Friday, July 20, 2018

Delayed Childbearing among College Graduates

Women who go to college delay having children. This is common knowledge, confirmed yet again by the latest findings from the 2011–2015 National Survey of Family Growth. Among women aged 22 to 44, here is the percentage who have not yet had children by educational attainment...

Percent of women aged 22 to 44 who have not yet had children
7% of those who did not graduate from high school
19% of those with a high school diploma only
33% of those with some college, but no bachelor's degree
46% of those with a bachelor's degree or more education

Among the 46 percent of women with a bachelor's degree who have not yet had children, many eventually will become mothers. According to 2016 statistics from the Census Bureau, only 18 percent of women with a bachelor's degree and 25 percent of those with a graduate degree are still childless by ages 45 to 50—considered the age of completed childbearing.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15–44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2011–2015

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Many Consider Adoption, Few Adopt

More than one-third of women aged 18 to 44 have ever considered adopting a child, according to a National Center for Health Statistics Report. But only 0.7 percent have ever adopted.

Considered adoption: 37.7%
Now seeking to adopt: 1.2%
Ever adopted: 0.7%

The percentage who have ever considered adopting does not vary much by age, race, or Hispanic origin. It is greater among women with fertility problems (53 percent) than those without (35 percent).

The percentage who have ever adopted rises with age to 1.3 percent among women aged 35 to 44. Among women with fertility problems, 1.6 percent have ever adopted a child.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Adoption-Related Behaviors among Women Aged 18–44 in the United States: 2011–15

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Growing Wealth Gap between Young and Old

Americans aged 65 or older are the beneficiaries of a growing share of the nation's resources, studies show, while children must make do with less. A paper published in Demography takes a look at the consequences of this disparity, and the results are troubling. Analyzing Survey of Consumer Finance data from 1989 to 2013, researchers Christina M. Gibson-Davis and Christine Percheski compare the wealth, income, assets, and debt of two types of households—those with children under age 18 (child households), and those with a householder or spouse aged 65 or older and no children under age 18 (elderly households).

Not surprisingly, elderly households have much greater wealth than child households, which is to be expected because older householders have had more time to accumulate wealth. The trouble lies in the growing gap between the two types of households. "In 1989, elderly households had a median net worth that was approximately 3.8 time that of child households ($106,647 vs. $27,889)," say the researchers, "by 2013, their median net worth was 12.5 times as high ($154,998 vs. $12,413)." Other findings:
  • The median net worth of elderly households grew 45 percent between 1989 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation, while the net worth of child households fell 56 percent. 
  • The median income of child households fell 1 percent between 1989 and 2013, while the income of elderly households increased 29 percent.
  • The median assets of child households grew only 13 percent during those years while their median debt climbed 68 percent—from $29,915 to $50,300. The assets of elderly households grew by a much larger 75 percent, and their debt grew from a median of $0 to a modest $900.
  • The homeownership rate of child households fell 2.6 percentage points between 1989 and 2013, and their home equity dropped 28 percent. The homeownership rate of elderly households climbed 10.8 percentage points and their home equity increased 28 percent. 
"The declining absolute and relative wealth holdings of most families with children is likely to impede the human capital development of the next generation of Americans," the researchers conclude. "We posit that such underinvestments in children are likely to have negative long-term societal consequences for the United States."

Source: Demography, Children and the Elderly: Wealth Inequality among America's Dependents ($39.95)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Males Aged 15 to 19 Are Spending More Time Gaming

On an average day in 2017, teenaged boys aged 15 to 19 spent 1.3 hours playing games as a primary activity, according to the American Time Use Survey. The "playing games" category includes computer and video games as well as board and card games. A decade ago, males in the age group spent only about half as much time playing games—0.72 hours per day.

The averages mask the depth of the obsession, however. Males aged 15 to 19 are more likely than any other segment of the population to play games—fully 43 percent (!) played games on an average day in 2017, and those who played spent an average of 3.03 hours (!) doing so. These figures are substantially higher than they were a decade ago. In 2007, a smaller 31 percent of 15-to-19-year-olds males played games on an average day, and those who did spent 2.29 hours doing so.

The growing percentage of 15-to-19-year-olds who game on an average day, coupled with the increasing amount of time spent gaming, means that gaming is likely crowding out other activities. In 2017, 15-to-19-year-old male gamers spent more time with a joystick than they did watching television (2.77 hours on average for 15-to-19-year-old male participants), playing sports (2.34 hours), or doing homework (2.16 hours).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey

Monday, July 16, 2018

Who Has Had a Biological Child?

Yes, the nation's fertility rate is at an all-time low. Yes, the number of births has fallen to levels not seen in 30 years. Nevertheless, most Americans will have children. In fact, most women aged 25 or older and most men aged 30 or older are parents, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Here is the percentage who have had a biological child by age...

Percentage of women who have had a biological child
Aged 15 to 24: 17.1%
Aged 25 to 29: 52.1%
Aged 30 to 34: 76.2%
Aged 35 to 39: 80.0%
Aged 40 to 44: 85.0%

Percentage of men who have had a biological child
Aged 15 to 24: 7.6%
Aged 25 to 29: 37.2%
Aged 30 to 34: 58.6%
Aged 35 to 39: 74.8%
Aged 40 to 44: 80.4%

Overall, 44 percent of men and 55 percent of women aged 15 to 44 have had a biological child.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15–44 in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2011–2015

Friday, July 13, 2018

Are You Having Trouble Remembering Things?

"During the past 12 months, have you experienced confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or is getting worse?" This question was posed to Americans aged 45 or older in the 2015–16 surveys of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

A substantial 11 percent of people aged 45 or older answered "yes" to the question. They are experiencing what is called "subjective cognitive decline," reports the CDC. Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) can be a symptom of early-stage dementia. Among those who said they were experiencing SCD, the 51 percent majority also reported functional limitations due to their cognitive problems.

Interestingly, the percentage who reported SCD does not vary all that much by age, ranging from 10 percent among 45-to-54-year-olds to 14 percent among people aged 75 or older. By race and Hispanic origin, American Indians are most likely to report SCD (20 percent) and Asians least likely (7 percent). Education has a big impact on the prevalence of SCD, with 18 percent of high school dropouts reporting SCD versus 7 percent of people with a bachelor's degree. By state, the percentage with SCD is highest in Nevada (16.3 percent) and lowest in South Dakota (6.0 percent).

Source: CDC, Subjective Cognitive Decline among Adults Aged ≥ 45 Years—United States, 2015–2016

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Nearly Half of Americans Are Trying to Lose Weight

Most Americans are overweight, and many are trying to do something about it, You could almost call it a national obsession.

In the past 12 months, nearly half (49.1%) of adults aged 20 or older tried to lose weight, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. The attempt to shed pounds is embraced by 52 percent of 40-to-49-year-olds, 50 percent of 20-to-39-year-olds, and 43 percent of those aged 60-plus. The 56 percent majority of women are trying to lose weight, as are 42 percent of men. Even those who don't have a weight problem have gotten caught up in the frenzy. Among adults who are underweight or normal weight, 26.5 percent are trying to lose weight. The figure is 49 percent among those who are overweight and rises to 67 percent among the obese.

Here are the ways Americans are trying to lose weight (multiple responses allowed):

63 percent exercised
63 percent ate less
50 percent ate more fruits, vegetables, or salads
45 percent drank a lot of water
42 percent ate less junk food or fast food
39 percent changed eating habits
39 percent ate less sugar, candy, or sweets
35 percent switched to foods with lower calories
30 percent ate fewer carbohydrates
29 percent ate less fat
16 percent skipped meals

It isn't working. Despite all the frenzied attempts to lose weight, obesity has been rising steadily for years. The latest NCHS report on obesity, based on the measured heights and weights of a nationally representative sample of people aged 20 or older, found 40 percent of Americans to be obese in 2015–2016, up from 36 percent in 2009–2010 and 30.5 percent in 1999–2000.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wineries Have Quadrupled in U.S.

A few months ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics profiled the nation's breweries and their explosive growth. Breweries are in their heyday, and they are not alone. Wineries are also enjoying good times.

