Monday, August 21, 2017

Rural Americans More Likely to Distrust Others

Recent surveys are revealing big differences in the attitudes of rural and urban residents. Most rural residents think the values of urban residents are different from their values, for example, while urban residents are much less likely to feel that way. Fewer than half of rural residents still believe in the American Dream versus three out of four residents of large cities.

Here's another difference of opinion: rural residents are much more likely than urban residents to think others are getting government help they don't deserve, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post Survey of Rural America. Here's the survey question: "Which of these two situations do you think happens more often in America today—needy people going without government help, or irresponsible people getting government help they don't deserve?" Here are the answers by urban status...

Percent who think irresponsible people are getting government help they don't deserve
64% of rural residents
55% of suburban residents
48% of urban residents

Percent who think needy people are going without government help
32% of rural residents
40% of suburban residents
47% of urban residents

Among Republicans in rural areas, fully 83 percent think irresponsible people are getting help they don't deserve. The figure is 64 percent among rural independents and 44 percent among rural Democrats.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post, The Health Care Views and Experiences of Rural Americans

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wife Time Is Shrinking

Women are spending a shrinking share of their lives as wives, according to an analysis by the Center for Retirement Research. Examining data from the Health and Retirement Study, the researchers analyzed four birth cohorts—the original HRS cohort (born from 1931 to 1941), War Babies (1942 to 1947), Early Boomers (1948 to 1953) and Mid Boomers (1954 to 1959). Here are the researchers' estimates of the percentage of life, from age 20, women will have spent as wives by cohort...

Percentage of life from age 20 spent as a wife
HRS cohort: 72%
War Babies: 69%
Early Boomers: 56%
Mid Boomers: 51%

Behind the decline in years spent as a wife are several factors—the rising age at first marriage, the greater prevalence of singlehood, and more divorce. Because women are spending a growing share of their lives without husbands, "it probably makes sense to explore their savings and investment behavior separately from men," conclude the researchers.

Source: Center for Retirement Research, Do Women Still Spend Most of Their Lives Married?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the American Workplace

A new survey finds both good and bad conditions in workplaces across the country. According to RAND's American Working Conditions Survey, "the American workplace is very physically and emotionally taxing, both for workers themselves and their families." Here are some examples of common troublesome conditions...

  • Only 54% of workers work the same number of hours every day.
  • 36% say their work schedule is set by their company with no possibility for change.
  • In the past month, half have worked in their free time to meet work demands.
  • 41% of workers are in tiring or painful positions at least one-quarter of the time. 
  • 20% experienced abuse or harassment on the job in the past month/year.

On the positive side, the 56 percent majority of workers say they have very good friends at work, 58 percent have a supportive boss, and 79 percent like and respect their colleagues. More than 60 percent say their job provides them with a sense of personal accomplishment.

The survey was of a nationally representative sample of working men and women aged 25 to 71—all members of the RAND American Life Panel. The findings are shown for all workers as well as men and women in three age groups and two educational attainment groups.

Source: RAND, Working Conditions in the United States—Results of the 2015 American Working Conditions Survey

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More than 1 in 8 Americans Use Antidepressants

Millions of Americans are taking antidepressants, according to data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Among the population aged 12 or older, more than one in eight (12.7 percent) took an antidepressant medication in the past month in the 2011–2014 time period. Women are far more likely to take antidepressants than men (16.5 versus 8.6 percent), and older women are most likely to take them—nearly one in four women aged 60 or older took an antidepressant in the past month.

Percent of women (and men) taking an antidepressant in past month
Aged 12 to 19: 5.0% (1.9%)
Aged 20 to 39: 9.8% (5.9%)
Aged 40 to 59: 21.2% (11.6%)
Aged 60-plus: 24.4% (12.6%)

Antidepressant use has increased since 1999–2002, when 7.7 percent of Americans aged 12 or older had taken the medication in the past month. One reason for the growing use of antidepressants is their long-term use. Among those taking an antidepressant in the past month, one in four had been taking the medication for 10 or more years.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Antidepressant Use among Persons Age 12 and Over: United States, 2011–2014

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Income Shocks Are the Norm for Men

In a study of men's incomes over time, researchers for the National Endowment for Financial Education found income shocks to be the norm. Fully 61 percent of male workers aged 25 to 70 had experienced the loss of an entire year's worth of income at least once. Among older men, such devastating losses are a nearly universal experience...

Percentage of male workers who have lost all earnings for at least one year
Aged 25 to 34: 40%
Aged 35 to 54: 56%
Aged 55 to 61: 75%
Aged 62 to 65: 87%
Aged 66 to 70: 93%

These income shocks lower the retirement savings of workers in the bottom 50 percent of the income distribution (with annual earnings of $26,531 or less), who struggle to save money. By linking data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation with Social Security and IRS records, the researchers tracked men's lifetime earnings as well as their contributions to retirement plans and account balances by demographic characteristic. The researchers found that lower-income men are most likely to experience income shocks—82 percent had experienced at least one versus 53 percent of middle-income men and 45 percent of high-income men (with annual earnings of $80,040 or more). When  lower-income men experience an income shock, their retirement savings take a hit. For each one-year episode of income loss, workers in the bottom 50 percent of the income distribution saw their retirement savings decline by an average of $3,786. There was no effect on the retirement savings of men in the top 50 percent of the income distribution.

"Nearly everyone will suffer multiple income shocks during their working lives," conclude the researchers." Educators and policymakers should "prepare individuals to expect income shocks and educate them on how to manage and recover from financial setbacks with the least possible impact on their retirement savings."

Source: National Endowment for Financial Education, Income Shocks and Life Events: Why Retirement Savings Fall Short

Monday, August 14, 2017

Americans May Be More Honest in Online Surveys

Phone surveys may be understating financial stress, according to a Pew Research Center experiment. In an effort to determine "mode effects," Pew randomly assigned survey respondents to telephone or online modes when asking them questions about financial stress. Respondents were more likely to report financial stress when answering online than when talking to an interviewer by phone.

"Survey researchers have long known that Americans may be more likely to give a 'socially desirable' response (and less likely to give a stigmatized or undesirable answer) in an interview-administered survey than in one that is self-administered," notes Pew.

Percent saying they received financial help from a relative in past year
Phone: 15%
Online: 26%

Percent saying their personal finances are in poor shape
Phone: 14%
Online: 20%

Regardless of income, Americans are more likely to report poor finances when answering online than by phone, says Pew. "Researchers studying financial stress should consider that phone surveys have, at least to some degree, been understating the share of Americans experiencing economic hardship."

Source: Pew Research Center, Personal Finance Questions Elicit Slightly Different Answers in Phone Surveys than Online

Friday, August 11, 2017

Who Shops for Groceries Online?

Grocery shopping is slowly moving online, according to the findings of a Gallup survey. Nearly 1 in 10 American families (9 percent) say they shop for groceries online for pickup or delivery at least once or twice a month. Here are the percentages by age...

Shop online for groceries
18 to 29: 15%
30 to 49: 12%
50 to 64: 10%
65-plus: 2%

Despite the significant presence of online grocery shopping, going to a store for groceries is still a universal activity. The percentage who shop for groceries in person at a store at least once or twice a month varies little by age, ranging from 97 to 99 percent.

Source: Gallup, So Far, American Grocery Shoppers Buck Online Shopping Trend

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How Much Money Is In 401(k) Accounts?

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 54 million American workers were active 401(k) participants in 2015. Total 401(k) assets amounted to $4.4 trillion at the end of 2015—19 percent of all retirement assets. But how much have individual participants stashed away?

EBRI has the answers. The median 401(k) account balance was $16,732 in 2015. The average balance was $73,357. Here is the distribution of participants by the size of their account...

Distribution of 401(k) participants by size of account, 2015
$10,000 or less: 41.3%
$10,001 to $50,000: 28.2%
$50,001 to $100,000: 11.1%
$100,001 to $200,000: 9.1%
$200,001 or more: 10.2%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2015

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Research Shows 65-Plus Income May Be 30% Higher

The income of households headed by people aged 65-plus may be much higher than estimated by the Current Population Survey. An analysis of 2012 data by Census Bureau researchers finds substantial underreporting of retirement income when compared to administrative records. Among older Americans who receive retirement income, the researchers say, none of it is reported 46 percent of the time! Here are some other startling findings from the analysis...
  • The 2012 median income of householders aged 65 or older was 30 percent higher based on administrative records versus the Current Population Survey—$33,800 reported by the CPS and $44,400 based on administrative records.
  • The poverty rate of people aged 65 or older was 2.1 percentage points lower (6.9 percent instead of 9.0 percent). 
  • The income drop after retirement is much smaller than has been estimated based on CPS data. "We do not find large, abrupt declines in income or increases in poverty upon retirement," say the researchers. 
The analysis is based on 2012 CPS data, prior to the Census Bureau's 2014 redesign of the Current Population Survey to better capture retirement income. In the future, the researchers hope to evaluate the effectiveness of the redesign in capturing more retirement income.

Source: Census Bureau, Do Older Americans Have More Income Than We Think?

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Who Can Count On Family for Financial Help?

Many Millennials would have a lot of trouble paying an unexpected bill of $1,000, according to a GenForward Survey, which defines Millennials as 18-to-34-year-olds. The bimonthly survey is a project of the University of Chicago and administered by NORC. The survey's purpose is to examine "how race and ethnicity influence how young adults or Millennials experience and think about the world."

Percent saying they would have a lot of difficulty paying an unexpected $1,000 bill
Asians: 28%
Blacks: 50%
Hispanics: 43%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 35%

One factor that would make it difficult for many to pay an unexpected bill is the lack of family resources. When asked whether they could turn to their family for help in paying an unexpected $1,000 bill, the percentage who say yes ranges from a low of 38 percent among Blacks to a high of 64 percent among Asians...

Percent saying they could turn to family for help paying an unexpected $1,000 bill
Asians: 64%
Blacks: 38%
Hispanics: 54%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 56%

Asians also are most likely to say their family could help with a down payment for a new car (51 percent) or house (49 percent). They are also most likely to say their family could help them with college tuition or paying off student loans (58 percent).

Source: GenForward University of Chicago: June 2017 Report

Monday, August 07, 2017

Private-Sector Health Insurance Costs, 2016

Several years ago Demo Memo noted that most Americans were "health insurance dummies," sheltered from an understanding of the full cost of health insurance by employer-provided plans. Here is how much those employer-provided plans cost in 2016...

Average total cost of employer-provided health insurance in the private sector, 2016
Single coverage: $6,101
Family coverage: $17,710

Fortunately for most private-sector workers, their employer pays the bulk of the bill. For single coverage, the average employee paid $1,325 of the $6,101 cost in 2016. For family coverage, the average employee paid $4,956 of the $17,710 premium.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Results from the 2016 MEPS-IC Private-Sector National Tables

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Ability to Think for Oneself Is Losing Importance

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but thinking for oneself is not as important as it used to be. The percentage of Americans who believe "thinking for himself or herself" is the most important thing a child should learn to prepare for life has fallen—and the decline has been especially steep since 2006.

Thinking for himself/herself is the most important thing a child should learn
2016: 41%
2006: 47%
1996: 51%
1986: 51%

Despite the decline, thinking for oneself is still the most important thing a child should learn according to the plurality of Americans. In second place is "learning to work hard," cited as most important by 27 percent of the public in 2016, more than double the 11 percent who felt this way in 1986. Third in importance is "learning to help others" (19 percent), followed by "learning to obey" (12 percent), and in last place "learning to be popular" (0.6 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Households Spend the Most on These 12 Items

The average American household spends more than $1,000 a year on only 12 items according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Here are the items...

1. Social security deductions: $4,457
2. Groceries: $4,015
3. Vehicle purchases: $3,997
4. Rent: $3,600
5. Health insurance: $2,977
6. Mortgage interest: $2,859
7. Restaurants: $2,575
8. Gasoline: $2,028
9. Property taxes: $1,913
10. Electricity: $1,460
11. Vehicle insurance: $1,079
12. Cell phone service: $1,023

Note that both rent and mortgage interest appear on the list, yet few households have both expenses. But subtract either rent or mortgage interest from the expenses on the list, and the result is the same. The average American household devoted more than half of the $55,978 it spent in 2015 to this short list of items.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Glory Days Are Here Again for Tech

Since 2010, employment in the tech industry has been growing twice as fast as private-sector employment overall, and tech wages are outpacing the average. The glory days are back for tech, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which defines the sector as comprised of seven industries...

Industries in the tech sector (and publicly-owned firm with largest revenue)
1. Computer manufacturing (Apple)
2. Electronic shopping (Amazon)
3. Software publishing (Microsoft)
4. Data processing, hosting, and related services (Xerox)
5. Internet publishing, broadcasting, and web search portals (Google)
6. Computer systems design (IBM)
7. Scientific research and development (QuintilesIMS)

The tech sector has seen ups and downs over the decades. Tech employment as a share of total private employment climbed through 1990s and hit a high of 4 percent in 2000, then fell as low as 3.4 percent after the tech bubble burst in 2001. The Great Recession also shook the industry, but in 2010 the turnaround had begun. Tech employment as a share of total private employment reached 3.9 percent in 2015—nearly matching the all-time high of 2000.

Between 2010 and 2015, jobs in the tech sector grew 20 percent versus an 11 percent gain for all private-sector employment. Tech-sector wages grew 5 percent annually during those years. Wage growth has lifted the earnings of tech workers far above those of the average private-sector worker. In 1990, the average tech worker made 1.6 times as much as the average private-sector workers. By 2015, tech workers made 2.2 times as much.

"Innovations in digital computing systems and automation have triggered tectonic shifts in consumer and business behaviors across the economy" says the St. Louis Fed. All true, but the tectonic shifts to come may be even greater than the ones in our past—especially if a theory about the low productivity growth of recent years turns out to be correct (see the New York Times article, Maybe We've Been Thinking about the Productivity Slump All Wrong). The theory goes like this: depressed wages have discouraged businesses from widespread deployment of productivity-boosting technologies. Why bother investing in capital equipment and software when workers are so cheap? As the labor market tightens and workers become more costly, businesses will deploy labor-saving technologies on a massive scale. The glory days may turn into glory years.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Growth in Tech Sector Returns to Glory Days of the 1990s

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

American Dream Disappearing in Rural America

In rural areas, the American Dream is slipping away. At least that's how those who live there feel, according to the General Social Survey.

The GSS asks respondents whether they agree or disagree with the statement: "The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living." This is the percentage who agree that the American Dream still applies to them by urban status...

Belief in the American Dream by urban status, 2016
74% of those who live in the central cities of the 12 largest metropolitan areas
60% of those who live in the central cities of the 13 to 100 largest metropolitan areas
58% of those who live in the suburbs of the 12 largest metropolitan areas
58% of those who live in the suburbs of the 13 to 100 largest metropolitan areas
57% of those who live in other urban areas
47% of those who live in rural areas

Only 47 percent of Americans who live in rural areas have faith in the American dream versus 74 percent of the residents of the largest central cities. It gets worse. Analyzing the data by race and Hispanic origin shows that only 40 percent of non-Hispanic Whites in rural areas think the American Dream works for them. This pessimism is not shared by their counterparts in cities and suburbs, most of whom still believe in the American Dream—including 71 percent of non-Hispanic Whites in the largest cities. Blacks, too, do not share the pessimism of rural non-Hispanic Whites. About two-thirds of Blacks have faith in the dream, whether they live in rural areas, suburbs, or cities.

Belief in the American Dream among non-Hispanic Whites in rural areas was much greater in 2000, when 68 percent believed they had a good chance of improving their living standard. By 2010, the figure had fallen to 54 percent. Because of the Great Recession, belief in the Dream also took a hit during those years among non-Hispanic Whites in central cities and suburbs. Since 2010, faith in the American Dream among non-Hispanic Whites in cities and suburbs has rebounded. There has been no rebound for non-Hispanic Whites in rural areas.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Monday, July 31, 2017

Frequency of Cooking a Hot Meal

Every few years the government surveys the energy use of a representative sample of American households. Among the questions included in the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey is the frequency with which households cook a hot meal...

Frequency of cooking a hot meal during an average week
Less than daily: 22%
Once a day: 30%
Twice a day: 32%
3+ times a day: 15%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Friday, July 28, 2017

Right-to-Carry Laws Boost Violent Crime

Right-to-carry leads to an increase in violent crime, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. A state-level analysis of trends in crime shows violent crime rising 13 to 15 percent 10 years after a state passes a right-to-carry concealed weapons law. States that pass right-to-carry laws would have to double their prison population to counteract the increase in violent crime, the authors note.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Controls Analysis, Working Paper 23510 ($5)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2017

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2017: 45.2%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 inched upwards in the second quarter of 2017. The age group's 45.2 percent homeownership rate was not statistically different from the record low of 44.6 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2017. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds appears to have found a new normal in the mid-forties.  


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 slipped toward the 50-percent threshold. In the second quarter of 2017 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 55.8 percent, down from a peak of 65.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 63.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017, a bit higher than the 62.9 percent of a year earlier. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Widening Work Gap among Older Americans

College graduates are a big reason for the rising rate of labor force participation among people aged 65 or older, according to an Urban Institute study. Not only are college graduates more likely to be in the labor force than those with less education, but the labor force participation rate of older Americans is rising faster among the college-educated...

Labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older, 2016
No high school diploma: 10.0%
High school graduate only: 15.3%
Some college/associate's degree: 22.0%
Bachelor's degree or more education: 29.3%

Between 1995 and 2016, the labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older with a bachelor's degree climbed 7.5 percentage points. This compares with a gain of 5.3 percentage points for those with some college, a 3.8 percentage point gain for those with no more than a high school diploma, and a 2.5 percentage point gain for those without a high school diploma.

"As economic security in old age increasingly depends on delaying retirement, less-educated older adults who retire early will likely face financial challenges in later life and fall further behind their better-educated counterparts," notes the study.

Source: Urban Institute, Educational Differences in Employment at Older Ages

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Analyzing 10,000 Murders

Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women under age 45, reports the CDC. What are the characteristics of women who become homicide victims? To find out, the CDC analyzed 10,018 murders of women aged 18 or older occurring from 2003 to 2014 and reported to the National Violent Death Reporting System, which includes data from 18 states. These are some of their characteristics...

Age of homicide victim
18 to 29: 29%
30 to 39: 22%
40 to 49: 21%
50-plus: 28%

Marital status of homicide victim
Married/partner: 32%
Never married: 38%
Separated/divorced: 30%

Education of homicide victim
Less than high school: 25%
High school graduate: 41%
Some college or more: 34%

Women who die by homicide are young and old, from all educational backgrounds, and about evenly split by marital status. What they have in common is that most were murdered by a current or former intimate partner (55 percent) and most were killed by guns (54 percent).

Source: CDC, Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence—United States, 2003–2014

Monday, July 24, 2017

12% Currently Smoke Marijuana

Nearly half of Americans aged 18 or older have tried marijuana, according to a 2017 Gallup survey. The 45 percent who have ever tried marijuana is the highest figure recorded in all the years Gallup has been tracking marijuana use beginning in 1969 (when only 4 percent had ever tried it). A substantial 12 percent of Americans currently smoke marijuana, with younger adults most likely to do so...

Currently smoke marijuana
Aged 18 to 29: 18%
Aged 30 to 49: 10%
Aged 50 to 64: 8%
Aged 65-plus: 3%

Source: Gallup, In U.S., 45% Say They Have Tried Marijuana

Friday, July 21, 2017

Liquor Hits High in Popularity

Beer is America's number-one alcoholic beverage, according to Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll. But liquor is surging. When Gallup asked those who drink alcohol which beverage they are most likely to choose, 26 percent said liquor in the 2017 poll—the highest percentage in the 25 years Gallup has been tracking the trend.

Do you most often drink liquor, wine, or beer?
Beer: 40%
Wine: 30%
Liquor: 26%

"Future measurements will help determine whether the current figure marks the beginning of a trend toward an increased preference for liquor," says Gallup.

Source: Gallup, Beer Remains the Preferred Alcoholic Beverage in the U.S.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going Online for Science and Technology Information

The majority of Americans get most of their information about science and technology from the internet (56 percent), according to the 2016 General Social Survey. But where do they go online for most of that science and tech news? According to a follow-up question, these are the main online sources for those who get most of their science and tech information from the internet...

Main online source of science and tech information
Search engine: 37%
Online newspaper: 25%
Online magazine: 15%
Online news site: 6%
Online science site: 5%
Social media: 4%
Wikipedia: 1%
Other site: 7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Science Makes Our Way of Life Change Too Fast

The 52 percent majority of Americans agree with the statement, "Science makes our way of life change too fast," according to the General Social Survey. Ten years ago, a smaller 45 percent agreed. Every generation is becoming more anxious about how rapidly science is changing our way of life, but alarm is growing the most among the oldest generation—people aged 71 or older in 2016 (61 or older in 2006)...

Agree that "science makes our way of life change too fast," 2016 (and 2006)
Millennials: 48% (40%)
Gen Xers: 53% (47%)
Boomers: 49% (43%)
Older: 68% (53%)

Note: In 2016 Millennials were 22 to 39, Gen Xers were 40 to 51, and Boomers were 52 to 70.
Source: Demo Memo Analysis of the General Social Survey

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

47% Took Prescription Drug in Past 30 Days

Nearly half of Americans (47%) took at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days, according to the 2011–14 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The use of prescription drugs rises with age to more than 90 percent of people aged 65 or older...

Percent who took at least one prescription drug in past 30 days
Under age 18: 21.5%
Aged 18 to 44: 37.1%
Aged 45 to 64: 69.0%
Aged 65-plus: 90.6%

The use of multiple prescription drugs is becoming more common, especially among people aged 65 or older. Overall, 21.5 percent of Americans took three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days in 2011–14, up from 11.8 percent who did so two decades earlier in 1988–94. Among people aged 65 or older, 67 percent took three or more prescription drugs in the past month, up from 31 percent in 1988–94.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2016

Monday, July 17, 2017

Millennials Living with Parents

Twenty-three percent of high school sophomores of 2002 were living with their parents ten years later in 2012, according to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The longitudinal survey is tracking a representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores as they confront the challenges of adulthood.

Asians, Hispanics, and Blacks are more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be living with their parents. Here are the percentages of 2002 high school sophomores who were living with their parents in 2012, by race and Hispanic origin...

Asians: 39.2%
Blacks: 28.3%
Hispanics: 32.2%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 18.1% 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some Good News for USPS

First-class mail volume has dropped since its 2001 peak, but it's not all bad news for USPS. In contrast to the first-class mail decline, parcel delivery is booming. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of packages handled by the Postal Service climbed from 3.1 billion to 5.2 billion—a 68 percent increase. Thanks, Amazon!

Source: USPS, A Decade of Facts and Figures

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Making Health Insurance Unaffordable

How much would essential health benefits cost if they were no longer required, as they currently are under the Affordable Care Act, and only those who opted for the service financed the cost? An Urban Institute study has calculated the cost, and it's steep.

The average nongroup marketplace premium was $4,700 in 2017, reports the Urban Institute. But start cherry-picking benefits, and premiums will be much higher. Take maternity care for example. Maternity care accounts for just $278 of the $4,700 annual cost of a typical health insurance plan—not all that much. But if health insurance buyers could opt out of maternity care benefits so that only those who needed maternity care had to pay for it, then those who chose maternity care would see their annual health insurance premium rise by $13,388.

Cherry picking health benefits will greatly increase the cost of health insurance for those who need essential services...

Additional health insurance premium cost if only users finance the service
Inpatient care: $19,071
Maternity care: $13,388
Outpatient care: $5,755
Emergency care: $4,251
Rehabilitative care: $2,247
Office-based care: $1,947
Prescription drugs: $1,836

Source: Urban Institute, The Implications of Cutting Essential Health Benefits: An Analysis of Nongroup Insurance Premiums Under the ACA

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Decline of First Class Mail

First-class mail is in a steep decline, not surprisingly. The number of pieces of first class mail handled by the U.S. Postal Service peaked in 2001 at nearly 104 billion. By 2016, the number had slipped to 61 billion—a 41 percent decline and about what it was in 1981.

The biggest decline in first-class mail volume occurred after the introduction of the smartphone in 2007. Between 2007 and 2011, first-class mail fell by nearly 24 billion pieces—a decline of more than 5 billion pieces a year. Those years account for 56 percent of the overall decline in first-class mail volume since the 2001 peak. In more recent years, the decline in first-class mail volume has slowed to about 1.3 billion pieces a year.

Volume of first-class mail (in billions)
2016: 61.2
2015: 62.6
2011: 72.5
2007: 96.2
2001: 103.7 (peak year)

Source: USPS, Postage Rates and Historical Statistics

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Big Decline in Reading, 2006 to 2016

Fewer Americans are reading on an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey. In every age group, a shrinking share is reading for personal interest as a primary activity on an average day. Overall, the percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who read on an average day fell from 26 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2016. The biggest drops have occurred among older Americans, with double-digit declines among people ranging in age from 45 to 74...

Percent reading on an average day, 2016 (and percentage point change since 2006)
Aged 15 to 19: 8.7% (–1.2)
Aged 20 to 24: 10.1% (–0.5)
Aged 25 to 34: 12.0% (–3.4)
Aged 35 to 44: 13.9% (–7.5)
Aged 45 to 54: 15.3% (–12.2)
Aged 55 to 64: 25.5% (–13.2)
Aged 65 to 74: 33.0% (–14.8)
Aged 75-plus: 46.1% (–8.6)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 American Time Use Survey

Monday, July 10, 2017

Household Income Volatility, 2009 to 2012

In the difficult three-year period between 2009 and 2012, when the United States was struggling to recover from the Great Recession, nearly half of households experienced a dramatic swing in their income—either up or down. A new Census Bureau report examines fluctuations in household income during that time period, using data from the longitudinal Survey of Income and Program Participation. While nearly half of households experienced income volatility, much of it was positive. Despite the difficult economy, the Census Bureau notes that more households saw their income rise than fall.

Change in household income, 2009 to 2012 (in 2012 dollars)
Increased 50 percent or more: 15.9%
Increased 25 percent or more: 24.4%
Changed less than 25 percent: 53.5%
Decreased 25 percent or more: 22.1%
Decreased 50 percent or more: 9.0%

The report also examines the demographic characteristics of households that moved into higher or lower income quintiles during those years.

Source: Census Bureau, Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Fluctuations in the U.S. Income Distribution: 2009–2012

Friday, July 07, 2017

Are Video Games Behind The Decline in Young Men's Work Hours?

Young men are working fewer hours than they once did, and a new study suggests a novel reason for the decline—better video games.

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of hours men aged 21 to 30 worked for pay fell 12 percent, report researchers in a National Bureau of Economic Research study. The percentage of young men who did not work at all, excluding full-time students, climbed from 8 to 15 percent during those years.

To find out why work hours fell, the researchers look at trends in the work hours and leisure time of young men between 2004–07 and 2012–15. As work hours fell, leisure time increased. Young men devoted three-quarters of their increased leisure time to gaming and computers. Using data from the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey, the researchers test their theory that "improved leisure technology raised the return to non-market time and consequently increased the reservation wage of younger men." In other words, it takes more money than it once did to lure young men away from video games.

"Technology growth for recreational computer activities, by increasing the marginal value of leisure, accounts for 23 to 46 percent of the decline in market work for younger men during the 2000s," the researchers conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men, Working Paper 23552 ($5)

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Fewer Births in 46 States

The ongoing baby bust is occurring in 46 states. Nationally, the number of births fell 8.7 percent between 2007 (the year when births peaked at 4.3 million) and 2016 (3.9 million births). By state, the decline during those years is in the double digits in 15 states, with New Mexico seeing the biggest drop...

States with a double-digit decline in births, 2007 to 2016
19% decline: New Mexico
18% decline: Mississippi and Arizona
15% decline: Illinois
14% decline: Georgia, California, and Connecticut
13% decline: New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Rhode Island
12% decline: New Jersey, Nevada, and Vermont
10% decline: Idaho and Maine

The number of births increased in only four states and the District of Columbia between 2007 and 2016: South Dakota (up 0.1%), Alaska (1.4%), Washington (1.7%), D.C. (11.3%), and North Dakota (28.7%).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Going to College Leads to Postponed Parenting

One-third of the high school sophomores of 2002 were parents ten years later in 2012, according to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The longitudinal survey is tracking a representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores as they confront the challenges of adulthood. One of the key findings is how big a role higher education plays in the timing of childbearing. Here are the percentages of 2002 high school sophomores who had become parents by 2012, by educational attainment...

69.6% of high school dropouts
53.0% of high school diploma only
40.5% of those with some college
35.4% of those with an associate's degree
12.8% of those with a bachelor's degree
9.1% of those with a graduate degree

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Adults Under Age 45 Are Watching Less TV

Adults under age 45 are watching less TV on an average day than they did a decade ago, while those aged 45 or older are watching more. Overall, the amount of time people aged 15 or older spend watching television as a primary activity on an average day climbed from 2.57 hours in 2006 to 2.73 hours in 2016. Behind the increase is the aging of the population and the greater amount of time older Americans spend watching television. Here are the trends...

Hours per day spent watching TV in 2016 (and % change since 2006)
Aged 15 to 19: 1.94 (–8.1%)
Aged 20 to 24: 2.12 (–1.9%)
Aged 25 to 34: 1.95 (–11.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 2.07 (–1.9%)
Aged 45 to 54: 2.66 (+11.8%)
Aged 55 to 64: 3.26 (+13.2%)
Aged 65 to 74: 4.10 (+7.0%)
Aged 75-plus: 4.33 (+3.6%)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 American Time Use Survey

Monday, July 03, 2017

Walking for Transportation or Leisure

A growing percentage of Americans are walking for transportation or leisure, according to results of the National Health Interview Survey. When Americans were asked whether they had spent 10 or more minutes walking for transportation or leisure in the past seven days, a larger percentage had done so in 2015 than in 2005: 65 percent of women (up from 57 percent) and 63 percent of men (up from 54 percent).

Source: CDC, Walking for Transportation or Leisure among U.S. Women and Men—National Health Interview Survey, 2005–2015

Friday, June 30, 2017

Baby Bust Continues in 2016

The number of births in the United States fell to 3,941,109 in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That's about 37,000 fewer births than in 2015. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has declined in every year since 2007, when births hit a record high of 4.3 million.

Number of births (in 000s)
2016: 3,941
2015: 3,978 
2014: 3,988
2013: 3,932
2012: 3,953
2011: 3,954
2010: 3,999 (start of baby bust)
2009: 4,131
2008: 4,248
2007: 4,316 (record high)

The nation's 
fertility rate fell to 62.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, an all-time low. The birth rates for women in every age group under age 30 fell to record lows in 2016, while the birth rates for women aged 30 or older increased. 

Here's the most interesting thing: the birth rate for women aged 30 to 34—for the first time—was higher than the rate for women aged 25 to 29. The 25-to-29 age group had held the distinction of being the peak childbearing years since 1983, when it overtook the 20-to-24 age group. Clearly, the peak childbearing years can advance only so far, and the Millennial generation is testing the limits.   

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2016

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Confidence in Newspapers Rises

The public's confidence in newspapers is on the rise, according a Gallup survey. The percentage of Americans who say they have "quite a lot" or a "great deal" of confidence in newspapers climbed to 27 percent in 2017, up from 20 percent last year. What's behind the growing confidence? Democrats. Here is the percentage of people with "quite a lot" or a "great deal" of confidence in newspapers by political affiliation and how confidence changed between 2016 and 2017...

Democrats
2017: 46%
2016: 28%
Change: +18 percentage points

Republicans
2017: 13%
2016: 16%
Change: –3 percentage points

"These party differences may represent a backlash against President Donald Trump's proclamation that the media are "the enemy of the people," says Gallup.

Source: Gallup, In US, Confidence in Newspapers Still Low but Rising

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Teen Sexual Activity Has Declined

The percentage of never-married 15-to-19-year-olds who have ever had sexual intercourse has fallen over the years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The percentage of females aged 15 to 19 who have had sex fell from 51 to 42 percent between 1988 and 2011–15. Among males the percentage fell from 60 to 44 percent. When those who have not yet had sex are asked why they haven't, these are their main reasons...

Females
Against religion or morals: 35.3%
Haven't found the right person: 21.9%
Don't want to get pregnant: 19.3%
Don't want to get a sexually transmitted disease: 7.1%
In a relationship and waiting for right time: 6.2%

Males
Haven't found the right person: 28.5%
Against religion or morals: 27.9%
Don't want to get a girl pregnant: 21.2%
In a relationship and waiting for right time: 6.6%
Don't want to get a sexually transmitted disease: 4.7%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Family Growth, Sexual Activity and Contraceptive Use among Teenagers in the United States, 2011–2015

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Minority Majority in Youngest Generation

According to the Census Bureau 2016 population estimates, there's now a generation of Americans in which Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities account for the majority of members. The Recession Generation, a placeholder name for those born in the most recent and ongoing baby bust beginning in 2009, is 50.1 percent minority and 49.9 percent non-Hispanic White. Hispanics account for 26 percent of the Recession generation, Blacks for 18 percent, and Asians for 7 percent.

Overall, 38.7 percent of Americans are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority. Here are the percentages by generation...

Minority share of population by generation, 2016
Recession (0 to 6): 50.1%
iGeneration (7 to 21): 47.2%
Millennials (22 to 39): 44.0%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 38.5%
Boomers: (52 to 70): 28.8%
Older (71 or older): 21.3%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2016 Population Estimates

Monday, June 26, 2017

Median Household Income Stable in May 2017

In what will be the last of its monthly series of median household income estimates, Sentier Research reports no change in median household income in May 2017. The May median of $59,345 was not significantly different from the April 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 2.2 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 1.0 percent above the median of January 2000, the start of Sentier's statistical series. 

The monthly series is ending because, as Sentier's John Coder and Gordon Green explain, they can no longer afford to produce it. "We believe, as we hope you do, that these estimates provided an important new dimension regarding the economic situation of American households as we slowly climbed out of the Great Recession." 

Sentier has been tracking monthly trends in median household income since 2011, providing a valuable heads-up on what the Census Bureau reports on only once a year. Demo Memo is sorry to see it end. If anyone is interested in continuing the series, please contact Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Gun Sales Are Growing

Gun sales reached an all-time high in 2016, despite the fact that the number of households with guns has barely grown over the past decade. An estimated 40.8 million households owned a gun in 2016, up from 39.5 million in 2016—just a 3 percent increase. The percentage of households with guns fell to 32 percent in 2016, down from 34 percent in 2006, according to the General Social Survey.

Despite the small increase in the number of households with guns over the past decade, gun sales have soared. The number of background checks run through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (the best estimate of gun sales) more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, rising from 10 million to 28 million. What explains the surge in gun sales? According to the results of a Pew Research Center survey on gun ownership, the likely explanation is that gun owners are buying more guns...

Number of guns owned by gun owners
One gun: 32%
2 to 4 guns: 37%
5 or more guns: 29%
Did not answer: 2%

Source: Pew Research Center, America's Complex Relationship with Guns

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Population by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2016

The U.S. population grew by 13.8 million between 2010 and 2016, according to the Census Bureau. The non-Hispanic White population accounted for just 4 percent of the increase, while Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 96 percent of the gain. The minority share of the population climbed to 38.7 percent, up from 36.2 percent in 2010. Here are the 2016 population estimates by race and Hispanic origin...

Total population: 323,127,513
The U.S. population grew 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 13.8 million.

Non-Hispanic Whites: 197,969,608 (61.3%)
The non-Hispanic White population grew by a minuscule 0.3 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 575,289. Growth of the non-Hispanic White population is slowing to a crawl as deaths outnumber births. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of non-Hispanic Whites grew by just 5,206 compared with a gain of more than half a million for Asians and Blacks and more than 1 million for Hispanics.

Hispanics: 57,470,287 (17.8%)
The Hispanic population grew 13.2 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 6.7 million. Hispanics accounted for 49 percent of the nation's population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Blacks (alone or in combination): 46,778,674 (14.5%)
The Black population grew 7.9 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 3.4 million. Blacks accounted for 25 percent of the nation's population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Asians (alone or in combination): 21,419,159 (6.6%)
The Asian population grew 20.3 percent between 2010 and 2016, a gain of 3.6 million. Asians accounted for 26 percent of the nation's population growth between 2010 and 2016.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics Tables: 2010–2016

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Attitudes Toward Multigenerational Living Arrangements

When asked whether it is a good idea or a bad idea for older parents to move in with grown children or for grown children to move back home to live with their parents, younger generations are much more enthusiastic about multigenerational living arrangements...

Older parents moving in with grown children is a good idea
Millennials: 69%
Gen Xers: 72%
Boomers: 51%
Older: 30%

Grown children moving back home to live with parents is a good idea
Millennials: 52%
Gen Xers: 57%
Boomers: 41%
Older: 32%

Note: Millennials are aged 22 to 39; Gen Xers are aged 40 to 51; Boomers are aged 52 to 70.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Clash of Cultures: Rural vs. Urban

Most rural residents think those who live in big cities do not share their values. Urban residents are evenly split on whether rural residents share their values.

Rural residents think the values of big-city residents are...
Similar: 29%
Different: 68%

Big-city residents think the values of rural residents are...
Similar: 49%
Different: 48%

Suburban residents are more likely to believe their values align with rural than big-city folks, with 65 percent saying the values of rural residents are similar to their values and a smaller 43 percent saying the values of big-city residents are similar.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post Survey of Rural America

Monday, June 19, 2017

Aggregate Household Spending by Generation, 2015

The Baby Boom controls a larger share of aggregate household spending than any other generation—35 percent of the $7.2 trillion spent by households in 2015. Gen X and Millennial households combined control 52 percent of aggregate household spending...

Aggregate household spending (and percent distribution) by generation, 2015
Millennials (under 39): $1,906 billion (26.5%)
Gen Xers (39 to 50): $1,858 billion (25.8%)
Boomers (51 to 69): $2,522 billion (35.1%)
Older (70 or older): $910 billion (12.7%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Friday, June 16, 2017

Average Household Spending by Generation, 2015

The average household spent $55,978 in 2015. Households headed by Millennials and Older Americans (age 70-plus) spend less than average, while Boomers and Gen Xers spend more than average. Gen Xers are filling the peak earning and spending age group. Their average annual household spending is the highest...

Average household spending by generation, 2015
Millennials (under 39): $51,200
Gen Xers (39 to 50): $67,700
Boomers (51 to 69): $59,400
Older (70 or older): $42,700

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Regional Trends in Median Sales Price of New Single-Family Houses Sold

Nationally, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold climbed to a record high of $316,200 in 2016. But records were set in only two of the four regions—the Midwest and South.

Northeast: $448,200 in 2016 (not a record)
The Northeast has the highest median sales price for new single-family homes sold. But the 2016 median was less than the $465,400 of 2015 (in 2016 dollars), which is the record high.

Midwest: $284,400 in 2016 (record high)
The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in the Midwest hit a record high of $284,400 in 2016. This was 7 percent above the pre-Great Recession high of $266,600 in 2005, after adjusting for inflation.

South: $284,000 in 2016 (record high)
The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in the South hit a record high of $284,000 in 2016. This was 13 percent above the pre-Great Recession high of $252,000 in 2005, after adjusting for inflation.

West: $381,300 in 2016 (not a record)
The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in the West climbed to $381,300 in 2016. While this is 40 percent greater than the post-Great Recession low of $273,100 in 2011, after adjusting for inflation, it's 5 percent below the record high of $402,000 recorded in 2006.

Overall, 561,000 new single-family houses were sold in 2016. The Northeast accounted for 6 percent of the total, the Midwest 12 percent, and the West 25 percent. The 57 percent majority of new single-family houses sold were in the South.

Source: Census Bureau, 2016 Characteristics of New Housing

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Median Sales Price of New Single-Family Houses Sold Hits Record High of $316,200

For the second year in a row, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold climbed to a record high. The $316,200 median in 2016 was 5 percent greater than the $300,100 of 2015, after adjusting for inflation.

From just $235,500 in 2000, the median price of new single-family houses sold climbed rapidly in the early years of the 2000s as the housing bubble inflated, reaching a high of $296,000 in 2005 before collapsing. From that peak to the post-Great Recession low of $242,400 in 2011, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold fell 18 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Between 2011 and 2016, the price climbed 30 percent.

Median sales price of new single-family homes sold, 2000 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars)
2016: $316,200 (record high)
2015: $300,100
2014: $286,700
2013: $277,000
2012: $256,300
2011: $242,400 (post Great Recession low)
2010: $244,100
2005: $296,000 (pre Great Recession high)
2000: $235,500

Source: Census Bureau, 2016 Characteristics of New Housing

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Boomers with Travel Bucket Lists

How many travel destinations are on your bucket list? For Boomers, the magic number is 8, according to an AARP survey of Boomers who have traveled for leisure in the past two years.

Overall, 46 percent of Boomers have a bucket list, with travel being the most popular item on those lists—83 percent of Boomers with a bucket list name travel as an item on their list.

For Boomers with a travel-related bucket list, 47 percent of destinations are international and 53 percent are domestic. Australia is the top international destination, followed by Italy and UK/Ireland. Hawaii, Alaska, and California are the top three domestic destinations.

Source: AARP Travel Research: 2017 Travel Bucket Lists

Monday, June 12, 2017

How Many Bicycle on an Average Day?

One in five Americans aged 15 or older participates in sports, exercise, or recreation on an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey. Only a handful of sports attract more than 1 million participants on a daily basis...

Number (and percent) of people aged 15-plus participating on an average day, 2015
Walking: 16.3 million (6.4%)
Weightlifting: 6.2 million (2.4%)
Running: 4.8 million (1.9%)
Using cardiovascular equipment: 4.8 million (1.9%)
Water sports: 3.3 million (1.3%)
Yoga: 1.6 million (0.6%)
Biking: 1.5 million (0.6%)
Golfing: 1.3 million (0.5%)
Basketball: 1.1 million (0.4%)

Those most likely to walk on an average day are people aged 75 or older (10 percent). No surprise there. More surprising are the demographics of those who bicycle on an average day. Bicycling peaks in two age groups—teens aged 15 to 19 and retirees aged 75-plus.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015 American Time Use Survey

Friday, June 09, 2017

Millennials Head 51% of Households with Children

Despite the fact that Millennials are postponing marriage and childbearing, the generation now accounts for the majority of households with children under age 18. The Millennial share of the nation's households with children under age 18 crossed the 50 percent threshold for the first time in 2016. Here is the distribution...

Distribution of households with children under age 18 by generation, 2016
Total with children: 100.0%
Millennial (under 40): 51.2%
Generation X (40 to 51): 37.5%
Boomer and older (52-plus): 11.3%

Nearly half (48 percent) of Millennial households include children under age 18. Among Generation X, the figure is almost identical at 49 percent.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Families & Living Arrangements data

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Adult Children Who Care for Parents

At any given time, 6 percent of adult children are caring for parents who need help with Activities of Daily Living (dressing, bathing, walking, eating, etc.) and/or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (taking medication, shopping, cooking, etc.), according to a Center for Retirement Research study. Here is the percentage of adult children who are providing care by age of adult child...

Aged 20 to 29: 3%
Aged 30 to 39: 3%
Aged 40 to 49: 5%
Aged 50 to 59: 6%
Aged 60 to 69: 10%
Aged 70-plus: 12%

Source: Center for Retirement Research, How Much Long-Term Care Do Adult Children Provide?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Air Conditioning, 1976 and 2016

Global warming skeptics should take a look at the Census Bureau’s report, 2016 Characteristics of New Housing. The proof of global warming begins on page 8 of the 751-page statistical report. Fully 93 percent of new single-family homes completed in 2016 had air-conditioning, including more than 8 out of 10 new houses in the Northeast. Not so in 1976, when only 49 percent of all new single-family homes completed (and just 13 percent in the Northeast) had air-conditioning. Here is the 40-year trend by region...

Total U.S.
2016: 93%
1976: 49% 

Northeast
2016: 86%
1976: 13%

Midwest
2016: 94%
1976: 40%

South
2016: 100%
1976: 78%

West
2016: 78%
1976: 29%

Source: Census Bureau, 2016 Characteristics of New Housing

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Median Age of Sports Participants

The median age of people who participate in sports and exercise on an average day varies greatly by activity, according to the American Time Use Survey...

Median age of participants (in years)
Football: 16.1
Basketball: 16.9
Soccer: 17.8
Baseball: 19.0
Running: 29.0
Weight lifting: 32.5
Swimming: 38.2
Bowling: 40.0
Cycling: 41.6
Hiking: 42.4
Yoga: 46.2
Cardio equipment: 46.7
Aerobics: 49.6
Walking: 52.8
Golfing: 53.1

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spotlight on Statistics, Sports and Exercise

Monday, June 05, 2017

Decline in Number on Death Row

According to the latest government report on capital punishment, the number of prisoners on death row is shrinking. Here is how death row's population changed between 2014 and 2015...

Number of prisoners under death sentence
2015: 2,881
2014: 2,942

Number of inmates added to death row
2015: 49
2014: 69

Number of inmates removed from death row (excluding executions)
2015: 82
2014: 75

Number of executions
2015: 28
2014: 35

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment, 2014–2015

Friday, June 02, 2017

Use Internet "Almost Constantly"

Percentage of internet users who say they use the internet "almost constantly," by age...

Aged 18 to 29: 41%
Aged 30 to 49: 31%
Aged 50 to 64: 19%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Source: Pew Research Center, Tech Adoption Climbs among Older Adults

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Older Adults Who Become Disabled Have Less Wealth

When older Americans become disabled and need long-term care services and supports (LTSS), their wealth plummets. Long-term care insurance would help to conserve this wealth. Yet only 11 percent of people aged 65 or older have purchased a policy. An Urban Institute study examines whether policies to encourage more Americans to buy long-term care insurance would be successful.

Using Health and Retirement Study data, the Urban Institute's Richard W. Johnson tracked adults without disabilities from 1992 (when they were aged 51 to 59) until 2012 (when they were 71 to 79) to determine whether those who became disabled and in need of care during the time period differed in some way from those who remained disability free. He found big differences in wealth between the two groups. Among adults who developed disabilities, median household wealth was just $139,200 in 2012. Among those who remained disability free, median wealth was 61 percent higher at $224,600.

Older adults who became disabled over the 20-year time period had much less wealth than those who remained disability free—and the wealth gap existed years before they developed disabilities. Thus, adults at high risk of becoming disabled are at an economic disadvantage and unlikely to be able to afford long-term care insurance. Consequently, concludes Johnson, "proposed policies designed to encourage people to pre-fund future LTSS expenses may have limited impact because they will be unable to target those with the highest expenses."

Source: Urban Institute, Later-Life Household Wealth before and after Disability Onset

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Social Security is at Least Half of Income for Most 65+

Most Americans aged 65 or older depend on Social Security for at least 50 percent of household income, according to an analysis of 2015 Current Population Survey data in Social Security Bulletin. Here are the percentages by demographic characteristic...

  • By age: Social Security accounts for at least half of household income for 51.8% of people aged 65 or older, including 61.4% of people aged 80 or older.
  • By sex: Social Security accounts for at least half of household income for 55.2% of women aged 65 or older and 47.5% of men in the age group.
  • By race and Hispanic origin:  Social Security accounts for at least half of household income for 51.5% of Hispanics, 51.8% of non-Hispanic Whites, and 56.9% of Blacks aged 65 or older.
  • By educational attainment:  Social Security accounts for at least half of household income for 57.9% of high school graduates aged 65 or older. Among college graduates in the age group, a smaller 34.9% depend on Social Security for at least half of household income.
  • By income quintile: Social Security accounts for at least half of household income for 86.6% of people aged 65 or older in the lowest income quintile, 82.3% of those in the second income quintile, and 62.7% of those in the third income quintile. Among those in the fourth income quintile, the figure is a smaller 24.8%. Among those in the highest income quintile, just 2.2% depend on Social Security for at least half of their household income.

Source: Social Security Administration, Social Security Bulletin, The Importance of Social Security Benefits to the Income of the Aged Population

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

City Population Growth, 2010 to 2016

Between 2010 and 2016, the population of the nation's 757 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more in 2016) grew by an average of 6.0 percent. The remainder of the United States grew by a smaller 3.5 percent. City growth varies little by city size, with large cities of all sizes growing faster than elsewhere...

City population growth 2010-2016 by city size
1 million or more: 5.6%
500,000 to 999,999: 7.3%
250,000 to 499,999: 6.4%
200,000 to 249,999: 5.1%
150,000 to 199,999: 6.1%
100,000 to 149,999: 5.9%
50,000 to 99,999: 5.7%

A Demo Memo analysis of annual growth rates reveals slowing growth in the nation's largest cities. Among cities with populations of 50,000 or more, the growth rate since 2010 slowed from about 1 percent annually between 2010 and 2015 to a smaller 0.8 percent between 2015 and 2016. Widespread recovery from the Great Recession, which finally boosted household incomes in 2015, may be reducing the economic incentive to move to large cities. 

Source: Census Bureau, City and Town Population Totals Tables: 2010–2016

Monday, May 29, 2017

39% of Children Have Parent(s) with Bachelor's Degree

Among the nation's children, 39 percent have at least one parent in the household who has a bachelor's degree or more education. The figure varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent of children under age 18 with parent who has a bachelor's degree, 2015
66% of Asians
50% of non-Hispanic Whites
24% of Blacks
21% of American Indians
18% of Hispanics

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Death of Loved One in Past 5 Years

The 66 percent majority of adults experienced the death of a loved one in the past five years, according to a Kaiser survey. This figure includes 19 percent of Americans who experienced the death of a parent in the past five years, 15 percent the death of a close friend, and 12 percent the death of a sibling.

Among those who experienced the death of a loved one, 35 percent (or 23 percent of all adults) were involved in caring for the person before he or she died. Among those whose parent died, the 55 percent majority were helping to provide care.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Views and Experiences with End-of-Life Medical Care in the U.S.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stock Ownership Has Declined

The stock market has been doing well lately, but fewer Americans are benefiting from it, reports Gallup. The percentage of adults who own stock is below the level prior to the financial crisis in 2008. Gallup asked the question: "Do you personally, or jointly with a spouse, have any money invested in the stock market right now—either in an individual stock, a stock market fund, or in a self-directed 401(k) or IRA?" Here are the responses...

Percent owning stock today (and percentage point change since 2008)
Total 18-plus: 54% (–8)
Aged 18 to 29: 31% (–11)
Aged 30 to 49: 62% (–9)
Aged 50 to 64: 62% (–7)
Aged 65-plus: 54% (+1)

Source: Gallup, US Stock Ownership Down among All but Older, Higher-Income

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Median Household Income in April 2017 Finally Surpasses Median in January 2000

Median household income in April 2017 climbed to $59,361, reports Sentier Research—a significant 1.0 percent higher than the March 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. This gain boosted median household income above the January 2000 level, finally. The last time median household income exceeded the January 2000 level was in December 2008.    

"Median annual household income has displayed a somewhat erratic pattern 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 April 2017 median was 11.4 percent higher than the August 2011 median of $53,265, the low point in Sentier's household income series. Sentier's figures are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in April 2017 was 4.0 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was 2.1 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The April 2017 median was 0.9 percent higher than the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in April 2017 was 100.9 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: April 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How Have Attitudes Changed among Boomers?

The Baby-Boom generation is becoming more liberal as Boomers age into their seventies, according to a Demo Memo analysis of General Social Survey. Comparing the attitudes of Boomers when they were younger (aged 26 to 44 in 1990) with their attitudes today (aged 52 to 70 in 2016) reveals the liberalization of the generation...
  • Same-sex relations are always wrong: Although a substantial 45% of Boomers still feel same-sex relations are always wrong, the share is down from 70% in 1990. 
  • Marijuana should be legal: The 59% majority of Boomers think marijuana use should be legalized, up from just 18 percent in 1990. 
  • Working mothers hurt children: When they were younger adults in 1990, fully 69% of Boomers did not believe working mothers harmed children. Now older and wiser, an even larger 77 percent of older Boomers don't believe working mothers are harmful.
  • Support for capital punishment: Boomers are less supportive of capital punishment for convicted murderers today (63%) than they were in 1990 (80%).
  • Identify themselves as Democrats: A larger percentage of Boomers identified themselves as Democrats in 2016 (47%) than in 1990 (43%). 
  • Identify themselves as Republicans: A smaller percentage of Boomers identified themselves as Republicans in 2016 (36%) than in 1990 (43%). 
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Monday, May 22, 2017

Vaping More Popular than Cigarettes, Marijuana

In past 30 days, percent of high school students (grades 9 through 12) who have used...

Cigarettes: 10.8%
Marijuana: 21.7%
Vaping: 24.1%
Alcohol: 32.8%

Source: CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2015

Friday, May 19, 2017

How Many Have Retirement Accounts?

How many households have an IRA and/or a defined-contribution retirement account? According to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, 61 percent of households headed by workers aged 25 to 64 have at least one of these types of retirement savings. Here is the percentage by age of householder...

Total, 25 to 64: 61.1%
Aged 25 to 34: 50.4%
Aged 35 to 44: 60.0%
Aged 45 to 54: 63.6%
Aged 55 to 64: 71.4%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth

Thursday, May 18, 2017

42% of Older Americans Own a Smartphone

The percentage of Americans aged 65 or older who own a smartphone has more than doubled in three years—rising from just 18 percent in 2013 to 42 percent in 2016, according to Pew Research Center. One factor behind the increase is the aging of the baby-boom generation into the 65-plus age group. Here is the percentage of Americans aged 65 or older who owned a smartphone in 2016, by age...

Own a smartphone, 2016
Aged 65 to 69: 59%
Aged 70 to 74: 49%
Aged 75 to 79: 31%
Aged 80-plus: 17%

Source: Pew Research Center, Tech Adoption Climbs among Older Adults

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Did Not Like Candidates" Nearly Doubled in 2016

Among the 19 million registered voters aged 18 or older who did not vote in the 2016 election, the single biggest reason given for not showing up at their polling place was that they "did not like the candidates." The percentage who cited this reason nearly doubled since the last presidential election, rising from 12.7 percent in 2012 to 24.8 percent in 2016.

Reason for not voting in 2016 (and 2012)
Did not like candidates: 24.8% (12.7%)
Not interested: 15.4% (15.7%)
Too busy/conflicting schedule: 14.3% (18.9%)
Illness/disability: 11.7% (14.0%)
Out of town: 7.9% (8.6%)
Registration problems: 4.4% (5.5%)
Forgot to vote: 3.0% (3.9%)
Transportation problems: 2.6% (3.3%)
Inconvenient polling place: 2.1% (2.7%)
Other reasons: 13.8% (14.9%)

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2016

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When Do Americans Eat?

Nearly everyone (95 percent) engages in primary eating and drinking at least once a day, reports the USDA's Economic Research Service. Analyzing data from the American Time Use Survey, ERS researchers examined when Americans eat and whether eating is a primary or secondary activity. Primary eating occurs when eating is the main activity at the time. Secondary eating occurs when another activity—such as watching TV—is the main activity.

On an average day, 77 percent of Americans aged 15 or older engage in primary eating and drinking at dinnertime—between 5:00 pm and 7:59 pm. A smaller 62 percent report primary eating and drinking during lunchtime—between 11:00 am and 1:59 pm. Only 40 percent report eating as a primary activity during the breakfast hours of 7:00 am to 9:59 am.

More than half the public (54 percent) eats as a secondary activity during an average day. Watching television, working, and socializing are the most frequently cited primary activities engaged in while eating.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, What Time of Day Do Americans Engage in Primary and Secondary Eating?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Is Your Mother Still Alive?

Millions of Americans celebrated Mother's Day yesterday by honoring the memory of their mother rather than spending time with her. While the 60 percent majority of adults still have Mom in their life, a substantial 40 percent do not. The percentage of adults whose mother is no longer alive becomes the majority in the 55-to-64 age group...

Mother is no longer alive
Total 18-plus:   39.8%
Aged 18 to 29:  3.4%
Aged 30 to 44: 16.2%
Aged 45 to 54: 32.7%
Aged 55 to 64: 62.8%
Aged 65-plus:  96.8%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, May 12, 2017

Educational Attainment of American Workers

Among the 161 million Americans with earnings in 2015, more than one-third had a bachelor's degree or more education...

Educational attainment of people aged 18 or older with earnings, 2015
8.2% do not have a high school diploma
26.3% have a high school diploma only
29.8% have some college or an associate's degree
22.6% have a bachelor's degree only
13.2% have an advanced degree

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Voting Rate of Non-Hispanic Whites Climbed in 2016

The long-awaited and much anticipated report on voting in the 2016 presidential election was released by the Census Bureau yesterday. What does it reveal? Most notably, an increase in the voting rate of non-Hispanic Whites and a decline in the voting rate of Blacks. The percentage of non-Hispanic Whites who voted in 2016 was 1.2 percentage points higher than in 2012. The percentage of Blacks who voted in 2016 was 7.0 percentage points lower.

Voting rate of citizens in 2016 (and 2012)
Total: 61.4% (61.8%)
Asians: 49.9% (47.9%)
Blacks: 58.9% (65.9%)
Hispanics: 47.6% (48.0%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: 65.3% (64.1%)

Another interesting finding: Non-Hispanic Whites aged 65 or older accounted for a larger share of voters in 2016 (20 percent) than in 2012 (18 percent). The number of non-Hispanic White voters aged 65 or older climbed by 2.8 million between 2012 and 2016, thanks in large part to the aging of the baby-boom generation. The number of Black voters fell by 683,000. Those shifts may have determined the election outcome.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2016

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

54% of Women Aged 25 to 29 Are Childless

Nearly half of American women aged 15 to 44 were childless in 2016, up from about one-third in 1976. The dramatic rise in childlessness among women of reproductive age has been fueled by the especially large increases among women aged 25 to 34. The percentage of women aged 25 to 29 who have not (yet) had a child climbed 23 percentage points between 1976 and 2016. Among 30-to-34-year-olds, the percent childless nearly doubled during those years...

Percent of women who are childless, 2016 (and 1976)
Aged 15 to 44: 48.6% (35.1%)
Aged 20 to 24: 75.8% (69.0%)
Aged 25 to 29: 53.8% (30.8%)
Aged 30 to 34: 30.8% (15.6%)
Aged 35 to 39: 18.5% (10.5%)
Aged 40 to 44: 14.4% (10.2%)

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility of Women in the United States: 2016

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

$45,800 Student Loan Balance for College Graduates

Seventy-two percent of 2007-08 bachelor's degree recipients borrowed to pay for their college education, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report. At graduation, they owed an average of $45,800. Four years later in 2012, the 63 percent majority still owed an average of $41,900. Here are the amounts borrowed and owed by 2007–08 college graduates by their post-secondary school enrollment status ...

No further school enrollment
At time of college graduation: 66.4% had borrowed an average of $29,600
Four years after college graduation: 56.5% still owed an average of $24,200

Attended master's degree program
At time of college graduation: 79.1% had borrowed an average of $55,400
Four years after college graduation: 71.4% still owed an average of $52,300

Attended academic doctorate program
At time of college graduation: 59.9% had borrowed an average of $73,600
Four years after college graduation: 54.2% still owed an average of $75,200

Attended professional doctorate program
At time of college graduation: 89.7% had borrowed an average of $131,000
Four years after college graduation: 83.9% still owed an average of $134,100

While these levels of debt are disturbing, there's also good news in the report: "Despite rising student debt levels, the average increase in lifetime earnings from a bachelor's degree relative to a high school diploma still exceeds average student loan debt."

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Debt Burden of Bachelor's Degree Recipients

Monday, May 08, 2017

How Many Had Working Mothers?

When asked whether their mother ever worked for pay for as long as a year when they were growing up, 76 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say yes. Here are the figures by generation...

Percent with mother who worked
iGeneration (18 to 21): 89.6%
Millennials (22 to 39): 87.4%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 76.8%
Boomers (52 to 70): 69.9%
Older (71 or older): 49.9%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Sexual Orientation by Generation, 2016

Among adults aged 18 or older, 5 percent identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The percentage is as high as 12 percent among the youngest adults...

Percent identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual
iGeneration (18 to 21): 12.3%
Millennials (22 to 39): 6.9%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 5.2%
Boomers (52 to 70): 3.6%
Older (71 or older): 1.7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

51% Majority of Households Are Wireless-Only

Most American households are now wireless-only, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 50-percent threshold was crossed in the last half of 2016, when 50.8 percent of households reported having only wireless telephone service and no landline, up from 49.3 percent in the first half of 2016. 

Most adults are now wireless only as well. In the last half of 2016, 50.5 percent of people aged 18 or older reported having cell phone service and no landline service, up from 49.0 percent in the first half of 2016. The nation's children have been majority wireless-only since 2014. 

Percentage of adults who are wireless-only by age, July-December 2016
Aged 18 to 24: 61.7%
Aged 25 to 29: 72.7%
Aged 30 to 34: 71.0%
Aged 35 to 44: 62.5%
Aged 45 to 64: 45.2%
Aged 65-plus: 23.5%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July-December 2016

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Big Decline in Chronically Uninsured

The percentage of 18-to-64-year-olds who are "chronically uninsured"—meaning they have not had health insurance for more than one year—has fallen by more than half, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Percent of people aged 18 to 64 who are chronically uninsured 
2016: 7.6%
2015: 9.1%
2014: 12.3%
2013: 15.7%
2012: 16.2%
2011: 16.3%
2010: 16.8%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Changes in the Characteristics of Chronically Uninsured Adults: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 2010–September 2016

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2017

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, first quarter 2017: 44.6%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 fell in the first quarter of 2017. The age group's 44.6 percent homeownership rate is a new record low, although not statistically different from the previous record low. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds appears to have found a new normal in the mid-forties.  


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 slipped toward the 50-percent threshold. In the first quarter of 2017 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 56.6 percent, down from a peak of 65.7 percent a decade ago in the first quarter of 2007.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 63.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017, not statistically different from the 63.5 percent of a year earlier. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, May 01, 2017

Median Household Income Stable in March 2017

Median household income in March 2017 stood at $58,673, according to Sentier Research—not significantly different from the February 2017 median or the March 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation.  

"Median annual household income has displayed a somewhat erratic pattern 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 March 2017 median was 10.3 percent higher than the August 2011 median of $53,176, the low point in Sentier's household income series. Sentier's figures are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in March 2017 was 2.9 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was 1.1 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The March 2017 median was just 0.1 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in March 2017 was 99.9 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: March 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Snapchat Use by Generation

Nearly one in four Americans (24.6%) use Snapchat, according to the General Social Survey. Here are the percentages by generation...

Percent who use Snapchat
iGeneration (18 to 21): 64.0%
Millennials (22 to 39): 37.0%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 14.8%
Boomers (52 to 70): 6.8%
Older (71 or older): 5.3%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Instagram Use by Generation

Nearly one in three Americans (32.8%) use Instagram, according to the General Social Survey. Here are the percentages by generation...

Percent who use Instagram
iGeneration (18 to 21): 68.9%
Millennials (22 to 39): 46.4%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 27.4%
Boomers (52 to 70): 12.2%
Older (71 or older): 9.7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

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