Friday, December 30, 2016

Median Household Income Stable in November 2016

Median household income in November 2016 stood at $58,221, according to Sentier Research. This was greater, but not significantly so, than the October 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. The November 2016 median was 0.7 percent higher than the November 2015 median and 10.1 percent above the $52,870 median of August 2011, which was the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Median annual household income in 2016 has not been able to maintain the momentum that it achieved during 2015," says Sentier's Gordon Green. But he notes, "real median income has increased by 1.2 percent from May 2016." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in November 2016 was 2.7 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was 0.9 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The November 2016 median was still 0.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for November was 99.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: November 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Housing Stock is Aging

The nation's housing stock is aging. In 2015, the average household occupied a housing unit with a median age of 39 (built in 1976), according to the American Housing Survey. This is more than twice the median age of housing in 1975 (median age of 18, built in 1957).

The youth of the housing stock in 1975 was a consequence of the postwar baby boom, which was also a building boom providing a fresh supply of housing for a rapidly expanding and increasingly affluent population. In the following four decades, new housing has been a shrinking share of the total housing stock. Because of the aging of the housing stock, it will be many more years before new building technologies are a part of the average American home. But there's a silver lining—growing opportunities for renovation and building upgrades.

Occupied housing units: median year built (and age of average structure)
2015: 1976 (39 years)
2005: 1973 (32 years)
1995: 1967 (28 years)
1985: 1962 (23 years)
1975: 1957 (18 years)

Source: Census Bureau, American Housing Survey

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Medicare Is the Best Health Insurance

Americans with Medicare coverage, the government's single-payer health insurance program for people aged 65 or older, rate their health care much more highly than everyone else. Among adults of all ages who have been to a health care provider in the past year, just over half (53 percent) give the quality of the care they received the highest rating—a 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Among people aged 65 or older, a much larger two-thirds give their health care the highest rating...

Percent rating their health care a 9 or 10 by age
Aged 18 to 44: 45.8%
Aged 45 to 64: 53.4%
Aged 65-plus: 64.6%

By type of health insurance, the results are the same. Those on Medicare are by far the ones most satisfied with the health care they receive...

Percent rating their health care a 9 or 10 by type of health insurance
Under age 65, uninsured: 40.4%
Under age 65, public only: 41.4%
Under age 65, any private: 52.1%
Aged 65-plus, Medicare only: 65.9%
Aged 65-plus, Medicare and private: 66.1%

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2014 Quality of Care Tables

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

States with Minority Majority Births

Nearly half (46 percent) of American babies are born to Asian, Black, Hispanic, or American Indian mothers. In 11 states and DC, minorities account for the majority of births...

Percent of births to Asians, Blacks, Hispanics or other minorities
Arizona: 55.6%
California: 71.3%
District of Columbia: 68.8%
Florida: 54.2%
Georgia: 54.1%
Hawaii: 73.7%
Maryland: 55.1%
Nevada: 57.8%
New Jersey: 53.3%
New Mexico: 72.3%
New York: 51.4%
Texas: 64.7%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data, Births: Final Data for 2014

Monday, December 26, 2016

Population Growth by Region, 2010 to 2016

Long-term regional growth patterns continue, according to the Census Bureau's latest population estimates. The South and West are growing faster than the Northeast and Midwest and account for an expanding majority of the population—61.6 percent of the 323 million U.S. residents lived in the South and West on July 1, 2016, up from 60.4 percent in 2010.

US population by region (and percent change 2010–16)
Northeast: 56 million, 17.4 percent of the total (1.5%)
Midwest: 68 million, 21.0 percent of the total (1.4%)
South: 122 million, 37.9 percent of the total (6.5%)
West: 77 million, 23.7 percent of the total (6.3%)

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Friday, December 23, 2016

Shopping with a Cellphone

Most Americans, regardless of age, are online shoppers. Overall, 79 percent of adults have ever bought something online, according to a Pew survey. The figure ranges from a high of 90 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds to a low of 59 percent among those aged 65-plus.

Less common is using a cellphone to shop online. Nevertheless, the 51 percent majority of Americans have shopped with a cellphone, reports Pew. Adults under age 50 are far more likely than those aged 50 or older to use their cellphone to shop online.

Percent who have ever used their cellphone to buy something online
Aged 18 to 29: 77%
Aged 30 to 49: 64%
Aged 50 to 64: 36%
Aged 65-plus: 17%

Source: Pew Research Center, Online Shopping and E-Commerce

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Death Certificates Reveal Drugs Involved in Overdoses

The experts are alarmed. The rapid rise in drug overdose deaths has revealed a shortcoming in the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision. The ICD–10, as it is dubbed, is the system used to classify causes of death. But for overdose deaths, the ICD-10 lumps a variety of drugs into just a few categories, making it nearly impossible to single out the troublemakers.

To solve this problem, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Food and Drug administration developed a method to analyze the "literal text" (literally, the text) on death certificates to tease out specific drug mentions. It worked, and here are some of the findings...
  • Between 2010 and 2014, drug deaths grew 23 percent—from 38,329 to 47,055. 
  • The percentage of overdose deaths that specified at least one drug on the death certificate climbed from 67 to 78 percent between 2010 and 2014.
  • Heroin was the top drug mentioned in overdose deaths in 2014, accounting for 23 percent of the total. Cocaine was second and oxycodone third. 
  • The number of heroin overdose deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014, rising from 3,020 to 10,863.
  • Among overdose deaths with a drug mention, 52 percent mentioned only one drug and 48 percent mentioned two or more. The average was 1.9.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2010–2014

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

North Dakota's Reversal of Fortune

North Dakota is experiencing a reversal of fortune. It had been the nation's fastest growing state thanks to the oil boom. Between 2010 and 2015, its population grew 12.2 percent, far outpacing other fast-growing states such as Texas (8.7 percent), Nevada (6.7 percent), and Utah (7.8 percent). But between 2015 and 2016, North Dakota's population came to a screeching halt. Well, almost. The state registered a minuscule 0.1 percent population gain as falling oil prices turned its net domestic migration from a plus to a minus—North Dakota lost 6,259 residents to other states.

North Dakota is not alone in losing the domestic migration sweepstakes. Most (31) states lost more domestic migrants than they gained between 2015 and 2016. The five biggest losers were New York, Illinois, Connecticut, North Dakota, and New Jersey. At the other extreme, the five biggest winners were Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Florida, and South Carolina.

Utah had the 10th highest rate of net domestic migration, but that's not the only reason it became the fastest-growing state in 2015-16. Another reason is Utah's high rate of natural increase (births minus deaths), triple the national average.

Fastest growing states, July 2015 to July 2016 (percent increase)
Utah: 2.03
Nevada: 1.95
Idaho: 1.83
Florida: 1.82
Washington: 1.78
Oregon: 1.71
Colorado: 1.68
Arizona: 1.66
District of Columbia: 1.61
Texas: 1.58

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Generation Gap in Attitudes toward Environment

The 59 percent majority of Americans think "stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost," according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only 34 percent say laws and regulations "cost too many jobs and hurt economy." Young adults are most likely to support environmental regulation...

Environmental regulations are worth the cost
Aged 18 to 29: 70%
Aged 30 to 49: 63%
Aged 50 to 64: 53%
Aged 65-plus: 47%

Source: Pew Research Center, Most Americans Favor Stricter Environmental Laws and Regulations

Monday, December 19, 2016

Trends in Surnames

By now you've probably heard the news: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, and Jones are the five most common last names in the United States, according to a Census Bureau analysis of 2010 census data. The same five surnames were at the top in 2000 as well. The Census Bureau surname project also found...

  • Americans reported 6.3 million surnames on the 2010 census
  • Eleven surnames were reported by more than 1 million people—the five listed above, followed by Garcia, Miller, Davis, Rodriguez, Martinez, and Hernandez. 
  • The 62 percent majority of surnames were reported only once.
  • A quarter of Hispanics share just 26 surnames.
  • 87 percent of those with the surname Washington are Black. 
  • 98 percent of those with the surname Yoder are non-Hispanic White.

If you think these facts are fascinating, there's much more. Visit this Census Bureau site, and download the Excel table, "Surnames Occurring 100 or more Times." The table lists all 160,000-plus surnames reported on the 2010 census by at least 100 respondents, the number reporting each surname, its rank, and the race and Hispanic origin distribution of those with the name. Check out your own name, your friends' names, or names in the news. "Trump," for example, is the 8,484 most common surname, reported by 3,886 census respondents in 2010. Among those with the name Trump, 95.6 percent are non-Hispanic White. Clinton is the 2,242 most popular name, reported by 16,263 respondents, 65 percent of whom are non-Hispanic White and 27 percent of whom are Black. Hours of fun!

Source: Census Bureau, What's in a Name

Friday, December 16, 2016

Trajectory of the American Dream

Probability that children born into the average American household would make more money than their parents, by birth year...

Born in 1940: 92%
Born in 1950: 79%
Born in 1960: 62%
Born in 1970: 61%
Born in 1980: 50%

To obtain the study, download The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper #22910 ($5). For an analysis of the study's findings, see the New York Times op-ed, The American Dream, Quantified at Last.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Older Americans Are Adopting Wearable Devices

Overall, 11 percent of people aged 50 or older own a wearable device such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to an AARP survey. "Adoption among all age groups is expected to grow," notes AARP in its technology report. Here is ownership among the 50-plus by age...

Own a wearable device
Aged 50 to 59: 19%
Aged 60 to 69: 10%
Aged 70-plus: 3%

Source: AARP, 2016 Technology Trends among Mid-Life and Older Americans

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Whites without Degree Think They're Losing Ground

Non-Hispanic whites without a college degree feel like losers, according to the results of the General Social Survey. When asked the question, "Compared with American families in general, would you say your family income is below average, average, or above average?" here's what non-Hispanic whites without a bachelor's degree had to say in 2014 (the latest data available) and how that has changed since 2000...
  • One-third (33%) of non-Hispanic whites without a bachelor's degree said their family income was below average relative to American families in general, up from 24% who felt that way in 2000. 
  • Barely half (50.4%) said their family income was average relative to other families. A larger 54% felt that way in 2000.
  • Only 17% of non-Hispanic whites without a bachelor's degree said their family income was above average, compared with a larger 22% who felt that way in 2000.
Non-Hispanic whites with a bachelor's degree do not share these anxieties. The 52 percent majority of college-educated non-Hispanic whites said their family income in 2014 was above average relative to others, up from 48 percent who felt that way in 2000.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Male Employment Crisis

The male employment crisis—defined as relatively low rates of labor force participation among men of prime working age (25 to 54)—is occurring at both extremes of the rural-urban continuum, finds an analysis by the Brookings Institution. The labor force participation rate of men aged 25 to 54 is below average in the nation's largest cities at the one extreme and in small metros, towns, and rural areas at the other extreme.

The good news is the crisis seems to be diminishing in the nation's largest cities, where the labor force participation rate of prime age men grew 2 percentage points between 2000 and 2010–14. The bad news is the crisis is worsening in small towns and rural areas. The labor force participation rate of prime age men fell 4.8 percentage points in small towns and 5.4 percentage points in rural areas between 2000 and 2010–14. "This suggests that a community's level of urbanization was closely related to employment outcomes for prime-aged male workers," says Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution and the study's author.

"The past 10–15 years have strengthened the economic hand of many cities," he explains, "raising demand for workers in such places, even for those with lower levels of formal skills, drawing them into jobs at increased rates." But, he says, "those same dynamics have simultaneously disadvantaged many small towns and rural areas." Can small places succeed? The answer may be no: "Efforts to bring jobs back to small-town America seem likely to face an uphill battle against market forces that have put jobs further out of reach for many of their residents."

Source: Brookings Institution, America's Male Employment Crisis is both Urban and Rural

Monday, December 12, 2016

Life Expectancy Falls in 2015

Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell by 0.1 year in 2015—to 78.8 years. This seemingly small decline is a big deal and troubling for two reasons. One, a decline in life expectancy does not happen very often. The 2015 decline was the first since 1993, and the 1993 decline was the first since 1980. Two, unlike the 1993 decline in life expectancy—a consequence of HIV's rapid rise to become the 8th leading cause of death—the reason for the 2015 decline is not clear.

That's because there are many reasons. The age-adjusted death rate increased significantly in 2015 for fully 8 of the top 10 causes of death: heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide. The death rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites (males and females) and non-Hispanic Black males. The death rate was unchanged for non-Hispanic Black females and for Hispanics (males and females).

While the National Center for Health Statistics' report does not shed much light on the significance of the life expectancy decline, a New York Times story does, quoting  professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, Dr. Peter Muennig, who tells the Times, "a 0.1 decrease is huge."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2015

Friday, December 09, 2016

How Many Americans Are Foodies?

A Pew Research Center survey of the public's attitudes toward food may have revealed how many Americans are foodies. According to Wikipedia, "a foodie is a person who seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger."

Pew revealed the size of the foodie population by asking respondents how well a series of four statements described their eating habits. The statements are...
  • I focus on the taste sensations of every meal.
  • My main focus is on eating healthy and nutritious.
  • I usually eat whatever is easy and most convenient.
  • I eat when necessary but don't care very much about what I eat. 
Twenty-three percent of Americans say the statement "I focus on the taste sensations of every meal" describes them "very well." Those are the foodies.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Throwing A Wrench into the ACA

If Republicans partially repeal the Affordable Care Act early in 2017 through a reconciliation bill, then the following critical elements of the ACA would disappear: Medicaid expansion, financial assistance for Marketplace coverage, and individual and employer mandates. An Urban Institute study takes a look at the consequences of eliminating these provisions from the ACA with no alternative plan in place...
  • The number of uninsured Americans will more than double: Partial repeal would raise the number of uninsured in 2019 to 58.7 million versus 28.9 million under the ACA.
  • More than one in five Americans under age 65 will be uninsured: Partial repeal would raise the percentage of people under age 65 without health insurance to 21 percent in 2019 versus 11 percent under the ACA.
  • The majority of those losing insurance will be the white working class: 56 percent of the newly uninsured will be non-Hispanic white, 80 percent will not have a college degree, and 82 percent will be in working families. 
"This scenario does not just move the country back to the situation before the ACA," warns the Urban Institute. "It moves the country to a situation with higher uninsurance rates than before the ACA reforms."

Source: Urban Institute, Implications of Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Neither Spouse Works: 19% of Couples

The percentage of couples in which neither husband nor wife is in the labor force grew to a record high of 18.9 percent in 2016, according to Census Bureau data. Behind the increase is the retirement of the baby-boom generation.

Labor force status of married couples in 2016
Husband and wife in labor force: 51.3%
Husband only in labor force: 22.2%
Neither spouse in labor force: 18.9%
Wife only in labor force: 7.6%

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

One in Four Americans Is First or Second Generation

Nearly 25 percent of Americans are first or second generation, according to the Census Bureau. The bureau defines "first generation" as the foreign born, "second generation" as those with at least one foreign-born parent, and "third generation" as those with two native-born parents. Here's how the U.S. population splits by generation...

Generational status of U.S. population
12.9% first generation
11.7% second generation
75.4% third-or-higher generation

Among non-Hispanics, 84 percent are third-or-higher generation. In contrast, Hispanics are almost evenly split by generation...

Generational status of Hispanic population
34.9% first generation
31.5% second generation
33.6% third-or-higher generation

The report examines the demographics of the generations, including educational attainment, labor force status, income and earnings, homeownership, and voting.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of the U.S. Population by Generational Status: 2013

Monday, December 05, 2016

New Survey of Occupational Requirements

There's a new survey in town: the Occupational Requirements Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides information about the physical demands, environmental conditions, education, training, and mental requirements of occupations in the United States. Here are some of the survey's first findings for all workers (and workers in specific occupations)...
  • Workers at the average job spend 4.4 hours standing or walking (construction workers spend an average of 7 hours standing or walking).
  • Workers at the average job spend 3.0 hours sitting.
  • 48 percent of jobs require prior work experience (78.5 percent of architecture and engineering jobs require work experience, with an average length of 4.5 years).
  • 47 percent of jobs require outdoor work (all landscaping and groundskeeping jobs require outdoor work and 88 percent require working outdoors constantly—defined as at least 67 percent of the work day).
  • 31 percent of jobs have no minimum education requirement (the 57 percent majority of transportation and material moving jobs have no minimum requirement).
  • 17.5 percent of jobs require at least a bachelor's degree (60 percent of management jobs require at least a bachelor's degree).  
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirement in the United States—2016

Friday, December 02, 2016

Median Household Income Stable in October 2016

Median household income in October 2016 stood at $57,929. according to Sentier Research, not significantly different from the September 2016 median, after adjusting for inflation. The October 2016 median was 0.6 percent higher than the October 2015 median and 9.8 percent above the $52,764 median of August 2011, which was the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Median annual household income in 2016 has not been able to maintain the momentum that it achieved during 2015," says Sentier's Gordon Green. Despite the flattening, however, Sentier notes that "there has been a general upward trend in median household income since the post-recession low point reached in August 2011." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in October 2016 was 2.4 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was slightly higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The October 2016 median was still 0.6 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index for October was 99.4 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

CPS Redesign Still A Problem

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is still unhappy with the redesigned Current Population Survey. The changes to the CPS questionnaire, introduced to the full sample in 2014, were designed to better capture pension income. That they did, but the changes also resulted in sharp declines in estimated retirement plan participation among workers. The declines are larger than any in the past, notes EBRI, and they are inconsistent with the steady participation recorded by other government surveys.

Last year EBRI examined the problem with the CPS redesign in an analysis of 2014 data (see the Demo Memo post about it here). Now with 2015 data in hand, EBRI finds the problem not only continuing but worsening. Among full-time wage and salary workers aged 21 to 64, the percentage who work for an employer that sponsors a retirement plan fell by a whopping 12 percentage points between 2013 (traditional questions) and 2015 (redesigned questions). Something is wrong with this picture.

Although EBRI admits that pension income estimates are improved by the redesigned CPS, it believes something must be done to improve retirement plan participation estimates. "Currently the U.S. Census Bureau has no plans to revise the CPS," EBRI states. "Rather modest modifications could be made within the CPS questionnaire along the lines of other federal government surveys to improve the retirement plan participation estimates. Until that time, any person or organization using the data or those reading analyses from the data need to be aware of the issues with the data."

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Another Year After the Current Population Survey Redesign and More Questions about the Survey's Retirement Plan Participation Estimates