Friday, May 31, 2013

What If We Eliminated Cancer?

How much longer would Americans live if cancer were eliminated as a cause of death? That calculation has been done by the National Center for Health Statistics, and it has determined that the elimination of cancer would add 3.2 years to the average person's life expectancy at birth. Those who would have died of cancer would gain an additional 14.6 years of life expectancy at birth.

By eliminating certain causes of death from life expectancy calculations, the National Center for Health Statistics has revealed how much time each killer steals from us. Starting with 1999-2001 mortality rates by age and cause of death, the NCHS painstakingly calculated how much longer we would live if we eliminated 33 different causes of death—from heart disease to motor vehicle accidents, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and even the flu.

For the average person, the biggest life expectancy gain occurs when a major cause of death is eliminated--such as cancer or heart disease. If no one died of heart disease (the number-one killer), life expectancy at birth would increase by 3.7 years. Among those who would have died of heart disease, life expectancy at birth would rise by 11.8 years. The 11.8 year gain from eliminating heart disease is less than the 14.6 year gain from eliminating cancer because those who die of cancer are typically younger than those who die of heart disease, thus losing more time.

For people who would have died of a certain disease, the biggest gains in life expectancy at birth come from eliminating causes of death that typically strike younger adults. Eliminating HIV, for example, would add 34.7 years to life expectancy at birth for those the disease would have killed. Eliminating motor vehicle accidents would add 35.5 years to life expectancy for those who would have died in an accident. Eliminating homicide as a cause of death would add 44.1 years to the life expectancy of murder victims.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, United States Life Tables Eliminating Certain Causes of Death, 1999-2001

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oklahoma City's Daytime Population

Daytime population statistics might explain why the EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on May 20 resulted in relatively few deaths. The tornado occurred on a Monday afternoon, when many people were away from home. Despite being one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history, destroying or damaging more than 10,000 homes, the death toll was 24. Compare that to the 158 people who died in the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, which struck on a Sunday afternoon. What a difference the day makes.

According to a Census Bureau analysis of daytime populations, Oklahoma City ranks 14th among the nation's large cities (populations of 500,000 or more) in commuter-adjusted population change. During the work day, Oklahoma City's population expands by 17 percent as commuters stream in from the suburbs (such as Moore) to their jobs in the city. When the tornado hit Moore on Monday afternoon, many of Moore's residents were at work in Oklahoma City. Tragically, their children were attending school in Moore. Ten of the 24 who died were children.

Internet Use: 2013

It used to be fun to track Internet adoption statistics, watching the numbers climb higher each year. Now, with Internet use almost universal in most segments of the population, tracking Internet adoption is about as interesting as tracking television adoption. It's a done deal.

Still, there's something to be learned in the demographics of Internet use. Among all Americans aged 18 or older, 85 percent use the Internet, according to a Pew survey fielded in April and May 2013. This is up from 73 percent five years ago and 63 percent ten years ago.

Use of the Internet is nearly universal among 18-to-49-year-olds (92 to 98 percent), college graduates (96 percent), those with household incomes of $50,000 or more (94 to 96 percent), and parents of children under age 18 (93 percent).

Here are the Internet use rates of the demographic segments least likely to be online: 56 percent of people aged 65 or older, 59 percent of people without a high school diploma (many of them older), 76 percent of people with household incomes below $30,000 (many of them older), and 76 percent of Hispanics.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project, Internet Adoption Becomes Nearly Universal among Some Groups, but Others Lag Behind

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arabs in the U.S.

Among the nation's 304 million people, only 1.5 million are of Arab ancestry according to a 2006-10 American Community Survey analysis. Among the nation's 114 million households, only 511,000 are headed by someone of Arab ancestry. The Census Bureau defines Arab ancestry as an ethnic origin, heritage, or place of birth in one of the following: Alberia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, or Yemen.

Lebanese is the largest single Arab ancestry by far, with 486,000 U.S. residents identifying Lebanon as their origin. The Lebanese are also the most affluent Arab group, with a median household income of $67,264 in 2006-10 versus the $51,914 median for all U.S. households. Iraqis are the poorest Arab ancestry group, with a median household income of $32,075.

Source: Census Bureau, Arab Households in the United States: 2006-2010

Most Boomers Staying Put

Only 18 percent of the oldest boomers (born in 1946 and aged 66 in 2012) plan to move sometime in the future, down from the 25 percent who planned to move when MetLife surveyed the cohort in 2007.

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute, The MetLife Report on the Oldest Boomers--Healthy, Retiring Rapidly and Collecting Social Security

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Household Income Stable in April 2013

Median household income was stable in April 2013, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The April median of $51,456 was not statistically different from the March median. According to Sentier's Gordon Green, this stability is largely due to a 0.4 percent decline in consumer prices between March and April 2013. 

Median household income in April 2013 was 5.0 percent lower than the median in June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 6.7 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. "Even though we are technically in an economic recovery," says Green, "the most recent experience suggests that real median annual household income is still having difficulty gaining any solid traction."

The Household Income Index for April 2013 was 92.2 (January 2000 = 100.0). The index compares median annual household income in a given month as a percent of its value in January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. An Excel spreadsheet of the entire household income time series is available from Sentier's web site for $25.00.

Source: Sentier Research, Trends in Household Income: April 2013

City Growth by Size

The more urban the county, the greater the population growth during the 2010 to 2012 time period, according to an analysis of the Census Bureau's county population estimates by county rank on the Rural-Urban Continuum. But what about population change in cities themselves?

An analysis of population change in the nation's 726 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more) reveals growth to be uniform regardless of city size. Overall, the populations of large cities grew 2.1 percent between 2010 and 2012. This was nearly double the 1.1 percent growth outside these cities. By size of city, growth looked like this...

City population change 2010-2012 by city size
1 million or more: 2.0%
500,000 to 999,999: 2.5%
250,000 to 499,999: 2.0%
200,000 to 249,999: 2.3%
150,000 to 199,999: 1.8%
100,000 to 149,999: 2.2%
50,000 to 99,999: 1.9%

Of the 726 largest cities, only 70 lost population between 2010 and 2012.

Source: Census Bureau, City and Town Totals: Vintage 2012

Monday, May 27, 2013

Are Engineers Odd?

Nearly one-third of Americans (32 percent) agree with the statement, "Engineers are apt to be odd and peculiar people," and men think so more than women...

Men: 35%
Women: 28%

Source: Survey Documentation and Analysis, University of California-Berkeley, 2012 General Social Survey

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Geography of Public School Students

The United States is the third largest country in the world. This makes it hard to provide a public education to all children because many live in remote rural areas. In 2010, more than 1 million of the nation's 49 million public elementary and secondary school students (2 percent) lived in a remote rural location--defined as being at least 25 miles from the nearest urban area. Of course, this figure varies greatly by state.

Six states are so small and densely settled that no students are in remote areas: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In seven states, the percentage of students in remote rural areas is in the double-digits: North Dakota (28 percent), South Dakota (26 percent), Montana (20 percent), Alaska (18 percent), Wyoming (18 percent), Nebraska (14 percent), and Vermont (11 percent).

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education,  2013 Spotlights: The Status of Rural Education

Friday, May 24, 2013

Population Change along the Rural-Urban Continuum

The nation's urban areas are growing, and rural areas are losing people. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the post-Great Recession era. An analysis of county population change along what is called the Rural-Urban Continuum shows the draw of cities and the abandonment of rural outposts.

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,143 counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2012 for each rank, this is the result...

County population change 2010-2012 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank
1: 2.2%
2: 1.7%
3: 1.2%
4: 0.2%
5: 0.8%
6: -0.4%
7: -0.2%
8: -0.9%
9: -0.5%

The most urban counties (a 1 on the scale) grew faster than any other type of county between 2010 and 2012. The most rural counties (8 and 9 on the scale) experienced the biggest declines. This is an interesting twist in the age of the Internet, when location is supposed to be increasingly irrelevant.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, American Factfinder, County Population Estimates

Thursday, May 23, 2013

College Success Rates

In the best of all possible worlds, one-quarter of students attending a four-year college would earn a bachelor's degree each year. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world.

By comparing enrollment at four-year postsecondary institutions with the number of students earning a bachelor's degree, it is possible to estimate the success rate of these institutions. The estimates show four-year colleges to be woefully short of the 25 percent mark—especially for-profit schools. That's because many students take longer than four years to earn a bachelor's degree and others drop out before earning a degree. Among the nation's four-year postsecondary institutions in 2011-12, here is the ratio of students earning a bachelor's degree to total enrollment, by control of school...

