Friday, July 31, 2015

The IRA Tax Shelter

Is the IRA more of a tax shelter for the affluent rather than a vehicle for retirement savings? It looks that way. According to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis, few IRA owners aged 60 or older take money out of their account until they reach the age (70.5) when withdrawals become mandatory...

Percentage of traditional IRA owners who took a withdrawal in 2013
Aged 60 to 64: 18.9%
Aged 65 to 70: 27.2%
Aged 71 to 79: 83.6%
Aged 80-plus: 85.8%

Once they reach the mandatory age, according to EBRI, most IRA owners withdraw only the minimum required. Just one in four traditional IRA owners aged 71 or older withdrew more than the minimum amount from his or her account in 2013.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, IRA Withdrawals in 2013 and Longitudinal Results 2010-2013

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Workers with Paid Sick Leave

Only 61 percent of the nation's private-sector workers get paid sick leave. Here is the percentage with paid sick leave by occupation...

88% of managers
78% of professionals
73% of office workers
67% of installation/maintenance/repair workers
57% of production workers
55% of transportation workers
53% of sales workers
39% of service workers
36% of construction/extraction/farming workers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employee Benefits in the United States—March 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Growing Wealth Gap Between Old and Young

The old are wealthier than the young, a pattern that has long been true. But the gap is growing, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, researchers compared median wealth in 1989 and 2013 for households in three broad age groups. Here are the trends (in 2013 dollars)...

Old (aged 62+): +40%
Median wealth in 2013: $209,590
Median wealth in 1989: $149,728

Middle-aged (aged 40-61): –31%
Median wealth in 2013: $106,094
Median wealth in 1989: $153,759

Young (under age 40): –28%
Median wealth in 2013: $14,220
Median wealth in 1989: $19,830

The old are doing better, and the middle-aged and young are falling behind. There's more bad news: "Baby boomers, who are now retiring in droves, are likely to be less well-off than their 'old' counterparts in the two previous generations," the Fed researchers conclude. "And it looks as if members of the next two generations—Generation X and Generation Y (the millennials)—might also end up less wealthy than the generation before them."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The Demographics of Wealth—How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today's Economy, Essay No. 3: Age, Birth Year and Wealth

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2015

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2015: 45.2%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 fell in the second quarter of 2015 to an all-time low of 45.2 percent. Historically, homeownership became the norm in the 30-to-34 age group—rising above 50 percent. But beginning in 2007, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds went into a tailspin. In the second quarter of 2011, the rate fell below 50 percent for the first time. In the past year, the homeownership rate of the age group fell 1.3 percentage points. Is this the bottom for the age group? Only time will tell. 

The new age of first-time home buying is 35 to 39, but even this age group has been slipping toward the 50-percent threshold. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds stood at 55.1 percent in the second quarter of 2015—the same as in the first quarter and the age group's record low. Since peaking in the first quarter of 2007, the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds has fallen by more than 10 percentage points. 

Nationally, the homeownership rate fell to 63.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015, down from 64.7 percent a year earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, July 27, 2015

Household Income Stable in June

Household income fell slightly in June 2015, but the decline was not statistically significant. June's median household income stood at $55,132, according to Sentier Research, about the same as the previous month after adjusting for inflation. The June 2015 median was 2.1 percent higher than the June 2014 median and 6.4 percent above the $51,804 median of August 2011, which was the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Although median annual household income did not change significantly in June, we continue to see a general upward trend in income since the low-point reached in August 2011," says Sentier's Gordon Green. Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey. 

Median household income in June 2015 was 0.8 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 2.7 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 3.8 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for June 2015 stood at 96.2 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: June 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Number of Unauthorized Immigrants Has Declined

Despite all the talk about "illegals" in the United States, their number has declined slightly since the peak year of 2007, according to Pew Research Center. There were an estimated 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, down from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007. During the Great Recession and its aftermath, fewer unauthorized immigrants have been crossing our borders.

The 62 percent majority of unauthorized immigrant adults have been in the United States for at least 10 years, according to a 2012 analysis by Pew. More than one in three (38 percent) live with their children born in the United States.

