Monday, December 31, 2012

Older Americans Adopt E-Books

Older Americans are strangely resistant to the allure of the Internet. They have been slow to go online and reluctant to buy smartphones. E-books may be different. Among book readers aged 65 or older, a substantial 20 percent read an e-book in the past year, according to a Pew survey. This is only 11 percentage points less than the 31 percent of 18-to-29-year-old book readers who read an e-book. The e-book generation gap is tiny compared with these technology gaps, all reported by Pew...
  • 43 percentage point gap in using the Internet: 18-to-29 (95%); 65-plus (52%).
  • 55 percentage point gap in smartphone ownership: 18-to-29 (66%); 65-plus (11%).
  • 64 percentage point gap in accessing the Internet on a phone: 18-to-29 (77%); 65-plus (13%).
Source: Pew Research Center, E-Book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

Sixteen percent of Americans aged 18 or older have trouble hearing when not using a hearing aid or other listening device. Here is the percentage with hearing trouble by age...

Aged 18 to 44: 6%
Aged 45 to 64: 19%
Aged 65 to 74: 30%
Aged 75-plus: 47%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2011

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Household Income Stable in November 2012

Median household income did not change between October and November 2012, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The November median of $51,310 was $176 greater than the October median, a change that was not statistically significant.

Median household income in November 2012 was 4.4 percent lower than the median in June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 6.9 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 7.8 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for November 2012 was 92.1 (January 2000 = 100.0). 

For details on monthly changes in household income since January 2000, a spreadsheet is available from Sentier's web site for $25.00.

Source: Sentier Research, Trends in Household Income: November 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Marital Status of Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples are increasingly likely to identify their household relationship as married rather than unmarried partner, according to the Census Bureau. Among the nation's 605,000 same-sex couples, 28 percent reported their relationship as spouse, according to the 2011 American Community Survey--greater than the number of legally married same-sex couples.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Is Not Your Father's Earning Power

Median income of men who work full-time, by age (in 2011 dollars)...

2011 1981      change
Total    $50,316   $51,204 -1.7%
15-24   $24,423  $30,705 -20.5%
25-34   $41,433 $47,475 -12.7%
35-44    $51,926 $57,826 -10.2%
45-54   $56,675 $59,627 -5.0%
55-64   $60,388 $56,947 6.0%

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Health Care Ratings Depend on Age

How do Americans feel about their health care? According to a recent Gallup survey, 67 percent of the public rates their health care coverage as good to excellent and 82 percent rate the quality of the health care they receive as good to excellent.

These are meaningless numbers. Health care coverage in the United States ranges from universal national health insurance for people aged 65 or older to no health insurance for more than 20 percent of people aged 18 to 44 and minimal coverage for many others. Because age determines the health care experience, attitudes toward health care must be analyzed by age to produce meaningful data.

The federal government's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey results show how much of a difference age makes in attitudes toward health care. Fully 64 percent of people aged 65 or older give the quality of the health care they receive the highest rating (9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10). In contrast, only 44 percent of people aged 18 to 44 give their health care the highest rating. The figure drops to 39 percent among people under age 65 who do not have health insurance.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Percent of Americans who have visited a brick-and-mortar store to examine a product before buying it elsewhere online: 43%.

Source: Harris Interactive survey

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Midnight Hour

Percentage of Americans who are asleep at midnight: 82.6%.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Gift Problem

Americans spend much less on gifts than they once did. In 2011, the average household spent $1,037 on gifts for people in other households, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is much less than the $1,415 spent on gifts in 2000. The average household cut its spending on gifts for people in other households by 27 percent between 2000 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation. What happened?

One reason for the steep decline in spending on gifts is that there is less to give. The Internet has deleted a range of physical objects from the pantheon of traditional gifts: books, CDs, DVDs, video games--a growing percentage of the population no longer welcomes these physical gifts, preferring downloads instead. It seems the only option left for modern gift givers is Amazon and iTunes gift certificates. If you're grappling with the Gift Problem, the list below might help. These are the ten categories of gifts for people in other households on which the average household spends the most... 

1. Clothing for females
2. Clothing for males
3. Shoes
4. Toys
5. Clothing for infants
6. Stationary and gift wrap
7. Jewelry
8. Household decorative items
9. Wine
10. Cosmetics, perfume, and bath products

Note that books, CDs, DVDs, and video games appear nowhere on the list.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hunting, Fishing, and Feeding Birds

Every five years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsors a survey to determine how many Americans hunt, fish, or watch wildlife.

According to the latest survey results, 14 million Americans hunt (6 percent of the population aged 16 or older), 33 million fish (14 percent of the population), and 72 million watch wildlife (30 percent of the population). Feeding birds is the single most popular wildlife-associated recreational activity, with 53 million Americans participating.

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation

Friday, December 21, 2012

State Populations: Five Year Trend

The population of the United States grew 4.2 percent during the five years between 2007 (before the start of the Great Recession) and 2012--increasing from 301 million to 314 million. These were the ten fastest growing states during those five years and the percent increase in their population...

1. District of Columbia, 10.1%
2. Utah, 9.9%
3. Texas, 9.3%
4. Colorado, 8.0%
5. Wyoming, 7.8%
6. Alaska, 7.5%
7. North Dakota, 7.2%
8. North Carolina, 7.0%
9. Washington, 6.7%
10. South Carolina, 6.3%

How does state population growth between 2007 and 2012 compare with state growth in the previous five years, from 2002 to 2007?

  • Four states appear on the top-ten list in both time periods: Utah, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina. All four states grew more slowly in the 2007-2012 time period than in the previous five years.
  • The fastest growing "state" in the most recent five-year time period was one of the slowest growing in the previous five years. The District of Columbia was the fifth slowest growing state between 2002 and 2007, its population increasing by only 0.2 percent. 
  • Nevada grew the fastest in the earlier five-year time period, with a 20 percent increase in population. In comparison, Nevada's population grew by a smaller 6 percent between 2007 and 2012 and the state ranked 13th in growth. 
  • Two states lost population between 2007 and 2012: Rhode Island (-0.7%) and Michigan (-1.2%). Four states lost population in the previous five-year time period: New York, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Louisiana.

Bottom line: There was much less variation in state population growth between 2007 and 2012 than in the previous five years. The gap between the fastest growing and fastest declining states in the 2002-2007 time period was 22 percentage points (Nevada, up 20 percent; Louisiana, down 2 percent). The gap shrank to just 11 percentage points in the 2007-2012 time period (District of Columbia, up 10 percent; Michigan, down 1 percent). Less variation in state growth is evidence of an economy struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Americans are hunkered down.

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Thursday, December 20, 2012

North Dakota?

Yes, North Dakota is the nation's fastest growing state, according to the Census Bureau's latest state population estimates. With an increase of 2.17 percent between July 2011 and July 2012, North Dakota's population ranked first in growth followed by Washington, D.C., Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates, State Totals: Vintage 2012

Career Job a Myth

The idea that our fathers and grandfathers had long-term careers with one employer is mostly a myth, says the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Median job tenure (length of time with current employer) for men in their prime working years--aged 25 to 64--was never all that high and is not much different today than it was in the past.

Among men aged 55 to 64--the age group most likely to have been with their current employer for the longest period of time--median job tenure was just 9.3 years in 1951, climbed to a peak of 15.3 years in 1983, fell to 9.5 years in 2006, and stood at 10.7 years in 2012. "Career jobs never existed for most workers and have continued not to exist for most workers," EBRI concludes.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Employee Tenure Trends, 1983-2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Latest Numbers on Cell-Phone-Only Households

Thirty-four percent of adults and 41 percent of children lived in a cell-phone-only household as of January-June 2012, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The NCHS has been reporting on the telephone status of Americans every six months since 2008.

Percentage of adults who live in a cell-phone-only household by age...
Aged 18 to 24: 49.5%
Aged 25 to 29: 60.1%
Aged 30 to 34: 55.1%
Aged 35 to 44: 39.1%
Aged 45 to 64: 25.8%
Aged 65 or older: 10.5%

Note that 18-to-24-year-olds are less likely than 25-to-34-year-olds to live in a cell-phone-only household because many live with their parents or are college students in dorms and counted as living with their parents.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Entitled Americans

The 55 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older have ever received government entitlements, according to Pew Research Center. Here is the percentage by age...