Total four-year schools: 13%
Public four-year schools: 14%
Private, nonprofit schools: 16%
Private, for profit schools: 6%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2012-13; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred, 2011-12; and 12-Month Enrollment, 2011-12

Teen Birth Rate Plunges

If you think teenagers aren't paying attention to current events, these findings may change your mind. Between 2007 and 2011, the birth rate of the nation's 15-to-19-year-olds fell by a stunning 25 percent, to a record low of 31.3 births per 1,000 women in the age group. Shocked by the Great Recession, sexually active teens became more vigilant about using birth control.

Between 2007 and 2011, the birth rate of Hispanic teenagers fell 34 percent, more than the 24 percent decline for blacks and the 20 percent decline for non-Hispanic whites. The birth rate of Hispanic teens fell by 60 percent in Mississippi and by at least 50 percent in Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Declines in State Teen Birth Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Who's Not Healthy?

Your health in six dimensions: drinking, smoking, aerobic activity, muscle strengthening activity, weight, and sleep. This is what the government measures and analyzes to determine how many adults practice healthy behavior in each dimension. Here is the percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who failed to meet each of the healthy behavior guidelines...

1. Drinks too much: 23% Defined as five or more drinks in one day in the past year.
2. Smokes: 20% Defined as current cigarette smokers.
3. No aerobic activity: 34% Defined as never engaging in leisure-time aerobic activity.
4. No muscle-strengthening activity: 74% Defined as never engaging in leisure-time muscle-strengthening activity.
5. Obese: 28% Defined as a body mass index of 30 or more.
6. Sleep deprived: 30% Defined as less than 7 hours of sleep (8 hours for 18-to-21-year-olds) per 24 hours, on average.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2008-2010

Teen Facebook Friend Count

Most teenagers are on Facebook, and most have hundreds of friends. The median is 300. Here is the distribution of Facebook users aged 12 to 17 by number of Facebook friends...

Under 150: 27%
151 to 300: 27%
301 to 600: 24%
601 or more: 20%

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project, Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BLS Examines Spending on Pets

The average American household devotes more than $500 a year to pets, or 1 percent of its expenditures, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's more than the average household spends on alcohol or landline phones.

In its analysis, the BLS looks at pet spending from 2007 through 2011 and by a variety of demographic characteristics. The biggest spenders on pets are empty-nest couples: married couples without children at home spent an average of $698 on pets in 2011, and householders aged 55 to 64 spent $636.

Metro Advantages

The larger the metro, the more likely college graduates are to land a job that makes use of their degree and college major. This is the unsurprising finding of a Liberty Street Economics analysis of the skills match between college graduates and jobs.

Among employed Americans with a bachelor's degree in 2010, 62 percent had a job that required a college degree and 27 percent had a job that matched their college major, according to the researchers. (Both numbers are remarkably low, but that's another story.) The bigger the metro, the better the match between education and job--although the improvement is not all that impressive. As metropolitan size rises from the 50th to the 99.9th percentile (think Syracuse versus New York), the percentage of employed college graduates with a job that requires a college degree increases from 61.1 to 64.5 percent. The probability that college graduates will work in jobs related to their college major rises from 26.7 to 29.1 percent.

If the comparison had been between college graduates in metro versus nonmetro areas, it's likely the differences would be more impressive. The emptying out of the nation's nonmetropolitan counties over the past few years (see post here) is evidence that college graduates in nonmetro areas are seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, Do Big Cities Help College Graduates Find Better Jobs? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Downward Mobility for Generation X

Add another item to the long list of troubles plaguing Generation X. The way things are going, according to a new study, Gen Xers will be forced to make do in retirement with only 50 percent of their pre-retirement income. Financial planners recommend a replacement rate of at least 70 percent for a comfortable retirement.

The Economic Mobility Project estimated median replacement rates by generation based on projected household net worth plus the value of annuitized assets such as pensions and Social Security and assuming a retirement age of 65. As you can see, the projected income replacement rate of Generation X is well below the rate for older generations...

