Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Demographics of Covid-19 Job Losses

Younger adults are being hit especially hard by Covid-19 shutdowns, reports Pew Research Center. Workers under age 45 account for 56 percent of the nation's total employed, but they are a larger 64 percent of workers at higher risk of job loss due to the coronavirus.

Younger adults are at higher risk because they account for a disproportionate share of workers in occupations such as retail sales and food service—the types of businesses that are either shut down entirely or sharply curtailed to stop the spread of coronavirus. Workers under age 45 account for 62 percent of retail clerks, 76 percent of cashiers, 78 percent of bartenders, and 83 percent of waiters and waitresses, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the age distribution of workers by occupation.

One-third of Americans say someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut because of Covid-19, Pew reports. Among adults aged 18 to 29, nearly half report taking a financial hit...

Someone in household laid off, lost job, or had to take a pay cut because of Covid-19
Aged 18 to 29: 46%
Aged 30 to 49: 36%
Aged 50 to 64: 32%
Aged 65-plus: 19%

Source: Pew Research Center, Worries about Coronavirus Surge, as Most Americans Expect a Recession—or Worse

Monday, March 30, 2020

48% of Counties Lost Population, 2018–19

The U.S. population grew by just 0.48 percent in the year ending July 1, 2019. This is the slowest annual rate of growth in 100 years. Growth has actually ground to a halt in many places. According to the Census Bureau's latest estimates, 48 percent of the nation's 3,142 counties lost population between 2018 and 2019.

Even in counties with growing populations, expansion is slowing. The slowdown is occurring everywhere—from the largest urban areas to the most remote rural outposts. A handy way to analyze growth patterns at the county level is by using the federal government's Rural-Urban Continuum, a system 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).

The long-term pattern since 2010 has been one of urban growth—the more urban, the greater the growth. But an examination of the trend in annual growth rates reveals some 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 in 2018 and 2019, the growth rate of rank 1 counties slipped below that of rank 2 counties. Another change has occurred in nonmetropolitan counties. Counties ranking 6 and 8 on the Rural-Urban Continuum had been steadily losing population for most of the decade, but in 2017 they began to record small gains which continued in 2018 and 2019. The gains have not been large enough, however, to make up for losses earlier in the decade. Here are county growth rates for the decade and for the past year by rank on the Rural-Urban continuum...

County population change 2010-2019 (and 2018–19) by Rural-Urban Continuum rank
1. 8.0% (0.54) for counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 6.7% (0.64) for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 4.4% (0.38) for counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.6% (0.17) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 1.6% (0.10) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, not adjacent to metro
6. –1.0% (0.01) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, adjacent to metro
7. –1.6% (-0.18) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. –1.0% (0.10) for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. –2.2% (-0.21) for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

Behind the widespread slowing of population growth is the ongoing baby bust, the aging of the baby-boom generation, and the decline in net migration—both domestic and international. With population growth already slowed to a crawl before coronavirus swept the nation, the percentage of counties recording population losses in 2020 is likely to be greater than the 48 percent of 2019. 

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2019

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unemployment Rate Could Rise to 32.1%

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are working furiously to measure the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. In the past few days, the St. Louis Fed has released one report after another estimating the dimensions of the economic crisis now facing the United States.

—The researchers have determined the number of Americans who work in close proximity to others and therefore must stop working to prevent the spread of coronavirus (27 million).
—They have calculated the percentage of workers at risk of unemployment because of the coronavirus (46 percent).
—They have tallied up the cost of unemployment insurance to tide those workers over (ranging from $57 billion to $642 billion).
—They have done a "back of the envelope" estimate of the unemployment rate by the end of the second quarter of 2020. Brace yourself. It could be as high as 32.1 percent.

For more details about these findings, click on the links below.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Fernando Leibovici, Ana Mara Santacreu, and Matthew Famiglietti, Social Distancing and Contact-Intensive Occupations; Charles Gascon, Covid-19: Which Workers Face the Highest Unemployment Risk?; Bill Dupor, The Efficacy of Enhanced Unemployment Benefits During a Pandemic; and Miguel Faria-e-Castro, Back-of-the-Envelope Estimates of Next Quarter's Unemployment Rate

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Young Adults Are Less Likely to Read Books

Now that we're spending a lot more time at home, we're sure to be reading more books. Right? Maybe not. While the overall percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who read a book (not required for school or work) in the past 12 months has changed little over the past decade, significant changes are occurring by age group. Book reading among young and middle-aged adults has declined, while reading has increased among older people.

The 55 percent majority of adults read a book in 2017, according to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. The 55 percent includes anyone who read a print, digital, or audio book. The figure was identical in 2012 and nearly identical (54 percent) in 2008. But there have been changes by age group. Take a look...

Percent who read a book in the past year by age

   18 to 34     35 to 64     65-plus  
2017   50.5%   52.5%   56.6%
2012   53.6   54.2   57.2
2008   52.7   56.1   51.2
2002   56.0   59.2   49.4
1992   62.6   63.6   49.6

A big drop in book reading has occurred among younger adults. The percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds who read a book in the past year fell from 63 percent in 1992 to 53 percent in 2008—a 10 percentage point decline during an era when the internet and smartphones became a thing. The decline in book reading is similar, although slightly delayed, among the middle-aged. The opposite trend can be seen among people aged 65 or older, with the percentage who read a book in the past year rising substantially between 2008 and 2012. Why the rise? The highly-educated baby-boom generation began to fill the 65-plus age group, and the college educated are much more likely than those with less education to read books.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, How Do We Read? Let's Count the Ways

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Bracing for the Covid-19 Recession

We know a recession is coming. It's likely to be severe. But the severity will vary by geographic area, according to a Brookings analysis. "In a huge nation made up of diverse places and varied local economies, a look at the geography of highly exposed industries makes clear that the economic toll of any coming recession will hit different regions in disparate, uneven ways," say Brookings researchers Mark Muro, Robert Maxim, and Jacob Whiton.

The researchers examined employment by metro area in the five industries most vulnerable to a coronavirus disruption—mining, transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, and leisure and hospitality. Overall, 24 million people work in those industries—16.5 percent of all workers. But in some metropolitan areas the share is much higher, and that's where the coming downturn could hit hardest.

Among the 100 largest metro areas, Las Vegas is most vulnerable, with 34 percent of its jobs in the five most affected industries. Also among the top five are Orlando, New Orleans, Honolulu, and Oklahoma City. Tech-oriented university towns are likely to be least affected by the Covid-19 Recession, say the researchers. Among the 100 largest metro areas, the five least exposed to the recession's effects are Provo, Utah; Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Albany, New York; and San Jose, California.

"While essentially all of America will likely be affected by Covid-19's economic effects, those effects will be distinct and varied from place-to-place," conclude the researchers.

The Brookings researchers published this report on March 17, one week ago. That's ancient history for an exponentially expanding virus. So, one of the concluding comments in the report may be the most pertinent: "In the event the pandemic tips the economy into a significant nationwide recession, very few places or industries will emerge unscathed. And if that happens, other large sectors—including construction, manufacturing, retail,  education, and even the motion picture industry will be affected regardless of geography."

Source: Brookings, The Places a Covid-19 Recession Will Likely Hit Hardest

Monday, March 23, 2020

Growing Coronavirus Alarm Noted in Surveys

Rising concerns about coronavirus are being captured by survey researchers while they are in the field. According to Pew Research Center survey fielded from March 10 to March 16, the percentage of Americans who believe coronavirus is major threat to the health of the U.S. population climbed from 42 percent in the first two days of the survey period (March 10-11) to 55 percent in the final three days (March 14-16). The percentage who believe coronavirus is a major threat to their personal financial situation grew from 29 to 40 percent during the time span.

Gallup, too, is noting the rising alarm. When Gallup asked respondents whether they are avoiding going to public places such as stores or restaurants, only 30 percent of those queried on March 13-15 said yes. The figure jumped to 54 percent among those asked the same question on March 16-19.

"In the span of a week," Gallup reports, "Americans have gone from tepid adoption of social distancing to majorities engaging in nearly every major practice advocated by government and health officials."

Percent of adults taking each action to stem the spread of coronavirus, March 16-19 (and percentage point increase since March 13-15
79% are avoiding going to events with large crowds (+20)
75% are avoiding travel by airplane, bus, subway, or train (+20)
57% are cancelling or postponing travel plans (+18)
52% are stocking up on food, medical, and cleaning supplies (+13)
54% are avoiding going to public places (+24)
46% are voiding small gatherings such as with family or friends (+23)

Despite the growing seriousness of the pandemic in the minds of Americans, Gallup reports "there is a long way to go to approach full compliance." While 53 percent of respondents say they have mostly or completely isolated themselves from people outside their household, 21 percent say they are only partially isolated, and 27 percent say they have done little or nothing to avoid contact with people outside their household.

Source: Gallup, Americans Rapidly Answering the Call to Isolate, Prepare

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Financial Impact of Covid-19

If the coronavirus caused you to miss work for at least two weeks, would you continue to get paid? Only 36 percent of employed Americans answered yes to this question, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 54 percent majority said they would not get paid, and the remaining 10 percent were not sure. Workers with the highest household incomes were most likely to say they would continue to get paid. Most of those with the lowest incomes said they would not get paid and as a consequence they would have difficulty keeping up with their basic expenses...

Percent of the employed who said they would not get paid and it would be difficult to keep up with basic expenses if they missed at least two weeks of work because of the coronavirus, by family income:

11% of those with incomes of $100,000 or more
23% of those with incomes of $75,000 to $99,999
27% of those with incomes of $50,000 to $74,999
45% of those with incomes of $30,000 to $49,999
52% of those with incomes below $30,000

Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Public Sees Multiple Threats from the Coronavirus—and Concerns are Growing

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Who's Afraid of a Pandemic?

Way back in 2018, before The Age of Social Distancing, the threat of a pandemic barely registered in the public's mind. Pandemic ranked a lowly 32 on the list of events most frightening to Americans, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Only 39 percent of the public was afraid or very afraid of a major epidemic. Higher on the list of fears were such events as widespread civil unrest (43 percent), economic/financial collapse (49 percent), high medical bills (53 percent), and not having enough money for the future (57 percent).

If asked about our fears today, pandemic is likely to have moved to the top of the list. That's what a recent Gallup survey shows. When Gallup asked respondents how concerned they were about the coronavirus on February 3-16, only 36 percent said they were somewhat/very concerned. When Gallup asked again a month later, from March 2 through March 13, a much larger 60 percent were somewhat/very concerned. The March survey ended five days ago. At that time, there were around 2,500 coronavirus cases in the U.S. Today there are 6,500. San Francisco Bay area residents have been ordered to shelter in place and New York City is considering doing the same. When Gallup asks about coronavirus again in April, it's not much of a stretch to assume well more than 60 percent will be concerned.

Fear of the coronavirus pandemic is sure to be fueling other fears as well. It's likely many more Americans today than in 2018 are afraid of economic collapse, not having enough money, high medical bills, and civil unrest.

Source: Gallup, U.S. Coronavirus Concerns Surge, Government Trust Slides; and Chapman University, America's Top Fears 2018

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Women Who Earn $100,000 or More

Among the 48 million women who work full-time, year-round, 1.4 million had median earnings of $100,000 or more, according to the Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey. These high earners account for just 3 percent of all women who work full-time. Among men who work full-time, 10 percent have median earnings of $100,000 or more.

Women's median earnings surpass $100,000 in 19 occupations. Men's median earnings top $100,000 in 44 occupations.

Among the 19 occupations in which women earn a median of $100,000 or more, 12 are in the health care field. Number one is emergency medicine physician. Here are all 19...

Occupations in which women who work full-time earn a median of $100,000 or more
$250,000 or more: Emergency medicine physician
$237,500: Surgeon
$226,554: Radiologist
$180,500: Other physician
$160,778: Nurse anesthetist
$149,310: Dentist
$131,819: Architectural/engineering manager
$120,857: Pharmacist
$120,703: Actuary
$120,420: Podiatrist
$112,862: Chief executive
$110,619: Lawyer
$103,570: Physician assistant
$101,863: Nurse practitioner
$101,454: Mathematician
$101,141: Nurse midwife
$100,852: Optometrist
$100,131: Computer and information systems manager
$100,089: Computer hardware engineer

Source: Census Bureau, Full-Time, Year-Round Workers and Median Earnings

Monday, March 16, 2020

God's Hand in the Election?

Was Trump chosen by God to be the president? Yes, it's a strange question, but former energy secretary Rick Perry and religious leader Franklin Graham, among others, have said Trump is president because he was chosen by God. Pew Research Center decided to find out how many Americans agreed.

Here's the question asked by Pew: "What comes closest to your views about God's role in recent presidential elections?" This is what a nationally representative sample of the public said about the 2016 election...

  5%: God chose Trump to become president because God approves of Trump's policies
27%: Trump's election is part of God's plan but God doesn't necessarily approve of his policies
49%: God doesn't get involved in U.S. presidential elections
16%: Don't believe in God

Overall, about one-third (32 percent) see the election of Trump as part of God's plan, whether or not God approves of Trump's policies. Interestingly, when asked about the 2008 and 2012 elections, the public responds almost identically. Thirty-two percent say Obama's election was God's plan, with 3 percent saying it was because God approved of Obama's policies and 29 percent saying it was God's plan regardless of Obama's policies.

Source: Pew Research Center, About a Third in U.S. See God's Hand in Presidential Elections, but Fewer Say God Picks Winners Based on Policies

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Homeownership by Age in 2019

The homeownership rate reached an all-time high in 2004, climbing to 69.0 percent. It is still well below that level 15 years later. The homeownership rate was just 64.6 percent in 2019—4.4 percentage points lower than the all-time high, according to the Census Bureau.

After hitting 69.0 percent in 2004, the homeownership rate fell for the next 12 years. It finally bottomed out in 2016 at 63.4 percent. Since then, there has been a recovery of sorts. For the past three years, homeownership has been inching up. The 2019 rate of 64.6 percent is just 1.2 percentage points higher than the low of 2016, a fragile recovery that could be derailed by another economic downturn.

Homeownership rate by age of householder in 2019 (and percentage-point change since 2016)
Under age 25:  23.2 (+1.3)
Aged 25 to 29: 32.9 (+2.0)
Aged 30 to 34: 48.0 (+2.8)
Aged 35 to 39: 57.2 (+1.9)
Aged 40 to 44: 63.2 (+1.2)
Aged 45 to 49: 68.2 (+1.5)
Aged 50 to 54: 71.9 (+0.3)
Aged 55 to 59: 73.9 (-0.1)
Aged 60 to 64: 76.6 (+0.5)
Aged 65-plus:  78.6 (-0.2)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, 2019 Annual Statistics

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Black Homeownership Lower in 2019 than in 1999

The 2019 homeownership rate in the United States was 2.2 percentage points below the rate in 1999, according to the Census Bureau. The Black homeownership rate was 4.2 percentage points lower than it was two decades ago. Asians and Hispanics had higher rates in 2019 than in 1999, and the non-Hispanic White rate was about the same.

Homeownership Rate by Race and Hispanic Origin, 1999 to 2019
  total  Asian Black Hispanic NH White
2019  64.6%  57.7%  42.1%  47.5%  73.3%
2010  66.9  58.9  45.4  47.5  74.4
2004  69.0  59.8  49.1  48.1  76.0
1999  66.8  53.1  46.3  45.5  73.2
1999 to 2019   -2.2   4.6   -4.2    2.0    0.1

The U.S. homeownership rate peaked in 2004 at 69.0 percent. Between 2004 and 2019, the Black rate fell 7.0 percentage points, much greater than the decline in the homeownership rate of Asians (-2.1), Hispanics (-0.6), or non-Hispanic Whites (-2.7).

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, 2019 Annual Statistics

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

8.6 Trips Per Day Out of the Average Household

Stir crazy may be the best way to describe the American public over the next few weeks. We are accustomed to being out and about. Staying at home will be a new experience for the growing number who are practicing social distancing or in self-quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19.

For the average household, a household member walks out the door 8.6 times per day. That's 3.37 trips a day for each household member. Here's how those person trips break down...

Person trips per day (and average miles traveled per person) by trip purpose
Total per person: 3.37 trips (39 miles)
Going to work: 0.59 trips (7 miles)
Shopping/errands: 1.3 trips (10 miles)
School/church: 0.37 trips (3 miles)
Social/recreation: 0.93 trips (11 miles)

The number of person trips per day does not vary much by age, ranging from a low of 2.8 trips for children under age 16 to a high of 3.7 for people aged 35 to 65. The number of miles traveled per day ranges from a low of 25 for children to a high of 45 for people aged 21 to 65.

Source: Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey, Summary of Travel Trends: 2017 National Household Travel Survey

Monday, March 09, 2020

Buyer Beware: Floodplain Housing Is Overvalued

Did you pay too much for your house? If it's located in a flood plain, chances are you did, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study. "Floodplain homes in the US are currently overvalued by a total of $34B, raising concerns about the stability of real estate markets as climate risks become more salient and severe."

Researchers Miyuki Hino and Marshall Burke matched FEMA's floodplain maps of 1,289 counties with CoreLogic's property sales data from 1996 through 2017. The results "show little evidence that information about flood risk is fully priced in property markets," they report. But in states with strict real estate disclosure laws, there is a floodplain discount because buyers are better informed. In states with the strictest disclosure laws—those requiring sellers to notify buyers if a property is in a floodplain, if it has been damaged in a flood, and the cost of flood insurance—the flood zone discount is -4.1 percent. Most states do not have strict floodplain disclosure laws, however, so buyer beware.

"Our findings suggest that many of the 3.8 million floodplain homes in the US are over-valued and that development in the floodplain likely exceeds what would be observed if asset prices fully reflected information about flood risk," the researchers conclude. "The additional risk created by these investments is likely growing due to climate change and the long-lived nature of housing and infrastructure."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Does Information about Climate Risk Affect Property Values? Working Paper 26807 ($5).