Aged 18 to 29: 33%
Aged 30 to 49: 45%
Aged 50 to 64: 59%
Aged 65 or older: 97%

Note: Government entitlements are defined as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment benefits, or food stamps.
Source: Pew Research Center, A Bipartisan Nation of Beneficiaries

End Times

Percentage of Americans who believe the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence of what the Bible calls the end times: 36%

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Americans More Likely to Attribute Increasingly Severe Weather to Climate Change, Not End Times

Monday, December 17, 2012

Degrees of Stress

Percentage of adults who have experienced serious psychological distress in the past 30 days, ranked from most to least...

5.0 percent: women aged 45 to 64
3.4 percent: women aged 18 to 44
3.3 percent: men aged 45 to 64
2.6 percent: women aged 65 or older
1.8 percent: men aged 18 to 44
0.9 percent: men aged 65 or older

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Serious Psychological Distress, Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the January-Juen 2012 National Health Interview Survey

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Guns Are a Rural Thing

The fact is, guns are a rural thing, a relic of our past and a consequence of our wide open spaces. This is a problem because the United States is now an urban nation, with densely packed concentrations of people. Fully 81 percent of Americans live in urban areas. Most urban residents--whether in central cities or suburbs--think gun control is more important than gun rights, according to a Pew Research Center survey. This includes the 57 percent majority of central city residents and 50 percent of suburban residents. Only 38 percent of the residents of central cities and 46 percent of suburban residents think gun rights should trump gun control.

But rural America disagrees, and rural attitudes toward guns and gun control have prevailed. Among the 19 percent of Americans who live in rural areas, only 33 percent think it is more important to control guns and nearly two out of three--63 percent--think it is more important to protect their right to own a gun. And they do own guns: 65 percent of rural residents have a gun in their home versus 30 percent of suburban and 22 percent of central city residents, according to the 2001 National Gun Policy Survey of the National Opinion Research Center.

So how come the rural fringe controls the nation's gun laws? One explanation is that our political system grants disproportionate power to the most sparsely populated (rural) states. Each state is allotted two senators regardless of population size. So, for example, a resident of the most rural state (Maine) has 28 times the political power in the Senate as a resident of the most urban state (California). This may be why rural America gets to call the shots in the gun control debate.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Americans Think about Gun Control

American "attitudes" toward gun control depend on how the question is asked...

"Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?"
Should not be a law: 73%
Should be a law: 26%

Pew Research Center
"Is it more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns or to control gun ownership?"
More important to protect right of Americans to own guns: 46%
More important to control gun ownership: 47%

General Social Survey
"Would you favor or oppose a law which would require a person to obtain a police permit before he or she could buy a gun?"
Oppose a law: 26%
Favor a law: 74%

Friday, December 14, 2012

Travel Spending, 2005 to 2011

Because of the Great Recession and slow economic recovery, Americans have been less likely to travel and consequently are spending less on it. A new analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows how much they've cut.

Overall, 29 percent of households spent on travel in 2011, down from 32 percent in 2005. This decline may seem trivial, but as the BLS notes it represents a 10 percent decline in the number of traveling households. Every travel subcategory from airline fares to lodging, restaurant meals, and gasoline on trips, experienced a decline in household spending. The average household spent $1,372 on travel in 2011, down from $1,489 in 2005 after adjusting for inflation. Among the 29 percent of households that spent on travel in 2011, the average amount spent was $4,700.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Travel Expenditures, 2005-2011: Spending Slows during Recent Recession

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paying by Smartphone

Percent of Americans aged 18 or older who are "somewhat" or "very" interested in being able to use their smartphone rather than cash or credit cards to make in-person payments, by generation...

Total population: 27%
Smartphone users: 40%

Millennials: 40%
Gen Xers: 34%
Boomers: 18%
Matures: 7%

Source: Harris Interactive, Majority of Americans Foresee Smartphone Payments Replacing Cards and Cash

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Slowing Growth Will Not Slow Diversity

The Census Bureau's new population projections forecast much slower growth than had been projected a few years ago. The U.S. population is projected to grow to 399.8 million rather than 439.0 million by 2050--a difference of 39 million people! But this slower growth does not mean the population will diversify any more slowly. Only 46.6 percent of Americans will be non-Hispanic white in 2050, according to the new projections, almost identical to the 46.3 percent forecast by the old projections.

Here are the Census Bureau's latest projections of the size (numerical and percent) of each race and Hispanic origin group in 2015 and 2050:

Asian (alone or in combination)
2015: 20 million (6.2%)
2050: 38 million (9.6%)

Black (alone or in combination)
2015: 46 million (14.4%)
2050: 70 million (17.4%)

2015: 57 million (17.8%)
2050: 112 million (27.9%)

Non-Hispanic white
2015: 198 million (61.8%)
2050: 186 million (46.6%)

Source: Census Bureau, 2012 National Population Projections

New Projections Show Much Slower Population Growth

A lot has happened since the last time the Census Bureau produced national population projections: a recession, a baby bust, a 2010 census that counted 3 million fewer non-Hispanic whites than expected, and two elections in which minorities flexed their political muscle with profound results. How do the Census Bureau's new projections capture these events and what will be their impact on the nation's future population? Let's take a look.

Much slower population growth. The Census Bureau's new projections show a population of just 399.8 million in 2050. This is much less than the 439.0 million projected for 2050 in the previous set of projections (produced in 2008).

Non-Hispanic white decline. The new projections show the number of non-Hispanic whites peaking in 2024 at just under 200 million and declining steadily after that. As a share of the population, however, non-Hispanic whites will remain above 50 percent until 2043. Non-Hispanic whites are already in decline among Americans under age 45. The non-Hispanic white share of the younger population will fall below 50 percent in 2027. Among the nation's children (under age 18), the non-Hispanic white share is projected to fall below 50 percent in 2018.

No baby bust in projections. The Census Bureau's forecast of slowing population growth may not be conservative enough. The projections assume the addition of well more than 4 million infants (under age 1) each year, including 4.2 million in 2012. Yet, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the provisional number of births for the 12 months ending in June 2012 was just 3.9 million.

Source: Census Bureau, 2012 National Population Projections

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Far People Move

Most moves are local. Among the 35 million Americans aged 1 or older who moved within the United States between March 2011 and March 2012, two out of three stayed in the same county. For the one-third (or 12 million) who moved across a county line, the Census Bureau has calculated how far they moved...

Less than 50 miles: 40%
From 50 to 199 miles: 21%
From 200 to 499 miles: 14%
More than 500 miles: 25%

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility: United States, 2011 to 2012

Distance to a Supermarket

Median distance Americans live from the nearest supermarket: 0.83 miles.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Updated Estimates of Distance to Supermarkets Using 2010 Data

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homeowner Mobility Lowest Ever

The overall mobility rate climbed slightly in 2011-12, but the mobility rate of the nation's homeowners sunk deeper into record-low territory. Between March 2011 and March 2012, only 4.739 percent of the nation's homeowners moved, slightly less than the 4.741 percent of 2010-11. While this decline is not statistically significant, it indicates continued trouble in the housing market. The mobility rate of homeowners peaked at 9.5 percent in the late 1980s.

The number of homeowners who moved in 2011-12 fell to a new record low of 9,701,000, slightly less than the 9,724,000 homeowners who moved in 2010-11. The number of homeowners who moved peaked at more than 17 million in 1999-2000.

In contrast to the moribund mobility rate of homeowners, the mobility of renters climbed to 26.7 percent in 2011-12, up from 26.2 percent in 2010-11. The number of renters who moved climbed by 1.4 million to 26,787,000. This is the largest number of renters who moved since 1998-99 and signals an improving economy but not necessarily an improving housing market.

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility: 2011 to 2012

Mobility Rate Inches Up

After reaching a record low in 2010-11, the nation's geographic mobility rate inched up slightly in 2011-12, according to the Census Bureau. The percentage of Americans aged 1 or older who lived in a different house in March 2012 than in March 2011 rose to 12.0 percent, up from the all-time low of 11.6 percent a year earlier. Here is the annual mobility rate since 2000...

2011-12: 12.0%
2010-11: 11.6%
2009-10: 12.5%
2008-09: 12.5%
2007-08: 11.9%
2006-07: 13.2%
2005-06: 13.7%
2004-05: 13.9%
2003-04: 13.7%
2002-03: 14.2%
2001-02: 14.8%
2000-01: 14.2%

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility: 2011 to 2012

Sunday, December 09, 2012

1 in 34

Correctional authorities were supervising 6,977,700 adults in the United States in 2011. That's an astounding 2.9 percent of Americans aged 18 or older, or 1 in 34 adults.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Correctional Populations in the United States, 2011

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Rabies in Dogs and Cats

Number of rabies cases reported in 2009 (latest data available) in the United States...

Dogs: 81
Cats: 300

Source: CDC, The Burden of Rabies

Friday, December 07, 2012

Native-Born Americans

Percent of Americans whose mother and father were born in the United States: 76%.

Source: Census Bureau, Age and Sex Composition in the United States: 2011

Three Meals a Day

Americans aged 50 or older are more likely than younger adults to eat three meals a day, every day. Forty-two percent of people aged 50 or older say they never skip a meal compared with only 27 percent of younger adults who never miss a meal.

Breakfast is the meal most often skipped. Half of adults under age 50 skip breakfast regularly as do 31 percent of those aged 50 or older. The pattern is reversed for lunch, with younger adults less likely than older adults to skip lunch (16 versus 24 percent). Almost no one regularly skips dinner--just 6 percent of adults under age 50 and 4 percent of those aged 50 or older.

Source: AARP, Dietary Habits--An AARP Bulletin Poll

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Easy Stats

Today was a big day for the Census Bureau. The five-year estimates from the American Community Survey were released for  the third time since the survey's beginning. These detailed statistics from 2007-2011 for 700,000 communities across the country are the replacement for the census long form, which was discontinued in 2000. Rather than getting demographic and economic statistics only once a decade, we now get them every five years. Progress!

There are three different ways to access these very local numbers. The hard way is to go to the Census Bureau's American Factfinder site and compile your data. An easier route is to go to the Census Bureau's QuickFacts site, select your geography (as small as incorporated places with 5,000 people), and get a summary profile of the most popular statistics. The third way is to go to the Census Bureau's Easy Stats site, choose a table from the topics (financial, jobs, housing, people, and education) and select a geography (state, county, or place) and generate a table that can be downloaded in Excel. Have fun!

News Junkies

Only 13 percent of Americans are news junkies, agreeing with the statement, "I am a news junkie; it's a favorite leisure time activity." The largest share (69 percent) say they "like to keep up with the news, but it's just one of many ways I spend my leisure time." Eighteen percent of the public is not interested in the news.

Half of Americans prefer to get news from television, 36 percent prefer to get news online, and 10 percent prefer print. What catches their attention? The 54 percent majority say a headline, 44 percent say a picture, and 43 percent say interesting data captures their attention.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Non-Hispanic White Married Couples

Non-Hispanic whites as a share of married couples with children under age 18 at home: 65%
Non-Hispanic whites as a share of married couples without children under age 18 at home: 80%

Source: Census Bureau, 2012 Current Population Survey

Why Aren't Young Women Having Babies?

The United States is in the midst of another baby bust. Births have declined 9 percent from their 2007 peak, the overall fertility rate is at a record low of 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, and the birth rate of women in their prime childbearing years--aged 20 to 24--is also at an all-time low. Take a look at the trend in the birth rate of 20-to-24-year-olds...

Births per 1,000 women aged 20 to 24
1960: 258.1
1970: 167.8
1980: 115.1
1990: 116.5
2000: 109.7
2007: 106.3
2011: 85.3

What explains the precipitous decline in the birth rate of women aged 20 to 24? College explains it. Note that the birth rate of 20-to-24-year-olds declined sharply between 1960 and 1980 as women of the baby-boom generation went to college. Only 39 percent of women who graduated from high school in 1960 went to college. By 1980, the 52 percent majority were going to college. The figure grew to 68 percent by 2007, and the Great Recession pushed the enrollment rate as high as 74 percent in 2010.

With nearly three out of four young women in college, there aren't many 20-to-24-year-olds with the time or inclination to have a baby, not to mention the money. College enrollment also explains why women's median age at first marriage has grown from 20.3 years in 1960 to a record high of 26.6 years in 2012.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Three-legged Stool Now a Four-legged Chair

Once upon a time, workers were told to plan on a three-legged stool for their retirement income: Social Security, an employer-provided pension, and personal savings. Over the past two decades, the stool has morphed into a chair, with earnings becoming the fourth leg. Take a look at how the distribution of income for households headed by people aged 65-plus has changed over the past two decades...

2010 1990
Total 100.0 100.0
Earnings 31.2 18.4
Savings 11.3 24.5
Social Security 36.0 35.7
Pension 18.3 18.1

Earnings are now the second largest source of income for elderly householders. Income from savings has fallen from second place in 1990 to last place in 2010.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Changing Sources of Income among the Aged Population

Births Continue Downward Slide in 2012

The provisional count of births through the first half of 2012 shows a continued downward slide, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. During the 12 months ending in June 2012, 3,942,000 babies were born in the United States. This was 39,000 fewer births than during the same period ending in June 2011--a 1 percent decline. It was 374,233 fewer births than the 4,316,233 of 2007--the record high year.

So far in this newest baby bust, births have fallen 9 percent from the 2007 peak. During the baby bust of the 1970s, which created Generation X, births fell 37 percent from peak (1957) to trough (1973). We have a long way to go before we come close to that kind of decline.

The fertility rate for the 12 months ending in June 2012 fell to 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. This is an all-time low.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Recent Trends in Births and Fertility Rates through June 2012

Monday, December 03, 2012

Retirement in Tatters

Many Americans are no longer planning to retire. A new survey of workers aged 18 or older finds a substantial 43 percent planning to work past age 70 or not retire at all. The 54 percent majority say they will continue to work even after retirement. And 65 percent do not have a back-up plan if they find themselves unable to work before their planned retirement, according to the report by Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

Retirement has become an elusive dream because of the disappearance of traditional, defined-benefit pensions. Only 16 percent of employers now fund these guaranteed income streams for retirees. Most employers now offer cheaper (for them) and less dependable (for retirees) defined-contribution retirement savings plans, which require workers to save for their own retirement. Not surprisingly, the average worker falls far short of saving enough. In 2012, households headed by baby boomers had a median of $99,320 in total retirement savings (not counting Social Security benefits). Gen Xers had $41,821, and Millennials had $15,213. Since the average householder aged 65 or older spends about $38,000 a year, it becomes clear why so many Americans are giving up on retirement.

Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, Weathering the Economic Storm: Retirement Plans in the United States, 2007-2012

Sunday, December 02, 2012

College Grads Move Away

The higher your educational attainment, the less likely you are to live in your state of birth, according to the 2011 American Community Survey. Among Americans aged 25 or older with a bachelor's degree, only 42 percent live in their state of birth. In contrast, the 58 percent majority of those with no more than a high school diploma live in their state of birth.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Abortions Decline Slightly

There were 784,507 abortions in the United States in 2009 (the latest data available). This number counts only abortions in states that report to the CDC, which does not include the most populous state--California. In states that have continuously reported abortions to the CDC, the annual number fell from 826,123 in 2000 to 772,630 in 2009--a decline of 6 percent.

Source: CDC, Abortion Surveillance--United States, 2009

Friday, November 30, 2012

Single-Person Households by Race and Hispanic Origin

Percentage of households headed by people who live alone, by race and Hispanic origin...

Total: 27%
Asian: 18%
Black: 33%
Hispanic: 17%
Non-Hispanic white: 29%

Source: Census Bureau, 2012 Current Population Survey

Thursday, November 29, 2012

HIV Testing

Percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who have ever been tested for HIV...
Males: 24%
Females: 45%

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors among Youths--United States

Cell Phone Activities by Race and Hispanic Origin

Fully 85 percent of Americans own a cell phone, and they use their phones for much more than making calls. Among cell phone owners, there are big differences in cell phone activities by age, but few by race and Hispanic origin, according to Pew...

Percent who use their phone to take pictures
Black: 79%
Hispanic: 85%
Non-Hispanic white: 80%

Percent who use their phone for texting
Black: 80%
Hispanic: 85%
Non-Hispanic white: 79%

Percent who use their phone to access the Internet
Black: 60%
Hispanic: 66%
Non-Hispanic white: 52%

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Cell Phone Activities 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Additional Adults

In 2011, nearly one in five households in the United States (19.2 percent) was a shared household--meaning additional adults live in the household besides the householder and the householder's spouse or partner. The 19.2 percent is a substantial figure, but it has not grown all that much since 2007, when 17.6 percent of households were shared. In other words, households with additional adults are not only common today, but they were common before the Great Recession as well. (Additional adults do not include 18-to-24-year-olds if they are enrolled in school, according to the Census Bureau's definition.)

Overall, 17.9 percent of Americans aged 18 or older are additional adults in a shared household. Here are the percentages by age...

Aged 18 to 24: 35.3%
Aged 25 to 34: 30.5%
Aged 35 to 64: 11.9%
Aged 65-plus: 10.9%

Source: Census Bureau, Poverty and Shared Households by State: 2011

Cell Phone Activities by Age

What do people do with their cell phone besides making phone calls? Taking pictures is the most popular cell phone activity, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project. Among the 85 percent of Americans who own a cell phone, 82 percent have used their phone to take a picture. Eighty percent have sent or received text messages, and 56 percent have accessed the Internet. There are big differences by age in the percentage of cell phone owners who do these activities, primarily because of the greater ownership of smartphones among younger Americans.

  • 94% of 18-to-29-year-olds have used their phone to take pictures versus only 44% of cell phone owners aged 65 or older.
  • 97% of 18-to-29-year-olds have used their phone to send or receive text messages versus only 34% of cell phone owners aged 65 or older.
  • 77% of 18-to-29-year-olds have used their phone to access the Internet versus only 13% of cell phone owners aged 65 or older.

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Cell Phone Activities 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Household Income Stable in October 2012

Median household income held steady between September and October 2012, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The October median of $51,378 was $40 less than the September median, a change that was not statistically significant.

Median household income in October 2012 was 4.7 percent lower than the median in June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 7.2 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 8.1 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for September 2012 was 91.9 (January 2000 = 100.0). 

For details on monthly changes in household income since January 2000, a spreadsheet is available from Sentier's web site for $25.00.

Source: Sentier Research, Trends in Household Income: October 2012

Children in the ER

Percentage of children under age 18 who visited an emergency room in the past year: 18%.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2011

Monday, November 26, 2012

Median Age of Movers

Median age of Americans who moved in the past year: 27
Median age of Americans who did not move in the past year: 41

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

Saturday, November 24, 2012

No Vehicles

Nine million households in the United States do not own a vehicle, or 8 percent of the nation's 115 million households. Here are the percentages of households without a vehicle, by selected characteristics of the householder...

Homeowner: 2.8%
Renter: 18.8%
Black: 18.9%
Hispanic: 11.3%
Poor: 23.8%
Northeast: 16.0%
Midwest: 7.0%
South: 6.4%
West: 6.0%
Central city: 15.8%
Suburb: 5.0%
Nonmetropolitan: 5.2%

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Friday, November 23, 2012

Arrest in the United States: 2010

State and local law enforcement made 13,122,110 arrests in 2010. Of the 28 offense categories, 10 categories account for the 61 percent majority of arrests...

1. Driving under the influence: 1,412,220
2. Drug possession: 1,336,530. Arrests for this offense have increased 80 percent since 1990.
3. Simple assault: 1,292,450. Defined as an assault without a weapon in which no serious bodily injury to the victim occurs. Stalking and hazing are included in this category.
4. Larceny-theft: 1,271,410. Defined as stealing without force or fraud. It includes pickpocketing, shoplifting, stealing from cars, and bicycle theft.
5. Disorderly conduct: 615,170
6. Drunkenness: 560,720
7. Liquor law violation: 512,790
8. Aggravated assault: 408,490. Defined as an attack on another person for the purpose of inflicting severe bodily injury, usually with a weapon.
9. Drug sale/manufacture: 302,310
10. Burglary: 289,770. Defined as the unlawful entry into a home or other structure to commit a felony or theft.

Not appearing in the top ten list are murder, rape, and robbery. Only 11,200 people were arrested for murder or manslaughter in 2010--half as many as in 1990. There were 20,090 arrests for rape in 2010, and 112,300 arrests for robbery.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Arrest in the United States, 1990-2010

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sick Days

Number of school days missed in the past year by children aged 5 to 17 because of illness...

None: 29%
One to two: 30%
Three to five: 26%
Six to ten: 10%
Eleven or more: 5%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2011

Ideal Weight and Real Weight

All that turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and whipped cream on dinner tables today will only add to this problem: as Americans gain weight, they are adjusting their ideal weight upward, according to Gallup. Men say their ideal weight is 185 pounds, up from an ideal of 171 pounds two decades ago. Women say their ideal weight is 140 pounds, up from an ideal of 129 pounds two decades ago. How much do they really weigh? Take a look...

Men's weight, in pounds
Gallup, self-reported: 196
Government, measured: 195.5

Women's weight, in pounds
Gallup, self-reported: 156
Government, measured: 166.2

Source: Gallup and National Center for Health Statistics

Number of Times Married

Among the nation's 169 million ever-married men and women, 75 percent have been married once, 20 percent have been married twice, and 5 percent have been married three or more times.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Raising the Next Generation of Internet Consumers

The overwhelming majority of parents with teenagers are concerned about their child's online activities, according to a Pew study (Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy). The handwringing extends from worry over how much advertisers are learning about their child to fear that their child's online activities will impact their future employment opportunities. Strangely absent from their concerns is fear that their children aren't learning enough about the Internet and are growing up to be yet another generation of Internet consumers rather than producers.

Another Stab at Defining the Middle Class

"There is no official government definition of who belongs to the middle class," notes the Congressional Research Service report, The Distribution of Household Income and the Middle Class (PDF)Because Congress frequently legislates for the middle class, however, defining the middle class becomes important.

According to the report, the middle class can be defined either absolutely (a specific income level) or relatively (compared to others). In absolute terms, studies show the middle class to be broad indeed. Americans identify themselves as middle class at household income levels ranging from about the middle of the third income quintile (or between $38,521 and $62,434) well into the top income quintile ($101,583 or more).

Relative income--or how people feel about their income--may be the more important determinant of middle class well-being. "Having incomes far above those at the lower end of the income distribution is a source of satisfaction to the middle class," notes the report. "But when those at the upper end of the distribution fare much better than they do, it can be a source of consternation to the middle class." As the rich have gotten richer, the middle class has been feeling poorer--a recipe for political turmoil and social unrest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two Markets: Day Care and College

Which is the bigger market--day care or college? The day care market used to be bigger, but that's no longer the case as rising unemployment during the Great Recession reduced day care spending.

In 2000, 6.20 percent of the nation's households spent on day care centers during an average quarter versus 4.85 percent who spent on college tuition, according to a Demo Memo Blog analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. In 2007, before the official start of the Great Recession, day care spending had shrunk to 5.39 percent of households but it still surpassed the 4.97 percent who spent on college tuition. In 2008 the day care market fell below the college market and has been there ever since.

Interestingly, the percentage of households spending on college tuition peaked in 2009 at 5.62 percent. By 2011, the percentage had fallen to 4.98 percent--barely surpassing the 4.71 percent who spent on day care.

Boomer Attitudes Toward Marijuana

Most Americans under age 65 now support the legalization of marijuana, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. The baby-boom generation (born 1946 through 1964) popularized marijuana use, but until 2010 most boomers were against legalization. Take a look at how boomer attitudes toward legalization have changed over the years...

