Monday, February 29, 2016

Why Working-Age Adults Go to the Emergency Room

Among Americans aged 18 to 64, a substantial 18 percent visited an emergency room one or more times in 2014, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. These are the reasons people visit an emergency room rather than go to a doctor's office...

Reasons for emergency room visit
Seriousness of the problem: 77.1%
Doctor's office not open: 11.8%
Lack of access: 7.0%

Note: Lack of access includes didn't have another place to go, emergency room is the closest provider, or get most of care at the emergency room.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Reasons for Emergency Room Use among U.S. Adults Aged 18-64: National Health Interview Survey, 2013 and 2014

Friday, February 26, 2016

Top 10 Occupations: Average Diversity

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 10 in which the race and Hispanic origin distribution of workers is most similar to the national average (6% Asian; 11% Black; 16% Hispanic; 64% non-Hispanic White)...

Occupations with the most average diversity
1. Bank tellers
2. Hosts and hostesses, restaurants and coffee shops
3. Retail salespersons
4. Office clerks
5. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers
6. Telecommunications line installers and repairers
7. Order clerks
8. Receptionists and information clerks
9. Food service managers
10. Health practitioner support technicians

Click here for the top 10 occupations by race and Hispanic origin: Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Whites.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data from the Current Population Survey

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Older Americans Are Deeper in Debt

Today's older Americans have more debt than their predecessors, according to a Liberty Street Economics analysis. Among borrowers aged 50 to 80, aggregate debt grew 60 percent between 2003 and 2015, while the debt of younger borrowers fell slightly during those years.

Tapping into the New York Fed's Consumer Credit Panel, which is based on Equifax credit data, the researchers examined five types of debt (mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, student loans, and home equity lines of credit) to see how balances have changed. Among borrowers aged 50 or older, the per capita balance of each type of debt except credit cards increased between 2003 and 2015. Among younger borrowers, the per capita balance of each type of debt except student loans fell during those years.

This is good news, say the researchers, because older borrowers are more likely to pay back their loans. So far there is no evidence of greater delinquency among older borrowers as their debt level has grown. The aging of the nation's borrowers is likely to mean "greater balance sheet stability" and less "credit-fueled consumption growth."

Source: Liberty Street Economics, The Graying of American Debt

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Homeownership Rate Falls (Again) in 2015

The nation's homeownership rate fell to 63.7 percent in 2015, down from the peak of 69.0 percent in 2004—a 5.3 percentage point decline. Among householders aged 30 to 44, the rate fell by more than 10 percentage points during those years...

Homeownership rate in 2015 (and percentage point decline since peak year of 2004)
Total households: 63.7% (-5.3)
Under 25: 21.8% (-3.4)
25 to 29: 31.7% (-8.5)
30 to 34: 45.9% (-11.5)
35 to 39: 55.3% (-10.9)
40 to 44: 61.6% (-10.3)
45 to 54: 70.0% (-7.2)
55 to 64: 75.4% (-6.3)
65-plus: 78.9% (-2.2)

The long-term decline in homeownership, now in its second decade, shows no sign of stopping. Between 2014 and 2015, every age group with the sole exception of householders under age 25 (whose homeownership rate climbed by a minuscule 0.1 percentage points) experienced a decline in  homeownership. The overall homeownership rate fell by 0.8 percentage points between 2014 and 2015, greater than the 0.6 percentage point decline in the previous year. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

24% of Nation's Children Have Immigrant Parent(s)

Nearly one in four children under age 18 in the United States has at least one immigrant parent, according to an Urban Institute study. The number of children with at least one immigrant parent grew by 1.9 million between 2006 and 2013. At the same time, the number of children with native-born parents fell by 1.3 million.

Nine out of 10 children of immigrants are U.S. citizens. Nearly half (48 percent) live in just 10 metropolitan areas: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; Miami; Dallas; Washington, DC; Riverside, CA; San Francisco; and Atlanta.

Source: Urban Institute, Children of Immigrants: 2013 State Trends Update

Monday, February 22, 2016

Who Gets Enough Sleep?

Percentage of Americans who report getting an average of 7 or more hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, according to the CDC's Behavorial Risk Factor Surveillance System...

