Thursday, January 14, 2021

20% Increase in the Mortality Rate

File this story in the Not Surprising But Still Shocking category: the age-adjusted mortality rate in the United States in the second quarter of 2020 (April, May, June) was a stunning 20 percent higher than the age-adjusted mortality rate in the second quarter of 2019, the National Center for Health Statistics reports. 

There were 840 deaths per 100,000 population in the second quarter of 2020, NCHS reports, compared with 702 deaths per 100,000 population in April, May, and June of 2019—a 19.7 percent increase. 

Percent change in 2nd quarter mortality rate by age group, 2019–20 
Age 1 to 4:   -12.9%
Age 5 to 14:   -0.7%
Age 15 to 24: 21.4%
Age 25 to 34: 30.1%
Age 35 to 44: 29.3%
Age 45 to 54: 26.3%
Age 55 to 64: 20.6%
Age 65 to 74: 19.1%
Age 75 to 84: 17.4%
Age 85-plus:  19.4%

Children under age 15 were the only ones spared. Every other age group experienced a double-digit rise as Covid-19 deaths mounted in the spring of 2020. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Rapid Release, Mortality Dashboard

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

"Unprecedented Demographic Stagnation"

You don't have to wait for 2020 census results to know the big trends of the past decade. That's because demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution has revealed the biggies in a recent report. According to Frey, this is what the 2020 census will show...

1. "Unprecedented stagnation in population growth," says Frey. The 2010s are likely to have been the decade with the slowest population growth in U.S. history. Until the 2010s, the U.S. was one of the fastest growing countries in the industrialized world.

2. Ongoing decline in geographic mobility. The annual mobility rate has been falling through most of the 2010s, reaching an all-time low of 9.3 percent in 2019–20. While the coronavirus pandemic may boost mobility temporarily, Frey thinks it will then resume its long-term decline.

3. The continued aging of the population, thanks to the Baby-Boom generation. 

4. "A first-time decline in the nation's white population," Frey predicts for the 2010s, largely due to the fact that whites are older than other race groups. "This means that other racial and ethnic groups are responsible for generating overall population growth," says Frey.

5. Great diversity in the Millennial and younger generations compared to Boomers and older Americans. "The generational divide in diversity...has impacted politics in ways that are sometimes divisive," Frey notes.

The biggest trend to be revealed by the 2020 census, according to Frey, is this: the nation is in the midst of unprecedented demographic stagnation. One way to break out of the stagnation is to increase immigration, he says. "Given our rapidly aging native-born population, immigration will ensure growth—especially among the critical youth and labor force populations."

Source: Brookings, What the 2020 Census Will Reveal about America; Stagnating Growth, an Aging Population, and Youthful Diversity

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Houston, We Have a Problem

"Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that's what it takes to set things right." Do you agree or disagree? 

A substantial 44 percent of Americans "mostly" or "completely" agree with the statement, according to PRRI's 2020 American Values Survey. The survey was fielded last September, well before the January 6 Trump insurrection. Here is the percentage who agree by political affiliation...

We need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that's what it takes to set things right (percent mostly/completely agreeing)
57% of Republicans
43% of independents
36% of Democrats

With so many Americans willing to take a wrecking ball to law and order, the Trump insurrection was inevitable.

Monday, January 11, 2021

31% Expect to Lose Employment Income Soon

The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse. Daily new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are at all-time highs. The vaccine rollout is fatally slow. Cold weather and the winter surge has driven the public back into hiding. It should have come as no surprise, then, that nonfarm payroll employment fell by 140,000 in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the first decline in payroll employment since April. 

It also should come as no surprise that a growing share of the public expects to lose employment income in the next four weeks (personally, or someone in their household). Thirty-one percent of Americans aged 18 or older have been telling the Census Bureau since mid-November that they expect to lose employment income soon, according to the Household Pulse Survey fielded December 9-21. The December job numbers prove them right.

Expect self or household member to lose employment income in next 4 weeks
Nov 11-Dec 21: 31% 
Sept 30-Oct 26: 24% (low)
April 23-May 5: 39% (high)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Record Low Household Growth in 2010s

The number of households in the United States grew by only 9.3 percent over the past 10 years—from 118 million in 2010 to 128 million in 2020. This is the slowest household growth on record, capped off by the first ever annual decline in households between 2019 and 2020. 

Number of households, 2010 and 2020 (in 000s)
      2020    2010percent change
Total households       128,451       117,538         9.3%
With children under 18         33,464         35,218        -5.0

The number of households with children under age 18 fell by nearly 1.8 million during the decade. Behind the decline is the ongoing baby-bust, which is predicted to deepen as coronavirus further reduces births. 

Source: Census Bureau, Families & Living Arrangements

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Delusions of Grandeur

"How would you describe your own personal weight situation right now?" When asked this question, only 41 percent of the American public admits to being overweight, according to a 2020 Gallup survey. 

The National Center for Health Statistics would beg to disagree. According to the measured height and weight of a representative sample of the population, nearly three out of four American adults are overweight...

Percent who are overweight
Fantasy: 41%
Reality: 73%

Men reported weighing an average of 200 pounds, Gallup notes. Women reported weighing 162 pounds. Men are right on the money. The National Center for Health Statistics measures men's average weight at 198 pounds. Women are shy of the mark, however. Their measured weight is an average of 171 pounds—significantly greater than their self-reported 162.

The percentage of men who want to lose weight and are seriously trying to do so was unchanged in 2020, Gallup reports. Not so for women. Although the 59 percent majority of women would like to lose weight, just 23 percent said they had been seriously trying to do so in the past year—the smallest percentage on record. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs Plummet

Out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs has fallen steeply over the past decade. In 2018, those who purchased retail prescription drugs spent a median of $54 for them—42 percent less than the $93 spent in 2009, after adjusting for inflation.

An analysis of retail prescription drug spending based on data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey shows that out-of-pocket spending fell not just at the median, but at every point in the distribution of spending. Even those who spend the most on prescription drugs saw their out-of-pocket costs fall substantially. Those whose spending on retail prescription drugs is at the 95th percentile, for example, saw their annual out-of-pocket costs fall from $1,369 to $945 between 2009 and 2018—a 31 percent decline, after adjusting for inflation. 

Among people aged 65 or older, out-of-pocket spending on retail prescription drugs fell for those on Medicare Part D, for those with private drug insurance, and even for without prescription drug insurance. Older Americans covered by Medicare Part D spent a median of $160 on retail prescription drugs in 2018, down from $341 in 2009, after adjusting for inflation. The elderly with no drug coverage saw their median annual spending fall from $318 in 2009 to $177 in 2018. 

"In recent years overall affordability of retail prescription drugs has not deteriorated, and may have improved," the analysis concludes. 

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Out-of-Pocket Spending for Retail Prescribed Drugs by Age and Type of Prescription Drug Coverage, 2009 to 2018

Monday, January 04, 2021

Third Leading Cause of Death

On February 29, 2020, the CDC logged the first Covid-19 death in the United States. The next day, no one died from Covid—the last day without a Covid death this year. The cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 topped 1,000 on March 26. They exceeded 10,000 on April 6. On April 23, Covid-19 became a leading cause of death in the United States. 

The National Center for Health Statistics tracks leading causes of death, compiling the top-10 list each year. We will have to wait a while before the top-10 list of 2020 is released, but we already know Covid-19—a cause of death unknown a year ago—will be near the top of the list. It will be the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

10 Leading Causes of Death in 2019
Total deaths   2,854,838
1. Diseases of heart      659,041
2. Malignant neoplasms      599,601
3. Accidents (unintentional injuries)      173,040
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases      156,979
5. Cerebrovascular diseases      150,005
6. Alzheimer disease      121,499
7. Diabetes mellitus        87,647
8. Nephritis        51,565
9. Influenza and pneumonia        49,783
10. Suicide        47,511

Let's see how the Covid-19 death count compares to the 10 leading causes of death in 2019. April 23 marks Covid's first appearance on the top-10 list. On that day, the cumulative number of Covid deaths in the U.S. surpassed the 47,511 suicides of 2019. The very next day, they exceeded the 49,783 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia. The day after that, they topped the 51,565 deaths from nephritis. So, in just three days in April, Covid not only made it onto the top-10 list, but had become the 8th leading cause of death. 

It didn't stop there. On May 16, Covid deaths surpassed those from diabetes, becoming the 7th leading cause of death. On June 24, Covid climbed into 6th place; on July 29th 5th place; on August 5th 4th place. A couple weeks later, on August 20, Covid-19 became the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States when the 173,490 cumulative Covid deaths surpassed the 173,040 deaths from accidents. 

On December 31, 2020, the CDC logged 3,298 deaths from Covid-19. The cumulative total for the year: 344,497, solidly in 3rd place as a cause of death. Let's hope Covid-19 is much lower on the list in 2021.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2019 and CDC Covid Data Tracker

Monday, December 21, 2020

Happy Holidays!

 Demo Memo is taking a holiday break. See you on January 4, 2021. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

2020 Comes to a Close

The year 2020 is coming to a close. Although this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year is almost over, it will live in infamy as historians examine the many ways the pandemic has pummeled us. One of the best resources historians will have is the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Since late April, the bureau has surveyed households every week or two, probing the impact of the pandemic on Americans' wellbeing. Here are some of the latest findings, collected November 25-December 7.

Children's lives have been upended. Among adults in households with children in public or private school, 89 percent report that their child's classes in the 2020–21 school year are in a distance learning format.

College plans have been cancelled. Among adults in households where at least one adult was planning on taking postsecondary classes this fall, more than one-third cancelled their plans to take classes. 

Nearly half of Americans have lost money. Fully 48 percent of people aged 18 or older report that they or someone in their household experienced a loss of employment income since March 13, 2020. Thirty-one percent expect to lose employment income in the next four weeks.

Many are hungry. One in eight adults (13 percent) did not have enough to eat sometimes or often in the past seven days. Among adults in households with children, a larger 17 percent did not have enough to eat. 

Many are afraid to go to the doctor. One-third of Americans aged 18 or older have delayed getting medical care in the past four weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Worries about next month's rent. One-third of renters say they have only slight or no confidence in their ability to pay next month's rent. Among renters with children, the figure is 41 percent. 

Paying for usual household expenses is difficult for many. More than one-third of adults say they have found it somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses in the past seven days.

Restaurants are devastated. The 61 percent majority of Americans have avoided eating at restaurants in the past seven days. 

The year 2020 is coming to a close. Good riddance.

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, November 25-December 7

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A New Low in Geographic Mobility in 2020: 9.3%

There has been a lot of talk about the numbers of people who have moved because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Pew Research Center survey fielded in June, a substantial 22 percent of adults had relocated because of the pandemic or knew someone who had. An Upwork survey fielded in October found 14 to 23 million workers planning to move because remote work gave them the opportunity to live anywhere they choose. Those moves will boost migration in the United States, Upwork said.  

Nice try, but no cigar. Yesterday the Census Bureau released the official numbers on geographic mobility in 2020. The data are collected by the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). The survey asks respondents, "Were you living in this house or apartment one year ago?" Only 9.3 percent said no—a record low geographic mobility rate.  

Percent of people aged 1 or older who lived in a different house or apartment one year ago
2019–20: 9.3% (record low)

2018–19: 9.8%

2017–18: 10.1%

2010–11: 11.6%

2000–01: 14.2%


There are a couple of reasons why the CPS ASEC did not capture coronavirus-related moves. One reason is timing. The Census Bureau fields the ASEC in March of each year. Perhaps March was too early in the pandemic to capture those moves. The second reason is response rates. In the turmoil during the early weeks of the pandemic, response rates to the March 2020 CPS were abnormally low, according to Census Bureau research. Pandemic movers may have been (almost certainly were) less likely to respond to the survey than those who stayed put. 

For whatever the reason, the geographic mobility figures from the 2020 CPS do not shed any light on pandemic-related moves. This time next year, the 2021 geographic mobility data will be released. Perhaps they will show the anticipated uptick in migration...unless all the pandemic movers return to their pre-pandemic homes by March 2021.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility, 2019 to 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Only 19% Answer Cellphone Calls from Unknown Numbers

Only 19 percent of Americans answer their cellphone to see who it is when called by an unknown number, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 67 percent majority will not answer the phone but will check voicemail if left. A hardened 14 percent not only won't answer the phone, they won't even check any voicemail left by an unknown number. 

Percent who will not answer their cellphone if called by an unknown number
Aged 18 to 29: 74%
Aged 30 to 49: 81%
Aged 50 to 64: 84%
Aged 65-plus: 79%

Monday, December 14, 2020

Obesity Is Rising in Every Age Group

Just ahead of the holiday festivities, the National Center for Health Statistics has issued a report on trends in obesity by age. Do you think this is just a coincidence? Yes, of course it is. Nevertheless, perhaps a review of the trends will rein in the temptation to overindulge in these final days of a difficult year. 

If obesity were a mystery to be solved, then the trends presented by the NCHS report provide an important clue. The clue is this: it's happening across the board. No age group is immune. Obesity is surging among the young, the middle-aged, and the old. Take a look...

Percent obese by age, 1988–94 to 2017–18
        total       20-39   40-59     60-plus
2017-18          42.4%   40.0%    44.8%     42.8%
2007-08          33.7   30.7    36.2     35.1
1999-00          30.5   26.0    33.5     33.5
1988-94          22.9   17.7    27.9     23.7
Note: Obesity is defined as a body mass index at or above 30.0 kg/m²

The data used to calculate these numbers are collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The survey doesn't simply ask Americans how much they weigh—those self-reports would fall far short of reality. NHANES quantifies reality by dispersing mobile examination units around the country, from which trained health technicians measure the height and weight of a representative sample of the public. Over the past three decades, the survey's measurements show a doubling in the percentage of Americans who are obese among 20-to-39-year olds, a 61 percent increase among 40-to-59-year-olds and an 81 percent rise among people aged 60 or older. That's a lot of overindulging.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Seismic Shift in the Publishing Industry

Recent trends in the information publishing industry are not pretty—at least for workers in traditional publishing establishments. In the past four years, the book, magazine, and newspaper industries have shed a combined total of 104,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, jobs in internet publishing have increased by nearly the same amount...

Employment in the publishing industry, 2016 and 2020


   2nd quarter 2020  1st quarter 2016  numerical change percent change
Book        51,450       61,919      -10,469     -16.9%
Periodical        72,648       97,212      -24,564     -25.3%
Newspaper      111,615         180,313      -68,698     -38.1%
Internet      289,794     195,714       94,080       48.1%

Today, the 55 percent majority of publishing jobs are in internet publishing, up from just 37 percent in 2016.