The number of wineries in the United States quadrupled over the past 16 years, rising from just 1,066 in 2001 to 4,308 in 2017, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Winery employment more than doubled, climbing from 25,363 to 64,139 during those years. California accounts for 58 percent of the nation's winery jobs—fully 36,924 in 2017.

Here's a comparison of the nation's brewery (2016) and winery (2017) numbers:

Number of establishments
Wineries: 4,308
Breweries: 2,843

Employment
Wineries: 64,139
Breweries: 58,580

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment in Wineries Up 153 Percent from 2001 to 2017

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

14% of Millennials Identify as LGBTQ

A large portion of the Millennial generation identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, according to the latest survey from the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago. Overall, 14 percent of Millennials identify as LGBTQ. By race and Hispanic origin, here are the numbers...

Millennials who identify as LGBTQ
Asians: 9%
Blacks: 14%
Hispanics: 22%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 13%

These figures are higher than those found in other surveys. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, 7.3 percent of Millennials identify as LGBT. According to the 2016 General Social Survey, 6.9 percent of Millennials identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. According to the 2011–13 National Survey of Family Growth, 6.6 percent of women and 3.8 percent of men aged 25 to 34 report their sexual orientation as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Student Loans = Less Retirement Savings

Do student loans prevent young adults from saving for retirement? Yes, finds a study by the Center for Retirement Research. Analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, researchers at CRR examined differences in 401(k) participation and retirement plan assets at age 30 by student loan status at age 25 for the 1980 to 1984 birth cohort.

The findings: 1) Having student loans at age 25 had no impact on 401(k) participation at age 30, the study found. Among college graduates, 61 to 62 percent participated in a 401(k) regardless of student loan status or size of loan. 2) Having student loans at age 25 had a big impact on retirement plan assets at age 30. Those with no education debt had amassed $18,200 in retirement plan assets by age 30, while those with student loans had saved only half as much, regardless of the amount of debt. "The presence of the loan may be more important than the size of the payments," the study concludes.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Do Young Adults with Student Debt Save Less for Retirement?

Friday, July 06, 2018

Forty Years of Bigger Houses

New single-family houses have been getting bigger. Those built in 2017 had a median of 2,426 square feet of floor area. While this is not the record high, it's close. The record was set in 2015 when new single-family homes had a median of 2,467 square feet...

Median square feet of floor area in new single-family houses completed
2017: 2,426
2016: 2,422
2015: 2,467 (record high)
2007: 2,277
1997: 1,975
1987: 1,755
1977: 1,610

Single-family homes built in 2017 are 51 percent larger than those built in 1977.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Housing

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Extremely Proud to be an American?

Only 47 percent of the U.S. public is "extremely proud" to be American, finds a recent Gallup survey. The year 2018 marks the first time extreme pride has fallen below 50 percent in the 18 years Gallup has been asking the question.

Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to feel extremely proud to be Americans— 74 to 32 percent. Most men (51 percent) but fewer than half of women (44 percent) feel extreme pride. The 54 percent majority of whites feel it versus only 33 percent of nonwhites. Feelings also differ greatly by age...

Extremely proud to be an American
Aged 18 to 29: 33%
Aged 30 to 49: 42%
Aged 50 to 64: 56%
Aged 65-plus: 58%

Source: Gallup, In U.S., Record-Low 47% Extremely Proud to Be Americans

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Why the Decline in TV Time among 25-to-34-Year-Olds?

Young adults aren't watching as much television as they once did, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. People aged 25 to 34 watched TV as a primary activity (meaning the main activity) an average of 2.01 hours a day in 2017, down from 2.22 hours a day in 2007. What's behind the decline?

To answer this type of question, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has created a new query tool that lets researchers dig deeper into its time use data. With the tool, you can extract time use data from 2003 to 2017 for more than 100 primary activities by sex, age, employment status, parenting status, and type of day (average, weekday, or weekend). This is what the data reveal about the television time of young adults...
  • The decline in TV time is limited to men. Men aged 25 to 34 watched TV as a primary activity an average of 2.06 hours per day in 2017, down from 2.56 hours in 2007. Women in the age group spent slightly more time watching television in 2017 (1.95 hours) than in 2007 (1.88 hours). 
  • Two factors are behind the decline in men's television viewing. First, on any given day, fewer men watched TV in 2017 (72 percent) than in 2007 (77 percent). Second, those who watched TV spent less time doing so—an average of 2.87 hours in 2017, down from 3.32 hours in 2007. 
  • In contrast, among women in the age group, there has been no significant decline in the percentage who watch TV on an average day (about 75 percent). Not only that, but women who watched TV spent more time doing so in 2017 (2.62 hours) than in 2007 (2.48 hours). 
What could account for the decline in television viewing among young men? Further exploration with the query tool provides a probable answer: gaming. Between 2007 and 2017, the percentage of men aged 25 to 34 who play games (a category that includes computer games) as a primary activity on an average day grew from 9 to 15 percent. Those who play games are spending more time doing so, the average rising from 2.32 hours per day in 2007 to 2.97 hours per day in 2017. Among women, there has been no increase in the percentage who play games on an average day (7 percent), nor in the time spent gaming among women who play. Gaming, then, is the likely explanation for the decline in television viewing among men aged 25 to 34.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the American Time Use Survey, One-Screen Data Search—American Time Use

Monday, July 02, 2018

True or False: Most Immigrants Are Here Legally

True, but most Americans do not know that. Only 45 percent of the public knows that most immigrants in the United States are here legally, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Nearly as many (42 percent) think most immigrants are here illegally, and 13 percent say they do not know. By age, here is the percentage of Americans who say (correctly) that most immigrants in the U.S. are here legally...

Most immigrants are in the U.S. legally 
Aged 18 to 29: 58%
Aged 30 to 49: 47%
Aged 50 to 64: 39%
Aged 65-plus: 35%

Among people aged 50 or older, the share who think most immigrants in the U.S. are here illegally (45 to 46 percent) surpasses the share who think most are legal.

Source: Pew Research Center, Shifting Public Views on Legal Immigration into the U.S.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Median Household Income Grew in May 2018

Median household income in May 2018 climbed to $61,858, according to Sentier Research. This is a higher median than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The May 2018 median was 1.8 percent higher than the May 2017 median. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

Median household income in May was 3.7 percent higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It was 13.3 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. "We are at a point now where real median household income is 2.4 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 nearly seven years."

Sentier's Household Income Index in May 2018 was 102.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Student Loans Delay Homeownership by 7 Years

Student loans are preventing many younger adults from buying a home, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors and American Student Assistance. Survey respondents were Millennials aged 22 to 35 who are currently repaying their student loans.

Eighty percent of respondents do not own a home, the survey found, and the single biggest reason is student debt. Fully 83 percent of respondents say student loans are causing them to delay home buying. The biggest reason for the delay is their inability to save for a downpayment (cited by 86 percent), followed by feeling financially insecure because of their debt (74 percent). How long will they delay buying a home? A median of seven years.

Student loan debt is also causing younger adults to delay other life decisions. The 55 percent majority of survey respondents say their  debt is causing them to delay starting a family, and 41 percent say it is causing them to delay getting married.

Source: National Association of Realtors and American Student Assistance, Student Loan Debt and Housing Report 2017—When Debt Holds You Back

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Retirement Plan Participation Declining? No, says EBRI

The percentage of workers who participate in a retirement plan is declining, according to the Current Population Survey. Don't believe it, says the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In an ongoing battle with the redesigned Current Population Survey, EBRI's Craig Copeland analyzes the supposed decline in retirement participation recorded by the CPS and argues that something is very wrong with the survey's data. The latest report about the problem has become an annual undertaking by Copeland. This is his third analysis since the CPS was redesigned, and no resolution seems to be in sight. The Demo Memo posts about his earlier reports can be found here and here.

According to the Current Population Survey, the percentage of full-time, full-year workers who participate in a retirement plan fell from 54.5 percent in 2013—before the CPS was redesigned to better capture retirement income—to just 41.0 percent in 2016. Among workers aged 55 to 64, participation fell from 57.1 percent in 2013 to 48.1 percent in 2016.

These figures are at odds with rising participation rates found in other government surveys, says Copeland, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Compensation Survey. Among private-sector workers at establishments with 500 or more employees, the NCS found a stable 76 percent participating in a retirement plan from 2013 to 2016. The CPS found only 47 percent participating in 2016 (after the redesign), down from 64 percent in 2013 (before the redesign). A study of IRS data confirms stability in retirement plan participation rather than the decline charted by the CPS.

"Rather modest modifications could be made within the CPS questionnaire along the lines of other federal government surveys to improve the retirement plan participation estimates," concludes Copeland. "Until that time, any person or organization using the data or those reading analyses from the CPS data need to be aware of the issues with the data. The estimates from the most recent surveys could easily be misconstrued as erosions in coverage, as opposed to an issue with the design of the survey."

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Current Population Survey: Issues Continue for Retirement Plan Participation and Retiree Income Estimates

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Recession Generation is 51% Minority

The 51 percent majority of the nation's youngest generation is Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's most recent population estimates. The minority share of each generation falls with advancing age to a low of 22 percent among pre-Boomers—people aged 72 or older.

Overall, 39 percent of Americans are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority. Here are the percentages by generation...

Minority share of population by generation, 2017
Recession (0 to 7): 51%
iGeneration (8 to 22): 48%
Millennials (23 to 40): 44%
Gen Xers (41 to 52): 39%
Boomers: (53 to 71): 28%
Older (72 or older): 22%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 Population Estimates

Monday, June 25, 2018

15% of High School Students Report Concussion in Past Year

Among the nation's high school students, 15 percent report having experienced at least one concussion during the past year, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Concussion is defined as "when a blow or a jolt to the head causes problems such as headaches, dizziness, being dazed or confused, difficulty remembering or concentrating, vomiting, blurred vision, or being knocked out."

Seventeen percent of boys and 13 percent of girls report a concussion in the past year. The prevalence of concussion varies greatly by the number of sports played...

Percent of high school students with at least one concussion in the past year
Play no sports: 7.6%
Play one sport: 16.7%
Play two sports: 22.9%
Play three+ sports: 30.3%

Source: CDC, Self-Reported Concussions from Playing a Sport or Being Physically Active among High School Students—United States, 2017

Friday, June 22, 2018

Population by Race and Hispanic origin, 2017

The U.S. population grew by 16.4 million between 2010 and 2017, according to the Census Bureau. The non-Hispanic White population accounted for just 3 percent of the gain, while Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 97 percent. The minority share of the population climbed to 39.3 percent, up from 36.2 percent in 2010. Here are the 2017 population estimates by race and Hispanic origin...

Total population: 325,719,178
The U.S. population grew 5.3 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 16.4 million.

Non-Hispanic Whites: 197,803,083 (60.7%)
The non-Hispanic White population grew by a minuscule 0.2 percent between 2010 and 2017. But the tiny increase masks a remarkable shift: the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 and fell by 41,000 between 2015 and 2017. The peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites occurred eight years sooner than forecast by the Census Bureau. This may mean the U.S. will become minority majority sooner than the bureau's forecast of 2045.

Hispanics: 58,946,729 (18.1%)
The Hispanic population grew 16.1 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 8.2 million. Hispanics accounted for 50 percent of the nation's population growth between 2010 and 2017.

Blacks (alone or in combination): 47,411,470 (14.6%)
The Black population grew 9.4 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than the 5.3 percent national increase. The Black population grew by 4.1 million during those years.

Asians (alone or in combination): 22,183,118 (6.8%)
The Asian population grew 24.6 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than any other race or Hispanic origin group. The Asian population grew by 4.4 million during those years.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Number of Non-Hispanic Whites Peaked in 2015

The number of non-Hispanic Whites in the United States peaked in 2015, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates. Between 2015 and 2017, the non-Hispanic White population declined by 41,000.

The shrinking of the non-Hispanic White population is occurring sooner than expected. The Census Bureau's latest population projections, released earlier this year, show the number of non-Hispanic Whites increasing until 2023 and peaking at 198.7 million. Instead, the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 at 197.8 million—eight years sooner and about 1 million shy of the forecast.

Number of non-Hispanic Whites
2017: 197,803,083
2016: 197,834,599
2015: 197,844,074 (peak)
2010: 197,389,247

The ongoing baby bust is one of the factors behind the early peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of births to non-Hispanic Whites fell 11 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. At the same time, the number of non-Hispanic White deaths increased because of the aging of the population and the rise in mortality rates among the middle-aged. Deaths now exceed births among non-Hispanic Whites.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics: 2010-2017

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Education Debt Has Become the Norm

For today's young adults, getting a college degree means going into debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Household Economics and Decision-making. Student loans are nothing new, of course. But in the past, most of those who went to college graduated debt free. Only 28 percent of Boomers (aged 60-plus) with a bachelor's degree, ever had to take out a student loan. Today, student debt is the norm. Among Millennials (under age 30) with a bachelor's degree, 62 percent have had to go into debt to get an education.

This is the percentage of Americans by age and highest degree completed who ever took out loans for their own education...

Some college or certificate
Under age 30: 43%
Aged 30 to 44: 39%
Aged 45 to 59: 24%
Aged 60-plus: 13%

Associate's degree
Under age 30: 54%
Aged 30 to 44: 48%
Aged 45 to 59: 35%
Aged 60-plus: 18%

Bachelor's degree
Under age 30: 62%
Aged 30 to 44: 55%
Aged 45 to 59: 48%
Aged 60-plus: 28%

Graduate degree
Under age 30: 75%
Aged 30 to 44: 64%
Aged 45 to 59: 60%
Aged 60-plus: 36%

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

16% of Americans Provide Financial Support

A substantial 16 percent of Americans aged 18 or older provide financial support to people in other households, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 5th annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking. Another 10 percent receive financial support. Here are the percentages by age...

Provided financial support to people in other households in 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 10%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 20%
Aged 50 to 59: 23%
Aged 60-plus: 16%

Received financial support from people in other households in 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 24%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 8%
Aged 50 to 59: 4%
Aged 60-plus: 4%

Most of the exchange is between parents and children. "Parents were among the providers for just over 6 in 10 support recipients, including 8 in 10 of those under age 30," according to the report. "Additionally, adult children are support providers for over half of people over age 60 who are receiving some assistance." Among those aged 18 to 29 who received support, one-third were getting help with educational expenses or student loan payments.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017

Monday, June 18, 2018

Do You Want To Be Rich? Only 61% Say Yes

A surprisingly modest 61 percent of Americans say they would want to be rich, according to a Gallup survey. Younger adults are most likely to yearn for wealth. They are also the ones most likely to think they will be rich someday...

Percent who would want to be rich (and percent who think it's likely they will be rich)
Aged 18 to 29: 67% (52%)
Aged 30 to 49: 69% (39%)
Aged 50 to 64: 59% (23%)
Aged 65-plus: 44% (10%)

Note: Percentages based on those who do not consider themselves rich.

Democrats are as likely as Republicans to want to be rich (60%), but they do not see eye to eye on another question. Fully 81 percent of Republicans think the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people. Only 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: Gallup, Partisan Divide on Benefit of Having Rich People Expands

Friday, June 15, 2018

Is Your Father Still Alive?

Many Americans celebrated Father's Day yesterday by remembering their father rather than spending time with him. Only 45 percent of adults still have Dad in their life, and the 55 percent majority do not. The percentage of adults whose father is no longer alive becomes the majority in the 45-to-54 age group...

Father is no longer alive
Total 18-plus:   54.8%
Aged 18 to 29:   7.3%
Aged 30 to 44: 32.7%
Aged 45 to 54: 64.2%
Aged 55 to 64: 89.0%
Aged 65-plus:  99.1%

Note: Click here for how many have living mothers.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Low Fertility May Be Here to Stay

"The most pressing current issue for the Social Security Trustees is how to think about the sharp decline in the total fertility rate," says Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in an analysis of Social Security's 2018 Trustees Report. According to the report, which projects the finances of the Social Security program 75 years into the future, the Social Security Trust Fund this year will collect less through taxes and interest than it pays out in benefits. The fund is projected to run out of money in 2034.

The Trustees need to get the nation's fertility rate right when they project the future finances of the system. That's because the fertility rate is one of the most important variables for determining the long-term financial stability of the system. For older Americans to receive benefits, younger Americans must pay into the system. Without enough younger Americans, the system breaks down.

Munnell examines historical patterns in fertility to determine whether we can expect the current low rates to rebound as the economy improves. Her analysis focuses on the total fertility rate (TFR)—or the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime based on current age-specific birth rates. In 2017, the TFR was 1.76, well below the TFR of 2.0 assumed by the end of the projection period in the Trustees Report.

Historically, the TFR has fallen during recessions and increased during expansions, Munnell's analysis shows. But this has not happened in recent years. The current low fertility rate is at odds with the ongoing economic expansion. This suggests that it could be a permanent shift. "It seems hard to make the case at this point for a cyclical rebound in the TFR," Munnell says.

If the nation's low fertility is the new normal, then the Social Security Trust Fund needs to make changes to the program sooner rather than later. This will "share the burden more equitably across cohorts, restore confidence in the nation's major retirement program, and give people time to adjust to needed changes," Munnell concludes.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Social Security's Financial Outlook: The 2018 Update in Perspective

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Only 30% of Americans Use Desktop Computers

Fully 78 percent of Americans aged 3 or older used the internet as of November 2017, according to the latest government survey of computer and internet use—a supplement to the Current Population Survey, sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The survey reveals ongoing changes in how we access the internet.

Desktop computers and broadband connections were once the primary way we went online. That's no longer the case. Today, the number of households connected to the internet through mobile data plans (88.9 million) surpasses the number connected to the internet through wired broadband service (85.3 million). The use of desktop computers has fallen behind smartphones, laptops, and even tablet computers.

Percent using computing device in 2017 (and 2011)
64% use a smartphone (43%)
46% use a laptop (43%)
34% use a smart TV (14%)
32% use a tablet (6%)
30% use a desktop computer (45%)
8% use a wearable device (NA)

As the variety of computer devices has grown over the years, more Americans are using multiple devices. In 2017, 62 percent of Americans reported used at least two different types of computing devices, up from 52 percent in 2013. The percentage who used three or more devices climbed from 32 to 42 percent during those years.

Source: NTIA, New Data Show Substantial Gains and Evolution in Internet Use

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CDC Investigates Rise in Suicides

The CDC's report on the rising number of suicides in the United States was released on June 8,  just days after Kate Spade committed suicide and the same day Anthony Bourdain took his own life. The government's in-depth analysis of suicide's potential causal factors sheds light on just how difficult it will be to stem the rising tide.

In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. The annual number of suicides has grown by almost 30 percent since 1999, the CDC reports. The suicide rate has increased in every age group under age 75 and has grown in most states. Confronted with these facts, this timely CDC report examines 2015 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, in which 27 states participated. Information from friends and family, reported to law enforcement at the time of death, are part of the database. The findings are not encouraging...
  • Among those who committed suicide in the 27 reporting states, the 54 percent majority did not have a known mental health condition. 
  • Among those without a mental health condition, only 22.4 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide. Even among those with a known mental health condition, only 23.5 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide. 
  • Only 28 percent of those who committed suicide had problematic substance abuse problems—a possible indicator of suicide risk.
  • Among suicide victims with known mental health problems, more than half were in treatment at the time of death.
What can be done to save lives? In an attempt to answer that question, the CDC examined the problems of suicide victims, with information provided by friends and family about troubles in the victim's life. The most commonly reported issues were intimate partner problems (27 percent), physical health problems (22 percent), school problems (20 percent), and job/financial problems (16 percent). These troubles are not unique to suicide victims, of course, which is why one of the CDC's recommendations is the suggestion that we teach better "coping and problem-solving skills to manage everyday stressors and prevent future relationship problems, especially early in life."

Most of the family and friends of suicide victims may never know why their loved one chose to take his or her own life. Only one-third of suicide victims leave a note, the CDC reports.

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates—United States, 1999–2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide—27 States, 2015

Monday, June 11, 2018

991 Million Doctor Visits in 2015

Americans visited the doctor 991 million times in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That 3.1 visits per person, on average. Here are the averages by age...

Average number of physician office visits per person, 2015
Under age 1: 6.2
Aged 1 to 17: 1.8
Aged 18 to 44: 2.0
Aged 45 to 64: 3.7
Aged 65-plus: 6.6

Females are more likely than males to visit the doctor, with an average of 3.6 visits per year for females and 2.6 for males.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Characteristics of Office-Based Physician Visits, 2015

Friday, June 08, 2018

How Many Would Go into Space?

Americans are a timid bunch. Personally, most would not want medical treatments so that they could live to be at least 120, most don't want to ride in a driverless car, and most don't want to go into space.

Only 42 percent of people aged 18 or older are definitely/probably interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. The 58 percent majority is definitely/probably not interested in going into space. Why not ride a rocket into space? The biggest concern is cost, second is fear, and third is age/health problems. Most Millennials do want to go into space. Most in the older generations do not.

Percent who definitely/probably would be interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft
Millennials: 63%
Generation Xers: 39%
Boomers or older: 27%

Millennials may get their chance to go into space, according to exactly half of the public. Fifty percent of Americans think people will routinely travel in space as tourists by 2068.

Source: Pew Research Center, Space Tourism? Majority of Americans Say They Wouldn't Be Interested

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Gig Workforce in 2017...but more to come

If you think gig workers are a growing share of the U.S. labor force, the results of the latest survey of gig work appear to contradict the notion. According to the long-awaited Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 estimate of the gig workforce, measured through a special supplement to the Current Population Survey, there has been no growth or even decline since 2005 in the proportion of American workers who, in their main job, are what the BLS calls "contingent or alternative." These workers include independent contractors, on-call, temporary, and contract workers, as well as those working short stints (contingent). This is the first update of the BLS' contingent and alternative worker survey since 2005 (pre-Uber!), and the finding of little to no growth doesn't make sense. What's the explanation?

Here is the explanation: a whole lot of alternative workers (millions!) are missing from these latest counts. A highlighted box in the news release notes...
"Four new questions were added to the May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement. These questions were designed to identify individuals who found short tasks or jobs through a mobile app or website and were paid through the same app or website. BLS continues to evaluate the data from these new questions; the data do not appear in this news release [emphasis added]. When available, additional information will be at www.bls.gov/cps/electronically-mediated-employment.htm. Findings from this research will be published in a Monthly Labor Review article by September 30, 2018."
So, we will have to wait a bit longer for the much-anticipated official measure of the real size of the gig workforce.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements Summary

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Educated, Affluent Parents Most Likely to Use Day Care

Sixty percent of the nation's preschoolers are in a nonparental care arrangement (day care) at least weekly, according to a National Center for Education Statistics survey. But there are big differences in day care use by parental education and income...

Children aged 0 through 5 in day care at least once/week by parent's education
41% of those whose parent did not graduate from high school
49% of those whose parent has only a high school diploma
60% of those whose parent has some college or an associate's degree
64% of those whose parent has a bachelor's degree
75% of those whose parent has a graduate or professional degree

Day care use also varies by family income. Only 48 percent of preschoolers whose family income is below $20,000 are in day care at least once a week compared with 75 percent of those with an income above $100,000.

Day care use rises with education and income because of its high cost. In 2016, households with a child who attended a day care center spent an average of $1,769 per quarter on the service, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey—an annual average of more than $7,000.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation, Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Age of Retirement Rising for College Graduates

The average age of retirement is rising among men, but the increase is almost entirely limited to those with a college degree, according to an analysis by Matthew S. Rutledge of the Center for Retirement Research.

Among men with a college degree, the average age of retirement climbed from 64.6 in the 1990s to 65.7 in the 2010s—an increase of 1.1 years. For men with no more than a high school diploma, the average age of retirement rose from 62.2 to 62.8 during the time period—an increase of just 0.6 years. Why is the rise so much smaller among the less educated? According to Rutledge's research, four factors are at work:

  • Health disparities: Over the past few decades, the health of less-educated workers has improved less than the health of workers with a college degree. Consequently, the less-educated are more often forced by health issues to leave the labor force. 
  • Defined-contribution retirement plans: Less-educated workers are less likely than the better educated to have a defined-contribution retirement plan. Thus, they lack the incentive to remain at work longer to build up their retirement funds.
  • Early claiming of Social Security benefits: Less-educated workers account for most of those claiming early benefits, and this might make sense because of their lower life expectancy. "They tend to maximize their lifetime Social Security benefits by claiming before their FRA [full retirement age], and even as early as age 62."
  • Marital status: Less-educated workers are less likely than college graduates to be married and thus they do not have the incentive to delay retirement until their (typically younger) wife reaches retirement age.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?

Monday, June 04, 2018

Teens and Tech: 2018 Update

Every few years Pew Research Center surveys the use of technology by teenagers aged 13 to 17. Here are some of the latest findings...

95% of teens have a smartphone or access to one.
88% of teens have a desktop or laptop computer at home.
45% of teens say they are online almost constantly.
97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls play video games.
85% of teens say they use YouTube, the most popular online platform.
31% of teens say social media is mostly positive, and among them the largest share says social media allows them to connect with friends and family.
24% of teens say social media is mostly negative, and among them the largest share says social media allows bullying and rumors to spread.

Source: Pew Research Center, Teens, Social Media and Technology 2018

Friday, June 01, 2018

84% of Americans Are Digitally Literate

The 84 percent majority of Americans are digitally literate, according to a survey of Americans aged 16 to 65. Only 16 percent of the population is not digitally literate. These findings come from The International Assessment of Adult Competencies, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The survey assessed the computer skills of a nationally representative sample of Americans, determining how many were able to use computers "to solve real-world problems such as purchasing goods or services, finding health information, and managing personal information and business finances."

The United States was just one of the 19 countries whose computer skills were assessed by the OECD. With a digital literacy rate of 84 percent, the U.S. beat the 19-country average of 77 percent. Among the countries, the Netherlands had the largest percentage of digitally literate (89 percent) and Poland had the smallest (50 percent). The U.S. ranks lower in digital literacy than Scandinavian countries, about the same as Canada, England, and Germany, and higher than Australia, Austria, Korea, or Japan.

Fully 74 percent of Americans aged 18 to 65 use a computer at work, the survey found, and 81 percent use a computer in everyday life. Of course digital literacy varies by demographic characteristic. Here are some of the biggest differences...

Education: Fully 95 percent of 18-to-65-year-olds with an associate's degree or more education are digitally literate versus 83 percent of high school graduates and 59 percent of high school dropouts.

Age: The youngest adults are the most literate. Fully 92 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds are digitally literate. The figure falls with age to a low of 72 percent among 55-to-65-year-olds.

Race and Hispanic origin: Only 65 percent of Hispanics are digitally literate. The figure is 78 percent among Blacks and 89 percent among non-Hispanic Whites. Asians were not identified separately but included in an "other" category along with American Indians and the multiracial. The digital literacy rate of the "other" group was 87 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, A Description of U.S. Adults Who Are Not Digitally Literate

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Decline in Median Earnings of Female College Graduates

The earnings of 25-to-34-year-olds who work full-time are lower today than they were in 2000 in almost every educational attainment group, according to a National Center for Education Statistics' analysis of the Current Population Survey. This is true for both men (see post) and women.

In 2016, the median earnings of women aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor's degree who worked full-time were 7 percent below the median earnings of their counterparts in 2000. Young adults know that a college degree guarantees them higher earnings than their less-educated peers. What they don't know is that a degree does not guarantee higher earnings than their college-educated counterparts in the past. Today's college graduates have less money to pay off much larger student loans.

Among all women aged 25 to 34 who work full-time, median earnings increased 1 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation—rising from $37,620 to $38,000. But by educational attainment, only high school dropouts saw their median earnings rise during the time period. The biggest earnings decline occurred among women with some college. Their median earnings fell 14 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation.

Median earnings of women aged 25 to 34 who work full-time by education, 2016 (and percent change in earnings since 2000; in 2016 dollars)
$21,900 for those who did not graduate from high school (+5.0%)
$28,000 for high school graduates only (–7.2%)
$29,980 for those with some college, no degree (–13.8%)
$31,870 for those with an associate's degree (–12.0%)
$44,990 for those with a bachelor's degree (–7.5%)
$57,690 for those with a master's or higher degree (–0.5%)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education, Annual Earnings of Young Adults

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Decline in Median Earnings of Male College Graduates

The earnings of 25-to-34-year-olds who work full-time are lower today than they were in 2000 in almost every educational attainment group, according to a National Center for Education Statistics' analysis of the Current Population Survey.

Young people well know that a college degree guarantees them higher earnings than their less-educated peers. What they may not know is this: a degree doesn't guarantee them higher earnings than their college-educated counterparts in the past. As of 2016, the median earnings of men aged 25 to 34 with a bachelor's degree who worked full-time were 9 percent below the median earnings of their counterparts in 2000. Today's college graduates have less money to pay off much larger student loans.

Among all men aged 25 to 34 who work full-time, median earnings fell 2 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation—from $44,880 to $43,970. By educational attainment, only high school dropouts saw their median earnings rise during the time period. The biggest earnings decline occurred among men with only some college, whose median earnings fell 14 percent between 2000 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation.

Median earnings of men aged 25 to 34 who work full-time by education, 2016 (and percent change in earnings since 2000; in 2016 dollars)
$28,560 for those who did not graduate from high school (+2.8%)
$34,750 for high school graduates only (–13.6%)
$37,980 for those with some college, no degree (–14.3%)
$43,000 for those with an associate's degree (–11.8%)
$56,960 for those with a bachelor's degree  (–8.8%)
$71,640 for those with a master's or higher degree  (–6.4%)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education, Annual Earnings of Young Adults

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Summer After Kindergarten

How do children spend their summers? Do they play outside, hang out with Grandma, attend a summer camp, visit a zoo? The National Center for Education Statistics took a crack at answering this question in its Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11. The survey interviewed the parents of a nationally representative sample of 2010–11 kindergarteners in the fall of 2011 about their activities during the summer—the summer after kindergarten. The NCES then compared children's summer activities by family income and parental education.

Child care: Most children—74 percent—had no regular nonparental care arrangement during the summer after kindergarten. Only 7 percent went to a day care center, and 13 percent were regularly cared for by a relative (often Grandma). There were few differences in these numbers by socioeconomic characteristic.

Playing outside: Most children—76 percent—played outside every day during a typical summer week, parents report. This figure did not vary much by socioeconomic characteristic.

Summer camp: About one in four kindergarteners attended a day camp at some point during the summer. A summer camp experience was much more common for kindergarteners from higher-income (38 percent) than lower-income (7 percent) families. Summer camp was also more likely for children whose parents had a bachelor's degree (43 percent) than for those whose parents had no more than a high school diploma (6 percent).

Visiting beaches, lakes, rivers, state or national parks: Most children—86 percent—visited these summer destinations. While there were some differences by socioeconomic status, the gap was relatively small. Among the higher-income children, 91 percent enjoyed these activities during the summer. The figure was 81 percent among those whose family incomes were below poverty level.

Visiting educational and entertainment venues: Children from higher-income and better-educated families were more than twice as likely to visit art galleries, museums, or historical sites during the summer after kindergarten. Among those whose parents had a bachelor's degree, 65 percent had these experiences. Among those whose parents had no more than a high school diploma, the figure was 30 percent. The gap was smaller for zoos or aquariums (73 versus 54 percent), and even smaller for amusement parks (64 versus 55 percent).

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Summer After Kindergarten: Children's Experiences by Socioeconomic Characteristics

Friday, May 25, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in April 2018

More good news from Sentier Research. Median household income in April 2018 climbed to $61,483—higher than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and 1.3 percent higher than the April 2017 median. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

April's median was 3.2 percent higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It was 12.9 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. "We are at a point now where real median household income is 2.0 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," says 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 nearly seven years."

Sentier's Household Income Index in April 2018 was 102.0 (January 2000 = 100.0). Back when the Great Recession began in December 2007, the Index was at 98.8. It fell to 97.0 by June 2009, the official end of the Great Recession. It continued to fall, reaching the low of 90.4 in June 2011. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: April 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

City Population Growth, 2010 to 2017

Between 2010 and 2017, the population of the nation's 765 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more in 2017) grew by an average of 7.0 percent. The remainder of the United States grew by a smaller 4.2 percent. Growth is fastest among cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999, which saw a population gain of 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2017...

City population growth 2010-2017 by city size
1 million or more: 6.54%
500,000 to 999,999: 8.51%
250,000 to 499,999: 7.45%
200,000 to 249,999: 6.15%
150,000 to 199,999: 6.82%
100,000 to 149,999: 6.77%
50,000 to 99,999: 6.73%

Among all cities with populations of 50,000 or more, the annual growth rate since 2010 has slowed from about 1.0 percent per year to a smaller 0.8 percent between 2016 and 2017. At the same time, the annual growth rate of the population outside of large cities has increased, rising from about 0.5 percent per year to 0.7 percent between 2016 and 2017. Widespread recovery from the Great Recession is reducing the economic incentive to move to large cities. 

Source: Census Bureau, Census Bureau Reveals Fastest-Growing Large Cities

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What If Every State Expanded Medicaid?

The percentage of Americans who do not have health insurance has plummeted over the past few years, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. When the ACA was enacted in 2010, a substantial 18.2 percent of people under age 65 did not have health insurance. By 2017, just 10.7 percent did not have health insurance, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The decline would be even greater if every state adopted Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis by Matthew Buettgens of the Urban Institute.

One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act was to expand the Medicaid program in every state, providing insurance to people with incomes up to 138 percent of poverty level. As of March 2018, however, only 31 states and the District of Columbia had chosen to expand the program. If the 19 holdout states had a change of heart, according to Buettgens' analysis, the number of Americans without health insurance would fall by more than 4 million. Expanding Medicaid would reduce the number of nonelderly without health insurance by at least 20 percent in each of the 19 states and by an even larger 34 percent in Mississippi, 32 percent in Idaho, and 30 percent in Missouri. The percentage of the nonelderly without insurance in those states would drop from 16.9  to 12.6 percent on average, and it would fall into the single digits in six states including Maine and Wisconsin.

While Medicaid expansion would increase a state's Medicaid spending, the savings in other areas would more than make up for the cost, Buettgens says. "The research shows that, compared with nonexpansion states, Medicaid expansion states have seen larger declines in the number of uninsured people, lower uncompensated care, economic benefits from additional health care spending, and net gains to state budgets."

Source: Urban Institute, The Implications of Medicaid Expansion in the Remaining States: 2018 Update

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Less Poverty among Widows

Widows aren't as poor as they used to be. The poverty rate of widows fell from 20 to 13 percent between 1994 and 2014, according to the Center for Retirement Research. To find out why the poverty rate of widows has declined, CRR researchers analyzed data from the 1994 and 2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, linking widows aged 65 to 85 in the HRS with their Social Security earnings and benefits records. The poverty rate of widows has declined for two reasons, the researchers found—increased education and labor force participation.

Education: The widows of 2014 had an average of 12.1 years of schooling compared with only 10.7 years of schooling for their 1994 counterparts. More education equals higher earnings and bigger Social Security benefits, reducing poverty.

Labor force participation: The widows of 2014 had worked for 25.2 years, on average, compared with 14.7 years of work for the 1994 widows. More years in the labor force equals higher Social Security benefits and less poverty.

The poverty rate of widows will continue to decline, the researchers predict, falling to 8 percent by 2029. While educational attainment and labor force participation will be factors in the continuing decline, just as important will be marital selection—the greater likelihood of marriage among better educated women. Unlike in decades past, better educated women today are more likely to marry (and less likely to divorce if married) than their less-educated counterparts. Consequently, the pool of widows is becoming increasingly educated and less likely to be poor.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What Factors Explain the Decline in Widows' Poverty?

Monday, May 21, 2018

No State Immune from Baby Bust. Well, maybe one...

To the surprise of many, the baby bust is deepening. The number of births fell by 92,000 between 2016 and 2017–from 3.946 million to 3.853 million, the lowest number in 30 years. This is the largest annual decline since 2010, when the nation was struggling to recover from the Great Recession.

No state was immune from the baby bust in 2017. Well, maybe one: Tennessee was the only state in which births did not decline in 2017. But the rise in births was so small (just 36) that the percent increase rounded to 0.0.

Looking at the longer trends in births during the baby bust—from 2007 (the year births peaked) to 2017—only North Dakota and the District of Columbia have seen an increase. But they did not make gains in 2017. The number of births in North Dakota fell 5.7 percent during the year, making it the third biggest loser of 2017, after Alaska (–7.0 percent) and Wyoming (–6.6 percent). The District of Columbia experienced a 3.2 percent drop in births in 2017—larger than the 2.3 percent decline nationally.

Twenty-three states experienced a bigger decline in births between 2016 and 2017 than the 2.3 percent national loss. Among them are Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Utah. Only seven states experienced declines of less than 1 percent between 2016 and 2017. As you might expect, most are in the rapidly growing South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina), but Ohio and Massachusetts are also on the list.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of National Center for Health Statistics Birth Data

Friday, May 18, 2018

Who Likes to Drive?

One-third of Americans enjoy driving "a great deal," according to a Gallup survey. Another 44 percent enjoy it moderately. That may be why the 52 percent majority of the public says it "never wants to use" a driverless car.

Do you personally enjoy driving?
A great deal: 34%
Moderately: 44%
Not much: 13%
Not at all: 8%

Men and women feel somewhat differently about driving. While 41 percent of men enjoy driving a great deal, only 27 percent of women feel the same way.

Source: Gallup, Driverless Cars Are a Tough Sell to Americans

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Births in 2017 at Lowest Level in 30 Years

Despite the economic recovery, the baby bust continues. Only 3,853,472 babies were born in the U.S. in 2017—the lowest number since 1987, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has fallen in every year since 2007, when births hit a record high of 4.3 million.

Number of births (in 000s)
2017: 3,853
2016: 3,946
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 most recent decline in births is not trivial: 92,000 fewer babies were born in 2017 than in 2016, a 2 percent drop. The NCHS report is littered with record lows. The nation's 
fertility rate fell to 60.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, an all-time low. Birth rates for women aged 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 29 fell to new record lows. Even among women in their 30s, birth rates fell between 2016 and 2017, after rising for the past few years. Women aged 40 or older were the only ones with higher birth rates in 2017.

The continuing baby bust despite the economic recovery is a surprise. While there are many possible explanations, one stands out. Young adults are economically fragile. Student loans, rising rents, unpredictable work schedules, costly day care, and the growing importance of women's earnings to financial wellbeing are all behind the baby bust.  

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2017 (pdf)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Are Those Born in the 1980s a "Lost Generation"?

Born in the 1980s? Then you belong to what could be a "lost generation." This is not a tabloid headline, but the considered opinion of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In an examination of trends in household wealth, fed researchers determined which households had recovered from the Great Recession and which had not.

For the analysis, the researchers estimated typical life cycle wealth trajectories using the 1989 through 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. They then compared actual wealth to expected wealth for household heads born in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Two stories emerged, and only one had a happy ending.

  • Here's the story with the happy ending: By 2016, the net worth of older Americans (born in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s) had recovered from the Great Recession. 
  • Here's the other story: By 2016, the net worth of younger adults (born in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s) had not recovered from the Great Recession. Those born in the 1960s were still 11 percent short of their expected net worth in 2016. Those born in the 1970s were 18 percent short. Those born in the 1980s were even worse off. Their net worth was 34 percent short of what it should have been based on the lifecycle wealth trajectory of earlier generations.

