Thursday, April 25, 2019

Feeling (Too) Upbeat about Retirement

Two-thirds of American workers (67 percent) are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, according to the 2019 EBRI/Greenwald Retirement Confidence Survey. The percentage of workers who feel good about what lies ahead hasn't been this high since 2004—before the Great Recession.

But in reality, many workers may not be on track for a comfortable retirement. Nearly half (49 percent) have saved less than $50,000. Only 42 percent have saved $100,000 or more. These figures are low, in part, because many workers do not work for an employer who provides a workplace retirement savings plan. But even among workers with a workplace plan, just 51 percent have saved $100,000 or more. Despite meager savings, 82 percent of workers expect a workplace retirement savings plan to be a source of income in retirement, and 51 percent expect it to be a major source.

Savings of workers and spouses (excluding value of home and defined-benefit plans)
40% have saved less than $25,000
  9% have saved $25,000 to $49,999
  9% have saved $50,000 to $99,999
19% have saved $100,000 to $249,999
23% have saved $250,000 or more

Maybe workers need help with their retirement planning? Nope. Fully 65 percent are confident in their ability to choose the right retirement products or investments. When asked what backs up this confidence—what sources of information they use for retirement planning—the largest share of workers (29 percent) say they don't use any of the listed items—not their employer, not a financial advisor, no online calculators, no Google searches, no websites, no tips from family or friends. The 29 percent who say they use none of these things exceeds the 23 percent who say they use a professional financial advisor.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Voter Turnout Surged in 2018 Midterm Election

Fifty-three percent of American citizens aged 18 or older voted in the 2018 midterm election. That may not sound like much, but it is the highest midterm turnout in four decades, according to the Census Bureau. The 11.5 percentage-point increase in turnout between 2014 and 2018 was historic. Never before has turnout increased so much from one midterm to the next.

Percent of citizens who voted in 2018 (and 2014)
Total, 18-plus:  53.4% (41.9%)
Aged 18 to 24: 32.4% (17.1%)
Aged 25 to 44: 46.3% (32.5%)
Aged 45 to 64: 59.5% (49.6%)
Aged 65-plus:  66.1% (59.4%)

Turnout increased in every age group, but the gain was greatest among 18-to-24-year-olds. The percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who voted in 2018 was nearly double what it was in 2014—climbing from 17.1 to 32.4 percent, a 15.3 percentage-point rise. Among people aged 65 or older, turnout increased by just 6.7 percentage points.

In every race and Hispanic origin group, turnout increased by 11 to 13 percentage points between 2014 and 2018. Non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to vote in 2018 (57.5 percent), followed by Blacks (51.4 percent). Fewer than half of Asians (40.2 percent) or Hispanics (40.4 percent) voted in the midterms.

By education, the increase in voter turnout was greatest (12 to 13 percentage points) among those with some college or more education. Among those without a high school diploma, turnout increased by just 5 percentage points. The gap in turnout between the most and least educated was nearly 50 percentage points—only 27.2 percent of those without a high school diploma voted in 2018 compared with 74.0 percent of those with a graduate degree.  

The increase in voter turnout was greater in metropolitan areas (a 12.2 percentage-point increase) than in nonmetro areas (7.7 percentage points). Consequently, those who live in metropolitan areas were more likely than nonmetro residents to vote in 2018—53.7 versus 52.1 percent. This was a reversal of the 2014 pattern.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2018 and Behind the 2018 U.S. Midterm Election Turnout

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

County Population Trends, 2010 to 2018

Between 2010 and 2018, the nation's most urban counties grew faster than any other county type, according to the Census Bureau's county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2018 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth and continuing rural decline. But patterns are changing.

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 2018 for each rank, this is the result...

County population change 2010-2018 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank

1. 7.6% for counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 6.2% for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 4.1% for counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.5% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 1.7% 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. –1.6% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. –1.0% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. –1.9% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

The long-term pattern has been one of urban growth—the more urban, the greater the growth. But an examination of annual growth rates reveals important changes. Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) grew faster than any other county type in every year between 2010 and 2017. But between 2017 and 2018, the growth rate of rank 1 counties slipped below that of rank 2 counties—an increase of 0.72 percent for rank 1 counties versus a slightly larger 0.75 percent increase for rank 2 counties. Behind the slower growth of rank 1 counties are small declines 
between 2017 and 2018 in the populations of the three largest metro areas —New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. 

Conversely, some nonmetropolitan counties that had been steadily losing population are now making small gains. Rank 6 and 8 counties grew slightly in both 2017 and 2018, but those gains were not large enough to make up for losses earlier in the decade.  

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2018

Monday, April 22, 2019

Median Age of People Who Walk To Work: 33

American workers have a median age of 42, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey. But the median age of workers varies by how they get to work—a matter of importance to transportation planners and businesses that market to commuters. Here are the median ages of workers by their primary means of transportation to work, from oldest to youngest...

Age 47: work at home
Age 43: drive alone
Age 39: carpool
Age 38: public transportation
Age 38: taxi, motorcycle, bicycle
Age 33: walk

Source: Census Bureau, American Factfinder, American Community Survey

Friday, April 19, 2019

Only 50% of Americans Belong to a Church

Only half of Americans aged 18 or older belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, according to Gallup survey. The 50 percent of 2018 is a record low and down from 70 percent in 1999. Behind the decline, says Gallup, is the growing share of the population without a religious preference. That share climbed from 8 to 19 percent in the past two decades. Not only is church membership declining in successively younger generations, but it is also falling over time within generations...

Church membership in 2016–2018 (and 1998–2000)
Millennials: 42% (NA)
Gen Xers: 54% (62%)
Boomers: 57% (67%)
Older Americans: 68% (77%)

In 2016–2018, church membership was lowest among men (47 percent), people under age 30 (41 percent), Hispanics (45 percent), people in the West (43 percent), and liberals (37 percent). Church membership was highest among people aged 65 or older (64 percent), non-Hispanic Blacks (65 percent), people in the South (58 percent), Republicans (69 percent), and conservatives (67 percent).

Source: Gallup, U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Reaching Out for Financial Advice in Old Age

Older Americans might be in trouble. They control a large share of the nation's wealth, yet many are not prepared to manage it. Cognitive abilities decline with age, and most older Americans eschew financial advice. Those are some of the findings of a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis of the 2016 Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey of people aged 50 or older. NBER researchers added several questions about financial advice to the HRS, which also measures cognitive ability and financial literacy. The goal of the study was to determine how cognitive ability and financial literacy influence the quantity and quality of the financial advice sought by older Americans.

One of the study's major findings is how infrequently older Americans seek financial advice. Only 35 percent of respondents had reached out for guidance on handling their finances. Another major finding of the study: seeking financial advice is not influenced by cognitive ability or financial literacy. In other words, cognitive ability and financial literacy have no affect on the quantity of financial advice sought by older Americans.

The quality of financial advice is another matter. "More cognitively able and financially literate respondents tend to seek professional financial advice, rather than seeking casual help from family/friends," the authors report. Respondents with greater cognitive ability and financial literacy are more distrustful of financial advisors in general and especially wary of "free" financial advice from advisors who shroud their fees. The quality of financial advice is influenced by cognitive ability and financial literacy, the researchers conclude.

"Low cognitive ability and poor financial literacy can be a barrier to receiving quality financial advice," conclude the authors, "suggesting that researchers and policymakers may need to find new ways to evaluate and monitor financial behavior in an aging population."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, How Cognitive Ability and Financial Literacy Shape the Demand for Financial Advice at Older Ages, Working Paper 25750 ($5.00)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Most Americans Have Three or More Siblings

How many brothers and sisters do Americans aged 18 or older have? The 2018 General Social Survey asks about siblings with the question, "How many brothers and sisters did you have? Please count those born alive but no longer living, as well as those alive now. Also include stepbrothers and stepsisters, and children adopted by your parents."

Number of siblings
None: 4%
One: 21%
Two: 21%
Three: 16%
Four: 10%
Five: 7%
Six: 6%
Seven: 5%
Eight: 3%
Nine: 2%
Ten or more: 4%

Among all Americans aged 18 or older, the 54 percent majority have (or had) three or more siblings. But there are differences by age. Among adults aged 50 or older, fully 61 percent have (or had) three or more siblings. Among adults under age 50, a smaller 49 percent have (or had) three or more siblings.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Many Participate in Sports or Exercise on an Average Day?

Nearly one in five Americans aged 15 or older (19 percent) participates in sports, exercise, or recreation on an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey. Of the many sports and recreational activities in which people participate, fewer than two dozen attract at least 1 million enthusiasts on an average day. Here they are...

Number (and %) of people aged 15-plus participating in sport/exercise on average day, 2017
1. Walking: 16.6 million (6.4%)
2. Working out (unspecified): 9.0 million (3.5%)
3. Weightlifting/strength training: 7.9 million (3.1%)
4. Running: 4.9 million (1.9%)
5. Swimming/water sports: 4.2 million (1.6%)
6. Biking: 2.6 million (1.0%)
7. Doing yoga: 1.9 million (0.7%)
8. Using cardiovascular equipment: 1.8 million (0.7%)
9. Playing basketball: 1.6 million (0.6%)
10. Playing soccer: 1.1 million (0.4%)
11. Golfing: 1.0 million (0.4%)

These figures do not include all those who bicycle or walk to work, which is logged as travel related to work rather than sports or exercise. In 2017, about 800,000 people usually bicycled to work and 4 million usually walked to work, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 American Time Use Survey

Monday, April 15, 2019

2.3 Million Fewer Households with Children

The number of households with children under age 18 has fallen by more than 2 million since 2007 (the year births peaked in the U.S.), according to the Census Bureau...

Number of households with children under age 18
2018: 34,452,000
2007: 36,757,000
Change: –2.3 million

As of 2018, only 27 percent of households included children under age 18, a record low. The share of households with children was as high as 49 percent in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Family Tables

Friday, April 12, 2019

Most Gen X Households Have a Dog

Overall, 61 percent of American households have a pet, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. Among Gen Xers, the share is 66 percent, making them the most pet-friendly generation. This makes sense, since many acquired pets as they married and had children. Millennials are in the process of doing the same.

Percent of households with pets by generation, 2018

   Any pet     Dog   Cat
Total households       61%       46%     25%
Millennials       60       43     23
Generation Xers       66       53     28
Boomers       62       50     23
Older Americans       45       33     18

Boomers are about as likely as Millennials to have a pet. Among older Americans (the Silent and World War II generations) fewer than half of households have a pet. Many once had a pet, however. When asked whether they had a pet five years ago, 57 percent of older Americans said yes.

Note: In 2018, Millennials were aged 24 to 41, Generation Xers were aged 42 to 53, Baby Boomers were aged 54 to 72, and Older Americans were aged 73 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Blacks and Whites Disagree about Racial Discrimination

Which is the bigger problem for the United States: people seeing racial discrimination where it really does NOT exist, or people NOT seeing racial discrimination where it really DOES exist?

That's a necessarily wordy question designed to reveal stark differences in the public's attitudes toward racial discrimination. And reveal them it does. When Pew Research Center asked Americans this question, the great majority of Asians (71 percent), Blacks (84 percent), and Hispanics (67 percent) all said the bigger problem is turning a blind eye to the racial discrimination that really does exist. Only 48 percent of non-Hispanic Whites agreed...

