Friday, October 31, 2014

Where Do All Those Pumpkins Come From?

Six states produce most of the nation's pumpkins: Illinois, California, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. In Illinois, 77 percent of the pumpkin harvest ends up in a pie rather than on a porch. In the five other states, 88 to 99 percent of pumpkins are for the porch.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Pumpkins: Background & Statistics

Thursday, October 30, 2014

American Workers Are Treading Water

If you're a typical worker, you didn't get a raise this year. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans say no one in their household received a raise or promotion in the past 12 months, according to the Public Religion Research Institute's 2014 American Values Survey.

It's worse than that, however. American workers have been treading water for 120 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median weekly earnings of men and women with full-time wage and salary jobs have been stagnant for at least a decade. Here are the inflation adjusted numbers...

Men's median weekly earnings
2014: $880
2004: $894 

Women's median weekly earnings
2014: $722
2004: $720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Median Weekly Earnings, 2004-2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Educational Attainment Is Inherited

The "education advantage" appears to be passed down from parents to children even more strongly than the income advantage, according to a Brookings Institution study. An analysis of the educational attainment of fathers and their adult children finds 46 percent of children whose fathers were in the top education quintile also ended up in the top quintile, and 76 percent were in the top two quintiles. Doing the same analysis with incomes reveals the comparable figures to be a smaller 41 and 65 percent.

"The trend towards assortative mating—like marrying like—will likely strengthen the intergenerational transmission of high educational status," conclude the researchers.

Source: Brookings Institution, The Inheritance of Education

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter 2014

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, third quarter 2014: 46.9%

The 46.9 percent homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 is a bit higher than the 46.5 percent all-time low recorded in the second quarter of 2014. But the difference is not statistically significant as the aging of first-time homebuyers continues. 

Householders aged 30 to 34 had long been 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 latest numbers are another datapoint in the ongoing trend. 

The new age of first-time home buying is 35 to 39, but even this age group is slipping. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds fell to 55.6 percent in the third quarter of 2014—close to the record low of 55.3 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2013.  

Nationally, the homeownership rate slipped to 64.4 percent in the third quarter of 2014, down from 65.3 percent one year ago.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, October 27, 2014

Women 65+ Are Less Educated

Going to college was once an experience that divided younger generations from older Americans. Now the divide has disappeared. Well, almost. Although the majority of men and women in every age group has college experience, there's one exception: women aged 65 or older are less educated than everyone else.

Only 46 percent of women aged 65-plus have college experience. In contrast, a much larger 64 percent of women under age 65 have been to college. Among men regardless of age, the majority has college experience—including 54 percent of men aged 65 or older.

But older women are playing catch-up as Boomers fill the 65-plus age group. In 2010, the year before the first Boomers turned 65, only 39 percent of women aged 65-plus had college experience. By 2016, most older women will have spent some time on a college campus, and college experience will become the norm for men and women in every age group.

Source: Census Bureau, 2014 Current Population Survey

Friday, October 24, 2014

Self-Employed Women

The top three occupations of American women who are self-employed:
  • Child care worker
  • Hairdresser
  • House cleaner
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Female Self-Employment in the United States: An Update to 2012

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Friends in the Neighborhood

Most Americans (84 percent) report having friends in their neighborhood, according to the 2013 American Housing Survey. Only 16 percent of households say they don't have friends, but the figure varies by homeownership status and other characteristics. Here is the percentage of households without friends in their neighborhood...

Homeowners (average with no friends = 12.1%)
8.3% of those aged 65 or older
9.3% of those in nonmetropolitan areas
13.4% of those in manufactured/mobile homes
15.8% of those in the suburbs
19.6% of those in central cities
20.9% of those in homes built in past four years

Renters (average with no friends = 24.3%)
16.6% of those in manufactured/mobile homes
16.8% of those aged 65 or older
21.8% of those in nonmetropolitan areas
24.1% of those in central cities
25.5% of those in the suburbs
26.5% of those in homes built in past four years

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Generations Disagree on Best Way to Promote Economic Growth

When asked which of two alternatives is the best way to promote economic growth in the United States, young (aged 18 to 29) and old (aged 65 or older) disagree...

1. Spend more on education and the nation's infrastructure, and raise taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses to pay for that spending (percent saying this is best way)...
     Young: 62%
     Old: 40%

2. Lower taxes on individuals and businesses and pay for those tax cuts by cutting spending on some government services and programs (percent saying this is best way)...
     Young: 35%
     Old: 52%

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Economic Insecurity, Rising Inequality, and Doubts about the Future: Findings from the 2014 American Values Survey

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Owning to Renting, 2012-13

Among the 16 million Americans who moved between 2012 and 2013, this many...

Owners became renters: 3,009,000
Renters became owners: 1,871,000

The homeownership status of the remaining 11 million movers was unchanged when they moved (owners continued to be owners, and renters continued to be renters).

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey

Monday, October 20, 2014

Most Homeowners Have No Sidewalks in Neighborhood

Only 56 percent of U.S. households have sidewalks in their neighborhood, according to the 2013 American Housing Survey. Sidewalks are even less common in the neighborhoods of the nation's homeowners—only 48 percent have them compared with 71 percent of renters.

Renters are more likely to have sidewalks in their neighborhood because many live in central cities where sidewalks are the norm. Fully 77 percent of central city households have sidewalks in their neighborhood compared with 54 percent of households in the suburbs and just 27 percent of households in nonmetropolitan areas. By region, homeowners in the South are least likely to have sidewalks in their neighborhood...

Percent of homeowners with sidewalks in their neighborhood
Northeast: 47%
Midwest: 51%
South: 37%
West: 64%

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey

Friday, October 17, 2014

Underwater Homeowners Decline by 1.7 Million

The number of homeowners who owe more for their house than it is worth fell by 1.7 million between 2011 and 2013, according to the Census Bureau's biennial American Housing Survey.

Just over 5 million homeowners reported in 2013 that they were underwater on their mortgage—or 11 percent of homeowners with a mortgage. This was less than the 6.8 million and 14 percent of homeowners with a mortgage who reported being underwater in 2011. Despite the progress, the 2013 figure is more than double what it was in 2007.

Number (and percent) of homeowners with a mortgage who are underwater
2013: 5.1 million (11 percent)
2011: 6.8 million (14 percent)
2009: 5.8 million (12 percent)
2007: 2.5 million (5 percent)

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Ferguson Effect

The attitudes of Americans toward the treatment of Blacks by the criminal justice system is changing, in part due to public outrage over the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The majority of Americans no longer believe Blacks and Whites are treated equally by the criminal justice system.

The percentage of Americans who disagree with the statement, "Blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system," climbed from 47 to 56 percent between 2013 and 2014. Even Whites are changing their mind. The percentage of Whites who disagree that Blacks and Whites are treated equally grew from 42 to 51 percent.

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Economic Insecurity, Rising Inequality, and Doubts about the Future: Findings from the 2014 American Values Survey

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Explaining Nonmetro Population Decline

Between 2012 and 2013, the number of adults in nonmetropolitan areas declined, perhaps for the first time ever, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service.

Average annual percent change in nonmetro population aged 16+
2012-13: -0.07
2011-12:  0.07
2010-11:  0.19
2009-10:  0.37
2008-09:  0.36
2007-08:  0.49

This loss is the result of two trends: a decline in the rate of natural population increase in nonmetro areas (births minus deaths) and a decline in net migration (people moving in minus people moving out), which has been negative since 2010. Why are people moving out of nonmetro areas? Probably to find a job. According to the researchers, "nonmetro employment growth slowed in 2011 and fell to zero or slightly below thereafter."

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural Employment Trends in Recession and Recovery

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Rise of "Shared Households"

Here's a trend that may explain the nation's slow household growth and the outright decline in the number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds: the rise of the "shared household." A shared household has at least one "additional adult"—defined as a household member aged 18 or older who is not in school nor the householder, spouse, or cohabiting partner. Take a look at the trend in shared households since 2007...

Number of shared households (and percent of total households)
2014: 23.5 million (19.1%)
2007: 19.7 million (17.0%)

Number of adults living in shared households (and percent of total adults)
2014: 74 million (30.9%)
2007: 62 million (27.7%)

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of additional adults in shared households grew by 1.8 million. Among adults aged 25 to 34 in 2014, fully 25.2 percent (10.7 million) were additional adults in a shared household, explaining the decline in the number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds.

Source: Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013

Monday, October 13, 2014

Commuting Less by Private Vehicle

The use of private vehicles for commuting to work has declined among younger Americans, according to a Brookings analysis of American Community Survey data. Workers under age 25, in particular, were less likely to commute to work by private vehicle in 2013 than in 2007.

In 2013, 82.4 percent of workers under age 25 commuted to work by car—1.3 percentage points less than in 2007. Workers aged 25 to 54 were 0.9 percentage points less likely to commute by private vehicle, while workers aged 55 or older were driving more.

Source: The Brookings Institution, Millennials and Generation X Commuting Less by Car, But Will the Trends Hold?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Households with Earners Lose Ground

Between 2007 and 2013, households with no earners were the only ones who made gains in median income, after adjusting for inflation. Most are headed by retirees.

Percent change in median income, 2007 to 2013 (in 2013 dollars)
No earners:   +1.8%
One earner:   -4.0%
Two earners: -2.6%

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Income Data

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Life Expectancy at Age 65

Life expectancy at birth reached a record high of 78.8 years in 2012, reports the National Center for Health Statistics. Life expectancy at age 65 also hit a record high in 2012. Since 1950, life expectancy at age 65 has increased by 5.4 years...

Life expectancy at age 65 (years)
2012: 19.3
2010: 19.1
2000: 17.9
1990: 17.2
1980: 16.4
1970: 15.2
1960: 14.3
1950: 13.9

Females have a longer life expectancy than males at every age. For women aged 65, life expectancy is 20.5 years. Men aged 65 can expect 17.9 more years of life.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Peak Tuition?

It might be too soon to call this a trend, but average household spending on college tuition fell 6 percent between 2012 and 2013, after adjusting for inflation. This is quite a reversal for a category that had been growing like there was no tomorrow. Between 2007 and 2012, average household spending on college tuition climbed 27 percent.

College enrollment fell by 930,000 between 2011 and 2013. This means 2012 might have been the peak year for household spending on college tuition. The spending spree was bound to end as young adults and their parents struggle to pay college expenses while their household incomes decline.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, fully 69 percent of 2011-12 college graduates (defined as those earning a bachelor's degree) have student loans, up from 49 percent two decades ago. The 2011-12 graduates with loans owe more than twice as much as their counterparts in 1992-93: a median of $26,885 versus $12,434 (in 2013 dollars).

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Why the Decline in Households Headed by 25-to-34-Year-Olds?

The release of 2014 Current Population Survey data a few weeks ago was almost ho-hum. Median household income was unchanged, and there were few clues about emerging trends.

But one thing stood out: the decline in households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds. The number fell by a small but surprising 8,994 between 2013 and 2014. The decline was a surprise because the 25-to-34-year-old population is growing by more than half a million a year, and households headed by the age group had been growing by more than 100,000 a year—until now. What happened?

To find out, let's take a look at which household types in the 25-to-34 age group contributed to the 2013-14 decline: married couples (down 89,216), women who live alone (down 88,688), and men who live alone (down 44,932).

These declines are a sign of economic distress. A Pew Research Center survey has uncovered the reason why so many 25-to-34-year-olds aren't marrying: they're looking for a partner with a steady job. With rents rising and student loan payments looming, fewer can afford to live by themselves while waiting for Mr. (or Ms.) Right. Looking back, we should have seen this coming. Since 2010, the annual increase in the number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds has been shrinking to the point where there's no increase at all...

Annual change in number of households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds
2010-11: 315,000
2011-12: 274,000
2012-13: 171,000
2013-14:    -8,994

In light of this trend, the 2013-14 decline is not a surprise.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Death by Disease: Perception vs. Reality

Americans don't know much about infectious disease. A Harris poll asked the public for its best guess of the mortality rate of various infectious diseases once someone has the disease. Using sources such as the CDC and Wikipedia, Demo Memo compared perception to reality. Surprisingly, the public is pretty accurate at estimating the Ebola mortality rate. For other diseases, such as rabies, the gap between perception and reality is disturbing...

Best guess versus (actual) mortality rate
Ebola: 58% (50%)
Bubonic plague: 43% (11%)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/SARS: 28% (10%)
Smallpox: 25% (30%)
Rabies: 25% (100%)
West Nile Virus: 25% (5%)
Polio: 20% (5% to 10%)

Source: Harris Interactive, Shortly Before Texas Diagnosis, Four in Ten Americans Believed Ebola Represented a Threat to Public Health in the U.S.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Nonmetro Population Loss: The Hispanic Factor

Between 2010 and 2013, the nation's nonmetropolitan areas lost population. One factor behind the loss is slower growth of the Hispanic population...

Average annual percent change in the Hispanic population of nonmetropolitan counties
1990-2000: 4.9%
2000-2010: 3.6%
2010-2013: 2.1%

The one-two punch of slower Hispanic growth and an outright decline in the non-Hispanic population of nonmetropolitan areas (-0.2% between 2010 and 2013) led to the overall loss.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural Hispanic Population Growth Mirrors National Trends

Thursday, October 02, 2014

How Valuable Is a For-Profit College Degree?

Less valuable than a degree from a public institution, according to a recent field experiment. By submitting fictitious resumes to real job postings on an online job board, researchers compared employer response to college degrees from different types of schools.

Employers do notice and care about where you got your degree, the researchers discovered. A resume listing a bachelor's degree in business from a for-profit school was 22 percent less likely to get a callback than a resume listing the same degree from a nonselective public school.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 20528, The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study ($5)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Six Types of Older Americans

Households headed by Americans aged 65 or older can be segmented into six clusters based on their spending patterns, say researchers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using data from the 2010-11 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the analysts identified these types...

1. Basic need-meeters (26.9%). The largest and poorest cluster, this segment had an average income of $33,124 in 2010-11 and spent just $23,679. Because of their limited resources, Basic Need-Meeters must devote the largest share of their spending to essentials (43 percent).
2. Housing burdened (25.9%). Fully 78 percent of households in this cluster are still making mortgage payments compared with only 23 to 34 percent of households in the other clusters. Consequently, the Housing Burdened devote the largest share of their budget to mortgage (or rent)—fully 42 percent of their spending versus only 5 to 17 percent in the other clusters.
3. Health care burdened (21.1%). The second-poorest cluster, this group is defined by its outsized out-of-pocket health care spending—or 27 percent of its $29,818 overall spending. Other groups devote only 10 to 12 percent of their spending to health care.
4. Transportation burdened (12.1%). Although this group spent a relatively large $44,245 in 2010-11, it had to devote a hefty 33 percent of that spending to transportation. Fully 60 percent of this group lives in smaller cities of the South and Midwest.
5. Happy retirees (6.3%). This is the richest group, with average annual spending of $54,813. They devote a hefty 31 percent of their budget to "expendables" (entertainment, travel, and household operations). The average income of Happy Retirees and Balanced Budgeters is about the same, but Happy Retirees spend more.
6. Balanced budgeters (5.4%). This group is almost as affluent as Happy Retirees, but it spends less ($47,920 versus $54,813). They devote about an average amount to various budget items, which is why they are considered "balanced."

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Consumption Patterns and Economic Status of Older Households in the United States