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

Monday, April 23, 2018

Asian American Mothers: Oldest and Most Educated

Asian American women who had babies in 2016 distinguished themselves from other mothers in two ways, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. They are much older, and they are far better educated.

Fully 66 percent of Asian American women who gave birth in 2016 were aged 30 or older, much higher than the 45 percent of all women who gave birth. Here is the percentage by Asian ethnic group...

Percent aged 30 or older
86.7% of Japanese
83.7% of Koreans
69.4% of Chinese
69.1% of Vietnamese
68.8% of Filipinos
64.2% of Asian Indians

The educational attainment of Asian American women who gave birth in 2016 is also remarkable. While 42 percent of all women aged 25 or older who gave birth in 2016 had a bachelor's degree or more education, among Asians the figure was 67 percent. Here is the percentage by Asian ethnic group...

Bachelor's degree or higher
82.5% of Asian Indians
80.3% of Koreans
71.7% of Chinese
70.1% of Japanese
58.2% of Filipinos
44.8% of Vietnamese

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data, Asian American Mothers: Demographic Characteristics by Maternal Place of Birth and Asian Subgroup, 2016

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Generations in 2017

Generational power is shifting, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates by single-year of age. Older generations are losing people, while younger generations are growing because of immigration.

Between 2010 and 2017, Baby Boomers lost nearly 4 million of their peers, a 5 percent decline in the size of the generation. The number in the older Swing generation fell by 2 million, an 8 percent decline. The World War II generation (the oldest) lost 7.6 million members—a 54 percent decline since 2010. Gen Xers saw their ranks fall by just 87,000 during those years.

Meanwhile, the number of Millennials grew by 2.8 million between 2010 and 2017, thanks to immigration. The iGeneration grew by 1.7 million. The Recession generation, aged 0 to 7, is now larger than the Swing and World War II generations combined.

Size of generations in 2017 (and % of total population)
325,719,178 (100.0%): Total population
  32,028,089 (  9.8%): Recession generation (aged 0 to 7)
  63,140,935 (19.4%): iGeneration (aged 8 to 22)
  79,671,915 (24.5%): Millennial generation (aged 23 to 40)  
  49,158,485 (15.1%): Generation X (aged 41 to 52)  
  73,465,961 (22.6%): Baby Boom generation (aged 53 to 71)  
  21,785,111 (  6.7%): Swing generation (aged 72 to 84)  
    6,468,682 (  2.0%): World War II generation (aged 85-plus)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Estimates of U.S. Population by Age and Sex: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Many Retirees Don't Spend Down Their Savings

Here's how it's supposed work: save for retirement during your decades in the labor force, then spend down those savings in retirement. But that's not how it works for many Americans.

Retirees are loath to spend down their savings, according to a study by Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, Banerjee examines changes in the non-housing assets of retirees during nearly two decades of retirement. He divides retirees into three groups based on the size of their pre-retirement non-housing assets, minus debt: Group A had non-housing assets below $200,000 (median of $29,975); Group B had non-housing assets between $200,000 and $500,000 (median of $333,940); Group C had non-housing assets of $500,000 or more (median of $857,450). Regardless of asset group, Banerjee finds the same phenomenon—the non-housing assets of retirees shrink far less than what is assumed by retirement models. After 17 to 20 years of retirement, Group A's non-housing assets had fallen by only 24 percent, Group B's by 27 percent, and Group C's by 12 percent.

Not only are retirees resistant to spending down their savings, a large percentage actually grow their assets in retirement. More than one-third of retirees, regardless of asset group, had larger non-housing assets after nearly two decades of retirement than they did at the time they retired.

Retirees are hesitant to spend down their savings for four reason: 1) uncertainty about future financial needs; 2) the desire to leave an inheritance; 3) not knowing the safe rate for spending down assets; and 4) behavioral habits—"After building a saving habit throughout their working lives, people find it challenging to shift into spending mode," Banerjee suggests.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Asset Decumulation or Asset Preservation? What Guides Retirement Spending?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Earnings Rise, but It Feels Like a Loss

Men without a bachelor's degree earn more than their counterparts did several decades ago, reports Stephen J. Rose of the Urban Institute in a recent analysis. But the rise in their earnings feels like a loss because they are losing ground relative to the rest of the workforce.

Take a look at the growing gap between the earnings of men with and without a bachelor's degree: Men with a bachelor's degree earned 50 percent more than those without a degree in 1980, says Rose. The gap grew to 81 percent by 2000. It climbed to 119 percent in 2015. Ouch. Because the earnings of men without a bachelor's degree are growing much more slowly than the earnings of college graduates, their standard of living is in relative decline.

