Monday, August 31, 2015

The New Income Estimates

The Census Bureau thinks long and hard before tinkering with the all-important Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), from which emanates much of what we know about the economic status of the American people. But sometimes change is necessary, and this is one of those times. The Census Bureau has been working on a redesign of the ASEC income questions for 14 years, attempting to improve the accuracy of the nation's official income statistics. When the bureau releases the 2015 CPS ASEC results on September 16 (with income data for 2014), the redesign will be fully implemented. Here's what you need to know...
  • A redesign of the CPS ASEC income questions has been sorely needed, in part because the original questions failed to capture most withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s. The redesign counts these withdrawals as income. 
  • Analyzing income trends will be problematic—at least in the short run. Data from the redesigned questions are not comparable with data from the original questions. To provide a bridge, the Census Bureau has released 2013 income data from a 2014 ASEC sample that was asked the new questions. At the above link, there are two sets of 2013 tables—the original and the redesign, allowing researchers to compare the original numbers with the redesign and also to determine the 2013-to-2014 trend when the 2014 data are released on September 16. 
  • The redesigned income questions boosted overall aggregate income in 2013 by 4.2 percent, according to a comparison of data from the original and redesigned questions. While earned income did not change, unearned income was 12.4 percent higher in the redesign. 
  • Median household income in 2013 was 3.2 percent greater with the redesigned questions. While there was no statistically significant change in median household income among younger adults, the median income of households headed by people aged 55 or older was about 5 percent higher primarily because of retirement account withdrawals. 
  • Many more Americans reported receiving income from an IRA, Keogh, or 401(k)—the figure rising from 1 million in the original to 5 million in the redesign.
It will take a while to digest these changes. The Census Bureau plans to provide a research file with adjusted income data, allowing for historical comparisons. Until then, the starting point for income trend analysis will be 2013.

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Products Based on Redesigned Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement Questions

Friday, August 28, 2015

Walking/Bicycling as Transportation

On an average day, only 10 percent of Americans walk or bicycle as transportation (rather than exercise)—meaning they walk or bicycle to get from point A to point B. Although urban populations have been growing in recent years, the percentage who walk or bicycle as transportation has fallen slightly over the past decade—from 11.8 percent in 2003 to 10.3 percent in 2012, according to the American Time Use Survey. Younger adults are most likely to walk or bicycle as transportation on an average day. Here are the 2012 stats by age...

Percent who walked or bicycled as transportation in past 24 hours
Aged 16 to 39: 14.0%
Aged 40 to 59: 8.4%
Aged 60-plus: 6.9%

Source: CDC, Active Transportation Surveillance—United States, 1999-2012

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Spending Has Changed Since World War II

The average American household spends differently than its counterpart did in the 1940s, according to an analysis in the Monthly Labor Review. Here are the most striking changes in the share of the household budget devoted to...

Food and alcohol (-19.7 percentage points)
2013: 16.2%
1944: 35.9%

Housing (+14.1 percentage points)
2013: 40.2%
1944: 26.1%

Clothing (-12.7 percentage points)
2013: 3.3%
1944: 16.0%

Transportation (+14.1 percentage points)
2013: 20.4%
1944: 6.3%

Medical care (+2.7 percentage points)
2013: 8.2%
1944: 5.5%

The share of household spending devoted to recreation and entertainment climbed from 2.8 to 5.6 percent between 1944 and 2013, and the share devoted to education more than tripled—growing from just 0.6 to 2.1 percent. Conversely, the share of household spending devoted to tobacco fell from 2.0 to 0.7 percent, and the share devoted to reading plummeted from 1.1 to just 0.2 percent. Note: For comparative purposes, spending data are adjusted to exclude gift purchases, cash contributions, personal insurance, and pensions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Consumer Spending in World War II: the Forgotten Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Age Distribution of CEOs

More than 1.6 million American workers are CEOs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not surprisingly, CEOs rank among the oldest workers. Their median age is 52.3, well above the median age of 42.3 for all workers. Here is the age distribution of the nation's CEOs...

Under age 25:  0.7%
Aged 25 to 34: 8.4%
Aged 35 to 44: 18.0%
Aged 45 to 54: 32.3%
Aged 55 to 64: 30.4%
Aged 65-plus: 10.2%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Automobile Alternatives

The five metropolitan areas with the lowest rate of commuting to work by automobile and their second most common mode of commute...

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Automobile: 56.9%
Subway or elevated rail: 18.9%

2. Ithaca, NY
Automobile: 68.7%
Walk: 17.5%

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
Automobile: 69.8%
Bus or trolly bus: 7.6%

4. Boulder, CO
Automobile: 71.9%
Work at home: 11.1%

5. Corvallis, OR
Automobile: 72.6%
Bicycle: 8.8%

Source: Census Bureau, Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013

Monday, August 24, 2015

Who's Looking for a New Job?

Only 39 percent of American workers say it is somewhat or very likely they will try to find a new job with another employer within the next year, according to the General Social Survey. Half of Millennial workers are job hunting...

Likely to look for a new job in the next year
Millennials: 50%
Gen Xers: 40%
Boomers: 27%
Older Americans: 7%

Note: Millennials are 20-37; Gen Xers are 38-49; Boomers are 50-68.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey

Friday, August 21, 2015

Drinking and Driving

Only 1.8 percent of Americans aged 18 or older admit to driving while drunk in the past 30 days, according to the CDC. Here is the percentage by age...

Drove while alcohol-impaired in past 30 days
18-20: 1.4%
21-24: 4.2%
25-34: 3.0%
35-54: 1.9%
55-plus: 0.8%

Source: CDC, Alcohol-Impaired Driving among Adults — United States, 2012

Thursday, August 20, 2015

37% of Workers Have Telecommuted

Thirty-seven percent of American workers have ever telecommuted, according to a Gallup survey. Telecommuting is defined as working from home using a computer to communicate for a job. This is the highest level of telecommuting recorded by Gallup and far above the 9 percent who ever telecommuted the first time Gallup asked the question in 1995.

Workers who have ever telecommuted typically do so a median of three days a month. But 24 percent say they telecommute more than 10 days a month—or at least half of their work days.

Source: Gallup, In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Decline in Commuting to Work by Automobile

The percentage of American workers who commute by automobile is on the decline, peaking at 87.9 percent in 2000 and falling to 85.8 percent by 2013, reports the Census Bureau. Much of the decline in automobile commuting is due to less carpooling. The percentage of workers who carpool fell to its lowest point in 2013—9.4 percent, and less than half of the 19.7 percent of 1980. But the percentage of workers who drive alone to work alone has also fallen (very) slightly in recent years—from the all-time high of 76.6 percent in 2010 to 76.4 percent in 2013.

Percentage of workers who drive alone to work
2013: 76.4%
2010: 76.6%
2000: 75.7%
1990: 73.2%
1980: 64.4%

Source: Census Bureau, Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Death by Injury in 2013

Injury is a major cause of death in the United States. Unintentional injuries (accidents) are the 4th leading cause of death, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Add in the intentional injuries (suicides, homicides, executions, and combat deaths), and nearly 200,000 Americans died of injuries in 2013...

Deaths due to injury
Total injury deaths: 192,945
Unintentional: 130,557
Suicide: 41,149
Homicide: 16,121
Undetermined: 4,587
Legal intervention/war: 531

The government categorizes injury deaths by their cause: poisoning (48,545), firearms (33,636), motor vehicles (33,804), falling (31,240), suffocation (17,316), drowning (4,056), fire (3,220), cutting or stabbing (2,576), environmental (1,535), being struck (936), machinery (588), overexertion (13), and many thousands of injury deaths due to other causes.

The role of accidents—as opposed to suicide or homicide—varies by type of injury. Among poisonings, fully 80 percent of deaths are accidental. Among drownings, accidents account for an even larger 84 percent. For falls, the figure is 97 percent. But accidents are a tiny share of firearm deaths—just 505 people died due to the accidental discharge of a firearm in 2013. The 63 percent majority of firearm deaths are suicides and 33 percent are homicides.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Detailed Tables for Deaths: Final Data for 2013

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rise of the Non-Religious

Percent of people aged 18 or older who say they have no religious preference, 1972 to 2014...

