Thursday, February 20, 2020

Why Is the White Working Class Declining?

The white working class is shrinking, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The question is why. The St. Louis Fed analysis defines the white working class as non-Hispanic whites without a four-year college degree. The number of working class whites peaked in the early 1990s and has been declining in most years ever since. At the same time, every other major group in society—Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites with a college degree—has been growing. Working class whites accounted for the majority of the population until 2004. Today, they are a minority nationally, in three out of four regions, and in seven states.

What is the cause of the decline in the white working class? In the Fed analysis, the researchers looked at two potential causes. First, they examined the rise in "deaths of despair," which are deaths due to suicide, alcohol, or drugs. While the death rate from these causes has tripled among the white working class in recent years, these deaths explain less than 1 percent of the decline in working class whites, according to the calculations.

Then the researchers examined educational attainment. Bullseye! The number of non-Hispanic whites with a four-year college degree tripled between 1976 and 2019. The surge in educational attainment is resulting in a loss of about 1 million working class whites each year and explains most of the decline.

"To the extent that the decline of the white working-class population in recent years is due to rising college degree attainment, this population change can be viewed positively," the researchers conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The White Working Class: Declining Mostly Due to Rising College Attainment

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Stressed Out? Join the Crowd

On a scale of 1 to 5, how stressed out do you feel? Here's how a nationally representative sample of Americans answered that question, according to an AARP survey...

1. 24% not at all stressed
2. 18%
3. 25%
4. 16%
5. 16% a great deal of stress

About one-third of the public feels stressed out (4 and 5). Also, about one-third of the public reports feeling more stressed out today than three years ago, the survey found.

By age, older Americans are the least stressed. Nearly half of 50-to-64-year-olds (49 percent) and those aged 65-plus (47 percent) say they are not stressed at all (1 or 2). A smaller 39 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds and 34 percent of people aged 35 to 49 say they are stress free. Among people under age 50, four out of ten report feeling more stressed out today than three years ago.

The biggest source of stress is finances, with 42 percent reporting money as a cause. The current political climate is second in importance, at 36 percent. The percentage who are stressed out by the current political climate rises with age, from a low of 31 percent among 18-to-34-year-olds to a high of 44 percent among people aged 65 or older.

Source: AARP, Dealing with Stress

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

100 Years of Baby Names

Over the past century, James has been the number-one most popular boy's name, according to the Social Security Administration. Between 1919 and 2018, nearly 5 million boys have been named James. The second and third most popular boys' names of the past century are John and Robert, followed by Michael, William, David, Richard, Joseph, Thomas, and Charles, to round out the top 10.

James is still a popular name. During the decade of the 2010s, it was in 9th place on the top-10 list. William and Michael were also on the 2010s list—in 5th and 7th place. The number-one boys' name of the past decade, however, was Noah. Also making an appearance on the top-10 list of the 2010s were Liam, Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Alexander, and Elijah.

Girls' names are more diverse than boys' names. All told, 35 million boys have received one of the top 10 names of the century compared to 15 million girls. Mary is the number-one most popular girls' name of the past 100 years. Between 1919 and 2018, 3.3 million girls have been named Mary. Other girls' names on top of the century list are Patricia, Jennifer, Linda, Elizabeth, Barbara, Susan, Jessica, Sarah, and Karen.

None of those names appear on the top-10 list of girls' names of the 2010s. Emma was the number-one girls' name of the past decade, followed by Sophia, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Abigail, Emily, Madison, and Charlotte. The name Mary ranked a lowly 125th in popularity in the 2010s.

For a look at how names have changed over the past 100 years, here are the three most popular boys' and girls' names in each decade...

The 3 most popular names for boys by decade
2010s: Noah, Liam, Jacob
2000s: Jacob, Michael, Joshua
1990s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1980s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1970s: Michael, Christopher, Jason
1960s: Michael, David, John
1950s: James, Michael, Robert
1940s: James, Robert, John
1930s: Robert, James, John
1920s: Robert, John, James

The 3 most popular names for girls by decade
2010s: Emma, Sophia, Olivia
2000s: Emily, Madison, Emma
1990s: Jessica, Ashley, Emily
1980s: Jessica, Jennifer, Amanda
1970s: Jennifer, Amy, Melissa
1960s: Lisa, Mary, Susan
1950s: Mary, Linda, Patricia
1940s: Mary, Linda, Barbara
1930s: Mary, Betty, Barbara
1920s: Mary, Dorothy, Helen

Note: Alexa was the 90th most popular girls' name in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available. This ranking is well below Alexa's peak a few years earlier. It was the 32nd most popular girls' name in 2015—the same year Amazon introduced its Alexa to the general public.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Social Security Administration's Popular Baby Names by Decade

Monday, February 17, 2020

Only 40% of Americans Like Winter

Winter is the season everyone loves to hate. Well, nearly everyone. According to a 2019 HuffPost/YouGov survey, 51 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have an unfavorable view of winter. Forty percent have a favorable view. The remainder are undecided. By region of the country, this is how people feel about winter...

Percent with a favorable view of winter
Northeast: 34%
Midwest: 24%
South: 48%
West: 45%

What about summer? Overall, 76 percent of Americans have a favorable view of summer, while just 16 percent have an unfavorable view. Here are attitudes toward summer by region...

Percent with a favorable view of summer
Northeast: 78%
Midwest: 81%
South: 72%
West: 72%

Spring and fall are rated even higher than summer. Fully 82 percent of the public has a favorable view of spring and fall, and the figures do not vary much by region.

Source: HuffPost, Winter is Objectively the Most Unlikeable Season

Thursday, February 13, 2020

63% Rise in College-Educated Workers since 2000

Over the past two decades, the labor force has become much more educated. In 2000, workers with no more than a high school diploma greatly outnumbered workers with a bachelor's degree or more education. The opposite is the case today. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more education account for 41 percent of the civilian labor force aged 25 or older, while those with a high school diploma or less education account for just 32 percent.

Distribution of the Labor Force Aged 25 or Older by Educational Attainment

          2019        2000
   number  percent   number  percent % change
   (in 000s)  distribution  (in 000s)  distributionin number
Total labor force    142,448     100%   118,148       100%   20.6%
High school graduate or less      46,138       32     49,224        42   –6.3
Some college/Associate degree      37,421       26     32,844        28   13.9
Bachelor's degree or more        58,889       41     36,080        31   63.2

Behind the changing educational distribution of the labor force is robust growth in college-educated workers and a decline in the least educated. The number of workers with at least a bachelor's degree grew 63 percent between 2000 and 2019. The number of workers with a high school diploma or less education fell 6 percent during those years.

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Millennial Wealth Is Below Expectations

The income and wealth of Millennials is lagging behind that of older generations at the same age, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The study examines the incomes and net worth of older Millennials, defined as those born from 1980 through 1989, and compares them to the finances of older generations when they were the same age.

The median net worth of the typical Millennial household is 34 percent less than expected when compared to older generations. They are behind by $12,000. "For someone at the beginning of adulthood, this is a lofty sum to miss out on," writes Ana H. Kent, a Fed policy analyst and one of the researchers. One of the reasons for the lower net worth of Millennials is that fewer are homeowners. Their homeownership rate is 4 percentage points below expectations.

But Millennials aren't suffering equally. The median household income of those with a bachelor's degree is 7 percent higher than expected, and their median net worth is only 6 percent below expectations—$55,000 versus an expected $58,000. The picture is not as rosy for Millennials without a bachelor's degree. Their median household income is 9 percent below expectations. Even worse, their median net worth is a stunning 44 percent below expectations—$14,000 versus an expected $25,000.

"For this generation of older millennials, having less money than older generations at the same age could be very problematic," concludes Hunt.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Are Millennials a Lost Generation Financially? and The Millennial Wealth Gap: Smaller Wallets than Older Generations

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Occupations Dominated by Workers Aged 55-Plus

The older workforce is large and getting larger. Workers aged 55 or older accounted for 24 percent of the nation's employed in 2019. This is up from 20 percent in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In many jobs—such as flight attendant, economist, and bus driver—older workers account for more than one-third of the employed. In a handful of occupations, people aged 55 or older are more than half of the total...

Occupations in which more than 50 percent of workers are aged 55 or older
76.9%: funeral service managers
71.4%: shoe and leather workers and repairers
63.2%: legislators
62.5%: etchers and engravers
60.0%: embalmers and funeral attendants
56.9%: farmers and ranchers
55.8%: crossing guards
53.5%: tailors and dressmakers
52.9%: judges and magistrates

It is perhaps fitting that funeral service manager and embalmer/funeral attendant are in the short list of occupations dominated by the oldest workers. Who better to do these tasks than those soon to become the product of their labor? At the other extreme, the 55-plus age group accounts for fewer than 10 percent of bartenders, waiters and waitresses, emergency medical technicians, physician assistants, and computer research scientists.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, 2019

Monday, February 10, 2020

Median Household Income Falls in December 2019

Median household income fell between November and December 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $65,666 December median was 0.8 percent below the November 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. "The relatively large increase in inflation over the past few months has had a negative effect on real median annual household income," explains Sentier. The Sentier estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

Despite the recent dip, "real median household income has continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.1 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 16.6 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $56,308.  


Sentier's Household Income Index for December 2019 was 105.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). To put this in perspective, the December 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 5.4 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost exactly two decades ago. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.


Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2019

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Most Older Homeowners Stay Put

Do older Americans stay in one home long enough to turn their home equity into an income stream, boosting their standard of living in retirement? That's the question posed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. To determine the answer, CRR researchers estimated the housing trajectories of homeowners aged 50 or older to see whether they had enough residential stability to tap home equity. The answer is yes, according to CRR's analysis of data from the Health and Retirement study. Most older Americans stay put...

Housing trajectory of older homeowners from ages 50-54 to death
53% stay in their home until death
17% move at the time of retirement, then remain in their new home until death
16% stay in their home until a health shock forces them into a rental or long-term care facility
14% are frequent movers

"These findings largely support the narrative from previous research: most people want to age in place and usually move only in response to a shock," say the researchers. Consequently, most homeowners "experience enough residential stability to make tapping home equity through reverse mortgages or property tax deferrals a financially viable strategy."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Are Homeownership Patterns Stable Enough to Tap Home Equity?

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Giving Money to Adult Children, Aging Parents

Many midlife adults have it tough. Some are the parents of adult children who are not yet financially independent. Others have aging parents who are struggling to make ends meet in retirement. To help out, millions of midlife adults are giving them money.

AARP recently took the measure of these millions, surveying people aged 40 to 64 with living parents and/or adult children aged 25 or older. Respondents were asked, "Have you given any financial support to your [parents/adult children] in the past 12 months?" Here's how many had...

Percent of adults aged 40 to 64 who have provided financial support in the past 12 months to...
Parents: 32%
Adult children: 51%

The support is substantial, too. Among those who gave money to a parent in the past year, 54 percent had given $1,000 or more and 20 percent $5,000 or more. The figures are similar for those who gave money to adult children—56 percent gave $1,000 or more and 25 percent gave $5,000 or more.

Is it a financial strain to provide this support? For many, not so much. Among those helping parents, 43 percent say it is little or no strain. For those helping adult children, 47 percent say the same. But a substantial 28 to 29 percent of those providing financial support say it is causing them high financial strain.

Source: AARP, Midlife Adults Providing Financial Support to Family Members

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Husbands and Wives More Likely to Share Chores

Wives are still more likely than husbands to do the laundry, prepare meals, and clean the house, according to a Gallup survey. When asked "Who is more likely to do each of the following in your household?" this is what heterosexual married couples report...

Laundry
58% wife more likely
28% both equally
13% husband more likely

Preparing meals
51% wife more likely
32% both equally
17% husband more likely

Cleaning the house
51% wife more likely
37% both equally
9% husband more likely

But responsibility for these chores is divided more equitably in 2019 than it was a quarter century ago. The percentage of married couples in which the wife is more likely to do the laundry fell from 70 percent in 1996 to 58 percent today. The percentage of married couples in which the wife is more likely to prepare meals fell from 63 to 51 percent. For housecleaning, 60 percent of wives were more likely to do the cleaning in 1996 and 51 percent today.

While wives are still more likely than husbands to perform traditional household chores, a Demo Memo analysis of American Time Use data (Who Does More, Men or Women?) has shown that there is near equity in the amount of daily time men and women devote to the combination of housework, paid work, and childcare. Men spend an average of 5.60 hours per day performing these tasks and women 5.35.

Source: Gallup, Women Still Handle Main Household Tasks in U.S.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Life Expectancy Is at a Standstill

Life expectancy in the United States was no higher in 2018 than it was in 2010, which makes the 2010s (so far) the first decade in modern history in which the lives of Americans have not increased. During those eight years, life expectancy at birth succeeded in climbing 0.2 years, reaching a high of 78.9 in 2014. Then, to the consternation of many, it fell by 0.2 years between 2014 and 2015—the first decline since 1993. It fell another 0.1 year between 2016 and 2017, but gained 0.1 year between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, as in 2010, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 78.7 years.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States, 2010 to 2018
2018: 78.7 years
2017: 78.6
2016: 78.7
2015: 78.7
2014: 78.9
2013: 78.8
2012: 78.8
2011: 78.7
2010: 78.7

A study by the National Center for Health Statistics takes a look at the reasons for the 0.3 year decline in life expectancy between 2014 and 2017. Most of the decline was caused by the increase in drug overdose deaths. In 2010, there were 38,329 deaths from drug overdoses. The number grew to 47,055 by 2014. Then things really got bad, with deaths surging to 70,237 by 2017—a 49 percent increase between 2014 and 2017. This surge explains the 51 percent majority of the decline in life expectancy during those years, reports the National Center for Health Statistics. Other causes of death contributing to the decline in life expectancy were Alzheimer's disease, suicide, homicide, and diabetes.

Drug deaths fell slightly in 2018, and life expectancy recovered a bit—but it's only back to where it was nearly a decade ago.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, Changes in Life Expectancy at Birth, 2010–2018; and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2018

Thursday, January 30, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2019

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, fourth quarter 2019: 57.8%

Ho-hum is the word that best describes the 4th quarter homeownership numbers released by the Census Bureau this morning. The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group, the nation's first-time homebuyers, was stable in the fourth quarter of 2019. Although the 57.8 percent rate for the age group in the fourth quarter was higher than its third quarter rate, it was below the age group's rate one year earlier. None of these bobbles are statistically significant. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. It bottomed out at 55.0 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The current rate is much closer to the bottom than the top.

What about their younger counterparts? Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time home buyers—defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds climbed in the fourth quarter, reaching 48.9 percent. But again, this rate is not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds peaked at 55.3 percent in 2007, fell below 50 percent in 2011, and has been stuck below that level ever since. 

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 65.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate reached an all-time high of 69.0 percent in 2004.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tripling in Young Adult Households with Student Loans

The percentage of young adult households with student loan debt has tripled over the past few decades, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis. Among all households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds, 46 percent had student loans in 2016—three times the 1989 figure. Here is the trend by type of household...

Percent of married-couple householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 46%
1989: 15%

Percent of cohabiting householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 50%
1989: 10%

Percent of single-person householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 45%
1989: 17%

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, As Fewer Young Adults Wed, Married Couples' Wealth Surpasses Others'