Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Population by Generation, 2016

Boomers and their elders now account for less than one-third of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau's 2016 population estimates. Millennials and younger generations account for the 52 percent majority of Americans.

Generational power is shifting as older generations shrink and younger ones grow. In the past year, the number of Gen Xers fell by 57,000, Boomers lost 652,000 of their peers, and the number of older Americans (born in 1945 or earlier) dropped by 1.7 million. Since 2010, the number of older Americans has fallen by more than 10 million.

Between 2015 and 2016 the number of Millennials grew by 348,000, the iGeneration by 280,000, and the Recession generation by a whopping 4 million as births during the year expanded its ranks. In 2017, the Recession generation will surpass older Americans in size.

Size of generations in 2016 (and % of total population)
323,127,513 (100.0%): Total population
27,989,207 (  8.7%): Recession generation (aged 0 to 6)
62,788,936 (19.4%): iGeneration (aged 7 to 21)
79,159,101 (24.5%): Millennial generation (aged 22 to 39)  
49,151,059 (15.2%): Generation X (aged 40 to 51)  
74,102,309 (22.9%): Baby Boom (aged 52 to 70)  
29,936,901 (  9.3%): Older Americans (aged 71-plus)  

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's National Population by Characteristics Datasets: 2010–2016

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Is Life Expectancy Falling among the Least Educated?

Not according to a study by the Center for Retirement Research. The least-educated Americans are not who they used to be, say CRR researchers, and that must be taken into account when determining trends in life expectancy.

Back when dropping out of high school was practically the norm, the least educated were part of the economic mainstream. Today, they are an increasingly disadvantaged economic minority. That's why comparing the life expectancy of high school dropouts over time is like comparing apples and oranges. To solve this problem, CRR researchers took a different approach. They examined life expectancy trends between 1979 and 2011 by dividing the population in each year into educational attainment quartiles. By defining educational attainment relatively rather than absolutely, the decline in life expectancy among the least educated disappears.

In fact, the life expectancy of the least educated increased between 1979 and 2011, as did the life expectancy of every other educational attainment quartile. But the gains were bigger for the better-educated groups and biggest among the most highly educated. Life expectancy is increasing for all, conclude the researchers. But "mortality inequality is worsening over time."

Source: Center for Retirement Research, Rising Inequality in Life Expectancy by Socioeconomic Status

Monday, April 24, 2017

Living Arrangements of Young Adults, 1975 and 2016

The lives of young adults have changed dramatically over the past 40 years, according to a Census Bureau report. A comparison of the living arrangements of 18-to-34-year-olds in 2016 with the living arrangements of their counterparts more than 40 years ago in 1975 shows just how much has changed...

  • Only 27% live with a spouse, down from the 57% majority in 1975.
  • Nearly one-third (31%) live with their parents, up from 26% in 1975.
  • One in eight (12%) lives with an unmarried partner, up from just 1% in 1975.
  • More live alone—8% in 2016, up from 5% in 1975.
  • One in five (21%) has some other living arrangement, up from 11% of 1975. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between then and now is that there's no longer a dominant type of living arrangement for the age group, making young adults increasingly difficult to target.

Source: Census Bureau, The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975–2016

Friday, April 21, 2017

Twitter Use by Generation

Nearly one in five Americans (18.9%) use Twitter, according to the General Social Survey. Here are the percentages by generation...

Percent who use Twitter
iGeneration (18 to 21): 41.1%
Millennials (22 to 39): 23.9%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 16.3%
Boomers (52 to 70): 10.6%
Older (71 or older): 5.1%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Facebook Use by Generation

Three out of four Americans (74.2%) use Facebook, according to the General Social Survey. Here are the percentages by generation...

Percent who use Facebook
iGeneration (18 to 21): 72.6%
Millennials (22 to 39): 82.4%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 75.5%
Boomers (52 to 70): 63.2%
Older (71 or older): 67.9%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Students Much More Diverse than Teachers

The nation's elementary and secondary school students are much more diverse than their teachers. Half of public school students are Hispanic, Black, Asian or another minority, according to the Digest of Education Statistics. But only 18 percent of public school teachers are minorities, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report.

Although the minority share of school teachers is growing, the Black share of school teachers  is shrinking. Between 1987 and 2012, the Black share of elementary and secondary school teachers fell from 8 to 6 percent. Here is how the racial and ethnic diversity of school teachers has changed over the past quarter century...

Non-Hispanic White share of teachers
2012: 83%
1987: 88%

Black share of teachers
2012: 6%
1987: 8%

Hispanic share of teachers
2012: 7%
1987: 3%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force: From 1987 to 2012

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Migration Fuels Urban County Growth

The nation's most urban counties grew by a substantial 6.0 percent between 2010 and 2016, faster than any other type, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2016 county population estimates by Rural-Urban Continuum (RUC). Counties in smaller metros grew at a slower rate, and those in rural areas lost population. Both international and domestic migration contributed to the faster growth of big-city counties...

International migration is greater in big-city counties. Between 2010 and 2016, the rate of net international migration was 2.6 percent in counties ranking 1 on the Rural-Urban Continuum. Although international migration was positive in every type of county, the rate was lower in less urban counties and lowest (only 0.3 percent) in the most rural counties—those ranking 8 or 9 on the RUC.

Domestic migration is positive only in big-city counties. Between 2010 and 2016, the rate of net domestic migration was positive only for counties ranking 1 or 2 on the Rural-Urban Continuum. Nonmetropolitan counties (those ranking 4 or higher on the RUC) had a negative rate of net domestic migration, meaning they lost more people than they gained.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals Datasets: 2010–2016

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jobs with Heavy Lifting

Many jobs in the U.S. require physical strength. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines "heavy work" as jobs that require workers to constantly lift/carry at least 11 pounds, frequently lift/carry at least 26 pounds, or occasionally lift/carry 51 or more pounds. Overall, 14 percent of jobs require heavy work.

The occupations with the largest percentage of jobs requiring heavy work are the usual suspects—construction and extraction (45.5%); installation, maintenance, and repair (35.4%); and transportation and material moving (32.3%). A substantial 22 percent of workers in health support occupations are required to do heavy lifting.

At the other extreme, 13 percent of jobs are sedentary, requiring no heavy lifting nor much walking or standing. The occupations with the largest percentage of sedentary jobs are legal (40.3%), office and administrative support (31.1%), and management (27.5%). Among architecture and engineering occupations as well as community and social service, a substantial 25 percent of jobs are sedentary.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Physical Strength Required for Jobs in Different Occupations in 2016

Friday, April 14, 2017

Americans Don't Know Much about the ACA

Americans are really confused about the Affordable Care Act. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows just how confused they are. Kaiser says these are the five biggest misconceptions...
  1. Most do not know that the ACA reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance. The 57 percent majority thinks the ACA increased the uninsured or had no effect on the number. In fact, the ACA reduced the uninsured to an historic low. 
  2. Half says the ACA covers undocumented immigrants. It does not.
  3. Half does not know that the ACA eliminated out-of-pocket costs for birth control, annual checkups, well-child visits and vaccinations. 
  4. Forty percent of the public think the ACA cut Medicare benefits. It did not.
  5. 29 percent of the public think most Americans get their health insurance through the ACA. In fact, only 10 percent of Americans are covered by ACA marketplace plans. Most Americans have employer-provided health insurance coverage.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Data Note: 5 Misconceptions Surrounding the ACA

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Many Workers Are Looking for a Better Job

The findings from a survey on job search behavior should worry the nation's employers. Many of their employees are actively looking for a better job.

Using data from a labor market supplement to the New York Fed's Survey of Consumer Expectations, researchers analyzed the job search behavior of 18-to-64-year-olds by employment status. Overall, 23 percent of employed workers had actively looked for another job in the previous four weeks, submitting an average of 4.58 job applications and receiving 0.43 job offers. Not only were a substantial percentage of employed workers actively looking for a better job, but they received more job offers than the unemployed, despite submitting fewer applications. The unemployed submitted an average of 8.08 applications in the previous four weeks and received 0.38 job offers.

Being employed, it seems, is a big advantage in the job hunt. "The job search process is more effective for currently employed workers than for the unemployed," the researchers conclude. Not only are the employed more likely to receive job offers, but they receive better offers: "Offers received by employed workers are better than those received by the unemployed. This is true even after controlling for detailed worker characteristics and prior work history."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, How Do People Find Jobs?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Decline in "Marriageable" Young Men

Marriage rates have fallen among younger adults over the past few decades, but they've fallen the most among the least educated. What is behind the disproportionate decline? NBER researchers answer that question by testing a hypothesis: marriage rates are down the most among the least-educated (high school or less education) because the supply of "marriageable" men has dried up.

The results confirm the hypothesis. The researchers uncover a hot mess of consequences in the aggregate and in local areas that have experienced adverse shocks in manufacturing employment over the past few decades, including...

  • a decline in male and female employment
  • a decline in men's relative earnings, especially among lower-income men
  • an increase in men's mortality from risky and unhealthful behaviors
  • a reduction in the availability of marriage-age males in affected labor markets
  • a reduction in the percentage of young adults getting married
  • a decline in fertility
  • an increase in the percentage of births to teen and unmarried mothers
  • an increase in the percentage of children living in poverty

Bottom line: "We conclude that the declining employment and earnings opportunities faced by young (i.e. under 40) U.S. males are a plausible contributor to the changing structure of marriage and childbirth in the United States."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men, Working Paper 23173 ($5)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Majority: Nothing Wrong with Gay, Lesbian Relationships

What a difference a decade makes. The percentage of Americans who think gay and lesbian relationships are "not wrong at all" climbed from just 32 percent in 2006 to the 51 percent majority in 2016, according to the General Social Survey.

Although every generation has contributed to the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships, the biggest driver of the increase is the surge in support among Millennials. The percentage of Millennials who think there's nothing wrong at all with gay and lesbian relationships climbed 27 percentage points during the decade, from 41 to 68 percent.

Support among Generation Xers grew the least over the decade (up only 9 percentage points). In 2016, still fewer than half of Gen Xers were in the "nothing wrong at all" camp. Same story for Boomers. Approval of same-sex relationships among the oldest Americans (aged 61 or older in 2006 and aged 71 or older in 2016) nearly doubled during the decade. But only about one-third of the oldest Americans see nothing wrong at all with same-sex sexual relationships.

"Nothing wrong at all" with same-sex sexual relationships, 2016 (and 2006)
Millennials: 68% (41%)
Gen Xers: 46% (37%)
Boomers: 44% (32%)
Older: 34% (18%)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2006 and 2016 General Social Surveys

Monday, April 10, 2017

Average Earnings of Female Workers by Education

Among women aged 18 or older with earnings, the average amount earned in 2015 was $39,929, according to the Census Bureau. This is how women's average earnings compare by educational attainment...

$17,162 for those who did not graduate from high school
$26,832 for those with a high school diploma only
$31,970 for those with some college/associate's degree
$50,856 for those with a bachelor's degree only
$72,006 for those with an advanced degree

Source: Census Bureau, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2016

Friday, April 07, 2017

Legalize Marijuana? Most Say Yes

Among all Americans aged 18 or older, fully 60.1 percent support legalizing the use of marijuana, according to the 2016 General Social Survey. The majority of all but the oldest Americans supports legalization...

Support legalizing marijuana
Millennials: 68.3%
Gen Xers: 56.8%
Boomers: 59.2%
Older: 37.4%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Internet Overtakes TV as Main Source of News

Write this one down for the history books. The main source of news for the largest share of the public is now the internet, supplanting television in 2016 for the first time, according to the General Social Survey. Here's the trend since 2010...

Percent who say internet/television is their main source of information about events in the news
2016: 46% internet versus 37% TV
2014: 35% internet versus 45% TV
2012: 30% internet versus 48% TV
2010: 22% internet versus 49% TV

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Expected Age of Retirement

More than one-third of American workers do not expect to retire until age 70 or later, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey. Only 4 percent of current retirees worked that long.

Expected age of retirement for workers (and actual age of retirement for retirees)
Under age 60:    9% (39%)
Aged 60 to 64: 17% (37%)
Aged 65 to 69: 37% (19%)
Aged 70-plus:  38% (  4%)

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

How Many Are Grandparents?

The Census Bureau's 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation included several questions rarely asked by the federal government...

Are you a grandparent? Turns out, being a grandparent is the norm among Americans aged 30 or older who have children aged 15 or older: 61 percent of women and 57 percent of men who meet those qualifications are grandparents.

Do you have children with multiple partners? Among all Americans aged 15 or older, 10.1 percent have children with multiple partners. Among parents aged 15 or older with two or more biological children, 20.6 percent have children with multiple partners.

Have you had children with someone other than your spouse/partner? Among married mothers aged 15 or older who do not have children with their spouse, 17.8 percent have children from a prior relationship and 12.8 percent say their spouse has children from a prior relationship. Among married fathers aged 15 or older, the equivalent figures are 16.5 and 12.6 percent. Among cohabiting parents, the percentages are much larger (50 and 32 percent for women, and 47 and 33 percent for men).

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility Research Brief and Multiple Partner Fertility Research Brief

Monday, April 03, 2017

Average Earnings of Male Workers by Education

Among men aged 18 or older with earnings, the average amount earned in 2015 was $58,944, according to the Census Bureau. This is how men's average earnings compare by educational attainment...

$30,230 for those who did not graduate from high school
$41,942 for those with a high school diploma only
$46,154 for those with some college/associate's degree
$79,927 for those with a bachelor's degree
$113,279 for those with an advanced degree

Source: Census Bureau, Educational Attainment in the United States: 2016

Friday, March 31, 2017

Median Household Income Rises in February 2017

Median household income in February 2017 stood at $58,714, according to Sentier Research, about 1 percent higher than the January 2017 median after adjusting for inflation. While this is good news, the rise only boosts median household income back to where it was a year earlier in February 2016. 

"The monthly pattern for median annual household income has been marked by some sharp increases and decreases over the past several years," reports Sentier. "More broadly, there has been a general upward trend in median household income since the post-recession low point reached in August 2011." The February 2017 median was 10.1. percent higher than the August 2011 median of $53,330, the low point. Sentier's household income figures are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in February 2017 was 2.7 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was 0.8 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The February 2017 median was just 0.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in February 2017 was 99.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: February 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SIPP Data Reveals New Details on Living Arrangements

The Census Bureau's 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation provides new details about the living arrangements of Americans. This is who Americans lived with in 2013 (note: categories are not mutually exclusive)...

Living arrangements
Live with a spouse: 39.2%
   Opposite-sex spouse: 39.0%
   Same-sex spouse: 0.2%
Live with parent/child: 37.4%
Live alone: 11.6%
Live with unmarried partner: 6.1%
   Opposite-sex partners: 5.7%
   Same-sex partner: 0.4%
Live with other nonrelative: 2.9%
Live with grandparent/grandchild: 0.9%
Live with sibling: 0.9%
Live with other relative: 0.9%

The SIPP survey also looked at changes in household composition. For the great majority of Americans (84 percent) household size and composition did not change over a year's time. Another 11 percent of the population experienced one change in household composition during a year's time—such as a birth or death or someone moving in or out of the household. Five percent of the population experienced two or more changes in household composition.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Home Equity Accounts for 32% of Net Worth

The median net worth of the average household was $80,039 in 2013, according to a recently released report from the Census Bureau's 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The 2014 SIPP includes improvements to questions designed to measure net worth, with new, topic-specific questions about types of assets such as annuities, trusts, businesses owned as investments, and educational savings accounts. Without these changes, notes the report, median net worth may have been as low as $74,083. The revised survey also included a question about student loans.

Here is the composition of net worth for American households, excluding households in the top 1 percent of net worth because their asset ownership is unlike the average...

Composition of household net worth, 2013
Home equity: 32.2%
401(k) accounts: 16.3%
IRA and Keoghs: 10.5%
Stocks, mutual funds: 9.6%
Assets at financial institutions: 9.4%
Business or profession: 5.2%
Rental property: 4.4%
Other real estate: 3.9%
Motor vehicles: 3.3%
Annuities and trusts: 3.0%
Cash value life insurance: 2.8%
Other assets: 3.6%
Unsecured liabilities: –4.7%

The 55 percent majority of households have unsecured liabilities, which include credit card debt,  student loans, medical debt, etc. Overall, 42 percent of households have credit card debt, with a median of $3,000 owed. Twenty percent of households have student loans, and those that do owe a median of $18,000.

Source: Census Bureau, Improvements to Measuring Net Worth of Households: 2013

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Big-City Counties Continue to Grow Faster

The nation's most urban counties continue to grow faster than any other county type according to the Census Bureau's 2016 county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2016 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth (the bigger, the better) and continuing rural decline.

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2016 for each rank, this is the result...


County population change 2010-2016 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank

1. 6.0% for rank 1 counties, in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 4.6% for rank 2 counties, in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 3.0% for rank 3 counties, in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.2% for rank 4 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
5. 1.7% for rank 5 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
6. –1.0% for rank 6 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
7. –1.1% for rank 7 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
8. –1.3% for rank 8 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop less than 2,500
9. –1.6% for rank 9 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro, urban pop less than 2,500

An examination of annual rates of population change by Rural-Urban Continuum shows population declines in every year between 2010 and 2016 for counties ranking 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the continuum. Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) grew faster than any other county type in every year.  


Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals Datasets: 2010–2016

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Deaths of Despair"—Economists Document Rising Mortality among Less-Educated Non-Hispanic Whites

Death rates are rising for middle-aged non-Hispanic Whites with a high school diploma or less education, report Princeton economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton in a stunning analysis of this troubled segment of the American population. The rise in mortality rates is due to what Case and Deaton call "deaths of despair"—deaths due to drug use, alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Among non-Hispanic Whites with no more than a high school diploma, mortality rates in 2015 were higher than in 1999. During those years, mortality rates fell for other segments of the population—better educated non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. The mortality rates of non-Hispanic Whites with a high school diploma or less education were 30 percent lower than the mortality rates of Blacks in 1999. By 2015, they were 30 percent higher.

Case and Deaton see globalization and automation as the possible deep underlying causes of what they call the collapse of the white working class. The long-run stagnation of the wages of this group has led to a decline in marriage, greater social isolation, withdrawal from the labor force, a sense of hopelessness, and more deaths of despair.

Source: Brookings Institution, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century

Friday, March 24, 2017

Half of Same-Sex Households Are Married Couples

Among the nation's 858,896 same-sex households, nearly half (49.5 percent) are married couples, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. This figure is substantially higher than the 43 percent of 2014. There is little difference between men and women in the married share of same-sex couple households...

Male-male households
Spouses: 201,779
Partners: 210,222
Percent married: 49.0%

Female-female households
Spouses: 223,578
Partners: 223,317
Percent married: 50.0%

Source: Census Bureau, American Community Survey Data on Same Sex Couples

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Many Births Are Unplanned

Unplanned births are common, according to the Urban Institute. Fully 36 percent of respondents to the Urban Institute's nationally representative survey of women aged 18 to 44 reported experiencing an unplanned birth. Among women who had given birth, the 62 percent majority said they had experienced at least one unplanned birth.

How do women feel about these unplanned births? Among all women aged 18 to 44, the majority thought an unplanned birth would have a negative effect on four key aspects of a woman's life—education (66 percent negative), job (58 percent), income (63 percent), and mental health (59 percent). But among women who had actually experienced an unplanned birth, a smaller share reported negative effects in those four areas: education (36 percent negative), job (31.5 percent), income (47 percent), and mental health (40 percent).

"When considering the effects of an unplanned birth on women's lives in general, respondents who had experienced an unplanned birth were less likely than those who had not to perceive mostly negative effects," reports the Urban Institute. Still, a substantial share of women reported negative consequences. "For women who experience an unplanned birth, access to targeted services and supports could reduce the negative impact of an unplanned birth on a woman's life," concludes the report.

Source: Urban Institute, Prevalence and Perceptions of Unplanned Births

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How Much Have Workers Saved?

Most American workers are saving for retirement. Overall, 61 percent of workers aged 25 or older say they or their spouse have saved money for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey. In every age group, most say they have saved for retirement, with the figure ranging from a low of 52 percent among workers aged 25 to 34 to a high of 70 percent among workers aged 55 or older.

But many workers have not saved much. Most aged 25 to 34 have less than $10,000 in savings and investments, not counting home equity or defined-benefit pensions. At the other extreme, the majority of workers aged 55 or older have saved at least $100,000, and 35 percent have saved $250,000 or more.

Less than $10,000 in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 58%
Aged 35 to 44: 31%
Aged 45 to 54: 33%
Aged 55-plus: 28%

$10,000 to $100,000 in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 29%
Aged 35 to 44: 35%
Aged 45 to 54: 26%
Aged 55-plus: 17%

$100,000 or more in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 13%
Aged 35 to 44: 34%
Aged 45 to 54: 42%
Aged 55-plus: 53%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Can Google Street View Determine Local Demographics?

Can Google Street View combined with deep learning-based computer vision provide accurate and up-to-date demographic profiles of local areas? The answer is yes, according to an astonishing study appearing in arXiv, an online repository of scientific papers.

Using 50 million Google Street View images of cars in 200 American cities, the study's researchers determined, with the help of a "machine vision framework based on deep learning," the make, model, and year of each car (2,657 categories). They then used that information to "accurately estimate income, race, education, and voting patterns, with single-precinct resolution." The average precinct has a population of only about 1,000, say the researchers. Here are some of their findings, in their own words...

  • "We successfully detected 22 million distinct vehicles, comprising 32% of all the vehicles in the 200 cities we studied, and 8% of all vehicles in the United States."
  • "Our model detects strong associations between vehicle distribution and disparate socioeconomic trends."
  • "The vehicular feature that was most strongly associated with Democratic precincts was sedans, whereas Republican precincts were most strongly associated with extended-cab pickup trucks."
  • "Our estimates accurately determined that Seattle, Washington is 69% Caucasian."
  • "We estimated educational background in Milwaukee, Wisconsin zip codes, accurately determining the fraction of the population with less than a high school degree."

The researchers ask whether this type of analysis eventually could replace costly and time-consuming door-to-door efforts such as the American Community Survey. "As digital imagery becomes ubiquitous and machine vision techniques improve, automated data analysis may provide a cheaper and faster alternative," they suggest.

Source: arXiv, Using Deep Learning and Google Street View to Estimate the Demographic Makeup of the US

Monday, March 20, 2017

Younger Adults Have More Smartphones

Households headed by people under age 25 own more than two smartphones on average, or 0.83 smartphones per household member. This is a greater concentration of smartphones than in any other age group, according to the Energy Information Administration's 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Not far behind are households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds, with 0.80 smartphones per household member. Smartphone ownership is lowest among householders aged 75 or older, just 0.30 per household member.

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey examines household ownership of a variety of electronic devices including televisions and computers.

Smartphones per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.83 (2.4)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.80 (2.3)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.69 (2.4)
Aged 45 to 54: 0.75 (2.1)
Aged 55 to 64: 0.64 (1.4)
Aged 65 to 74: 0.52 (1.0)
Aged 75-plus:  0.30 (0.5)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Friday, March 17, 2017

Many Americans Have Past-Due Medical Debt

Among adults under age 65, a substantial 24 percent had past-due medical debt in 2015, according to a study by the Urban Institute. The figure varies by state, ranging from a low of 5.9 percent in Hawaii to a high of 37.4 percent in Mississippi. Among the 10 states with the highest rates of past-due medical debt, 8 are in the South...

