Friday, July 29, 2016

More Bad News about Retirement

We all know about the inequality in workplace retirement benefits, with few low-wage workers and most high-wage workers participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans. In a new report, the Center for Retirement Research piles on with more bad news: even those fortunate enough to have a retirement plan are losing ground. Fewer are covered by a retirement plan, the income projected to be generated from retirement plans is declining, and retirement wealth is increasingly concentrated among the most highly educated (i.e. the most affluent). Consequently, say the researchers, "future retirees will be much more dependent on Social Security than those in the past."

Analyzing Health and Retirement Study data for households with a respondent aged 51 to 56, the researchers examined pension participation, pension wealth, and projected retirement income from 1992 through 2010. "Although retirees will need more from employer-sponsored plans," say the researchers, "they will receive less" for several reasons...

  • The percentage of households with either a defined-benefit or defined contribution retirement plan fell from 68 to 63 percent between 1992 and 2010.
  • Median pension wealth for 51-to-56-year-olds with coverage in 2010 was only $162,852, down from $187,584 in 2004.
  • The most-educated quartile of households control a growing share of pension wealth. In 2010, they controlled 52% of defined-contribution retirement plan wealth.
  • Median projected retirement income from retirement plans was just $20,813 in 2010, down from $24,657 in 2004.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Pension Participation, Wealth, and Income: 1992-2010

Thursday, July 28, 2016

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2016

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2016: 44.8%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 fell to a new low in the second quarter of 2016. The 44.8 percent second-quarter homeownership rate was down from 45.7 percent in the first quarter of 2016 and well below the previous all-time low of 45.2 percent in the second quarter of 2015. The homeownership rate of the 30-to-34 age group had been fairly stable since hitting bottom in 2015. This new low could be a statistical bobble or a resumption of the downward trend.    

Historically, homeownership became the norm in the 30-to-34 age group—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. It's been stuck there ever since. The new age of first-time home buying is 35 to 39, but even this age group has been slipping toward the 50-percent threshold. In the second quarter of 2016 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 55.2 percent, barely above the all-time low of 55.1 percent recorded in the second quarter of 2015. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds peaked in the first quarter of 2007 at 65.7 percent.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 62.9 percent in the second quarter of 2016, down from 63.4 percent a year earlier and the lowest homeownership rate since 1965.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Baby Bust Economics

The ongoing baby bust appears to be a trend occurring among lower-income women rather than their higher-income counterparts. Overall, the percentage of women aged 15 to 50 who had a baby in the past year fell from 5.6 percent in 2006 (just before the Great Recession) to 5.3 percent in 2014, according to the American Community Survey. The number of births fell from 4.3 million to just under 4 million during those years. But the decline in childbearing occurred almost entirely among women with household incomes below $50,000. Among women with household incomes of $75,000 or more, childbearing was stable or higher.

Percent of women who had a baby in past 12 months by household income, 2014 (and 2006)
Under $25,000: 6.4% (down from 7.3%)
$25,000 to $49,999: 5.7% (down from 6.0%)
$50,000 to $74,999: 5.3% (down from 5.4%)
$75,000 to $99,999: 4.9% (up from 4.8%)
$100,000 or more: 4.5% (no change)

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility of Women in the United States: 2014

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Workplace Retirement Plans, 2016

Are workplace retirement plans a benefit for the affluent? That's what the data suggest. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals the stark retirement benefit divide between low-wage and high-wage workers. Among private-sector workers overall, 66 percent have access to a workplace retirement plan—meaning their employer offers a plan and they are eligible to participate. But access varies greatly by wage quartile...

Percentage of private-sector workers with access to a workplace retirement plan
Lowest wage quartile (less than $12.40/hour): 42%
Second wage quartile ($12.40 to $18.51/hour): 65%
Third wage quartile ($18.52 to $29.79/hour): 78%
Highest wage quartile ($29.80 or more/hour): 87%

It gets worse. Among workers with access to a retirement plan, only 22 percent of those in the lowest-wage quartile participate in their employer's retirement plan versus 76 percent of those in the highest-wage quartile. For low-wage workers, even these meager rates likely overstate reality because they exclude agricultural and private household workers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employee Benefits in the United States—March 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Median Household Income Stable in June 2016

Median household income in June 2016 stood at $57,206, according to Sentier Research, which was not significantly different from the May 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. The June 2016 median was 2.5 percent higher than the June 2015 median, however, and 9.3 percent above the $52,342 median of August 2011, which was the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"There has been a general upward trend in median household income since the post-recession low point reached in August 2011," reports Sentier. Its median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in June 2016 was 2.0 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was not significantly different from the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The June 2016 median was 1.1 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for June was 98.9 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: June 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

Are You a Math Person?

How many teenagers think of themselves as a math person? Thanks to the High School Longitudinal Survey, we know the answer. The HSLS is tracking a nationally representative sample of teenagers who were in 9th grade in 2009 and 11th grade in 2012. In 9th grade, the majority of both males and females regarded themselves as a math person. By 11th grade, the figure was below 50 percent.

Males who considered themselves a math person
In 9th grade: 56%
In 11th grade: 48%

Females who consider themselves a math person
In 9th grade: 52%
In 11th grade: 44%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Student Self-Assessment of Math and Science Ability in High School

Thursday, July 21, 2016

50-Year Trend in Overweight and Obesity

A stunning 70 percent of Americans are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Fifty years ago, only 45 percent were overweight. These figures come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which deploys mobile examination units around the country to measure the height and weight of a nationally representative sample of the population....

Percent overweight (among adults aged 20 to 74)
2013-14: 70.1%
1960-62: 44.9%

Interestingly, the overweight but not obese share of the population barely changed over the decades, rising from 31.5 to 31.9 percent between 1960-62 and 2013-14. But the obese share skyrocketed, climbing from just 13.4 percent in 1960-62 to fully 38.2 percent in 2013-14. Among men, 35.5 percent were obese in 2013-14—more than three times the 10.7 percent of 1960-62. Among women, obesity climbed from 15.8 to 41.0 percent during those years. 

Note: Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m^2 or higher and obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30kg/m^2 or higher. 
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity among Adults Aged 20 and Over: United States, 1960-1962 through 2013-14

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trends in Online Attention: 2008 to 2013

How much has online time and attention shifted as web sites have proliferated, video streaming has become commonplace, and connected devices have multiplied? A National Bureau of Economic Research study uses big data to examine that question, comparing more than 1 million machine-week observations of household online activity in 2008 and 2013. Some of the findings are unexpected...
  • The total amount of time households spent on their primary home computer fell only slightly despite the introduction of smartphones and tablets. Households using their primary home computer in a given week spent 15 hours online in 2008 and 14 hours online in 2013.
  • The breadth of web sites visited and the time spent at any one site did not change between 2008 and 2013, despite the proliferation of web sites and the rise in video content. 
  • The web sites most often visited did change. The top two sites in 2008 were MySpace and Yahoo, for example, and the top two sites in 2013 were Facebook and YouTube.
The authors readily acknowledge the overall increase in time spent online between 2008 and 2013, but their results show the increase occurred on smartphones and tablets and was in addition to the "relatively stable use of the home device." Also of note: "The vast change in the menu of supply from 2008 to 2013 did not change the breadth or depth of household browsing. The vast change in supply altered only where households allocated their online time."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, The Empirical Economics of Online Attention, NBER Working Paper 22427 ($5)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

$7 Trillion in Accessible Housing Wealth

How much housing wealth is accessible to Americans? The answer is $7 trillion, according to an Urban Institute study—or an average of $133,810 per owned home in 2015. This calculation is based on total housing wealth ($11 trillion) and today's lending standards, which allow homeowners to extract 75 to 85 percent of their current home value minus outstanding housing debt. At the 75 percent lending standard, this is the average wealth accessible to homeowners by age, and the percentage of owners who have accessible housing wealth...

Average accessible net housing wealth for owners (and % with accessible wealth)
Aged 18 to 29: $72,000 (44%)
Aged 30 to 39: $81,000 (45%)
Aged 40 to 49: $108,000 (60%)
Aged 50 to 59: $130,000 (73%)
Aged 60 to 64: $145,000 (80%)
Aged 65 to 69: $155,000 (84%)
Aged 70-plus: $161,000 (92%)

The study finds housing wealth concentrated in the hands of older Americans and by state and local area. Average net housing wealth by local area ranges from a high of $1,487,000 in the Menlo Park and East Palo Alto areas of San Mateo County, California, to a low of $27,000 in the city of Detroit.

Source: Urban Institute, How Much House Do Americans Really Own?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Who Carries Cash?

How many people are carrying cash in their pockets, wallets, or purses when away from home? According to a Gallup survey, only 54 percent of adults are carrying cash. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, just 42 percent have cash on them when away from home...

Percent who carry cash
Aged 18 to 29: 42%
Aged 30 to 49: 54%
Aged 50 to 64: 55%
Aged 65-plus: 62%

Young adults are also the ones who feel most comfortable without cash—56 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are comfortable going cashless versus only 32 percent of people aged 65 or older.

Source: Gallup, Most Americans Foresee Death of Cash in Their Lifetime

Friday, July 15, 2016

Median Age by Religious Affiliation

Median age of U.S. adults by religious affiliation...

Presbyterian: 59
Methodist: 57
Lutheran: 56
Southern Baptist: 54
Jewish: 50
Catholic: 49
Total adults: 46
Mormon: 43
None: 38
Muslim: 33

Source: Pew Research Center, Which U.S. Religious Groups Are Oldest and Youngest?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Immigrants by State and Metro, 2014

Over 1 million immigrants were granted permanent legal residence in the United States in 2014. Fully 59 percent of those immigrants settled in just five states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey. The 53 percent majority settled in only 10 metropolitan areas...

Legal Immigration in 2014: Top 10 Metros
Total immigrants: 1,016,518 (100.0%)
Top 10 metros: 539,044 (53.0%)
  1. New York: 174,714 (17.2%)
  2. Los Angeles: 80,527 (7.9%)
  3. Miami: 72,038 (7.1%)
  4. Washington, DC: 39,531 (3.9%)
  5. Houston: 33,858 (3.3%)
  6. Chicago: 33,042 (3.3%)
  7. San Francisco: 32,904 (3.2%)
  8. Dallas: 28,780 (2.8%)
  9. Boston: 24,026 (2.4%)
  10. Atlanta: 19,628 (1.9)
Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

1 Million Legal Immigrants in 2014

Just over 1 million immigrants were granted legal permanent residence in the United States in 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The 2014 number was slightly greater than the 990,553 of 2013 but fewer than in any other year since 2004. The peak year for legal immigration was 1991, when 1.8 million immigrants were admitted to the United States.

Legal Immigrants in 2014: Top 10 Countries of Birth
Total immigrants: 1,016,518 (100.0%)
Top 10 countries: 518,433 (51.0%)
  1. Mexico: 134,052 (13.2%)
  2. India: 77,908 (7.7%)
  3. China: 76,089 (7.5%)
  4. Philippines: 49,996 (4.9%)
  5. Cuba: 46,679 (4.6%)
  6. Dominican Republic: 44,577 (4.4%)
  7. Vietnam: 30,283 (3.0%)
  8. South Korea: 20,423 (2.0%)
  9. El Salvador: 19,273 (1.9%)
  10. Iraq: 19,153 (1.9%)
Source: Department of Homeland Security, 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Demographics of Early Technology Adopters

Young adults are stereotypically seen as early adopters of technology, older adults as Luddites. But older Americans are not the Luddites they are sometimes made out to be, according to the results of a Pew Research Center survey. To determine who is an early technology adopter, Pew asked a representative sample of Americans six questions about their preferences for new versus familiar technology, then created an "early adopter index." These are the early adopters by age...

Early technology adopters
Aged 18 to 29: 29%
Aged 30 to 49: 31%
Aged  50 to 64: 29%
Aged 65-plus: 21%

One in five Americans aged 65 or older is an early adopter of technology, a surprisingly robust figure. By age and sex, men aged 18 to 49 are most likely to be early adopters (34 percent), but other groups are not all that far behind. Among women aged 18 to 49 and both men and women aged 50 or older, a substantial 25 to 26 percent are early technology adopters.

Early technology adoption is not just an age thing. "Personality also matters," says Pew.

Source: Pew Research Center, 28% of Americans Are 'Strong' Early Adopters of Technology

Monday, July 11, 2016

Deaths Due to Legal Intervention

How many Americans die as a result of law enforcement action each year? More than 500, reports the National Center for Health Statistics. Here is the recent trend in deaths due to what the government calls legal intervention...

Deaths due to legal intervention
2014: 515
2013: 516
2012: 550
2011: 492
2010: 412

Males accounted for all but 28 of the 515 deaths due to legal intervention in 2014—or 95 percent of the total. By race and Hispanic origin, 261 of the decedents were non-Hispanic White (51 percent of the total), 133 were Black (26 percent), and 101 were Hispanic (20 percent).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, Deaths: Final Data for 2014

Friday, July 08, 2016

Sources of News for Young and Old

Percentage of young adults and older Americans who often get their news from (ranked by source)...

Aged 18 to 29
34% from websites/apps
32% from social networking sites
22% from local TV
14% from radio
12% from cable TV
10% from network TV
  5% from print newspapers

Aged 65 or older
67% from local TV
58% from cable TV
53% from network TV
48% from print newspapers
24% from radio
16% from websites/apps
  6% from social networking sites

Source: Pew Research Center, The Modern News Consumer

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Daily Calories from Fast Food

Eating out accounts for more than one-third (34 percent) of the daily calories consumed by Americans aged 2 or older, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. That share was just 18 percent in the mid-1970s. Behind the rise of eating out (or what the USDA calls "food away from home") is the growing importance of fast food to the American diet. The fast-food share of daily caloric intake has nearly tripled in the past three decades...

Fast-food share of daily caloric intake
2011-12: 15.8%
1977-78:   5.7%

Fast food has become essential for busy workers and parents. Among lower income households in 2011-12, fast food provided 16.4 percent of daily calories. For higher-income households the fast-food share was 15.3 percent. Fast food accounts for a much larger share of children's daily caloric intake than school food. Children obtained 14.3 percent of their daily calories from fast food in 2011-12 (up from less than 4 percent in 1977-78) and about 7 percent from school food.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Linking Federal Food Intake Surveys Provides a More Accurate Look at Eating Out Trends

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Upper Middle Class More than Doubles in Size

The percentage of Americans whose incomes place them in the "upper middle class" more than doubled between 1979 and 2014, according to Stephen J. Rose of the Urban Institute. In the study, Rose defines the upper middle class as people in households with incomes ranging from $100,000 to $349,999 after adjusting for household size—or what he calls "family-of-three" equivalents. The upper middle class includes single-person households with an income of $57,735 or more, for example, and two-person households with an income of $81,650 or more.

Since 1979, the upper middle class has grown from just 12.9 to fully 29.4 percent of Americans. At the same time, the upper class expanded from 0.1 to 1.8 percent of the population. All other income classes shrank during those years...

Income Class as a Share of U.S. Population in 2014 (and 1979)
Upper class: 1.8% (0.1%)
Upper middle class: 29.4% (12.9%)
Middle middle class: 32.0% (38.8%)
Lower middle class: 17.1% (23.9%)
Lower class: 19.8% (24.3%)

"The striking finding is the change in the center of gravity in the economy," says Rose. "In 1979, 70 percent of the incomes were controlled by the three bottom groups. In contrast, in 2014, 63 percent of incomes were held by the upper middle class and the rich and just 37 percent by the bottom three groups." In the future, Rose plans to examine the changing demographics of the upper middle class—such as educational attainment and marital status—to determine the cause of its enormous growth. One causal factor that should be examined is the aging of baby boomers from young adulthood in 1979 to their peak-earning years in the 2000s. Will the size of the upper middle class shrink as boomers retire?

Source: Urban Institute, The Growing Size and Incomes of the Upper Middle Class

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Over the Hill

In a recent survey, AARP asked Americans at what age they think they will be over the hill. Here are the answers by generation...

Age at which you will be over the hill
Millennials: 56
Gen Xers: 62
Boomers: 75

Boomers in their fifties think they will be over the hill at age 74. Those in their sixties say it will be at age 76. People in their seventies say not until age 80.

Source: AARP, AARP Research: A Conversation Starter about Age

Monday, July 04, 2016

30-Year-Olds: Then and Now

Percent of 30-year-olds who were married, had a child, not in school, and lived on their own...

2015: 32%
1975: 71%

Source: Census Bureau, Measuring America: 30-Year-Olds: Then and Now

Friday, July 01, 2016

Pride in Being American Plunges among Young Adults

The 52 percent majority of the public is "extremely proud" to be American, according to a Gallup survey. This figure is much lower than the inflated 70 percent of 2003 (a surge that followed the  9/11 attacks) but not far below the 55 percent of January 2001 (pre 9/11).

Despite the overall stability in patriotic pride between 2001 and 2016, patriotism among 18-to-29-year-olds plunged during those years, falling 17 percentage points...

Percentage who say they are "extremely proud" to be American in 2016 (and 2001)
Aged 18 to 29: 34% (51%)
Aged 30 to 49: 51% (56%)
Aged 50 to 64: 64% (57%)
Aged 65-plus: 55% (57%)

Source: Gallup, New Low of 52% "Extremely Proud" to Be Americans