Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Top 10 Trends of 2013, Part 2

We live in interesting times, and these are the trends that make our times so interesting. Here are the remaining five of the Top 10 Trends of 2013. To see the first five, click here.

6. Household spending is growing. Despite stagnant incomes, the average household spent 1.4 percent more in 2012 than in 2011, after adjusting for inflation. The $51,442 spent by the average household in 2012 was still 6.7 percent below the 2006 spending peak, when the average household spent $55,119 (in 2012 dollars). But the trend is in the right direction. See Household Spending Rises

7. First-time homebuyers are aging. Before the collapse of the housing market in the wake of the Great Recession, the nation's first-time homebuyers were aged 30 to 34. The homeownership rate typically surpassed 50 percent in that age group. No longer. Only 47.5 percent of householders aged 30 to 34 were homeowners as of the third quarter of 2013. Now the typical first-time homebuyer is aged 35 to 39, almost in middle age. See First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter 2013

8. College enrollment is declining. After years of rising enrollment, the number of college students plunged between 2011 and 2012. The 467,000 decline (from 20.4 million in 2011 to 19.9 million in 2012) occurred primarily among students at four-year schools. Colleges are scrambling to adjust to the lower numbers. See College Enrollment Plunges

9. Household wealth is below peak. You might have seen news reports about how the nation's net worth is at a new peak, based on Fed data. Those reports are about the aggregate and do not account for inflation or population growth. After adjusting for inflation and population growth, net worth per household is still 45 percent below its 2007 peak, according to the St. Louis Fed. See Wealth: Crawling Out of the Hole

10. The Internet is changing time use. Millions of Americans are spending a lot of leisure time online, according to an NBER study by Scott Wallsten. On an average day in 2012, 13 percent of people aged 15 or older spent leisure time online. Those who did devoted about one-third of their leisure time to online activities—and that doesn't include time spent gaming. See "What Are We Not Doing When We're Online" and More about Computer Use for Leisure

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