In the past, says Rose, a middle-class lifestyle was achieved by owning a 1,000 square foot home with a single bathroom. Today, it requires owning "a 2,000 square foot house with air conditioning and multiple bathrooms, bigger and more appliances, TVs, computers, cell phones, and other amenities not available in the past." The earnings of working men without a college education are enough to achieve the modest middle-class lifestyle of yesterday. But they are not enough to achieve the middle-class lifestyle of today. "Plainly, the norms of today's middle-class life...require more money," says Rose.

Source: Urban Institute, Manufacturing and the Economic Position of Men without a College Degree

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stocks Account for Bigger Share of Wealth

Stocks are a growing share of the wealth of middle-aged Americans, according to an analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In 2016, stocks accounted for 11 percent of the net worth of householders aged 41 to 60, more than double the 4 percent of 1989. Vehicles also grew in importance, with their share of the household wealth of the middle-aged rising from 14 to 19 percent. In contrast, the share of net worth accounted for by the principal residence of middle-aged householders fell from 46 to 37 percent during those years.

Despite the rising importance of stocks to the middle-aged, stock ownership is increasingly concentrated among the wealthy. In 2016, fully 78 percent of the stock market wealth of middle-aged Americans was owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of households—a record high.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, How Has Stock Ownership Trended in the Past Few Decades?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Always Obey the Law — or Not?

How would you answer this question?

"Would you say that people should obey the law without exception, or are there exceptional occasions on which people should follow their conscience even if it means breaking the law?"

Only 41 percent of Americans say people should always obey the law, while the 59 percent majority say follow your conscience. Older Americans are most likely to say people should always obey the law...

Always obey the law
Millennials: 33%
Gen Xers: 43%
Boomers: 46%
Older: 53%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, April 13, 2018

How's the Tchotchke Index Doing?

If you want proof of the economic recovery, look no further than the Tchotchke Index. As defined by Demo Memo nearly a decade ago (see post), the Tchotchke Index is the amount of money spent by the average household on "decorative items for the home," one of the detailed categories in the Consumer Expenditure Survey. As explained all those years ago, the Tchotchke Index is "an excellent gauge of the economic wellbeing of American households...Spending on tchotchkes tracks the economy's ups and downs with the precision of other, better-known measures such as the Consumer Confidence Index, the unemployment rate, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average."

No one needs tchotchkes. Decorative items for the home are purely discretionary and an impulse buy. Spending on them rises when times are good and falls when times are bad, which is why they are a good measure of household economic wellbeing. Here is the latest on the Tchotchke Index for selected years since 2000 (in 2016 dollars)...

Tchotchke Index
2016: $162.75
2015: $137.97
2014: $112.66
2013: $105.87 (low)
2007: $179.33
2000: $266.50 (high)

In 2016, the Tchotchke Index was higher than at any time since 2007 and fully 54 percent above the $105.87 post-Great Recession low of 2013. But the 2016 Index was still well below the $266.50 of 2000. Why was the Tchotchke Index so high in 2000? Because American household incomes peaked one year earlier, in 1999.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, April 12, 2018

How Many Boomers Are Retired?

The Baby-Boom generation is reaching the age of retirement. But what percentage of the generation has retired? According to a Demo Memo analysis of 2017 labor force participation rates by single year of age, 45 percent of the Boomers are retired—meaning they are not in the labor force—and 55 percent are still working. Here's the breakdown...

  • 73 million Boomers were in the civilian noninstitutional population in 2017. 
  • 32 million Boomers were not in the labor force (45 percent).
  • 41 million Boomers were still in the labor force (55 percent).
  • 26 million Boomers worked full-time—66 percent of Boomer workers and 36 percent of the Boomer population.

Most Boomer workers have full-time jobs regardless of age. Among the 39 percent of 65-year-olds in the labor force, fully 70 percent worked full-time. Among the 20 percent of 71-year-olds (the oldest Boomers) in the labor force, 51 percent had full-time jobs.

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Workers with Median Annual Earnings of $100,000+

The Bureau of Labor Statistics divides the U.S. workforce into more than 800 individual occupations, and it tracks the earnings of workers in each one. In 2017, median annual earnings by occupation ranged from a low of $19,820 for "gaming dealers" to a high of $198,740 for "family and general practitioners." Median annual earnings were a modest $37,690 for all workers in 2017.

Of the 800-plus occupations, 51 have median earnings that exceed $100,000 a year. This high-earner club is composed of the usual suspects—CEOs, medical professionals, computer scientists, lawyers, and so on. But also on the list are air traffic controllers, political scientists, and astronomers.

The highest of high earners are the eight occupations with median annual earnings of $150,000 or more.  Notice how often dentists appear in this list...

