Friday, December 06, 2019

Median Household Income Stable in October 2019

Median household income did not change significantly between September and October 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $66,465 October median was almost identical to the September 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

"Real median household income has continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 3.3 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 18.6 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $56,036.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for October 2019 was 107.2 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the October 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 7.2 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2019

Thursday, December 05, 2019

This Year, Just Say No to Dessert

Why now, Gallup? Just as the holiday season commences, Gallup again releases the results of a survey that reminds us to watch our weight—as it does every year at this time. The percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who weigh 200 or more pounds is climbing, Gallup notes in this year's release, rising from 24 percent in the 2001–09 time period to 28 percent in 2010–19. Evidently, no one is paying attention to Gallup's annual reminder to watch our weight. Among men, 42 percent weigh at least 200 pounds, up from 38 percent a decade ago. Among women, the share rose from 12 to 14 percent.

Weight distribution of American men in 2010–19
1%: 124 pounds or less
7%: 125 to 149 pounds
23%: 150 to 174 pounds
25%: 175 to 199 pounds
42%: 200 pounds or more

Weight distribution of American women in 2010–19
14%: 124 pounds or less
28%: 125 to 149 pounds
24%: 150 to 174 pounds
13%: 175 to 199 pounds
14%: 200 pounds or more

Despite the fact that we are getting fatter, Americans are less likely to think they are overweight in the 2010–19 time period than in the 2001–09 decade. The percentage who think they are somewhat or very overweight fell from 41 to 38 percent during those years. The percentage who say their weight is about right increased from 53 to 56 percent. This is fantasy. Here are the facts, according to actual measurements of height and weight taken by the National Center for Health Statistics: 71 percent of adults are overweight and just 28 percent are "about right," or what NCHS calls normal weight.

As we normalize our expanding girth, it's not surprising that our ideal weight is also rising. Among women, ideal weight climbed from 137 to 140 pounds between 2001–09 and 2010–19, Gallup reports. Among men, the ideal rose from 158 to 160 pounds. Perhaps consequently, fewer say they want to lose weight. Among women, 60 percent said they wanted to lose weight in 2010–19, down from 65 percent in 2001–09. Among men, the percentage who want to lose weight fell from 59 to 54 percent.

Source: Gallup, More Americans Say They Weigh 200 Lbs. or More This Decade

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Number of Births in 2018 Lowest Since 1986

The final numbers are in. There were only 3,791,712 births in 2018, according to the National Center for Health Statistics report, Births Final Data for 2018. While this is a tad more than the number reported provisionally back in May (3,788,235), the additional 3,477 births included in the final number did not reverse the trend. The number of births in 2018 was the smallest since 1986. It was 63,788 less than the number of births in 2017, and it was more than 500,000 below the all-time high of 4.3 million in 2007. The 2018 fertility rate—the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44—dropped to a record low of 59.1.

Have we hit bottom? Hard to tell. According to the NCHS vital statistics rapid release program, the fertility rate was significantly higher (58.6) in the second quarter of 2019 than it was in the second quarter of 2018 (58.3). While not much of an increase, it could indicate an end to the decline. But the first quarter number suggested the opposite. The fertility rate in the first quarter of 2019 was significantly lower (55.9) than in the first-quarter of 2018 (57.2). Stay tuned.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data, Births: Final Data for 2018

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

40% of Hispanic Households Include Children

Households headed by Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics are more likely to include children under age 18 than are households headed by non-Hispanic Whites, according to the Census Bureau's 2019 Current Population Survey. Behind the difference is the fact that non-Hispanic Whites, on average, are considerably older than Asians, Blacks, or Hispanics and less likely to be in their childrearing years.

Households with children under age 18 by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2019
Asian: 35%
Black: 26%
Hispanic: 40%
Non-Hispanic White: 23%

Among the nation's 34 million households with children under age 18, non-Hispanic Whites head the 57 percent majority. Hispanics head 21 percent of households with children, Blacks (alone) head 13 percent, and Asians (alone) 7 percent.

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2019

Monday, December 02, 2019

Renter Mobility Rate Slips below 20%

The nation's mobility rate hit an all-time low of 9.8 percent in 2018–19, primarily because fewer renters are moving. The mobility rate of renters fell to 19.7 percent, a record low and the first time the figure has been below 20 percent. The mobility rate of renters exceeded 30 percent before 2006. Because renters account for two-thirds of movers, the falling mobility rate of renters is the biggest factor behind the nation's record low overall mobility rate. Here is the trend in mobility by housing tenure...

Percentage of renters who moved
2018–19: 19.7%
2010–11: 26.1%
2000–01: 30.5%
1990–01: 33.6%

Percentage of homeowners who moved
2018–19: 4.9%
2010–11: 4.7%
2000–01: 7.4%
1990–01: 8.8%

Between 2018–19, only 20.9 million renters moved. This is the smallest number since the Census Bureau began to collect data on mobility rates by housing tenure in the 1980s. Among homeowners, 10.4 million moved in 2018–19, down from about 15 million a year prior to the Great Recession. 

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Fun Facts about Food

The folks who work for the USDA's Economic Research Service must have a lot of fun analyzing how food fits into the daily routine of the average American. It boggles the mind how much information ERS researchers Tobenna D. Anekwe and Eliana Zeballos have extracted from the American Time Use survey to reveal our relationship with food—not just eating and drinking, but also traveling to the store, shopping, food preparation and cleanup. These details are presented in their study, Food-Related Time Use: Changes and Demographic Differences.

Let's start with why it matters.  Food-related activities, say the researchers, rank fourth among the most common activities in which Americans participate on an average day—behind only sleep, paid work, and watching television. Here are a few of the fun facts about food the researchers detail in their study, which also explores demographic differences in food-related activities and trends over the past decade...

  • 95%: Percentage who participate in primary eating and drinking on an average day (meaning their main activity at the time).
  • 64.0 minutes: Average minutes per day the average person spends eating and drinking as a primary activity. 
  • 53%: Percentage who participate in secondary eating and drinking on an average day (meaning they are primarily doing something else—such as watching television or working).
  • 16.8 minutes: Average minutes per day the average person spends eating and drinking as a secondary activity .
  • 6 hours 23.4 minutes: Time Americans spend between primary eating and drinking occasions.
  • 1.99: Number of primary eating and drinking occasions Americans engage in on an average day.
  • 53%: Percentage who participate in food preparation on an average day.
  • 51.1 minutes: Time spent preparing food by those who engage in food preparation.
  • 23%: Percentage who participate in food cleanup on an average day.
  • 34.1 minutes: Time spent in cleanup by those who engage in food cleanup.
  • 14%: Percentage who shop for groceries on an average day.
  • 24.4 minutes: Time those who shop for groceries spend getting to the store. 
  • 46.0 minutes: Time those who shop for groceries spend in the store. 
  • 6:00 to 6:59 pm: Time of day when the most people (32%) are engaged in primary eating and drinking on an average day. Second is 12:00 to 12:59 pm, at 30%. Third is 7:00 to 7:59 am, at 15%.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food-Related Time Use: Changes and Demographic Differences

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Only 26% of Households Include Children Under Age 18

Only 26 percent of American households include children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau's 2019 Current Population Survey—a new record low. This is 10 percentage points below the 36 percent of 2000 and about half what it was in 1960, when 49 percent of households included children—a modern-day high in the midst of the baby boom.

Percent of households with children under age 18 by age of householder, 2019
Under age 25: 18%
Aged 25 to 29: 33%
Aged 30 to 34: 51%
Aged 35 to 39: 65%
Aged 40 to 44: 62%
Aged 45 to 49: 49%
Aged 50 to 54: 27%
Aged 55 to 64: 7%
Aged 65-plus: 1%

The average age of householders with children under age 18 is just 40, well below the average age of 52 for all householders. Seventy percent of households with children are headed by married couples, 23 percent by female householders, and 7 percent by male householders.

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Please and Thank You: How We Talk to Smart Speakers

One in four Americans (25 percent) has a smart speaker—such as an Amazon Alexa or a Google Home—in their house, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Younger adults are more likely than those aged 50 or older to have a smart speaker...

Smart speaker ownership by age
Aged 18 to 29: 32%
Aged 30 to 49: 28%
Aged 50 to 64: 19%
Aged 65-plus: 19%

Those who own a smart speaker worry that it is collecting data about them, with 54 percent saying they are "somewhat" or "very" concerned. The fear of being overheard—and judged—might explain this survey finding: 54 percent of smart speaker owners occasionally or frequently say "please" when speaking to their device.

Source: Pew Research Center, 5 Things to Know about Americans and Their Smart Speakers

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Geographic Mobility Rate Falls Below 10%

This is a broken record, literally. Each year brings a new low in the mobility rate, breaking the record set in the previous year.  The percentage of the population aged 1 or older who moved from one house to another in the past 12 months fell to a new low of 9.8 percent between March 2018 and March 2019, according to the Census Bureau. Today's mobility rate is less than half the rate of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mobility rate for selected years
2018–19:   9.8%
2017–18: 10.1%
2010–11: 11.6%
2000–01: 14.2%
1990–91: 17.0%
1980–81: 17.2%
1970–71: 18.7%
1960–61: 20.6%
1950–51: 21.2%

The number of people who moved fell to 31 million in 2018–19. This is 5.7 million fewer movers than a decade ago in 2008–09 and 11.3 million fewer movers than two decades ago in 1998–99. The number of movers has not been this low since 1953–54, when the U.S. population was half the size it is today.

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Women's Median Age at First Marriage Rises to 28.0

The median age at which women marry for the first time reached a new high of 28.0 in 2019, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The median age at which men marry held steady at its all-time high of 29.8. Here is the trend since 2000...

Women: median age at first marriage
2019: 28.0
2018: 27.8
2015: 27.1
2010: 26.1
2005: 25.3
2000: 25.1

Men: median age at first marriage
2019: 29.8
2018: 29.8
2015: 29.2
2010: 28.2
2005: 27.1
2000: 26.8

The lowest median age at first marriage was recorded in 1956, when women married for the first time at 20.1 and men at 22.5.

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Marital Status Tables

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Customers of Ride-Hailing Services

Ten percent of the U.S. population aged 18 or older used a ride-hailing service at least once in the past month, according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). Researchers Rick Grahn, Stan Caldwell, and Chris Hendrickson of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University analyzed the 2017 data in an effort to provide policy recommendations on emerging technologies in transportation.

Data from 2017 may seem a bit dated when analyzing an industry that has been operating in earnest for only eight years. But if that's all we've got—and it is—then it's important to take a look. But first, an explanation of why 2017 data are all we've got. The Federal Highway Administration only occasionally fields the NHTS, asking Americans to detail how they get to where they're going every time they step out the door. The last NHTS was fielded in 2009—pre Uber. The 2017 statistics on the demographics and travel patterns of ride-hailing users are valuable simply because they are rare.  

So let's take a look at the findings. As you might expect, young adults are the primary users of ride-hailing services. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, one in four used a ride-hailing service in the past month—more than any other age group. 

Percent using ride-hailing service in past month
Aged 18 to 24: 17.4%
Aged 25 to 34: 24.6%
Aged 35 to 44: 15.5%
Aged 45 to 54: 10.1%
Aged 55 to 64: 6.2%
Aged 65 to 74: 3.4%
Aged 75-plus: 1.8%

Because about 60 percent of ride-hailing customers use the service three or fewer times per month, the researchers suggest that ride-hailing is a special-occasion mode of transportation and not used for the regular commute to work. Although most use the service only a few times a month, 41 percent of ride-hailing customers use it at least once a week. These devotees are in their mid-thirties. They are relatively affluent, with a median household income between $100,000 and $125,000. They are likely to have a bachelor's degree. They are also more likely than the average American to use public transit. Frequent ride-hailing customers use public transit 7 to 10 times a month compared with just 2 trips a month for the average person. 

What are the policy implications of these findings? It's complex, say the researchers, because it's not yet clear how ride-hailing affects the transportation system. Are ride-hailing users replacing public transit trips with ride-hailing? Or are other modes of transportation being replaced by ride-hailing? "The inability to understand the role ride-hailing services play in urban mobility creates challenges in the transportation decision making process," they conclude. Let's hope the NHTS is fielded more frequently in the future so these questions can be answered.

Source: Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon, Recommended Policies for the 21st Century Trends in U.S. Mobility

Monday, November 18, 2019

47% Faced a Financial Challenge in Past Year

Nearly half of American households (47 percent) headed by people aged 30 or older experienced an unexpected financial challenge in the past year, according to an AARP survey. Among households headed by Millennials and Gen Xers, the majority faced at least one such challenge. AARP defines an unexpected financial challenge as one that "caused a significant strain in your budget or your ability to pay your bills."

Percent experiencing at least one unexpected financial challenge in the past year
Millennials: 58%
Gen Xers: 54%
Boomers: 38%

Medical expenses were the number-one cause of financial challenges, cited by 33 percent. The median cost of a financial challenge was between $3,000 and $3,999. About half (51 percent) of those who experienced an unexpected financial challenge managed to get their finances back under control in less than 6 months. That's the good news. The bad news is that the 56 percent majority of those who faced a financial challenge experienced more than one.

Source: AARP,  Coping with an Unexpected Financial Challenge

Thursday, November 14, 2019

More than 10% of Couples Work for Same Employer

Here's a question you might have asked yourself but never thought there would be an answer. How many dual-earner couples work for the same employer? The answer is 11 to 13 percent, according to a Monthly Labor Review study by Census Bureau economist Henry R. Hyatt.

Wait, what? How can so many couples share an employer? Intraoffice romance is frowned upon these days, often leading to job termination. Not to worry. Hyatt's data are from the 2000 census, so the office romances he discovered occurred in a different era. And there's another reason not to worry (keep reading).

For his study, Hyatt linked 2000 census microdata with administrative records to estimate the percentage of same-sex couples (both married and cohabiting) who share an occupation, industry, work location, and employer. Sharing these characteristics is surprisingly common, he found. A sizable proportion of couples share a narrow industry of employment (12 to 15 percent), and many also work within the same census block. But these shared characteristics, Hyatt finds, are driven  primarily by coworking. "Of those who worked in the same narrow census industry, about 63 percent worked in the same workplace, as did 70 percent of those who worked in the same census block."

Perhaps Hyatt's most interesting finding is this: most coworking couples were couples before they were coworkers. "The vast majority of coworking couples chose the same employer after meeting rather than meeting on the job," says Hyatt. Is it as easy today as it was in 2000 for couples to find jobs with the same employer? Perhaps that question will be answered by a future analysis of 2020 census results.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Coworking Couples and the Similar Jobs of Dual-Earner Households

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Childhood Trauma Worsens Health

The 61 percent majority of American adults report having endured at least one adverse childhood experience, according to the CDC. This finding is based on a unique set of questions about adverse childhood experiences added to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys in 25 states in 2015–2017. Eight types of adverse experiences were tallied by the survey—three types of abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual), and five problems with household members (substance abuse, incarceration, mental illness, parental divorce, or intimate partner violence).

Percent of adults reporting at least one adverse childhood experience, by age
Total, 18-plus: 61.0%
Aged 18 to 24: 70.5%
Aged 25 to 34: 69.5%
Aged 35 to 44: 65.0%
Aged 45 to 54: 62.5%
Aged 55 to 64: 58.9%
Aged 65-plus: 47.9%

Younger people are much more likely than older adults to report at least one adverse childhood experience. In part, this is because the experience of parental divorce is much greater for younger than older adults. Another reason for the difference by age is the greater willingness of younger adults to call out abuse and admit to family problems.

Thirty-nine percent of adults reported no adverse childhood experiences, 23 percent reported one, 22 percent reported two or three, and 16 percent reported four or more. Those who report four or more adverse childhood experiences also report greater health and socioeconomic problems than those who faced less adversity, the CDC found.  "Adverse childhood experiences are associated with leading causes of morbidity and mortality and with poor socioeconomic outcomes in adulthood," concludes the report.

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Estimates Proportion of Adult Health Problems Attributable to Adverse Childhood Experiences and Implications for Prevention—25 States, 2015–2017