Sunday, June 30, 2013

Favorite Outdoor Activities

The five most popular outdoor activities among people aged 25 or older, based on percent participating in 2012:

1. Fishing, 15.7%
2. Running, 14.9%
3. Bicycling, 12.0%
4. Hiking, 11.7%
5. Camping, 11.5%

The five most popular outdoor activities among people aged 25 or older, based on frequency of participation during 2012:

1. Running, 87.2 outings per runner
2. Bicycling, 58.4 outings per cyclist
3. Birdwatching, 40.7 outings per birdwatcher
4. Backpacking, 33.4 outings per backpacker
5. Wildlife viewing, 29.9 outings per viewer

Source: Outdoor Foundation, Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why Life Expectancy is Declining among Less-Educated Americans

Life expectancy in the United States has been rising, but studies show the least educated Americans are not enjoying these gains. In fact, life expectancy has been declining over the past few decades among those without a high school diploma. What accounts for these divergent trends?

Most likely, adverse selection. As a larger share of the population graduated from high school and went to college, high school dropouts became less like the average American—a group increasingly comprised of those burdened with problems that lead to higher mortality rates. As recently as 1965, half of women aged 25 or older had not graduated from high school. By 2012, the figure was just 12 percent. The average American once ranked among the least educated. Today the least educated are anything but average.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Student Loan Anxiety

Fully 20 percent of Americans have student loan debt, according to a report by the Urban Institute. The proportion is as high as 40 percent among people aged 20 to 29.

Not only do student loans prevent young adults from spending on other things such as cars, houses, and restaurant meals, they create anxiety. In fact, 58 percent of 20-to-29-year-olds with student loans are worried about their ability to repay them. Do the math (58% of the 40%) and the result is a lot of young adults tossing and turning at night. No wonder Millennials are walking instead of driving, renting instead of owning, and eating at home instead of going out.

Source: Urban Institute, Forever in Your Debt: Who Has Student Loan Debt, and Who's Worried?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Household Income Stable in May 2013

Median annual household income was stable in May 2013, according to the latest monthly update from Sentier Research. The May median of $51,500 was not statistically different from the April median, after adjusting for inflation.  

Sentier's data show that median household income has yet to recover from the losses of the Great Recession. In May 2013, median household income was still 5.0 percent below the median of 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. 

The Household Income Index for May 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: May 2013

Marital Events in Past Year

Number of Americans who married, divorced or were widowed in the past year...

Married: 4,240,826
Divorced: 2,394,860
Widowed: 1,417,430

Source: Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

E-Books vs. Print Books

Three out of four Americans aged 16 or older read a book in the past 12 months, according to a Pew Internet and American Life survey. The figure peaks at 90 percent among 16-to-17-year-olds (many of whom are required to read books in high school) and bottoms out at 67 percent among people aged 65 or older.

Print still rules the book world, even in the younger age groups. Among 18-to-24-year-old book readers, 93 percent read a print book and 31 percent read an e-book in the past year. E-books are most popular among 30-to-49-year-old book readers, 41 percent having read an e-book and 85 percent a print book in the past year.

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project, Younger Americans' Library Habits and Expectations

The Importance of Health Insurance

Ask people aged 18 to 64 how important it is to them personally to have health insurance, and fully 87 percent say it is "very important." The figure is as high as 91 percent among those who currently have insurance. Among the uninsured, 67 percent say it is very important.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: June 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jobs for College Graduates

The 10 most popular occupations for young adults who graduated from college in 2011...

1. Elementary or middle school teacher
2. Accountant and auditor
3. Registered nurse
4. Postsecondary teacher
5. Miscellaneous manager
6. Computer software engineer
7. Retail salesperson
8. Customer service representative
9. Supervisor of retail sales workers
10. Secretary or administrative assistant

How has this list changed since 2005? According to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, three occupations have dropped off the list: secondary school teacher, social worker, and lawyer. New to the list are retail salesperson, supervisor of retail workers, and secretary.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Underemployment, College Graduates, and the Recession

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Many Have a Summer Job?