18 to 24: 67.8%
25 to 34: 62.1%
35 to 44: 61.7%
45 to 64: 62.7%
65-plus: 73.7%

Race and Hispanic origin
Asians: 62.5%
Blacks: 54.2%
Hispanics: 65.5%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 66.8%

Less than college: 62.4%
College graduate: 71.5%

Marital Status
Never married: 62.3%
Married: 67.4%
Separated, divorced, widowed: 55.7%

Source: CDC, Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults—United States, 2014

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Life of American Workers in 1915

Canned goods were sophisticated, overweight was a sign of good health, there was no such thing as standard time, and phonographs were the must-have tech. These are just a few of the fascinating facts revealed by a Monthly Labor Review article about the lives of workers in 1915. By examining the demographics, occupations, working conditions, and home life of workers in 1915, Bureau of Labor Statistics' economist Carol Boyd Leon reveals how much has changed...
  • In 1915, nearly 1 in 3 workers was a farm laborer versus fewer than 1 in 100 today. 
  • In 1915, 56% of men aged 65 or older were in the labor force versus 23% today.
  • In 1915, the average man earned $687 per year ($16,063 in 2015 dollars) compared with median earnings of $40,638 for male workers today. 
This look at the life of American workers in 1915 also reveals some things that haven't changed. Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat were popular breakfast foods in 1915, for example, and there was a debate about whether cereal was a healthier breakfast food than meat or eggs.

Source: Monthly Labor Review, The Life of American Workers in 1915

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Top 10 Occupations: Hispanics

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 10 with the largest percentage of Hispanics...

Hispanic share of workers (average = 16%)
1. Drywall installers: 61.5%
2. Roofers: 58.1%
3. Graders and sorters, agricultural products: 54.0%
4. Misc. agricultural workers: 49.2%
5. Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers: 48.7%
6. Painters, construction and maintenance: 48.2%
7. Helpers, construction trades: 45.6%
8. Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers: 44.2%
9. Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons: 43.9%
10. Maids and housekeeping cleaners: 43.8%

See also: Top 10 Occupations: Non-Hispanic Whites, Asians, and Blacks
Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data from the Current Population Survey

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

College Freshmen More Liberal

One in three college freshmen identifies him or herself as "far left" or "liberal," according to The American Freshmen: National Norms Fall 2015—the highest share since 1973. The figure peaked in 1971 at 41 percent and hit a low of 21 percent in 1981.

Percent of college freshmen identifying themselves as "far left" or "liberal"
2015: 33.5%
2010: 30.2%
2005: 30.5%
2000: 27.7%
1995: 25.2%
1990: 26.5%
1985: 24.1%
1981: 21.0% (low)
1980: 22.7%
1975: 32.6%
1971: 40.9% (high)

Only 22 percent of today's college students identify themselves as "conservative" or "far right," and 45 percent describe themselves as "middle of the road."

Source: Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, Cooperative Institutional Research Program, The American Freshmen: National Norms Fall 2015

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top 10 Occupations: Blacks

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 10 with the largest percentage of Blacks (alone)...

Black (alone) share of workers (average = 11%)
1. Barbers: 36.3%
2. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides: 35.9%
3. Postal service clerks: 30.8%
4. Security guards and gaming surveillance officers: 30.3%
5. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 28.8%
6. Licensed practical nurses: 27.9%
7. Postal service mail sorters and processors: 27.5%
8. Misc. healthcare support occupations: 26.9%
9. Parking lot attendants: 26.3%
10. Eligibility interviewers, government programs: 26.3%

See also: Top 10 Occupations: Non-Hispanic Whites and Asians
Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data from the Current Population Survey

Monday, February 15, 2016

Growing Gap in Life Expectancy

You might have seen this headline: "Disparity in Life Spans of the Rich and the Poor Is Growing" in the New York Times. Once again researchers are documenting an expanding gap in life expectancy by socioeconomic status. The latest analysis, by the Brookings Institution, looks at the widening gap and examines its potential to increase income inequality in old age.

The Brookings study measures the life expectancy of two cohorts of men and women by earnings and educational attainment—those born in 1920 and those born in 1940, using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Among men in the HRS and SIPP samples, the researchers find life expectancy rising between the 1920 and 1940 cohorts regardless of socioeconomic status, but the rise is much larger for those at the upper end. In the lowest earnings decile of the SIPP sample, for example, the life expectancy of men born in 1920 was 74.3 years and climbed to 76.0 years in the 1940 cohort—a rise of 1.7 years. In the highest earnings decile, life expectancy climbed from 79.3 to 88.0 years—a rise of 8.7 years. The gap in life expectancy between the two deciles grew from 5.0 to 12.0 years between the 1920 and 1940 cohorts.

The pattern is the same for women, except life expectancy fell for those in the lowest earnings decile of the HRS sample between the 1920 and 1940 cohorts (from 79.0 to 76.7 years—a drop of 2.3 years). Those in the top decile saw the biggest gain, their life expectancy climbing from 83.7 to 87.0 years—a gain of 3.3 years. The gap in life expectancy between the two deciles climbed from 4.7 to 10.3 years between the 1920 and 1940 cohorts. The growing gap also emerges when the data are examined by educational attainment.

Does the growing gap in life expectancy by socioeconomic status (SES) mean Social Security benefits will disproportionately accrue to the rich rather than the poor? While this is a potential problem, it is "damped by the fact that low SES individuals tend to claim Social Security at younger ages while high SES workers are more likely to postpone retirement and benefit claiming," conclude the researchers.

Source: The Brookings Institution, Later Retirement, Inequality in Old Age, and the Growing Gap in Longevity Between Rich and Poor

Friday, February 12, 2016

What Does It Take To Be Middle Class?

"Which of the following do Americans need to be considered part of the middle class?"

Secure job: 89%
Ability to save money: 86%
Time/money for vacation: 45%
Home ownership: 41%
College education: 30%

Source: Pew Research Center, Most Americans Say Government Doesn't Do Enough to Help Middle Class

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Many Americans Are "Gig" Workers?

A surprisingly large percentage of Americans engage in informal paid work, according to the Survey of Informal Work Participation—and the percentage who participate in the "gig" economy is growing. The Informal Work Participation survey was included in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Survey of Consumer Expectations in December 2013 and again in January 2015 in an attempt to measure the percentage of Americans who participate in alternative income-generating activities and how their participation is changing. These activities include babysitting, housesitting, dog walking, lawn care, elder care, personal services (such as taxi service), selling online, renting property, consignment sales, and so on.

The 2013 survey found a substantial 40 percent of respondents participating in informal paid work. Two years later, the 2015 survey found a much larger 52 percent participating. Behind the increase, theorize researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, is greater work opportunities provided by Uber and other online platforms.

With so many participating in informal paid work, "It is important to determine whether the meaning of 'employed' status according to the BLS might be changing over time," say the researchers. At this point, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not able to make that determination because it has not collected data on the informal (or "contingent") workforce since 2005—long before the likes of Uber appeared on the scene. Fortunately, the BLS has been funded to update the survey in a supplement to the May 2017 Current Population Survey. Until then, the results from the Survey of Informal Work Participation are perhaps the best available estimates of the "gig" workforce.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Changing Patterns in Informal Work Participation in the United States 2013-2015

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trends in the Uninsured, 2004 to 2015

In less than 24 months, the percentage of working-age adults without health insurance has plummeted. It's not often social scientists get the opportunity to observe, in just a few months time, so big a change in such an important socioeconomic indicator.

In the decade prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, the percentage of 18-to-64-year-olds without health insurance averaged 20.4 percent, the figure ranging from a low of 19.3 percent in 2005 to a high of 22.3 percent in 2010. Between 2013 (pre-ACA) and 2015 (post-ACA), the percentage without health insurance fell by a jaw-dropping (for social scientists, at least) 7.5 percentage points—to a record low of 12.9 percent...

People aged 18 to 64 without health insurance, 2004 to 2015
2015: 12.9%
2014: 16.3%
2013: 20.4%
2012: 20.9%
2011: 21.3%
2010: 22.3%
2009: 21.2%
2008: 19.9%
2007: 19.6%
2006: 20.0%
2005: 19.3%
2004: 19.4%

Note: 2015 figure is for the January-September time period.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January-September 2015 and Health, United States, 2014

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Top 10 Occupations: Asians

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 10 with the largest percentage of Asians (alone)...

Asian (alone) share of workers (average = 6%)
1. Misc. personal appearance workers: 55.3%
2. Medical scientists: 33.8%
3. Software developers, applications and systems: 31.9%
4. Statisticians: 24.5%
5. Computer hardware engineers: 22.8%
6. Electrical and electronics engineers: 21.4%
7. Sewing machine operators: 21.1%
8. Physicians and surgeons: 21.0%
9. Computer systems analysts: 20.9%
10. Computer programmers: 19.7%

See also: Top 10 Occupations: Non-Hispanic Whites
Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data from the Current Population Survey

Monday, February 08, 2016

Sandwich Consumption: Who, What, and When?