Percent of baby boomers who favored legalizing the use of marijuana
1980: 39%
1990: 18%
2000: 32%
2010: 54%

Sources: General Social Surveys

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Health Insurance, Ever

In 2011, 45 million Americans under age 65 did not have health insurance--or 17 percent of the age group, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Among the uninsured, 9 million have never had health insurance. Among those who have never had health insurance, 63 percent are Hispanic.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Summary Health Statistics for the U.S. Population: National Health Interview Survey, 2011

The Year the House Was Built

Although the housing bubble resulted in the construction of many new homes, half the housing stock in the United States is nearly 40 years old--built in 1974 or earlier, according to the 2011 American Housing Survey.

The housing stock is older in some regions than others. The oldest is in the Northeast. In the Middle Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, half the homes were built in 1958 or earlier. The newest housing is in the East South Central states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, where half of occupied housing units were built in 1980 or later.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Religiously Unaffiliated

Nearly one in five Americans (19 percent) is religiously unaffiliated--a figure that has more than doubled since 1990, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. The religiously unaffiliated have become one of the largest segments of the American population. They are almost as numerous as Catholics (22 percent) and evangelical Protestants (20 percent). They outnumber white mainline Protestants (15 percent).

Interestingly, most of the religiously unaffiliated believe in God. The largest share (34 percent) believe God is an impersonal force. Another 31 percent believe God is a person. Just 30 percent do not believe in God.

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, The 2012 American Values Survey

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Watching Live TV

Only 56 percent of Americans usually watch television programs at the time they are broadcast. The rest usually watch programs recorded on their DVRs or from on-demand services or digital streaming. Here are the percentages who usually watch live TV by generation...

Millennials (18-35): 44%
Gen Xers (36-47): 54%
Boomers (48-66): 66%
Matures (67+): 63%

Source: Harris Interactive, Over Half of Americans Have Watched TV Shows Via "Streaming"

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's Behind Shrinking Household Size?

Curiously, despite the economic turmoil in the aftermath of the Great Recession, average household size fell to a record low in 2012. The Census Bureau's release of 2012 household statistics shows why: the changing age distribution of the population. A look at household size by age of householder reveals an increase in household size in all but one age group between 2007 and 2012. Nevertheless, the average fell because of the aging of the population and the entry of generation X into the crowded-nest lifestage.

In 2012, the average household was home to 2.55 people, slightly smaller than the 2.56 of 2007. By age, however, average household size fell in only one age group during those years. The average size of households headed by 30-to-34-year-olds fell from 3.09 to 3.06 people. Every other age group experienced a slight increase in household size, with one of the largest gains occurring in the 40-to-44 age group (rising from 3.22 to 3.44 people).

Average household size declined between 2007 and 2012 because of the shifting age distribution of the nation's householders. In the 65-plus age group, average household size is less than two. Between 2007 and 2012, householders aged 65-plus expanded from 20 to 22 percent of total households. Meanwhile, the share of households headed by 35-to-44-year-olds (when household size peaks) fell from 20 to 18 percent of the total as generation X moved in. Yes, some young adults are living with their parents, but not enough to move the dial on average household size.

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Median Age of Marriage Hits New Highs

The median age at which men and women marry for the first time continued to climb in 2012.
  • Men now marry for the first time at a median age of 28.6, up from 26.8 in 2000 and a low of 22.5 years in the 1950s. 
  • Women now marry for the first time at a median age of 26.6, up from 25.1 in 2000 and a low of 20.1 years in the 1950s.
Source: Census Bureau, Families and Living Arrangements, Marital Status

16% of Calories from Alcohol

Beer, wine, and liquor provide 16 percent of the daily calories of the average American, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. On an average day, 33 percent of men and 18 percent of women aged 20 or older drink alcohol. The average man consumes 150 calories a day from alcohol, and the average woman consumes 53. These figures come from 24-hour dietary recall interviews in the 2007-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

On a given day, 20 percent of men and 5 percent of women drink beer. Wine is consumed by 7 percent of women and 4 percent of men on a given day. Among men, 19 percent consume over 300 calories a day from alcohol--or more than two drinks a day. Twelve percent of women consume over 150 calories a day from alcohol--or more than one drink a day. If these figures seem low, keep in mind that alcohol consumption is widely underreported.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Calories Consumed from Alcoholic Beverages by U.S. Adults, 2007-2010

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The AARP Voter

Immediately after the election, AARP was in the field surveying 50-plus voters about the future of Social Security and Medicare. Forty-eight percent had voted for Romney and 43 percent for Obama, according to the survey's results.

Although their vote was split, Americans aged 50-plus are united in their attitude toward Social Security and Medicare, and that attitude is: Don't Mess With Our Benefits! Fully 70 percent of 50-plus voters do not want Social Security or Medicare changes to be crammed into an end-of-year budget agreement. In fact, they don't want Social Security or Medicare to change at all. Seventy-six percent oppose any reduction in Medicare benefits and 78 percent oppose any reduction in Social Security benefits for current recipients.

Source: AARP, 50+ Americans and the Future of Medicare and Social Security

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What's In Your Shopping Cart?

How healthy is the food Americans put in their shopping cart at the grocery store? There is a very specific answer to that question. On a scale of 1 (least healthy) to 100 (most healthy), our Healthy Eating Index is 56.4, according to a USDA study.

This information comes from Nielsen Homescan data collected from 1998 through 2006. To collect the data, Nielsen asked a sample of U.S. households to scan the UPC codes of their grocery purchases. The data show that Americans are not buying enough of the recommended foods such as dark green vegetables, whole fruits, and fish. Meanwhile, they're buying too much unhealthy food such as refined grains, red meat, beverages, and sugar. No surprises there.

Here is the surprise: there are few differences in the healthfulness of our shopping carts by income or race. Everyone is doing poorly when it comes to buying the right food. There are differences by region, however. On average, households in the Northeast and West buy healthier food than those in the Midwest and South.

Source: USDA, Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers' Grocery Purchases

From Owning to Renting

Among the 16 million Americans who moved in the past year, this many...

Owners became renters: 3,051,000
Renters became owners: 1,695,000

The homeownership status of the remaining 11 million movers did not change when they moved (owners continued to be owners, and renters continued to be renters).

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Monday, November 12, 2012

Support for Gay Marriage by Region

Nationally, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry grew from 33 to 48 percent of the public between 2003 and 2012, according to Pew Research Center. Support grew in every region during those years, but big differences remain. Here is the percentage in support of gay marriage by region in 2012...

New England: 62%
Middle Atlantic: 57%
Pacific Coast: 54%
Mountain West: 51%
Great Lakes: 49%
Midwest: 46%
South Atlantic: 42%
South Central: 35%

Note: For regional definitions, see source.
Source: Pew Research Center, Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Keeping Secrets

Do you keep secrets from your spouse? Many Americans do, according to an AARP survey. Seventeen percent say they have not told their spouse/partner about a purchase they made in the past 12 months. Younger adults are most likely to keep secrets, with 23 percent hiding a purchase from a spouse/partner. Among adults aged 50 or older, a smaller 12 percent have hidden a purchase.

Source: AARP, AARP Bulletin Survey on Financial Honesty

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stolen Guns

Guns stolen annually during household burglaries or other property crimes: 232,400.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Firearms Stolen during Household Burglaries and Other Property Crimes, 2005-2010

Friday, November 09, 2012

Workers Face Growing Retirement Risk

Most of today's working households could see a decline in their standard of living in retirement. That's the finding of a new analysis by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which created the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) to measure the adequacy of retirement savings. The NRRI is defined as the percentage of working households without sufficient retirement savings or other assets to replace their pre-retirement income--even if they work to age 65 and annuitize all their financial holdings.

Between 2007 and 2010, the NRRI climbed from 44 to 53 percent--meaning more than half of working households are at risk of experiencing a lower standard of living in retirement. What accounts for the 9 percentage point increase in the NRRI between 2007 and 2010? Half of the increase is due to the decline in housing values, since home equity accounts for the largest share of household wealth. Other factors are the decline in interest rates, the rise in Social Security's full retirement age (from 65 to 67), and low stock prices.

Source: Center for Retirement Research, The National Retirement Risk Index: An Update

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Asset Poverty Is Rising

One in five American households is asset poor, according to the Urban Institute. Asset poverty is defined as not having enough net worth (wealth) to survive for three months at the federal poverty level--or $5,580 in net worth for a family of four.

