Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Five Youngest Occupations, 2011

The median age of all employed workers in 2011 was 42.1 years. But some workers are much younger than others. Here is the median age of workers in the five occupations with the youngest median age...

21.4 years: Hosts and hostesses, restaurant
21.4 years: Counter attendants, cafeteria and food concession
21.8 years: Lifeguards
23.1 years: Motion picture projectionists
25.2 years: Ushers, lobby attendants, ticket takers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished table from the 2011 Current Population Survey

Friday, March 30, 2012

Household Income Stable in February

Median household income was about the same in February as in January 2012, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. February's $50,065 median was 0.4 percent lower than the January 2012 median ($50,241), after adjusting for inflation. The change  was not statistically significant.  

February's median household income was 5.7 percent lower than the median in June 2009--the supposed end of the Great Recession. It was 8.1 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 9.0 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for February 2012 was 91.0 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier Research, Household Income Trends: February 2012 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Housing Stock: Year Built

Despite the flurry of construction during the housing bubble, the percentage of the nation's 132 million housing units that were built between 2000 and 2010 is only slightly greater than the percentage built during the 1980s and 1990s. Take a look at the distribution of the nation's housing units by the decade they were built...

2000s: 14.8%
1990s: 13.9%
1980s: 14.0%
1970s: 16.0%
1960s: 11.1%
1950s: 10.9%
earlier: 19.2%

Source: Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Part-Time Workers Get No Respect

Percentage of part-time workers with health insurance through their own job: 17%.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Trends in Health Coverage for Part-Time Workers

Most and Least Religious States

There really is a Bible Belt, according to the findings of a Gallup survey on religion.

If you take a look at the states that are most religious, based on how people answer two questions (how important religion is in their lives and how often they attend religious services), they form a belt across the lower portion of the United States stretching from South Carolina to Texas. Gallup nicely provides a map, making it easy to see the belt.

In Mississippi, 59 percent of the population is very religious--more than in any other state. At the other extreme, only 23 percent of the populations of Vermont and New Hampshire are very religious. State differences in religiosity are due to "state culture" more than demographics. Says Gallup: "It appears there is something about the culture and normative structure of a state, no doubt based partly on that state's history, that affects its residents' propensity to attend religious services and to declare that religion is important in their daily lives."

Source: Gallup, Mississippi Is Most Religious U.S. State

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Census Bureau Hits and Misses

Following the census, the Census Bureau evaluates its population estimates, comparing its estimates with census counts. Overall, the total population estimate for April 1, 2010, missed the census count by a scant 0.1 percent. The estimate was short by just 259,054 people out of 308,745,538. That's a pretty impressive hit for the estimates program, which uses administrative records of births, deaths, and migration to determine not only the total population, but also the population of states and counties.

By state, the estimates differed from 2010 census counts by less than 1 percent in 33 states. The biggest underestimate was in Hawaii. The 2010 census counted 4.7 percent more people (63,416) in Hawaii than the bureau had estimated. The biggest overestimate was in Arizona. The 2010 census counted 4.1 percent fewer people (262,341) in Arizona than had been estimated.

Source: Census Bureau, Evaluation Estimates

Interest in Cars

How can American businesses be so dumb? Don't they ever pull their head out of their niche to take a look around? Apparently not, which is why so many businesses have allowed their customers to be sweet talked into spending all their money somewhere else.

The latest example: Car manufacturers are bemoaning the fact that young adults have "lost interest" in cars, according to the New York Times. To think that young adults have lost interest in cars is a failure to understand the market. Young adults are spending their money elsewhere not because they have lost interest in cars, but because they have gained interest (payments) on student loans all the while coping with double-digit unemployment rates.

The decline in overall vehicle spending among young adults has been stunning. In 1984 (the earliest data available), householders under age 25 devoted a hefty 24 percent of their expenditures to vehicles and vehicle expenses, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey. By 2010, the figure had fallen to 16 percent. Spending by young adults on new cars has collapsed. In 2010, the average householder under age 25 spent only $393 on new cars, down from $1,114 in 1984 after adjusting for inflation.

It is no coincidence that the additional dollars the average young adult has had to devote to education (up by $710 between 1984 and 2010, after adjusting for inflation) is almost identical to the dollars they no longer spend on new cars ($721).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Urban Population Up 12 Percent

Although Americans tend to think of themselves as small town or even rural in character, a look at the Census Bureau's newly released classification of urban and rural populations based on 2010 census data shows how wrong they are.