Median annual earnings of $150,000 or more
$198,740: family and general practitioners
$192,930: internists
$190,840: specialty dentists (except prosthodontists)
$185,150: prosthodontists
$183,270: CEOs
$172,650: pediatricians
$165,120: nurse anesthetists
$151,400: general dentists

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Wages by Occupation, May 2017

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gen Xers: Deepest in Debt

No generation is deeper in debt than Generation X. In part, that's because they are in the lifestage (middle age) when debt peaks. But it's also because they are the generation that was hurt the most by the Great Recession, many of them buying homes when housing prices peaked and losing wealth as housing values fell.

Only 8 percent of Generation Xers do not have some type of debt, according to TransAmerica's 18th Annual Retirement Survey of Workers. Fully 72 percent of Gen X workers say their financial priority is paying off debt, surpassing the 61 percent who say saving for retirement is a priority. Here's what Gen Xers owe...

Percent of Generation X workers with debt
66% have credit card debt
55% have a mortgage
48% have car loans
20% have student loans
16% have medical debt

The Great Recession's impact on Generation X is documented by the TransAmerica survey. Only 39 percent of workers in the generation say they either were not impacted or have fully recovered from the Great Recession. Another 38 percent say they have somewhat recovered from the Great Recession. Nearly one in four (23 percent) of Gen X workers say they have not yet begun or may never recover from the Great Recession, the largest share among the generations.

Source: TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for "Retirement"

Monday, April 09, 2018

Most and Least Religious States

How religious are Americans? It depends, according to a Gallup analysis of religious fervor by state and region. Gallup identifies the "very religious" as those who say religion is important to them and they attend religious services weekly or almost weekly. By state, the percentage of the population that is "very religious" ranges from a low of 16 percent in Vermont to a high of 59 percent in Mississippi. These are the states in which at least half the population is "very religious" or "not religious."

Very religious
Mississippi: 59%
Alabama: 54%
Utah: 54%
Louisiana: 52%
Arkansas: 50%
South Carolina: 50%

Not religious
New Hampshire: 51%
Maine: 55%
Vermont: 59%

Source: Gallup, The Religious Regions of the U.S.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Who Is "Too Old" to Work?

At what age do you consider a person to be "old"? That question was asked by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies in its 18th annual retirement survey of workers. The answer? It depends. The older you are, the older "old" gets. Millennials consider 65 to be the age at which a person is old. For Gen Xers, the age is 70. Among Boomers, it's 75.

The survey also asked, "At what age do you consider a person to be 'too old' to work?" Millennials said 70, while Gen Xers and Boomers said 75. But many respondents did not give an age at all and said it depends on the person—44 percent of Millennials, 54 percent of Gen Xers, and 69 percent of Boomers.

When asked how long they plan to live, every generation gave a median age of 90. Boomers expect to spend 20 years in retirement, Gen Xers 23, and Millennials 25.

Source: TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for "Retirement"

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Facebook Is a Big News Source for Millennials

The Millennial generation gets most of its news from the internet, according to a 2018 survey by the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago. The percentage of Millennials who say they get most of their news online ranges from a low of 61 percent among Hispanics to a high of 87 percent among Asians.

But what does it mean to get most of your news online? Does it mean going directly to a news site, or to a news aggregator (such as Reddit), or to a social media site (such as Facebook)? According to the results, the answer is yes to all three. Among Millennials who get most of their news from the internet, there is a fairly even split among the three types of news sources...

Get most news from a news website
Asians: 25%
Blacks: 30%
Hispanics: 28%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 40%

Get most news from a news aggregator
Asians: 31%
Blacks: 15%
Hispanics: 26%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 25%

Get most news from social media
Asians: 43%
Blacks: 54%
Hispanics: 44%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 35%

Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, Facebook dominates social media sites as a source of news for Millennials, according to the report. In the past week, 62 percent of Hispanics, 64 percent of Blacks, 67 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, and 74 percent of Asians have read news stories or headlines on Facebook.

Source: GenForward, Millennials and Technology: An Overview of Usage, News Consumption, the Future of Work, and Public Policy

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Racial Wealth Gap Is Replicating

Black households are more likely than White households to have student debt. This is a problem, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The disparity in student debt is replicating the racial wealth gap in the younger generation.

Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, visiting scholar Fenaba R. Addo of the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability, examines the emerging racial wealth gap among those in the 1997 cohort (first interviewed when they were aged 12 to 16) who graduated from college. Among the graduates, Blacks were less likely than Whites to receive financial help from their parents in paying college expenses—58 percent of Blacks received help versus 72 percent of Whites. The Black college graduates who received help got less than their White counterparts—$4,200 for Blacks versus $11,700 for Whites.