The percentage of households in asset poverty grew from 16.1 to 19.6 percent between 2007 and 2010. The asset poverty rate is highest among the youngest householders...

Asset poverty rate by age of householder, 2010
Under age 30: 43.2%
Aged 30 to 49: 29.3%
Aged 40 to 49: 19.9%
Aged 50 to 61: 13.4%
Aged 62 to 69: 8.7%
Aged 70-plus: 7.9%

Source: Urban Institute, U.S. Asset Poverty and the Great Recession

Health Care Expenses: 2010

Eighty-five percent of Americans had a health care expense in 2010, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The median total expense per person was $1,239, with the largest share (40 percent) paid for by private insurance. Only 14 percent of health care expenses are paid out-of-pocket. Here is the percentage of the population with health care expenses in 2010 by age (and median expenses per person)...

Under age 5: 89.2% ($469)
Aged 5 to 17: 84.6% ($517)
Aged 18 to 24: 71.9% ($557)
Aged 25 to 34: 75.3% ($817)
Aged 35 to 44: 79.9% ($1,233)
Aged 45 to 54: 86.6% ($1,670)
Aged 55 to 64: 92.3% ($2,594)
Aged 65-plus: 96.3% ($4,513)

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2010 Summary Data Tables

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It's the Demographics, Stupid!

Only 72 percent of voters in the 2012 election were non-Hispanic white--the smallest percentage ever recorded by exit polls.

The detailed demographics of 2012 voters (such as the non-Hispanic white share of voters by age) will have to await Current Population Survey results. Following presidential and congressional elections, the Current Population Survey asks Americans whether they voted, producing detailed profiles of voters by demographic characteristic--including age-by-race-and-Hispanic-origin crosstabs. It will take until next year before we get those results.

We don't have to wait until next year to conclude that this election was all about the demographics. NBC News summed it up: "What happened last night was a demographic time bomb."

Wages in 2011

American workers earned $6 trillion in 2011, according to W-2 data reported by employers to the Social Security Administration. The median wage (meaning half of workers earned more and half earned less) was $26,965. Of the nation's 151 million workers, 102,694 earned $1 million or more. At the very top of the scale, 93 workers earned $50 million or more in 2011.

Source: Social Security Administration, Wage Statistics for 2011

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Older White Vote

Anyone who expects the 2012 election to be like the 2010 election doesn't know their demographics. Take a look at the percentage of voters in each of the past two elections who were non-Hispanic whites aged 45 or older...

2010 2008
Total voters 100% 100%
NHW 45+ 54 47
Everyone else 46 53

In the 2010 election, non-Hispanic whites aged 45 or older accounted for the 54 percent majority of voters because they are much more likely than everyone else to vote in a congressional election. In the 2008 presidential election, in contrast, older whites were only 47 percent of voters. In the 2012 election, expect older whites to be an even smaller share of the vote.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration

Monday, November 05, 2012

What Are Young Adults Saving For?

If you're waiting for the housing market to rebound, you might have to wait a long time. The results of a recent Harris survey show that buying a home is way down on the list of priorities for young adults who are saving money. Most (59 percent) of 18-to-35-year-olds are currently saving money, but the percentage who are saving to buy a home is smaller than the percentage who are saving for a rainy day, college, retirement, a car, or a vacation. Here is what young adults are saving for (more than one goal could be cited)...

Rainy day fund: 55%
College costs for myself: 32%
Retirement: 29%
Car purchase: 26%
Vacation: 23%
Home purchase: 22%
College costs for my kids: 11%
Marriage: 8%
Birth of a child: 5%

Source: Harris Interactive, Retirement and Health Care Costs Weighing Heavy on Americans' Minds

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Spending a $100,000 Windfall

If someone handed you $100,000--say you won the lottery or received an inheritance--what would you do with the money? That was the question Americans aged 18 or older were asked in a recent Harris Interactive survey. Here are the answers...

Pay off debt: 59%
Save for a rainy day: 42%
Invest for my retirement: 33%
Go on vacation: 19%
Donate to charity: 18%
Buy a car: 17%
Treat myself: 15%
Buy a house: 13%
Pay for my kids' college: 10%
Go back to school: 6%

Paying off debt was the number-one response of Millennials (55 percent), Gen Xers (73 percent), and Baby Boomers (60 percent). Among people aged 67 or older, saving for a rainy day was the number-one response (51 percent), and paying off debt was number two (44 percent).

Saturday, November 03, 2012

South Sees Biggest Year-Over-Year Decline in Homeownership

Is the South falling behind other regions in the economic recovery? Trends in the region's homeownership rate suggest this might be the case. During the past year--between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012--the homeownership rate in the South fell by 1.5 percentage points. This drop was more than double the declines in the Midwest and West and in contrast to the 0.2 percentage point increase in homeownership in the Northeast.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Friday, November 02, 2012

Test Tube Babies

How many of the nation's newborns would not be here without, as the CDC calls it, assisted reproductive technology? The answer is 1.4 percent. As a result of the 146,244 assisted reproductive technology procedures performed in 2009 (the latest data available), 60,190 babies were born--or just over 1 percent of births. Assisted reproductive technology is defined by the CDC to include only fertility treatments in which both egg and sperm are handled in a laboratory. It does not include artificial insemination or drug-induced egg production unless the drug treatment is for egg retrieval.

Multiple births are a common outcome of assisted reproductive technology. That's because most parents choose to transfer more than one embryo during these procedures, according to the CDC--primarily because of cost. In 2009, almost half (47 percent) of babies born through assisted reproductive technology were multiple births compared with only 3 percent of all births.

The introduction of assisted reproductive technology explains why 1 in every 30 babies born in the United States in 2009 was a twin, up from 1 in every 53 babies in 1980. Overall, 19 percent of twin births and 34 percent of triplet births are the result of assisted reproductive technology.

Source: CDC, Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance—United States, 2009

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Americans Are More Secure

Fewer households are experiencing economic insecurity, according to the Economic Security Index, a project that measures the share of households that have experienced at least a 25 percent drop in their economic resources in the past year. In 2011, 18.9 percent of households experienced that kind of plunge in their household resources, down from 20.2 percent in 2010. This is "the largest year-over-year decline in the last quarter century," according to ESI. The 18.9 percent of households that were insecure in 2011 was the smallest since 2005.

The Economic Security Index tracks the percentage of households that experience a decline of 25 percent or more in their household income after paying for medical care and servicing their debt and who lack the savings to replace their lost income. 

What explains the 2011 decline in the ESI--or, in other words, the increase in the percentage of households that are financially secure? One factor is that we may have hit bottom. Once a household has lost much of its income, it doesn't have much farther to fall. Another reason is that household income has stabilized and household debt has fallen.   

Despite the 2011 decline in insecure households, the level of insecurity remains far above what it was in 1986--the first year included in ESI's analysis. In 1986, only 14.3 percent of households were economically insecure. The figure peaked at 20.5 percent in 2009.

Source: Economic Security Index, ESI Update: Economic Security Improves in 2011

Women Are Catching Up

Among full-time wage-and-salary workers in 1980, women earned only 64 percent as much as men. By 2011 the figure had climbed to 82 percent. Drilling down into the data, the trend gets even better. Among full-time workers aged 25 to 34, women earned 92 percent as much as men in 2011. That's up from just 69 percent in 1980.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2011

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trends in First-Time Homebuying

During the past five years, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds has fallen more steeply than the rate of any other age group. This is bad news for the housing market because, typically, the majority of Americans first become homeowners in their early thirties. Between the third quarter of 2007 and the third quarter of 2012, the homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 fell from 55.3 to 46.9 percent. The rate fell because most 25-to-29-year-olds of 2007, who entered their early thirties during the next five years, were unable or unwilling to buy a home.

The homeownership rate of 25-to-29-year-olds was 40.5 percent in the third quarter of 2007. Five years later in the third quarter of 2012, the homeownership rate of the cohort, now aged 30 to 34, had grown to 46.9 percent. The cohort boosted its homeownership rate by 6.4 percentage points as it aged from its late twenties to its early thirties. Sounds good for the housing market, right?