Source: Pew Research Center, Unauthorized Immigrant Population Stable for Half a Decade

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Decline in Teen Sexual Activity

Today's teenagers are not as sexually active as teens were a decade or two ago. That explains, in part, why the birth rate of 15-to-19-year-olds fell 57 percent between 1991 (the peak year) and 2013. Among never-married females aged 15 to 19, the percentage who have ever had sexual intercourse fell from 51 percent in 1988 to 44 percent in 2011-13. Among their male counterparts, the figure fell from 60 to 47 percent.

Another reason for the decline in the teen birth rate is the increased use of emergency contraception. Twenty-two percent of sexually active 15-to-19-year-old females in 2011-13 had ever used emergency contraception, up from only 8 percent who had ever used it in 2002.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing of Teenagers Aged 15-19 in the United States

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Private Sector Health Insurance Costs in 2014

Among workers in the private sector, this is how much health insurance cost in 2014...

Average total premium
Employee only: $5,832
Employee-plus-one: $11,503
Employee and family: $16,655

Average employee contribution
Employee only: $1,234
Employee-plus-one: $3,097
Employee and family: $4,518

Average deductible
Individual deductible: $1,353
Family deductible: $2,640

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Statistical Brief #477, Results from the 2014 MEPS-IC Private-Sector National Tables

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why Mid-Term Elections Are Different

The demographics of mid-term elections are strikingly different from the demographics of presidential elections. In mid-terms, older non-Hispanic Whites overwhelm the polls. In presidential elections, younger and more diverse voters are in control. Take a look...

Non-Hispanic Whites aged 45+ as a share of voters
2014 mid-term election: 55%
2012 presidential election: 48%
2010 mid-term election: 54%
2008 presidential election: 47%

Older non-Hispanic Whites dominate mid-term elections because they are much more likely to vote. In the 2014 mid-term, fully 56 percent of non-Hispanic Whites aged 45 or older cast a vote. In contrast, only 31 percent of younger non-Hispanic Whites and 33 percent of minorities went to the polls. (Note: calculations of voting rates are based on citizen populations.)

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2014

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Geography of Cuban Americans

United States
Total U.S. population: 316,128,839
Hispanic population: 53,986,412 (17% of the total population)
Cuban-origin Hispanics: 2,013,155 (4% of the Hispanic population)

Number of Cuban-origin Hispanics who live in Florida: 1,349,136
Percent of Cuban-origin Hispanics who live in Florida: 67%
Cuban-origin Hispanics as a percentage of Florida's population: 6.9%

Number of Cuban-origin Hispanics who live in the Miami metropolitan area: 1,073,372
Percent of Cuban-origin Hispanics who live in the Miami metropolitan area: 53%
Cuban-origin Hispanics as a percentage of Miami's population: 18%

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey

Friday, July 17, 2015

Health Status: Education Matters (Even More)

Higher education leads to better health. Social scientists have known this for a long time. But a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis shows that the relationship is even stronger than we thought.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NBER researchers compared self-reported health with the results of actual medical tests to determine whether educated respondents more accurately self-report their health. They do. The study found accurate self-reporting of health status rising with education, with less-educated respondents underreporting their health problems. The problems examined were smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

To date, many of the studies examining the effect of educational attainment on health have been based on self-reports. This is a problem, say the researchers. They conclude: "Our results imply that the educational gradient in health, when measured using self-reported health, tends to understate the true gradient." Measuring the true size of the educational gradient in health may require objective tests rather than self-reports.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Health Disparities Across Education: The Role of Differential Reporting Error, NBER Working Paper 21317 ($5)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Who Is a "Typical" American?

The 69 percent majority of Americans think of themselves as a "typical" American, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. Older Americans are far more likely to see themselves as typical (78%) than young adults (55%). By race and Hispanic origin, here's who thinks they're typical...

Whites: 77%
Blacks: 61%
Hispanics: 48%

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interest in Space Exploration

Americans are "meh" about space exploration. The 45 percent plurality of the public is only moderately interested in outer space. Another 33 percent are not at all interested. The smallest share—22 percent—are enthusiasts very interested in space exploration. Men are twice as likely as women to be enthusiasts...

Very interested in space exploration
Men: 31%
Women: 15%

Moderately interested in space exploration
Men: 46%
Women: 44%

Not at all interested in space exploration
Men: 23%
Women: 41%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Changes in Living Arrangements, 1967 to 2014

The living arrangements of adults have changed dramatically in nearly every age group over the past half century. A new set of tables available from the Census Bureau allows you to see at a glance the changes since 1967...

Living with Mom and Dad (18 to 24): Surprisingly, men in this age group are no more likely to live with their parents today than their counterparts were in 1967—57 percent in 2014 and 58 percent in 1967. Women, however, are more likely to live with Mom and Dad as they postpone marriage—51 percent were living in their parents' home in 2014, up from 42 percent in 1967.

Staying single (25 to 34): Men and women in this age group are much less likely to be married and living with a spouse today than in 1967. For women, the married share fell from 83 to 47 percent between 1967 and 2014. For men the figure plummeted from 83 to 38 percent.

Stability, sort of (35 to 64): This is the age group with the most stability in living arrangements. Nevertheless, between 1967 and 2014 the married share fell substantially among both men (from 86 to 65 percent) and women (from 77 to 62 percent).

More couples (65 to 74): The married share of women in this age group climbed from 45 to 57 percent between 1967 and 2014, while men's married share barely changed (falling from 79 to 75 percent). Behind the change for women is increasing life expectancy, delaying widowhood.

Living alone (75-plus): Men and women who have been widowed are now more likely to live alone than with other relatives (mostly adult children). In 1967, the reverse was true.

Source: Census Bureau, Table AD-3, Living Arrangements of Adults, 1967 to Present

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Impact of Behavioral Change on Life Expectancy

American life expectancy is rising. The increase is due in part to better medications and improved medical interventions. It's also due to changes in behavior. How much has good behavior by the American public contributed to the rise in life expectancy over the past half century? How much has bad behavior limited the rise? Those questions have now been answered by researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Between 1960 and 2010, life expectancy at birth in the U.S. grew 6.9 years. To determine how much of that rise was due to behavioral change, the researchers examined the impact on life expectancy of six factors: smoking, drinking, motor vehicle fatalities, obesity, poisonings, and firearms. Here's how changes in each of those behaviors affected life expectancy over the past half century...

Impact on life expectancy (in years)
+1.26 years from less smoking
+0.43 years from safer motor vehicles
+0.06 years from less heavy drinking
-1.00 years from more obesity
-0.26 years from more drug overdoses
-0.03 years from more firearm deaths

The gains from good behavior were nearly offset by declines due to bad behavior. Nevertheless, the researchers conclude, "our study demonstrates the enormous benefits of public health and behavior change in improving population health."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, How Behavioral Changes Have Affected U.S. Population Health Since 1960, NBER Working Paper #20631

Friday, July 10, 2015

Attitudes Toward Undocumented Immigrants

The 59 percent majority of Americans agrees that the United States should take stronger measures to keep undocumented immigrants out of the country. Here are the percentages by generation...

U.S. should take stronger measures to exclude undocumented immigrants (% agreeing)
Millennials: 48%
Generation X: 62%
Baby Boomers: 63%
Older Americans: 75%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Household Income Rises in May 2015

Household income is on an upward trend. Median household income climbed to $55,192 in May 2015, according to Sentier Research. This was 0.7 percent higher than the April median, a statistically significant increase. The May 2015 median was 3.2 percent higher than the May 2014 median and 6.9 percent above the $51,639 median of August 2011—the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"We are now at a point where we have recovered almost all of the losses in median income that followed the end of the recession in June 2009," says Sentier's Gordon Green. He notes, however, that the median is still lower than in December 2007, the beginning of the recession. Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey. 

Median household income in May 2015 was just 0.4 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 2.2 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 3.4 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for May 2015 stood at 96.6 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2015

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Smartphones Still Play Second Fiddle to Computers

When smartphone users browse products and pricing online, 21 percent do so mainly on their smartphone and a much larger 62 percent mainly use their computer. The numbers are even more lopsided when buying online: 11 percent rely mainly on their smartphone and 74 percent on their computer (the remainder use both equally or do not browse/shop online). Here are the percentages who rely mainly on their phone for browsing/shopping online, by age...

Browsing products and pricing online
Aged 18 to 29: 24%
Aged 30 to 49: 27%
Aged 50 to 64: 14%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Making online purchases
Aged 18 to 29: 11%
Aged 30 to 49: 16%
Aged 50 to 64: 6%
Aged 65-plus: 4%

Source: Gallup, Most Smartphone Users Still Rely on Computer for Web Purchases

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Are Children Under Age 5 Minority-Majority?

The minority share of children under age 5 crossed an important threshold in 2014, according to the Census Bureau. For the first time, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities outnumbered non-Hispanic Whites in the age group—50.2 percent to 49.8 percent. But there's a problem with these figures. The Census Bureau's race-and-Hispanic-origin estimates of the population under age 5 do not match vital statistics data.

The Census Bureau has estimated that there were 19.9 million children under age 5 in the United States in 2014, a number nearly matching the 19.8 million births recorded in the 2010-to-2014 time period (the population under age 5 in 2014). The Census Bureau's under-5 total population estimate aligns with vital statistics data. The mismatch occurs in the race-and-Hispanic-origin distribution of that population. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the minority share of births from 2010 to 2014 was 45.9 percent. The non-Hispanic White share of births was 54.1 percent. Is the nation's under-5 population minority-majority? Perhaps not yet.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Who Works at Home?

Overall, 23 percent of employed Americans work at home on an average work day. The figure is about the same for men and women and for full- and part-time workers. By educational attainment, however, there are big differences in who works at home...

Percent of employed who work at home on an average work day
11.5% of those with less than a high school diploma
13.8% of those with a high school diploma only
17.5% of those with some college or an associate's degree
39.1% of those with a bachelor's degree or more

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey—2014 Results

Friday, July 03, 2015

What Does It Take To Be Truly American?

Percentage of Americans who think that to be truly American it is "very important" to be a Christian, by generation...

Total people: 33%
Millennials: 19%
Generation X: 28%
Baby Boomers: 40%
Older Americans: 57%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Attitudes toward Science: The Age Effect

Another amazing feat by Pew Research Center, the nonpartisan, data-driven, social science research powerhouse. Pew researchers have analyzed their own data on the public's attitudes toward science and correlated those attitudes with six characteristics: political ideology, age, educational attainment, gender, race and ethnicity, and religious affiliation. In doing so they have revealed how each of those characteristics—independent of the others—influences attitudes. It turns out, age is one of the biggies, influencing views on a number of scientific issues after controlling for the other characteristics. Here are some examples...

Prioritize alternative energy development over oil, coal, and gas
Younger adults: favor
Older adults: oppose

Childhood vaccines should be required
Younger adults: Parents should decide
Older adults: yes

Earth is warming due to human activity
Younger adults: yes
Older adults: no

Humans have evolved due to natural processes
Younger adults: yes
Older adults: no

This report should be required reading for politicians and government policymakers. It's social science at its best, revealing the underlying forces at work in American society.

Source: Pew Research Center, American, Politics, and Science Issues

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Marital Status of Men Aged 30-to-34 Depends on Earnings

For men, the 30-to-34 age group is the age of marrying. That's when the percentage of men who are currently married rises above 50 percent. But that's an average. In fact, the marital status of men in the age group depends on how much they earn, with the married share rising in lock-step with earnings. (The relationship between earnings and marital status is not found for their female counterparts.) Here are the 2014 statistics...

Men aged 30 to 34 who are currently married, by earnings
Total men 30 to 34:   50.4%
Less than $5,000:     26.3%
$5,000 to $14,999:    31.1%
$15,000 to $24,999:  37.8%
$25,000 to $39,999:  53.0%
$40,000 to $74,999:  61.2%
$75,000 to $99,999:  66.4%
$100,000 or more:     72.7%

Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements