Thursday, April 15, 2021

Rural Resistance to the Covid Vaccine

Americans who live in rural areas are more resistant to getting the Covid-19 vaccine than urban or suburban residents, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey fielded March 15-29, 2021. While 10 percent of urban residents and 13 percent of suburban residents say they will "definitely not" get the vaccine, the figure is a much higher 21 percent among adults who live in rural areas. 

The Kaiser survey explored vaccine resistance in rural America by the characteristics of residents. Here are some of the findings...

Percent of rural residents who say they will "definitely not" get the Covid-19 vaccine
All rural residents: 21%

Aged 65-plus: 10%
Aged 50-64:19%
Aged 18-49: 28%

Blacks: 10%
Hispanics: 18%
Non-Hispanic whites: 22%

College degree: 13%
No college degree: 23%

Democrats: 4%
Republicans: 32%

White evangelicals: 31%

Among rural residents who say they will "definitely not" get the Covid-19 vaccine, 83 percent are non-Hispanic whites, 73 percent are Republicans, and 41 percent are white evangelicals.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor—Rural America 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Black Homeownership in 2020 Is below 2000 Level

The overall homeownership rate was lower in 2020 than in 2000, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey. But a look at homeownership rates by race and Hispanic origin reveals that Blacks lost ground between 2000 and 2020 while Asians, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites made gains... 

Homeownership rate by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2000 and 2020
    2020     2000   change
Total households     66.6%      67.4%    -0.8
Asians     60.3      52.8     7.5
Blacks     45.3      47.2    -1.9
Hispanics     50.1      46.3     3.8
Non-Hispanic whites     75.0      73.8     1.2

Black homeownership peaked during the housing bubble at 49.1 percent in 2004. The rate fell to a post-Great Recession low of 41.6 percent in 2016—a 7.5 percentage point loss in the aftermath of the Great Recession and much greater than the Great Recession losses experienced by Asians (-4.4), Hispanics (-2.1), or non-Hispanic whites (-4.1). 

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Decade of Tech Adoption

Pew Research Center has been tracking internet use and technology adoption for more than two decades. Its latest survey was fielded in February 2021. Here's a look at how much things have changed during the past 10 years...

Percent of adults who use, subscribe, or own the technology, 2011 and 2021
   2021   2011
Internet      93%     79%
Smartphone     85     35
Broadband at home     77     62
Desktop/laptop computer     77     75
Tablet computer     53     10

Use of the internet increased from an already high level in 2011 (79 percent) to nearly universal adoption in 2021 (93 percent). Broadband (high speed internet) appears to be headed in the same direction—especially if the American Jobs Plan becomes law, with funds for the expansion of broadband into rural America. 

Only 35 percent of adults owned a smartphone in 2011. Over the past decade, smartphone ownership soared, rising 50 percentage points to the 85 percent of today. 

Tablet ownership increased from just 10 percent in 2011 to the 51 percent majority of adults by 2016. Since then, however, ownership of tablet computers has stabilized. For desktop/laptop computers, little has changed over the entire decade.

The percentage of adults who now own a smartphone ranges from a high of 95 to 96 percent among those under age 50 to a low of 61 percent among people aged 65 or older. Use of the internet is close to 100 percent among adults under age 65, but is a smaller 75 percent among those aged 65-plus. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Nearly One in Five Households Has Medical Debt

The most comprehensive look at the characteristics of Americans with medical debt is available from the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The 2018 SIPP included new questions about medical debt, asking respondents whether, in the past year, they had medical bills they were unable to pay in full. 

Overall, 19 percent of households had medical bills they were unable to pay in 2017, the Census Bureau reports. Here are the percentages by age group...

Percent of households with medical debt by age of householder
Total households: 19.0%
Under age 35: 19.4%
Aged 35 to 44: 22.4%
Aged 45 to 54: 22.9%
Aged 55 to 64: 22.0%
Aged 65-plus: 11.3%

Not surprisingly, households with at least one member who did not have health insurance during the year were most likely to have medical debt (31 percent). But even among households in which every household member had health insurance coverage all year, a substantial 16 percent had unpaid medical bills. The average amount of medical debt owed by households with such debt was a substantial $12,430. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

47% Have Received at Least One Dose of Vaccine

Nearly half of American adults have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. The latest numbers were collected March 17-29. The 47 percent who reported having gotten a jab in the last two weeks of March was up substantially from the 34 percent who reported having done so in the first two weeks of the month.

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of March 17-29
Total 18-plus: 47%
Aged 18 to 24: 19%
Aged 25 to 39: 32%
Aged 40 to 54: 40%
Aged 55 to 64: 53%
Aged 65-plus: 81%

There is some erosion in the number who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine. During this round of the survey, 39 million said no—down from 43 million in the first half of March. Non-Hispanic whites are the one segment of the population that has dug in its heals. The percentage of Hispanics and Blacks who say they will probably/definitely not get the vaccine declined during the month of March, while the percentage of non-Hispanic white naysayers was unchanged. 

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, March 17-29

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The Growing Partisan Divide on Climate Change

Since 2016, the public's attitudes toward global warming have frozen, according to Gallup. But that doesn't mean things haven't changed. "This stability masks growing divergence between Republicans and Democrats," Gallup reports.

Overall, the 59 percent majority of Americans say the effects of global warming have already begun, identical to the share who said so in 2016. But Democrats are more likely and Republicans less likely to feel this way...

Percent who say the effects of global warming have already begun

     2020    2016    change
Total 18-plus      59%     59%        0
Democrats      82     77      +5
Republicans      29     40     -11

The gap between Democrats and Republicans on this issue grew from an already large 37 percentage points in 2016 to an enormous 53 percentage points in 2021. 

The pattern is the same when Americans are asked whether global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime. A growing share of Democrats say it will—67 percent in 2021, up from 58 percent in 2016. Only 11 percent of Republicans feel this way, down from 20 percent in 2016. 

Passing legislation to deal with climate change will be a tough sell, warns Gallup, because "Republicans signing on to such legislation are likely to face blowback from the Republican base."

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Covid-19: Third Leading Cause of Death in 2021

Remember all the fanfare last week when the CDC announced that Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020? It took seven months for Covid to climb to the number-three spot on the top-10 cause of death list last year. 

This year, it took only three months. Covid-19 is already the third leading cause of death in 2021. More than 209,000 Americans have died from Covid through April 4 of this year. Let's hope vaccinations and mitigation will prevent Covid from rising even higher on the list in 2021. 

Source: CDC, Covid Data Tracker

Monday, April 05, 2021

Homeownership in 2020 Is below 2000

The 2000s have not been good for homeownership—so far, at least. The 66.6 percent homeownership rate of 2020 was below the 67.4 percent rate of 2000—not only nationally, but in almost every age group and in 30 of 50 states, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey. 

We all know how this happened—the housing bubble, the collapse of the housing market, the Great Recession, and the long recovery. During the bubble, the nation's homeownership rate climbed to an all-time high of 69.0 percent in 2004. In the slow recovery from the Great Recession, the homeownership rate fell for years. It hit a post-Great Recession low of 63.4 percent in 2016. Since then, the rate has been inching back up each year.

Only two age groups had a higher homeownership rate in 2020 than they did in 2000—householders under age 25, and householders aged 75 or older. Every other age group had a lower homeownership rate, with the biggest declines (5 or more percentage points) occurring among householders ranging in age from 30 to 59.

Homeownership rate by age of householder, 2000 and 2020
        2020     2000    change
U.S. total     66.6%     67.4%    -0.8
Under age 25     25.7     21.7     4.0
Aged 25 to 29     35.3     38.1    -2.8
Aged 30 to 34     49.1     54.6    -5.5
Aged 35 to 39     60.0     65.0    -5.0
Aged 40 to 44     65.5     70.6    -5.1
Aged 45 to 49     68.8     74.7    -5.9
Aged 50 to 54     73.2     78.5    -5.3
Aged 55 to 59     74.9     80.4    -5.5
Aged 60 to 64     78.2     80.3    -2.1
Aged 65 to 69     79.6     83.0    -3.4
Aged 70 to 74     82.1     82.6    -0.5
Aged 75-plus     79.0     77.7     1.3

By state, the biggest decline in homeownership between 2000 and 2020 occurred in North Dakota (down 6.5 percentage points), followed by Pennsylvania (-4.8), and Wisconsin (-3.9). Among the 20 states and the District of Columbia with gains in homeownership between 2000 and 2020, Delaware saw the biggest increase (5.9 percentage points), following by New Hampshire (5.3) and Vermont (4.4).

It remains to be seen how the coronavirus pandemic will affect homeownership. The housing market appears to be hot right now, but that's largely because the pandemic has reduced the number of sellers, driving up prices. 

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey

Thursday, April 01, 2021

11% of All Deaths in 2020 Due to Covid-19

It's official. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. The CDC's provisional count of deaths by cause in 2020 show Covid-19 behind only heart disease and cancer. Covid replaced suicide on the top-10 cause of death list, the CDC reports. Covid was the underlying or contributing cause of 377,833 deaths—11 percent of all deaths during the year. 

With Covid boosting deaths, the total number of deaths in 2020 exceeded the 2019 number by more than 500,000—an 18 percent increase. The overall age-adjusted mortality rate increased 16 percent. 

Total number of deaths
2020: 3,358,814 
2019: 2,854,838 
Change: +503,976

Age-adjusted mortality rate 
2020: 828.7 deaths per 100,000 population
2019: 715.2 deaths per 100,000 population

Source: CDC, Provisional Mortality Data—United States, 2020

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Membership in Religious Congregations Falls below 50%

The percentage of Americans who belong to a religious congregation fell below 50 percent in 2020, according to a Gallup survey. This is the first time the figure has fallen below 50 percent since Gallup started asking the question in 1937. In 2020, only 47 percent of Americans aged 18 or older answered "yes" when asked, "Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue or mosque?"

Membership in religious congregations peaked in the years following World War II, when 76 percent of Americans aged 18 or older were members. The figure remained near the 70 percent level until the 2000s when it began a steady decline. 

Gallup notes that the decline "appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong." Gallup has aggregated three of the most recent years of data to show membership by generation...

Member of a church, synagogue, or mosque, 2018–20 
Millennials: 36% 
Gen Gers: 50% 
Boomers: 58%
Older Americans: 66% 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Most Young Adults Have "Mental Health Symptoms"

The mental health of millions of Americans has been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Young adults have been hit the hardest. This makes sense, since young adults are the ones whose lives have been disrupted the most. Their college classes are remote, their career prospects put on hold, their friends and potential romantic partners socially distanced. 

The Census Bureau has been tracking the mental health of the population in its biweekly Household Pulse Survey. A CDC analysis of the survey's mental health data reveals two worrisome facts: the mental health of Americans was not all that great in August, and between August and February it has gotten worse.

Here's what the Household Pulse Survey asks: How often in the past seven days have you felt 1) nervous, anxious, or on edge; 2) unable to stop or control worrying; 3) little interest or pleasure in doing things; 4) down, depressed, or hopeless? Respondents who reported experiencing one or more of these feelings on most of the past seven days were classified as having mental health symptoms. 

In August 2020, a substantial 36.4 percent of adults aged 18 or older were classified as having mental health symptoms, according to the CDC study. By February 2021, the figure had grown to 41.5 percent—a statistically significant increase. 

Symptoms of anxiety/depressive disorder during past 7 days, January 20—February 1, 2021
Total, aged 18-plus: 41.5% 
Aged 18 to 29: 57.0% 
Aged 20 to 39: 45.9% 
Aged 40 to 49: 41.1% 
Aged 50 to 59: 41.2% 
Aged 60 to 69: 33.4% 
Aged 70 to 79: 26.3% 
Aged 80-plus: 22.5% 

Mental health problems are particularly severe among 18-to-29-year-olds. Not only are most young adults experiencing mental health symptoms, but the 18-to-29 age group is also the one whose mental health is eroding the fastest. Between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of young adults with mental health symptoms grew by 8 percentage points. While the share of the population with mental health symptoms increased in every age group during those months, the rise was largest among 18-to-29-year-olds. It's well past time to open up vaccination sites to all adults, regardless of age, to give young people some hope. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Who's Online "Almost Constantly"

Are you online almost constantly? Every few years Pew Research Center asks Americans how frequently they go online. In 2021, nearly one-third (31 percent) told Pew they were online "almost constantly," up from 21 percent who reported this frequency in 2015. Here is the frequency with which Americans go online...

Frequency with which people aged 18-plus say they go online, 2021
Almost constantly: 31%
Several times a day: 48%
About once a day: 6%
Several times a week: 4%
Less often: 4%
Never: 7%

Not surprisingly, young adults aged 18 to 29 are most likely to be online "almost constantly," with 48 percent reporting this level of internet use. The "almost constantly" figure is 42 percent among 30-to-49-year-olds, 22 percent among 50-to-64-year-olds, and just 8 percent among people aged 65 or older. 

Source: Pew Research Center, About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Say They Are "Almost Constantly" Online

Thursday, March 25, 2021

34% Have Received At Least One Dose of Vaccine

Vaccination rates continue to rise. As of mid-March, 34 percent of the population aged 18 or older had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. This is up from 25 percent in the previous survey fielded during the last two weeks of February.

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of March 3-15
Total 18-plus: 34%
Aged 18 to 24: 13%
Aged 25 to 39: 22%
Aged 40 to 54: 25%
Aged 55 to 64: 33%
Aged 65-plus: 70%

The number of people who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine fell slightly in this round of the survey—43 million are still saying no to the life-saving shots, down from 46 million at the end of February. Among the 20 million people who say they definitely will not get the vaccine, the single biggest reason—cited by 10 million—is that they don't trust the vaccine. 

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, March 3-15

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Homeschooling Surges during Pandemic

Homeschooling has "exploded" during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Census Bureau. And by homeschooling, the Census Bureau does not mean remote learning. Rather, it is homeschooling through "pandemic pods," stand-alone virtual schools, or homeschooling organizations. 

Before the pandemic, just 3.3 percent of households with school-aged children participated in homeschooling. By the spring of 2020 (April 23-May 5), the figure had grown to 5.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. By the fall of 2020 (September 30-October 12), a substantial 11.1 percent reported homeschooling their children. 

No state had a homeschooling rate of 10 percent or higher in the spring of 2020. At that time, the homeschooling rate was highest in Alaska (9.6 percent of households with school-aged children), followed by Delaware (8.9 percent), California (8.6 percent), Oregon (8.3 percent), and Montana (8.2 percent). 

By the fall of 2020, the homeschooling rate had climbed above 10 percent in 32 states. 

10 states with highest homeschooling rate, Sept. 30-Oct. 12, 2020
Alaska: 27.5% 
Oklahoma: 20.1%
Montana: 18.3%
Florida: 18.1% 
Virginia: 16.9% 
West Virginia: 16.6%
Georgia: 16.0%
Mississippi: 15.0%
Louisiana: 14.5%
New Mexico: 14.3%

Illinois had the lowest homeschooling rate in the fall of 2020, with only 5.4 percent of households with school-aged children engaged in homeschooling.