Each year in July, the labor force participation rate of the nation's youth reaches a peak. That peak has been declining, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two decades ago, more than three-quarters of 16-to-24-year-olds were working or looking for work in the month of July. In 2012, only 60 percent were in the labor force and just 50 percent were employed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weekend Work

Forty-two percent of the self-employed are at work on an average weekend day, according to the 2012 American Time Use Survey. This compares with 31 percent of wage and salary workers.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Television Time at Record High

Americans spent a record amount of time watching television in 2012, according to new figures from the American Time Use Survey. The average person aged 15 or older spent 2.83 hours a day watching television as a primary activity in 2012, up from 2.57 hours per day in 2003.

The American Time Use Survey has been collecting time use data from a representative sample of the public for 10 years. During that time there has been little variation in the percentage of people who report watching television on an average day, at about 80 percent. Those who watch television, however, are reporting doing so for longer periods of time. Viewing time climbed from 3.27 hours per day in 2003 to a record high of 3.54 hours per day in 2012.

One reason for the increased screen time of television viewers is the aging of the population, with older Americans watching far more television than younger adults. Other factors include larger and higher quality television sets (HDTVs), the ability to time shift through the use of DVRs, the greater availability of content through streaming, and the practice of binge viewing.

Wealth: Crawling Out of the Hole

We are still crawling out of the sink hole of the Great Recession, which claimed a quarter of our net worth, according to an analysis by the St. Louis Fed. From the 2007 peak to the 2009 trough, the nation's aggregate net worth fell by $16 trillion—from $67.4 trillion in the third quarter of 2007 to a low of $51.4 trillion in the first quarter of 2009—a 24 percent loss. But since then, says the Fed report, aggregate net worth has recovered, climbing to $66.1 trillion by the end of 2012. Does that mean we're out of the hole?

Unfortunately, no. According to the Fed analysis, aggregate net worth is 91 percent of what it was in 2007—but that's only if you do not adjust for inflation. After adjusting for inflation, the nation's aggregate net worth is only 56 percent of what it was in 2007. After adjusting for inflation and population growth, net worth per household is only 45 percent of what it was at the peak. We're still crawling out of the hole.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Vacation

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) plan to take a summer vacation, according to a Harris Interactive survey. The most popular vacation destination is--no surprise--the beach, with 38 percent of those who plan to take a vacation going to the beach. The number two vacation destination is more surprising--a city center. Twenty-seven percent of vacationers say the downtown of a city is their vacation destination. The city is a more popular vacation destination than the countryside (23 percent), national or state park (23 percent), or theme park (21 percent).

Source: Harris Interactive, One-Third of Americans Less Likely to Travel This Summer Due to Economic Outlook

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Desktop Computers, 2013

Seventy percent of Americans own a desktop computer. But ownership varies by generation—and not in the way you might think.

Percent who own a desktop computer
Millennials (18 to 35): 52%
Gen Xers (36 to 47): 69%
Boomers (48 to 66): 79%
Older (67 or older): 85%

Source: Harris Interactive, Cutting Edge Technologies Supplementing--Rather than Displacing--Older Tech, At Least for Now

Black Smartphone Ownership Soars

African Americans are much more likely to own a smartphone than any other race or Hispanic origin group, according to Pew Internet and American Life Project.

In 2013, 64 percent of blacks aged 18 or older owned a smartphone versus a smaller 53 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 60 percent of Hispanics. In the past year, African American smartphone ownership climbed 17 percentage points compared with a smaller 11 percentage point gain among both Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Non-Hispanic Whites Decline in Most Counties

The non-Hispanic white population declined in most counties between 2011 and 2012, according to an analysis of Census Bureau estimates. The number of non-Hispanic whites fell in 2,201 of the nation's 3,143 counties—or 70 percent of the total. Many of the counties with fewer non-Hispanic whites are rural, sparsely settled, and losing population.

At the other extreme, North and South Dakota accounted for half of the counties with the largest percent increase in non-Hispanic whites, lured by job opportunities in the oil fields. Between 2011 and 2012, the non-Hispanic white population grew by at least 5 percent in 24 counties, and 12 of those counties were in North or South Dakota.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Not Yet Fathers

Percentage of men who have not had biological children, by age...