States with largest percentage of 18-to-64-year-olds with past-due medical debt
Mississippi: 37.4%
Arkansas: 36.3%
West Virginia: 33.0%
Indiana: 32.5%
South Carolina: 32.4%
Kentucky: 30.9%
Missouri: 30.6%
Oklahoma: 30.0%
Alabama: 30.0%
Georgia: 29.2%

Hawaii is the only state in which the percentage of people aged 18 to 64 with past-due medical debt is below 10 percent. Minnesota has the second-lowest rate (13.3%), followed by California (16.0%), Massachusetts (16.1%), and Connecticut (16.3%).

Source: Urban Institute, Past-Due Medical Debt among Nonelderly Adults, 2012-15

Thursday, March 16, 2017

34% of Households Experience Income Volatility

More than one-third of American households experience income volatility in a year's time, according to Pew Charitable Trusts' 2015 Survey of American Family Finances. Pew defines volatility as a year-over-year change in annual household income of at least 25 percent. Here are the percentages who experienced volatility by generation...

Households with at least a 25% change in income, 2014-15 (and % gaining or losing)
Millennials: 43% (26% gain; 17% loss)
Gen Xers: 31% (18% gain; 13% loss)
Boomers: 31% (15% gain; 16% loss)
Silent: 31% (15% gain; 16% loss)

Income volatility is a hardship says Pew, and survey findings bear this out. The 34 percent of households experiencing income volatility between 2014 and 2015 were more likely than those with stable incomes to have experienced financial shortfalls in the past year. They were less likely to have savings or the ability to come up with $2,000 to pay for unexpected expenses. Households with a financial loss of 25 percent or more had median savings of just $1,550. Those with a financial gain of 25 percent or more had savings of $3,000. Those with stable incomes had median savings of $5,500.

The most commonly cited reason for income volatility is an irregular work schedule, says Pew.

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts, How Income Volatility Interacts with American Families' Financial Security

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Younger Adults Have More Laptop Computers

Households headed by people under age 35 have an average of 1.5 laptops per household—one for every two household members. This is a greater concentration of laptops than in any other age group, according to the Energy Information Administration's 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). The RECS examines household ownership of a variety of electronic devices including televisions, computers, and smartphones.

Laptop computers per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.52 (1.5)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.51 (1.5)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.40 (1.4)
Aged 45 to 54: 0.49 (1.4)
Aged 55 to 64: 0.48 (1.0)
Aged 65 to 74: 0.42 (0.8)
Aged 75-plus:  0.29 (0.5)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Many Households Unaware of Retirement Risk

Many Americans are not prepared for retirement. Some know it, but many don't. Conversely, among households that are adequately prepared for retirement, substantial numbers think they are at risk. A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) measured the size of each of these groups in an attempt to determine the accuracy with which households assess their retirement readiness.

The CRR study analyzed data from the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI), which is based on the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The NRRI defines households at risk as those whose retirement income will not be enough to replace a targeted percentage of pre-retirement earnings. The Survey of Consumer Finances also asks households how well prepared they think they are for retirement. Comparing those two measures—retirement readiness and perception of retirement readiness, the CRR study found the following...

52% of households are at risk
33% of households are at risk and they know it
19% of households are at risk and they don't know it

48% of households are not at risk
24% of households are well prepared for retirement and they know it
24% of households are well prepared for retirement and they don't know it

The 19 percent of households that are unaware of their retirement risk tend to be those with defined-contribution retirement plans and high incomes. The 24 percent that are well-prepared but think they are at risk tend to be homeowners with defined-benefit pension plans.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Do Households Have a Good Sense of their Retirement Preparedness?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Average Number of Televisions Is Declining

The number of televisions in the average American home is declining, according to newly released data from the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). In 2015, there were an average of 2.3 televisions per household, down from 2.6 in 2009. Fewer households have three or more TVs (39 percent, down from 44 percent in 2009), and more households have no TVs (2.6 percent, up from 1.3 percent in 2009).

The number of televisions per household member rises with age. Households headed by people aged 75 or older have twice as many televisions per household member (1.47) as the youngest householders (0.72).

Televisions per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.72 (2.07)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.81 (2.36)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.83 (2.89)
Aged 45 to 54: 1.08 (3.06)
Aged 55 to 64: 1.27 (2.77)
Aged 65 to 74: 1.34 (2.55)
Aged 75-plus:  1.47 (2.40)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Friday, March 10, 2017

Median Household Income Stable in January 2017

Median household income in January 2017 stood at $58,056, according to Sentier Research, not significantly different from the December 2016 median after adjusting for inflation. 

The 2015 rise in median household income appears to have stalled out in 2016. "With the exception of some minor ups and downs," reports Sentier, "median annual household income has essentially been flat since the fall of 2015." Nevertheless, the January 2017 median was 9.0 percent higher than the $53,265 median of August 2011—the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Although median annual household income did not decline significantly between December and January, it is down by $691 (or 1.2 percent) since November 2016," says Sentier's Gordon Green. "We continue to monitor the course of inflation, as this has a significant effect on the trend in real median annual household income." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in January 2017 was 1.7 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was not significantly different from the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The January 2017 median was 1.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in January 2017 was 98.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: January 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Drug Overdose Deaths by State, 2015

Drug overdose deaths are surging. The age-adjusted death rate nearly tripled between 1999 and 2015, rising from 6.1 to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 population. By race and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic Whites have by far the highest drug overdose death rate—21.1 deaths per 100,000 population for non-Hispanic Whites versus 12.2 for Blacks and 7.7 for Hispanics. By age, the biggest increase in drug overdose deaths occurred among people aged 55 to 64, the rate rising five-fold from 4.2 to 21.8 deaths per 100,000 population between 1999 and 2015.

The age-adjusted drug overdose death rate is much higher in some states than in others. Here are the states with the highest and lowest death rates in 2015...

States with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population
West Virginia: 41.5
New Hampshire: 34.3
Kentucky: 29.9
Ohio: 29.9
Rhode Island: 28.2

States with the lowest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population
Iowa: 10.3
Texas: 9.4
North Dakota: 8.6
South Dakota: 8.4
Nebraska: 6.9

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2015

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Difficulties in Physical Functioning, 2015

Among Americans aged 65 or older in 2015, a substantial 37 percent reported having great difficulty performing at least one of nine physical tasks, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 37 percent figure is a bit higher than the 35 percent of people aged 65 or older who reported having great difficulty with these tasks in 2002, the first year the question was asked.

Percent of 65-plus who say physical task would be very difficult or impossible
Standing for two hours: 24.9%
Stooping, bending, or kneeling: 22.5%
Walking a quarter mile: 19.2%
Pushing or pulling large objects: 15.1%
Climbing 10 steps without resting: 14.5%
Lifting or carrying 10 pounds: 11.5%
Reaching over head: 5.6%
Sitting for two hours: 4.9%
Grasping or handling small objects: 4.6%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Minority Share of 10 Largest Metro Areas, 2015

Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 38 percent of the total U.S. population in 2015. Minorities are the majority in 7 of the 10 largest metropolitan areas.

Minority share of 10 largest metropolitan areas
New York: 53.1%
Los Angeles: 70.1%
Chicago: 46.7%
Dallas: 52.3%
Houston: 62.7%
Washington, DC: 53.9%
Philadelphia: 37.4%
Miami: 68.2%
Atlanta: 51.7%
Boston: 28.3%

Note: Minorities are calculated by subtracting non-Hispanic Whites from the total population.
Source: Census Bureau, American Factfinder, 2015 American Community Survey

Monday, March 06, 2017

Health Status by Rural-Urban County Classification

The larger and more dense the urban county, the greater the percentage of residents who practice healthy habits, according to a study by the CDC. The habits examined by the CDC were smoking, drinking (moderately or not at all), maintaining normal body weight, meeting aerobic physical activity recommendations, and getting enough sleep. While differences by type of county were not large, they were statistically significant...

Percent of resident who practice at least 4 of 5 healthy behaviors, by county type
Large metropolitan center counties: 31.7%
Large fringe metropolitan counties: 30.2%
Median metropolitan counties: 30.5%
Small metropolitan counties: 29.5%
Micropolitan counties: 28.8%
Rural counties: 27.0%

Even after controlling for demographic characteristics, the pattern is the same. "Evidence-based strategies to improve the health-related behaviors of persons living in rural areas in the United States should be widely implemented," the report concludes.

