Thursday, July 31, 2014

Median Net Worth of Households Still Falling

The median net worth of American households continues to decline, according to a research brief for the Recession Trends initiative, a joint effort of the Russell Sage Foundation and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. Examining early release data from the nationally representative Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the researchers took a look at trends in median household wealth (assets minus debts) through 2013. It was not a pretty picture...

Median household net worth (in 2013 dollars)
2013: $56,335
2009: $70,801
2007: $98,872
2003: $87,992

"Through at least 2013, there are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth experienced by American families during the Great Recession," report the researchers. "Declines in net worth from 2007 to 2009 were large, and the declines continued through 2013."

Source: Russell Sage Foundation, Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Geography of Debt

In a first-of-a-kind analysis, the Urban Institute examines how debt varies by state and metropolitan area. The researchers examined 2013 credit bureau data from TransUnion, which has files on almost every American adult (91 percent)—whether they have debt or not. Most do have debt. Of the 91 percent of Americans with a credit file, fully 80 percent have debt.

The Urban Institute researchers looked at the geographic variation in the percentage of Americans with a nonmortgage bill past due (between 30 and 180 days late) and/or in collections (more than 180 days late). Debt in collections could be credit card, medical, or utility bills, even a parking ticket or club membership. They can remain on a credit file for as long as seven years. While only 5 percent of Americans with a credit file have a bill past due, a much larger 35 percent have debt in collections (median amount owed = $1,349). The percentage with debt in collections varies greatly by state and metro area and is concentrated in the South, the Urban Institute reports.

Among states, Nevada is the worst—fully 47 percent of the state's residents with a credit file have debt in collections. In 12 other states (11 of them in the South), the figure is more than 40 percent. At the other extreme, a smaller 20 percent of the residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota have debt in collections.

Among the 100 largest metro areas, the percentage of residents with debt in collections ranges from a low of 20.1 percent in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, to a high of 51.7 percent in McAllen, Texas. Other metros with at least 45 percent of residents having debt in collections are Las Vegas (49.2 percent), Lakeland, Florida (47.3 percent), Columbia, South Carolina (45.2 percent), and Jacksonville, Florida (45.0 percent).

Source: Urban Institute, Delinquent Debt in America

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter, 2014

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2014: 46.5%

The homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 has fallen to a record low. The 46.5 percent rate recorded for this age group in the second quarter of 2014 was a full 1.0 percentage points below their rate in the first quarter of 2014 and 1.9 percentage points below their rate one year ago. 

Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time homebuyers. Historically, this was the age group in which homeownership became the norm—rising above 50 percent. But beginning in 2007, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds went into a tailspin. In the second quarter of 2011, the rate fell below 50 percent for the first time. The downward slide continues.

The only good news for the housing industry in the Census Bureau's latest release is the stability in the homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39—the new age of first-time home buying. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds climbed slightly in the second quarter of 2014 to 56.7 percent, up from 56.5 percent in the first quarter. The rate for this age group bottomed out at 55.3 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and has climbed slowly in most quarters since then. But the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds in the second quarter of 2014 is more than 10 percentage points below their peak of 67.4 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2005.

Nationally, the homeownership rate slipped to 64.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014, down from 65.0 percent one year ago.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, July 28, 2014

Are You Overweight?

Few overweight 8-to-15-year-olds perceive themselves as being overweight, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics. Only 23 percent of overweight children think they are overweight. Fully 76 percent say their weight is "about right." Weight problems are not perceived by most children until they are obese. Among obese 8-to-15-year-olds, 57 percent say they are overweight. But even among the obese, a substantial 42 percent say their weight is "about right."

"Accurate self-perception of weight status has been linked to appropriate weight control behaviors in youth," concludes the report. "Understanding the prevalence of weight status misperception among U.S. children and adolescents may help inform public health interventions."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Perception of Weight Status in U.S. Children and Adolescents Aged 8-15 Years, 2005-2012

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shopping for Clothes

Percentage of Americans who have ever purchased clothing online, by generation...

Total adults: 69%
Millennials: 68%
Gen Xers: 77%
Boomers: 70%
Matures: 61%

Although most Americans have bought clothing online, only 13 percent would prefer to do so. A much larger 65 percent (including 59 percent of Millennials) would prefer to shop for clothes in-person at a brick and mortar store.

Source: Harris Interactive, Though Majority of Americans Have Made a Virtual Purchase, They Still See Virtue in the In-Person Shopping Experience

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses

How much do Americans spend out-of-pocket on health care expenses—the co-pays, deductibles, and other amounts not covered by insurance? Among those with health care expenses, average out-of-pocket spending amounted to $703 per person in 2011 (the latest data available), according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. These figures do not include out-of-pocket spending on health insurance, and they vary greatly by age and insurance status.

Annual out-of-pocket health care expenses per person, by age and insurance status:
Under age 65
Private insurance: $682
Public insurance: $253
No health insurance: $725

Aged 65 or older
Medicare only: $1,177
Medicare & private: $1,362
Medicare and other public: $605

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses by Age and Insurance Coverage, 2011

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

College Debt, but No Degree

College debt is a burden, but the benefits outweigh the costs for those who earn a bachelor's degree, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. "The labor market bonus for completing a college degree is not fully realized in the early years of working," the study finds. Rather, the benefits begin to accrue in middle-age when, "In many professions, a college degree combined with work experience opens the door to senior-level administrative positions and higher salaries."

It's another story for those who take on college debt but do not earn a degree. A substantial percentage of young adults are in the "some college" category—32 percent of householders aged 22 to 29. Those with some college but no degree will get little to no income boost from their time spent on a college campus. If they took on debt to pay for their college years, they are likely to end up worse off than if they had never gone to college at all.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, A College Education Saddles Young Households with Debt, but Still Pays Off

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Many Babies?

In 2013, the nation's fertility rate hit an all-time low of 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Only 3,958,000 babies were born. How many babies would have been born if the fertility rate in 2013 had equaled the rate in...

2007: 4,374,000
2000: 4,148,000
1990: 4,462,000
1980: 4,305,000
1970: 5,532,000
1960: 7,427,000

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data

Monday, July 21, 2014

Shifting Hours for Computer Workers

The computer and mathematical occupational category has long been one of the younger professions, but the nation's computer whizzes are getting older and aging has consequences.

The median age of those employed in computer and mathematical occupations grew from 39.4 years in 2004 to 41.1 years in 2012. The largest share of these workers was in the 25-to-34 age group in 2004. By 2012, the plurality was aged 35 to 44—the age group most likely to be raising children.

Parenthood might explain this finding from the American Time Use Survey: the work hours of those employed in computer and mathematical occupations have shifted from late night to a more traditional schedule. The percentage who worked during the morning hours grew substantially between 2003-07 and 2011-12, while fewer worked late at night. Here are the percentages who were on the job at each hour of the morning in 2011-12 (versus 2003-07)...

8:00 am: 52.1% (42.8)
9:00 am: 72.8% (70.0)
10:00 am: 82.4% (72.5)
11:00 am: 87.0% (77.8)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Friday, July 18, 2014

Peak Ice Cream

For more than 100 years, the USDA has recorded how much ice cream we eat. In 1909, the first year on record, Americans consumed only 1.6 pounds of ice cream per capita. We wanted more: ice cream consumption climbed for decades and peaked in 1946 at 22.7 pounds per person. Today, we eat only about half that much ice cream—12.9 pounds per person.

But there's a catch. The USDA distinguishes ice cream from "low-fat ice cream" (ice milk) and frozen yogurt. As Americans cut their ice cream consumption, they boosted their consumption of low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt. Consequently, the average American consumes a total of 23.9 pounds of frozen dairy products annually, which is almost identical to the 24.0 pounds of frozen dairy products consumed in 1946. In addition to eating 12.9 pounds of ice cream each year, we also eat 6.9 pounds of low-fat ice cream, 1.4 pounds of frozen yogurt, 0.9 pounds of sherbet, and 1.8 pounds of other frozen dairy products.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Trends in U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Dairy Products, 1970-2012

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Cost of Health Insurance in 2013

Average total cost of health insurance for employees in the private sector, 2013:

Single coverage: $5,571
Family coverage: $16,029

The average worker pays only a fraction of that cost, while his or her employer pays the rest. In 2013, employees in the private sector paid only 21 percent of the full cost for single coverage ($1,170) and 28 percent of the full cost for family coverage ($4,421).

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Selection and Costs for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector, 2013 versus 2012

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eating Healthy When Eating Out

Americans eat out a lot, which is a problem for those attempting to eat a healthy diet. In a grocery store, foods are labeled with calorie and nutrition information. Restaurant food does not come with a label—but it will. The Affordable Care Act requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post on their menu the calorie content of each item, with nutrition information available for the asking.

Some restaurants already provide this information. So the USDA surveyed the public to see who noticed these early efforts and to establish a baseline for measuring the impact of the ACA requirements. The survey found few customers noticing food labels, but many of those who did used the information when ordering food. Among the 90 percent of Americans who ate at a fast-food/pizza restaurant in the past 12 months, only 22 percent noticed nutrition information on the menu. Among those who noticed, a substantial 42 percent used it when ordering.

Who is most likely to notice and use restaurant food labels? Not surprisingly, it is those who self-report their diet health as excellent. Twenty-eight percent of those with excellent diet health noticed nutrition labeling versus 20 percent of those who self-report their diet health as poor. Among people who noticed, those with excellent diet health were much more likely than those with poor diet health to use the information when ordering (53 versus 31 percent).

As food labeling becomes widespread, it's likely that more Americans will take notice and act on the information to lower their calorie intake and improve their diet. As restaurants respond, it may become easier to eat healthy when eating out.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Consumers' Use of Nutrition Information When Eating Out, Economic Information Bulletin, June 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sexual Orientation and Health Status, 2013

The federal government is now tracking the health of Americans by sexual orientation. Beginning in 2013, questions about sexual orientation were included in the National Health Interview Survey, allowing government researchers to examine the health status, health behaviors, and health care access of the U.S. population by sexual orientation.

"Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?" is the question asked by the National Health Interview Survey. Respondents could identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight. Overall, 97.7 percent of Americans identify themselves as straight, including 97.8 percent of men and 97.7 percent of women. There are significant differences by age in the percentage who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual...

Percentage who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual
Total, aged 18-plus: 2.3%
Aged 18 to 44: 2.9%
Aged 45 to 64: 2.2%
Aged 65-plus: 0.8%

Differences in health status by sexual orientation were evident in this first look. Among 18-to-64-year-olds, those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are more likely than those who are straight to smoke cigarettes. Bisexual men and women are more likely than their straight counterparts to have experienced serious psychological distress in the past 30 days. Health insurance coverage, prevalence of obesity, physical fitness, and more is in the report.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Sexual Orientation and Health among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who Follows Major League Baseball?

Overall, 37 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they follow major league baseball. There are surprisingly few differences in the percentage of people who are baseball fans by demographic characteristic, with the figure ranging from 35 to 40 percent by generation, 34 to 42 percent by race and Hispanic origin, 32 to 47 percent by education, and 31 to 45 percent by household income. There is a bigger gap by sex (27 percent of women and 47 percent of men), but the biggest difference is by region...

Percentage of adults who follow major league baseball by region
Northeast: 46%
Midwest: 46%
West: 38%
South: 25%

Source: Harris Interactive, For More than a Decade, the NY Yankees Have Been America's Favorite Baseball Team

Friday, July 11, 2014

Millennials Feel Less Entitled than Older Generations

A study in the journal Psychological Science finds that young adults who come of age during recessions are much less narcissistic than those who come of age during economic boom times. Here's how Science News (June 28, 2014), which reported on the study, explains it: "Narcissists view themselves as superior in all situations, feel entitled to special treatment and expect to always succeed and be admired and praised."

Know anyone with those characteristics? If so, their self-satisfaction could be a consequence of when they came of age (were in the 18 to 25 age group). The most narcissistic cohorts came of age in the early 1950s, mid-1960s, or mid-1990s—all times when the unemployment rate was relatively low, jobs were plentiful, and the living was easy. In contrast, today's young adults—the Millennial generation came of age during the Great Recession, when unemployment was sky high, jobs were scarce, and life was a struggle. Today's young adults feel less entitled, a feeling that may last a lifetime. "Hard economic times deflate young adults' self-regard for many decades," reports Science News.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Biggest STEM States

Nationally, 12.4 percent of college graduates aged 25 to 64 are employed in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematical) occupations. Here are the states with the highest and lowest percentages of college graduates employed in STEM jobs...

Maryland: 18.8%
Washington: 18.0%
Virginia: 16.5%
Colorado: 15.1%
California: 15.0%

Mississippi: 6.8%
North Dakota: 7.1%
Nevada: 8.3%
Arkansas: 8.4%
Kentucky: 8.5%

Source: Census Bureau, Employment Statistics of College Graduates

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

16% of Women Are Childless

How many women never have children? Sixteen percent, according to the latest analysis by the Census Bureau, which uses data on the childbearing experience of women aged 40 to 50 to measure what demographers call "completed fertility." By the 40-to-50 age group, most women who will have children have already done so.

Childlessness varies by demographic characteristic. Hispanics, for example, are less likely to be childless than other race and Hispanic origin groups. Only 13 percent of Hispanic women aged 40 to 50 are childless versus 17 percent of non-Hispanic whites. The biggest difference is by educational attainment. Among women aged 40 to 50 with a graduate degree, 23 percent are childless—nearly double the 12 percent childless among their counterparts without a high school diploma.

Since 2000, childlessness has increased among women under age 30. Behind the increase is greater college enrollment and the Great Recession, both of which have caused young adults to delay childbearing. In contrast, women aged 35 to 44 were less likely to be childless in 2012 than their counterparts in 2000.

Percent of women who were childless in 2012 (and in 2000)
Aged 15 to 19: 94.9% (90.5%)
Aged 20 to 24: 71.4% (63.6%)
Aged 25 to 29: 49.4% (44.2%)
Aged 30 to 34: 28.2% (28.1%)
Aged 35 to 39: 17.2% (20.1%)
Aged 40 to 44: 15.1% (19.0%)
Aged 45 to 50: 16.8% (not available)

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility of Women in the United States: 2012

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Telephone Status: July-December 2013

Landline phones continue to disappear, according to a semiannual update by the National Center for Health Statistics. This was the telephone status of U.S. adults as of July-December 2013 (versus July-December 2010)...

Landline and wireless: 52% (59%)
Wireless only: 39% (28%)
Landline only: 7% (11%)
No telephone: 2% (2%)

Not surprisingly, younger adults are far more likely to live in a wireless-only household. In the last half of 2013, most adults under age 35 were wireless-only, the figure peaking at 66 percent among those aged 25 to 29...

Live in wireless-only household by age
18 to 24: 53%
25 to 29: 66%
30 to 34: 60%
35 to 44: 48%
45 to 64: 31%
65-plus: 14%

Also more likely to live in wireless-only households are the poor (56%), Hispanics (53%), and renters (62%).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July-December 2013

Monday, July 07, 2014

Nursing Home Population Plummets

The number of nursing home residents aged 65 or older fell by a substantial 19 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a Census Bureau report on the older population...

Number of people aged 65 or older who live in a nursing home
2010: 1,252,635
2000: 1,557,800

During those years, the percentage of people aged 65-plus who live in a nursing home fell from 4.6 to 3.1 percent. "The declining trend may partly reflect a growing preference for alternative settings for long-term care," notes the report.

Source: Census Bureau, 65+ in the United States: 2010

Friday, July 04, 2014

Naturalized Citizens, 2013

779,929 foreign-born residents of the United States became naturalized citizens in 2013. The annual number of naturalizations has been generally rising over the past few decades, and the 2013 figure ranks fifth in a data series that extends back to the early 20th century.

Asia is the leading region of birth for naturalized citizens (35 percent). Mexico is the leading country of birth (13 percent), followed by India, Philippines, Dominican Republic, and China. The median age of newly naturalized citizens is 40.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Naturalizations: 2013

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Household Income Stable in May 2014

Median household income was $53,385 in May 2014, according to Sentier Research, a statistically insignificant $240 more than in April after adjusting for inflation. The May 2014 median was 1.3 percent higher than the May 2013 figure, however, and 3.3 percent higher than the $51,663 of August 2011—the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"The period since August 2011 has been marked by an uneven, but generally upward trend in the level of real median annual household income," reports Sentier. "Many of the month-to-month changes in median income during this period have not been statistically significant. However, the cumulative effect of the various month-to-month changes since August 2011 resulted in the income improvement." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in May 2014 was 3.7 percent below the median of June 2009, the end of the Great Recession. It was 5.4 percent below the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. It was 6.6 percent below the median of January 2000. For more information on household income trends for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas, visit the Sentier Research web site.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2014

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Population Growth, 2010 to 2013

The U.S. population grew by 6.8 million between 2010 and 2013. Here is the numerical gain during those three years by race and Hispanic origin...

Hispanics: 3,323,989
Asians: 1,633,868
Blacks: 1,659,412
Non-Hispanic whites: 445,578

Source: Census Bureau, National Characteristics: Vintage 2013

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Men Playing Games

Young men spend a lot of time playing computer games, according to the American Time Use Survey. Everyone knows this, but here are the facts.

Teenagers are most likely to play games. On an average day in 2013, a substantial 35 percent of boys aged 15 to 19 spent time playing games. The time use category "playing games" includes computer games as well as card games (bridge, poker) and board games (Monopoly). There's no doubt most are playing computer games. Teenage boys who play games on an average day devote more than half (54 percent) of their leisure time to games—2.65 of their 4.93 hours of leisure.

It gets worse. Although men aged 20 to 24 are less likely than 15-to-19-year-olds to play games on an average day (24 versus 35 percent), those who do devote a larger 3.73 hours to game playing—fully 77 percent of their leisure time. No wonder the nation's fertility rate is at a record low.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, detailed tables from the 2013 American Time Use Survey