Aged 15 to 19: 97%
Aged 20 to 24: 85%
Aged 25 to 29: 58%
Aged 30 to 34: 38%
Aged 35 to 39: 26%
Aged 40 to 44: 24%

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 

Friday, June 14, 2013

2012 Births: Projected vs. Estimated

Americans had fewer babies in 2012 than the Census Bureau had projected. The bureau projected 4,209,571 births in 2012, but its population estimates through July 1, 2012 show only 3,953,593 babies were born during the previous 12 months. The estimate is short of the projection by a substantial 255,978.

The estimated number of births in every race-and-Hispanic-origin group was 5 to 7 percent less than projected. In both projections and estimates, however, births to Asians, blacks, and Hispanics accounted for just over 50 percent of the total.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Decline in Non-Hispanic Whites Under Age 65

The non-Hispanic white population will begin to decline in 2025, according to Census Bureau projections. But the decline is already occurring among non-Hispanic whites under age 65, according to Census Bureau estimates. While the total number of non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. population continued to grow between 2011 and 2012 (up by 175,965), the number of non-Hispanic whites under age 65 fell by more than 1 million...

Change in number of non-Hispanic whites by age, 2011 to 2012
Under age 65: -1,123,144
Aged 65-plus: +1,299,109

Source: Census Bureau, National Characteristics: Vintage 2012

Race and Hispanic Origin, 2012

The diversity of the American population is growing rapidly, as revealed by the Census Bureau's latest population estimates. As of July 1, 2012, only 63.0 percent of the nation's population was non-Hispanic white, down from 63.4 percent a year earlier. During those 12 months, the non-Hispanic white population grew by a minuscule 0.09 percent. This compares with a 1.3 percent increase in the black (alone or in combination) population, a 2.2 percent increase in the Hispanic population, and a 2.9 percent increase in the Asian (alone or in combination) population.

Behind the shrinking non-Hispanic white share of the population is negative natural increase. Between 2011 and 2012, for the first time, there were more deaths than births among non-Hispanic whites: 1,974,794 births and 1,987,213 deaths. Immigration was the only factor that prevented the number of non-Hispanic whites from declining. The Census Bureau projects that the number of non-Hispanic whites will begin to shrink in 2025.

Number (and percent distribution) of the population by race and Hispanic origin in 2012:
Total: 313,914,040 (100.0%)
Asian: 18,855,104 (6.0%)
Black: 44,456,009 (14.2%)
Hispanic: 53,027,708 (16.9%)
Non-Hispanic white: 197,705,655 (63.0%)

Source: Census Bureau, National Characteristics: Vintage 2012

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Older Americans Don't Like Living with Children

That's a shocking statement, but it is supported by research findings: people aged 65 or older who live with children under age 18 are unhappier, angrier, more worried and stressed out than those who do not live with children under age 18--even after controlling for factors that might cause negative emotions.

In the delightfully titled study, "Grandpa and the Snapper: The Wellbeing of the Elderly Who Live with Children," NBER researchers Angus Deaton and Arthur A. Stone examine data from the Gallup Healthways Wellbeing Index. They measure the happiness, enjoyment, worry, and stress of people who live with and without children under age 18. Younger adults gain both pleasure and pain from living with children, but for the elderly it's all pain and no pleasure.

"Our evidence suggests that living with children under 18 is associated with worse outcomes on all measures," say the researchers. "None of this is to argue that some elderly do not take pleasure in their grandchildren or in the children of those with whom they live. But, on average, we can find no evidence of it."

Second Thoughts about Retirement

In the past year, 30 percent of workers aged 50-plus have changed their minds about when they plan to retire. Among those who changed their minds, 85 percent now plan to retire at an older age than before.

Source: AARP, 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey: A Secondary Analysis of the Findings from Respondents Age 50+

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Connectivity Continuum

Twenty-seven percent of Americans are highly connected to the Internet, accessing the Internet at multiple locations with multiple devices. Another 16 percent of Americans are not connected at all to the Internet, lacking any kind of computer or Internet use. These are the two extremes of what the Census Bureau calls the "connectivity continuum," with everyone else at various stages of connectivity in between (home-only connectivity, single-device connectivity, etc.).

The Census Bureau's report, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2011, is admittedly dated in a world of rapid technological change. But the report captures an historic moment—the transition from pre- to post-Internet age when connectivity sharply divides the population. The highly connected and the unconnected are the two largest segments of the population—or they were in 2011.

Not surprisingly, young adults are more likely to be at one extreme: 37 percent of 18-to-44-year-olds are highly-connected and only 10 to 11 percent are unconnected. The elderly are more likely to be at the other extreme: 36 percent of people aged 65 or older are unconnected and only 6 percent are highly connected. The Census Bureau also examined connectivity by state. The state with the largest percentage of highly-connected residents is Colorado (36 percent). The state with the largest percentage of unconnected residents is Mississippi (27 percent).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tablet Ownership Soars

Thirty-four percent of American adults own a tablet computer, up from 25 percent a year ago, according to a Pew Internet and American Life survey.

Which demographic segment experienced the biggest increase in tablet ownership over the past year? Parents. Just 26 percent of parents with children under age 18 owned a tablet computer in 2012, and 50 percent own one today.

Trends in Air Conditioning

Percentage of new single-family houses sold by presence of central air conditioning...

2012: 92%
2010: 89%
2000: 87%
1990: 70%

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Sold

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Debt in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

For a peak at the finances of people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, check out the interactive graphic on non-housing consumer debt available from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Based on data from a nationally representative sample of individuals with a Social Security number and an Equifax credit report, the graphic shows how many are in debt and the median balance of their loans by age group and type of loan (credit card, auto, student, and other) as of March 2013...

  • Among 18-to-34-year-olds in New York state, 16 percent have a car loan (median balance $11,100) and 28 percent have a student loan (median balance $17,050). 
  • In Connecticut, 46 percent of 35-to-49-year-olds have two or more credit cards, 32 percent have an auto loan, and 15 percent have a student loan.
  • In New Jersey and Connecticut, the 13 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds with student loans have a larger median balance than any other age group ($18,950 in Connecticut and $19,950 in New Jersey).

Friday, June 07, 2013

Food Waste

Americans waste a lot of food, so much so that measuring food waste is one of the projects of the USDA's Economic Research Service. In 2010, Americans did not eat 21 percent of the food they bought measured in pounds. The biggest waste, on a percentage basis, is fish and seafood (30 percent of pounds purchased are wasted) and fresh fruit and vegetables (24 to 25 percent).

Measured in dollars, American consumers did not eat 9 percent of the food they bought. Of the $4,000 spent annually per person on food, $371 went into the garbage.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, ERS's Food Loss Data Help Inform the Food Waste Discussion

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Characteristics of New Rental Units

Studies show that many homeowners would consider renting in the future. The nation's developers are responding with skepticism. Judging from the characteristics of the 155,000 new rental units completed in 2012, builders are scaling back on amenities...
  • Only 58 percent had two or more bedrooms, down from 63 percent in 2011 
  • Only 46 percent had two or more complete bathrooms, down from 51 percent in 2011
  • Units were a median 1,081 square feet in size, down from 1,117 square feet in 2011

Births in 2012

The baby bust continues. The number of births in 2012 was unchanged from the number in 2011, according to provisional estimates released by the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2012, 3,958,000 babies were born, 8 percent below the all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007.

The fertility rate (number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44) continues at its all-time low. The rate was 63.2 in 2012, the same as in 2011 and 9 percent below the 69.3 of 2007.

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

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Most Own a Smartphone

Most Americans own a smartphone, according to a new survey by Pew Internet and American Life Project. As of May 2013, the 56 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older own a smartphone, up from 46 percent in 2012 and 35 percent in 2011. By age, smartphone ownership looks like this...

Aged 18 to 24: 79%
Aged 25 to 34: 81%
Aged 35 to 44: 69%
Aged 45 to 54: 55%
Aged 55 to 64: 39%
Aged 65-plus: 18%

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project, Smartphone Ownership 2013

What Is Changing?

"Older Americans' Moral Attitudes Changing," reads the headline of a recent Gallup story. The headline is misleading, however, because the change is demographic, not psychographic.

Take the issue of premarital sex. In 2012, the 51 percent majority of 55-to-64-year-olds agreed that premarital sex was "not wrong at all," according to the General Social Survey, up from just 37 percent who felt that way In 1991. This change in attitude occurred only because everyone in the age group had been replaced by a more tolerant group of people. In 2012, the oldest baby boomers were the nation's 55-to-64-year-olds.

But the attitudes of those oldest boomers had barely changed over the two decades. In 1991, when the oldest boomers were in the 35-to-44 age group, 49 percent thought there was nothing wrong with premarital sex—nearly identical to the 51 percent who felt that way in 2012 when they were in the 55-to-64 age group.

Meanwhile, the 55-to-64-year-olds of 1991 hadn't changed their minds either. If anything, they were less tolerant of premarital sex than they had been. In 2012, now in the 75-to-84 age group, only 29 percent thought there was nothing wrong with premarital sex.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Obamacare Will Boost Self-Employment

Despite all our talk about the entrepreneurial spirit, the percentage of Americans who are self-employed is lower than in most other developed countries. The reason is our awkward system of employer-provided health insurance, which throws entrepreneurs under the bus of the private health insurance market. Studies have shown that workers are much more likely to strike out on their own if their spouse has employer-provided health insurance or when Medicare coverage kicks in at age 65.

Obamacare may change that. According to an Urban Institute study, implementation of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) will boost the number of self-employed Americans by 1.5 million in 2014, an increase of nearly 12 percent. The Urban Institute's state-by-state estimates show self-employment rising by 248,000 in California and 124,000 in Texas (if the ACA is fully implemented, that is). The increase will exceed 50,000 in six other states. In Massachusetts and Vermont, no increase is forecast. That's because those states have systems similar to Obamacare already in place.

Source: Urban Institute, The Affordable Care Act: Improving Incentives for Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment

The Price of New Houses

$245,100: That is the median sales prices of the new, detached, single-family houses sold in 2012. Here is how that figure compares with median prices in the recent past (in 2012 dollars)...
  • The price in 2012 was 7 percent above the $229,100 of 2000.
  • The price in 2012 was 15 percent below the $288,800 of 2006 (all-time high).
  • The price in 2012 was 6 percent above the $232,200 of 2009 (Great Recession low).
Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses Sold

Monday, June 03, 2013

Smartphones in Demographic Research

Will mobile phones transform the study of human migration? That's what researchers asked in a recent Demography article, New Approaches to Human Mobility: Using Mobile Phones for Demographic Research ($). The article describes a pilot project to test the concept of using smartphones for tracking migration. The results suggest that the study of human migration may be on the brink of radical change, and it's no surprise that a researcher from Google was one of those involved in the project.

Migration data typically come from censuses and surveys, which record where people live but not where they work or the extent of their travels on a daily basis. The mobile phone pilot project tracked volunteers for days and even weeks, examining their range of movement, the frequency with which they visited various locations, and how weekday differed from weekend traveling.

The researchers did more than plot points on a map, however. They knew the demographics of their volunteers and collected information on their subjective well-being. Every now and then, the volunteers would receive a message on their phone asking them, on a scale of 1 to 5, to rate their happiness at that moment. An intriguing finding from the (admittedly small) pilot project sample is that men's happiness declines the farther they are from home, while women's happiness is unchanged by distance. The success of this pilot project suggests that smartphones could become an important tool for demographic research in the years ahead.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

How Many Grandchildren?

Most of the oldest boomers (born in 1946) have grandchildren, according to MetLife Mature Market Institute, which has been tracking this cohort for years. In 2012, fully 85 percent of the oldest boomers (who turned 66 last year) had grandchildren. Among the grandparents, the average number of grandchildren was 4.8.

For more about the oldest boomers, see The MetLife Report on the Oldest Boomers--Healthy, Retiring Rapidly and Collecting Social Security.