Source: CDC, Health-Related Behaviors by Urban-Rural County Classification—United States, 2013

Friday, March 03, 2017

Last Dental Visit More than Five Years Ago

A substantial 13 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have not been to a dentist in more than five years. Because dental care often requires hefty out-of-pocket spending, low-income adults are more likely than the affluent to skip dental checkups. Among adults with family incomes below $35,000, 23 percent have not seen a dentist in five-plus years versus only 3 percent of those with family incomes of $100,000 or more. The dental care gap by educational attainment is even larger...

More than 5 years since last dental visit
30% of those without a high school diploma
19% of those with a high school diploma only
12% of those with some college but no bachelor's degree
4% of those with a bachelor's degree or more education

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Tables of Summary Health Statistics

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Crime Decline, 2000 to 2015

Crime has fallen substantially since 2000, according to the FBI. The number of violent crimes fell 16 percent between 2000 and 2015, and the violent crime rate fell 26 percent. The number of property crimes fell 21 percent during those years, and the property crime rate fell 31 percent.

Number of violent crimes (and rate per 100,000 population)
2015: 1.2 million (372.6)
2010: 1.3 million (404.5)
2005: 1.4 million (469.0)
2000: 1.4 million (506.5)

Number of property crimes (and rate per 100,000 population)
2015: 8.0 million (2,487.0)
2010: 9.1 million (2,945.9)
2005: 10.2 million (3,431.5)
2000: 10.2 million (3,618.3)

Note: Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015 Crime in the United States

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Number of Children in Lifetime, 2015

American women will have an average of 1.84 children in their lifetime, an estimate based on birth rates by age in 2015. This is well below the average of two children per woman required to sustain the U.S. population at its current size absent immigration. Here is the average number of children women will have in their lifetime by race and Hispanic origin...

Average number of children in lifetime
2.12 children for Hispanics
1.86 children for non-Hispanic Blacks
1.75 children for non-Hispanic Whites
1.65 children for Asians
1.26 children for American Indians

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Final Data for 2015

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Age of Housing Stock by Metropolitan Area

The average American household lives in a housing unit with a median age of 39, built in 1976, according to the 2015 American housing survey. The AHS collected information about housing in the nation as a whole, in the 15 largest metro areas, and in 10 additional metros. Here are those 25 metros ranked by the age of their housing stock from youngest to oldest.

Occupied housing units: median year built (and age of average structure)
Raleigh: 1996 (19 years)
Atlanta: 1991 (24 years)
Phoenix: 1989 (26 years)
Dallas: 1987 (28 years)
Riverside-San Bernardino: 1986 (29 years)
Houston: 1985 (30 years)
Washington, DC: 1981 (34 years)
Denver: 1980 (35 years)
Memphis: 1980 (35 years)
Miami: 1980 (35 years)
Seattle: 1980 (35 years)
Portland: 1979 (36 years)
Kansas City: 1975 (40 years)
New Orleans: 1974 (41 years)
Cincinnati: 1972 (43 years)
Chicago: 1968 (47 years)
Detroit: 1967 (48 years)
Boston: 1957 (58 years)
Los Angeles: 1964 (51 years)
San Francisco: 1964 (51 years)
Cleveland: 1958 (57 years)
Philadelphia: 1963 (52 years)
Milwaukee: 1961 (54 years)
New York: 1957 (58 years)
Pittsburgh: 1957 (58 years)

Source: Census Bureau, 2015 American Housing Survey

Monday, February 27, 2017

Modern Family: Why Children Are In Charge

Children rule, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis of how parenting has changed over time. The outsized power of children in modern American families is a relatively recent phenomenon, and the NBER researchers theorize that children have become more powerful because competition within families has changed.

"The key intuition is that the rise in relative earnings of wives increased competition between spouses for the love and affection of their children," the researchers say, "while the decline in family size reduced competition between children for resources from their parents. The combined effect has empowered children."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, When Children Rule: Parenting in Modern Families, NBER Working Paper #23087 ($5)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Napping Increases with Age

A substantial 41 percent of adults are nappers, according to an AARP survey, which defines nappers as those who take naps at least once a week. Napping rises with age...

Percent who nap at least once a week
Under age 45: 32%
Aged 45 to 54: 37%
Aged 55 to 64: 42%
Aged 65 to 74: 47%
Aged 75-plus: 59%

Among people aged 40 or older, 10 percent nap daily and 42 percent nap at least once a week. Only 22 percent never take naps. The average nap lasts 28 minutes.

Source: AARP, 2016 AARP Sleep and Brain Health Survey

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Homeownership by Region, Peak Year to 2016

Nationally, the rate of homeownership fell to 63.4 percent in 2016, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancies and Homeownership survey. To find a lower homeownership rate, you have to go all the way back to 1965. But homeownership trends vary by region...

Northeast homeownership rate
2016: 60.2% (lowest rate since 1976)
2015: 60.9%
2005: 65.2% (peak year)

Midwest homeownership rate
2016: 68.4% (slightly higher than 2015)
2015: 68.3% (lowest rate since 1989)
2004: 73.8% (peak year)

South homeownership rate
2016: 65.0% (lowest rate since 1965)
2015: 65.1%
2004: 70.9% (peak year)

West homeownership rate
2016: 58.5% (lowest rate since 1987)
2015: 58.7%
2006: 64.7% (peak year)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Homeownership Rate by Age, 2016

The nation's homeownership rate fell to 63.4 percent in 2016, down from the peak of 69.0 percent in 2004—a 5.6 percentage point decline. Among householders ranging in age from 30 to 44, the decline was in the double digits, including a 12 percentage-point drop among householders aged 30 to 34 as the age of first-time home buying continues to advance. 

Homeownership rate in 2016 (and percentage-point decline since 2004 peak)
Total households: 63.4% (–5.6)
Under 25: 21.9% (–3.3)
25 to 29: 30.9% (–9.3)
30 to 34: 45.4% (–12.0)
35 to 39: 55.3% (–10.9)
40 to 44: 62.0% (–10.0)
45 to 54: 69.3% (–7.9)
55 to 64: 75.0% (–6.7)
65-plus: 78.8% (–2.3)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2016 Homeownership Falls to 63.4%

The homeownership rate in 2016 fell to 63.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancies and Homeownership Survey—down another 0.3 percentage points in the past year. To find a lower homeownership rate, you have to go all the way back to 1965. Since homeownership peaked in 2004, the rate has fallen by 5.6 percentage points.

Homeownership rate
2016: 63.4%
2015: 63.7%
2010: 66.9%
2004: 69.0% (peak year)
2000: 67.4%
1990: 63.9%
1980: 65.6%
1970: 64.2%
1960: 62.1%

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Monday, February 20, 2017

Legal Immigrants: Top 5 States, 2015

Of the 1,051,031 immigrants who were granted legal permanent residence in the United States in 2015, the 58 percent majority settled in just five states.

Number (and percent) of legal immigrants, 2015
California:     209,568 (19.9%)
New York:     130,010 (12.4%)
Florida:          118,873 (11.3%)
Texas:              99,727 (9.5%)
New Jersey:     49,801 (4.7%)

Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Friday, February 17, 2017

Legal Immigrants: Top 10 Countries, 2015

The United States granted legal permanent residence to 1,051,031 immigrants in 2015. Ten countries accounted for the 52 percent majority of legal immigrants. Those countries are...

Legal immigrants in 2015
Mexico: 158,619
China: 74,558
India: 64,116
Philippines: 56,478
Cuba: 54,396
Dominican Republic: 50,610
Vietnam: 30,832
Iraq: 21,107
El Salvador: 19,487
Pakistan: 18,057

Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2015 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Labor Force Participation of Older Men, 2016

The labor force participation rate of men aged 65 or older climbed to 24.0 percent in 2016, the highest rate since 1972. From an all-time low of 15.6 percent in 1993, the labor force participation rate of older men has climbed more than 8 percentage points in the past two decades. But it will be a while before the rate matches what it was in 1950, when 45.8 percent of men aged 65 or older were in the labor force.

Labor force participation rate of men aged 65 or older
2016: 24.0%
2010: 22.1%
2000: 17.7%
1993: 15.6% (low point)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Changing Age Distribution of Homeowners with Mortgages

Homeowners with mortgages are getting older, report researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Analyzing CoreLogic and CRISM data, the researchers examined changes over the past decade in the age distribution of mortgage borrowers and the housing equity held by borrowers. The finding: older Americans (aged 61 or older) account for a growing share of mortgage borrowers as home buying slips among younger adults.

Distribution of mortgage borrowers in 2016 (and 2006)
Under age 45: 31% (42%)
Aged 45 to 60: 42% (43%)
Aged 61-plus: 27% (15%)

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, The Evolution of Home Equity Ownership

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Aren't Millennials Moving?

The nation's geographic mobility rate has dropped to a record low. One factor behind the decline is the Millennial generation—younger adults, the people most likely to move. But younger adults aren't moving like they once did, reports Pew Research Center's Richard Fry. He examined trends in the geographical mobility rate of 25-to-34-year-olds over the past 50-plus years. The mobility rate of the age group was at all-time low of 20 percent in 2016.

Percent of 25-to-34-year-olds who moved in past year
2016: 20%
2000: 26%
1990: 27%
1981: 25%
1963: 26%

What accounts for the decline? One reason is the modest jobs recovery, suggests Fry. Job opportunities are not good enough to entice Millennials to move. Student debt also may be a factor, he says, preventing Millennials from buying homes. A survey of student loan borrowers by American Student Assistance confirms the impact of student debt on mobility. Among people with student loans, 43 percent say their debt has forced them to delay moving out of their parents' home, 46 percent say it has forced them to delay living on their own without roommates, and 57 percent said it has affected their ability to purchase a home.

Source: Pew Research Center, Americans Are Moving at Historically Low Rates, in Part Because Millennials Are Staying Put

Monday, February 13, 2017

17.5 Teaspoons of Added Sugars Per Day

The average American adult (aged 20 or older) eats 17.5 teaspoons of added sugars per day. Added sugars are those added to foods and beverages during production or preparation, including high fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks, ketchup, and other processed food. Do the math, and those 17.5 teaspoons of added sugars are 70 grams a day—far above the 37.5 grams for men and 25.0 grams for women recommended by the American Heart Association. This is where those added sugars come from...

Added sugars consumed daily by adults
Total added sugars: 72.8 grams (100%)
Food at home: 54.8 grams (75%)
Sit-down restaurants: 4.2 grams (6%)
Take-out and fast food: 6.4 grams (9%)
School, other: 7.4 grams (10%)

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food Consumption and Nutrient Intakes, Average Daily Intake of Food by Food Source and Demographic Characteristics, 2007–10

Friday, February 10, 2017

Assisted Reproductive Technology = 65,000 Births

Of the nearly 4 million babies born in the United States in 2014, a substantial 65,163 were born with the help of assisted reproductive technology—or 1.6 percent of births, reports the CDC. Assisted reproductive technologies are fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, in which eggs or embryos are handled in a laboratory. The percentage of babies born through assisted reproductive technology is larger in some states than in others. Here are the top five states...

Percentage of babies born with the help of assisted reproductive technology
Massachusetts: 4.7%
District of Columbia: 3.8%
New Jersey: 3.7%
Connecticut: 3.6%
New York: 2.7%

At the other extreme, in Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico, and West Virginia only 0.5 percent of babies were born through assisted reproductive technology.

Source: CDC, Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance—United States, 2014

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Can You Hear Me Now?

If you can, you still might have a hearing problem, according to the CDC. Among adults aged 20 to 69, a substantial 24 percent have noise-induced hearing loss. Even among those who think their hearing is good to excellent, nearly one in four has noise-induced hearing loss. These findings come from actual hearing tests administered to a nationally representative sample of adults aged 20 to 69 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Here are the key findings...
  • 32 percent of men had signs of hearing loss versus 17 percent of women.
  • Among adults aged 20 to 69, hearing loss was lowest among 20-to-29-year-olds (19 percent) and highest among 40-to-49-year-olds (29 percent).
  • Among race and Hispanic origin groups, Mexican Americans were most likely to have hearing loss (32 percent). Blacks were least likely (21 percent).
  • 23.5 percent of those who thought their hearing was good to excellent had hearing loss. Among those who reported having trouble with their hearing, an only slightly larger 28.3 percent had signs of hearing loss.
  • 33 percent of those with work exposure to loud noise had signs of hearing loss.
"Noise-induced hearing loss is a significant, often unrecognized health problem among U.S. adults," concludes the CDC. "Avoiding prolonged exposure to loud environments and using personal hearing protection devices can prevent noise-induced hearing loss."

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vital Signs: Noice-Induced Hearing Loss Among Adults—United States 2011–2012

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Really Long Term Trends in Health Insurance Coverage

The number of Americans under age 65 who do not have health insurance is lower today than it was all the way back in 1972, reports the National Center for Health Statistics, despite a 46 percent increase in the population under age 65.

As recently as 2013, the percentage of the population under age 65 without health insurance was the same as in 1972—so, in four decades no progress had been made in expanding insurance coverage. Enter the Affordable Care Act, with marketplace plans up and running by January 2014, an effort that finally moved the needle. The percentage of Americans under age 65 who did not have health insurance fell from 16.7 percent in 2013 to the all-time low of 10.6 percent in 2015.

Number (and percent) of population under age 65 without health insurance
2015: 28.7 million (10.6%)
1972: 30.7 million (16.7%)

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, Long-Term Trends in Health Insurance Coverage

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

LGBT Identification by State

LGBT identification is increasing nationally and in most states, finds a Gallup survey. Nationally, 4.1 percent of Americans identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender in 2016, up from 3.5 percent in 2012. In the District of Columbia, 8.6 percent of the population identifies as LGBT. By state, the figure ranges from a high of 5.3 percent in Vermont to a low of 2.0 percent in South Dakota

States with highest LGBT identification
5.3% in Vermont
4.9% in Massachusetts, California, and Oregon
4.8% in Nevada

States with lowest LGBT identification
2.8% in Idaho
2.7% in North Dakota
2.0% in South Dakota

Monday, February 06, 2017

Many Younger Adults Say Public Health Is Declining

The public is divided about whether public health is improving or getting worse, and the divide is by generation. Overall, 48 percent of the public say the health of American children is worse today than it was 20 years ago, but most people aged 18 to 64 say it is worse.

Health of U.S. children is worse than it was 20 years ago
Aged 18 to 49: 52%
Aged 50 to 64: 51%
Aged 65-plus: 31%

Attitudes toward the health of the adult population are also split by generation. Overall, 42 percent say the health of American adults is worse today than it was 20 years ago, with the near majority of people aged 18 to 64 saying it is worse.

Health of U.S. adults is worse than it was 20 years ago
Aged 18 to 49: 48%
Aged 50 to 64: 46%
Aged 65-plus: 20%

Only 27 percent of people aged 18 to 64 say the health of children is better today than it was 20 years ago versus nearly half (49 percent) of people aged 65 or older. Only 28 percent of 18-to-64-year-olds think the health of adults is better today than it was 20 years ago versus the 53 percent majority of people aged 65 or older.

Source: Pew Research Center, Vast Majority of American Say Benefits of Childhood Vaccines Outweigh Risks

Friday, February 03, 2017

Median Household Income Falls in December 2016

Hmmm, this is bad news. Median household income fell in December 2016 to $57,827—a substantial 1 percent lower than the November 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. 

"The December decline in median annual household income wipes out most of the increase in income that had been evident since May 2016 and returns it to a level of income that is not significantly different than that at the beginning of the great recession," reports Sentier Research. The December 2016 median was 0.9 percent below the December 2015 median. It was 9.1 percent above the $53,019 median of August 2011, the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Not only has median annual household income in 2016 not been able to maintain the momentum that it achieved during 2015," says Sentier's Gordon Green, but "it slipped by a formidable 1.0 percent in our latest reading for December. We continue to monitor the course of inflation, as this has a significant effect on the trend in real median annual household income." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in December 2016 was 1.8 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was not significantly different from the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The December 2016 median is 1.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in December 2016 was 98.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2016

Thursday, February 02, 2017

American Health Care May Be "Uniquely Inefficient"

The U.S. health care system may be uniquely inefficient compared to other countries, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study. NBER researchers compared the diffusion of drugs of high and low quality (defined by relative therapeutic benefit) in the U.S. versus their diffusion in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Low quality drugs, they find, are adopted more quickly in the United States. This finding supports the theory that health care in the U.S. is inefficient relative to health care in other countries. "The U.S. health care system may be 'uniquely inefficient' in the sense of fueling the rapid adoption and diffusion of medical technologies with small or unknown benefits," the researchers conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Is American Health Care Uniquely Inefficient? Evidence from Prescription Drugs, NBER Working Paper #23068

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Ad Blocking May Threaten the Internet

"Use of Ad-Blocking Software Rises by 30% Worldwide," reports the New York Times. That could be a problem:  "By using software to block digital advertising, critics say, users are breaking an unwritten pact with websites and digital publishers, many of which generate the bulk of their revenue from these ads."

A National Bureau of Economic Research study also sounds the alarm: "Ad blocking poses a substantial threat to the ad-supported web," say the authors of the study. According to their research, one-quarter of site visitors in 2016 used ad blockers and by doing so reduced the quality of web sites as determined by traffic ranks. After examining proprietary, site-specific data from 2013 to 2016, the researchers determine that each percentage-point increase in site visitors who use ad blockers worsens a site's traffic rank by 0.6 percent over a 35 month period. "We conclude that ad blocking poses a substantial threat to the ad-supported web."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Will Ad Blocking Break the Internet? NBER Working Paper #23058 ($5)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2016

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2016: 45.6%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 was unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2016. Their 45.6 percent homeownership rate in the 4th quarter was above the all-time low of 44.8 percent recorded in the second quarter of 2016. The difference in the rates is not statistically significant. The stability in the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds over the past two years suggests that after years of decline the rate may have bottomed out.  


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. It's been stuck there ever since. 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. In the fourth quarter of 2016 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds fell to 55.0 percent, an all-time low. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds peaked in the first quarter of 2007 at 65.7 percent.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 63.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, a bit below the  63.8 percent of a year earlier. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, January 30, 2017

Birth Control and Health Insurance Coverage

Women with health insurance are much more likely to use birth control consistently than those without health insurance, according to an Urban Institute study. Among women aged 18 to 44 at risk of an unplanned pregnancy, 73 percent of those with health insurance coverage say they always use birth control. Among their counterparts without health insurance, a much smaller 42 percent always use it.

There are differences in consistent birth control use by income as well. Among women with family incomes at or above 400 percent of poverty level, 82 percent always use birth control versus just 53 percent of women with family incomes below 138 percent of poverty level.

These findings raise concerns about the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, says the Urban Institute: "Repealing the ACA could increase financial barriers to contraception by increasing the number of uninsured women—particularly low-income women."

Source: Urban Institute, Access to Contraception in 2016 and What It Means to Women

Friday, January 27, 2017

Did Fake News Determine the Election?

In the three months prior to the 2016 presidential election, false news stories favoring Trump were shared 30 million times on Facebook, reports a National Bureau of Economic Research study of how fake news affected the election. Fake news stories favoring Clinton were shared 8 million times.

About 15 percent of adults saw the average fake news headline in the three months before the election, according to a survey fielded by the NBER team. Half of them—or 8 percent—believed the fake story. The NBER researchers calculate that, "for fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake news story would need to have convinced about 0.7 percent of Clinton voters and non-voters who saw it to shift their votes to Trump, a persuasion equivalent to seeing 36 television campaign ads."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election, NBER Working Paper #23089 ($5)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Projections of Homeowners and Renters to 2035

Since the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006, the homeownership rate in the United States has slumped, the number of homeowners has fallen, and the number of renters has surged. Will these trends continue, or will homeownership make a comeback? That's what the Joint Center for Housing Studies wanted to know. To answer the question, JCHS researchers created three sets of housing tenure projections to determine the range of possible homeownership trends through 2035.

1. Base scenario: According to this scenario, if homeownership rates by five-year cohort remain at 2015 levels, then the homeownership rate in 2035 will be almost identical to the 63.5 percent of 2015. But even with the same rates, the number of homeowners will grow more than the number of renters during the 2015-to-2035 time period, largely because of the aging of the population. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 15.7 million and the number of renters by 9.4 million.

2. Low scenario: In this scenario, homeownership rates continue to decline until 2020 at the same rate of decline as occurred for five-year cohorts between 2010 and 2015, then remain constant through 2035. The additional years of declining rates would drive the overall homeownership rate down to 60.6 percent by 2035. The number of homeowners would increase, but not as much as renters. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 11.5 million and the number of renters by a larger 13.5 million.

3. High scenario: In this scenario, homeownership rates for five-year cohorts recover and by 2035 return to the 1995 rates for most cohorts. The 1995 rates, say the researchers, "define the pre-boom levels that might reflect a longer-term equilibrium." The overall homeownership rate would rise slightly to 64.7 percent by 2035. The number of homeowners would grow much more than the number of renters. Between 2015 and 2035, the number of homeowners would expand by 17.7 million and the number of renters by 7.4 million.

Which of these scenarios is most likely? The fate of the housing market is at stake, with developers of rental housing poised to benefit from the low scenario and homeowners themselves poised to benefit from the high scenario. You decide.

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Homeowner Households and the U.S. Homeownership Rate: Tenure Projections for 2015–2035

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

More Adults Living Without Children

Fifty years ago only about half of adults lived in a household without children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau. Today nearly three-quarters do. The share of adults without children in the household climbed from 52.5 percent in 1967 to 71.3 percent in 2016. Behind the increase are delayed marriage and childbearing as well as the aging of the population. The biggest increase in child-free living has occurred among young adults...

Percent of 18-to-24-year-olds without children in the household
2016: 68.8%
1967: 46.7%

Percent of 25-to-34-year-olds without children in the household
2016: 61.5%
1967: 23.9%

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Smartphone Ownership by Age, 2016

More than three out of four Americans (77 percent) own a smartphone, reports Pew Research Center. Smartphone ownership is the norm in all but one demographic segment. Only among people aged 65 or older is smartphone ownership below 50 percent...

Smartphone ownership by age
Aged 18 to 29: 92%
Aged 30 to 49: 88%
Aged 50 to 64: 74%
Aged 65-plus: 42%

Source: Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet

Monday, January 23, 2017

Population Loss Varies by Type of Rural County

Rural America has been struggling with population loss, reports the Population Reference Bureau. Between 2000 and 2015, fully 60 percent of rural counties lost population. But the extent of population loss varied by type of rural county...

Percent of counties losing population, 2000 to 2015
All rural counties: 60%
Farming counties: 78%
Mining counties: 43%
Manufacturing counties: 42%
Recreation counties: 27%

PRB analyzes how two age groups—young adults and retirees—have helped to curtail population loss in some types of rural counties. In 49 percent of mining counties, for example, the number of 20-to-34-year-olds grew faster than the national average between 2000 and 2015, lured there by jobs in shale gas and oil production. In 64 percent of recreation counties, the number of people aged 65 or older grew faster than the national average as retirees flocked to amenity-rich areas.

Source: Population Reference Bureau, Baby Boomers and Millennials Boost Population in Parts of Rural America

Friday, January 20, 2017

When Boom Goes Bust, Stay or Go?

When boom turns to bust, is it better to hunker down and stay put or pull up stakes and move elsewhere? Move appears to be the answer.

"We find that geographic mobility following the bust is associated with stronger consumer financial health," say researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The researchers examined the credit records of people living in counties experiencing oil rig boom and bust between 2011 and 2014. The finances of movers and stayers were similar during the boom times, but they diverged in the bust. Those who left ended up better off financially than those who stayed (lower credit utilization, fewer derogatory accounts, lower past-due balances, and greater access to credit). "Our analysis implies that geographic mobility could have quantifiable benefits for consumer financial health," they conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Geographic Mobility and Consumer Financial Health: Evidence from Oil Production Boom Towns

Thursday, January 19, 2017

IRA Balances Are Growing

Americans are saving more in their IRAs. The median balance of IRA accounts has grown since 2011, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Here is the trend...

Median IRA balance
2014: $33,185
2013: $32,179
2012: $27,987
2011: $23,785
2010: $25,296

These medians are for all accounts, including recently opened IRAs. The EBRI report also examines the IRA balances of "consistent account owners"—those who owned an IRA in every year from 2010 through 2014. The median IRA balance of consistent account owners grew from $26,508 in 2010 to $40,980 in 2014.

One reason IRA balances are not growing faster is that most owners do not contribute. Among consistent account owners for the 2010-to-2014 time period, the 61.5 percent majority contributed nothing in any of those years. Only 10.4 percent contributed in all five years.

Source: EBRI, Individual Retirement Account Balances, Contributions, Withdrawals, and Asset Allocation Longitudinal Results 2010–2014: The EBRI IRA Database

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Carbonated Beverages as a Share of Grocery Spending

The New York Times created a stir when it reported on a USDA study with the alarming headline, "In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda." Yes, the USDA study found food stamp households devoting a large share of their grocery spending to carbonated beverages. But so did households that were not receiving food stamps. The real story in the USDA study is the outsized importance of soda in the shopping cart of most American households regardless of demographic or socioeconomic characteristic.

The USDA findings were based on point-of-sale data from a leading grocery retailer—data that could be skewed by the retailer's own customer demographics. Using a different and more comprehensive data set (the 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey), Demo Memo calculated the carbonated beverage share of spending for the average household and for households by demographic characteristic. The share is huge, regardless of the demographics. For the average household, soda ranks 4th as a share of grocery spending. In other words, carbonated beverages are the grocery item on which the average household spends more than all but three other items—fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and miscellaneous prepared food (i.e. food from the supermarket deli). The carbonated beverage share of grocery spending varies a little—but not all that much—by demographic characteristic...

  • Carbonated beverage share is highest among low-income households: Among households with incomes below $30,000, carbonated beverages rank 3rd as a share of grocery spending. Among households with incomes of $200,000 or more, they are in 14th place.
  • Carbonated beverage share is highest in two age groups: Soda ranks highest as a share of grocery spending among households headed by young adults under age 25 and older adults aged 55 to 64 (4th place). Soda is lowest as a share of grocery spending among householders aged 35 to 44 (7th place) because many are parents, and parents devote less of the grocery dollar to carbonated beverages. 
  • Carbonated beverage share is highest for the less educated: Among households in which no household member has a bachelor's degree, soda ranks 3rd as a share of grocery spending. Among households with at least one college graduate, carbonated beverages rank 10th as a share of grocery spending. 

Source: USDA study Foods Typically Purchased by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Households and Demo Memo analysis of the 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Master's Degree is the New Bachelor's Degree

As the bachelor's degree has become commonplace, the master's degree is the new mark of distinction. The percentage of Americans aged 25 or older with a master's degree was 8.7 percent overall in 2015, 10 percent among 35-to-44-year-olds, and 12 percent among women in the 35-to-44 age group, according to the Census Bureau.

The Urban Institute recently analyzed the characteristics of those who go to graduate school, their success rate, and how much the additional schooling adds to earnings. Here is the bachelor's-master's comparison by age group...

Average earnings, aged 25 to 34
$54,840, bachelor's degree only
$63,050, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 15%

Average earnings, aged 35 to 44
$71,100, bachelor's degree only
$87,320, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 23%

Average earnings, aged 45 to 54
$77,600, bachelor's degree only
$92,760, master's degree
Master's degree premium: 20%

Source: Urban Institute, Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Death Rates Higher in Nonmetro Areas

With the Affordable Care Act and expanded access to health care services under threat, the CDC has released a report suggesting any erosion of care will be a bigger problem for the residents of nonmetropolitan America than for those living in metro areas.

The CDC report compares age-adjusted death rates in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas for the five leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer, accidents (including drug poisonings), chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Result: death rates in nonmetropolitan areas are higher for all five causes of death.

What accounts for the higher death rates? A cluster of characteristics, reports the CDC. The residents of nonmetropolitan areas "tend to have less access to health care services and to be less likely to receive preventive services," explains the report. "In addition, they are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured, delay seeking care, live in poverty, and have lower educational attainment."

Source: CDC, Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, Leading Causes of Death in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas—United States, 1999–2014

Friday, January 13, 2017

Dinner at Restaurants by Age

Most of us eat dinner at a restaurant at least once a week, according to a Gallup survey. When Americans are asked how many nights in the past week they had eaten dinner at a restaurant of any kind, the 61 percent majority said they had done so at least once, a percentage that has been stable for nearly a decade. Not surprisingly, age is an important factor in the frequency of dining out...

Percent who ate dinner at a restaurant in past week
Aged 18-to-34: 72%
Aged 35 to 54: 65%
Aged 50-plus: 50%

The stability in eating out is good news for restaurants, says Gallup, especially as fresh meal delivery services and food bars at grocery stores become increasingly popular. The fact that young adults are the most frequent customers is also good news, Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, Americans' Dining-Out Frequency Little Changed from 2008

Thursday, January 12, 2017

LGBT Identification by Generation

Overall, 4.1 percent of Americans aged 18 or older personally identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, according to a Gallup survey. This figure is up from 3.5 percent in 2012. By generation, the percentage who identify themselves as LGBT looks like this...

LGBT identification by generation
7.3% of Millennials
3.2% of Gen Xers
2.4% of Baby Boomers
1.4% of older Americans

Why are Millennials more likely than older generations to identify themselves as LGBT? "Millennials are the first generation in the U.S. to grow up in an environment where social acceptance of the LGBT community markedly increased," says Gallup. "This may be an important factor in explaining their greater willingness to identify as LGBT."

Source: Gallup, In U.S., More Adults Identifying as LGBT

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Childrearing Costs Up 16% Since 1960

It costs more to raise a child than it once did, but not all that much more. According to USDA estimates for middle America (middle-income, married couples), the inflation-adjusted cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 climbed from $202,020 in 1960 to $233,610 in 2015—a 16 percent increase. The cost of childrearing has grown in some categories and declined in others. The biggest increase has been for the category "child care and education," with parents in 2015 spending more than eight times as much as their counterparts in 1960—and the increase doesn't include college costs because the accounting stops at a child's 18th birthday. Here are comparisons of 2015 costs with those in 1960 (in 2015 dollars)...

  • Housing is the biggest expense for parents. The cost of housing a child from birth through age 17 was $66,240 in 2015, 6 percent more than the $62,630 of 1960.
  • Food is the second largest expense of childrearing. In 2015 this cost was $41,400—15 percent less than the $48,490 of 1960.
  • Child care and education is the third largest childrearing expense for parents today. Not so in 1960. The $38,040 cost of child care for 2015 parents is over eight times more than the $4,040 spent by parents in 1960.
  • Transportation is the fourth largest expense of childrearing for parents in 2015, with $35,490 spent on transportation from birth through age 17—10 percent more than the $32,320 cost in 1960.
  • Health care is the fifth largest expense of childrearing for parents in 2015. The $21,720 needed for a child's health care is nearly triple the $8,080 of 1960.
  • Clothing expenses for children have fallen steeply since 1960. In 2015, the cost of clothing a child from birth through age 17 was $13,260— 40 percent less than the $22,220 of 1960, after adjusting for inflation.
  • Miscellaneous expenses include personal care products and services, entertainment, and reading material. In 2015, the cost of these expenses for a child from birth through age 17 was $17,460, 28 percent less than the $24,240 of 1960.

Source: USDA, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015