These disparities occurred because Black parents are far less wealthy than White parents. The Black parents in the study had an average net worth of $48,500 versus $174,900 for the White parents. With parents less able to help out, Black students are more likely to depend on student loans, and this is replicating the racial wealth gap. By age 25, according to Addo's findings, the average net worth of the White graduates exceeded that of the Black graduates by 84 percent...

Average net worth of NLSY97 college graduates at age 25
Black: $20,186
White: $37,182

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Parents' Wealth Helps Explain Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

County Extremes: Health Insurance Coverage

The percentage of Americans aged 21 to 64 who do not have health insurance varies greatly by county, according to the Census Bureau's small area health insurance estimates. At one extreme is Norfolk County, Massachusetts, where only 2.6 percent of people aged 21 to 64 were not insured in 2016. At the other extreme is Hidalgo County, Texas, where 40.9 percent were not insured.

A look at the Census Bureau's interactive map accompanying the data reveals Texas to be a hot spot of the uninsured. Of the 10 counties in the nation with the highest percentage of people aged 21 to 64 who are uninsured, all are in Texas. At the other extreme, 7 of the 10 counties with the smallest percentage of uninsured are in Massachusetts.

Source: Census Bureau, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates

Monday, April 02, 2018

52% of Non-Hispanic White Millennials Lean Democrat

The Millennial generation, more than any other, is politically aligned with Democrats, and increasingly so over the past few years. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of registered voters, the 59 percent majority of Millennials (defined by Pew as those born between 1981 and 1996) identified themselves as Democrats or leaning Democrat in 2017, up from 53 percent in 2014. A smaller 32 percent of Millennials identified themselves as Republican or leaning Republican in 2017, down from 37 percent in 2014. Millennials are the only generation in which Democrats have an advantage over Republicans even among non-Hispanic Whites...

Percent of non-Hispanic Whites who identify as Democrats/lean Democrat by generation, 2017
Millennials: 52%
Gen Xers: 41%
Boomers: 41%
Silent: 36%

Source: Pew Research Center, Wide Gender Gap, Growing Educational Divide in Voters' Party Identification

Friday, March 30, 2018

He Said She Said

Who is the most financially knowledgeable person in your household? Married couples were asked this question in FINRA's 2015 National Financial Capability Study, and the results reveal disagreement over who is top dog—especially among Millennials.

The 53 percent majority of Millennial wives say they are the most financially knowledgeable person in their household. But so do 72 percent of Millennial husbands...

Percent of wives (and husbands) who say they are the most financially knowledgeable person
Millennials: 53% (72%)
Gen Xers: 48% (68%)
Boomers: 40% (65%)

Despite evidence of potential marital conflict, there is plenty of good news in the FINRA report. Financial confidence is rising among Millennial and Gen X women. The percentage of Millennial wives who regard themselves as the most financially knowledgeable person in their household was a lower 47 percent when FINRA first asked the question in 2009. Gen X wives, too, are feeling more confident. Only 42 percent regarded themselves as the most knowledgeable person in their household in 2009. Among Boomer wives, the level of confidence was the same in 2015 as in 2009.

Source: FINRA, Gender, Generation and Financial Knowledge: A Six Year Perspective

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Case Study of Technological Whiplash

In 2005 the Bureau of Labor Statistics added a category to the Consumer Expenditure Survey—personal digital audio players. The phenomenal success of Apple's iPod demanded a new expenditure category, and four years after the iPod's introduction in 2001 it took its place in the survey. Alas, it was too late to capture the full arc of spending on new technology in an era of innovation—from zero to THE BIG THING and back to zero.

The first year in which personal digital audio players were included in the Consumer Expenditure Survey was 2005. But 2006 was the first full year of data collection—one year before the category was blown to smithereens by the introduction of the iPhone. The first full year of data collection was also the apparent peak year of household spending on personal digital audio players...

Average household spending on personal digital audio players, 2006 to 2016 (in 2016$)
2006: $20.73 (first full year of data collection and peak spending)
2007: $20.13
2008: $15.12
2009: $14.55
2010: $12.57
2011: $10.98
2012:   $7.75
2013:   $4.87
2014:   $3.07
2015:   $1.83
2016:   $1.76

Average household spending on personal digital audio players fell 92 percent between 2006 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation.

The average household spent more on iPods and their kin in 2006 than it did on a number of other entertainment categories, including bicycles, musical instruments, camping equipment, winter sports equipment, and streamed and downloaded audio and video. By 2016, spending on personal digital audio players was one of the smallest items in the entertainment category.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

26% of Low-Income Full-time Workers Are Uninsured

Many low-income workers with full-time jobs are uninsured, according to a study by Jessica A Carson of the University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy. The study defines low-income workers as those with household incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level—or an income below about $25,000 for a single person and below about $49,000 for a family with two adults and two children.