In 2010, fully 80.7 percent of Americans lived in an urban area. Not only are most Americans urban dwellers, but the urban population is growing faster than the rural population. Between 2000 and 2010, the urban population grew 12.1 percent, more than the 9.7 percent national growth rate and far outpacing the 7.3 percent increase in the rural population.

Many people use the terms urban and metropolitan interchangeably. In fact, urban is a much more precise definition of city life. Metropolitan areas are broad brush, comprised of groups of counties, many of which contain rural areas. In contrast, urban areas are a far higher resolution of lifestyle, comprised of census tracts or blocks that are home to at least 2,500 people. Once the Census Bureau defines urban areas (which it does every 10 years), rural areas are the remainder.

Urban dwellers are less than 50 percent of the population in only four states: Mississippi, West Virginia, Vermont, and Maine. Despite our overwhelming urbanity, many Americans continue to think--and act--rural. That may be because 97 percent of the nation's land area is rural. Only 3 percent is urban. But 249 million Americans now live in that 3 percent.

Source: Census Bureau, 2010 Census Urban and Rural Classification and Urban Area Criteria

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Five Oldest Occupations, 2011

The median age of all employed workers in 2011 was 42.1 years. But some workers are much older than others. Here is the median age of workers in the five occupations with the oldest median age...

59.8 years: Desktop publishers
58.6 years: Embalmers and funeral attendants
57.4 years: Buyers and purchasing agents, farm products
56.0 years: Mine shuttle car operators
55.9 years: Farmers and ranchers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished table from the 2011 Current Population Survey

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Unauthorized Immigrants: 11.5 Million

The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States changed little between 2010 and 2011, according to new estimates by the Department of Homeland Security.

As of January 2011, there were an estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, about the same as the 11.6 million in January 2010 (this figure has been revised upward from 10.8 million based on 2010 census weights). The number of unauthorized immigrants grew 36 percent between 2000 and 2011, from 8,460,000 to 11,510,000.

The 10 states with the largest number of unauthorized immigrants in 2011 were...
California: 2,830,000
Texas: 1,790,000
Florida: 740,000
New York: 630,000
Illinois: 550,000
Georgia: 440,000
New Jersey: 420,000
North Carolina: 400,000
Arizona: 360,000
Washington: 260,000

Since 2000, the number of unauthorized immigrants has grown in each of the above states except one. Florida's unauthorized immigrant population fell by 10,000 between 2000 and 2011.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mystery of a Successful Marriage

What are the ingredients of a successful marriage? According to a new report from the National Survey of Family Growth, one of the most important ingredients, for women at least, is a college degree. Nothing guarantees a successful (i.e. long-lasting) marriage more than having a bachelor's degree. Take a look at the percentage of women whose first marriage has lasted for 20 years, by educational attainment...

Not a high school graduate: 39%
High school diploma/GED: 41%
Some college, no degree: 49%
Bachelor's degree: 78%

The relationship between educational attainment and marital success is weaker for men, but still important. The percentage of men whose first marriage has lasted for 20 years ranges from a low of 47 percent among men with no more than a high school diploma to a high of 65 percent among men with a bachelor's degree.

The answer to this mystery is obvious, and it has nothing to do with love and everything to do with money. Increasingly, and almost exclusively, economic success accrues to men with a bachelor's degree. Women who graduate from college are far more likely than less-educated women to meet and marry a man with a college degree. Money, and men's ability to earn it, is the most important ingredient of a successful marriage.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, First Marriages in the United States: Data from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth

Thursday, March 22, 2012

African Americans and the Great Recession

Black workers have been especially hurt by the Great Recession and the weak economic recovery. The black unemployment rate was 15.8 percent in 2011 compared with 7.9 percent for whites and 11.5 percent for Hispanics.

The question is, why have blacks been hit so hard? A new study by the Department of Labor has the answers. First, blacks have been disproportionately affected by what the report characterizes as "drastic layoffs in government." Blacks are 30 percent more likely than non-blacks to work in the public sector. Nearly one in five blacks (19.3 percent) works for federal, state, or local government versus 14 percent of whites and 10 percent of Hispanics.

Second, once unemployed, it has been more difficult for blacks to find another job because they are more likely to live in areas with relatively high unemployment rates. Fully 63 percent of unemployed blacks versus 39 percent of unemployed non-blacks live in areas with an unemployment rate of 10 percent or more. That explains why blacks are more likely than whites or Hispanics to have been out of work for 27 weeks or more (defined as the long-term unemployed). Nearly half of unemployed blacks (49.5 percent) are long-term unemployed versus 42 percent of whites and 40 percent of Hispanics.

That explains the bad news. The good news is that the worst may be over for black workers. The number of employed blacks grew by 700,000 between January 2011 and January 2012.

Source: Department of Labor, The African-American Labor Force in Recovery

Finding Work in Retirement

Seventy percent of workers say they plan to work for pay after they retire, according to the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey. Interestingly, however, many wonder whether they will be able to find a job. Only 28 percent of workers are "very confident" of their employability.

Retirees themselves offer a more realistic look at the odds of working in retirement. Only 27 percent of retirees say they have worked for pay since retirement. When asked how confident they are in their ability to find a job if necessary, only 9 percent feel "very confident." The 54 percent majority of retirees are not at all confident they could find a job.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Asians by Ethnic Group, 2010

Of the 17.3 million people in the United States who identify themselves as Asian, these are the largest ethnic-origin groups and the percentage of Asians who identify the group as one of their origins (more than one group could be named)...

Chinese: 4.0 million (23.2%)
Filipino: 3.4 million (19.7%)
Asian Indian: 3.2 million (18.4%)
Vietnamese: 1.7 million (10.0%)
Korean: 1.7 million (9.9%)
Japanese: 1.3 million (7.5%)

Source: Census Bureau, The Asian Population: 2010

Fat Demographics

If you want the skinny on fat, check out Obesity in America: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutional Population Aged 20 and Older, 2009. The percentage of Americans who are overweight varies surprisingly little by demographic characteristic--meaning the great majority of just about everyone is overweight.

Overall, 65 percent of the population aged 20 or older is overweight (a figure that includes the obese). There is almost no demographic segment in which the number of people who are overweight does not greatly surpass the number with a healthy weight. In fact, there are only two demographic segments in which being overweight is not the norm. One segment is "non-Hispanic other/multiple races," a group that includes Asians (48% overweight). The other is the youngest age group, aged 20 to 24 (45% overweight).

Whether you are man (72% overweight) or woman (59%), black (72%) or white (65%), middle aged (71%) or old (67%), high school dropout (70%) or college graduate (60%), rich (64%) or poor (66%), chances are you're fat.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Decline in Teens Talking on the Phone

Percentage of teens (aged 12 to 17) who talk to friends daily on a...

Landline phone
2011: 14%
2009: 30%

Cell phone
2011: 26%
2009: 38%

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Teens, Smartphones & Texting

Monday, March 19, 2012

Delaying Retirement

Percentage of workers aged 55 or older who expect to retire at age 66 or older...

2012: 51%
2002: 28%

Source: Employee Benefit Retirement Institute, 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Older Juries More Likely to Convict

An analysis of 700 felony trials in Florida from 2000 to 2010 shows that prosecutors prefer older jurors and are more likely to use their peremptory challenges to exclude younger people from a jury. Defense attorneys like younger jurors and are more likely to use their challenges to exclude older people from a jury. That's because older jurors are more likely to convict--even after controlling for race and gender, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research study.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, A Fair and Impartial Jury? The Role of Age in Jury Selection and Trial Outcomes, Working Paper #17887, $5

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Prison Happy

Number of prisoners in state and federal correctional institutions
2010: 1,543,206
1970:    196,429

Rate of imprisonment per 100,000 population
2010: 497
1970:   96

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online

Friday, March 16, 2012

Explaining High Unemployment Rates

In a few paragraphs and charts, a new analysis by Jonathan James of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland goes a long way toward explaining what ails us. James examines the unusually high unemployment rate today among young adults relative to the middle aged. Typically, young adults are more likely to be unemployed than the middle aged. But beginning with the Great Recession, the difference in the unemployment rates of the young and the middle aged grew by one-third. James wanted to figure out why young adults have been disproportionately affected by the Great Recession, and this is what he found...

  • the abnormally high unemployment rate among young adults is mostly due to the increase in unemployment among young men with no more than a high school diploma. Their unemployment rate climbed from 9.5 percent in 2007 to more than 20 percent in 2011. 
  • behind this high unemployment rate is the loss of construction jobs, which explains 80 percent of the increase in the unemployment rate of young men.

Because construction is the primary entry-level job for young men, "it is likely that these workers will continue to endure high levels of unemployment until construction jobs return," says James. Because two-thirds of wage growth occurs in the first ten years of a career, he warns: "Even if these jobs return, the effects of the recession during these formative years in what otherwise would have been a period of skill formation and productivity growth may continue to be felt throughout their careers."

Source: Federal Reserve  Bank of Cleveland, Starting Off on the Wrong Foot: Early Careers and High Unemployment

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why Don't Young Adults Move?

Recently, the New York Times published a controversial op-ed piece that took young adults to task because they do not move as frequently as they once did. "Young Americans have become risk-averse and sedentary," the authors say, dubbing them the "Go-Nowhere Generation."

It's true, young adults are moving less. Until recently, about 30 percent of people in their twenties moved each year. By 2010-11, the figure had fallen to 24 percent.

The op-ed blames the usual suspects: the Internet and Facebook, as well as a pinch of laziness and a dash of complacency. But there is a much simpler explanation for the decline in the mobility of young adults: it's the economy, stupid! In particular, unemployment and student loan debt. Never before have the nation's young adults had to confront this one-two punch. On the one hand, it is difficult for them to find a job and even harder to get a job that pays a living wage. The unemployment rate of 20-to-29-year-olds was a double-digit 12 percent in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the other hand, many have student loans, preventing them from hitting the road, taking risks, starting anew. Among the 241 million Americans with an Equifax credit report as of the third quarter of 2011, fully 40 percent of those under age 30 had student debt, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York analysis.

No wonder a new Pew Research Center study found so many young adults living in multigenerational households. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, more than one in five (22 percent) are living with their parents or grandparents, says Pew, up from 11 percent in 1980. Among those who live with their parents, the 53 percent majority say their finances are tied up with their parents' finances.

The burden of student debt is a ball and chain on young adult aspirations. Debt--not the Internet--is preventing millions of young adults from establishing their own household, moving to a better city, buying a house, even getting married and having children.

Social Security and the Income of Older Americans

Among older Americans in 2010, Social Security accounts for over half of income beginning in the 70-to-74 age group. Here is the Social Security share of the income of older Americans by age in 2010..

55 to 61:   8.2%
62 to 64:  22.6%
65 to 69:  43.6%
70 to 74:  58.2%
75 to 79:  63.9%
80-plus:   69.4%

Source: Social Security Administration, Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2010

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nuclear Power: Benefits vs Risks

Percentage of people who think the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks, by generation...

Millennials: 34%
Gen Xers: 34%
Boomers: 43%
Older Americans: 53%

Source: Harris Interactive, One Year Post Fukushima, Americans Are Divided about the Risks of Nuclear Power

The Earnings of Older Americans

For older Americans, earnings as a source of income drop rapidly in importance with age. Here is the earnings share of the income of older Americans by age in 2010...

55 to 61: 72.3%
62 to 64: 52.0%
65 to 69: 31.4%
70 to 74: 15.5%
75 to 79:  8.5%
80-plus:   3.7%

Source: Social Security Administration, Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2010

Minimum Wage States

Nationally, 5.2 percent of the nation's workers are paid at or below the minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. Below are the three states with the largest percentage of minimum-wage workers, and the percentage of workers there who earn minimum wage or less...

Georgia: 9.6%
Mississippi: 8.5%
Texas: 8.0%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers: 2011

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Retirement Survey Released

Every year for 22 years the Employee Benefit Research Institute has been surveying workers and retirees about their retirement plans. Here are some of the findings from this year's survey...

  • 23% of workers are "not at all" confident in having enough money to live comfortably in retirement. This figure is down from the all-time high of 27 percent in 2011, but it is far greater than the 14 percent who say they are very confident.
  • 42% of workers say job uncertainty is the most pressing financial issue facing Americans today.
  • 60% percent of workers have virtually no savings. The total of their household's savings and investments is less than $25,000 (not including housing equity).

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey

New Data on Student Loan Debt

For those interested in tracking the problem of student loan debt, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is now providing quarterly data--including the demographics of borrowers--on its Liberty Street Economics blog. As of the third quarter of 2011, the outstanding balance on student loans ($870 billion) exceeded the outstanding balance on credit cards ($693 billion) or auto loans ($730 billion).

Using data provided by Equifax, the researchers were able to examine the demographics of those who have student loans. Among the 241 million Americans with an Equifax credit report, a substantial 15 percent have outstanding student loan debt. Among people under age 30, fully 40 percent have outstanding student loans. Among those aged 30 to 39, the figure is 25 percent. The average outstanding student loan balance per borrower is $23,300, and the median balance is $12,800. People in their thirties owe the most (an average of $28,500), followed by those in their forties ($26,000). The authors calculate that 27 percent of student loan borrowers have past due balances.

Because student loans have become such an important part of the consumer landscape, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will update these figures each quarter.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, Grading Student Loans

Monday, March 12, 2012

Support for Birth Control Coverage

Percent who support the federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control, by sex and age...

73% of women aged 18 to 49
68% of men aged 18 to 49
59% of women aged 50 or older
50% of men aged 50 or older

Source: Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, February 2012

Homeowner and Renter Projections by Age

Finally, a demographic analysis of the the future of the housing market. A study by the Urban Institute summarizes the demographic trends that will impact the still unfolding housing crisis and projects the number of homeowners and renters by age to 2030. Some of the key demographic trends...

Older Americans will contribute increasingly to housing supply "Just as the Baby Boom will swell the number of seniors in the next two decades, it will also swell the number of dwellings released into the housing market over the next four decades," the authors note.

The Millennial generation will drive the housing market for the next two decades "The volume of housing demand over the next 20 years, especially for owner-occupied housing, will depend heavily on the economic and housing policy environment that confronts Echo Boomers as they mature from young adulthood into middle age," say the authors.

The study projects the number of total households, owners, and renters by age for the 2010 to 2030 time period in three growth scenarios--low, medium, and high. The homeownership rate in 2020 ranges from a low of 63.1 percent to a high of 65.4 percent (from 65.1 percent in 2010). The number of homeowners in 2020 ranges from a low of 79.8 million to a high of 86.0 million (from 76.0 million in 2010). The number of renters ranges more narrowly from 45.6 million to 46.6 million (from 40.7 million in 2010).

Source: Urban Institute, Demographic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Housing Markets

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Netherlands?

Only 2 percent  of privately-owned farmland in the United States is foreign-owned, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. Who are the foreign owners? Most foreign-owned farmland is held by just two countries: Canada and the Netherlands.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Do I Look Fat?

Percentage of high school girls who...

Are overweight: 16%
Describe themselves as overweight: 33%
Are trying to lose weight: 59%

Source: CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance--United States, 2009

Friday, March 09, 2012

Extreme Moving

Number of people who moved from Hawaii to Alaska: 743
Number of people who moved from Alaska to Hawaii: 1,705

Source: Census Bureau, Geographic Mobility/Migration, State-to-State Migration Flows, 2010 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates

Out of Touch

Non-Hispanic white share of
U.S. population: 64%
Congress: 83%
Senate: 96%

Male share of
U.S. population: 49%
Congress: 83%
Senate: 83%

Median age of
U.S. population: 37
Congress: 57
Senate: 61

Source: Congressional Research Service, Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics Since 1945

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Five Most Costly Medical Conditions

More than $400 billion of the $1.26 trillion Americans spend annually on health care is devoted to just five medical conditions. Below are the five conditions, their total annual expense, and the percentage of the population with the expense in 2009 (the most recent data available)...

  1. Heart disease: $99.2 billion (7.5%)
  2. Trauma: $80.8 billion (11.0%)
  3. Cancer: $80.3 billion (4.8%)
  4. Mental disorders: $79.8 billion (12.8%)
  5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma: $64.2 billion (15.4%)
Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, The Concentration of Health Care Expenditures and Related Expenses for Costly Medical Conditions, 2009

Homes Heated by Electricity

Number (and percent) of American homes using electricity as their primary heating fuel...

2010: 40,557,000 (35.4%)
1950:      293,000 (  0.7%)

Source: Census Bureau, 1950 census and 2010 American Community Survey

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Debtor Nation: Medical Bills

Percentage of Americans who live in a family that...
Had problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months: 20.0%
Currently have medical bills they are paying off over time: 26.2%
Currently have medical bills they are unable to pay at all: 10.5%
Any of the above three problems: 32.4%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Financial Burden of Medical Care: Early Release of the National Health Interview Survey, January-June, 2011

Median Housing Costs

Median monthly housing costs by homeownership and mortgage status...

Owned home with a mortgage: $1,496
Rented home: $855
Owned home without a mortgage: $431

Note: Housing costs include mortgage payment, rent, regime fees, property tax, insurance, utilities and fuels.
Source: Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Self-Employment Drops to New Low

Self-employment in the United States fell to a new low in 2011. Only 6.8 percent of workers (including agricultural and non-agricultural) were self-employed in 2011, down from 7.0 percent in 2010 and 7.3 percent in 2000.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Monday, March 05, 2012

Labor Force Participation: 2011

Below are the 2011 labor force participation rates by sex and age, as well as the percentage point change in the rate since 2000. Keep in mind that the participation rate includes both the employed and the unemployed. Note the dramatic decline in the labor force participation of teenagers.

Total men: 70.5 (-4.3)
Aged 16 to 19: 33.7 (-19.1)
Aged 20 to 24: 74.7 (-7.9)
Aged 25 to 34: 89.2 (-4.2)
Aged 35 to 44: 90.9 (-1.8)
Aged 45 to 54: 86.2 (-2.4)
Aged 55 to 64: 69.3 (+2.0)
Aged 65-plus: 22.8 (+5.1)

Total women: 58.1 (-1.8)
Aged 16 to 19: 34.6 (-16.6)
Aged 20 to 24: 67.8 (-5.3)
Aged 25 to 34: 73.9 (-2.2)
Aged 35 to 44: 74.7 (-2.5)
Aged 45 to 54: 75.4 (-1.4)
Aged 55 to 64: 59.5 (+7.6)
Aged 65-plus: 14.0 (+4.6)

The Psychology of Saving More

How do you get workers to save more in their 401(k) plans? It's not that hard if you use the power of suggestion. That's the finding of a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

As an experiment, NBER researchers embedded different savings cues or highlighted different savings goals in emails sent to employees about their 401(k) plans. When a higher savings goal was suggested or highlighted in the emails, contribution rates increased. "A high savings goal example raises contribution rates by up to 2.2% of income," conclude the researchers.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Small Cues Change Savings Choices, NBER Working Paper #17843 ($5)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Waiting for Death

Average number of months between receiving a death sentence and execution: 178.

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Jane Jacobs Moment

Classic signs that a city is dying:
  • Decline in the number of enterprises in the city
  • Persistent growth in the underemployed
  • Growth of make-work in city bureaucracies
  • Piling up of undone work and unsolved practical problems
  • Lack of new kinds of manufacturing to compensate for the losses of old
  • Compulsive repetition of existing ways of doing things 
  • Lack of local development capital for new goods and services
  • Surfeit of capital for projects that destroy existing enterprises and jobs
  • Quantities of capital for export
How many cities in the United States exhibit these symptoms? How can cities make things better for themselves and for rural America as well? The answers lie in the brilliant ideas of Jane Jacobs. For more of her insight see The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Economy of Cities.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Household Income Dips in January

Median household income fell to $50,020 in January 2012, according to estimates by Sentier Research. The 1.3 percent decline, after adjusting for inflation, is the first downturn after four consecutive months of increase. One factor that led to the decline in real median household income is the 0.4 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index in January, according to Sentier's Gordon Green. 

January's $50,020 median household income was 5.4 percent lower than the median in June 2009--the supposed end of the Great Recession. It was 7.8 percent lower than the median in December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 8.7 percent lower than the median in January 2000. The Household Income Index for January 2012 was 91.3 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier Research, Household Income Trends Series: January 2012 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thirtysomething Homeowners by Region

Young adults are dragging their feet about buying a home--either by choice or necessity. The annual homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group fell below 50 percent in 2011 for the first time in the history of the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey, which dates back to 1982.

In two regions, however, homeownership is still the norm for householders in their early thirties. In the Midwest, the 58.0 percent majority of householders aged 30 to 34 are homeowners. In the South, 50.4 percent of 30-to-34-year-olds own a home. The figures are below 50 percent in the Northeast (45.8) and West (44.1).

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Homeownership Up in Six States

Between 2004 (the year the overall homeownership rate peaked) and 2011, the homeownership rate has fallen in all but six states. The exceptions are Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Smartphones Now Dominate

Smartphones are now owned by the plurality of American adults. In February 2012, 46 percent of adults owned a smartphone--up from 35 percent in May 2011. A smaller 41 percent own a cell phone that is not a smartphone (down from 48 percent last May), and 12 percent do not own any kind of cell phone (down from 17 percent last May).

Smartphones are owned by the majority of people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and by the majority of those with at least some college education. Most adults under age 45 own a smartphone. Here are the percentages by age...

18-24: 67%
25-34: 71%
35-44: 54%
45-54: 44%
55-64: 31%
65-plus: 13%

Source: Pew Research Center, Nearly Half of American Adults Are Smartphone Owners