Monday, November 12, 2018

Most Children Live with Siblings

Among the nation's 74 million children under age 18, more than three out of four (78 percent) live with siblings. Only 22 percent do not have one or more siblings at home, according to the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation...

58% of children share their home only with biological/adopted siblings
11% of children share their home only with half/step siblings
  8% of children share their home with biological/adopted and half/step siblings
22% of children do not have siblings living with them

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: Parental Interaction, School Engagement, and Extracurricular Activities: 2014

Friday, November 09, 2018

Millions of Americans Practice Yoga

There's a reason you see so many people walking down the street with yoga mats. Millions of Americans practice yoga, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. The NCHS regards yoga as a "complementary" medicine—meaning a form of alternative medicine for health and wellness. Every now and then it surveys the population to determine just how many people practice (or "use") yoga. An increasing number of them, it seems. In 2017, a substantial 14.3 percent of adults aged 18 or older had used yoga in the past 12 months—more than 35 million people. This figure is up from 9.5 percent in 2012. The use of yoga varies by demographic characteristic, of course...

  • 20 percent of women practice yoga versus 9 percent of men.
  • Yoga is most popular among younger adults. In the 18-to-44 age group, 18 percent practiced yoga in the past 12 months. The figure was 12 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds, and 7 percent among people aged 65 or older. 
  • 17 percent of non-Hispanic Whites practiced yoga in the past 12 months. The figure was 9 percent among Blacks and 8 percent among Hispanics.

The practice of yoga has become more mainstream, the NCHS concludes.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Big Growth in 401(k) Balances

Consistency pays off. Workers who consistently participate in their 401(k) plan have seen their account balance grow rapidly over the past few years, according to an analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

EBRI tracked the account balances of workers who contributed (or their employers contributed) to their 401(k) plan in every year from 2010 through 2016 to determine how their accounts did over the time period. They did well. The average plan balance for consistent participants climbed from $75,378 to $167,330 between 2010 and 2016. That's a compound average annual growth rate of 14 percent. Here is how account balances grew over those years by age of worker in 2016...

Average 401(k) account balance of consistent participants in 2016 (and in 2010)
Workers in their 20s:   $34,956 (   $3,998)
Workers in their 30s:   $77,927 (  $21,804)
Workers in their 40s: $146,624 (  $57,117)
Workers in their 50s: $217,447 (  $99,388)
Workers in their 60s: $204,783 ($117,139)

Source: EBRI, What Does Consistent Participation in 401(k) Plans Generate? Changes in 401(k) Plan Account Balances, 2010—2016

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

How Many Boomers Are Middle-Aged?

On average, American women think "old age" begins at 70, according to an AARP survey of women. But the age at which "old age" begins differs by generation...

Age at which "old age" begins
Millennials: 67
Gen Xers: 70
Boomers: 74

The same phenomena occurs when women are asked at what age "middle age" begins. On average, they say it begins at 47, but here are the answers by generation...

Age at which "middle age" begins
Millennials: 44
Gen Xers: 47
Boomers: 51

Among Boomer women, 78 percent regard themselves as middle-aged, according to the AARP survey. But according to the Boomer definition of middle age—which stretches from 51 to 73—the entire generation (aged 54 to 72 this year) is still middle-aged. Even by Millennial standards, 80 percent of Boomers are middle-aged and not yet old.

Source: AARP, Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Women's Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Most Democrats Are Afraid of Global Warming

Americans are polarized on many issues, and fear of global warming/climate change is one of them. The public is almost evenly divided on the spectrum of fear towards global warming, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Among all adults, 26 percent are "very afraid" of global warming/climate change, and 27 percent are "afraid." Another 23 percent are only "slightly afraid" of global warming, and 24 percent are "not afraid."

Behind the divide are the differing attitudes of Democrats and Republicans. While three out of four Democrats are afraid of global warming (afraid or very afraid), three out of four Republicans are not (slightly afraid or not afraid).

Fear of global warming/climate change by party affiliation, 2018

  Democrats   Republicans
Total  100.0%   100.0%
Very afraid    43.0       5.5
Afraid    33.6     20.3
Slightly afraid    17.8     32.3
Not afraid      5.7     41.8

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Top 10 Fears by Party Affiliation

Monday, November 05, 2018

Excuses, Excuses

In the last midterm election in 2014, only 17 percent of 18-to-24-year-old citizens voted—the lowest rate of any age group. When the young adults who did not vote were asked by the Census Bureau why they failed to show up at the polls. These were their reasons...

32% said they were too busy
17% said they were not interested
14% said they were out of town
10% forgot

Other reasons given by 18-to-24-year-olds for not voting included not liking the candidates (4 percent), illness (3 percent), registration problems (3 percent), an inconvenient polling place (2 percent), transportation problems (2 percent), and "other" (8 percent). Five percent of nonvoters refused to explain why they didn't cast a ballot.

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

Friday, November 02, 2018

Most Say Trump Has Encouraged White Supremacists

That's what the 54 percent majority of Americans think, according to a PRRI survey. Here are the percentages who feel this way by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent who think Trump has encouraged white supremacists
72% of Blacks
68% of Hispanics
58% of non-Hispanic Whites with a four-year college degree
38% of non-Hispanic Whites without a four-year college degree

Not surprisingly, Democrats (83 percent) are far more likely than Republicans (15 percent) to feel that Trump has encouraged white supremacists.

Source: PRRI, Partisan Polarization Dominates Trump Era: Findings from the 2018 American Values Survey

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in September 2018

Another month of good news: Median household income in September 2018 climbed to $63,007, reports Sentier Research. This is the highest median recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The September 2018 median was 3.7 percent higher than the September 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.7 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.8 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in September 2018 was 103.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: September 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter 2018

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, third quarter 2018: 57.5%

The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds—the nation's first-time home buyers—inched upwards in the third quarter of 2018, rising above 57 percent for only the second time since 2012. Post Great Recession, the homeownership rate of the age group dipped as low as 54.6 percent in 2015. It peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. The third quarter rate is closer to the bottom than the top, but a slight upward trend in homeownership may be in evidence. 

What about their younger counterparts, aged 30 to 34, who were once the nation's first-time home buyers? Their homeownership rate rose to 48.0 percent in the third quarter of 2018. This is up from 45.9 percent one year earlier, a statistically significant increase. Before the Great Recession, 30-to-34-year-olds were the nation's first-time home buyers (defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent). But their rate fell below 50 percent in 2011 and has been stuck there ever since. With their recent gains, perhaps 30-to-34-year-olds are on their way to reclaiming first-time homebuyer status.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, up from 63.9 percent one year earlier. The difference is not statistically significant.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

One Week Away

Election day is one week away, and many are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for an historic turnout. But midterm elections typically disappoint. Turnout is abysmally low, especially among younger adults, Asians, and Hispanics. Only 41.9 percent of citizens aged 18 or older voted in the last midterm elections in 2014. Here are the 2014 voting rates by age, race, and Hispanic origin...

Percentage of citizens who voted in the 2014 midterm elections
17.1% of 18-to-24-year-olds
32.5% of 25-to-44-year-olds
49.6% of 45-to-54-year-olds
59.4% of people aged 65 or older

27.0% of Hispanics
27.1% of Asians
39.7% of Blacks
45.8% of non-Hispanic Whites

Among voters in the 2014 midterm elections, fully 55 percent were non-Hispanic Whites aged 45 or older. Twenty-four percent were non-Hispanic Whites aged 65 or older. This oldest segment of non-Hispanic White voters accounted for a larger share of the 2014 midterm electorate than Asian, Black, and Hispanic voters combined (23 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Historical Reported Voting Rates

Monday, October 29, 2018

Growing Fear of Mass Shootings

The percentage of Americans who are afraid of mass shootings has more than doubled in the past few years, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears.

In 2015, only 16.4 percent of the public was afraid/very afraid of a mass shooting—about equal to the percentage who were afraid of needles and germs and ranking a lowly 56th among the public's top fears. The 2018 survey finds a much larger 41.5 percent of the public afraid of a mass shooting. Fear of mass shootings now ranks 28th on the list of America's biggest fears—just above fear of terrorism (39.8 percent).

Percent who are afraid/very afraid of a mass shooting
2018: 41.5%
2017: 28.1%
2016: 26.9%
2015: 16.4%

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Prison to Prison Pipeline

If the purpose of prison is to rehabilitate criminals, then the prison system in the United States is a massive failure. The 60 percent majority of those released from prison after serving their time are arrested again within two years.

This figure comes from a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of recidivism. For nine years the bureau followed a random sample of convicts released from state prisons in 2005. Within one year following release, 44 percent had been arrested again. Within two years, the figure was 60 percent. After nine years, fully 83 percent had been re-arrested.

The rate of recidivism does not vary much by demographic characteristic. Among males, 84 percent were arrested again within nine years. The rate among females was 77 percent. For non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, the rate was over 80 percent. By age, the rate ranged from a high of 90.1 percent for those released when they were aged 24 or younger to a low of 76.5 percent for those aged 40 or older at the time of release.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005–2014)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Millennial Food Purchasing Patterns

Millennials purchase food differently than older generations, according to a study by the USDA's Economic Research Service. Some of the differences are age related but some may be a sign of changing food preferences, the study suggests. Here are some of the differences...

  • Millennials are least likely to eat at home on an average day. Only 36 percent of Millennial eating occasions occur at home on an average day. Among Gen Xers the figure is 39 percent, Boomers 41 percent, and older Americans 50 percent. 
  • Millennials are most likely to purchase fast food during an average week. In the past week, 62 percent of Millennials had purchased prepared food from a fast-food restaurant, carry-out, or food delivery, the study reports. This compares with 56 percent of Gen Xers, 59 percent of Boomers, and 47 percent of older Americans. 
  • Millennials make the fewest trips to food stores during an average month. Millennial households visit food stores an average of 5.33 times per month. Frequency rises with age. Gen Xers make 6.27 visits to food stores per month, Boomers 7.33, and older Americans 7.78.
  • Millennials spend less than other generations on groceries. Millennials spend $94 per capita on groceries during an average month. Gen Xers spend $102, Boomers $144, and older Americans $159. Regardless of income level, Millennials spend less per capita on groceries than older generations. 
  • Millennial grocery shoppers allocate a larger share of their food dollar to prepared food. When Millennial households shop for groceries, they devote 7.48 percent of their grocery dollar to prepared food. The older generations devote less than 7 percent to prepared food. The USDA defines prepared food as food that requires minimal or no preparation after purchase, such as sandwiches and salads from the grocery deli, prepared chicken, frozen pizza, and so on. 

The food shopping patterns of Millennials are shaped by the fact that most are young adults, the study notes. But there are indications that Millennials have unique food preferences. After controlling for income, for example, the per capita spending of Millennials on fruit matches the spending of older Americans—who are the biggest spenders on fruit. As the income of Millennials rises, their per capita spending on vegetables also rises. "The Millennial generation may have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables compared to older generations," the study concludes. Another difference: Millennials may have "become accustomed to consuming foods requiring minimal preparation effort."

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households Compared to Other Generations

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Low-Fat Diets Aren't Working

If eating high-fat food was the cause of obesity, then Americans would be losing weight. The fat content of the American diet has fallen substantially over the past 35 years, reports the USDA's Economic Research Service. Fat accounted for only 32 percent of the calories consumed by the average person in 2011–14, down from 41 percent in 1977–78. The 32 percent figure is within the level of dietary fat recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

Americans have significantly reduced the fat in their diet, but they haven't lost weight. Just the opposite, in fact. During the past 35 years, as we opted for lower-fat foods, the percentage of people aged 20 to 74 who are overweight expanded from 47 to 71 percent. Obesity climbed from 15 to 40 percent. If fat is not the culprit, then what is behind the obesity epidemic?

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Both at Home and Away, Americans Are Choosing More Lower Fat Foods than They Did 35 Years Ago

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cash Is Still King, Sort Of

Burglars take note. It is probably not worth your time to break into houses or cars looking for cash. It turns out, few of us keep cash anywhere but in our pockets, wallets, or purses. And the cash we carry doesn't amount to much—only $59, on average. These findings come from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), a collaborative effort of the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Boston, Richmond, and San Francisco.

The latest DCPC survey was fielded in October 2017 and asked a nationally representative sample of respondents to record on a daily basis how much cash they had on their person or stored in their home, car, or office; what payments they made; and how they paid—cash, debit cards, credit cards, electronic transfer, etc. According to the survey results, while most consumers have cash on their person, just 22 percent have at least $1 stored elsewhere. Those who stash cash have an average of $738 squirreled away.

Americans use cash for 30 percent of their transactions during a typical month, the single largest method of payment. But cash accounts for only 8.5 percent of the total value of payments made during a month. Here is a look at the number of transactions made by the average person during a month by payment method...

Number of transactions per month (and average amount per transaction) by type of payment
12.4 cash transactions ($23)
10.7 debit card transactions ($47)
8.6 credit card transactions ($61)
2.5 checks written ($238)
2.2 other* methods ($180)
2.0 bank account number payments ($310)
1.7 online banking bill pay ($256)
0.7 prepaid cards ($26)
0.1 money orders ($275)

* Other methods include PayPal, account-to-account transfers, mobile payments, and deductions from income.

The average American makes payments amounting to $3,418 during a month. Interestingly, the average number of payments made during a month fell from 46 in 2016 to 41 in 2017—a statistically significant drop. The reason for the decline is not known.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, The 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Monday, October 22, 2018

This is the 3,000th Post

This is Demo Memo's 3,000th blog post. I know this because demographers like to count things. In the 12 years Demo Memo has been online, this blog has spotted and tracked a lot of demographic trends. It has reported on many groundbreaking studies. It has kept its readers up-to-date on the government's latest survey results.

Demo Memo began in 2006 with this post and continued on from there to report on the first signs of the housing collapse, the historic decline in the mobility rate, the rising age at first marriage, the steep loss in net worth, the beginnings of the baby bust, fun things like the Tchotchke Index and its updates, and a favorite of Demo Memo—technological adoption of cell phones, smartphones, and the internet.

More recently, Demo Memo has been examining why small-town America is in decline, when minorities will become the majority of voters, the resistance to self-driving cars, the 30-year low in births, the early peak in the non-Hispanic White population, the decline of life expectancy, and the extraordinary rise in spending on pets.

Demo Memo has been a lot of work and also a lot of fun. Here's to 3,000 more!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Who's Afraid of Illegal Immigrants?

Although President Trump has attempted to instill in the American public a fear of undocumented immigrants, his efforts have failed to persuade most of us. In fact, a larger share of the public is afraid of Trump himself (59 percent) than of illegal immigrants (41 percent), according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears...

Fear of illegal immigrants
59.3% are not afraid
19.3% are slightly afraid
12.2% are afraid
  9.3% are very afraid

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Fear of Immigration

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Americans Are More Afraid, Survey Finds

Americans are increasingly afraid. This is one of the most striking findings from the 2018 Chapman University Survey of American Fears. This year as in past years, the number one fear—mentioned by the largest share of the public—is fear of corrupt government officials. But the percentage of Americans who say government corruption scares them has climbed, rising from 61 to 74 percent between 2016 and 2018.

Corruption is not the only thing Americans are increasingly frightened about, Chapman University reports. Many things are scaring them more. In fact, all of the top 10 fears in 2018 scare more than half the public. In 2016, most of the top 10 fears scared only about one-third of the public.

Top 10 fears of 2018 (percent saying they are afraid)
1. Corrupt government officials: 74%
2. Pollution of oceans rivers, and lakes: 62%
3. Pollution of drinking water: 61%
4. Not enough money for the future: 57%
5. Someone you love will become seriously ill: 57%
6. People you love dying: 56%
7. Air pollution: 55%
8. Extinction of plant and animal species: 54%
9. Global warming and climate change: 53%
10. High medical bills: 53%

Another trend Chapman University sees in the list of fears is the rise of environmental concerns. Five of the top 10 fears of 2018 are environmental. In 2016, the number of environmental concerns in the top 10 list was zero.

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, America's Top Fears 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How Wrong Are the Official Counts of Gig Work?

Eyebrows were raised a few months ago when the Bureau of Labor Statistics Contingent Worker Supplement revealed no growth in the alternative workforce between 2005 (the last time the survey was taken) and 2017, despite the apparent growth of the gig economy. Surprise turned to dismay when the Bureau admitted its failure to successfully measure "electronically mediated employment"— or gig work arranged and paid for through online platforms.

Could it be that the Bureau of Labor Statistics' effort to measure a growing and vital segment of the workforce is way off track? The answer is yes. Although study after study after study finds a substantial percentage of Americans participating in the gig economy, these workers are eluding the government's official efforts to measure them.

There's a reason for this. The employment questions asked by the monthly Current Population Survey, which is the official measure of the labor force, do not capture informal work activity. This is the finding of a National Bureau of Economic Research study by Katharine G. Abraham of the University of Maryland and Ashley Amaya of RTI International.

The Current Population Survey asks respondents whether they did any work for 'pay' or 'profit' during the survey reference week. It also asks whether respondents have more than one 'job' or 'business.' Abraham and Amaya have a problem with these questions, which were formulated years ago when the labor force was less complex: "It is not clear...that respondents are likely to think of money earned through informal work activity as either 'pay' or 'profit' or to consider such activity to be a 'job' or 'business.'" To test this hypothesis, they surveyed Mechanical Turk (Amazon's crowdsourcing platform) participants and asked respondents not only the standard CPS employment questions but also additional questions to probe for informal work activity.

What a difference those additional questions made. Fully 22 percent of respondents had engaged in additional work activity in the past week that would have been missed by the CPS. Among those identified by the CPS questions as having no work activity in the past week, 23.5 percent had engaged in informal paid work. Among those identified by the CPS as having one job in the past week, 23.3 percent were engaging in informal work as well. Among those the CPS identified as having two jobs, an additional 15.9 percent also performed informal paid work on top of their busy schedules. Those who engaged in informal work in the past week devoted a substantial 8.2 hours, on average, to the activity.

The researchers admit that their Mechanical Turk sample is not representative of the U.S. population as a whole. But, they say, their findings "provide important evidence about the sensitivity of survey estimates to asking more probing questions." It's too late for this insight to make a difference in the long-awaited (12 years!) 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement, which took "as its starting point the employment reported in response to the standard CPS questions." Let's hope the Bureau of Labor Statistics will take these findings seriously and field a better survey of the gig workforce—ASAP.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Probing for Informal Work Activity, Working Paper 24880 ($5)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rural Residents Are Big Spenders on Transportation

Households in rural areas spend slightly less than their urban counterparts. The average rural household spent $58,241 in 2017, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey—4 percent less than the $60,468 spent by the average urban household. But, not surprisingly, rural households are the biggest spenders on several transportation categories...

  • Vehicle purchases: Rural households own more vehicles than urban households (2.6 versus 1.8), and they spend 28 percent more than the average household on vehicle purchases. Their spending is particularly high (48 percent above average) on used vehicles. Households in urban areas spend 6 percent less than average on vehicle purchases.
  • Vehicle finance charges: Rural households spend 31 percent more than average on vehicle finance charges. Urban households spend 7 percent less than average. 
  • Gasoline: Rural households spend 26 percent more than average on gasoline. Households in urban areas spend 6 percent less than average. 
  • Vehicle maintenance/repair: Rural households spend 53 percent more than average on vehicle repair. Households in urban areas spend 12 percent less.

Because their spending is above average on these items, rural households are the biggest spenders on the overall transportation category. The average rural household spent $11,466 on transportation in 2017—$2,315 more than the $9,151 spent by the average urban household. Rural residents devote 20 percent of their household budget to transportation. For urban households, the figure is 15 percent.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, October 15, 2018

What Would You Do To Stay Employed?

Among the nation's employed adults, here are the percentages who would be willing to do the following to avoid being unemployed...

87% would be willing to learn new skills
74% would accept temporary employment
60% would accept a longer commute
56% would accept lower pay
40% would be willing to move within the United States
17% would be willing to move to another country

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, October 12, 2018

37% Eat Fast Food on an Average Day

Fast food is a staple of the American diet. More than one-third (37 percent) of adults aged 20 or older eat fast food on an average day, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The NCHS defines fast food as food sourced from a fast-food restaurant or pizza. Young adults are most likely to eat fast food, older adults least likely...

Percent eating fast food on an average day
Aged 20 to 39: 45%
Aged 40 to 59: 38%
Aged 60-plus: 24%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fast Food Consumption among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Three Generations of Married-Couple Households

It is difficult to grasp just how much living arrangements have changed in the United States unless you mine the Census Bureau's archives to uncover the nitty gritty of the way we used to live. The most dramatic change over the decades is the decline in the share of households headed by married couples. In three generations, the share of all households headed by married couples fell 26 percentage points—from 74 to just 48 percent. Among the youngest adults, the drop is a stunning 68 percentage points! Here is the married-couple share of households by age of householder today (2018), one generation ago (1990), and two generations ago (1960)...

Percent of households headed by married couples
     2018     1990     1960
Total households     48.0%     55.3%     74.2%
Under age 25     14.3     31.9     82.3
Aged 25 to 34     41.5     54.1     86.9
Aged 35 to 44     56.9     62.2     84.4
Aged 45 to 54     55.0     63.8     76.5
Aged 55 to 64     52.9     63.1     67.9
Aged 65 or older     44.2     44.0     51.1

What replaced all those married couples? Single-parent families, single-person households, and people living together outside of marriage. These once uncommon living arrangements were the consequence of rising educational attainment and women's growing economic independence. The steep decline in married couples reveals much of the social change of the past half century.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How Many Are Watching TV at Midnight?

On an average day, 79 percent of Americans aged 15 or older watch television as a primary activity—meaning their main activity at the time. The percentage who watch television is lowest among 15-to-19-year-olds (73 percent) and highest among people aged 65 or older (89 percent). These facts come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey.

The survey collects even more detail about the activities in which people engage on an average day. It records the time of day, for example, and whether respondents are alone or with others. Here is the percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who are watching television at selected hours of the day...

Percent watching television
6% are watching from midnight to 1 am
1% are watching from 3 to 4 am (lowest point)
13% are watching from noon to 1 pm
38% are watching from 6 to 7 pm
59% are watching from 8 to 9 pm (highest point)

For many, watching television is a solitary activity. Forty-eight percent of television time is spent alone, 52 percent with others.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Television, Capturing America's Attention at Prime Time and Beyond

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

What's Wrong with the White Working Class?

When the white working class sneezes, America catches a cold. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis examines what may be ailing America in an analysis of trends in the wellbeing of this largest segment of Americans. It defines the white working class as households headed by non-Hispanic Whites without a four-year college degree. The white working class accounts for the 42 percent plurality of the nation's households. Another 26 percent are headed by whites with a college degree and 32 percent are headed by Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities.

Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, researchers at the Fed analyzed trends in the socioeconomic wellbeing of the white working class, comparing its experience over the past few decades to that college educated whites and to nonwhites. Relative to the other segments, the white working class has declined...
  • The share of income accruing to the white working class fell from 45 percent in 1989 to 27 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the share of income accruing to college educated whites and to nonwhites increased. 
  • The share of wealth accruing to the white working class fell from 45 percent in 1989 to 22 percent in 2016. At the same time the share of wealth accruing to college educated whites and to nonwhites increased. 
  • The median household income and median net worth of white working class households has fallen relative to the national medians, and their homeownership rate, marriage rate, and self-reported health status also have deteriorated.
These declines may be "the result of circumstances unique to the white working class," say the researchers. The circumstances include: 1) rising high school graduation rates for Blacks and Hispanics, which has increased the competition with nonwhites for jobs; 2) less racial and ethnic discrimination in the labor market, which has increased the competition with nonwhites for jobs; and 3) globalization, which has reduced job opportunities.

"The long-term decline of the white working class may be due, in part, to the reduction over time of their previous advantages over nonwhite working classes," the study concludes.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall: The Decline of the White Working Class

Monday, October 08, 2018

Many Americans Believe in Reincarnation

One in three adults (33 percent) believes in reincarnation, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Even among those who profess to be neither religious nor spiritual, a substantial 22 percent believe in it.

Women (39 percent) are more likely than men (27 percent) to believe in reincarnation. Blacks (43 percent) and Hispanics (37 percent) are more likely to believe than non-Hispanic Whites (29 percent). By education, college graduates are least likely to believe (24 percent) while those with no more than a high school diploma are most likely (39 percent). Here is the percentage who believe in reincarnation by age...

Believe in reincarnation
Aged 18 to 29: 39%
Aged 30 to 49: 34%
Aged 50 to 64: 34%
Aged 65-plus: 22%

Source: Pew Research Center: 'New Age' Beliefs Common among both Religious and Nonreligious Americans

Friday, October 05, 2018

One in Five Young Adults Vapes

Among Americans aged 18 or older, only 9 percent say they occasionally or regularly vape (use e-cigarettes). But the vaping rate is much higher among young adults, with 20 percent vaping and a smaller 16 percent smoking cigarettes...

Percent who occasionally/regularly vape (or smoke cigarettes)
Aged 18 to 29: 20% (16%)
Aged 30 to 49:   9% (23%)
Aged 50 to 64:   7% (26%)
Aged 65-plus:    0% (10%)

Source: Gallup, Young People Adopt Vaping as their Smoking Rate Plummets

Thursday, October 04, 2018

How Long Are the Golden Years?

Just how long are the golden years? If you are nearing retirement, how many years can you and your spouse expect to spend together? This is not an easy calculation. The answer is not simply the shorter life expectancy of the husband. Instead, the calculation of joint life expectancy requires incorporating the probabilities of both husband and wife surviving in each successive year.

It's a tedious job, say economists Janice Compton and Robert A. Pollack, but they did it. Their results are published in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, which examines trends in joint life expectancy over time and by race, Hispanic origin, and education. They illustrate their findings throughout the paper by considering a wife aged 60 married to a husband aged 62. "We focus on 60 year old wives and their husbands because these are ages at which many couples make crucial retirement-related decisions such as leaving career employment and claiming social security benefits," the authors explain. Here are some of the findings by race, Hispanic origin, and education based on life expectancy stats in 2010...

Joint life expectancy for wife at 60 and husband at 62 (and probability wife will be survivor)
Blacks: 15.45 years (63%)
Hispanics: 18.79 years (65%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: 17.66 years (63%)

Neither is a college graduate: 15.53 years (65%)
Only wife is a college graduate: 17.17 years (68%)
Only husband is a college graduate: 18.31 years (59%)
Both are college graduates: 18.99 years (63%)

Joint life expectancy has expanded over the decades as individual life expectancy has grown, the researchers find. For non-Hispanic White couples, joint life expectancy has stretched from just 12.06 years in 1950 to the 17.66 years of 2010. Black couples can look forward to 15.45 golden years, up from just 9.99 in 1950.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, The Life Expectancy of Older Couples and Surviving Spouses, Working Paper 25009 ($5)


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

An Historic Moment in Tech Adoption

We may be at an historic moment. "The share of Americans who go online, use social media, or own key devices has remained stable the past two years," reports Pew Research Center. Pew knows because it has been surveying these things for decades, all the way back to 1994, when the percentage of people who "use the Internet" was just 6 percent.

According to Pew's 2018 survey, 89 percent of American adults use the Internet, 77 percent own a smartphone, 73 percent own a desktop or laptop computer, 69 percent are on social media, and 53 percent have a tablet computer. These percentages are nearly identical to the 2016 figures. Behind the stability is the "near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Put simply, in some instances there just aren't many non-users left."

That's not to say technological change has come to a halt. The Internet of Things is rising, says Pew, with the growing use of smart TVs, wearable devices, digital voice assistants, and so on. But we are in a new phase, and "the method for tracking certain adoption metrics may need to change." Pew's panel of experts, for example, has advised Pew that it may want to stop asking people whether they "use the Internet." The reason? That's like asking them if they use electricity. A silly question.

Source: Pew Research Center, Internet, Social Media Use and Device Ownership in U.S. Have Plateaued after Years of Growth

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

BLS: Don't Do What We Did

Wow, what a mess. In a 33-page Monthly Labor Review article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics explains its delay in releasing the data on what it calls "electronically-mediated work"—defined as "short jobs or tasks that workers find through websites or mobile apps that both connect them with customers and arrange payment for the tasks." Here is the key sentence:
"BLS should not again attempt to collect data about electronically mediated work using the four new questions fielded in the May 2017 CWS [Contingent Worker Survey]."
In other words, the first attempt made by the BLS to count the number of electronically-mediated workers was a failure.

Some background: In June, the BLS released its estimate of the gig workforce, measured by a special supplement to the 2017 Current Population Survey. The results were surprising, showing no growth or even decline in the gig workforce since 2005. But the survey did not include those who engaged in electronically-mediated work. These figures would be revealed, said the BLS, before September 30 in a Monthly Labor Review article. As promised, the article appeared on the BLS web site on Friday, September 28th. It is a sorry tale of earnest efforts to add four questions on electronically-mediated work to the Contingent Worker Supplement of the Current Population Survey and the flawed numbers that resulted from those efforts.

So flawed were the results, in fact, that the BLS was forced to recode the answers. There were too many false positives. To recode, BLS statisticians probed the survey's microdata files for clues as to whether respondents were or were not actually engaged in electronically-mediated work. The "yes" answers to the survey's four questions summed to 5 million respondents engaging in electronically-mediated work in the past week, or 3.3 percent of the nation's employed workers. But after probing the microdata and diligently recoding, BLS statisticians reduced the number to just 1.6 million, or 1.0 percent of the employed.

"If BLS were to collect data about electronically mediated work in the future," the article concludes, "questions would need to be substantially revised. It may simply be that the concepts are too complicated for four questions to properly identify all the information BLS was attempting to measure." Kudos to the BLS for being forthcoming about this failure, but we're back to square one in our understanding of the size and shape of the gig economy.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Electronically mediated work: new questions in the Contingent Worker Supplement

Monday, October 01, 2018

20% Consume Seafood at Least Twice a Week

Seafood is good for you because of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. That's why the federal government recommends eating at least two servings a week of fish and/or shellfish. Just 20 percent of adults aged 20 or older meet this guideline, consuming seafood at least twice a week. The figure does not vary much by age or sex. There is more variation by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent of people aged 20 or older who consume seafood at least twice a week
Asians: 41.2%
Blacks: 22.6%
Hispanics: 14.5%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 18.7%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Seafood Consumption in the United States, 2013–2016

Friday, September 28, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in August 2018

Another month, another gain. Median household income in August 2018 climbed to $62,685, reports Sentier Research. This is the highest median recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The August 2018 median was 2.8 percent higher than the August 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.3 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.3 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in August 2018 was 103.3 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: August 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Trends in Health Insurance, 2013 to 2017

How has health insurance coverage changed with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act? Surprisingly, it hasn't changed all that much. Most Americans get their health insurance through an employer (either their own employer or a spouse's or parent's employer). The percentage of the population with employer-provided health insurance in 2017 was identical to the percentage who had it in 2013—before most provisions of the ACA went into effect. Here is the distribution of the population by type of health insurance in 2017 and the trend since 2013...

  • 56.0% of the population has employment-based health insurance, nearly identical to the 55.7 percent of 2013.
  • 19.3% of the population has Medicaid coverage, higher than the 17.5 percent of 2013 because of the ACA's Medicaid expansion.
  • 17.2% of the population has Medicare coverage, higher than the 15.6 percent of 2013 because the large baby-boom generation is filling the 65-plus age group.
  • 16.0% of the population has direct-purchase health insurance, up from 11.4 percent in 2013. Behind the increase are the ACA's marketplace plans, providing access to health insurance for millions who were once shut out because of preexisting conditions or price. The number of people with direct-purchase health insurance grew by 16 million between 2013 and 2017— a 45 percent increase and the single biggest change in health insurance coverage during the time period.
  • 4.8% of the population has military coverage, up from 4.5 percent in 2013.
  • 8.8% of the population had no health insurance at any time during 2017, down from 13.3 percent who were without health insurance in 2013. The number of people without health insurance fell by 13 million during those years, a 32 percent decline. 

Note: The percentage of the population with health insurance by type sums to more than 100% because some people have more than one type of coverage.
Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Tables for Health Insurance Coverage

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Women Pull Ahead of Men in Education

Among Americans aged 25 or older, women are better educated than men, a threshold first crossed in 2015. According to the 2018 Current Population Survey, 35.3 percent of women aged 25 or older have a bachelor's degree compared with 34.6 percent of their male counterparts—an 0.7 percentage-point advantage. By age group, women under age 55 are better educated than men, while men aged 55 or older are better educated than women...

Percent of women (and men) with a bachelor's degree
Aged 25 to 34: 42.7% (35.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 43.0% (37.6%)
Aged 45 to 54: 37.2% (34.1%)
Aged 55 to 64: 31.5% (32.0%)
Aged 65-plus: 25.3% (34.2%)

The education gap between women and men is largest in the 65-plus age group, where men are 8.9 percentage points more likely than women to have a bachelor's degree. The second largest gap is in the 25-to-34 age group, where women are 7.3 percentage points more likely than men to have a bachelor's degree. The gap is growing among young adults and shrinking among the elderly.

Source: Census Bureau, 2018 Current Population Survey

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Big Drop in Spending on Cable Television Service

Americans really are cutting the cord. Results of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey show a substantial drop in spending on cable and satellite television service. The $638 spent by the average household on cable service in 2017 was 18 percent below the 2016 level, after adjusting for inflation. Cable has now relinquished its position as the number-one entertainment item on which the average household spends the most. Spending on pets surpassed cable spending in 2017.

Behind the decline in spending is the shrinking percentage of households purchasing the service. Just 58 percent of households spent on cable/satellite service in the average quarter of 2017—10 percentage points below the 68 percent of 2016 and 16 percentage points below the all-time high of 74 percent in 2010. The decline in the share of households spending on cable/satellite service is occurring in every age group, with the biggest drop among younger adults. Take a look...

Percentage of households spending on cable/satellite service during an average quarter of 2017 (and percentage-point change since 2010)
Under age 25: 23.0% (–26)
Aged 25 to 34: 41.9%(–26)
Aged 35 to 44: 53.5% (–22)
Aged 45 to 54: 62.2% (–15)
Aged 55 to 64: 65.6% (–12)
Aged 65-plus: 69.9% (–9)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 24, 2018

More than 25% of Older Americans Have Diabetes

As Americans put on weight, diabetes is on the rise. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey measures the prevalence of diabetes—both diagnosed and undiagnosed—not only through interviews but also by testing a nationally representative sample of the population. Respondents are classified as having diagnosed diabetes if they report having ever been told by a health professional that they have diabetes. Undiagnosed diabetes is defined as having a fasting plasma glucose level greater than or equal to 126 mg/dL.

Percent of people aged 20 or older with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes
2013–16: 14.0%
2011–14: 11.9%
2007–10: 11.4%
1999–02:   9.9%
1988–94:   8.8%

Diabetes is highest among older Americans. The percentage of people aged 65 or older with either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes climbed from 19.4 percent in 1988–94 to 26.3 percent in 2011–14. More recent data collected by NCHS shows an even higher 28.2 percent of people aged 60 or older with diabetes in 2013–16.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2017 and Prevalence of Total, Diagnosed, and Undiagnosed Diabetes among Adults: United States, 2013–2016

Friday, September 21, 2018

Home Is the Most Likely Place of Death

For the first time in a long time, home is the most likely place of death. Among people who died in 2016, the 30.5 percent plurality died at home—slightly larger than the 29.4 percent who died in a hospital...

Place of death, all ages, 2016
30.5% died at home
29.4% died in a hospital
19.3% died in a nursing home or long-term care facility
7.7% died in a hospice facility
13.1% died in all other places, including dead on arrival at hospitals

Among people under age 65 who died in 2016, the percentages who died at home or in a hospital were identical, at 33.4 percent. Not so for decedents aged 65 or older....

Place of death, aged 65-plus, 2016
29.4% died at home
27.9% died in a hospital
24.7% died in a nursing home or long-term care facility
8.5% died in a hospice facility
9.5% died in all other places, including dead on arrival at hospitals

Ten years earlier in 2006, the home ranked third as a place of death for people aged 65 or older. Only 23.5 percent died at home, 28.2 percent in a nursing home/long-term care facility, and 35.9 percent in a hospital.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2017 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pet Spending Rises 19% between 2016 and 2017

No price is too high to pay for our pets, apparently. The average American household spent $710 on pets in 2017, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. That's a stunning 19 percent more than the average household spent on pets just a year earlier in 2016, after adjusting for inflation. Here is the trend since 2010...

Average household spending on pets, 2010 to 2017 (in 2017$)
2017: $710
2016: $596
2015: $546
2010: $540

The Consumer Expenditure Survey places pet spending in the entertainment category. With the 2017 surge in pet spending, pets have become the entertainment item on which the average household spends the most. What did it topple from the number-one spot? Cable and satellite television service.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

44% Increase in Householders Aged 65 to 74

The number of households in the United States grew by 1.4 million between 2017 and 2018, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Household growth appears to be back on track after anemic growth between 2016 and 2017.

Since 2010, the nation's households have expanded by 10 million, rising from 118 million to 128 million. But only one age group accounts for most of the increase. The number of householders aged 65 to 74 grew by a stunning 44 percent between 2010 and 2018, accounting for 58 percent of total household growth during those years..

Households by age of householder (and percent change, 2010 to 2018)
Total households: 127,586,000 (8.5%)
Under age 25: 6,211,000 (–0.4%)
Aged 25 to 34: 20,264,000 (5.2%)
Aged 35 to 44: 21,576,000 (0.3%)
Aged 45 to 54: 22,542,000 (–9.4%)
Aged 55 to 64: 24,020,000 (17.8%)
Aged 65 to 74: 19,006,000 (44.4%)
Aged 75-plus: 13,967,000 (15.4%)

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Income Data Tables

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Householders Aged 65-Plus Are Spending 16% More

Average household spending reached a record high of $60,060 in 2017—finally surpassing by 2.1 percent the previous record set in 2006, after adjusting for inflation.

Households headed by people under age 45 are still spending less than their counterparts did in 2006, however. One reason for their lackluster spending is lower marriage rates, with fewer of these households being headed by married couples—the biggest spenders. At the other extreme, the spending of householders aged 65-plus has surged. Households headed by people aged 65 or older spent 16 percent more in 2017 than their counterparts spent in 2006. One factor behind the increased spending of older Americans is the influx of baby boomers into the age group. Studies have shown that the baby-boom cohort is more comfortable with debt than the generation it is replacing.

Average household spending, 2017 (and % change since 2006; in 2017$)
Under age 25: $33,629 (–1.9%)
Aged 25 to 34: $55,325 (–4.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: $69,034 (–1.2%)
Aged 45 to 54: $73,905 (+5.6%)
Aged 55 to 64: $64,972 (+5.2%)
Aged 65-plus: $49,542 (+16.2%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 17, 2018

Soft Drinks Are 20% of Youth Beverage Consumption

Soft drinks account for a large share of youth beverage consumption, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey, which collects data on food and beverage consumption through a 24-hour dietary recall interview, provides a snapshot of what Americans  eat and drink on an average day. Among children and teenagers ranging in age from 2 to 19, this is the distribution of the beverages they consume in a 24-hour period...

Distribution of beverages consumed by 2-to-19-year-olds on an average day
43.7% water
21.5% milk
19.9% soft drinks
7.6% other beverages*
7.3% juice (100 percent)

Beverage consumption varies by age, of course. Among preschoolers aged 2 to 5, milk accounts for 32 percent of daily beverage consumption. The milk share falls to 24 percent among 6-to-11-year-olds and to 14.5 percent among 12-to-19-year-olds. What replaces milk? Primarily soft drinks, which account for 13 percent of the daily beverage consumption of 2-to-5-year-olds, 21 percent of the consumption of 6-to-11-year-olds, and 22 percent of the beverages consumed by 12-to-19-year-olds.

*Other beverages include coffee, tea, sports and energy drinks, and other miscellaneous beverages. Alcoholic beverages are not included.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Beverage Consumption among Youth in the United States, 2013–2016

Friday, September 14, 2018

Asians Least Likely to be Obese

Forty percent of Americans aged 20 or older are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The obesity rate varies by race and Hispanic origin, with Asians least likely to be obese...

Percent of men aged 20 or older who are obese
10.1% of Asians
36.9% of Blacks
37.9% of Whites
43.1% of Hispanics

Percent of women aged 20 or older who are obese
14.8% of Asians
38.0% of Whites
50.6% of Hispanics
54.8% of Blacks

Note: These figures are based on the measured heights and weights of a nationally representative sample of Americans. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above 30 kg/m². Asians, Blacks, and Whites are non-Hispanic. Hispanics may be of any race.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Severe Obesity among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 1960–1962 through 2015–2016

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Rising Tide Is Not Lifting All Boats

Is there something to worry about here? Median household income grew 1.8 percent between 2016 and 2017, after adjusting for inflation. This gain was well below the increases recorded in the previous two years—3.8 percent between 2015-16 and 5.2 percent between 2014-15. That's not the only bad news in the latest income data. Many segments of the population are being left behind...

Young adults: Householders under age 25 lost ground between 2016 and 2017, their median income falling by 5.8 percent after adjusting for inflation. Those aged 25 to 34 barely kept pace with a tiny 0.1 percent increase.

Blacks: Black households are treading water. Their median income did not grow at all between 2016 and 2017. At the same time, the median income of households headed by non-Hispanic Whites grew 2.6 percent, and the Hispanic median rose by an even larger 3.7 percent.

Workers: Perhaps most disturbing, the earnings of full-time workers—both men and women—fell 1.1 percent between 2016 and 2017. With the earnings of full-time workers declining, it will be much harder for household income to continue to grow.

Source: Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2017

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Median Household Income Now Surpasses $61,000

Median household income climbed to $61,372 in 2017, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. This is 1.8 percent higher than the 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. But not all age groups made gains. The youngest adults—householders under age 25—saw their median household income fall by 5.8 percent between 2016 and 2017. Householders aged 25 to 34 struggled to keep up, their median income rising by just 0.1 percent after adjusting for inflation. Here are the 2016–17 changes in median household income by age of householder...

Median household income in 2017 (and % change 2016-17; in 2017 dollars)
Under age 25: $40,093 (–5.8%)
Aged 25 to 34: $62,294 (+0.1%)
Aged 35 to 44: $78,368 (+3.0%)
Aged 45 to 54: $80,671 (+2.3%)
Aged 55 to 64: $68,567 (+2.9%)
Aged 65-plus: $41,125 (+1.1%)

Source: Census Bureau, Income Data Tables

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Finally—A New Record High in Household Spending

Average household spending reached a new record high in 2017, finally surpassing the previous high set in 2006. American households spent an average of $60,060 in 2017, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is 2.1 percent more than the $58,846 of 2006, after adjusting for inflation. In the wake of the Great Recession, spending plunged as low as $51,526 in 2013. The 2017 spending figure is 16.6 percent higher than the 2013 low—an additional $8,500 of spending per year per household. No wonder the economy is booming.

Average household spending, 2006 to 2017 (in 2017 dollars)
2017: $60,060 (record high)
2016: $58,532
2015: $57,892
2013: $51,526 (post-Great Recession low)
2010: $54,080
2006: $58,846 (previous record high)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 10, 2018

Solar Panels Most Popular in Pacific States

How many of the nation's houses have solar panels? The 2017 American Housing Survey has the answer. Overall, 3.1 million occupied housing units in the United States had solar panels in 2017—or 2.6 percent of the total. This is the percentage of homes with solar panels by census division...

4.0% in New England
2.2% in Middle Atlantic
0.7% in East North Central
0.6% in West North Central
1.5% in South Atlantic
0.6% in East South Central
1.5% in West South Central
3.8% in Mountain
7.4% in Pacific

The 2017 American Housing Survey also asked about solar panels on houses in selected metropolitan areas. Here are the findings: in Riverside-San Bernardino, 9.7 percent of homes had solar panels; San Francisco 6.9 percent; Phoenix 6.5 percent; Los Angeles 5.0 percent; Atlanta 1.0 percent; and Seattle 0.8 percent.

Note: To see which states are in which census division, click here.
Source: Census Bureau, 2017 American Housing Survey

Friday, September 07, 2018

Census Bureau Releases Corrected 2017-Vintage Population Projections

Yesterday the Census Bureau released its corrected 2017-vintage population projections. The bureau had yanked the 2017 projections from its website a few weeks ago after finding an error in the calculation of infant mortality rates, which inflated future deaths.

The consequence of the correction is a slightly larger projected total population, with the 2060 total now at 404.5 million rather than the 403.7 million forecast by the flawed series. The correction does not change the date (2045) when minorities will become the majority of the U.S. population.

The bureau also corrected its March 2018 press release announcing the 2017-vintage projections. The corrected press release can be read here.

Source: Census Bureau, 2017 National Population Projections Tables

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Here Is a Definition of the Middle Class

If you're middle class in in the United States, then your household income is between $37,000 and $147,000 for a household of three people, reports Brookings. This is how it will define the middle class in its Future of the Middle Class Initiative, which aims "to improve the quality of life of America's middle class and to increase the number of people rising to join its ranks." Brookings is defining the middle class as the middle 60 percent of households—the 30 percent with incomes above and below the all-household median.

Brookings has acknowledged that there are many ways to define the middle class. Each falls into one of three broad categories—economic resources, education/occupation, and culture/mindset. Brookings has undertaken an examination of the many definitions of the middle class and finds most insufficient for its purposes. Take the educational attainment definition, for example. Having a bachelor's degree could be used as a minimum threshold for the middle-class. Brookings rejects this concept because it wants to understand what level of education leads to the middle class, and "we can't do that if we've set the answer into our definition."

Defining the middle class by culture or mindset, says Brookings, doesn't work because it is too inclusive. It encompasses not only those already in the middle class but also many who are working to get there. "This very inclusiveness gives the definition less bite," says Brookings. "Many people might aspire to a middle-class lifestyle, and work toward it, but not make it." The goal of Brookings' Initiative is to determine why some do not make it into the middle class, and an overly inclusive definition of the middle class does not allow for that.

This leaves Brookings with an economic resources model of the middle class. It has chosen to define the middle class as the 60 percent of households in the middle of the income distribution. One criticism of this approach is that the middle class can neither grow nor shrink. "For us, this is a feature rather than a bug," says Brookings. "We are able to evaluate changes in the share of income or wealth going to the middle class independently of changes in the share of households in the middle class." Brookings did just such an evaluation, finding that the share of income going to the middle class fell from half in 1979 to 40 percent in 2014. More to come.

Source: Brookings, There are Many Definitions of "Middle Class"—Here's Ours

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Shocking Rise in Obesity

Something is not right with this picture. Since the early 1960s, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of Americans aged 20 to 74 who are obese has climbed from just 13 percent to fully 40 percent. If obesity were an infectious disease, the nation would be in a panic and demanding a cure.

Percent of people aged 20 to 74 who are obese
2015–16: 40.0%
2009–10: 36.1%
1999–00: 30.9%
1976–80: 15.0%
1960–62: 13.4%

These figures are based on the measured heights and weights of nationally representative samples of Americans. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above 30 kg/m².

Both men and women have succumbed to obesity. Among men aged 20 to 74, the percentage who are obese climbed from 10.7 percent in 1960–62 to 38.3 percent in 2015–16. For women, the comparable figures are 15.8 and 41.6 percent. By age, the NCHS provides trends only back to 1988–94. Here are the numbers...

Obesity among people aged 20 to 39
2015–16: 35.7%
1988–94: 17.7%

Obesity among people aged 40 to 59
2015–16: 42.8%
1988–94: 27.9%

Obesity among people aged 60-plus
2015–16: 41.0%
1988–94: 23.7%

Interestingly, the percentage of Americans who are simply overweight and not obese has not increased over the years—31.5 percent in 1960–62, and 31.0 percent in 2015–16. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

One in Four Americans is First- or Second-Generation Foreign-Born

Twenty-five percent of Americans are either foreign-born (13.5 percent) or the child of at least one foreign-born parent (11.9 percent), according to the Census Bureau. Here is the percentage who are first- or second-generation foreign-born by age...

Percent of first- or second-generation foreign-born among total U.S. population by age, 2016
Under age 18: 26%
Aged 18 to 24: 28%
Aged 25 to 34: 29%
Aged 35 to 44: 30%
Aged 45 to 54: 25%
Aged 55 to 64: 20%
Aged 65-plus: 21%

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey—2016 Detailed Tables on the Foreign-Born

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Most and Least Religious Americans

There are many ways to segment the American population—age, sex, race, education, and so on. Pew Research Center has come up with a new way—religious typology. By asking a nationally representative sample of Americans to answer a handful of questions about religious beliefs and practices, Pew has identified seven religious types in the United States that "cut across many denominations," "unite people of different faiths," or even "divide people who have the same religious affiliation." The most religious of the seven types are the Sunday Stalwarts. The least religious are the Solidly Seculars. Here are some of Pew's findings about these groups...

Sunday Stalwarts: The members of this group account for 17 percent of the adult population. They are actively involved in their religious organization. Most attend religious services at least weekly and pray daily. Sixty-two percent think it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. Most are women, white, and aged 50 or older. The 59 percent majority is Republican.

Solidly Secular: The members of this group also account for 17 percent of the adult population. They seldom or never attend religious services and nearly all (97 percent) say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral. They do not describe themselves as religious, nor do they call themselves spiritual. Most are men, white, under age 50, and Democrats.

There are another five religious typologies between these two extremes: God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, Spiritually Awake, and Religion Resisters. Find out more about them by clicking the link below. Find out your type by taking the quiz here.

Source: Pew Research Center, The Religious Typology—A New Way to Categorize Americans by Religion

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Census Bureau Counts Ridesharing Workers

A few months ago the Bureau of Labor Statistics disappointed trend trackers with its incomplete update of alternative workers. The update did not include a big chunk of the workforce—all those workers (such as Uber and Lyft drivers) whose jobs depend on gig-enabling technologies. Now the Census Bureau has stepped into the breach. By analyzing the government's "nonemployer" statistics, researchers at the bureau have produced a count of the rideshare workforce and a glimpse of its changing characteristics.

The government defines nonemployers as businesses with no paid employees and annual receipts of $1,000 or more. Most nonemployers are self-employed, and their business is not necessarily their main source of income. The Census Bureau researchers took a look at nonemployers in the "taxi and limousine service" industry over time. What they found is shocking, but not surprising—the 700,565 nonemployers in the taxi and limousine service industry in 2016 were more than three times the 224,000 of 2013. Traditional taxi drivers are also included in these numbers, but the surge is entirely due to the rise of ridesharing.

Not only has the number of ridesharing workers ballooned, but their characteristics have changed. In 2013—before the industry disruption—most nonemployer drivers worked full-time. Only 18 percent also had wage and salary earnings in the same year. The great majority (83 percent) were foreign-born, and just 6 percent were women. The characteristics of nonemployers who started driving in 2015—after the industry disruption—were very different. Most were part-timers. The great majority (73 percent) also had wage and salary earnings in the same year. Only 48 percent were foreign-born, and a larger 21 percent were women. Perhaps the biggest difference between drivers before and after the industry disruption is in their earnings. The 2013 drivers, most of whom worked full-time, earned $41,840 (in 2015 dollars). The 2015 drivers, most of whom worked part-time, earned $11,450.

Source: Census Bureau, What May Be Driving Growth in the "Gig Economy?"—Detailed Look at Taxi, Limousine Services

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in July 2018

Another month of gains. Median household income in July 2018 climbed to $62,450, reports Sentier Research. This is the highest median recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The July 2018 median was 2.6 percent higher than the July 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.1 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.1 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low of $54,736 in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in July 2018 was 103.1 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: July 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Younger Generations More Comfortable with Debt

More than three out of four American households (77 percent) are in debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances—not much higher than the 74 percent of 1998. This small increase masks a big rise in debt among older householders...

Percent of householders aged 65 or older in debt, 2016 (and 1998)
Aged 65 to 74: 70% (51%)
Aged 75-plus: 50% (25%)

What accounts for the large increase in debt among older Americans? A National Bureau of Economic Research paper sheds light on a possible reason for the rise. The analysis examines attitudes toward debt in Sweden by birth cohort. One of the key findings is that the percentage of Swedes who are uncomfortable with debt has fallen in more recent birth cohorts. Among survey respondents born from 1921 to 1940, 83 percent reported being uncomfortable with debt. Among those born from 1941 onward, a smaller 55 to 57 percent reported feeling uncomfortable with debt. Those who are uncomfortable with debt are less likely to be in debt, the study finds.

The same attitudinal shift has likely occurred in the United States, with the older debt-wary generations having been replaced by younger cohorts less concerned with debt. "A change in attitudes toward debt is potentially relevant for understanding the recently observed increase in debt," conclude the authors.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Attitudes Toward Debt and Debt Behavior, Working Paper 24935 ($5)

Monday, August 27, 2018

47% of Private-Sector Employers Provide Health Insurance

Only 47 percent of private-sector businesses provided health insurance for their employees in 2017, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. This is well below the 56 percent of 2008, but higher than the 45 percent of 2016. By size of establishment, this is the percentage of businesses that offer health insurance...

Percent of establishments offering health insurance to employees, 2017
Less than 10 employees: 23.5%
10 to 24 employees: 49.2%
25 to 99 employees: 74.6%
100 to 999 employees: 96.3%
1,000 or more employees: 99.3%

One factor behind the decline in the provision of employer-provided health insurance since 2008, says EBRI, was the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA allowed those working for smaller establishments to get health insurance in the marketplace. A factor behind the increase in the provision of health insurance between 2016 and 2017, says EBRI, is the low unemployment rate. The provision of health insurance has become a tool for recruiting and retaining workers in a tight labor market.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, After Years of Erosion, More Employers are Offering Health Coverage; Worker Eligibility Higher

Friday, August 24, 2018

Eating While Doing Something Else

If you've ever wondered why Americans are increasingly overweight, the American Time Use Survey may have the answer. Not only do we spend an average of 63.6 minutes a day eating and drinking mindfully (meaning as a primary activity—or our main activity at the time) but we spend another 17 minutes eating and drinking mindlessly (meaning as a secondary activity while we're focusing on something else). How many calories can we consume in 17 minutes? More than enough to tip the scales, apparently.

Five pursuits account for the 57 percent majority of the primary activities in which we engage while eating and drinking as a secondary activity. Number one is watching television. Twenty-three percent of mindless eating and drinking occurs while watching TV. Close behind is working at our main job, which accounts for another 23 percent. Socializing is number three. Food and drink preparation is fourth, which may explain why so many cooks claim not to be hungry when sitting down for dinner. Reading for personal interest is number five.

There are notable differences between men and women in the primary activities that account for most of their secondary eating and drinking. Among men, the top five activities are watching TV, working, socializing, playing games, and relaxing/thinking. For women, the top five are working, watching TV, food and drink preparation, socializing, and grooming.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Watching TV and Working Are the Top Activities that Accompany Secondary Eating

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Americans Drive 51 Minutes a Day

Eighty-eight percent of Americans aged 16 or older drive at least occasionally, according to the AAA Foundation's third annual American Driving Survey. Those who drive spend an average of 51 minutes a day behind the wheel on their 2.24 road trips. People aged 25 to 49 do the most driving and log the greatest number of daily trips...

Average number of minutes per day spent driving, 2016 (and number of trips)
Aged 16 to 19: 37.5 (1.96)
Aged 20 to 24: 50.2 (1.89)
Aged 25 to 34: 57.5 (2.45)
Aged 35 to 49: 59.1 (2.41)
Aged 50 to 64: 46.8 (2.35)
Aged 65 to 74: 51.0 (2.10)
Aged 75-plus: 33.9 (1.84)

Source: AAA Foundation, 2016 American Driving Survey 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Decline in Births Now Equals Great Depression Drop

Since peaking in 2007, the annual number of births in the United States has fallen 10.7 percent. This number has significance: it is equal to the decline in births that occurred during the Great Depression. Among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, the decline has been even greater...

Number of births by race and Hispanic origin in 2017 (and percent change since 2007)
Total: 3,853,472 (–10.7)
Asian: 249,214 (–2.1%)
Black: 560,560 (–10.6%)
Hispanic: 897,518 (–15.5%)
Non-Hispanic White: 1,991,348 (–13.8%)

But the current birth decline differs from the Great Depression decline in two ways. One, the Great Depression decline occurred over a four-year period while the current decline is ten years old and counting. Two, the Great Depression decline ended as the economy improved while the current decline has deepened with the improving economy. According to the Center for Retirement Research, the ongoing decline in the midst of a booming economy suggests that we may be in "a slow drift" to the low fertility levels of some other developed countries.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Retirement Years Have Expanded. Now What?

"The expansion of retirement years has been one of the most profound societal changes of the past eight decades in the United States," write Eugene Steurerle and Damir Cosic of the Urban Institute. This expansion is straining the Social Security system's finances.

Since the Social Security program first began to pay benefits in 1940, the length of retirement (i.e., receipt of Social Security benefits) has expanded by more than a decade due to rising life expectancy and early claiming. If men and women today were to collect Social Security benefits for the same number of years as their counterparts in 1940, they would have to delay claiming their benefits until age 74 (men) or 75 (women). Instead, the average age of Social Security claiming is 64, with many claiming as early as age 62.

Although Social Security's full retirement age is rising from 65 to 67, the earliest age allowed for Social Security claiming (62) remains the same. The consequence is this: a woman retiring at age 62 in 2022 will receive Social Security benefits for 29 percent of her life and 58 percent of her adulthood. Such lengthy retirements are not financially sustainable.

"Reform must address the unavoidable question posed in the title of this brief," conclude the authors. How should Social Security adjust when people live longer?

Source: Urban Institute, How Should Social Security Adjust When People Live Longer?

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Decline in Black Homeownership

Every race and Hispanic origin group has a lower homeownership rate today than in the early 2000s, but no group has seen a bigger decline in homeownership than Blacks. In 2017, just 42.3 percent of Black households owned their home—6.8 percentage points below the 49.1 percent peak of 2004. Hispanics saw their homeownership rate fall 3.5 percentage points from their peak, Asians experienced a 3.6 percentage-point loss, and the non-Hispanic White rate was down 3.7 percentage points.

Black homeownership rate
2017: 42.3%
2010: 45.4%
2004: 49.1% (peak)
2000: 47.2%

The gap in the homeownership rate of non-Hispanic White and Black households grew from 26.9 to 30.0 percent points between 2004 and 2017.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Annual Statistics: 2017

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pets Outnumber People in the U.S.

There are more pets than people in the United States, according to the 2017–2018 APPA (American Pet Products Association) National Pet Owners Survey. Our nation is home to 326 million people and 393 million pets. The 68 percent majority of households own at least one pet, and many own more than one...

Percentage of households owning pets by type (and average number owned)
Dogs: 48%(1.5)
Cats: 38% (2.0)
Fish, freshwater: 10% (11.1)
Birds: 6% (2.6)
Small animals: 5% (2.1)
Reptiles: 4% (2.0)
Horses: 2% (2.9)
Fish, saltwater: 2% (7.5)

Most owners dote on their pets by giving them treats and gifts. Nearly all dog owners (95 percent) dole out treats. So do 80 percent of cat owners and even 54 percent of the owners of reptiles. Gift giving is almost as prevalent as the provision of treats. Seventy-eight percent of dog owners give their dogs gifts, as do 67 percent of cat owners. Even reptile owners show generosity: 46 percent gave their reptile a gift in the past year, with 14 percent giving it a Christmas gift.

Source: APPA, 2017–18 APPA National Pet Owners Survey

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Who Thinks News Media is Enemy of the People?

"Which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?"

Only 26 percent of Americans believe the news media is the enemy of the people, according to a Quinnipiac poll, with few differences by age...

News media is the enemy of the people
Aged 18 to 34: 29%
Aged 35 to 49: 27%
Aged 50 to 64: 27%
Aged 65-plus: 20%

But there is a huge difference in belief by political affiliation...

News media is the enemy of the people
Democrats: 5%
Republicans: 51%

Source: Quinnipiac University Poll, August 14 National Poll

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Feelings of Success Rise with Age

The percentage of Americans who believe they are successful is lowest among young adults and rises with age. The 2016 General Social Survey asked people aged 18 or older how they felt about the statement, "Right now I see myself as being pretty successful." Overall, 46 percent said the statement was mostly or definitely true for them. But the percentage was lowest among Millennials and highest among older Americans...

"I see myself as being pretty successful" (percent saying mostly/definitely true)
Millennials: 38%
Gen Xers: 41%
Boomers: 51%
Older: 57%

By education, only 42 percent of those without a bachelor's degree felt successful compared with a larger 56 percent of those with a bachelor's degree.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Who Does More, Men or Women?

Everyone knows that women do more housework than men. Each year the American Time Use Survey documents the difference. The 2017 survey finds women aged 15 or older spending an average of 2.2 hours a day doing what it calls "household activities," while men devote only 1.4 hours a day to these tasks. Household activities include cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, pet care, home repair, vehicle care, and household management such as paying bills.

In every age group, women do more housework. The gap is greatest among the youngest adults—under age 25—where women spend twice as much time as men engaged in household activities. The gap declines fairly steadily with age. Among people aged 65 or older, women do only 22 percent more housework than their male counterparts.

But there's more to a day's work than housework. There's also paid work and child care. Men spend 47 percent more time than women working for pay on an average day. Women spend twice as much time as men taking care of household children. What happens when you add up the time men and women devote to all three responsibilities? It turns out, there is near equality in the amount of time men and women spend doing housework, paid work, and childcare. Men devote 5.60 hours a day to these activities and women 5.35 hours—a difference of only 18 minutes a day, with men doing the extra time. Even if you break it down by age, men and women spend nearly equal amounts of time doing what needs to be done on an average day...

Difference in time women and men devote to housework, paid work, and child care
Aged 15 to 19: women, 24 minutes more
Aged 20 to 24: men, 1 minute more
Aged 25 to 34: women, 1 minute more
Aged 35 to 44: men, 13 minutes more
Aged 45 to 54: men, 11 minutes more
Aged 55 to 64: men, 17 minutes more
Aged 65-plus: women, 1 minute more

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 American Time Use Survey

Monday, August 13, 2018

47% of Millennials Have a Tattoo

With summer at its peak, tattoos are more visible than ever. Overall, 29 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have a tattoo, according to a 2015 Harris Poll. This is nearly double the 16 percent of 2003. With such rapid growth, the percentage with a tattoo today is certainly higher than the 29 percent of 2015. Here are the 2015 stats by generation...

Percent with at least one tattoo by generation
Millennials: 47%
Gen Xers: 36%
Boomers: 13%
Older: 10%

Source: The Harris Poll, Tattoo Takeover: Three in Ten Americans Have Tattoos, and Most Don't Stop at Just One

Friday, August 10, 2018

Median Age of Full-Time Workers: 45

Forty-five—that's the median age of the nation's full-time workers aged 25 or older, according to the Census Bureau, with almost no difference in the median age of men (44.8) and women (45.0) in the workforce. But in some occupations there are big differences in the median age of male and female workers. For example...

Dentists
Men: 51.6
Women: 41.6

Optometrists
Men: 50.8
Women: 35.7

Behind the differences in the median age of men and women in some occupations is the influx of (younger) women into these jobs over the past few decades. Women earned 49 percent of degrees in dentistry in 2015-16, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, up from 37 percent two decades earlier. They earned 65 percent of degrees in optometry, up from 53 percent in the mid-1990s. The gap in the median age of men and women in these and other professions is a sign of women's expanding presence in the workforce.

Source: Census Bureau, Detailed Occupation and Education Table Package