Among low-income full-time year-round workers aged 25 to 64, a substantial 26 percent were not covered by health insurance at any time in 2016 versus only 8 percent of their counterparts with higher incomes. Just 33 percent of the low-income workers were covered by their employer's health insurance plan versus the 57 percent majority of those with higher incomes.

When low-income workers were asked why they did not have health insurance through their employer, the largest share—40 percent—said their employer does not offer health insurance. Among higher-income workers, only 18 percent work for an employer who does not offer insurance. Other reasons given by low-income workers for not signing for employer-provided health insurance were cost and ineligibility—they worked too few hours, they were a temporary or contract employee, or they hadn't been on the job long enough.

"As changes to health insurance policy continue to evolve," the report concludes, "it is critical to keep in mind that full-time employment isn't necessarily a ticket to health insurance, and that access to employer-based health insurance is stratified by income and industry."

Source: University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy, Full-Time Employment Not Always a Ticket to Health Insurance

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Baby Bust Is Hurting Rural America

Forty percent of the nation's 3,000-plus counties have experienced more deaths than births since 2010, according to the Census Bureau's latest county population estimates. The aging of the population (more deaths), drug overdoses (more deaths), and the ongoing baby bust (fewer births) has resulted in negative natural increase (births minus deaths) in huge swaths of the country.

Rural areas have been hit particularly hard by the one-two punch of more deaths and fewer births. Negative natural increase is a big reason for the population decline in many rural counties. Nearly half or more of the counties ranking 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the Rural-Urban Continuum experienced more deaths than births in the 2010-to-2017 time period.

The Rural-Urban Continuum (RUC) is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure the percentage of counties in each rank in which deaths outnumbered births from 2010 to 2017, this is the result...

Percent of counties with more deaths than births by RUC rank, 2010-2017

1. 13.2% of counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 26.7% of counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 27.5% of counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 34.1% of nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 23.9% of nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, not adjacent to metro
6. 48.6% of nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, adjacent to metro
7. 48.7% of nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. 68.3% of nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. 59.1% of nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

The most urban counties were least likely to have negative natural increase—only 13 percent of big-city counties experienced more deaths than births since 2010.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2017

Monday, March 26, 2018

Fun Facts about the Generations

An article in the Monthly Labor Review provides a comprehensive look at the spending patterns of Americans by generation. BLS economist Geoffrey D. Paulin has done yeoman's work in analyzing and comparing the demographic characteristics and spending patterns of each generation using data from the 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey. From average spending to shares of aggregate spending, he not only provides the details but also analyzes them. Want to know what share of the food dollar is devoted to eating out? The share is highest among Millennials (47 percent) and drops with each succeeding generation to a low of 30 percent among the GI generation. Who spends the most on entertainment? Not Millennials, who spend less on entertainment than every generation except GIs.

Here's one tidbit from the report. Take a look at the variation by generation in the estimated market value of owned homes in 2016...

Estimated market value of owned home
All owners: $162,700
Millennials: $65,900
Gen Xers: $173,400
Boomers: $203,400
Silent: $205,500
GI: $121,200

The article defines the generations as follows: Millennials, born in 1981 or later (average age, 27.5); Generation X, born from 1965 to1980 (average age 42.9); Boomers, born from 1946 to 1964 (average age, 59.7); Silents, born from 1929 to 1945 (average age 76.7); GIs, born in 1928 or earlier (average age 90.2).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Fun Facts about Millennials: Comparing Expenditure Patterns from the Latest through the Greatest Generation

Friday, March 23, 2018

64% of Older Americans Create Art

Most older Americans participate in the arts. A study for the National Endowment for the Arts examines arts participation by people aged 55 or older and, using 2014 data from the Health and Retirement Study, determines whether participation is linked to better physical and mental health. It is. Those who participate in the arts and/or attend arts events have higher levels of cognitive functioning and less physical disability than those who do not.

Few older Americans are not involved in the arts. Just 16 percent of people aged 55 or older neither created art nor attended arts events in the past year. Another 20 percent attended events but did not create art. The 64 percent majority of people aged 55 or older created art—49 percent both created art and attended arts events and another 15 percent created art but did not attend events. Here's what the 64 percent of doers create...

27% crochet, knit, quilt, sew, weave, do needlepoint, or make jewelry
24% dance, including social dancing
19% sing or play a musical instrument
13% do photography, graphic design or filmmaking
12% do woodwork, leatherwork, or metal work
7% paint, sculpt, or make ceramics
7% write stories, poetry, or plays
1% act in theater or film

Fully 43 percent of women aged 55 or older crochet, knit, quilt, sew, weave, do needlepoint, or make jewelry compared with only 4 percent of men. Conversely, 26 percent of men participate in woodworking, leatherwork or metal work versus only 3 percent of women.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Big-City Counties Still Fastest Growing, but...

The nation's most urban counties continue to grow faster than any other county type according to the Census Bureau's 2017 county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2017 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth (the bigger, the better) and continuing rural decline. But the 2017 data reveal changing patterns of growth.

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2017 for each rank, this is the result...


County population change 2010-2017 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank

1. 7.1% for counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 5.5% for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 3.5% for counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.3% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 1.6% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, not adjacent to metro
6. –1.0% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, adjacent to metro
7. –1.4% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. –1.3% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. –1.7% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) have grown faster than any other county type in every year since 2010. 
But the pattern of growth is changing as the decade progresses. Average annual growth rates in smaller metro counties (rank 2 and 3) are increasing, while average annual growth is slowing in the largest urban counties. Some nonmetro counties saw their population losses turn to small gains in 2017 (rank 6 and 8). These emerging trends are signs that the economic recovery is increasingly widespread.  

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2017

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Who Eats Salad?

On an average day, 20 percent of Americans aged 1 or older eat salad, according to the USDA's Food Surveys Research Group. The group defines salad as a mixture composed mainly of raw vegetables and excludes such things as fruit, pasta, potato, chicken, and tuna salad. The data come from the 2011–14 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which asks respondents to recall their food consumption for the previous 24 hours.

Females (23 percent) are more likely than males (16 percent) to eat salad on an average day, and older people are more likely than younger. Among adults aged 20 to 39, 18 percent eat salad on an average day. Among adults aged 40 or older, a larger 26 percent do. Those most likely to eat salad on an average day are women aged 60 or older (31 percent). Salad consumption also rises with income. Only 13 percent of people aged 1 or older from households with the lowest incomes eat salad on an average day versus 26 percent of those from households with the highest incomes.

Salads can contain a variety of ingredients, and most of the salads reported by survey respondents contained at least two raw vegetables. Here are the percentages of salads consumed on an average day that contained the following ingredients: 86% lettuce or leafy greens; 86% salad dressing; 43% tomatoes; 34% carrots; 27% onions; 25% cheese; 20% cucumbers; 19% meat, poultry, or fish; 10% croutons; 9% sweet peppers; 8% nuts or seeds; 7% olives; 7% celery; 5% avocado; 5% egg; and 5% broccoli.

Source: USDA, Food Surveys Research Group, Salad Consumption in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Digital Economy is 6.5% of GDP

How big is the digital economy? If you've been trying to figure this out, you're in luck. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has produced the first estimates of the size of the digital economy "within the framework of the national accounts." Of course, defining what is and is not a part of the digital economy is a difficult task, and the BEA struggles with it. This first estimate includes only goods and services that are exclusively or primarily digital. It excludes the IoT (internet of things). And the BEA invites the public to improve upon its work, providing an email address for feedback.
  • In 2016, the digital economy accounted for 6.5 percent ($1,209.2 billion) of the nation's $18,624.5 billion GDP. It ranks 7th among industries in its share of GDP—just above wholesale trade and just below professional, scientific and technical services.  
  • The digital economy accounted for 5.9 million jobs in 2016, or 3.9 percent of the total. The digital economy's share of employment is lower than in its share of GDP, ranking 12th among industries in employment. 
  • The digital economy pays more than the average industry. Workers in the digital economy earn an average annual compensation of $114,275, much higher than the $66,498 annual compensation for the average worker.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Defining and Measuring the Digital Economy

Monday, March 19, 2018

26% Online "Almost Constantly"

How often do you go online? If that seems like a silly question because you're always online, join the crowd. More than one in four American adults (26 percent) reports going online almost constantly, according to Pew Research Center. Another 43 percent go online several times a day, 8 percent once a day, 11 percent less than once a day, and another 11 percent do not go online at all. By age, the percentage who report going online almost constantly looks like this...

Percent who go online almost constantly
Aged 18 to 29: 39%
Aged 30 to 49: 36%
Aged 50 to 64: 17%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Source: Pew Research Center, About a Quarter of U.S. Adults Say They Are "Almost Constantly" Online

Friday, March 16, 2018

20% of Older Americans Have Diabetes

Diabetes has become a common health condition among older Americans, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Overall, 8.8 percent of Americans aged 18 or older had been diagnosed with diabetes as of the first half of 2017, up from 5.3 percent two decades ago in 1997. The percentage with diabetes rises steeply with age...

Percent diagnosed with diabetes, January–September 2017
Aged 18 to 44:   2.8%
Aged 45 to 54:   9.6%
Aged 55 to 64: 15.7%
Aged 65-plus:  19.6%

One factor behind the rise of diabetes is growing obesity. The percentage of adults who are obese (defined as having a body mass index of 30 kg/m² or higher) climbed from 19 percent in 1997 to 31 percent in the first half of 2017. But this estimate of obesity is conservative because it is based on self-reported rather than measured heights and weights. When self-reporting, inches are gained and pounds are shed. According to a 2015–16 NCHS survey of measured heights and weights, a stunning 40 percent of American adults are obese.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the January—September 2017 National Health Interview Survey

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Surprises in the 2017 Population Projections

The Census Bureau's new population projections (vintage 2017) are interesting for a number of reasons—slowing growth, the aging of the population, the decline in non-Hispanic Whites, and minorities becoming the majority. Also interesting is how they differ from the previous projection series, produced in 2014. A look at how the bureau revised its estimates of births, deaths, and net international migration reveals the unexpected trends reshaping us now.
  • The population is growing more slowly than expected. The size of the American population in the future will be less than what the Bureau had projected just a few years ago, and the differences will pile up quickly. The 2020 population will be smaller by 2 million than what the bureau projected for that date in its 2014 vintage projections. In 2060, the population will be 13 million less than the previous projection for that year (404 million versus 417 million). 
  • Women will have fewer babies than expected. Compared to the 2014 projection series, the latest series forecasts 3 million fewer births during the 2017 to 2060 time period. The ongoing baby bust and reduced immigration are behind the muted births. Overall, the annual number of births is forecast to rise from about 4 million today to 4.38 million in 2060. The earlier projection series forecast 4.52 million births a year by 2060. 
  • Fewer immigrants will come to the United States. Compared to the 2014 projection series, the latest series projects 14 million fewer net international migrants over the 2017 to 2060 time period. Even this smaller projected number of migrants may be too optimistic because it does not take into account Trump administration policies that could further curb immigration. The annual net number of international migrants is forecast to be about 1.1 million during most of the 2017 to 2060 period, down from the 1.3 to 1.5 million previously projected.
  • Fewer deaths will occur during the forecast period. Compared to the 2014 series, the bureau projects 5 million fewer deaths during the 2017 to 2060 time period. This makes sense since the population will be smaller. The annual number of deaths is projected to rise from 2.7 million today to 3.9 million by 2060—less than the projected 4.1 million annual deaths by 2060 in the earlier projection series. But this forecast of fewer deaths may be overly optimistic. According to Tom Lawler, a housing economist writing in Calculated Risk, the latest mortality projections do not incorporate the recent increase in deaths among young and middle-aged adults. Indeed, the bureau assumes rising life expectancy for all groups rather than the decline of the past two years. 
If the number of immigrants is further reduced by Trump's policies, and if there are more deaths than predicted, then U.S. population growth over the next few decades may be even slower than forecast by the new projections.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Minority Majority in 2045

The U.S. population will become minority majority in 2045, according to the Census Bureau's new (2017 vintage) population projections. This is one year later than forecast by the bureau's earlier series of projections (2014 vintage). Behind the one-year delay is the ongoing baby bust as well as slowing immigration.

Minorities as a percent of U.S. population, 2017 to 2060
2017: 39.1%
2020: 40.3%
2025: 42.3%
2030: 44.2%
2035: 46.2%
2040: 48.3%
2045: 50.3%
2050: 52.2%
2055: 54.0%
2060: 55.7%

The Census Bureau projects that the non-Hispanic White population will fall by 10 percent between 2017 and 2060. The Black population will grow 58 percent during those years, Hispanics 89 percent, and Asians 111 percent.

Although Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities will become the majority of the population in 2045, they will not come the majority of voters for another couple decades. According to a Demo Memo analysis, minorities will become the majority of voters in the presidential election of 2064.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trends in Home Values by Household Income

Regardless of household income—with one exception—most homeowners estimated a lower market value for their home in 2016 than their counterparts did in 2006, according to an analysis of Consumer Expenditure Survey data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average homeowner valued his or her home at $172,263 in 2016—5.9 percent lower than the $183,212 estimated by homeowners in 2006. The second income quintile of homeowners was the only one to estimate a higher market value for their home in 2016 than in 2006...

