Friday, September 28, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in August 2018

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

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

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

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: August 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Trends in Health Insurance, 2013 to 2017

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Women Pull Ahead of Men in Education

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

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

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

Source: Census Bureau, 2018 Current Population Survey

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Big Drop in Spending on Cable Television Service

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

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

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

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 24, 2018

More than 25% of Older Americans Have Diabetes

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 21, 2018

Home Is the Most Likely Place of Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pet Spending Rises 19% between 2016 and 2017

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

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

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

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

44% Increase in Householders Aged 65 to 74

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

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

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

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Income Data Tables

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Householders Aged 65-Plus Are Spending 16% More

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

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

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 17, 2018

Soft Drinks Are 20% of Youth Beverage Consumption

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Asians Least Likely to be Obese

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Rising Tide Is Not Lifting All Boats

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Median Household Income Now Surpasses $61,000

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

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

Source: Census Bureau, Income Data Tables

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Finally—A New Record High in Household Spending

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

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

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, September 10, 2018

Solar Panels Most Popular in Pacific States

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 07, 2018

Census Bureau Releases Corrected 2017-Vintage Population Projections

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

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

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

Source: Census Bureau, 2017 National Population Projections Tables

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Here Is a Definition of the Middle Class

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Shocking Rise in Obesity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

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

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

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

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