On an average day, 47 percent of Americans aged 20 or older eat a sandwich, according to the USDA's Food Surveys Research Group—52 percent of men and 43 percent of women.
  • Cold cuts are the most popular type of sandwich (27%), followed by burgers (17%), poultry (12%), and hot dogs (10%). Only 6 percent are peanut butter. 
  • Lunch accounts for nearly half of sandwiches eaten (48%), followed by dinner (31%), breakfast (13%), and snacks (8%).
  • Most sandwiches or their ingredients (58%) are purchased at a store. Twenty-seven percent are from fast-food restaurants. 
  • Fifty-nine percent of burgers and 46 percent of poultry sandwiches are from fast-food restaurants, while 76 percent of cold cut sandwiches are from a store.
Source: USDA, Food Surveys Research Group, Sandwich Consumption by Adults in the U.S.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Football is America's Favorite Sport

Football is by far America's favorite sport, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (go figure). Fully 38 percent of adults say football is their favorite. Then comes basketball (11 percent), baseball (9 percent), soccer (8 percent), auto racing (6 percent), and ice hockey (5 percent). Only 13 percent of Americans say they don't watch sports.

Source: Public Religion Research Institute, Nearly One-Third of Americans Say They Would Not Let Their Son Play Football

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Top 10 Occupations: Non-Hispanic Whites

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 10 with the largest percentage of non-Hispanic Whites...

Non-Hispanic White share of workers (average = 64%)
1. Tool and die makers: 95.5%
2. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: 94.9%
3. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers: 94.1%
4. Medical transcriptionists: 91.0%
5. Veterinarians: 90.9%
6. Chiropractors: 90.1%
7. Television, video, and motion picture camera operators: 89.9%
8. Fundraisers: 89.8%
9. Construction and building inspectors: 89.1%
10. Appraisers and assessors of real estate: 88.8%

Stay tuned for the top 10 occupations among Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data from the Current Population Survey

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Water Not Safe to Drink

Long before Flint Michigan's water problems became a national news story, a substantial 9 million American households identified their primary source of water as unsafe to drink. We know this thanks to the American Housing Survey, which asks respondents whether their primary source of water is safe for drinking. This is the percentage of households with water not safe to drink (excluding households whose primary source is commercial bottled water)...

Primary source of water is unsafe to drink
Total households: 8%
Owners: 6%
Renters: 11%
Blacks: 10%
Hispanics: 20%
Below poverty: 12%
Northeast: 6%
Midwest: 4%
South: 8%
West: 12%
Central city: 9%
Suburb: 7%
Nonmetropolitan: 6%

Source: Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Could Older Americans Work Longer?

Could older Americans work longer if they had to? The answer is yes, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study of the work capacity of people aged 55 or older.

The authors ask this question: "If people with a given mortality rate today worked as much as those with the same mortality rate in the past, how much could they work?" The answer: a lot. Among 55-to-59-year-olds today, 70.5 percent are in the labor force. But if they worked as much as the people of 1977 with the equivalent mortality rate, then a much larger 86.0 percent would be employed. Among 60-to-64-year-olds the employment rate would rise from 56.2 to 83.2 percent. Among 65-to-69-year-olds, the figure would rise from 32.3 to 74.1 percent.

"Employment declines rapidly as workers reach their 60s, while health declines steadily but quite gradually with age," say the researchers. "The fact that health does not plummet along with employment suggests that there are reasons other than health for the employment declines, such as the availability of Social Security," they conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Health Capacity to Work at Older Ages: Evidence from the U.S., Working Paper 21940

Monday, February 01, 2016

Women Earn 97 Percent As Much As Men

Among recent college graduates, that is, and after controlling for college major.

A Liberty Street Economics analysis of the wages of men and women aged 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor's degree finds women earning 97 percent as much as men after controlling for college major. In 29 of 73 college majors examined, women earned more than men—including social services, treatment therapy, industrial engineering, and art history.

Among college graduates aged 35 to 44, however, the analysis found men earning 15 percent more than women on average. In every major in which women earned more than men among young adults, the advantage disappeared by middle age. In the majors in which men earned more than women among young adults, the earnings gap expanded. What's behind this shift?

Discrimination could be one reason for the shift, say the researchers, but women's greater family responsibilities are a likely major contributor. "Because raising a family often requires more flexible schedules, those with family responsibilities who have difficulty satisfying time sensitive work demands may face lower wages," they explain. "In fact, in jobs where such time demands are largely absent, and more flexibility is possible, the pay gap has been found to be much smaller."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, When Women Out-Earn Men