Estimated home value in 2016 by income quintile (and % change since 2006)
Lowest: $63,932 (–10.9%)
Second: $102,084 (+3.1%)
Middle: $128,788 (–6.7%)
Fourth: $186,282 (–11.8%)
Highest: $380,958 (–3.7%)

Note: In the BLS analysis, 2006 home values are not adjusted for inflation.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Majority of U.S. Households Estimate Decreased Home Market Values from 2006 to 2016

Monday, March 12, 2018

74% Read a Book in the Past Year

Nearly three out of four Americans aged 18 or older have read a book in the past year, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. Print is the most popular format by far, and the percentage who have read a print book has not changed much in the past six years despite competition from digital books.

Percent who read a book in past year by format
Print: 67%
E-book: 26%
Audiobook: 18%

Among those who have read a book in the past year, 53 percent have read only print books, 9 percent have read only digital books (a category that includes e-books and audiobooks), and the remaining 39 percent have read both print and digital books.

Source: Pew Research Center, Nearly One-in-Five Americans Now Listen to Audiobooks

Friday, March 09, 2018

Asians Most Likely to be Multilingual

Among American adults, 29 percent can speak a language other than English. The multilingual population varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin. Most Asians and Hispanics are multilingual. Most Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites are not...

Can speak a language other than English
Total: 29%
Asians: 82%
Blacks: 26%
Hispanics: 68%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 19%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Men's Wages Are Increasingly Unequal

Trends in the real wages of men tell a story of growing inequality, according to an analysis by Patrick J. Purcell in Social Security Bulletin. Between 1981 and 2014, says Purcell, "the wage distribution became more unequal as wage growth in the top 10 percent of earners substantially outpaced the rate of growth for earners below the 90th percentile."

Real annual wage of men aged 25 to 59 by income percentile, 2014 (% change since 1981)
10th percentile: $13,387       (+3.8%)
25th percentile: $25,339       (–2.0%)
50th percentile: $45,000       (+4.7%)
75th percentile: $75,413      (+22.1%)
90th percentile: $121,763    (+50.7%)
99th percentile: $392,250  (+117.7%)

For all men, median real wages (50th percentile) climbed just 4.7 percent during those years. For men at the top of the wage distribution, real wages more than doubled.

Source: Social Security Bulletin, Trends in Men's Wages, 1981–2014

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Homeownership by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2017

Homeownership varies greatly by race and Hispanic origin. According to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey, the gap in the homeownership rate of non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks is fully 30 percentage points...

Homeownership rate in 2017
Asian: 57.2%
Black: 42.3%
Hispanic: 46.2%
Non-Hispanic White: 72.3%

The 30 percentage-point gap in 2017 was even bigger than the gap in 2000 (26.6 percentage points) as Black homeownership fell more than non-Hispanic White in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Because housing equity accounts for the largest share of household wealth, the wealth gap between Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites has grown. Between 2001 and 2016, the median net worth of non-Hispanic White households rose 2.8 percent to $171,000, after adjusting for inflation. The median net worth of Black households fell 33 percent to just $17,600.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey; and Federal Reserve Board, Survey of Consumer Finances

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Boomer Love Affair with Cars

No segment of the population is as devoted to the automobile as the baby-boom generation. Boomers were born into a world of one-car families. By the time they were old enough to drive, second cars were becoming common and Boomers took the wheel, radios blasting. More than 1,500 songs about cars were recorded between 1961 and 1965, reports Wikipedia. Youth culture and car culture were one.

Boomers are no longer young, but their devotion to cars continues. The average Boomer household is home to more cars (2.3) than people (2.0), according to an AARP survey. The survey explores Boomer attitudes toward cars as they approach the age when their children will wonder whether they should take Daddy's car keys away. That won't be easy.

"Independence" is one of the top words Boomers use to describe their feelings about driving, with 78 percent saying their vehicle is the key to their independence. That may be why fully 57 percent of Boomers say they will never stop driving. Three out of four Boomers say their vehicle brings them happiness. It's not that Boomers are completely averse to changes in how they get from here to there. But only 20 percent have ever used ride-sharing services. When asked to describe their ideal vehicle, 78 percent would make it a standard rather than a driverless vehicle because they love to drive. And kids, don't try arguing with your Boomer parents about how their driving skills aren't what they used to be. Eighty percent of Boomers say they are better drivers than most people they know.

Source: AARP, Boomers Going the Distance: 2018 Consumer Insights on the Driving Experience

Monday, March 05, 2018

Smartphone Ownership, 2018

More than three-quarters of American adults (77 percent) own a smartphone, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. Smartphone ownership does not vary much by race, Hispanic origin, or sex. But big differences persist by age and education...

Smartphone ownership by age
Aged 18 to 29: 94%
Aged 30 to 49: 89%
Aged 50 to 64: 73%
Aged 65-plus: 46%

Smartphone ownership by education
Not a HS grad: 57%
HS grad only: 69%
Some college: 80%
College grad: 91%

Source: Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet