Thursday, December 30, 2010

No Health Insurance for Most of the Unemployed

Percentage of people who do not have health insurance, by employment status...

Employed: 19.0%
Unemployed: 52.3%

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Years of Healthy Life

Expected years of life, at birth: 77.7
Expected years of healthy life, at birth: 66.7

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Many Do Not Have Access to Public Transportation

Percentage of households with public transportation available in their neighborhood, by homeownership status...

homeowners: 47%
renters: 70%

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

South Most Likely to be Wireless-Only

Landline-only samples may be more of a problem when polling in the South, which is the region with the largest percentage of adults living in wireless-only households. Percentage of adults living in wireless-only households by region, January-June, 2010...

Northeast: 15.8%
Midwest: 26.6%
South: 29.3%
West: 23.5%

Wireless-Only Tops 50 Percent in 25-to-29 Age Group

Percentage of adults living in wireless-only households by age, January-June, 2010...

18-24: 39.9%
25-29: 51.3%
30-34: 40.4%
35-44: 27.0%
45-64: 16.9%
65+: 5.4%

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Could Births Dip Below 4 Million?

In an end of the year data dump, the National Center for Health Statistics has released a flurry of reports on the nation's births: final birth statistics for 2008, preliminary birth statistics for 2009, and an unusual count of births through June 2010.

For the 12 months ending in June 2010, births fell to an annual 4,055,000. This is down from the all-time annual high of 4,316,233 in 2007. Yes, births could fall below 4 million in 2010.

Is Nevada Growing?

The Nevada state demographer, Jeff Hardcastle, has estimated that Nevada lost 100,000 people in the past two years, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Yet the 2010 census results show Nevada's population growing 35 percent over the decade (to 2,700,551) and gaining 84,779 people in the last two years (a calculation made by comparing the 2010 census count with the Census Bureau’s estimate of Nevada’s population in 2008).

Who’s right? My guess is the state demographer. Nevada has been devastated by the Great Recession. It has the highest unemployment rate and the highest foreclosure rate in the country. Behind Nevada’s “growth” over the past few years is the Census Bureau’s probable underestimate of Nevada’s population in the intercensal years from 2001 through 2009. During those years, the state demographer’s estimates of Nevada’s population have consistently exceeded the Census Bureau’s. In 2008, the excess was 139,000. Given the hard times the state has experienced, the Census Bureau is likely to revise its estimate of Nevada’s intercensal population upward, revealing the recent loss.

Census Count Matches Bureau Estimates

The official count of the American population--308,745,538 on April 1, 2010--closely matches the Census Bureau's population estimates. The population clock on the Census Bureau's web site estimated 308,977,944 on that date. The bureau's demographic analysis middle range estimate for April 1 was 308,475,000.

No surprises.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arizona Sees Biggest Decline in Births

The number of births fell 2.7 percent nationally between 2008 and 2009, but in Arizona the number fell by a much larger 7.1 percent. Other states ranking among the top ten in the percentage decline in births: Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Maryland, Rhode Island, California, Florida, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births Preliminary Data for 2009

Fewer Marriages in 2009

The number of marriages in the United States fell 3.8 percent between 2008 and 2009--to 2.7 million. Double digit declines occurred in California, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Oregon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Biggest Decline in Births Since 1973

The number of babies born in the United States fell by 2.7 percent between 2008 and 2009, the biggest drop since 1973. The 4,131,000 babies born in 2009 were 117,000 fewer than in 2008. Could this be the beginning of another Baby Bust generation?

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Preliminary Data for 2009

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life Expectancy Declines

Life expectancy fell slightly in 2008, down by 0.1 years to 77.8 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This measure of the nation's health has declined only three other times in the past thirty years: 2005, 1993, and 1980.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's the Internet Stupid!

Twenty years ago, when I was the editor of American Demographics magazine, we published an article entitled "The Fifth Medium," the purpose of which was to describe and name the Big Thing that was about to happen. Everyone who followed the trends could feel something coming, but no one knew quite what it would be.

"A new medium is emerging that may be more powerful than newspapers, magazines, and television put together," the American Demographics article announced. For want of a better word, we called it the "fifth medium" (the others were radio, television, newspapers, and magazines). We struggled to identify the fifth medium: "People call this new medium electronic publishing, on-line information, telecomputing, multimedia, or videotex. They are all evolutionary names for a beast that hasn't yet shown its full form."