2014: 21%
2010: 18%
2000: 14%
1990:   8%
1980:   7%
1972:   5%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, August 14, 2015

Guns: Rural vs. Urban

Americans are pretty evenly split on whether it is more important to protect gun rights or control gun ownership, according to a Pew survey—47 percent say gun rights and 50 percent say gun control. There is a huge difference of opinion between urban residents and rural folk, however...

Urban: 60 percent say gun control is more important, 38 percent gun rights.
Suburban: 48 percent say gun control is more important, 48 percent gun rights.
Rural: 35 percent say gun control is more important, 63 percent gun rights.

Source: Pew Research Center, Continued Bipartisan Support for Expanded Background Checks on Gun Sales 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Peak Transportation Spending

Has household spending on transportation peaked? It looks that way. The average household devoted 17.5 percent of its budget to transportation in 2013-14. While this is more than the Great Recession low of 15.6 percent in 2008 (the smallest since the early 1960s), it remains well below the 19-plus percent of the 1980s and early 2000s.

Transportation is our second biggest expense. In 2013-14, the average household devoted $9,104 to transportation, most of it for vehicles and gasoline. The evolution of this major household expense has been documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer expenditure surveys. In the earliest, taken in 1901 and 1918-19, there was no separate spending category for transportation, so minor was the expense. As cars became common, transportation became a category. In 1934-36, transportation consumed 8 percent of average household spending. At the time, 40 percent of households owned a vehicle. The figure climbed over the decades, peaking in 2008 at 89 percent. In 2013-14, a smaller 87 percent of households owned a vehicle. The average number of vehicles per household fell to 1.8, down from 2.0 as recently as 2009.

With households holding on to their vehicles longer (the average age of light vehicles is now 11.4 years, up from 9.1 in 2000), greater fuel efficiency, increased urbanization, and the rise of ride sharing services, it looks like peak transportation spending may be in our rearview mirror.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When Building Wealth, Timing Is Everything

When it comes to building wealth, timing is everything. Gen Xers are learning this the hard way, according to an analysis of American debt by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Many Gen Xers bought houses when prices were peaking during the housing bubble. Now they owe more in mortgage debt than any other generation and $8,000 more than Boomers did at the same age (in 2013 dollars)...

Median housing debt at age 40
$69,602 for Gen Xers in 2013
$61,437 for Boomers in 1995

The timing is better for Millennials. By delaying homeownership, they have less housing debt than Gen Xers did at the same age (in 2013 dollars)...

Median housing debt at age 27
$17,429 for Millennials in 2013
$22,255 for Gen Xers in 1998

"These data show that the timing of home purchases for each of the generations has contributed to very different debt profiles," concludes the report. Pew's analysis of debt also includes education loans, vehicle loans, and credit card debt.

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Complex Story of American Debt

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

More Renters in Single-Family Homes

"The recent growth of single-family rentals is unprecedented," reports the Joint Center for Housing Studies in its report, The State of the Nation's Housing 2015.

According to data from the American Housing Survey, the number of renters who live in a single-family house grew 30 percent between 2007 and 2013. This is twice as fast as the growth in renter households overall and far surpasses the 8 percent increase in the number of renters who live in multi-family buildings...

Renter-occupied housing units in 2013 (and % change since 2007)
Total renter-occupied housing units: 40,201,000 (15%)
Renter-occupied single-family homes: 14,222,000 (30%)
Renter-occupied units in multi-family buildings: 24,420,000 (8%)
Renter-occupied mobile homes: 1,559,000 (4%)

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, The State of the Nation's Housing 2015; and Census Bureau, American Housing Survey

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nearly 6 Million More Renters, 2010 to 2015

The number of renter-occupied housing units is growing by the millions, while the number of owner-occupied housing units is shrinking. Here is the number of owner and renter households in the United States in the second quarter of 2015 (and the numerical change since the second quarter of 2010)...

Owners: 74,407,000 (-328,000)
Renters: 42,878,000 (+5,945,000)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Friday, August 07, 2015

School Start Times: Early Is the Norm for Nation's Middle and High Schools

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the school day begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for middle and high school students, the average school start time for public middle and high schools was an earlier 8:03 in the 2011-12 school year. Only 18 percent of the nation's middle and high schools started the day at 8:30 a.m. or later.

By state, average start times ranged from 7:40 a.m. in Louisiana to 8:31 in North Dakota and 8:33 in Alaska. The percentage of schools with 8:30 a.m. or later start times ranged from none in Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming to 77 percent in Alaska and 78.5 percent in North Dakota.

Source: CDC, School Start Times for Middle School and High School Students—United States, 2011-12 School Year

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Big Shift in Attitudes toward Racial Equality

The percentage of Americans who think the United States needs to continue making changes to give Blacks equal rights with Whites leaped from 46 to 59 percent in the past year, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

The string of highly publicized, brutal encounters between police and Black citizens over the past year appears to have been a light bulb moment for non-Hispanic Whites. The percentage of non-Hispanic Whites who think more change is needed grew from just 39 percent in 2014 to the 53 percent majority in 2015. Among Hispanics, the number climbed from 54 to 70 percent. Most Blacks already felt more change was needed, and that figure grew from 79 to 86 percent.

Only 42 percent of Republicans think more change is necessary, but this is up from 27 percent a year earlier. Among Democrats, the figure climbed from 67 to 78 percent. The 55 percent majority of political independents now feel more change is needed, up from 42 percent in 2014.

Source: Pew Research Center, Across Racial Lines, More Say Nation Needs to Make Changes to Achieve Racial Equality

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Survey Finds 68% of Formerly Uninsured Now Have Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage has expanded greatly because of the Affordable Care Act. According to a longitudinal study of California's uninsured by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an impressive 68 percent of California residents who lacked health insurance in the summer of 2013—prior to the implementation of the ACA—were covered by health insurance when re-interviewed in the spring of 2015.

What a difference health insurance makes. When first interviewed in 2013, fully 86 percent of the uninsured said it was difficult to afford health care. It was their top financial concern. Among those who had gained health insurance by 2015, only 49 percent still felt this way, and health care costs now ranked 4th as a financial concern after rent/mortgage, utilities, and gasoline. Among those who were still uninsured in 2015, paying for health care continued to be their number-one financial concern, a problem for 85 percent.

Who remains uninsured two years after the rollout of the ACA? Fully 70 percent of the still-uninsured are Hispanic. Among them, 58 percent are undocumented immigrants and ineligible for coverage. Many Hispanics who are eligible but still uninsured say they're afraid to sign up because it might draw attention to a family member's immigration status.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Survey Finds 68% of Previously Uninsured Californians Now Have Coverage

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Wine Is Drink of Choice for College Grads

The stereotype is true: the higher the educational attainment, the greater the preference for wine over beer, according to Gallup. Here is what college graduates say they drink most often (compared to the average American)...

44% of college grads most often drink wine (34%)
35% of college grads most often drink beer (42%)
18% of college grads most often drink liquor (21%)

As the educational attainment of the population has increased, alcoholic beverage spending has shifted toward wine, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Between 2000 and 2013, the share of the alcohol dollar devoted to beer fell from 47 to 42 percent, while the share devoted to wine climbed from 26 to 30 percent.

Source: Gallup, Drinking Highest among Educated, Upper-Income Americans

Monday, August 03, 2015

Fewer Millennials Live Independently

Young adults aged 25 to 34 are less likely to live independently than were their counterparts in 2007, according to an analysis of Current Population Survey data by Pew Research Center. Pew defines independent living as heading one's own household or living in a household headed by a spouse, unmarried partner, or other nonrelative. 

The percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds who live independently is 86 percent among those with a bachelor's degree, 79 percent among those with some college, and 75 percent among those with a high school diploma or less education. Regardless of educational attainment, the figures are lower in 2015 than in 2007. 

Behind the decline in independent living is less money. Median weekly earnings for 25-to-34-year-olds in 2015 are below the 2007 level, after adjusting for inflation...

Median weekly earnings of 25-to-34-year-olds
Bachelor's or more: $951 in 2015, still less than the $966 of 2007.
Some college: $560 in 2015, well below the $640 of 2007.
High school or less: $500 in 2015, below the $527 in 2007.

Source: Pew Research Center, More Millennials Living with Family Despite Improved Job Market