Wrong. That 6.4 percentage point increase pales in comparison to past gains in homeownership as people aged from their late twenties to their early thirties. For example, in 2002 the homeownership rate of 25-to-29-year-olds was 39.6 percent. Five years later in 2007, the homeownership rate of the same cohort, aged 30 to 34, was 55.3 percent--a gain of 15.7 percentage points! If the homeownership rate of today's 30-to-34-year-olds had grown that much between 2007 and 2012, their current rate would be 56.2 percent--nearly 10 percentage points higher than it is today.

For the housing market to recover, it has to get those first-time homebuyers back.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Having our Cake and Eating It Too

Americans want all the goodies, but they don't want to pay for them. When the public is asked which aspects of the Affordable Care Act they would like to keep, the majority favors almost every element of the plan...

70% want to prevent health insurers from denying coverage for preexisting conditions
63% want children to be able to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26
61% want new health insurance exchanges set up where people can shop for insurance
57% want to limit health insurance companies' profit margins
57% want research to measure the effectiveness of different medical treatments
55% want employers with 50+ employees to provide health insurance or pay a penalty

But only 26% want to keep the provision that requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty--the mechanism by which all of the above becomes possible.

Source: Harris Interactive, Partisanship Guides Americans' Attitudes on Health-Care Reform Law: Poll

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter, 2012

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, third quarter 2012: 46.9%

The 3rd quarter homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 fell to 46.9 percent, well below the 50 percent threshold and 3.0 percentage points lower than a year ago. Overall, the homeownership rate in the nation as whole was 65.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012 and 0.8 percentage points below the 66.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011.

The homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group is the bellwether for the housing industry. Historically, the majority of householders have become homeowners in their early thirties. That is no longer the case as adults in their early thirties--many burdened by student loans--cannot afford to buy a home. In 2011, the annual homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group fell below 50 percent (to 48.9 percent) for the first time in the data series, which dates back to 1982.

Most age groups experienced a decline in homeownership between the third quarters of 2011 and 2012. The steepest decline in homeownership occurred in the 30-to-34 age group.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, October 29, 2012

119 Million Home Improvement Projects

In the past two years, homeowners have undertaken 119 million home improvement projects, according to the 2011 American Housing Survey. They spent $358 billion remodeling rooms, upgrading systems, and replacing interior or exterior features of their house.

Most often homeowners hire professionals to do the job. Nearly two out of three home improvement projects undertaken in the past two years were done by professionals. Homeowners spent $295 billion on these projects--or 82 percent of total home improvement spending. The median cost of a professional project was $3,900, but the cost ranged from $30,000 for a kitchen addition to just $500 for appliance replacement and installation.

Some homeowners are brave enough to do it themselves. Homeowners have tackled 44 million do-it-yourself projects in the past two years, spending a total of $64 million. The median cost of a do-it-yourself project was $950, with the cost ranging from $5,000 for a kitchen renovation or a new garage to just $150 for plumbing work. The data do not reveal how many do-it-yourselfers ended up calling a professional to tidy things up.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Households with Stairs

Stairs can be found in nearly half of American homes. According to the 2011 American Housing Survey, 54 million households have inside stairs--or 47 percent of the total. Owner-occupied houses are much more likely to have stairs (57 percent) than renter-occupied homes (26 percent). In households headed by people aged 65 or older, 45 percent have stairs.

The presence of stairs in homes varies greatly by region. In the Northeast and Midwest, from 65 to 66 percent of houses have indoor stairs. In the South and West, only 34 to 35 percent of houses have stairs.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Households with Smokers

It is a well-known public health fact that 21 percent of Americans aged 18 or older smoke cigarettes. But here's a different way to look at the prevalence of smoking: what percentage of households include smokers?

According to the 2011 American Housing Survey, only 12 percent of the nation's households include smokers. But, not surprisingly, the percentage varies greatly by household characteristic. Sixteen percent of renter-occupied households include smokers compared with 10 percent of owner-occupied households. Among renter-occupied mobile homes, 29 percent have smokers--the highest percentage found in the survey.

By region, households with smokers are most common in the Midwest (15 percent) and least common in the West (7 percent). In the suburbs of metropolitan areas, 10 percent of households have smokers. The figure is a higher 13 percent in central cities and an even higher 15 percent in nonmetropolitan areas. Among households in poverty, 20 percent have smokers.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Friday, October 26, 2012

MMWR iPad App

If you want to follow the latest health statistics on your iPad, then this might be the app for you: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, now available free from the iTunes store. Using this app you can easily access current or past volumes of the CDC's MMWR, Surveillance Summaries, Recommendations & Reports, and Vital Signs.

But wait...there's a problem. The "current" volume accessed through the app is October 5, 2012--a couple weeks behind the October 26 issue now available. As this new app gets up and running, let's hope it gets more current.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Minorities More Multigenerational

Multigenerational households have gotten a lot of press lately, thanks to their rise during the Great Recession. Despite the media attention, they are not all that common. In the 2009-2011 time period, only 4.3 million of the nation's 76 million family households were home to three or more generations--or 5.6 percent. The Census Bureau defines a multigenerational household as one that includes three or four generations (grandparents, parents, and children, and possibly great-grandparents). Not included are households in which parents live with adult children.

Probably the most interesting thing about multigenerational households is how their importance varies among Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites. Take a look at the share of family households that are multigenerational by race and Hispanic origin:

Asian: 9.4%
Black: 9.5%
Hispanic: 10.3%
Non-Hispanic white: 3.7%

These numbers reflect both economic and cultural differences among race and Hispanic origin groups. The Census Bureau report examines the multigenerational share of households by state, and by race and Hispanic origin within states. Among Hispanics, for example, the multigenerational share of family households ranges from a low of 2.3 percent in North Dakota to a high of 12.7 percent in California.

Source: Census Bureau, Multigenerational Households: 2009-2011

Book Reading by Age

Percent of Americans aged 16 or older who have read a book in whole or in part, in any format, in the past 12 months...

Total, 16-plus: 78%
Aged 16 to 17: 86%
Aged 18 to 24: 88%
Aged 25 to 29: 76%
Aged 30 to 39: 84%
Aged 40 to 49: 79%
Aged 50 to 64: 77%
Aged 65-plus: 68%

Source: Pew Research Center, Younger Americans' Reading and Library Habits

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Household Income Up in September 2012

Median household income climbed 1.0 percent between August and September 2012 after adjusting for inflation, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The September median of $51,438 was $534 greater than the August median, a statistically significant increase.

Households are still struggling to make up for all the ground lost not just during the Great Recession, but during the entire 2000-to-2012 time period. Median household income in September 2012 was 4.7 percent lower than the median in June 2009--the end of the Great Recession. It was 7.1 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 8.0 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for September 2012 was 92.0 (January 2000 = 100.0). 

For those interested in how household income has changed by household characteristic, you can get a copy of "Changes in Household Income During the Economic Recovery: June 2009 to June 2012," from Sentier's web site for $25.00.

Source: Sentier Research, Trends in Household Income: September 2012

Weight Update

Every few years the federal government reports on the weight of Americans--not how much they say they weigh (which tends to be underreported), but their actual measured weight. These data are collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The latest findings, for the 2007-2010 time period, show the following for people aged 20 or older...

Average weight
Men: 195.5 pounds
Women: 166.2 pounds

Average height
Men: 69.3 inches
Women: 63.8 inches

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007-2010

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

6.8 Million Homeowners Are Underwater

Fully 6.8 million homeowners were underwater on their mortgage in 2011, up from 5.8 million in 2009 and 2.5 million in 2007, according to newly released data from the American Housing Survey. Underwater homeowners are those with an outstanding balance on their mortgage greater than or equal to the value of their home. The percentage of homeowners with a mortgage who are in this financial squeeze climbed to 14 percent in 2011, up from 12 percent in 2007 and 5 percent in 2007.

One reason for the growing number of underwater homeowners is the decline in home value. Between 2007 and 2011, the median value of owned homes fell by 23 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In 2011, median housing value was just $160,000, down from $178,000 in 2007 and $208,000 in 2007 (in 2011 dollars). For all homeowners with a mortgage, the outstanding balance on their mortgage as a percentage of home value grew to a median of 71 percent in 2011, up from 63 percent in 2009 and 54 percent in 2007.

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Housing Survey

Few Older Americans Use Social Media

It's a good thing most Americans aged 50-plus are retired, because they would be unable to earn a living in the Internet Age. The latest confirmation of this finding is an AARP survey on social media use. Only 38 percent of people aged 50 or older use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter versus 69 percent of people aged 18 to 49. When asked why they do not use social media, most nonusers aged 50-plus say they're not interested or it's a waste of time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homeowners and Renters: 25 Years of Spending

How has the spending of homeowners and renters changed over the past 25 years? A comparison of 2010 and 1986 Consumer Expenditure Survey data shows that, on the surface at least, the spending of homeowners and renters is remarkably unchanged.

In 2010, households headed by homeowners spent an average of $55,780, slightly less than the $56,050 spent by homeowners in 1986, after adjusting for inflation. The spending of households headed by renters was also about the same in both years--$33,460 in 2010, down slightly from $33,520 in 1986.

Changes in spending emerge in the details, however. Both homeowners and renters spent much more on  health insurance and much less on transportation in 2010 versus 1986. Both spent more on housing and less on food away from home. The only major category in which homeowners and renters have diverged in their spending is entertainment. Homeowners spent 11 percent more on entertainment in 2010 than in 1986, after adjusting for inflation. Renters spent 6 percent less.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, A Comparison of 25 Years of Consumer Expenditures by Homeowners and Renters

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Prescription Medicine Use

The 57 percent majority of Americans did not take any prescription medication in 2010, according to a Census Bureau study, while 35 percent were regular users of prescription medicine. The percentage who regularly take prescription medication rises with age...

Regular users of prescription medicine in 2010
Total population: 34.6%
Under age 18: 12.5%
Aged 18 to 24: 15.7%
Aged 25 to 44: 24.1%
Aged 45 to 64: 50.7%
Aged 65 or older: 80.0%

Source: Census Bureau, Health Status, Health Insurance, and Medical Services Utilization: 2010

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Who Doesn't Go to the Doctor?

Percentage of Americans who did not see a doctor/medical provider in the past year...

Total population: 27.3%
Under age 18: 35.4%
Aged 18 to 24: 37.2%
Aged 25 to 44: 32.7%
Aged 45 to 64: 20.4%
Aged 65 or older: 7.5%

Source: Census Bureau, Health Status, Health Insurance, and Medical Services Utilization: 2010

Friday, October 19, 2012

Counting Gays and Lesbians

Determining how many Americans are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) has been attempted many times over the years with varying results. The biggest problem is underreporting, since many gays and lesbians will not say so on a survey. Another problem is how to ask the question. Terms such as "heterosexual," "homosexual," "bisexual," and "transgender" can stump the less-educated portion of the population. This is why the federal government modified categories on the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth from "heterosexual" to "heterosexual or straight" and from "homosexual" to "homosexual or gay" (for men) and "homosexual, gay, or lesbian" (for women). Too many uneducated respondents did not understand what they were being asked.

Now Gallup has waded into the water, asking more than 120,000 respondents the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" The result: 3.4 percent of adults aged 18 or older identify themselves as LGBT.

Some may raise issue with the way Gallup asked the question--is it too complex for comprehension? Does it suggest political as well as sexual orientation? Despite these issues, the results are interesting--particularly by age. The percentage who identify themselves as LGBT is highest among 18-to-29-year-olds (6.4 percent) and falls with age to just 1.9 percent of people aged 65 or older. It's no surprise that younger Americans are more likely than older adults to identify themselves as LGBT because their peers are more accepting. Delving into the data more deeply, however, there is a portion of the population that says "don't know" or refuses to answer the question entirely. This proportion is smallest among young adults (3.5 percent) and rises with age to 6.5 percent of people aged 65 or older. If you sum the percentage of people who identify as LGBT and the percentage who "don't know" or refuse to answer, differences by age shrink considerably...

Percentage who identify as LGBT plus "don't know"/refused to answer:
Total, 18-plus: 3.4 + 4.4 = 7.8%
18-29: 6.4 + 3.5 = 9.9%
30-49: 3.2 + 3.2 = 6.4%
50-64: 2.6 + 4.3 = 6.7%
65-plus: 1.9 + 6.5 = 8.4%

This sum may do a better job of estimating the true size of the LGBT population.

Source: Gallup, Special Report: 3.4% of U.S. Adults Identify as LGBT

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Birth Control Is a Big Deal

Nearly every American woman at risk of becoming pregnant is currently using birth control. According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 89 percent of women aged 15 to 44 who are at risk of becoming pregnant (meaning they are sexually active and not pregnant) are using birth control. There is almost no variation in birth control use by demographic characteristic.

Percent who use birth control by religion
No religion: 86.9%
Catholic: 88.7%
Baptist/fundamentalist Protestant: 89.9%
Other Protestant: 90.2%

Percent who use birth control by education
Not a high school graduate: 88.3%
High school graduate only: 90.2%
Some college, no degree: 91.5%
Bachelor's degree or more: 89.6%

Percent who use birth control by race/Hispanic origin
Asian: 89.7%
Black: 82.8%
Hispanic, born in US: 89.5%
Hispanic, foreign born: 89.7%
Non-Hispanic white: 90.5%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Current Contraceptive Use in the United States, 2006-2010, and Changes in Patterns of Use Since 1995

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cell-Phone-Only by State

Cell phones are already a problem for pollsters. To make matter worse, the cell-phone-only population varies by state. Only 15 percent of adults live in a cell-phone-only household in Rhode Island, according to the latest state-level estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics. The figure is a much larger 42 percent in North Dakota. Within states, the cell-phone-only population varies from county to county as well. In Dallas County, Texas, the 53 percent majority of adults live in a cell-phone-only household. In Texas counties outside the state's large metros, only 38 percent are cell-phone-only.

What's a pollster to do? Experiment, tinker, reformulate, and recalculate in an attempt to reach the increasingly elusive American public. On November 6 the pollsters and the public will find out who got it right and who has to go back to the drawing board.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Wireless Substitution: State-Level Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 2010-2011

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Minority Majority: Not So Fast

A few months ago there was quite a hullabaloo when the Census Bureau's population estimates showed minorities to be the majority among the nation's newborns for the first time, with non-Hispanic whites accounting for only 49.6 percent of births between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011. But the bureau may have been getting ahead of itself and not accounting for the ongoing baby bust, which has affected Hispanics and blacks more than non-Hispanic whites.

According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, non-Hispanic whites accounted for the 54 percent majority of babies born in the United States in 2010 and 2011--a considerably larger share than had been estimated. The reason for the larger-than-expected non-Hispanic white share of births is the Great Recession and its disproportionate impact on the childbearing of Hispanic women and, to a lesser extent, black women.

The fertility rate of Hispanic women plummeted between 2007 and 2011, falling from 97.4 to 75.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44--a 22 percent decline. The fertility rate of non-Hispanic black women fell 8 percent during those years--from 71.4 to 65.5. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic white fertility fell by a smaller 4 percent, from 61.0 to 58.8. Consequently, the Hispanic share of births is shrinking rather than growing. Hispanics accounted for 23 percent of births in 2011, down from 25 percent in 2007 and well below the 26 percent that had been estimated by the Census Bureau. The minority majority will get here, just not as soon as we thought.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Preliminary Data for 2011

Monday, October 15, 2012

Who Needs the Federal Government?

Percentage of households receiving benefits from the federal government in 2011...

Social Security: 31.6%
Medicare: 28.9%
Medicaid: 19.5%
Food stamps: 12.7%
School lunch/breakfast: 11.2%
Supplemental Security Income: 5.8%
Public or subsidized housing: 5.0%
Women, Infants, and Children program: 4.2%
Unemployment compensation: 4.0%
Veterans compensation: 2.6%
Energy assistance: 2.1%
Cash assistance (welfare): 1.7%

Note: Households may receive benefits from more than one type of program.
Source: Census Bureau, Economic Characteristics of Households in the United States, 2011