Doesn't it make you want to scream, "It's the Internet, stupid!"

The identity of the beast is painfully obvious now, but it wasn't so back then. For proof, try a search of the New York Times archives by year for the number of articles that contain the word "Internet." Here's what you get:

  • 1988: 3
  • 1989: 7
  • 1990: 17
  • 1991: 9
  • 1992: 12
  • 1993: 89
  • 1994: 375
  • 1995: 1,241
  • 1996: 2,218
  • 1997: 2,779
  • 1998: 4,057
  • 1999: 7,737
  • 2000: 10,134

On November 5, 1988, the word "Internet" appeared for the first time in the New York Times. The article was about Robert T. Morris, Jr., a Cornell University graduate student who unleashed a computer worm on what the Times calls "an international group of communication networks, the Internet." The other two articles of 1988 in which the word Internet appeared were also about the Morris worm, one of them noting that "many teenagers are treating Mr. Morris as a folk hero and are busy designing their own virus programs." (Mr. Morris is now Dr. Morris and a professor at MIT.)

For years, even as late as 1996, the Times felt the need to add explanatory descriptors whenever using the term Internet. In a 1990 article: "An international computer network known as Internet..." In a 1992 article: "a worldwide network called the Internet." In 1996: "the linkage of computers known as the Internet." By 1996, the word 'Internet' had become common public currency, says After that year the New York Times no longer felt the need to explain the Internet to its readers.

Although the public was familiar with the term Internet by the mid-1990s, most were not Internet users until more recently. In the early months of 2000, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, only 46 percent of Americans were online. The figure topped 50 percent later that year. Today, 79 percent are online.

With that kind of penetration, you might think the Internet revolution is behind us, but you would be wrong. The Internet revolution has been slow to unfold and is only now--right now, this year--fully on top of us. What took so long? The demographics. The effect of technological change on human history unfolds at the pace of generational replacement (henceforth known as the Russell Rule). The Internet has been part of the fabric of our daily lives for only one generation, which is why the full force of the Internet is only now being unleashed. Among today's young adults (18 to 29), 95 percent are online, according to Pew. The figure is 87 percent among 30-to-49-year-olds, 78 percent among 50-to-64-year-olds, and just 42 percent among people aged 65 or older. The older generations have resisted the Internet, but they are being replaced by younger generations who live in "the cloud." A growing percentage of the world's population has never known a world without the Internet.

Future generations will see clearly how the Internet revolution led to the dislocations that are causing our current economic woes. In contrast, most of the generations alive today--including all historians, pundits, politicians, and most business leaders--are not in a position to comprehend this cause and effect. Here is their position: They are standing barefoot on a shore, gazing out at the ocean, and seeing for the first time strange white clouds on the horizon. What could be coming their way? It's the Internet, stupid!

Underemployed at Record High Too

Not only are the long-term unemployed at a record high, but so are the underemployed. The most recent issue of the Monthly Labor Review has an analysis of the nation's underemployed. Underemployment is defined as people employed part-time for economic reasons, meaning they cannot find a full-time job or their work hours have been cut because of slack demand. In the fourth quarter of 2009, both the number of underemployed (8.9 million) and the incidence of underemployed (6.3 percent of all employed persons) was greater than in any previous quarter for the past 61 years.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How the Great Recession Has Hurt Americans

For just $5 you can download the best study to date of the effects of the Great Recession on the average American. This National Bureau of Economic Research study (Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households, by Michael D. Hurd and Susann Rohwedder) is based on the smart, new American Life Panel, an Internet survey run by RAND. With findings as recent as spring 2010, the analysis shows that 39 percent of households have been severely hurt by the recession--meaning they have experienced unemployment, have negative equity in their home, are arrears in their house payments, or have had a foreclosure. Monthly household spending is also analyzed, revealing deep cuts in restaurant meals and health care.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 16407

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Should Poor People Own Cell Phones?

Forty-four million Americans live in poverty, according to the latest Census Bureau statistics, a substantial 14 percent of the population. Who are the poor? They are people whose incomes fall below the level needed to buy what was deemed to be a nutritionally adequate diet in 1955 multiplied by three and adjusted for inflation. Sounds crazy, no?

Crazy, but all too true. Mollie Orshansky, an employee of the Social Security Administration, was charged in the early 1960s with creating a poverty measure. She and her colleagues never meant for the methodology they devised to become permanently enshrined in American economic policy. But politics being what it is, that's what happened. Orshansky believed her calculations would be updated every few years to account for rising living standards and changing spending patterns. No update has ever occurred. The poverty measure she created, based on a 1955 food consumption survey, is simply adjusted for inflation each year. Today, a family of four, is deemed to be poor if their income falls below $21,954.

Officially, poverty in the United States is defined by this income measure alone. The poor may or may not receive benefits such as food stamps, subsidized housing, or Medicaid. In fact, most of the poor do not receive these government benefits. The poor may or may not own a house, a car, a television, a microwave, or even a cell phone. In fact, 97 percent of the poor have a television, 79 percent have air conditioning, and most own a cell phone. As Adam Smith once cautioned, poverty is relative. Begrudging the poor the necessities of the 21st century makes no more sense than begrudging them 20th century basics like running water and indoor plumbing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Census Counts to be Released Next Week

National and state populations counts for April 1, 2010, as well as congressional apportionment totals for each state, will be released on Tuesday, December 21, at 11:00 am.

Most Fail to Graduate from For-Profit Schools

Another damning report about for-profit universities. This one, from the National Center for Education Statistics, is a longitudinal study measuring how many students earned a degree within six years of starting a degree program at a post-secondary institution. The study examines the earned degrees in 2009 of students who entered school in 2004. Among students in 2004 who entered a degree program at a four-year institution, 51.5 percent of those who attended a public university had a bachelor's degree from that institution six years later. Among those who attended a private, non-profit university, the completion rate was an even higher 57.0 percent. Among those who entered a for-profit school, the figure was only 13.3 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After Six Years

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lower Life Expectancy for the Less Educated

Years of life remaining at age 65, by education...

Not a high school graduate: 15.1 years
High school graduate: 17.8 years
More than high school: 20.8 years

Not a high school graduate: 18.3 years
High school graduate: 21.4 years
More than high school: 24.3 years

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Education Reporting and Classification on Death Certificates in the United States

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Biggest Increase in Unemployment Rate: Men Aged 45 to 54

Who has been affected the most by rising unemployment rates? It's not the usual suspects--young adults, blacks, or the poorly educated. Those groups have been coping with relatively high unemployment rates for years, so the increase in unemployment during the past few years has not been as great for them as it has for others who have long enjoyed low rates.

Between 2006 (when the unemployment rate reached its low for the decade) and November 2010, the biggest percent increase in the unemployment rate has been experienced by men aged 45 to 54. Their unemployment rate nearly tripled during the time period, rising from 3.1 to 9.1 percent, a 194 percent increase. The overall unemployment rate climbed by a smaller 113 percent during those years, from 4.6 to 9.8 percent.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bet You Didn't Know

Percent of Americans aged 15 or older
who watch television on an average day: 82%

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Prescriptions

Percent of people aged 65 or older who have taken three or more prescription drugs in the past month...

1988: 35%
2008: 65%

Source: Health United States 2009, Web Update

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Doctor Will See You...Later

Percentage of adults who did not go to a doctor in 2009:

Under age 65, with private health insurance, 16%
Under age 65, with no health insurance, 47%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bye Bye White Pages

No more white pages. In the past few months, state regulators in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania have ended the requirement that telecommunications companies publish residential phone books. Many older Americans will be dismayed. A doctoral student who is writing her dissertation on phone books described it, according to the Associated Press, as “sort of heartbreaking.”

"Sort of" is an understatement. Just ask the baby-boom generation. Boomers are caught between two worlds in a new kind of generational sandwich. The bottom slice is their children, who access the world through the Internet. The top slice is their parents, who access the world through print—newspapers, magazines, letters, and phone books. It is heartbreaking to see the bewilderment of the older generation as familiar icons disappear, one after the other.

Right now—literally right now—it is all coming together (or falling apart, depending on your point of view). The transition from the old world of print to the new world of the Internet is almost complete. In 2010, 79 percent of American households used the Internet, up from fewer than half of households in 2000, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The massive brick and mortar businesses built on the profits generated from putting ink on paper are collapsing.

Boomers are stuck in the middle. Among people aged 65 or older, only 42 percent are online. The older generation is increasingly dependent on boomers—their children—to help them navigate a strange new world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Long-Term Unemployed at Record High

Almost 15 million Americans are unemployed, and 31 percent have been out of work for at least one year. Never before have so many people been out of work for so long. Among the unemployed aged 55 or older, an even larger 41 percent have been out of work for a year or longer.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Young Men: Bad Marriage Risks?

As men's earnings have fallen over the decades, women are thinking twice about getting married. The median age at first marriage reached a new record high in 2010 for both women (26.1 years) and men (28.2 years). Simply put, in the eyes of young women, today's young men are poor marriage risks. Why commit yourself to one man with iffy financial prospects?

For many young men, the future looks dreary. One reason for the dismal outlook is that young men are far less educated than young women. Only 29 percent of men aged 25 to 34 have a bachelor's degree compared with 37 percent of women in the age group.

Because of their lower educational attainment, young men are bringing less and less to the table. The median income of men aged 25 to 34 fell 15 percent between 2000 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Their female counterparts experienced a smaller 4 percent income loss during those years. Among full-time workers, women in the age group earn almost as much as men ($35,608 versus $41,240). And in the 25-to-34 age group, women are less likely to be unemployed—9.2 percent of women versus 10.4 percent of men in October 2010.

Sociologists have long known about women's aversion to marriage in low-income communities. When men are in trouble, it makes more sense for women to play the field. This aversion to marriage may be emerging in the broader society as the middle class struggles to stay afloat.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Households in the West Decline

Between 2009 and 2010, the number of households in the West fell by 108,000. Most of the decline occurred in the Mountain states (down 77,000). This geographical division includes Nevada and Arizona, two states that rank among those hardest hit by the collapse of the housing bubble.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ten U-Turns in Consumer Spending

Household spending peaked in 2006 at $51,688. In 2008, the average household spent $50,486, or $1,200 less after adjusting for inflation. On many categories of products and services, the average household reversed the direction of its spending in the 2006-08 time period compared with the 2000-06 time period. Here are the 10 most telling U-turns in consumer spending:

1. RESTAURANTS: +8 percent to -6 percent Average household spending on restaurants U-turned from an 8 percent gain in the 2000-06 time period to a 6 percent loss between 2006 and 2008, after adjusting for inflation. Because of the Great Recession, Americans are spending more on groceries. Even basic ingredients such as eggs, flour and milk are staging a comeback after years of decline. Don't write restaurants off, however. They still attract the 72 percent majority of households into the marketplace on a weekly basis.

2. MORTGAGE INTEREST: +21 percent to -5 percent Every age group has been hammered by the housing bubble. But no age group has been hit as hard as 35-to-44-year-olds. Because they were in the home buying lifestage when housing prices peaked, they paid top dollar for houses and are--by far--the biggest spenders on mortgage interest. With many losing their homes, average household spending on mortgage interest is declining.

3. STATIONERY AND GIFT WRAP: +15 percent to -11 percent Is there anything more discretionary than gift wrap? Spending on this item climbed significantly during the easy money years of the housing bubble. Since 2006, not so much.

4. DAY CARE: +16 percent to -8 percent As the unemployment rate climbed, spending on day care fell.

5. FURNITURE: +1 percent to -22 percent Houses were selling furiously during the housing boom, but spending on furniture was surprisingly lackluster. Since 2006, average household spending on furniture (and appliances) has collapsed.

6. HOUSEHOLD TEXTILES: +24 percent to -23 percent Towels, sheets, blankets, curtains--nothing is feeling the whiplash more than the household textile category.

7. BABY CLOTHES: 0 percent to -9 percent This category had been defying the long-term decline in apparel spending as births climbed to a record high of 4.3 million in 2007. When the recession set in, the number of births began to fall, and so did spending on baby clothes.

8. DRUGS: +6 percent to -12 percent Out-of-pocket spending by the average household on drugs is down despite the barrage of advertising, the growing proportion of pill poppers in the population, and the penny-pinching of insurance companies. Behind the decline is the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which went into effect in 2006.

9. ADMISSIONS TO ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS: +1 percent to -5 percent During the downturn, households continued to spend on high-definition television sets. But they cut back on other entertainment categories. One loser was this category, which includes movie and amusement park tickets.

10. CASH CONTRIBUTIONS: +34 percent to -13 percent Donations to charities are plummeting, says the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The household numbers bear this out. Average household spending on contributions climbed strongly when Americans felt flush, then fell sharply as they tightened their belts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Living with Mom and Dad

Percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds who live with their parents, 2000 and 2010...

2010: 16.4%
2000: 12.9

2010: 10.5%
2000: 8.3

Who Lives the Longest?

Well, this is a surprise. Hispanics live longer than other U.S. residents despite the fact that they are the least educated, have the lowest incomes, and are most likely to be without health insurance. The National Center for Health Statistics recently estimated, for the first time, the life expectancy of the Hispanic population. To their astonishment, the calculations showed that Hispanics live longer than blacks or non-Hispanic whites. In 2006 (the latest data available), Hispanics had a life expectancy at birth of 80.6 years. This compares with a life expectancy of 78.1 years for non-Hispanic whites and 72.9 years for non-Hispanic blacks. The actuaries are mystified.

Why the surprise? For one, because education has a strong positive correlation with life expectancy. The more educated you are, the longer you live. Studies have shown that a high school diploma adds five or six years to life expectancy. But only 63 percent of Hispanic adults have a high school diploma, far below the 83 percent of blacks and 91 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Yet Hispanics live longer.

The second reason for the surprise: Hispanics have lower incomes than blacks or non-Hispanic whites, and higher incomes are strongly correlated with a longer life expectancy. Studies show that people in the highest income groups live 4 to 10 years longer than people in the lowest income groups. Yet Hispanics live longer.

The third reason for the shock waves reverberating in the nation's vital statistics corridors is that Hispanics are least likely to have health insurance coverage. Only 68 percent of Hispanics are insured compared with 79 percent of blacks and 88 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Yet Hispanics live longer.

Source: United State Life Tables by Hispanic Origin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More People, Fewer Households

Although the Hispanic population is growing, the number of households headed by Hispanics is shrinking, falling by 127,000 between 2009 and 2010 as the recession forced more to live under one roof. The average Hispanic household now has 3.54 people, up from 3.41 people in 2009.

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey

Fewer "Rooms Used for Business"

Have millions of very small businesses disappeared during the Great Recession? According to the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey, the number of households that report having a "room used for business" fell by 4 million between 2007 and 2009, from 40 million to 36 million. The percentage of households that have a room used for businesses fell from 36 to 32 percent.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Age of Marrying at Record High

The median age at first marriage is at a record high for both men and women, according to the Census Bureau's 2010 statistics:

First-time brides: 26.1 years old
First-time grooms: 28.2 years old

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Blame it on the Internet

Will historians look back on the Great Recession and explain its depth and length by pointing to the Internet revolution? Two indicators suggest this may be the case.

One, the widespread adoption of the Internet has coincided with the recession. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the percentage of households that use the Internet climbed from 42 percent in 2000 to 79 percent in 2010. In other words, only during the past few years has the average household had access to the Internet, and Internet access changes the rules of the game. When rules change, economic turmoil results as everyone scrambles to understand the game.

Two, never before have we had so many long-term unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among the unemployed, people aged 55 or older are most likely to have been without a job for a year or more—a stunning 41 percent. Is the labor force ridding itself of the generation of workers who were most reluctant to go online?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Recession Crowds Nest

Thanks to the Great Recession, the nest is getting crowded. The Pew Research Center reports that 13 percent of adults with grown children have had a child move back home in the past year. The figure reaches a stunningly high 19 percent among 45-to-54-year-olds.

The Census Bureau's 2009 data on American families, released today, confirms the survey results. The number of adults who live with their parents grew from 22 to 24 million between 2000 and 2009. The increase has been particularly sharp among 25-to-29-year-olds. Seventeen percent of these young adults now live with mom and dad. The number who live at home climbed by 39 percent--an increase of 1 million--between 2000 and 2009.

Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements