The market for new homes is not likely to recover anytime soon and perhaps not in our lifetime. Unemployment, student loan debt, and depressed wages have shaken the middle class, and the epicenter of the quake is among young adults. At this point, we are only beginning to see the extent of the destruction, and the ground is still shaking.

Yet the experts insist that business as usual is just around the corner. Comments one economist in the Bloomberg article: "The demographic component of housing demand is strong: it's just the economic and psychological components that are holding things back." So, it's just the money and the abject terror--no biggie.

"At some point, housing starts will likely take off in a big way," comments another expert. "I just do not think that Americans will settle for living in more crowded homes."

Settle? Settle? Do they think money grows on trees? Until the housing industry wakes up to the fact that its interests and the interests of union-busting politicians, stingy corporations, greedy universities, and predatory financial institutions are not the same, there is no hope of a return to business as usual in the housing industry.

New Citizens

Hundreds of thousands of foreign-born residents of the United States gained their citizenship status in 2010, according to a new report on naturalizations by the Department of Homeland Security. Last year, 619,913 legal permanent residents of the United States became U.S. citizens. This number is well below the record high of more than 1 million in 2008.

Newly naturalized citizens had a median age of 39, the 53 percent majority were female, and two out of three were married. They had spent a median of six years in legal permanent resident status in the United States before becoming citizens. Mexico was the most common country of birth for newly naturalized citizens, but accounted for only 11 percent of total naturalizations in 2010.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Public Schools Still Make Room for Art

Despite the obsession in the educational establishment with the three Rs, the great majority of public elementary and secondary schools still offer instruction in music and the visual arts, according to a 2009-10 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics. Among elementary schools, 94 percent offer music and 83 percent offer visual art classes. Among secondary schools the figures are 91 and 89 percent, respectively. On board to teach these subjects at most schools are full-time art specialists.

Look Out Below!

Here's a number you are going to see bandied about in the next few weeks, purporting to show how public schools are failing. Supposedly, only 75.5 percent of 9th graders in 2005-06 graduated from high school in 2008-09. That's the latest "averaged high school graduation rate," according to a new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics. By state the statistic varies from a high of 90.7 percent in Wisconsin to a low of 56.3 percent in Nevada.

Don't believe it. The first sign that this is a bogus measure is its tortured name. The second sign of bogosity is that the rate doesn't match reality--it is far below the 89.9 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds who actually have a high school diploma or GED (see table here).

The third sign that the "averaged high school graduation rate" is bogus is the methodology behind it, invented by morons. The rate is calculated by taking the number of high school graduates in a school district in a given year and dividing by the number of freshmen in the school district four years earlier. So, any student who moves out of a school district is counted as a dropout. That's why states with little migration have high "graduation" rates, and states with lots of migration have low "graduation" rates. Pure genius.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Young Are Optimistic

Percentage who say it is very or somewhat likely that today's youth will have a better life than their parents, by age...

18 to 29: 57%
30 to 44: 45%
50 to 64: 36%
65 or older: 37%

Source: Gallup

Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead

Typically, older Americans are the ones most informed about the news. Yesterday's killing of Osama Bin Laden may have been the first Big News event in which the youngest generation was the first to know and spread the news to their peers in a whoosh of texting, Twittering, and Facebook posts.

On the East Coast, many older Americans were asleep when the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead burst onto millions of cellphones. It is likely that many did not hear the news until hours later when they collected their morning paper. There is no doubt that the audience for President Obama's late night remarks was decidedly youthful, as were the crowds that formed spontaneously in Washington, D.C. and New York.

Everyone under the age of, say, 25 has another reason besides their late night schedules and texting prowess to follow the news about Osama Bin Laden's killing so closely. Older generations have seen enemies come and go--Germans, Japanese, North Vietnamese, communists, Richard Nixon. For the younger generation, Osama Bin Laden was The Enemy. Now he's dead. This is their V-Day.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Death Row, 2010

Number of prisoners on death row: 3,260.
Number executed: 46

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics