Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fewer State and Local Government Workers

The number of full-time workers employed by state and local governments fell by 203,321 between 2009 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau.

Source: Census Bureau, Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll: 2010

Most Support Birth Control Coverage

Percent who support the new federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control and other preventive services for their female patients, by age...

Total: 66%
18-29: 76%
30-49: 70%
50-64: 61%
65-plus: 51%

Source: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll--August 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Three Housing Markets

With millions of Americans underwater on their mortgage, the nation's housing market has been split into three distinct segments: homeowners with mortgages or loans on their property--many of them underwater, renters, and homeowners who own their home free and clear.

According to the 2010 census, the 45 percent plurality of the nation's 117 million households are homeowners with a mortgage or loan on their property. Another 35 percent are renters, and 20 percent are homeowners who own their home free and clear. These segments vary in size by state.

Homeowners with mortgages In eight states, more than half of households are homeowners with mortgages or loans on their home. Utah ranks number one in this category, with 54 percent of the state's households headed by homeowners with a mortgage. The other states in which the majority of households are homeowners with mortgages are Maryland, Minnesota, Delaware, New Hampshire, Colorado, Indiana, and Virginia. The state with the smallest percentage of encumbered households is New York, at 36 percent.

Renters New York tops the list in the percentage of households that rent. The 47 percent plurality of households in New York are renters--most of them in the New York metropolitan area. The only other states in which renters outnumber the other two categories (homeowners with and homeowners without a mortgage) are California (44 percent) and Hawaii (42 percent). West Virginia has the fewest renter households, at 27 percent.

Homeowners free and clear West Virginia is the state with the largest percentage of homeowners who own their home free and clear, at 35 percent. Other states in which at least one in four households are homeowners without mortgages are: Mississippi, North Dakota, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Alabama, and Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Iowa. Not exactly the nation's hot spots.

Here is the distribution of households by homeownership and mortgage status for all 50 states and the District of Columbia...

      with       no
      mort    mort      rent
U.S. total 45.4 19.7 34.9
Alabama 44.2 25.5 30.3
Alaska 43.4 19.7 36.9
Arizona 47.6 18.4 34.0
Arkansas 40.9 26.0 33.0
California 43.5 12.5 44.1
Colorado 50.9 14.6 34.5
Connecticut 49.7 17.8 32.5
Delaware 51.7 20.3 27.9
DC 33.8 8.2 58.0
Florida 45.1 22.2 32.6
Georgia 48.9 16.8 34.3
Hawaii 40.8 16.9 42.3
Idaho 49.5 20.4 30.1
Illinois 48.3 19.1 32.5
Indiana 50.3 19.5 30.1
Iowa 47.0 25.1 27.9
Kansas 45.2 22.5 32.2
Kentucky 44.0 24.7 31.3
Louisiana 39.8 27.5 32.8
Maine 47.4 23.9 28.7
Maryland 53.2 14.3 32.5
Massachusetts 46.2 16.1 37.7
Michigan 49.6 22.5 27.9
Minnesota 53.2 19.9 27.0
Mississippi 40.7 28.9 30.4
Missouri 47.1 21.7 31.2
Montana 41.8 26.2 32.0
Nebraska 44.6 22.6 32.8
Nevada 46.2 12.6 41.2
New Hamp 51.4 19.5 29.0
New Jersey 47.7 17.7 34.6
New Mexico 42.7 25.8 31.5
New York 35.7 17.6 46.7
N. Carolina 46.5 20.2 33.3
North Dakota 37.3 28.1 34.6
Ohio 47.3 20.3 32.4
Oklahoma 41.9 25.4 32.8
Oregon 44.6 17.5 37.8
Pennsylvania 45.2 24.4 30.4
Rhode Island 44.8 15.9 39.3
S. Carolina 45.8 23.5 30.7
South Dakota 41.5 26.6 31.9
Tennessee 44.9 23.3 31.8
Texas 41.8 21.9 36.3
Utah 53.8 16.7 29.6
Vermont 48.2 22.5 29.3
Virginia 50.2 17.0 32.8
Washington 47.5 16.4 36.1
West Virginia 38.4 35.0 26.6
Wisconsin 47.5 20.6 31.9
Wyoming 44.0 25.3 30.8

Source: 2010 Census

American Dream: College

Percentage of parents who want their children to get a college degree: 91%.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: 2009 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Underground Economy

The underground--or informal--economy, once thought to be a relic of the third world, may be growing in the first world thanks to globalization, according to a report by the Urban Institute.

The "informal" economy is defined as economic activity that operates outside the tax and regulatory systems. It includes black market and illegal activity as well as legal work for which income is not reported. How many people do you know who have a little business on the side? That's the informal economy.

In the United States, the informal economy may generate 5 to 10 percent of the GDP, notes the Urban Institute report. Some academics estimate that 11 to 20 percent of American workers operate at least partly in the informal economy--a proportion that has been growing along with the immigrant population.

Cell Phones and the Internet

Eighty-three percent of Americans aged 18 or older own a cell phone, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project. How they use their phone varies greatly by age, in part because smartphone ownership varies by age. Here is the percentage of all cell phone owners who access the Internet using their phone:

18-29: 64%
30-49: 54%
50-64: 26%
65-plus: 10%

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Americans and their Cell Phones

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Interracial Marriage among Young

Percent of marriages that are interracial or Hispanic/non-Hispanic, by age of currently married women in their first marriage...

under 25: 13%
25 to 34: 11%
35 to 44: 10%
45 to 54: 7%
55 or older: 4%

Source: Census Bureau, Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Air Conditioning by Region

Fully 87 percent of homes in the United States are now equipped with air conditioning--either central air or window units. Here is the percentage of households with air conditioning by region in 1980 and 2009:

2009 1980
Northeast 86 49
Midwest 91 58
South 98 74
West 65 36

Source: Residential Energy Consumption Survey, Air conditioning in nearly 100 million U.S. homes

Friday, August 26, 2011

Marriage and Divorce: The Numbers

You would think that a nation so heatedly debating who has a right to marry and who doesn't would keep very good records of who is marrying and who isn't. But you would be wrong. The federal government stopped collecting data from the states on the incidence of marriage and divorce in 1996. We have been flying blind since then and talking heads have filled the vacuum.

Until now. Yesterday, the Census Bureau released the first of what should be annual survey-based estimates of marriage and divorce from the American Community Survey. These releases will provide marriage, divorce, and widowhood rates for men and women by state (highest rate of divorce is in the South--by far; highest rate of marriage is in the West): and profile the demographic characteristics of people who are marrying or divorcing.

Who is marrying? Among the 2.2 million women who married in 2009, the largest share (38 percent) had a bachelor's degree or more education. The 39 percent plurality had a household income of $75,000 or more. The 69 percent majority were employed. Fifty-two percent were homeowners, and 63 percent lived in single-family homes. Bottom line: marriage has become an upscale event, with the educated and affluent most likely to tie the knot.

Source: Census Bureau: Marital Events of Americans: 2009

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2010 Census Finds Lower Homeownership Rates

The 2010 census found far lower homeownership rates in every age group than the Census Bureau had estimated for the same time period based on the Housing Vacancy Survey. The census count of homeowners and renters by age for the nation as a whole was released this morning. Take a look at how the census numbers compare with the survey estimates:

   census    survey       diff
Total 65.1 66.9 -1.8
<25 16.1 22.9 -6.8
25-34 42.0 44.4 -2.4
35-44 62.3 65.0 -2.7
45-54 71.5 73.5 -2.0
55-64 77.3 79.0 -1.7
65-plus 77.5 80.5 -3.0
65-74 80.2 82.0 -1.7
75-plus 74.5 78.9 -4.4

The census numbers are, of course, the far more accurate figures. The Housing Vacancy Survey methodology will have to be revised and once that is accomplished all homeownership estimates going forward will use census numbers as a base. The Mystery of the Young Homeowner has been solved--it was a methodological error!

Who Eats Out?

Most of us, every day. This is the percentage who eat (or drink) away from home on an average day by household income...

Total aged 20 or older: 67%
Less than $25,000: 53%
$25,000 to $74,999: 68%
$75,000 or more: 78%

Source: USDA, What We Eat in America, 2007-2008

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Women Judges

Percentage of presidential appointees to U.S. Courts of Appeals judgeships who are women, by president...

Johnson:  2.5%
Nixon:  0%
Ford:  0%
Carter:  19.6%
Reagan:  5.1%
Bush I:  18.9%
Clinton:  32.8%
Bush II:  25.4%
Obama:  33.3%

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

Middle Income Households Cut Restaurant Spending

During the Great Recession, the average household cut its spending on food, especially eating out. A USDA analysis of who cut their spending the most reveals that middle-income households (in the middle 20 percent of the income distribution, with an average income of $46,012) cut their spending more than lower- or higher-income households.

Between 2006 and 2009, middle-income households cut their spending on groceries by 6 percent, after adjusting for inflation. They cut their spending on restaurant meals by a much larger 21 percent. No wonder restaurants were feeling the pain.

How did they manage to reduce their spending on both eating out and groceries? By buying lower-cost foods and shopping at lower-cost stores. A record 810 new private-label brands appeared on grocery store shelves in 2009, reports the USDA's Economic Research Service. Sales of packaged leafy greens fell relative to sales of less-expensive unpackaged greens. The market share captured by nontraditional food outlets (such as warehouse clubs and supercenters) also climbed, reaching 30 percent in 2009.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food Spending Adjustments During Recessionary Times, Amber Waves, September 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stock Market Jitters

As if we need something else to worry about: Boomer Retirement: Headwinds for U.S. Equity Markets? (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco).

Last Place Aversion

No one wants to be in last place. In fact, they so do not want to be in last place that those close to but not at the bottom will fight policies intended to improve the lives of the ones in last place, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Explains a lot of the crazy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Religious Identification

Percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Protestant, by age...

18 to 44: 38%
45 to 64: 53%
65-plus: 59%

Source: General Social Survey

Cash in a Pinch

Could you come up with $2,000 within 30 days to pay an unexpected bill? Most Americans could not do this. Yet financial shocks of this size are not uncommon.

According to a study by the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, people are reluctant to save for a rainy day because they think they will have more "financial slack" in the future. In other words, they think it will be easier in the future to come up with cash for an emergency, so they do not save ahead. This is an illusion, say psychologists. In the future, your finances will feel just as tight as they do today.

Source: Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Coming Up with Cash in a Pinch: Emergency Savings and Its Alternatives

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Debt of the Foreclosed

According to a study by the Federal Reserve Board, individuals who have had foreclosure proceedings begin against them had the following characteristics...

Average age: 42
Median credit score: 562
Median mortgage balance: $152,901
Median credit card balance: $3,498
Median auto loan balance: $15,728

Source: Federal Reserve Board, The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households, Raven Molloy and Hui Shan, 2011-32

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Happens After Foreclosure?

A new study by the Federal Reserve Board examines what happens to households after a foreclosure. Based on credit report data from the FRBNY/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel--a nationally representative 5 percent random sample of Americans with credit files and their household members--the study tracked the experiences of individuals following the start of a foreclosure. The study compared the experiences of those with a foreclosure (the Foreclosed) with a demographically similar group of individuals who did not experience a foreclosure (the Comparables).
  • Mobility: 23 percent of the Foreclosed moved within a year versus 12 percent of Comparables.
  • Household size. About one-third of the Foreclosed saw their household size increase and another one-third saw their household size shrink after foreclosure.
  • Household composition. Only 18 percent of the Foreclosed were living with the same people two years later versus 47 percent of Comparables. Twelve percent of the Foreclosed had moved in with an adult 20 or more years older (likely a parent). Among Comparables, only 5 percent were living with an older adult two years later.
  • Housing type. A substantial 76 percent of the Foreclosed were living in a single-family house two years later versus 93 percent of Comparables. Only 22 percent of the Foreclosed had moved into a multi-family unit, but this was much greater than the 3 percent of Comparables who had moved into an apartment building.
The study's authors conclude that while there are some adverse affects of foreclosure, most who experience the start of a foreclosure are still in the same house two years later. Apparently, many foreclosures are resolved through refinancing or other means. Most of the Foreclosed who move end up in equivalent housing--a single family home in a similar neighborhood.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households, Raven Molloy and Hui Shan, 2011-32

Friday, August 19, 2011

Another Way to Look at American Workers

Among America's 139 million workers, number whose primary job duty is to...

Manage: 15 million
Count: 6 million
Think: 8 million
Talk: 4 million
Teach: 9 million
Create: 3 million
Heal: 11 million
Protect: 3 million
Cook: 8 million
Clean: 5 million
Help: 5 million
Sell: 15 million
Organize: 18 million
Grow: 1 million
Build: 7 million
Fix: 5 million
Make: 8 million
Move: 8 million

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed Persons by Occupation

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Life and Death of Early Retirement

When did early retirement begin? According to a new brief by Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, it began a decade or so after the Civil War. "Beginning around 1880, the percentage of the older male population at work began to decline sharply," she says. Behind the decline were old-age pensions for Civil War veterans.

"The next big decline in the work rates of older men occurred after World War II," she writes, primarily because Social Security benefits began in 1940. Generous employer pensions followed, driven in part by powerful unions. Medicare was introduced in 1965, and Social Security was indexed to inflation in the early 1970s. The rest is history.

A short history. The trend toward early retirement lasted only until the mid-1980s. That's when the age of retirement reversed direction for reasons she details in the brief. The average retirement age among men (meaning, the age at which their labor force participation rate drops below 50 percent) has increased from 62 to 64 over the past two decades.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What is the Average Retirement Age?

$1 in Every $10 Is Spent Here

For the average family, there are two items in the budget over which they have little control and which also account for a large share of household spending: gasoline and health care.  

In 2008, when gas prices climbed above $4 per gallon, the average household devoted more than 5 percent of its spending to fueling its cars. The figure fell back to 4 percent in 2009 as gas prices declined. Health care absorbs 6 percent of the household budget. Together, gasoline and health care control $1 of every $10 spent by the average household--and that's in a good year, without a spike in gas prices or a health care emergency.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Public Schools--Good or Bad?

It depends. If you survey a nationally representative sample of the population and ask about the quality of public schools in the nation as a whole, you get one answer. If you ask parents about the public school their child attends, you get another answer, according to decades of polling done by PDK/Gallup.

What grade would you give the public schools nationally, and what grade would you give the school your oldest child attends? The 2011 poll released today finds that only 17 percent of the public would give the nation's schools a grade of A or B. But fully 79 percent of parents would give their child's school an A or B. Conversely, the 81 percent majority of the public would give the nation's schools a grade of C, D, or F. But only 21 percent of parents would give their child's school a grade of C, D, or F.

This attitudinal gap between the national and the local shows up in surveys on a variety of topics. It is a quirk of human nature--the tendency to be fearful and judgmental toward the unknown. Maybe the nation's public schools aren't as bad as you think, and maybe a lot of other things aren't as bad either.

Source: 43rd Annual PDK/Gallup Poll

Fighting for the Status Quo

I've posted this information before, but it is worth posting again as it becomes increasingly obvious that the the United States is locked in a battle between the older generations who want to protect the pre-Internet status quo and the younger generations who live in the post-Internet reality.

Percentage of Americans who believe the Constitution should be interpreted based on its meaning in current times, by age:

18-29: 62%
30-49: 54%
50-64: 44%
65-plus: 35%

Source: Pew Research Center, Ideological Chasm Over Interpreting Constitution

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is the United States Still a Good Bet?

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times noted that U.S. companies "are beginning to give up on the American consumer as a source of future growth." Are businesses right to give up on us? Is the United States still a good bet? Let's look at the pros and cons from a demographic perspective.

NO. The United States is so yesterday.
1. Our population growth is slowing. For the next few decades, most of the increase will be among people aged 65 or older.
2. A new baby bust means there is little prospect for renewed growth in the United States for the foreseeable future.
3. Household spending peaked in 2006 and has fallen 5 percent since then, after adjusting for inflation. This decline is likely to continue as households pay down their debt and adjust to lower incomes.

It sure looks hopeless. But wait, there's more...

YES. The United States is a good bet for tomorrow.
1. There are nearly 312 million Americans, making us the third largest country in the world. Not to mention the fact that we are also the richest--still.
2. There is plenty of potential growth in the United States consumer market. To tap into it requires imagination and leadership, however. Although household spending peaked in 2006, Americans have been spending lavishly since then on a range of products and services. Average household spending on pets climbed 61 percent between 2006 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Spending on lighting fixtures climbed 59 percent as households replaced their incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Internet service spending rose 35 percent, cell phone service spending 28 percent, telephone hardware spending 29 percent, video game spending 47 percent--all during the darkest days of the Great Recession. Household spending patterns are changing, creating opportunity for forward-looking companies.
3. This too shall pass. Our current problems are temporary, a convulsion of the economy--and politics--caused by the Internet.

So is it Yes or No? For the next few decades, there is only one obstacle that stands in the way of Yes: the older generations. This is blasphemy, I know. For years we have been told how great the older generations are. They were great in their day, but that day is over, brought to a close by the Internet revolution. Yet we remain in their grip. The U.S. population is older today than ever before, and growing older by the day. Fifty-nine percent of household wealth is controlled by householders aged 55 or older--a record high and certain to climb as the entire baby-boom generation fills the older age groups.  

Because older Americans control the money, they also control the politics. The politicians are doing their bidding by protecting the status quo--the pre-Internet world in which boomers and older generations grew up. This explains our political paralysis and why we are arguing over issues long ago settled in the minds of younger adults. Politically, we are trapped in the old economy, an economy where airline passengers are still being instructed on how to fasten their seat belts, where politicians try to keep us from switching to more efficient light bulbs, and where health insurance coverage for birth control is still controversial. We are trapped in the old economy because the generations that are in control the purse strings cannot conceive of the radical new world of opportunity created by the Internet.

Just because older generations are saying No doesn't mean you can't say Yes. The recipe for growth in the United States is threefold: hire the young, follow the Internet, and use your imagination.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bet You Didn't Know

Percentage of clothing purchased in the United States that was manufactured abroad: 97%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Price Topics: The Impact of Soaring Cotton Prices on Consumer Apparel Prices

Are Older Americans Willing to Spend?

Most businesses assume that older Americans are not big spenders, directing their marketing efforts at younger adults. Since the 65+ age group is now the fastest growing segment of the population, this suggests that businesses must look elsewhere to find eager customers. But do older Americans deserve their penny-pincher reputation?

At the household level, the spending differences are stark. The average household spent $49,067 in 2009 compared with the $37,562 spent by householders aged 65 or older, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. But this is an apples to oranges comparison because the average household is larger than those headed by people aged 65 or older (2.5 versus 1.7 people). On a per capita basis, the differences disappear. In fact, on a per capita basis, householders aged 65 or older spend more than average--$22,095 versus $19,627. Older Americans do not devote all their dollars to health care either. Take a look at the average annual per capita spending of the average household compared to householders aged 65 or older:

   average         65+        index
Groceries  $1,501  $1,895 126
Restaurants  1,048  988 94
Alcohol  174  172 99
Housing  6,758  7,762 115
Women clothes  224  251 112
Footwear  129  131 102
Vehicles  1,063  1,095 103
Health  1,250  2,851 228
Entertainment  1,077  1,213 113
Personal care  238  312 131

On a per capita basis, householders aged 65 or older spend more than average or close to the average on most categories of goods and services--including items often associated with youth such as entertainment and women's clothes. Not only are they willing to spend, but the 65+ age group is economically more stable than younger adults, many with guaranteed incomes pegged to inflation. So the fact that the 65+ age group is now the fastest growing segment of the population may be good news for business.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who Wants Population Decline?

"The preference for population decline is most clear at the global levels, but as soon as the phenomenon of decline moves closer to home, the preference becomes less pronounced and switches to the status quo."
Population size preferences are subject to the NIMBY (Not-In-My-Backyard) syndrome, according to a new study. The average person favors population decline globally, fewer support it nationally, and most do not want to see their local population decline.

Source: "Who fears and who welcomes population decline?" Demographic Research, August 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Retail Sales vs Household Spending

The good news is that retail sales increased in July, up 0.5 percent from June and up 8.5 percent from July 2010. The bad news is that retail sales are not the same as household spending and can mislead trend trackers.

Retail sales are an aggregate, and generally increase with the population. This explains why retail sales have never been higher. Because retail sales data are released monthly, they often make headlines. A rise in retail sales can give false hope to those looking for a turnaround in the economy.  

Household spending is the better measure of economic wellbeing, but household spending data are released only once a year rather than every month. Average household spending trends are not affected by population growth. They reveal how actual families are faring, the items on which they are spending more and the items on which they are cutting back. Average household spending fell 5 percent between the peak spending year of 2006 and 2009, after adjusting for inflation. The 2010 household spending figures will be released next month.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Childless Generation

Here's something interesting: In a study of the childbearing patterns of three cohorts of women--born in 1910, 1935, and 1960--the women born in 1910 were most likely to be childless at age 50, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (see Childbearing Differences among Three Generations of Women).

Among women born in 1910, one in five was childless at age 50 (19.7 percent). Among women born in 1960--members of the baby-boom generation, which earned a reputation for delaying childbearing or forgoing parenthood altogether--a smaller 15.6 percent were childless at age 50. Only 11.4 percent of women born in 1935 were childless at age 50.

So what gives with the women of 1910? The Great Depression. They entered their childbearing years just as the Depression began in 1929, and apparently many never found the economic stability in which to have children and raise a family.

What does this say about today's young women, who are reaching childbearing age in the midst of the Great Recession? "The cohort moved into its key childbearing years during a significant recession," says the National Center for Health Statistics. Marriage and fertility rates have been falling since 2007. Will today's young women be the next "childless" generation?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

College Not an Animal House

Facts aren't as much fun as fantasy. Just as Hollywood portrays cigarette smoking to be more upscale and popular than it really is, it also shows college kids to be much more promiscuous than they really are. In fact, 70 percent of 20-to-24-year-old men and 75 percent of 20-to-24-year-old women have had only one opposite-sex partner in the past year (50 and 58 percent, respectively) or none at all (20 and 17 percent, respectively).

Over a lifetime, college-educated men and women have fewer sex partners than the average man or woman. Among men under age 45, those with a bachelor's degree have had 4.8 opposite-sex partners in their lifetime versus 5.1 partners for the average man. Among women under age 45, the college-educated have had 2.9 opposite-sex partners in their lifetime versus 3.2 partners for the average woman.

Source: National Survey of Family Growth

Time to Update this Survey

The Census Bureau has been probing the daily life of children in occasional surveys that began in the early 1990s--and it shows. One of the areas examined in the first survey and repeated in every survey since is television rules--whether parents restrict the television viewing of their children. A lot has happened technologically since the early 1990s, but the survey, unfortunately, does not ask about the even bigger issues for parents--computers, video games, and cell phones. Time for an update.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: 2009 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being)

Yeah, right

When asked about the difficulties of raising children, the 54 percent majority of parents say they never feel angry with their child.

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: 2009 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Apple vs Exxon Mobil: Is There a Message Here?


Life Expectancy Varies by Occupation

A study of French workers reveals the toll manual labor takes on life expectancy overall and healthy life expectancy in particular...

Years of life remaining for male workers at age 50 by occupation...
Managers and professionals: 32.2 years
Manual laborers: 27.4 years

Years of healthy life remaining for male workers at age 50 by occupation...
Managers and professionals: 22.8 years
Manual laborers: 13.7 years

Source: Occupational inequalities in health expectancies in France in the early 2000s: Unequal chances of reaching and living retirement in good health, Demographic Research, August 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Unemployment and Voter Turnout

The higher the unemployment rate, the greater the voter turnout for state and congressional races, according to a new NBER study. Because the unemployed have more leisure time than the employed, they are more informed about state and local candidates and more likely to vote. Interestingly, the unemployment rate does not affect the percentage who vote for president, say the study's authors, because presidential campaign information is ubiquitous (to put it mildly).

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 17270, $5

The Earnings Overlap

"In a surprising number of cases, people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more."
Percent of people with some college, no degree who earn more than those with...
Associate's degree: 41.9%
Bachelor's degree: 23.1%
Master's degree: 15.9%
Doctoral degree: 8.6%
Professional degree: 4.8%

Source: The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings

Monday, August 08, 2011

Jumping Ship

American corporations long ago abandoned American workers. Now they are abandoning American consumers as well. An article in the Los Angeles Times says U.S. companies "are beginning to give up on the American consumer as a source of future growth."

I'm OK, But You're Not Syndrome

Percentage who say they have their finances under control: 68%.
Percentage who believe other people have their finances under control: 37%.

Source: Economic Mobility Project, 2011 Poll

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Who Works at Midnight?

Percent of the employed who are on the job at midnight, by occupation...
(shown are the occupations in which 5% or more of the employed are at work at midnight)

Protective service: 16%
Production: 11%
Transportation and material moving: 10%
Healthcare support: 8%
Health care practitioner: 8%
Building and grounds cleaning: 6%
Food preparation and serving: 6%
Computer and mathematical: 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Waiting for The Dough

It seems like we've been waiting forever for an update of the economic status of American households, making do with 2009 numbers long past their usefulness. The Census Bureau is scheduled to release the 2010 data on September 13--several weeks later than has been the custom. These numbers will provide us with the official income statistics for households and families, men and women.

We have a pretty good idea of what the numbers will show, but still it would be nice to have some facts to back up our extrapolations. Here's what we know right now...

Between 2000 and 2009, median household income fell 5 percent--to $49,777, after adjusting for inflation. Expect to see the decline deepen with the 2010 numbers, but not as much as you might expect for two reasons: the baby-boom generation is in the peak-earning age groups, boosting the median; and people aged 55 or older are remaining in the labor force longer, boosting the median. Between 2000 and 2009, the median income of households headed by 55-to-64-year-olds climbed 2 percent, and that of households headed by people aged 65 or older climbed 9 percent. In harsh contrast, the median income of households headed by people under age 55 fell by a substantial 9 to 11 percent.

According to an Economic Mobility Project poll, taken in March, the 43 percent plurality of Americans say their income was lower in 2010 than in 2007. Only 18 percent say their income was higher. So the 2010 income statistics are likely to confirm what we already know--it's grim out there.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Eleven Jobs

Average number of jobs Americans have held by age 45: 11.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979

Unemployment Rising for Older Men

Unemployment rate of men aged 62 to 64...

July 2011: 8.2%
July 2010: 7.2%
July 2009: 6.3%
July 2008: 4.9%
July 2007: 2.9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data Retrieval Tool

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Making Less

Percent distribution of Americans by income in 2010 compared to 2007...

Less: 43%
Same: 39%
More: 18%

Source: Economic Mobility Project, 2011 Poll

Cars in New York

Percentage of households in the New York metropolitan area
without a car, truck, or van: 40%.

Source: American Housing Survey for the New York Metropolitan Area: 2009

Grocery Spending

Amount the average household spends on groceries each week: $87.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistic, unpublished data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

State Extremes: Breastfeeding

Three out of four newborns in the United States are breastfed. The figure ranges from 91 percent in Oregon to 49 percent in Louisiana.

Source; CDC, Breastfeeding Report Card--United States, 2011

No Doctor Visits

Percentage of the uninsured who did not go to the doctor in the past year: 57%.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Characteristics of Those Without Any Ambulatory Care Visits in 2008: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Adult Population

Uninsured for Two Years

One in eight Americans under age 65 did not have health insurance for the entire two-year period from 2008 through 2009. These are the percentages by age...

Under age 18: 4.8%
Aged 18-24: 18.9%
Aged 25-29: 21.0%
Aged 30-34: 15.5%
Aged 35-54: 14.4%
Aged 55-64: 10.6%

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, The Long-Term Uninsured in America, 2006-2009 (Selected Intervals): Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population Under Age 65

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Did the Housing Boom Boost Spending?

Short answer: yes. According to research by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, every 10 percent increase in housing prices during the boom boosted household spending on non-durables (which they define as food and drink, dining out, clothing and apparel, hobbies and leisure, entertainment, travel, and gasoline) by 4 percent. The research is based on an examination of 2001 through 2009 data from the Health and Retirement Study--a nationally representative longitudinal panel of householders aged 51 or older.

The researchers also found that as housing prices declined, there was no compensating decline in spending--at least through 2009. "Price declines do not have a statistically significant effect on spending," they report.

My take: Americans will go through all kinds of contortions to maintain their lifestyle. But the day of reckoning will come.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Did the Housing Boom Increase Household Spending?

Odd Jobs

What percentage of workers work nonstandard hours--primarily outside the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday time period? Cross-sectional studies suggest that about 20 percent of workers have nonstandard hours at any one time. But a new analysis of longitudinal data published in the Monthly Labor Review shows that most workers have had a job with nonstandard hours over their work life.

Examining data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which tracked a nationally representative sample of 14-to-22-year-olds and followed them for more than two decades (through 2004), researchers Harriet B. Presser and Brian W. Ward discovered that 89 percent of workers had worked at a job with nonstandard hours by the time they reached age 40.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Income Data Release Schedule

The Census Bureau will release 2010 national estimates of income, poverty, and health insurance from the Current Population Survey on September 13, 2011.

The Census Bureau will release 2010 state and local estimates of income and poverty from the 2010 American Community Survey on September 22, 2011.

High Costs for Many Renters

Percentage of renters who spend at least 50 percent of their monthly income on housing: 32%.

Source: American Housing Survey

Update: Mystery of the Young Homeowners

Mystery still not solved.

As of the second quarter of 2011, a hefty 21.9 percent of householders under age 25 owned a home. Sure, this figure has fallen since it reached a peak of 25.7 percent in 2005. But it is still far above the 14.8 percent of 1993. Since rates peaked, the homeownership rate of this age group has fallen less than that of any other age group except householders aged 65 or older.

What gives? Because of their youth, most homeowners under age 25 had to have bought their home recently--probably since the housing bubble burst. Where is the money coming from? Could it be affluent parents buying condos for their kids in college?