Generation X (born 1966-1975): 50%
Late Boomers (born 1956-1965):  59%
Early Boomers (born 1946-1955): 82%
War Babies (born 1936-1945): 99%
Depression Babies (born 1926-1935): 86%

Source: The Economic Mobility Project, Retirement Security Across Generations: Are Americans Prepared for their Golden Years?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Frequency of Flying

Percent distribution of American adults by the frequency with which they fly commercial airlines for business or personal reasons...

Never: 33%
Less than once a year: 31%
About once a year: 18%
Two to three times a year: 12%
Every two to three months: 5%
Once a month or more: 2%

Source: Harris Interactive, American Flyers Willing to Pay More for Personal Space

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Internet is Destroying the Middle Class

That's the premise of tech guru Jaron Lanier's chilling new book on what the Internet is doing to us. In Who Owns the Future, he warns...
"Making information free is survivable so long as only limited numbers of people are disenfranchised. As much as it pains me to say so, we can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists, and photographers. What is not survivable is the additional destruction of the middle classes in transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education, and health care. And all that destruction will come surely enough if the dominant idea of an information economy isn't improved."
Big data (which the Internet collects and digital networks mine and sell at great profit) is nothing more than people, says Lanier--millions and billions of people revealing (for free!) their wants, needs, insights, and experiences whenever they visit a web site, post on Facebook, click on a link, walk in a store, or drive down a street. He thinks big data companies should pay people for these contributions. Digital networks must become two-way streets. If they don't, says Lanier, the Internet will destroy the middle class.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Not Afraid of Terrorism

Percentage of Americans who are "not too" or "not at all" worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism...

2001: 50%
2013: 60%

Note: Gallup surveys conducted on September 21 and 22, 2001, and April 24 and 25, 2013.
Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online

Nonmetro Counties Are in Decline

A record number of nonmetropolitan counties are losing population, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. Between 2010 and 2012, fully 1,261 nonmetropolitan counties lost a combined 302,000 people. The decline is occurring in nearly two-thirds of the nation's nonmetropolitan counties.

Behind the decline is ongoing outmigration to metropolitan areas and the baby bust. In many nonmetropolitan counties, deaths now exceed births. Coupled with outmigration, the consequence is population loss. About 300 counties experienced "natural decrease" for the first time during the 2010-12 time period. For a map of these counties, click on the link.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Recent Population Change

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Middle Class by Education

Percent of Americans who say they are middle class, by educational attainment...

Graduate degree: 75.5%
Bachelor's degree: 62.7%
Associate's degree: 45.2%
High school graduate only: 34.1%
Not a high school graduate: 30.6%

Source: Survey Documentation and Analysis, University of California-Berkeley, 2012 General Social Survey

Cracking the Retirement Nest Egg

Why can't Americans save more for retirement? That's the question asked by the Federal Reserve Board in an analysis of early withdrawals from retirement accounts. Perhaps early withdrawals are the problem, the Fed researchers suggest. We aren't saving much for retirement because we can't leave our nest eggs alone, cracking into them early—before age 59.5. Taking an early withdrawal from a retirement account is something most people would prefer to avoid because the money withdrawn is taxable and a 10 percent penalty is levied on it as well. Given these disincentives, it is reasonable to assume (and the Fed researchers show) that those who take early withdrawals are experiencing financial hardship. But how common is it to crack open the nest egg?

By examining tax returns, the Fed researchers estimated the frequency of early withdrawals from retirement accounts and their size relative to retirement contributions. Both figures are disturbingly large. Among taxpayers under age 55 with a retirement account in 2010, nearly one in four (23.8 percent) took an early withdrawal. To determine whether the effects of the Great Recession were behind this high rate of withdrawal, the researchers looked at rates in earlier years. Much to their surprise, early withdrawal was common well before the Great Recession. In 2004, 21.2 percent of retirement account owners under age 55 took an early withdrawal. In 2007, the figure was 22.2 percent.

Relative to retirement contributions, early withdrawals loom large. In 2004, early withdrawals from retirement accounts accounted for 30 percent of contributions made that year. By 2010, the figure had grown to 45 percent. With nearly half of our retirement contributions being withdrawn early, it's no wonder our nest eggs aren't growing.  

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Early Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts During the Great Recession, Robert Argento, Victoria L. Bryant, and John Sabelhaus, 2013-22

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Marijuana Eradication: 2012 Update

Statistics from the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program of the Drug Enforcement Administration...

Total cultivated plants eradicated: 3,933,959
Number of arrests: 6,508
Value of assets seized: $32,008,581

Source: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online

Homeownership Hurts Job Markets

What's that again? Homeownership hurts rather than helps the job market? That's what economists David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald discovered when analyzing state-level data on homeownership and unemployment: "High homeownership impairs the vitality of the labor market and slowly grinds out greater rates of joblessness," the authors find.

The higher the rate of homeownership, the greater a state's unemployment rate not the next year, but two to three years later. More homeownership also leads to fewer new businesses. Zoning might be one way areas of high homeownership discourage new business and suppress job growth. Another factor might be the NIMBY effect, in which homeowners fight business development, suppressing the labor market and creating future unemployment.

Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics, Does High Home-Onwership Impair the Labor Market? Working Paper 13-3, May 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Are Americans Buying More Guns?

True or false: Americans are buying more guns. One way to determine whether this statement is fact or fiction is by examining the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey, which captures household spending on guns and ammunition in the spending category "hunting and fishing equipment." Although hunting and fishing equipment includes rods and reels, bait and tackle, and bows and arrows as well as guns and ammunition, an analysis of trends in the category is revealing.

Average household spending: Between 2000 and 2011, average annual household spending on hunting and fishing equipment fell slightly, from $33.77 to $33.06 (in 2011 dollars). During those 11 years, spending on the category peaked in 2002 at $44.61 and bottomed out in 2010 at $27.00. So there has been no upward trend in average household spending.

Percent of households buying: The Consumer Expenditure Survey also collects information on the percentage of households that make purchases during an average quarter. During an average quarter of 2000, for example, 2.20 percent of households spent money on hunting and fishing equipment. This figure fell as low as 1.83 percent in 2007. In 2011, however, it was at an 11-year high of 2.80 percent. So there has been an upward trend in the percentage of households buying.

Best customers: Non-Hispanic whites spend 17 percent more than the average household on hunting and fishing equipment, making them the "best customers" of the category. In fact, they are the only race/Hispanic origin group that spends more than average on these items. Black households spend 44 percent less than average on hunting and fishing equipment, Hispanic households spend 68 percent less, and Asian households spend almost nothing on the category. The percentage of non-Hispanic white households purchasing hunting and fishing equipment during an average quarter has grown steadily in recent years: 2.26% in 2007; 2.55% in 2008; 2.80% in 2009; 2.98% in 2010; and 3.40% in 2011. So the best customers are becoming even better customers.

Are Americans buying more guns? This analysis suggests that some are.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

SSA Stats: Baby Bust Continues

For the past few decades, the IRS has required parents to provide Social Security numbers for dependent children on their tax returns. Since then, all newborns in the United States receive Social Security numbers, and applications for numbers by year of birth closely track actual births. While the Social Security Administration's numbers are not exactly the same as the complete count of births provided by the National Center for Health Statistics, they are available sooner and are an excellent indicator of trends in births.

The latest statistics show that the baby bust continues. In 2012, the Social Security Administration provided 3,931,200 numbers for newborns. This was 19,502 fewer than in 2011 and 393,000 below the peak year of 2007. Although the baby bust is ongoing, the decline is slowing. The biggest year-over-year drop (-133,499) occurred between 2009 and 2010.

Source: Social Security Administration, Social Security Number Holders

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Young People Don't Vote

More than a year ago, I wrote an article for the New Republic about why fewer young adults would vote in the 2012 presidential election than in 2008 (The Surprising Trends that Suggest Young People Won't Vote in 2012). Was I right or what? Here are the voting rates of citizens by age group (and the percentage point change in the rate between 2008 and 2012)...

18 to 24: 41.2% (-7.3)
25 to 44: 57.3% (-2.7)
45 to 64: 67.9% (-1.3)
65-plus: 72.0% (+1.7)

To put it bluntly, the voter participation rate of 18-to-24-year-olds plunged between 2008 and 2012. While the overall rate fell by 1.8 percentage points (to 61.8 percent), the rate among young adults fell by an enormous 7.3 percentage points. One reason for the decline is the typical lower level of enthusiasm for an incumbent. The second reason for the decline is that voting is for grown ups, and millions of young adults have been prevented from growing up by the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Voting rates rise steadily with age as young adults find jobs, earn a living, set up house, marry, and have children--in other words, as they become established members of the community. By these measures, fewer young adults were grown ups in 2012 than in 2008. The decline in their voter participation rate was predictable, and predicted.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Debt Free in 2012 and Before

A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examines a representative sample of Americans to determine what percentage of individuals were debt free in 2012.

And the number is...26 percent. Slightly more than one in four Americans were debt free in 2012. Using data from Equifax's Consumer Credit Panel, the researchers traced the debt history of these debt-free individuals back to 2007 and 2000, finding...
  • 20 percent had no debt in all three time periods 
  • 32 percent were debtors in 2000, but debt free in 2007 and 2012
  • 40 percent were debtors in both 2000 and 2007, but debt free in 2012
  • 8 percent were debt free in 2000, debtors in 2007, and debt free again in 2012
To calculate the percentage of all Americans who were debt free in the three years examined (you could call them the Debt Averse), multiply the 26 percent who were debt free in 2012 by the 20 percent who were also debt free in 2007 and 2000. And the result is a tiny 5 percent.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, The Evolution of Debt Balances

The Declining Political Power of Older Whites

Among the 133 million Americans who reported voting in the 2012 presidential election, only 74 percent were non-Hispanic white. This figure is down from 81 percent in 2000 and 88 percent in 1992. What a difference a few decades make in the country's voter demographics. Here is the breakdown of 2012 voters by race (alone or in combination) and Hispanic origin...

Asian: 3.3%
Black: 14.0%
Hispanic: 8.4%
Non-Hispanic white: 73.7%

Add age to the calculation, and non-Hispanic whites aged 45 or older were only 48 percent of 2012 voters. This is well below their 54 percent share of voters in the 2010 congressional election.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Who Voted in 2012?

In the 2012 presidential election, blacks were more likely to vote than non-Hispanic whites. Fully 65.9 percent of blacks (race alone or in combination) voted in 2012 compared with a smaller 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites. The black voting rate hit an all-time high in 2012, while the non-Hispanic white rate was lower than in 2004 or 2008.

Fewer than half of Asian or Hispanic citizens went to the polls in 2012. The Asian voting rate was about the same in 2012 as in 2008, while the Hispanic rate was lower. Here are the 2012 voting rates for U.S. citizens aged 18 or older by race and Hispanic origin...

Total: 61.8%
Asian: 47.9%
Black: 65.9%
Hispanic: 48.0%
Non-Hispanic white: 64.1%

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration

Dow 15,000: So What?

The Dow may have closed above 15,000 for the first time ever, but that doesn't matter to nearly half the population. The percentage of Americans who own stock is at a low, according to Gallup's Economy and Finance Survey, which has been measuring the level of stock ownership since 1998. In April 2013, only 52 percent of Americans owned stock personally or jointly with a spouse, either directly or in a mutual fund or self-directed retirement account. This figure is down from a high of 65 percent in 2007.

Here is the percentage of Americans who owned stock in April 2013 by age (and the percentage point decline in ownership since 2008)...

Aged 18 to 29:  27% (-6)
Aged 30 to 49:  58% (-14)
Aged 50 to 64:  61% (-10)
Aged 65-plus:  57% (-6)

Source: Gallup, U.S. Stock Ownership Stays at Record Low

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Worries about Middle Age Worries

Recently, Gallup researchers asked a representative sample of Americans how worried they are about their finances. What they heard from middle-aged Americans is worrisome.

In some ways, the concerns of people aged 50 to 64 are typical, such as the 72 percent who are "very" or "moderately" worried about not having enough money for retirement. Of course this is a prime financial worry--no surprise there. And it's also no surprise that only 29 percent are worried about paying for their children's college education. Most have already settled that issue one way or the other.

But here's the worry about worries: The 51 percent majority of people aged 50 to 64 are very or moderately worried about being able to pay the costs of normal health care (higher than any other age group), 44 percent are worried about being able to pay normal monthly bills (higher than any other age group), 39 percent are worried about being able to pay the mortgage or rent (equal to younger age groups), and 22 percent are worried about making the minimum payments on their credit card bills (higher than any other age group). These are the kinds of financial worries that, by middle age, should be in the rearview mirror. But they aren't. And that's worrisome.

Source: Gallup, Middle-Aged Americans Most Worried about Finances

Monday, May 06, 2013

Household Retirement Assets

How much have American households saved for retirement? By analyzing the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, the Congressional Research Service has the answers. Here are the numbers (and percents) of the nation's 118 million households by their retirement assets...

Distribution of households by retirement assets
$0: 58,363,198 (49.6%)
$1 to $50,000: 31,527,732 (26.8%)
$50,001 to $100,000: 8,325,406 (7.1%)
$100,001 to $500,000: 14,690,016 (12.5%)
$500,001 to $1,000,000: 2,919,566 (2.5%)
$1,000,001 to $1,500,000: 950,452 (0.8%)
$1,500,001 to $3,000,000: 658,961 (0.6%)
$3,000,001 or more: 173,886 (0.1%)

Note: Retirement assets include defined-contribution plans and IRA balances.
Source: Congressional Research Service, U.S. Household Savings for Retirement in 2010, (PDF) John J. Topoleski, April 30, 2013

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Television Extremes

The average American spends 2.75 hours a day watching television as a primary activity. Here are the demographic segments that watch the most and least TV...

Most television: 5.11 hours a day, men aged 75 or older
Least television: 1.92 hours a day, women aged 35 to 44

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011 American Time Use Survey

Friday, May 03, 2013

Party Differences

Percentage of Americans who think their financial situation is getting better, by political party identification...

Republican: 35%
Independent: 48%
Democrat: 56%

Source: Gallup, Young Americans Most Positive about Direction of Finances

Thursday, May 02, 2013

More Suicide among the Middle-Aged

The Great Recession did more than take people's jobs and empty their bank accounts. It may be the reason for the startling increase in suicide among middle-aged Americans.

Between 1999 and 2010, the suicide rate among Americans aged 35 to 64 climbed 28 percent—from 13.7 to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 people in the age group. The annual number of suicides among 35-to-64-year-olds grew from 14,443 to 21,754 during those years.

Within the 35-to-64 age group, the suicide rate increased the most among people in their fifties, with the rate rising by 48 to 49 percent among those aged 50 to 59. By race and Hispanic origin, the rate increased 40 percent among non-Hispanic whites, but barely changed for blacks or Hispanics. 

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Suicide among Adults Aged 35-64 Years—United States, 1999-2010

Homeownership by Age: Then and Now

The nation's homeownership rate was 65.0 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to the Census Bureau. The quarterly homeownership rate hasn't been that low for 18 years—since the third quarter of 1995. Although the overall homeownership rate was identical in both time periods, in most age groups the rate is substantially lower today than in 1995. The aging of the population is all that has kept today's rate from falling even lower than 65 percent.

Here is the homeownership rate by age in the first quarter of 2013 (and the percentage point change in the rate since the third quarter of 1995)...

Under age 25: 20.8% (+3.8)
Aged 25 to 29: 34.4% (+0.6)
Aged 30 to 34: 48.9% (-4.9)
Aged 35 to 39: 55.3% (-6.7)
Aged 40 to 44: 64.4% (-4.6)
Aged 45 to 49: 69.4% (-4.7)
Aged 50 to 54: 73.1% (-3.9)
Aged 55 to 59: 75.7% (-2.4)
Aged 60 to 64: 78.5% (-2.0)
Aged 65 to 69: 80.2% (-0.7)
Aged 70 to 74: 82.8% (+1.8)
Aged 75-plus: 79.2% (+4.5)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

A Little Added Sugar—At Home

Think those super-sized soft drinks from fast-food restaurants are the primary culprit in the nation's sugar high? Maybe not, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A dietary recall survey of American adults reveals that the 58 percent majority of the added sugars in the beverages we consume are downed at home rather than at restaurants. An even larger 67 percent of the added sugars in the food we eat are consumed at home.

Added sugars, by the way, are just what you think they are--sugar added to packaged and processed food and beverages including soft drinks, bread, cereal, cake, cookies, ice cream, candy, and a whole bunch of other items we can't seem to resist.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Consumption of Added Sugars among U.S. Adults, 2005-2010

Plunging Homeownership

Over the past five years, the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds fell by a steep 9.4 percentage points, a bigger decline than in any other age group...

Homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds
First quarter 2013: 55.3%
First quarter 2008: 64.7%

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey