Monday, April 30, 2012

First Quarter 2012 Homeownership Rates

Overall, 65.1 percent of households owned their home in the 1st quarter of 2012, according to the Census Bureau. The homeownership rate fell 1 percentage point between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012. Here are the important findings from today's 1st quarter 2012 data release...

  • Over the past year, the homeownership rate fell in all but one age group, and the increase among 70-to-74-year-olds was within the margin of error. 
  • The biggest homeownership rate decline over the past four quarters has been among householders aged 35 to 39, their homeownership rate falling by 4.4 percentage points to 56.4 percent.
  • Fewer than half of householders aged 30 to 34 are homeowners (48.3 percent, down from an annual high of 57.4 percent in 2004), and their sharply lower homeownership rate is being carried into the next older age group as they enter their late thirties.
  • The only good news for the housing industry is the apparent stability in the homeownership rate of householders aged 25 to 29. At 34.2 percent in the 1st quarter of 2012, the homeownership rate of this age group has barely budged for the past three quarters. Historically (with data going back to 1982), the annual homeownership rate 25-to-29-year-olds bottomed out at 33.6 percent in 1992 and 1993 and peaked at 41.8 percent in 2006.  

Source: Bureau of the Census, Housing Vacancy Survey

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter, 2012

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, first quarter 2012: 48.3%

The 1st quarter homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 was 48.3 percent, well below the 50 percent threshold and 2 percentage points lower than a year earlier. This matters because the homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group is the bellwether for the housing industry. Typically, the majority of householders become homeowners in their early thirties. That may no longer be the case as young adults either can't afford or do not want to buy a home until housing prices bottom out and job security improves. In 2011, the annual homeownership rate of the age group fell below 50 percent (to 48.9 percent) for the first time in the data series, which dates back to 1982.

Another ominous sign: the steepest decline in homeownership has shifted upwards from the 30-to-34 age group to the 35-to-39 age group. This shift is occurring as younger adults who have hesitated to buy homes enter the next older age group. The homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39 fell by 4.4 percentage points between the first quarter of 2011 (60.8 percent) and the first quarter of 2012 (56.4 percent).

See previous First-Time Homebuyer posts here, here, here, and here
Source: Bureau of the Census, Housing Vacancy Survey

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Demographics of the Sleep Deprived

Thirty percent of American workers regularly sleep for 6 or fewer hours per 24-hour period, according to the CDC. The percentage is highest among night shift workers (44 percent), workers aged 30 to 64 (32 percent), blacks (39 percent), the divorced/separated/widowed (36 percent), those with more than one job (37 percent), and those who work more than 40 hours a week (36 percent).

Source: CDC, Short Sleep Duration among Workers -- United States, 2010

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Your Life in Sports

Average age of males participating in selected sports...

Skateboarding: 17.1 
Basketball: 23.9
Running: 29.4
Bicycling: 30.6
Working out at club: 39.1
Golfing: 40.6
Exercise walking: 46.0

Source: National Sporting Goods Association, 2002-2010 Participation by Mean Age - Male & Female

Friday, April 27, 2012

Retirement: Expecting the Worst

Only 38 percent of Americans who are not yet retired expect to have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a Gallup poll. Fully 55 percent say they will not have enough for a comfortable retirement.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Many More Young Asians and Blacks

After months of dribbling out, state-by-state, detailed race data from the 2010 census, the Census Bureau finally gave it up today with a monumental release of Summary File 2 tables. What a difference they make in our understanding of the Asian and black populations.

31 Percent More Young Asians
The 2010 census counted 15 million people who identify themselves as Asian alone. But there are 17 million people who identify themselves as Asian alone or Asian in combination with other races. And not until today did we know the age distribution of those additional 2 million people. Here's why that's important: the 54 percent majority of the additional Asians are under age 20 because so many parents identified their children as multiracial. By including multiracial Asians in the mix, the number of Asians under age 20 expands by 31 percent!

11 Percent More Young Blacks
The black population also expands enormously when multiracial blacks are added to the mix. The black alone population numbered 40 million in 2010. The black alone or black in combination population numbered 42 million. Seventy-nine percent of the additional blacks are under age 20. By including multiracial blacks in the mix, the number of blacks under age 20 grows by 11 percent.

For marketers, these differences are huge.

Source: Bureau of the Census, 2010 Census, American Factfinder

Homes Worth Less

Only 53 percent of homeowners say their home is worth more today than when they bought it, down from 92 percent in 2006.

Source: Gallup, U.S. Homeownership Hits Decade Low

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living Arrangements of Young Adults

Everyone is wondering what the nation's young adults are up to as many postpone marriage, delay parenthood, and move back in with their parents. The Census Bureau has answers based on 2010 census findings. According to the census, 39 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are heading their own households or are the spouse of the householder. Another 33 percent are the biological son or daughter of the householder. More than one in four 18-to-29-year-olds has some other relationship to the householder. Here are the living arrangements of the age group...

Total 18-to-29-year-olds
Householder or spouse: 39.1%
Biological son or daughter of householder: 33.4%
Other relationship to householder: 27.5%

Other relationship details
Housemate or roommate: 6.6%
Unmarried partner: 5.5%
Brother or sister: 2.3%
Grandchild: 2.3%
Stepson or stepdaughter: 2.3%
Son-in-law or daughter-in-law: 1.2%
Roomer or boarder: 1.2%
Adopted son or daughter: 0.8%
Other relative of householder: 2.6%
Other nonrelative of householder: 2.5%

Source: Census Bureau, Households and Families: 2010, 2010 Census Brief

2010 Census: Households and Families

Today the Census Bureau released the 2010 Census Brief on the nation's 116.7 million households. These are some of the most important findings...

  • Married couples account for fewer than half of households (48 percent).
  • The number of nuclear families (married couples with children under age 18) fell by 1.2 million between 2000 and 2010, to 23.6 million households (20 percent of total households).
  • People living alone are a larger share of households (27 percent) than nuclear families. They are the second most common household type after married couples without children under age 18 (28 percent).
  • Average household size fell slightly, from 2.59 people in 2000 to 2.58 people in 2010.
  • Unmarried partner households grew by 41 percent to 7.7 million (7 percent of total households). Of these, 646,000 are same-sex unmarried partners.
  • Ten percent of married couples have partners of a different race or Hispanic origin.  
  • Multigenerational households (defined as households with three or more generations of relatives) grew from 3.9 million to 5.1 million between 2000 and 2010 and account for 4 percent of households.

Source: Census Bureau, Households and Families: 2010, 2010 Census Brief

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Doesn't Everyone Go To College?

Because of the risk of making less than a high school graduate after a lifetime of work. That is the finding of a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The risk is this: not everyone who starts college gets a degree. In fact, a large proportion of those who start school eventually drop out--as many as 50 percent of those who enroll at a four-year public college drop out before getting a degree, notes the study. For dropouts with $50,000 in student loans, their lifetime earnings will not surpass those of a high school graduate until well beyond retirement.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, College Degrees: Why Aren't More People Making the Investment?

Not So Green

Percentage of Americans who say the following statements describe them very well or completely...
I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations: 34%
I am environmentally conscious: 27%
I am green: 17% 
Source: Harris Interactive, Fewer Americans "Thinking Green"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Career Women

Percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds who say "being successful in a high-paying career or profession" is very important or one of the most important things in their life...

Men: 59%
Women: 66%

Source: Pew Research Center, A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations

The Problem with High Ceilings

Houses are larger than they used to be and this is a long-term problem for energy consumption, says the Energy Information Administration in a new report. Homes built in the 1970s and 1980s averaged less than 1,800 square feet. Homes built in the 2000s averaged 2,465 square feet.

"Square footage typically stays fixed over the life of a home and it is a characteristic that is expensive, even impractical to alter to reduce energy consumption," notes the EIA in its report.

Even worse for energy consumption are the high ceilings in many newly built homes. The percentage of new homes with ceilings higher than the traditional 8 feet grew from 17 percent in the 1970s to the 52 percent majority in the 2000s.

Source: Energy Information Administration, The Impact of Increasing Home Size on Energy Demand

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Young Adults Looking for Work

Among young adults who graduated from high school in 2011, more than one in four (26.7 percent) are looking for a job. This stunningly high unemployment rate reveals the struggle to earn a living among the nation's youngest workers. Here are the unemployment rates for 2011 high school graduates by characteristic...

Enrolled in 2-year college: 23.7%
Enrolled in 4-year college: 18.6%
Not enrolled in college: 33.6%

Among 2010-11 high school dropouts, the unemployment rate is 38.4 percent.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, College Enrollment and Work Activity of High School Graduates

Saturday, April 21, 2012

College Enrollment Rates: 2011

The college enrollment rate of recent high school graduates is down slightly from the all-time high of 70.1 percent set in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 2011 high school graduates, 68.3 percent were enrolled in college by October of that year. Sixty-two percent of those enrolled in college were attending a four-year school and 38 percent were at a two-year institution. Here are 2011 college enrollment rates by sex, race, and Hispanic origin...

Men: 64.6%
Women: 72.3%

Asian: 86.7%
Black: 67.5%
Hispanic: 66.6%
White: 67.7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, College Enrollment and Work Activity of High School Graduates

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Average Day: Men at Work

The Great Recession idled millions of men (and women). The American Time Use Survey collects information on what the average American did yesterday. The results show that fewer men are going to work. Here are the percentages of men who worked on an average day in 2010 and 2007, by age...

  % point
2010 2007    change
15-19 13.8 27.8 -14.0
20-24 41.7 55.5 -13.8
25-34 63.8 68.9 -5.1
35-44 61.4 65.7 -4.3
45-54 58.9 63.9 -5.0
55-64 49.9 47.2 2.7
65+ 14.3 15.2 -0.9

Note: An average day includes both weekdays and weekends.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2007 and 2010 American Time Use Surveys

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homeowners with a Mortgage

The nation's 49 million homeowners with a mortgage outnumber homeowners without a mortgage (30 million) and renters (42 million). Their incomes and spending are higher than average. Here are some of the characteristics of the average homeowner with a mortgage...

Average annual...
Household income: $88,962
Household spending: $63,235

Average number of...
People per household: 2.9
Vehicles per household: 2.5
Earners per household: 1.6

Average annual spending on...
Federal income tax: $1,939
Health insurance (out-of-pocket): $2,071
Gasoline: $2,764
Property taxes: $3,008
Eating out: $3,135
Entertainment: $3,423
Mortgage interest: $8,031

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Helicopter Parents = Less Sex

Birth rates for teenagers are at an historic low, as this blog reported previously. One factor behind the decline is the fact that teens today are less likely to be sexually experienced. The percentage of 18-to-19-year-old men who have ever had sexual intercourse fell from 77 percent in 1988 to 64 percent in 2006-10. Among their female counterparts, the figure fell from 73 to 63 percent during those years.

Is this yet another example of how helicopter parenting is changing the lives of young adults? For other examples, see my posts on the decline in crime and the decline in accidental deaths among children.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Who Spends More on Movie Tickets?

Average annual household spending on movie, theater, and amusement park tickets...

Householders under age 25: $79.15
Householders aged 65 to 74: $93.10

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey

No Credit Cards

More than one in four Americans aged 18 or older does not have a credit card, according to a survey by AARP. Younger adults are more than twice as likely to be without credit cards than adults aged 50 or older. Here are the percentages who do not have a credit card by age...

Total adults: 26%
Aged 18-49: 34%
Aged 50-plus: 16%

Source: AARP Bulletin Survey on Budgeting and Credit Card Use

Monday, April 16, 2012

Helicopter Parents: More Evidence They Work

First there was the puzzling plunge in the crime rate. Now there is an equally puzzling plunge in the death rate among children due to accidents. Accidents are the leading cause of death for people under age 20.

The CDC reports that the number of deaths caused by accidents (the CDC calls it unintentional injuries) among people aged 0 to 19  fell from 12,441 in 2000 to 9,143 in 2009. The death rate fell from 15.5 to 11.0 deaths per 100,000 population during those years--a 29 percent decline. Deaths rates were down sharply for most types of accidents ranging from motor vehicle deaths (whether passenger, pedestrian, or bicycle in the wrong place), to drowning, fire, and falling. Accidental death rates were up for only two causes of death--suffocation among infants and poisoning (due to the increase in prescription drug use).

What's behind the decline? My theory: helicopter parents. Those obnoxious, indulgent, and overly involved parents are keeping their children safe and out of trouble.

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Unintentional Injury Deaths among Persons Aged 0-19 Years -- United States, 2000-2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Non-Hispanic White Preschoolers

Percentage of children under age 5 who are non-Hispanic white: 50.8%.

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Timing of First Birth

Percent distribution of first births to women aged 15 to 44 by timing of birth in relation to first marriage...

Woman has never married: 22%
Woman gave birth before marriage: 22%
Women gave birth 0 to 7 months after marriage: 9%
Woman gave birth 8 or more months after marriage: 46%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15-44 Years in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2006-2010

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why the Decline in Interstate Migration?

Another demographic mystery may have been solved. That mystery is the decline in interstate migration, a decline that started well before the record low migration rates of the Great Recession years.

Two decades ago in the early 1990s, about 3 percent of Americans moved between states each year, say researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Today, only about half that many move across state lines. To determine why interstate migration has fallen so dramatically, the researchers rule out a number of possible factors including the aging of the population and the increase in dual-income couples. But their analysis uncovers two other factors that may explain the decline:

"The first explanation is that better information--due to both information technology and falling travel costs--has made locations less of an experience good, reducing the need for young people to experiment with living in different places," say the researchers.

"The second explanation is that labor markets around the country have become more similar in the returns they offer to particular skills, so workers need not move to a particular place to maximize the return on their idiosyncratic abilities," they conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Understanding the Long-Run Decline in Interstate Migration, Greg Kaplan and Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, Working Paper 697, April 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Smartphones by Race and Hispanic Origin

Overall, 46 percent of adults aged 18 or older own a smartphone, according to a February 2012 survey. Here are the percentages by race and Hispanic origin...

Black: 49%
Hispanic: 49%
Non-Hispanic white: 45%

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project, Digital Differences

Child On Board

Among Americans aged 15 to 44, most women (56 percent) and 45 percent of men have had a biological child. Here are the percentages by age...

  women         men
15-19 6.7 2.6
20-24 29.7 15.3
25-29 54.9 42.4
30-34 76.7 61.6
35-39 82.9 73.7
40-44 84.6 76.4

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Childless by Choice

How many women choose to remain childless? Not many, according to a new report from the National Survey of Family Growth. Among all women aged 15 to 44, the 57 percent majority has had children and 43 percent are still childless. Among the childless, 81 percent intend to have children one day, 14 percent plan to remain childless by choice, and 5 percent are childless because they cannot have children.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fertility of Men and Women Aged 15-44 Years in the United States: National Survey of FAmily Growth, 2006-2010

Projections of 2012 Voters

Nearly 18 million African Americans will vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to projections produced by Demo Memo Blog. A substantial one in eight voters will be black.

Hispanics will cast 11.6 million votes. The Hispanic vote will be smaller than the black vote because there are fewer Hispanic than black citizens and because Hispanics are much less likely than blacks to vote. Among citizens, only 49.9 percent of Hispanics voted in 2008 compared with 64.7 percent of blacks.

Non-Hispanic whites overwhelm most elections and 2012 will be no exception. Nearly 102 million non-Hispanic whites will vote on election day.

Projections of 2012 Voters by Race and Hispanic Origin
Total voters: 137.1 million (100%)
Non-Hispanic white: 101.7 million (74%)
Black: 17.8 million (13%)
Hispanic: 11.6 million (8%)

Source: Demo Memo Blog, estimates based on 2008-10 population growth rates and 2008 voting rates by race and Hispanic origin

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Need for Old Buildings

Character is key to economically vibrant cities, reports The Atlantic. And what creates character? One necessary feature is old buildings. As urban philosopher Jane Jacobs notes in her masterpiece The Death and Life of Great American Cities:
"Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."
That's because rent is cheap in old, run-down buildings, allowing aspiring entrepreneurs to try out ideas without costly overhead. Cities with old buildings in abundance have opportunities for economic growth that other cities can't match--no matter how much money they spend on new development. As Jacobs explains:
"The economic value of new buildings is replaceable in cities. It is replaceable by the spending of more construction money. But the economic value of old buildings is irreplaceable at will. It is created by time."

Boomer Inheritance

Twenty-three percent of the oldest boomers (born in 1946) have received an inheritance. On average, they inherited $110,000.

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute, Transitioning into Retirement

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Teen Births Plunge, Really

Fewer babies were born to women aged 15 to 19 in 2010 than in any year since 1946.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups

$9.2 Trillion in Retirement Accounts

As of the first quarter of 2012, Americans had accumulated $9.2 trillion in their retirement accounts, according to estimates by the Urban Institute. This figure is just 3 percent below the all-time high in retirement savings reached in the third quarter of 2007, after adjusting for inflation.

Does this mean we are out of the woods regarding our prospects for retirement? Not at all. First, consider the demographics. With the large baby-boom generation in the process of retiring now, the value of the nation's retirement accounts should be in the stratosphere. Instead, we're still playing catch-up. Second, most workers have saved little. According to the 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey, 60 percent of workers have less than $25,000 in savings.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Legal Immigrants in 2011: 1 Million+

The number of legal immigrants coming to the United States topped 1 million again in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Last year, 1,062,040 people either arrived in the United States as legal permanent residents or already lived here and became permanent residents. The annual number of legal immigrants to the United States has topped 1 million every year since 2005.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Legal Permanent Residents: 2011

iPhones Reduce Deceptive Advertising

That is the finding from a study of ski resort advertising claims, a study that just happened to coincide with the introduction of a new iPhone app that allowed skiers to share information about snow conditions. What happened next is a lesson for every business.

Typically, ski resorts exaggerate levels of natural snowfall in their advertising--especially on weekends, according to researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Skiers have learned to view these snowfall claims skeptically. Interestingly, while the researchers were conducting the study--which focused on deceptive advertising--a new iPhone app became available that allowed skiers to easily share information about snow conditions in real time. The result: "Exaggeration falls sharply, especially at resorts with better iPhone reception."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Wintertime for Deceptive Advertising?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Religious Americans

The 58 percent majority of Americans say they are moderately or very religious. Here are the percentages by generation...

Millennials: 47%
Gen Xers: 56%
Boomers: 62%
Olders: 73%

Source: 2010 General Social Survey

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New Survey of E-Reading

If you worry that reading is on the decline, worry no more. Fully 81 percent of Americans aged 16 or older read a book in the past 12 months, according to a Pew survey. The median number of books read in the past year is 8, and the figure does not vary much by age. It ranges from a low of 6 books a year among 30-to-49-year-olds to a high of 12 books a year among people aged 65 or older.

Print is still the most popular format for reading books. In the past year, 21 percent of adults have read an e-book. On an average day, 84 percent of the nation's book readers read a print book, 15 percent read an e-book, and 4 percent listen to an audiobook.

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, The Rise of E-Reading

Friday, April 06, 2012

Median Duration of Unemployment

The unemployed who found a job in 2011 had been job hunting for a median of 10.0 weeks. This was slightly shorter than the 10.4 weeks of 2010 but more than twice the 4.0 weeks of 2000.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Search of the Unemployed by Duration of Unemployment, Monthly Labor Review, March 2012

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Metropolitan Population Estimates: 2011

Metropolitan area population estimates for July 1, 2011 are now available from the Census Bureau. These are the first estimates of metropolitan populations since the 2010 census. They show slowing growth in many once rapidly growing many metropolitan areas, according to the bureau. Of the 50 fastest-growing metros between 2000 and 2010, only 24 were on the list in the 2010-11 time period.

That said, there is much inertia in demographic change (which is why demographics are an excellent tool for business planning), and many areas supposedly devastated by the Great Recession and the collapse of the housing bubble are still growing impressively such as Miami (31st in percent growth between 2010 and 2011), Riverside (58th), and Atlanta (61st). Even Las Vegas continues to grow.

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates: Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas

Boomer Plans to Move

Percentage of the oldest boomers (who turned 65 in 2011) who plan to move: 16%

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute, Transitioning into Retirement

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Boomers Retiring Sooner than Planned

The leading edge of the baby-boom generation--people born in 1946--turned 65 in 2011. Wouldn't you like to know what the oldest boomers are doing about retirement?

Now you can: the MetLife Mature Market Institute has been tracking the oldest boomers for years. The latest survey results show that, for boomers who turned 65 in 2011, retirement plans and reality are diverging. The 45 percent plurality of boomers who turned 65 last year are fully retired. Among the retirees, the 51 percent majority say they had to retire earlier than expected.

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute, Transitioning into Retirement

Hispanic or Latino?

Do Hispanics prefer the term Hispanic or Latino? The answer is...

Prefer Latino: 14%
Prefer Hispanic: 33%
No preference: 51%

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, When Labels Don't Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Biggest Strip Show on Earth

Number of persons arrested annually in the United States: 10 million.

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

County Health Rankings

Usually, rankings of health status by geography are minimally interesting or useful. That's because demographics, not geographics, determine health. County Health Rankings is different because it lifts the veil on the socioeconomic characteristics that determine health. This interactive site lets you compare the health of counties in a state and see the characteristics that determine their status.

For example, Allendale County ranks worst in health among South Carolina's counties. Residents of Allendale are almost three times more likely than the average American to die prematurely--that is, before age 75. The characteristics of Allendale are those linked to poor health: a low level of education, 25 percent without health insurance, 19 percent unemployed, and every restaurant a fast-food establishment.

Source: University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Inflation Problem

Research has shown that financial know-how peaks in middle age (at an average age of 53, according to one study) and declines as people get older. Most of the research focuses on the vulnerability of aging Americans to financial scams. But there is another perhaps equally serious problem that arises from declining financial sophistication: the apparent inability of many older Americans to understand or account for inflation.

Here is an example from a column published in a local newspaper in my area, written by a retiree with a Ph.D. no less: "If you ordered a beer at Yankee Stadium during the 1949 World Series, it sold for 35 cents. Pretty nice price, by 2012 standards at least."

No, the price isn't nice. Beer is cheaper today than it was in 1949 after adjusting for inflation. Thirty-five cents in 1949 is the same as $3.35 today. You can easily buy a beer at a bar or restaurant for less than $3.35.

The seeming inability of many older Americans to understand and adjust for inflation may play a role in the outsized anger of the gray-haired crowd toward government spending. Without factoring in inflation, everything seems to be getting more expensive, services appear too costly, the wages of workers look excessive. It's not much of a leap from that kind of thinking to, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Could blinkered thinking about inflation explain a lot of the crazy--such as the recent vote by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee in the nation's oldest state (Florida) to lower the hourly minimum wage for tipped workers from $4.65 to $2.13?

The government's inflation calculator is here. Bookmark it.

Identity Theft

Percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who say they or another household member have been the victim of identity theft in the past 12 months: 10%.

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Grandparents: Last of the Big Spenders

Grandparents are one of the few segments of the population that still has the time, money, and motivation to shop. According to a survey by AARP, they like to shop for their grandchildren.

The majority of grandparents--53 percent--spent at least $250 on grandchildren in the past year. One in four spent at least $1,000, and one in ten spent at least $2,500. Only 4 percent of grandparents did not spend any money on grandchildren. Among the spenders, nearly all bought birthday and holiday gifts for grandchildren. A substantial 53 percent helped their grandchildren with educational expenses. The 55 percent majority of grandparents say the current economy has had no affect on how much they spend on grandchildren. Other facts about grandparents...

  • The average grandparent has 6.9 grandchildren (including great-grandchildren) 
  • 61% say they do not see grandchildren who live furthest away often enough
  • 39% communicate with grandchildren using technology such as email, texting, or Facebook
  • 49% have adult grandchildren
  • 76% were younger than 60 when their first grandchild was born
  • 62% are retired

Source: AARP, Insights and Spending Habits of Modern Grandparents