The bigger problem is NOT seeing racial discrimination where it really DOES exist
Asians: 71%
Blacks: 84%
Hispanics: 67%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 48%

There are deep divisions among non-Hispanic Whites on this issue, however. Young adults are most likely to believe the bigger problem is refusing to acknowledge racial discrimination, with 61 percent of adults under age 30 feeling that way. A smaller 40 to 49 percent of those aged 30 or older agree. By education, 59 percent of non-Hispanic White college graduates believe not seeing racial discrimination where it really does exist is the bigger problem. Only 42 percent of those with less education feel the same way. The deepest divide is by party affiliation. Fully 77 percent of non-Hispanic White Republicans believe the bigger problem is seeing racial discrimination where it really does not exist. Fully 78 percent of non-Hispanic White Democrats believe the bigger problem is not seeing racial discrimination where it really does exist.

Source: Pew Research Center, Race in America 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Student Loans Lower Black Wealth

The wealth gap between Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites is huge. The median household wealth of non-Hispanic Whites was nearly 10 times that of Blacks in 2016—$171,000 versus $17,409, according to an Urban Institute analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances. While higher rates of homeownership among non-Hispanic Whites are the primary reason for this gap, another reason is student loan debt. Black households are more likely than non-Hispanic White households to have student loans, and Blacks owe more than non-Hispanic Whites. The percentage of Black households with student loan debt has more than doubled since 1989.

Percentage of Black households headed by people aged 25 to 55 with student loan debt, 1989 to 2016 (and average amount owed in 2016 dollars)
2016: 41.8% ($14,225)
2007: 28.3% (  $6,111)
2001: 18.5% (  $2,224)
1989: 17.9% (  $1,161)

Among non-Hispanic White households headed by people aged 25 to 55, a smaller 34 percent had student loan debt in 2016, owing an average of $11,108.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Homeownership by Age in 2018

The nation's 64.4 percent homeownership rate in 2018 was significantly higher than the 63.4 percent post-Great Recession low of 2016, according to Census Bureau data. But most age groups are simply treading water, with small or no increases in homeownership during the past two years. Not so for householders aged 30 to 39, their homeownership rates climbing by a statistically significant 2.3 percentage points between 2016 and 2018.

Homeownership rate by age in 2018 and 2016

   2018      2016percentage-point
Total households    64.4%      63.4%           1.0
Under age 25    22.7      21.9           0.8
Aged 25 to 29    32.5      30.9           1.6
Aged 30 to 34    47.7      45.4           2.3
Aged 35 to 39    57.6      55.3           2.3
Aged 40 to 44    62.9      62.0           0.9
Aged 45 to 49    68.4      66.7           1.7
Aged 50 to 54    71.7      71.6           0.1
Aged 55 to 59    74.0      74.0           0.0
Aged 60 to 64    76.8      76.1           0.7
Aged 65 or older    78.5      78.8          -0.3

Despite these gains, the homeownership rates of householders in their thirties remain well below not only what they were during the housing bubble, but also below the historical average prior to the bubble. From 1982 (the first year of the data series) through 1999, for example, the average homeownership rate of 30-to 34-year-olds was 53.0 percent—more than 5 percentage points higher than their 2018 rate. The average homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds during those years was 63.6 percent, fully 6 percentage points higher than their 2018 rate.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Monday, April 08, 2019

Nearly 1/3 of Least Educated in Labor Force Are "Underutilized"

Seventeen percent of the labor force is "underutilized," according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of data from the Adult Training and Education Survey, part of the 2016 National Household Education Surveys Program. The survey defines the underutilized as the unemployed, those who have a part-time job but would prefer full-time employment, and those who have a temporary job but would prefer a permanent position. The percentage of labor force participants who are underutilized is highest among the least educated...

Percent of labor force participants who are "underutilized" by education
32% of high school dropouts
21% of high school graduates only
18% of those with some college
16% of those with an associate's degree
11% of those with a bachelor's degree
11% of those with a graduate degree

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Relationship between Educational Attainment and Labor Force Underutilization