Housing and mortgage debt explain the wealth shortfall for the 1960s and 1970s cohorts. These age groups bought homes during the housing bubble and lost equity when the bubble collapsed. Few in the 1980s cohort were homeowners during the housing bubble, so the shortfall is caused by other types of debt—student loans, auto loans, and credit card debt, say the researchers. There is still hope for those born in the 1980s, however, because of their high educational attainment and the many years of catch-up available to them. But, the feds conclude, "the 1980s cohort is at greatest risk of becoming a 'lost generation' for wealth accumulation."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, A Lost Generation? Long-Lasting Wealth Impacts of the Great Recession on Young Families

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Big Increase in Death by Falling

Older Americans are increasingly likely to die from a fall, the CDC reports. The annual number of people aged 65 or older who die because of falling climbed from 18,000 in 2007 to 30,000 in 2016. Even more telling, the death rate from falls grew steeply during those years—from 47 deaths per 100,000 people aged 65 or older in 2007 to 62 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, a 31 percent increase. The rise in the death rate from falls among older Americans is not a new phenomenon, according to the CDC. Between 2000 and 2006, the rate climbed 42 percent.

Why is falling a growing problem for older Americans? The increase in the 85-plus population may be one factor, says the CDC, since the death rate from falls is highest in the oldest age group. But even among the oldest old, the death rate from falls has surged—up 41 percent between 2007 and 2016. How to explain this? "Nationally, the rate of deaths from falls might be increasing because of longer survival after the onset of common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke," the CDC speculates.

One possible factor behind the increase, not mentioned in the CDC report, is obesity. Older Americans are increasingly likely to be obese, and the obese may find it more difficult to maintain their balance as they age. Among men aged 75 or older, the prevalence of obesity grew from 18 to 27 percent between 1999–2002 and 2011–14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Among their female counterparts, obesity increased from 24 to 31 percent.

If the death rate from falls cannot be reduced, the CDC warns, many more older people will die from falls in the years ahead. "If the current rate remains stable," it reports, "an estimated 43,000 U.S. residents aged ≥ 65 years will die because of a fall in 2030, and if the rate continues to increase, 59,000 fall-related deaths could result."

Source: CDC, Deaths from Fall among Persons Aged ≥ 65 Years—United States, 2007–2016

Monday, May 14, 2018

Expected Age of Retirement Now 66

On average, workers today expect to retire at an average age of 66—substantially higher than the expected retirement age of 60 in the mid-1990s, according to a Gallup survey. The percentage who expect to retire when they are 66 or older...

Percentage of workers who expect to retire at age 66 or older
2018: 41%
2015: 37%
2010: 34%
2005: 31%
2002: 21%
1995: 12%

Source: Gallup, Snapshot: Average American Predicts Retirement Age of 66

Friday, May 11, 2018

Going to the Movies, by Generation

Millennials go to the movies more frequently than Boomers or Gen Xers, according to an AARP survey. The 56 percent majority of Millennials say they go to a theater to see a film at least once a month. For Gen Xers, a smaller 44 percent go to a movie at least monthly. Among Boomers, only 22 percent attend a movie that often.

Although Boomers do not go to the movies as often as younger people, fully 71 percent go to a movie at least once a year. The annual attendance figure is 84 percent for Gen Xers and 89 percent for Millennials.

When asked whether in-home entertainment options and streaming have reduced their movie going, a large share of every generation says yes—52 percent of Boomers, 49 percent of Gen Xers, and 56 percent of Millennials.

Source: AARP, What Boomers Want: Insights into Cinema Experience Preferences and Behaviors

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Are...

Does age predict entrepreneurial success? Yes, say many Americans, and they would be right. But they would be wrong about the age that predicts success. According to a recent study, it's not youthfulness that leads to entrepreneurial success...
"We find that age indeed predicts success, and sharply, but in the opposite way that many observers and investors propose. The highest success rates in entrepreneurship come from founders in middle age and beyond."
You read that right: "middle age and beyond." This is the conclusion reached by researchers from MIT and the Census Bureau after linking IRS, Census Bureau, patent, and third-party venture capital databases. They crunched the numbers to determine the average age of founders for the 1 in 1,000 fastest growing new businesses in the past decade. Average age = 45.0. Notably, the average age of successful entrepreneurs does not vary much by industry sector, including high tech.

There's a good reason for this surprising finding: experience is the key to success. "These findings are consistent with theories in which key entrepreneurial resources (such as human capital, financial capital, and social capital) accumulate with age," explain the researchers. "To the extent that venture capital targets younger founders, early-stage finance appears biased against the founders with the highest likelihood of successful exits or top 1 in 1,000 growth outcomes."

Source: Census Bureau, Working Papers, Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

If your customers are people who hunt, fish, or watch birds and other wildlife, you're in luck. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides an in-depth look at them in its 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The report provides detailed demographic, spending, and activity profiles of Americans aged 16 or older who participated in hunting, fishing, and/or wildlife observation. The survey, which is fielded by the Census Bureau every five years, has been ongoing since 1955.

Among the three recreational activities examined, wildlife watching is by far most popular. More than one-third (34 percent) of Americans aged 16 or older participated in wildlife watching in 2016 compared with 14 percent who fished and 4 percent who hunted. The survey defines wildlife watching as closely observing, feeding, and/or photographing wildlife, or visiting natural areas with wildlife observation as the primary objective.

Wildlife watching is more popular than fishing or hunting, and it is growing faster and generates more spending. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of wildlife watchers grew 21 percent—from 71 million to 86 million. The number of birdwatchers alone (45 million) almost surpasses the number of anglers and hunters combined. Wildlife watchers spent $76 billion in 2016. The number of people who fish grew from 30 million to 36 million between 2006 and 2016. Anglers spent $46 billion on fishing equipment and services in 2016. The number of hunters fell during the decade, from 12.5 million to 11.5 million. Hunters spent $26 billion in 2016.

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

College Grads Control 74 Percent of Household Wealth

More than one-third of households in the U.S. (34 percent) are headed by someone with a bachelor's degree or more education. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis examined data from the Survey of Consumer Finances to determine trends in the net worth of households by educational attainment of householder. Here are the findings...

Household net worth by educational attainment, 2016 (and 1989; in 2016 dollars)
Householder is a college graduate: $291,000 ($238,000)
Householder not a college graduate: $54,000 ($66,000)

The net worth of college graduates has increased over the decades, while the net worth of householders without a college degree has declined. Consequently, households headed by college graduates now control 74 percent of household wealth, up from 50 percent in 1989.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Income and Wealth Gaps: College Grads vs. Nongrads

Monday, May 07, 2018

Median Household Income Now Tops $61,000

It's back! After a hiatus of nearly one year, Sentier Research is restarting its monthly household income estimate series. The latest estimate is good news. Median household income in March 2018 was $61,227, statistically no different from February's $61,234. The medians in February and March of this year are the highest measured in the nearly 20 years of estimates Sentier has created, beginning with January 2000. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

"Real median household income has continued to display a strong performance over the past 12 months (up 2.0 percent), and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 12.7 percent)," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "We are at a point now where real median household income is 1.8 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series. Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for nearly seven years."

Sentier's Household Income Index in March 2018 was 101.8 (January 2000 = 100.0). Back when the Great Recession began in December 2007, the Index was at 98.8. It fell to 97.0 by June 2009, the official end of the Great Recession. It continued to fall, reaching the low of 90.4 in June 2011. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: March 2018

Friday, May 04, 2018

Single Parents Not Necessarily Going it Alone

Many single parents are living with a partner, reports Pew Research Center in an analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 Current Population Survey. Fully 35 percent of single parents were living with a partner in 2017, up from 20 percent two decades ago in 1997.

Unmarried parents living with children under age 18
Solo mother: 53%
Solo father: 12%
Cohabiting mother: 18%
Cohabiting father: 17%

Many solo mothers and fathers aren't so alone either. A large share live with their own parents—31 percent of solo fathers and 22 percent of solo mothers. The grandparents "could be playing an important role as caregiver to any grandchildren in the household," says Pew.

Source: Pew Research Center, The Changing Profile of Unmarried Parents

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Winners and Losers in the Grocery Store, 2006 to 2016

When Americans shopped for groceries a decade ago, beef was number-one on the shopping list—the item on which the average household spent the most money. Today, the number-one expenditure is fresh fruit, followed by fresh vegetables. Beef is now in third place. Between 2006 and 2016, average household spending on beef—which includes everything from ground beef to steak and roasts—fell 13 percent after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, average household spending on fresh fruit climbed 24 percent, and fresh vegetable spending was up 10 percent. Here are some of grocery's biggest winners and losers during the decade...

Selected items with double-digit gain in average household spending, 2006–16 (in 2016 dollars)
Coffee: 61%
Rice: 45%
Spices: 43%
Cream: 33%
Nuts: 30%
Butter: 29%
Eggs: 28%
Fruit, fresh: 24%
Bacon: 19%
Vegetables, fresh: 10%

Selected items with double-digit loss in average household spending, 2006–16 (in 2016 dollars)
Fish:–10%
Beef: –13%
Carbonated drinks: –15%
Fruit juice, bottled: –16%
Ice cream: –20%
Cereal: –20%
Milk, fresh: –23%
Margarine: –30%
Fruit juice, fresh: –42%
Baby food: –42%

Of course, these lists cannot determine whether our diet has improved over the decade. Although Americans are spending less on carbonated drinks and ice cream at the grocery store, they may be gorging on these items at restaurants instead.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Smartphone-Only Internet Access

Providing customers with a seamless mobile interface is critical to the success of businesses today. For proof, look no further than the findings of a recent Pew survey of household internet access. Fully one in five Americans does not have broadband service at home and relies on a smartphone to access the internet. This is especially true for Hispanics and younger adults...

Smartphone-only internet access at home by race/Hispanic origin
Whites: 14%
Blacks: 24%
Hispanics: 35%

Smartphone-only internet access at home by age
Aged 18 to 29: 28%
Aged 30 to 49: 24%
Aged 50 to 64: 16%
Aged 65-plus: 10%

Many older adults have neither broadband nor smartphone access to the internet at home—17 percent of the 50-to-64 age group and 40 percent of people aged 65-plus.

Source: Pew Research Center, Declining Majority of Online Adults Say the Internet Has Been Good for Society

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

College Graduates More Likely to be Married

At age 31, young adults with a bachelor's degree are much more likely to be married than their less-educated counterparts, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. The NLSY97 is tracking the education, labor force experience, and partner status of a representative sample of people born from 1980 to 1984. This group was aged 12 to 17 at the time of their first interview in 1997 and aged 30 to 36 at the time of their 17th (!) interview in 2015-16.

Looking at the partner status of the cohort at age 31, researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics found fewer than half were married—41 percent of men and 49 percent of women. But among the college graduates, most were married.

Percent of men married at age 31
34.4% of those who did not graduate from high school
35.9% of high school graduates, no college
39.1% of those with some college or associate's degree
50.1% of those with a bachelor's degree or higher

Percent of women married at age 31
32.2% of those who did not graduate from high school
45.1% of high school graduates, no college
46.9% of those with some college or associate's degree
56.8% of those with a bachelor's degree or higher

Young adults are hesitant to marry (or stay married to) partners without a college degree, most likely because the lack of a degree typically results in lower earnings.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans at Age 31: Labor Market Activity, Education and Partner Status Summary

Monday, April 30, 2018

Belief in God

Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But God means different things to different people. The 56 percent majority believe in God as described in the Bible. Here is the percentage by age...

Believe in God as described in Bible
Aged 18 to 29: 43%
Aged 30 to 49: 49%
Aged 50 to 64: 67%
Aged 65-plus: 65%

Among those who believe in God or a higher power, most think God loves all people, has protected them personally, and has rewarded them.

Source: Pew Research Center, When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Working Parents Are the Norm for Preschoolers

Every parent in the household is employed in the great majority of families with children under age 6, according to 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether preschoolers live in a married-couple or single-parent family, seeing Mom and/or Dad go off to work is the norm...

Families with preschoolers in which all household parents are employed
Married-couple families: 62%
Female-headed families: 68%
Male-headed families: 86%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Characteristics of Families

Thursday, April 26, 2018

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2018

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, first quarter 2018: 46.3%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 fell to 46.3 percent in the first quarter of 2018, a disappointment for those who hoped the upward turn in the fourth quarter of 2017 (to 47.1 percent) was a sign of better times to come. These bobbles do not rise to the level of statistical significance, of course, but over time small upward shifts can build to something meaningful. Alas, the latest downturn suggests the upward bobble had no meaning.

This requires new thinking. Historically (before the Great Recession) homeownership became the norm (rising above 50 percent) in the 30-to-34 age group. 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. After years of watching and waiting for the age group's homeownership rate to recover, time's up. Demo Memo is removing the "first-time homebuyer" distinction from the 30-to-34 age group and bestowing it instead on 35-to-39-year-olds. They are the nation's new first-time homebuyers—the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. Drum roll...

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, first quarter 2018: 57.1%

There's good news in the latest number. In the first quarter of 2018, the homeownership rate of households headed by 35-to-39-year-olds cracked the 57 percent threshold for the first time since 2012. These no-longer-young adults just might be buying homes. Feelings of jubilation should be tempered by the fact that the current homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds is well below their peak rate of 65.7 percent reached in the first quarter of 2007.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018, up from 63.9 percent one year earlier. The increase was not statistically significant.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How Much Have Older Workers Saved?

Among the nation's workers aged 55 or older, a substantial 71 percent are "somewhat" or "very" confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement, according to the 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey. There's a reason so many are confident: older workers have managed to boost their retirement savings.

The share of workers aged 55 or older who report saving little has fallen over the past few years, and the share who report substantial savings has increased, according to the survey. Fully 38 percent of workers aged 55 or older report savings of $250,000 or more in 2018, up from 25 percent in 2015. The percentage of older workers who report savings of less than $25,000 fell from 43 to 28 percent during those years.

Value of savings/investments of workers aged 55 or older, 2018
28% have less than $25,000
7% have $25,000 to $49,999
8% have $50,000 to $99,999
19% have $100,000 to $250,000
38% have $250,000 or more

These figures do not include the value of the primary residence. Older workers are now more likely to report having substantial savings ($250,000 or more) than little savings (less than $25,000), a crossover that occurred in 2017.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Median Annual Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs for People Aged 70 or Older: $2,012

One of the biggest concerns of the American public is not having enough money to pay for health expenses in old age. Only 14 percent of workers and 26 percent of retirees feel "very confident" they will have enough money to pay for medical care throughout retirement, according to the 2018 Employee Benefit Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey.

How much do older Americans pay out-of-pocket for medical care in their final decades of life? That question has an answer: a median of $2,012 per year in addition to the cost of health insurance, according to Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. He estimated the out-of-pocket medical costs of people from age 70 until death, using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. The estimate is in 2015 dollars and adjusted for medical inflation.

A couple thousand dollars a year doesn't sound too bad. Many retirees can pay for those expenses out of current income rather than dipping into savings. But, here's the catch—some older Americans will pay much more. Those with the bad luck to end up in the 95th percentile of medical expenses, for example, must cough up $19,103 per year out-of-pocket. It's hard to pay bills like that without tapping into savings or running out of money altogether.

Long-term care costs are driving up out-of-pocket medical expenses for the unfortunate few. To cover those costs, retirees must drain savings accounts, and many ultimately become dependent on Medicaid—the health insurance program for the poor. By the end of life, 33 percent of retirees in the HRS study were dependent on Medicaid to cover their health care costs, up from only 11 percent who were on Medicaid at age 70.

No one knows whether they will need long-term care, but the numbers are not encouraging. Banerjee's study shows that 38 percent of men and 51 percent of women aged 70 will receive nursing home care at some point before they die.

With the threat of long-term care costs looming, many retirees are hesitant to spend their savings. (See the Demo Memo post about another Banerjee study showing this to be the case.) "This raises a question about whether, if such risks could be insured more efficiently, retirees would be able to spend their retirement assets more freely and whether this might improve their personal welfare and/or have positive macroeconomic effects as well," Banerjee concludes.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Cumulative Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses After the Age of 70