Friday, December 29, 2017

Metros with the Highest Rates of Homeownership, 2016

Among the nation's 75 largest metropolitan areas, these are the 10 with the highest rates of homeownership in 2016, according to the Census Bureau...

1. 76.2% in Grand Rapids, MI
2. 74.9% in Akron, OH
3. 73.4% in Sarasota, FL
4. 72.2% in Pittsburgh, PA
5. 71.6% in Detroit, MI
6. 69.2% in Omaha, NE
7. 69.2% in Salt Lake City, UT
8. 69.1% in Minneapolis, MN
9. 68.9% in Allentown, PA
10. 68.7% in Birmingham, AL

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How Important Are Foreign-Born Workers to IT?

Foreign-born workers are a large share of the information technology (IT) labor force in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics examines just how large, particularly in what it calls "creative IT professions," which it defines as computer scientists and systems analysts, network systems analysts, web developers, computer programmers, software developers, and computer hardware engineers. The BLS analysis begins with the big picture—the foreign-born share of the labor force as a whole, then focuses on the foreign-born share of all IT jobs, and finally on the foreign-born share of creative IT jobs. Here are the findings...

  • Foreign-born workers accounted for 17 percent of the total U.S. labor force in 2014 (up from 7 percent in 1980). 
  • Foreign-born workers accounted for 24 percent of workers in all IT occupations in 2014 (up from 7 percent in 1980). 
  • Foreign-born workers accounted for 33 percent of workers in creative IT occupations (up from 8 percent in 1980).

The BLS analysis goes even deeper, drilling down to the foreign-born share of workers in creative IT occupations in what it calls "innovation-leading metropolitan areas," defined as the five metros with the most patents in computer software and hardware—San Jose, Seattle, Austin, Portland (Oregon); and Raleigh. In these metros, fully 53 percent of workers in creative IT jobs are foreign-born (up from 11 percent in 1980). In Silicon Valley specifically, the foreign-born share is an enormous 71 percent (up from 15 percent in 1980).

The dominance of foreign-born workers in Silicon Valley might explain the perception that American technological success is dependent on the foreign-born, suggests the BLS report. "Outside the United States, there is a strong perception that fortunes of many successful U.S. companies rest almost exclusively on foreign-born labor, with little credit given to the native-born labor force," says the report. But the facts say otherwise. Yes, foreign-born workers are a big part of the IT labor force, but the perception that they dominate the labor force may be "mostly due to Silicon Valley trends."

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trends among Native- and Foreign-Origin Workers in U.S. Computer Industries

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Residents of Rural Areas Can Be Hard to Count

The rural population has been shrinking since 2010. This makes it all the more important that the 2020 census counts every rural resident. Areas with shrinking populations not only lose political representation, but also funding for important programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and housing assistance. Getting a complete count in rural areas will be difficult, reports demographer William O'Hare, a visiting fellow at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute. His research brief for the Institute details the difficulties of counting rural populations.

A good place to start exploring the problems likely to be encountered by the 2020 census is to examine what happened in the 2010 census, says O'Hare. He takes a look at hard-to-count counties in 2010 to determine how many were rural (defined in his study as nonmetropolitan) and also their characteristics. In total, there were 316 hard-to-count counties in the U.S. in 2010, defined as those with a mail return rate of less than 73 percent. Of the 316 counties, fully 251 (79 percent) were rural. About one-quarter of the hard-to-count areas were rural minority-majority counties, where Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or American Indians were the majority of the population: 34 were majority Black counties, including 16 in Mississippi; 37 were majority Hispanic counties, including 20 in Texas; 12 were majority American Indian/Alaskan Native; and 1 was majority Asian. Other hard-to-count rural areas are in Appalachia and in the Southwest, home to many migrant/seasonal farm workers.

To further complicate matters, the 2020 census will be the first to rely primarily on responses via the internet. But a substantial 21 percent of households in rural areas do not have internet access and will have the option to answer by mail, further complicating the process. With all of these issues, "It is important that rural scholars, rural leaders, and rural advocates monitor Census Bureau funding and Census planning over the next two years to make sure there are adequate resources for a complete and accurate count of all rural residents," O'Hare concludes.

Source: Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire, 2020 Census Faces Challenges in Rural America

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Brewery Explosion

Pity the thirsty masses of 2006. Back then, there were only 398 breweries in the entire United States. Today, there are 2,843, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—a more than seven-fold increase. In 2006, no state had more than 50 breweries. Today, 15 states have more than 50 and 10 states have more than 100. California has the most—333 in 2016, up from just 45 in 2006. Colorado is second with 204 breweries, up from 22 in 2006.

Not only are more breweries dotting the landscape, but there are also more brewery workers than ever before. After falling slightly between 2006 and 2010 as a consequence of the Great Recession, brewery employment surged 61 percent between 2010 and 2016 to more than 40,000. The rise in brewery employment accounted for more than half the employment growth in the U.S. beverage manufacturing industry during those years, the BLS reports.

Unfortunately, the trend in the average weekly wage for those working at breweries is not as impressive as brewery growth. Between 2006 and 2016, the average fell 25 percent to $969.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spotlight on Statistics, Industry on Tap: Breweries

Monday, December 25, 2017

Average Household Spends $1,521 on Gifts for Others

Americans are spending less on gifts for people in other households than they once did. The $1,521 spent by the average household on gifts for others in 2016, including cash gifts, was 18 percent less than the $1,861 of 2006, after adjusting for inflation, and 21 percent less than in 2000.

Average spending on gifts for people in other households, 2000 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars)
2016: $1,521
2010: $1,572
2006: $1,861
2000: $1,922

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Friday, December 22, 2017

Life Expectancy Declines, Again

Big, big news: Life expectancy at birth fell for the second year in a row in 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This is the first two-year life expectancy decline since flu outbreaks in 1962 and 1963 drove life expectancy down, according to NCHS. Life expectancy at birth in 2016 was 78.6 years, 0.1 year less than in 2015. Life expectancy at birth peaked at 78.9 years in 2014.

Drug overdose deaths are behind the life expectancy decline. There were 63,632 overdose deaths in 2016—21 percent (!) more than in 2015. The increase in drug overdose deaths has managed to rearrange the list of leading causes of death. "Unintentional injuries," which includes most drug overdose deaths, is now the 3rd leading cause of death. It was 4th in 2015.

Drug overdose deaths are highest among 25-to-54-year-olds and uncommon among people aged 65 or older. In fact, life expectancy at age 65 increased by 0.1 years in 2016 to 19.4 years as death rates from heart disease and cancer declined.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2016 and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2016

Thursday, December 21, 2017

7 of the 10 Fastest-Growing States Are in the West

Seven of the 10 fastest-growing states between 2016 and 2017 were in the West, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates. Those seven are Idaho (up 2.2 percent), Nevada (2.0 percent), Utah (1.9 percent), Washington (1.7 percent), Arizona (1.6 percent), Colorado (1.4 percent), and Oregon (1.4 percent). Outside the West, Florida (1.6 percent), Texas (1.4 percent), and the District of Columbia (1.4 percent) also made the top-10 list.

Looking at the bigger picture, these are the fastest-growing states since 2010...

Fastest-growing states, 2010 to 2017
1. District of Columbia: 14.7%
2. Texas: 12.1%
3. North Dakota 12.0%
4. Utah: 11.8%
5. Florida: 11.3%
6. Colorado: 11.1%
7. Nevada: 10.9%
8. Washington: 9.9%
9. Arizona: 9.5%
10. Idaho: 9.3%

Nine of the 10 fastest-growing states between 2010 and 2017 are also on the 2016–17 list. North Dakota is the only state that dropped off the list. North Dakota ranked third in growth between 2010 and 2017, but between 2016 and 2017 it was one of eight states that lost population. The other losing states were Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Source: Census Bureau, State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Among Men, Higher Earnings = Wedding Bells

The more men earn, the more likely they're married, according to Census Bureau data. The percentage of all men who are currently married ranges from a low of 37 percent for those with earnings below $15,000 to a high of 79 percent for those earning $100,000 or more. The pattern is the same in every age group of men from 25 to 64. These are the numbers for men aged 30 to 34...

Percent of men aged 30 to 34 who are married by personal earnings, 2017
Less than $15,000: 26%
$15,000 to $24,999: 40%
$25,000 to $39,999: 42%
$40,000 to $74,999: 55%
$75,000 to $99,999: 66%
$100,000 or more: 67%

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Poor Mental Health Is Common among Young Adults

On how many days in the past month has your mental health not been good? When asked that question, the 55 percent majority of the public answers "none," according to the General Social Survey—their mental health is just fine, thank you. But a substantial 45 percent of Americans say their mental health has not been good on one or more days in the past month.

There are few differences in the percentage with poor mental health by race and Hispanic origin or education. But there are differences by sex: 49 percent of women versus a smaller 39 percent of men say their mental health has not been good on at least one day in the past month. There are even bigger differences by generation, with Millennials most likely to experience poor mental health...

One or more days of poor mental health in past month
Millennials (22 to 39): 48%
Gen Xers (40 to 51): 46%
Boomers (52 to 70): 41%
Older (71 or older): 36%

Similarly, 48 percent of Millennials admit to having ever felt like they were going to have a nervous breakdown, according to another question on the General Social Survey—a higher percentage than in any other generation. Among the oldest Americans, only 14 percent say they have ever felt like they were on the brink of a breakdown.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Monday, December 18, 2017

90% of Americans Are High School Graduates

The percentage of Americans aged 25 or older who have completed high school reached an all-time high of 90 percent in 2017, reports the Census Bureau, and the percentage with a bachelor's degree hit a high of 34 percent. The share of the population with a bachelor's degree today exceeds the share of the population with a high school diploma in 1950...

Percentage of Americans aged 25 or older with a high school diploma
2017: 90%
2010: 87%
2000: 84%
1990: 78%
1980: 69%
1970: 55%
1960: 41%
1950: 33%
1940: 24%

Source: Census Bureau, High School Completion Rate is Highest in U.S. History and CPS Historical Time Series Tables

Friday, December 15, 2017

Alexa, Listen to Me

Despite this being early days for digital voice assistants, they are already remarkably popular. Nearly half of Americans have used them, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The largest share of the public has used a digital voice assistant on their smartphone (42 percent), while only 8 percent have used a stand-alone device such as an Amazon Echo (Alexa). Not surprisingly, digital voice assistants are more popular among younger adults...

Have ever used a digital voice assistant
Total public: 46%
Under aged 50: 55%
Aged 50-plus: 37%

Source: Pew Research Center, Nearly Half of Americans Use Digital Voice Assistants, Mostly on Their Smartphones

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New Generation Table Reveals Spending Patterns

The World War II generation gets smaller by the day. This generation, defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as people born in 1927 or earlier, heads fewer than 2 percent of the nation's households. Despite its small size, the BLS has revealed its characteristics and spending patterns, along with those of younger generations, in a new standard table in the Consumer Expenditure Survey's annual series...

World War II generation (1927 or earlier): Still alive and kicking, the average householder in this generation is 91 years old. Two-thirds are women. Fifty-eight percent own a vehicle. They spent $35,344 in 2016, including $1,095 on eating out and $1,223 on entertainment. 

Silent generation (1928 to 1945): With an average age of 77, households headed by a member of the Silent generation spent $41,763 in 2016. The 58 percent majority of Silent generation householders are women, and 84 percent own a vehicle. They spend slightly more on cell phone than landline service, and they are the biggest spenders on reading material. 

Baby-boom generation (1946 to 1964): Boomers are still the largest generation of householders, accounting for 35 percent of the total. The average Boomer householder is 60 years old and owns an average of 2.1 vehicles. Forty percent are homeowners with a mortgage, and another 36 percent own their home free and clear. Boomer households spent an average of $61,204 in 2016.

Generation X (1965 to 1980): Gen Xers, with an average age of 43, are the biggest spenders. The average Gen X household spent $68,532 in 2016. Gen Xers spend more on mortgage interest than any other generation—$4,526 per year, nearly 7 percent of their total spending. They are also the biggest spenders on education because many have children in college and some are still paying off student loans.

Millennials (1981 or later): The 30 million households headed by Millennials, with an average age of 28, account for 23 percent of total households—less than Generation X's 27 percent share. Only 33 percent of Millennial households own their home. This generation is less likely to own a vehicle (83 percent) than the Silent generation (84 percent). On average, Millennial households spent $48,576 in 2016. Nearly half of their food spending (47 percent) is devoted to eating out. In 2016, they spent $1,110 on cell phone service and just $64 on reading material. 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Work Life Expectancy at Age 50

How many years of work life remain for men and women at age 50? That depends on their educational attainment, according to a study published in Demography. Those with a college degree have a significantly longer work life expectancy than those with no more than a high school diploma, the researchers found. For Black men, having a college degree more than doubles their work life expectancy at age 50. Here are the results by highest level of education...

Black men
High school diploma: 8.2 years
College degree: 17.6 years

Black women
High school diploma: 9.9 years
College degree: 10.3 years

Hispanic men
High school diploma: 11.0 years
College degree: 14.3 years

Hispanic women
High school diploma: 11.2 years
College degree: 12.9 years

Non-Hispanic white men
High school diploma: 13.2 years
College degree: 16.3 years

Non-Hispanic white women
High school diploma: 11.5 years
College degree: 14.4 years

Some of the difference in work life expectancy by education is due to higher mortality rates among the less educated, say the researchers. But most is "attributable to weaker labor force attachment among the less-educated."

Source: Demography, Working Life Expectancy at Age 50 in the United States and the Impact of the Great Recession

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why Do the Educated Live Longer?

The better educated you are, the longer you are likely to live. What are the reasons for the educational disparity in mortality? A study published in the journal Demographic Research investigated the contribution of one factor: the greater prevalence of obesity among the less educated.

Previous studies have shown obesity to have little effect on differences in life expectancy by educational attainment, but researcher Yana C. Vierboom takes issue with those studies because their measure of obesity is body mass index (BMI) at the time of the survey. This introduces bias into the results, says Vierboom, "given that less educated people are more likely to contract illnesses that induce weight loss." Instead, lifetime maximum BMI is a better measure of obesity.

Using lifetime maximum BMI, Vierboom finds obesity to be an important contributor to the educational disparity in mortality. "Differences in maximum BMI were associated with between 10.3% and 12% of mortality differences between college graduates and all others," she says. Among nonsmokers, between 18.4% and 27.6% of mortality differences between college graduates and all others were associated with differences in maximum BMI."

Source: Demographic Research, The Contribution of Differences in Adiposity to Educational Disparities in Mortality in the United States

Monday, December 11, 2017

How Many Move after They Retire?

What percentage of older Americans move after they retire? According to a Transamerica survey, a substantial 39 percent moved. The single biggest reason retirees moved was to downsize (34 percent), followed by to reduce expenses (29 percent), to start a new chapter in life (28 percent), and to be closer to family and friends (27 percent). Multiple responses to this question were allowed.

Among workers aged 50 or older, expectations about moving in retirement are in line with the experiences of retirees. The 57 percent majority of workers aged 50-plus would prefer to stay in their current home when they retire, 26 percent would like to move and 17 percent are unsure.

Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, The Current State of Retirement: Pre-Retiree Expectations and Retiree Realities

Friday, December 08, 2017

Who Is Manly, Who Is Not?

Nearly one-third of American men and women regard themselves as "very masculine" or "very feminine," according to a Pew Research Center survey. But attitudes vary by generation. Millennials are less likely than older Americans to regard themselves as very masculine or very feminine, and the differences are much bigger by generation among women...

Percent of men saying they are "very masculine"
Total men: 31%
Millennials: 24%
Gen Xers: 36%
Boomers: 34%
Older: 30%

Percent of women saying they are "very feminine"
Total women: 32%
Millennials: 19%
Gen Xers: 32%
Boomers: 36%
Older: 53%

Education also divides the public on the issue of manliness (and womanliness). Among men with a bachelor's degree or more education, only 22 percent regard themselves as very masculine compared with 37 percent of those who went no further than high school. The comparable figures for women are 24 and 38 percent, respectively.

Source: Pew Research Center, On Gender Differences, No Consensus on Nature vs. Nurture

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Divided Over the National Anthem

Should professional athletes be required to stand during the national anthem? Americans are divided on the issue, according to PRRI's 2017 American Values Survey. Overall, the 55 percent majority of the public thinks athletes should be required to stand, but attitudes differ by demographic characteristic and political affiliation...

Professional athletes should be required to stand during national anthem (% who agree)
Total aged 18-plus: 55%

Blacks: 23%
Hispanics: 60%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 61%

Non-Hispanic Whites with college degree: 47%
Non-Hispanic Whites without college degree: 69%

Democrats: 32%
Republicans: 86%

Aged 18 to 29: 43%
Aged 65-plus: 68%

Source: PRRI, One Nation, Divided, Under Trump: Findings from the 2017 American Values Survey

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Years of Healthy Grandparenthood Are Expanding

With Millennials delaying marriage and childbearing longer than any previous generation, many wannabe grandparents are experiencing FOMO—fear of missing out. Will they still be around—and able to enjoy—their grandchildren when they finally arrive? A study in Demography should help ease their fear. Despite delayed childbearing, expected years of healthy grandparenthood are rising.

Using data from several surveys including the Health and Retirement Study, researchers Rachel Margolis and Laura Wright examined grandparenthood and health status over time. They wanted to determine whether the years of healthy grandparenthood, "one of the most satisfying parts of older age," are expanding or contracting as the dueling forces of later childbearing and longer life expectancy interact.

The answer: the best part of old age is expanding. Expected years of healthy grandparenthood for Americans at age 50 grew significantly between 1992–94 and 2010. For men, years of healthy grandparenthood grew from 13.2 to 15.8 (a gain of 2.6 years). For women they climbed from 15.9 to 18.9 (a gain of 3.0 years). The proportion of grandparenthood spent healthy also increased during the time period, rising from 71 to 73 percent for men and from 69 to 74 percent for women.

Healthy grandparenthood is a big deal not just because it's fun. It is a time when elders provide important transfers to younger family members, the researchers note—such as providing child care. In contrast, "unhealthy grandparenthood represents a period when the middle generation may be more likely to provide care upward," say the researchers.

Source: Demography, Healthy Grandparenthood: How Long Is It, and How Has It Changed?

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

How Siblings Affect Time Use

Nearly 80 percent of children under age 18 live with siblings, according to the Census Bureau. But no one has examined how the presence of siblings affects what children do on an average day—until now. A study published in Demographic Research uses time diary data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics' Child Development Supplement to compare the time use of children with and without siblings at home. This is important, say the study's authors, because "the sibling relationship is typically the longest-lasting family relationship in an individual's life." Here are some of the most important differences in time use between children with and without siblings in the home...
  • Children without siblings spend more of their discretionary time engaged with no one else—16 hours per week versus 12 hours for children with siblings.
  • Children without siblings spend more of their time engaged with parents and no one else—22 hours per week versus 6 hours for children with siblings.
  • Children with siblings spend more time engaged with others but not their parents—27 hours per week versus 17 hours for children without siblings.
  • Children with siblings spend more time engaged with parents and others at the same time—15 hours per week versus 5 hours for children without siblings. 
"Children with coresident siblings spend the majority of their discretionary time engaged in activities with their siblings, highlighting the important role that siblings can play in each other's lives," the researchers conclude.

Source: Demographic Research, Siblings and Children's Time Use in the United States

Monday, December 04, 2017

Young People Do Not Share Our Values!

That's the opinion of the great majority of Americans aged 18 or older, according to a PRRI survey. When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, "Most young people today do not share the same values I do," the 75 percent majority of the public completely (32 percent) or mostly (43 percent) agrees.

This "you kids get off my lawn!" attitude is shared by every race and Hispanic origin group and by both Democrats and Republicans...

"Most young people today do not share the same values I do" (percent agreeing)
Total public: 75%

Blacks: 85%
Hispanics: 73%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 76%

Republicans: 87%
Democrats: 64%

Source: PRRI, Attitudes on Child and Family Wellbeing: National and Southeast/Southwest Perspectives

Friday, December 01, 2017

Forty Years of Working Mothers

Most women with preschoolers are in the labor force. This is how the percentage has grown over the past four decades...

Labor force participation rate of women with children under age 6
2016: 65.3%
2006: 63.0%
1996: 62.3%
1986: 54.4%
1976: 40.1%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Spending on "Taxi Fares" Has Soared since 2010

Ride sharing has exploded since Uber rolled out in 2011. According to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, average household spending on what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls "taxi fares and limousine services" climbed 47 percent between 2010 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation. The Uber effect is especially strong among Millennials...

Percent change in average household spending on "taxi fares," 2010 to 2016
Under age 25: –10%
Aged 25 to 34: +156%
Aged 35 to 44: +97%
Aged 45 to 54: +17%
Aged 55 to 64: –4%
Aged 65-plus: +17%

Drilling down to spending on "taxi fares" in home city only (excluding taxi fares on trips) and the increase in average household spending is even greater—55 percent overall and 181 percent for householders aged 25 to 34.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Living Arrangements of Young Adults: 1967–2017

The living arrangements of 25-to-34-year-olds have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. In 1967, more than 80 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds lived with a spouse. In 2017, no single living arrangement accounts for the majority of the age group...

Living arrangements of men aged 25 to 34
36.7% live with a spouse in 2017, down from 82.6% in 1967
18.3% are the child of the householder, double the 9.1% of 1967
14.0% live with a partner, up from just 0.3% in 1967
11.4% live alone, three times the 3.7% of 1967
  9.9% live with nonrelatives, up from 1.4% in 1967
  9.7% live with other relatives, up from 2.9% in 1967

Living arrangements of women aged 25 to 34
45.1% live with a spouse in 2017, down from 82.7% in 1967
15.3% live with other relatives, up from 8.5% in 1967
14.1% live with a partner, up from just 0.2% in 1967
11.5% are the child of the householder, more than double the 5.3% of 1967
  8.8% live alone, nearly four times the 2.3% of 1967
  5.2% live with nonrelatives, up from 1.0% in 1967

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Living Arrangements of Adults

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nearly 1/3 of Accidental Deaths are Poisonings

More than 146,000 Americans died from "accidents (unintentional injuries)" in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, making it the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly one-third of accidental deaths are due to unintentional poisoning—mostly drug overdoses. Unintentional poisoning has been the leading mechanism of accidental death since 2011, reports NCHS.

Number (and percent distribution) of accidental deaths by mechanism in 2015
Total accidental deaths: 146,571
Deaths from poisoning: 47,478 (32%)
Deaths from motor vehicles: 36,161 (25%)
Deaths from falls: 33,381 (23%)
Deaths due to other mechanisms: 29,551 (20%)

If unintentional poisoning were a separate cause of death, it would rank 10th among the leading causes of death in the United States.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Deaths: Final Data for 2015

Monday, November 27, 2017

Real Weight Is Rising. So Is Ideal

Americans are putting on the pounds, but that's ok with them because their "ideal" weight is also rising, according to a Gallup Survey. "One apparent way Americans cope with the knowledge they are gaining weight and the potential health problems this entails is to adjust their idea of what they should weigh," reports Gallup.

In the past decade, the average man has gained two pounds and now weighs 195. The average woman has gained three pounds and now weighs 158. (These are self-reported rather than measured weights and likely to be underestimates.) For both men and women, "ideal" weight climbed four pounds over the past decade—to 183 for men and 140 for women.

As men and women have gained weight, fewer regard themselves as overweight. Only 35 percent of men consider themselves to be overweight, down from 38 percent 10 years ago. Forty percent of women consider themselves overweight today, down from 45 percent a decade ago. "Until these trends can be reversed...the weight problem that plagues the U.S. is not going away," concludes Gallup.

Source: Gallup, Americans Weigh More but Shun "Overweight" Label

Friday, November 24, 2017

Online Is Close to Top Venue for Christmas Shopping

Ask Americans where they will do their Christmas shopping, and the single most popular venue is (still) the department store, according to a Gallup survey. Fully 72 percent of the public reports being very/somewhat likely to shop at a department store for Christmas gifts. Department stores have been the number-one venue since Gallup first asked this question in 1998.

Close behind department stores and tied for second place with discount stores is online shopping: 65 percent of the public says it is very/somewhat likely to shop for Christmas gifts online. At the rate online shopping is growing, it will surpass department stores the next time Gallup asks this question...

Very/somewhat likely to shop online for Christmas gifts
2017: 65%
2013: 53%
2008: 43%
2002: 29%
1998: 10%

Young adults are most likely to say they are very/somewhat likely to shop online for Christmas (76 percent). People aged 65 or older are least likely (47 percent).

Source: Gallup, Holiday Spending Plans: Online Up, Discount Stores Down

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Meal Is More Work than Play

Thanksgiving is unique in more ways than turkey. It is the only holiday on which Americans spend less time enjoying their meal than they do preparing the meal and cleaning up afterwards.

Time use on Thanksgiving
Minutes spent eating and drinking: 88
Minutes spent on meal preparation and cleanup: 127

Thanksgiving stands apart from holidays in general, when the average person spends just 46 minutes preparing and cleaning up meals and a larger 73 minutes enjoying their efforts.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Thanksgiving Is a Day for Food, and Black Friday Is a Day for Nonfood Shopping

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Start-Up Firms Boost Employment

If you've ever wondered how many startup firms are in the United States, it's your lucky day because the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts them: in 2017, there were 415,226 startups. The BLS defines startups as firms that are no more than 1 year old. The annual number of startups has climbed 27 percent since hitting a low in 2010. But the 2017 number is still 9 percent below the 2006 peak...

Number of startup firms
2017: 415,226
2010: 326,091 (low)
2006: 457,223 (high)
2000: 417,515
1994: 403,747 (start of data series)

In every year since 1994, startups have accounted for most job growth. Of the 2.1 million net increase in jobs in 2017, startups accounted 1.7 million—or 84 percent of the total.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Gains among Startup Firms in 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

College Graduates in the Labor Force, 1970 to 2016

The educational attainment of American workers has soared since the 1970s, when well-educated Boomers began pouring into the labor force. Among workers aged 25 to 64 in 1970, fully 36 percent had not even graduated from high school. Only 14 percent had four or more years of college. By 2016, the percentage of workers without a high school diploma had plummeted to 8 percent, and the percentage with a bachelor's degree or more education had climbed to 39 percent.

The gains in educational attainment have been especially large for women. In 1970, female workers were less likely than male workers to have four or more years of college. By 2016, they were far more likely than men to be college graduates...

Women aged 25 to 64 in labor force by educational attainment in 2016 (and 1970)
Not a high school graduate: 6.0% (33.5%)
High school graduate only: 22.9% (44.3%)
Some college/assoc. degree: 29.6% (10.9%)
Bachelor's degree or more: 41.6% (11.2%)

Men aged 25 to 64 in labor force by educational attainment in 2016 (and 1970)
Not a high school graduate: 9.3% (37.5%)
High school graduate only: 28.6% (34.5%)
Some college/assoc. degree: 25.9% (12.2%)
Bachelor's degree or more: 36.2% (15.7%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook

Monday, November 20, 2017

Biggest Spending Declines, 2006 to 2016

Average household spending is finally catching up to what it used to be. In 2016, the average household spent $57,311—just 0.5 percent less than it spent in 2006 (the year average household spending peaked), after adjusting for inflation. But some categories are well below their 2006 level. Here are some of the steepest declines during the decade...

–54 percent: landline telephone service
–42 percent: clothes for children under age 2
–35 percent: mortgage interest
–28 percent: gasoline
–28 percent: postage and stationery
–15 percent: reading material

At the other extreme, average household spending has surged in a handful of categories. Some of the categories with the biggest increases in spending during the past decade are cell phone service (up 80 percent), pets (55 percent), and rent (31 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Friday, November 17, 2017

19 Million Felons in the United States

There were 19 million current or former felons in the United States in 2010—nearly four times the 5 million of 1980, according to a study published in the journal Demography. "Development of the population with felony convictions since 1980 has been one of widespread, racialized growth," reports the study.

Felons (current or former) accounted for 8 percent of the adult population in 2010—more than double the 3 percent of 1980, according to the analysis. Among African Americans, the share grew from 8 percent in 1980 to 23 percent in 2010. "Depending on the state," say the researchers, "between 1 in 10 and 1 in 3 African American adults are confronting the daily reality of limited citizenship rights, diminished job prospects, and stigmatization." Among Black men, 33 percent had a felony conviction as of 2010, up from 13 percent in 1980. The only bit of good news is that the 33 percent of 2010 was slightly lower than the 36 percent of 2000.

"The United States' decades-long 'grand experiment' with mass incarceration may be at a crossroads," conclude the researchers, "but at current rates of decline, some estimate it would take 80 years to return to 1980 levels nationwide."

Source: Demography, Volume 54, Issue 5, The Growth, Scope, and Spatial Distribution of People with Felony Records in the United States, 1948–2010, ($39.95)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Another New Low in 2017: Households with Children

Only 27.2 percent of the nation's households include children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau—a record low. The decline in the percentage of households with children has been ongoing for decades. Here is the trend since 1960...

Households with own children under age 18
2017: 27.2%
2010: 30.0%
2000: 33.0%
1990: 34.6%
1980: 38.4%
1970: 45.4%
1960: 48.7%

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mobility Rate Falls to New Low in 2017

The geographic mobility rate fell to a new all-time low in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. Only 11.0 percent of U.S. residents aged 1 or older as of March 2017 had moved in the previous 12 months. Not since 1960 have so few people moved (35 million).

Among people living in owned homes, 5.5 percent moved from one house to another between 2016 and 2017, above the all-time low of 4.7 percent recorded in 2011 and 2012. Among people living in rented homes, the mobility rate fell to a new all-time low of 21.7 percent in 2017.

Mobility rate in 2017
Total US: 11.0%
Owners: 5.5%
Renters: 21.7% 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2012 Square Feet in Average American Home

The nation's 118 million occupied housing units contain a total of 238 billion square feet of space, according to the Energy Information Administration's 2015 Residential Energy Consumption survey. That's an average of 2,012 square feet per home. The average size of occupied housing units varies by a number of factors, including...

Region: The smallest homes (1,685 square feet, on average) are in the Pacific states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington). The largest homes (2,337 square feet) are in the West North Central states (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota).

Climate: The smallest homes are in mixed dry/hot dry climates (1,665 square feet). The largest homes are in very cold/cold climates (2,239 square feet).

Year built: The smallest homes were built in the 1950s (1,866 square feet). The largest homes were built during the housing bubble—from 2000 to 2009 (2,381 square feet).

Household income: The average size of homes rises with household income. The smallest homes are those whose residents have a household income below $20,000 (1,325 square feet). The largest homes are those whose residents have a household income of $140,000 or more (3,051 square feet). On a per capita basis, the poorest households have 602 square feet per person and the richest households have 1,018.

Source: Energy Information Administration, 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Monday, November 13, 2017

Evolution: Humans vs. Elephants

Americans are more likely to say they believe in evolution when they are asked about elephants than about humans, according to the 2016 General Social Survey. Take a look at how the public responded to these two true-or-false questions on the survey...

"Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals" 
Percent saying statement is true: 59%
Percent saying statement is false: 41%

"Elephants, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals"
Percent saying statement is true: 86%
Percent saying statement is false: 14%

The difference in belief is especially large in the South, where 81 percent believe in evolution for elephants but only 44 percent for humans—a 37 percentage-point gap. The gap is only 8 percentage points in the Northeast, where 86 percent believe in elephant evolution and 78 percent in human.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, November 10, 2017

Interracial Violence Has Declined

Of the 5.8 million violent victimizations that occurred annually in the 2012–15 time period, the 51 percent majority were intraracial, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, meaning both victim and offender were of the same race or Hispanic origin. The BJS defines violent victimization as aggravated or simple assault, rape or sexual assault, and robbery. The data on these victimizations come from the BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey.

Among White victims responding to the survey, 57 percent reported that the offender was White. Among Black victims, 63 percent said the offender was Black. Among Hispanic victims, the 40 percent plurality said the offender was Hispanic. Both White and Black intraracial violence has declined steeply over the past two decades (there is no historical data for Hispanics). Between 1994 and 2015, the annual rate of White-on-White violence fell 79 percent, from 52.5 to 10.8 victimizations per 1,000 White persons. The rate of Black-on-Black violence fell 78 percent, from 66.6 to 14.5 victimizations per 1,000 Black persons.

The rate of interracial violent victimization—meaning victim and offender were of a different race or Hispanic origin—also fell steeply during those years. The rate of White-on-Black violence dropped 74 percent, from 10.2 to 2.6 victimizations per 1,000 Black persons. The rate of Black-on-White violence fell 80 percent, from 14.9 to 3.0 victimizations per 1,000 White persons.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012–15

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Dying Slowly from Serious Health Conditions

Dying has changed. It has become a slow process rather than a sudden event, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Due to medical advances and the ability to manage chronic conditions in older adults, more people are living longer and, rather than dying from acute episodes of illness, they are dying after long periods of sickness and declining health," says Kaiser. After surveying a nationally representative sample of adults aged 18 or older, Kaiser finds most Americans (74 percent) are aware of this fact.

What are the primary conditions that cause this slow death? The Kaiser survey probed a large subset of its survey sample—respondents aged 65 or older who are experiencing a serious illness that has resulted in functional limitations or who have been diagnosed with specific conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or dementia. Also included in this subset were family members whose loved ones aged 65 or older are (or were) experiencing serious illness (prior to their death). For the seriously ill, these were the most commonly diagnosed conditions (many had more than one)...

52% had dementia
47% had heart problems/stroke
35% had diabetes
28% had mental health problems (anxiety, depression)
26% had lung problems (asthma, emphysema, COPD)
24% had cancer
14% had chronic kidney disease or kidney failure

The prolonged process of dying places great demands on the health care system. Most Americans think the system comes up short. The 52 percent majority of the public says the health care provided to older people with serious health conditions is only fair or poor. To track the evolution of attitudes and policies to cope with serious illness in late life, Kaiser plans more surveys in the future.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, Serious Illness in Late Life: The Public's Views and Experience

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Teens Are Drinking Less Soda

Americans are spending less on soda than they once did. In 2016, the average household spent $136 on carbonated beverages purchased at grocery stores, down from $152 in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. Households are spending less because people are drinking less, especially those known to drink the most—teenagers.

Fewer teens are drinking soda daily, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The YRBSS is the CDC's annual survey of students in 9th through 12th grade in states and metropolitan areas across the country, collecting information on teen health behaviors including smoking, drinking, sexual activity, weight, and diet. In 2015, just 20 percent of 9th through 12th graders drank at least one regular soda every day in the past seven days, down from 34 percent in 2007. Daily soda consumption ranges from a low of 12 percent among teens in Connecticut to a high of 32 percent among teens in Kentucky. Although the Kentucky figure is the highest among states in 2015, it's lower than it once was. In 2007, more than 40 percent of Kentucky teens drank a soda every day.

Source: CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Who Has Trouble Staying Warm?

Among the nation's 118 million households, a substantial 31 percent reported having problems paying their energy bills or maintaining adequate heating and/or cooling in their home in 2015, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The survey defined energy insecurity as experiencing at least one of five heating/cooling problems—reducing or forgoing food or medicine to pay energy costs; leaving the home at an unhealthy temperature; receiving a disconnect or delivery stop notice; unable to use heating equipment; or unable to use cooling equipment.

Most low-income households are energy insecure. Energy insecurity is much greater among low-income Americans. Among households with incomes below $20,000, the 51 percent majority reported being energy insecure in 2015—that is, they experienced at least one of the five problems. The figure fell to 34 percent among households with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000, which is close to the national median. Among households with incomes of $140,000 or more, only 8 percent reported energy insecurity.

Climate doesn't matter. Among households located in very cold/cold climates, 30 percent reported energy insecurity. Among those in hot/humid climates, 34 percent reported energy insecurity.

Insulation cuts the problem in half. Among those who report that their home is well insulated, only 23 are energy insecure. Among those whose homes are poorly insulated, 49 percent are energy insecure.

Mobile homes are the worst. Among those who live in single-family detached homes, 27 percent report being energy insecure. The figure is about the same for those in apartment buildings with five or more units (30 percent). But for those in smaller apartment buildings of two to four units, a much larger 46 percent are energy insecure. For mobile homes, the figure is a whopping 59 percent.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey, One in Three U.S. Households Faced Challenges in Paying Energy Bills in 2015

Monday, November 06, 2017

Among Millennials, Whites Stand Apart

White Millennials are outliers—that's the finding of the latest GenForward survey of Americans aged 18 to 34. The survey probed the age group's attitudes about racial identity, race relations, and racial politics. "Our survey clearly outlines how whites are quickly becoming the outlier group in this generation," says the report. "No longer the baseline, norm, or default, white Millennials often, though not always, find themselves at odds with their peers of color."

Here is just one of many examples from the GenForward report, "The Woke Generation? Millennial Attitudes on Race in the US." When asked the question, "Do you personally see the Confederate flag more as a symbol of Southern pride or more as a symbol of racism," this is the percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds who answered "Southern Pride"...

Percent who believe Confederate flag is symbol of Southern Pride
Blacks: 16%
Asians: 25%
Hispanics: 29%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 55%

Note: For a detailed portrait of Millennials and other generations of Americans, see the all-new American Generations, available as a PDF for hardcopy from New Strategist Press.

Source: GenForward University of Chicago, October 2017 Report

Friday, November 03, 2017

Labor Force by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2026

Slowly but steadily, the labor force is becoming more diverse. The latest projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the non-Hispanic White share of the labor force falling from 63 to 58 percent between 2016 and 2026. The minority share of the labor force will climb from 37 to 42 percent. A decade from now, 21 percent of American workers will be Hispanic, 13 percent Black, and 7 percent Asian.

Numerical (and percent) change in labor force by race and Hispanic origin, 2016 to 2026
Asians: +2,647,000 (28%)
Blacks: +1,881,000 (10%)
Hispanics: +8,118,000 (30%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: –2,471,000 (–2%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Thursday, November 02, 2017

5.3 Million More Workers Aged 65-Plus

The number of workers aged 65 or older is projected to grow by an enormous 58 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to Bureau of Labor Force Statistics' projections. Older workers will account for the 51 percent majority of the overall 10.5 million increase in the labor force during the 2016-to-2026 decade.

Numerical (and percent) change in labor force by age 2016 to 2026
Under age 35: 1% (+633,000 workers)
Aged 35 to 64: 5% (+4.5 million workers)
Aged 65-plus: 58% (+5.3 million workers)

By 2026, one in three men and one in four women aged 65 to 74 is projected to be in the labor force. Among those aged 75 or older, labor force participation is projected to rise from 8 to 11 percent over the decade.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter 2017

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, third quarter 2017: 45.9%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 inched upward in the third quarter of 2017. The age group's 45.9 percent homeownership rate was higher than the record low of 44.6 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2017, but not significantly different from the third quarter 2016 rate. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds appears to have found a new normal in the mid-forties.  

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 third quarter of 2017 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 56.6 percent, well below the peak of 65.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent in the third quarter of 2017, a bit higher than the 63.5 percent of a year earlier, but the difference was not statistically significant. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Belief in the Paranormal

Only 25 percent of Americans do not believe in any of seven paranormal occurrences, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. "This means that nearly three-fourths of Americans do believe in something paranormal," reports Chapman University in its analysis of survey results. More than half the public (52 percent) believes places can be haunted by spirits. Twenty-six percent believe aliens have come to earth in modern times.

The characteristics most associated with paranormal beliefs include being highly religious, conservative, living in a rural area, and living on the West coast.

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Paranormal America 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Renters Would Like a Little Help

What is the biggest obstacle to buying a home today? According to a Fannie Mae survey, it's coming up with enough money for the down payment and closing costs—cited as a barrier to home buying by 45 percent of the nation's renters.

Most (82 percent) of today's renters expect to buy a home someday. But many just don't have the cash it takes to do so—unless they get financial help from their parents or other family members. Some renters think they can count on that help. Ten percent expect to receive financial assistance from their family when they buy a home, less than the 20 percent of current or former homeowners who say they received financial assistance from their parents/family members when they bought their home.

Many Americans plan to help out when the time comes. When asked whether they plan to help out financially when their children or other family members buy a home, a substantial 38 percent of respondents said yes and 16 percent had already done so. How important is this financial help? Among homeowners who received family help in the past, 25 percent said they could not have bought their home without it, and another 39 percent said it allowed them to buy a home sooner.

Source: Fannie Mae, National Housing Survey, Renters Report Future Home Buying Optimism, while Financial Assistance is Most Available to Populations with Higher Homeownership Rates

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fear of Extremists

Are you afraid of extremists, and if so which ones scare you the most? That's what the Chapman University Survey of American Fears explored with the question, "How afraid are you that the following groups are a threat to national security?"

The number-one feared group was Islamic extremists, with 61 percent of the public "afraid" or "very afraid" of their threat to national security. Number two on the list was white supremacists, feared by 51 percent. Some of the other groups feared by the public were extreme anti-immigrationists (34 percent), extreme anti-abortionists (31 percent), extreme environmentalists (21 percent), and extreme animal rightists (14 percent).

Politics are a big determinant of extremist fears. Fully 83 percent of strong Republicans fear Islamic extremists, much greater than the 42 percent who fear them among strong Democrats. Fully 74 percent of strong Democrats fear white supremacists versus only 36 percent of strong Republicans.

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017, Fear of Extremism and the Threat to National Security

Thursday, October 26, 2017

10 Fastest Growing Occupations, 2016 to 2026

Every two years the Bureau of Labor Statistics updates its employment, occupation, and industry projections for the decade ahead. The latest update has just been released. Here are the 10 occupations projected to grow the fastest between 2016 and 2026 and their 2016 median wage...

Fastest-growing occupations, 2016 to 2026 (and 2016 median wage)
105% increase in solar photovoltaic installers ($39,240)
96% increase in wind turbine service technicians ($52,260)
47% increase in home health aides ($22,600)
37% increase in personal care aides ($21,920)
37% increase in physician assistants ($101,480)
36% increase in nurse practitioners ($100,910)
33% increase in statisticians ($80,500)
31% increase in physical therapist assistants ($56,610)
30% increase in software developers, applications ($100,080)
29% increase in mathematicians ($105,810)

A shout-out is due the 11th fastest-growing occupation—bicycle repairers, their number expected to grow 29 percent in the next 10 years as bicycling surges in popularity. Median wage: $27,630.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections, Fastest Growing Occupations 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Paying Medical Expenses Out-of-Pocket

Americans incur $1.5 trillion in health care service expenses in a year's time—an average of $5,531 per person with expense, according to the government's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Those with medical expenses pay an average of $686 out-of-pocket—or 12.4 percent of the total. There are big differences in the out-of-pocket share of expense by type of service...

Percent of health care service expenses paid out-of-pocket
12.4% for all health care services 
2.6% for hospital inpatient services
5.9% for hospital outpatient services
6.6% for home health care services
9.0% for emergency room services
11.6% for physical/occupational therapist visits
11.8% for nurse/nurse practitioner visits
13.0% for physician visits
13.5% for physician assistant visits
13.9% for prescription drugs
35.6% for optometrist visits
35.7% for chiropractor visits
40.6% for dental visits
58.6% for orthodontist visits
60.9% for eyeglasses/contact lenses

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 2014 Expenditures Per Person by Health Care Service

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Debt Is Rising among Older Americans

Overall, 77 percent of American households were in debt in 2016—the same percentage as in 2007, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. Among the oldest Americans, however, debt has soared—rising from 31 percent who were in debt in 2007 to 50 percent in 2016. Indebtedness increased among householders aged 65 to 74 too, rising from 65.5 to 70.1 percent during those years. Among householders under age 65, indebtedness did not increase.

Mortgage debt more than doubled: The percentage of householders aged 75 or older with mortgage debt climbed from 11 to 23 percent between 2007 and 2016. In every other age group, the percentage with mortgage debt fell during those years.

Credit card debt grew: The percentage of householders aged 75 or older with an unpaid credit card balance rose from 19 to 26 percent between 2007 and 2016. Among householders aged 65 to 74, the figure also increased. Among householders under age 65, the percentage with credit card debt fell.

Vehicle debt more than doubled: The percentage of householders aged 75 or older with vehicle debt grew from 6 to 14 percent between 2007 and 2016. Vehicle debt also increased among householders aged 65 to 74, but fell for every other age group except 35 to 44.

Education debt more than quadrupled: Even education debt increased among householders aged 75 or older. Although education debt is uncommon in the age group, the 1.3 percent with this type of debt in 2016 was more than four times the 0.3 percent of 2007. The percentage of households with education debt increased in every age group between 2007 and 2016.

Not only are more older householders in debt, but the amount they owe has grown since 2007, after adjusting for inflation. The median amount of debt owed by householders aged 75 or older in 2016 ($20,600) was 36 percent greater than the amount owed by their counterparts in 2007.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances

Monday, October 23, 2017

Environmental Fears Climb into Top 10

Environmental fears, for the first time, rank among Americans' top-10 fears, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017. Fear of global warming/climate change is 8th on the list of 80 fears, with 48 percent of the public saying it is "afraid" or "very afraid." Water and air pollution also appear on the top-10 list. Environmental fears were heightened when the survey was fielded in May 2017, the Chapman analysis explains, because the Trump administration was threatening to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Fear of corrupt government officials is the number-one fear of 2017, as it was in 2016. Trumpcare is the second-biggest fear in 2017, frightening 55 percent of Americans. A smaller 34 percent fear Obamacare, which ranks 29th on the list of fears.

Top-10 fears, 2017 (percent "afraid" or "very afraid")
1. Corrupt government officials: 74.5%
2. American Healthcare Act/Trumpcare: 55.3%
3. Pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes: 53.1%
4. Pollution of drinking water: 50.4%
5. Not having enough money for future: 50.2%
6. High medical bills: 48.4%
7. U.S. will be involved in another world war: 48.4%
8. Global warming and climate change: 48.0%
9. North Korea using weapons: 47.5%
10. Air pollution: 44.9%

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears 2017, America's Top Fears 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Most Parents Are Very Satisfied with Child's School

Among the parents of the nation's school children in kindergarten through 12th grade, fully 60 percent are "very satisfied" with their child's school, according to a National Center for Education Statistics survey. The percentage of parents who are very satisfied declines as children grow older, from 69 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through 2nd grade to a smaller 54 percent of those with children in 9th through 12th grade. Here are the percentages of parents who are very satisfied with their child's school by type of school...

Percent of parents who are very satisfied with child's school by type of school
Public, assigned: 57%
Public, chosen: 65%
Private, religious: 78%
Private, nonreligious: 84%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who's Afraid of Being Shot?

Thirty-nine percent of Americans are very/somewhat worried that they or family members will become the victims of a mass shooting, according to a Gallup survey, nearly identical to the 38 percent who felt very/somewhat worried in 2015. There are big differences in the percentage who are very/somewhat worried by demographic characteristic...
  • 53% of women vs. 26% of men
  • 47% of people aged 18 to 34 vs. 33% of people aged 55 or older
  • 47% of people who do not own guns vs. 23% of gun owners 
  • 49% of Democrats vs. 27% of Republicans
The 63 percent majority of Democrats think new gun laws would reduce mass shootings by a great deal/moderate amount. Among Republicans, 71 percent say new gun laws would "not at all" reduce mass shootings. 

Source: Gallup, Four in 10 Americans Fear Being a Victim of a Mass Shooting

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dementia Risk for Men and Women

What is the risk of developing dementia among healthy 70-year-olds? A study published in Demography, determined the probability using data from the nationally representative and longitudinal Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study—a subsample of the Health and Retirement Study. Among 70-year-olds born in 1920, men had a 27 percent chance of developing dementia before death. Among their female counterparts, the probability was an even higher 35 percent.

But there's more. The probability of developing dementia is increasing as mortality rates at older ages decline, allowing more time for dementia to develop. In the 1940 birth cohort, men aged 70 had a 31 percent chance of developing dementia before death, and women 37 percent. For this cohort, the average 70-year-old man could expect to live 1.1 years with dementia, and the average woman 2.0 years.

"These estimates imply a larger need for individuals and families to plan for a life stage with dementia," concludes the study.

Source: Demography, Volume 54, Issue 5, Risk of Developing Dementia at Older Ages in the United States

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Retirement Savings Gap

Among typical working households with a 401(k)/IRA, the median balance in their plan(s) as they approach retirement is $135,000, according to the Center for Retirement Research's analysis of the Federal Reserve Board's 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. This is not enough to provide much financial support in retirement and is well below what they should have saved over the years, according to Center for Retirement Research calculations.

The CRR's calculations assume an individual has median earnings and contributes 6 percent of his/her salary to a 401(k)/IRA from age 25 in 1981 to age 60 in 2016, with a 50 percent employer match, a 50/50 stock/bond portfolio, and actual stock market returns over the time period. The accumulated total would be $364,000 in 2016. But after subtracting fees and the average leakage (cashing out) rate, retirement savings falls to $228,000. That's still a lot more than the actual amount ($135,000) in the 401(k)/IRA accounts of older households. What accounts for the gap? Failure to contribute, say the researchers.

"A number of factors contribute to low balances," conclude the researchers—"less than full participation, low contributions, high fees, and leakages." By fixing these problems, "outcomes could be greatly improved."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 401(k)/IRA Holdings in 2016: An Update from the SCF

Monday, October 16, 2017

Steep Drop in Republican Fans of Pro Football

Professional football remains the nation's most popular sport, but it's not as popular as it used to be. The 57 percent majority of American aged 18 or older say they are fans of pro football, according to a Gallup survey. But that's down by a full 10 percentage points from the 67 percent of 2012 (the last time Gallup asked the question). The decline has been especially steep among Republicans (–15 percentage points) and independents (–12 percentage points)...

Fans of professional football in 2017 (and 2012)
Democrats: 66% (69%)
Independents: 53% (65%)
Republicans: 55% (70%)

"It is uncertain how much the national anthem controversy has contributed to the decline in pro football fans compared with other controversies or factors," concludes Gallup.

Source: Gallup, Pro Football Losing Fans; Other Sports Holding Steady

Friday, October 13, 2017

Suicide Rate Highest in Nonmetro/Rural Areas

Yet another study has found a widening health gap between rural and urban areas. In an analysis of suicide rates by urban status over the past decade, the CDC finds much higher suicide rates in nonmetropolitan and rural areas than in metropolitan areas. To make matters worse, suicide rates are rising faster in the hinterlands than in the rest of the U.S.

In 2013–15, the suicide rate in nonmetro/rural areas (19.74 suicides per 100,000 population aged 10 or older) was 18 percent higher than the rate in medium/small metro areas (16.77), 32 percent higher than the national average (14.98), and 55 percent higher than the rate in large metropolitan areas (12.72). Since 2001–03, the suicide rate has climbed across the nation, but nowhere more so than in nonmetropolitan/rural areas. Between 2001–03 and 2013–15, the suicide rate climbed 14 percent in the largest metros, 19 percent nationally, 25 percent in medium/small metro areas, and 27 percent in nonmetro/rural areas.

The pattern in the suicide rate is the same for both males and females, in every age group, and for every race and Hispanic origin group except Blacks—whose relatively low suicide rate has not increased much and is highest in medium/small metros.

Suicide rates are "consistently higher in rural communities," concludes the CDC. "Findings from this study underscore the need to identify protective factors as part of comprehensive suicide prevention efforts, particularly in rural areas."

Source: CDC, Suicide Trends among and within Urbanization Levels by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, Age Group, and Mechanism of Death—United States, 2001–2015

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Jobs in the Retail Apocalypse

The year 2012 may have been the beginning of the retail apocalypse, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York analysis, which compares job growth over the years in two types of retail establishments—department stores and nonstore (online) retailers. Before 2012, the number of jobs in both types of establishments closely followed the ups and downs of the business cycle. But in 2012 everything changed. Department stores began to shed jobs by the tens and hundreds of thousands while online retailers have been adding to their payrolls.

To make matters worse for those laid-off department store workers, say the researchers, the stores eliminating jobs are often in different locations from the online retailers who are hiring—a geographic disparity documented in their study. Even if laid-off department store workers moved to where online retailers are hiring, they aren't likely to land a job because skillsets are different, as evidenced by average pay levels— about $20,000 a year for department store workers versus about $59,000 a year for those employed by online retailers.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, How Is Online Shopping Affecting Retail Employment?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Few First-Generation College Students Earn Degree

First-generation college students face an uphill battle. They are far less likely than their peers with college-educated parents to earn a bachelor's degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics' Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, which is tracking a nationally representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores.

Among first-generation students (defined as those whose parents have no postsecondary education experience) who enrolled in college, only 23 percent had earned at least a bachelor's degree by 2012—a decade after their sophomore year in high school. Among continuing-generation students (defined as those whose parents have a bachelor's degree), a much larger 55 percent had earned at least a bachelor's degree by 2012.

Fully 47 percent of first-generation students who enrolled in college had no degree or certificate to show for it a decade later. Among continuing-generation students, a smaller 30 percent left school empty-handed. What caused so many first-generation students to drop out before receiving any credentials? The single biggest factor, cited by 54 percent, was affordability—they couldn't afford to continue in school. Among continuing-generation students, the single biggest reason for dropping out, cited by 49 percent, was a desire to work and make money.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students: A Comparison of High School and Postsecondary Experiences

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Long Half Life of Student Loans

Most college students take out loans to pay for their education, and many are still paying them back decades later, according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics. Among first-time beginning postsecondary students who began school in 1995–96, the 55 percent majority took out federal education loans. Among those who began school in 2003–04, a larger 63 percent took out loans.

Those loans never die, apparently. The 1995–96 students still owed 70 percent of the amount of their education loans 12 years later. The 2003–04 students still owed an even larger 78 percent 12 years later. After 20 years (!) the 1994–95 students still owed 22 percent of their education loan amount.

The difficulty in paying back student loans explains why the share of American households with education debt has reached dizzying heights. According to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances, nearly half of householders under age 35 had education loans in 2016, as did one-third of householders aged 35 to 44, one-fourth of householders aged 45 to 54, and one-eighth of householders aged 55 to 64...

Percent of households with education loans in 2016 (and 2001)
Under age 35: 44.8% (26.1%)
Aged 35 to 44: 34.4% (12.5%)
Aged 45 to 54: 23.8% (11.0%)
Aged 55 to 64: 12.9% (5.2%)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Repayment of Student Loans as of 2015 among 1995–96 and 2003–04 First-Time Beginning Students

Monday, October 09, 2017

Children with Glasses or Contact Lenses

Many children wear glasses or contact lenses, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Among children ranging in age from 6 to 17, fully 36 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys wear them. Here are the percentages by age...

Boys who wear glasses or contact lenses
Aged 6 to 9: 14.9%
Aged 10 to 13: 33.5%
Aged 14 to 17: 38.8%

Girls who wear glasses or contact lenses
Aged 6 to 9: 20.2%
Aged 10 to 13: 35.9%
Aged 14 to 17: 51.9%

Source: CDC, QuickStats: Percentage of Children Aged 6—17 Who Wear Glasses or Contact Lenses, by Sex and Age Group—National Health Interview Survey, 2016

Friday, October 06, 2017

56% Do Not Want to Ride in a Driverless Vehicle

When Americans are asked whether they would ride in a driverless vehicle if given the chance, the naysayers outnumber the yaysayers. The 56 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older would say no to riding in a driverless vehicle, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and 44 percent would say yes. Here are the not-so-surprising demographics of those who would say yes...

Percent who would want to ride in a driverless vehicle
Men: 53%
Women: 35%

Under age 50: 51%
Aged 50-plus: 35%

College graduate: 56%
Some college: 44%
High school or less: 33%

Urban: 52%
Suburban: 40%
Rural: 36%

Why are so many people hesitant to ride in a driverless vehicle? The single biggest reason, cited by 42 percent according to Pew, is lack of trust in technology/unwillingness to cede control to a machine. Before you wring your hands in despair over America's Luddite majority, keep in mind that if Pew had been around to survey the public about horseless carriages, the naysayers likely would have been just as numerous and for the same reason.

Source: Pew Research Center, Automation in Everyday Life

Thursday, October 05, 2017

What Explains the Black-White Wealth Gap?

The median net worth of non-Hispanic White households was 9.7 times the net worth of Black households in 2016—$171,000 versus $17,600, according to the Federal Reserve Board's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. The wealth gap is larger today than it was in the early 2000s, when the average non-Hispanic White household had "only" 6 to 7 times the wealth of the average Black household.

What's behind the growing wealth gap? Since non-Hispanic White and Black households are equally likely to be in debt (77.5 and 77.1 percent, respectively) and since non-Hispanic Whites owe more (a median of $74,100) than Blacks ($31,100), the wealth gap is not about debt.

The gap is about assets—in particular, homeownership. Only 44.7 percent of Black households were homeowners in 2016 versus a much larger 72.5 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. Black homeownership fell more than non-Hispanic White as the housing market collapsed with the Great Recession, and Black homeowners saw their houses lose much more value. For Black homeowners, median housing value fell 29 percent between 2007 and 2016—to $124,000, after adjusting for inflation. For non-Hispanic White homeowners, median housing value fell by a smaller 14 percent during those years—to $200,000. Since owned homes are the single largest asset for the average American household, these differences explain not only the large wealth gap but also why it has grown.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Federal Reserve Board's 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Grandparents Are #2 Day Care Provider

Grandparents are the second-biggest day care providers in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey finds more than 4 million preschoolers being cared for regularly at least once a week by their grandparents.

Of the nation's 21 million children from ages 0 through 5 and not yet in kindergarten, 13 million (60 percent) are in a regularly scheduled nonparental care arrangement at least once a week. This is who cares for those children...

7.6 million are in center-based care (59%)
4.1 million are cared for by a grandparent (32%)
2.8 million are cared for by nonrelatives (22%)
1.1 million are cared for by other relatives (9%)

Note: Numbers will add to more than 100 percent because children may have more than one type of regularly scheduled nonparental care arrangement.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Program Participation, Results from the National Household Education Survey Program of 2016

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

How Does 2016 Net Worth Compare?

Median household net worth climbed to $97,300 in 2016, reports the triennial Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The 2016 figure was 16 percent higher than in 2013, after adjusting for inflation, but fully 30 percent below net worth in 2007.

But comparing today's net worth with 2007 is perhaps a stretch because the 2007 figure was inflated by the housing bubble. So forget about 2007. Let's compare today's median household net worth with earlier years beginning with 1989, after adjusting for inflation...

$97,300 net worth of 2016 was higher than:
1989: $87,500
1992: $83,100
1995: $90,600

$97,300 net worth of 2016 was lower than:
1998: $105,800
2001: $117,300
2004: $118,400
2007: $139,700

The fact that net worth in 2016 was lower than in the years 1998 to 2004 is troubling. Net worth rises with age and should be at or near an all-time high today because of the aging of the baby-boom generation. Instead, net worth is well below the levels reached when the demographics were far less favorable.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, SCF Chartbook

Monday, October 02, 2017

10 Most Commonly Treated Health Conditions

In a year's time, 85 percent of Americans incur health care expenses, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, at a total cost of $1.5 trillion in 2014. These are the 10 conditions for which the largest number of people incurred expenses in 2014...

62.0 million treated for hypertension
49.8 million treated for mental disorders
47.4 million treated for COPD, asthma
47.2 million treated for high cholesterol
40.6 million treated for osteoarthritis
36.4 million treated for trauma
29.9 million treated for acute bronchitis
26.2 million treated for skin disorders
25.8 million treated for upper GI disorders
25.6 million treated for diabetes

Source: AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey

Friday, September 29, 2017

Most Children Are Expected to Earn Bachelor's Degree

The nation's parents have high expectations for their children—too high, in fact. Fully 68 percent of the 26 million students in grades 6 through 12 are expected to earn at least a bachelor's degree, according to a National Center for Education Statistics survey of parent and family involvement in education. Most children attempt to fulfill their parents' expectations. The college enrollment rate—defined as the percentage of high school graduates who enroll in college within a year of their graduation—is in fact almost identical to parents' expectations at 69 percent. But only about half of those who enroll eventually earn a bachelor's degree.

Percent of students in 6th to 12th grade whose parents expect them to earn at least a bachelor's degree, by highest level of parental education, 2016
55% of parents without a high school diploma
45% of parents who went no further than high school
59% of parents with some college
84% of parents with a bachelor's degree
91% of parents with a graduate or professional degree

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Median Household Net Worth: $97,300 in 2016

After years of decline, household wealth is growing again, according to the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. Median household net worth rose to $97,300 in 2016, 16 percent more than the $83,700 of 2013, after adjusting for inflation. Net worth is still 30 percent below the 2007 peak...

Median household net worth, 2007 to 2016 (in 2016 dollars)
2016: $97,300
2013: $83,700
2010: $85,400
2007: $139,700

Behind the rise in net worth are modest increases in the value of household assets. The median value of financial assets ($23,500) grew 7 percent between 2013 and 2016, after adjusting for inflation, but was still 30 percent below the 2007 level. The median value of nonfinancial assets ($158,900) climbed 4 percent during those years, but was still 23 percent below the 2007 peak. Meanwhile, median household debt ($59,800) was 4 percent lower in 2016 than in 2013 and a substantial 23 percent lower than in 2007.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cable vs Streaming: Is 2016 a Turning Point?

We might be at the turning point. In 2016, growth in spending on cable/satellite television service came to a halt. The average household spent $764 on the service in 2016—the same as in 2015, after adjusting for inflation. This isn't the first time cable spending has come to a standstill. It stagnated between 2010 and 2011 too, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, then resumed its climb. This time might be different, with spending declines to come.

Evidence of the turning point is in the eroding customer base. The percentage of households that pay for cable/satellite television service has drifted downward since hitting the peak of 74 percent during the average quarter of 2010. A smaller 68 percent of households purchased cable/satellite service during the average quarter of 2016. The drop has been especially steep among younger householders...

Percentage of households spending on cable/satellite service during an average quarter of 2016 (and percentage-point change since 2010)
Under age 25: 32% (–17)
Aged 25 to 34: 56% (–12)
Aged 35 to 44: 68% (–7)
Aged 45 to 54: 74% (–3)
Aged 55 to 64: 75% (–3)
Aged 65-plus: 75% (–3)

According to a recent Pew survey, only about one in four Americans (28 percent) watches television primarily through online streaming. Among people under age 30, however, the 61 percent majority primarily streams.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Are Gig Workers Happy?

Gig workers don't earn as much as full-time employees, according to a Prudential study, which defines gig workers as those who work for themselves and provide a service or labor. On average gig workers earn $36,500 a year versus the $62,700 earned by full-time employees.

That's not the only drawback to gig work. There's also the lack of employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. That may be why only 44 percent of gig workers say they are satisfied with their work situation versus 55 percent of full-time employees. But there are differences in attitudes by age of gig worker. Most Millennial (aged 18 to 34) and Boomer (aged 56-plus) gig workers are satisfied with their work—67 and 75 percent, respectively. Many Millennial gig workers say they are using their gig status to move forward on their long-term aspirations. Many Boomer gig workers say they are using it to better prepare for retirement or to supplement their retirement income.

Gen Xers (aged 36 to 55) are the least satisfied with their gig work (45 percent). Most Gen Xers say it's just a way to pay the bills. They are more interested than younger or older gig workers in switching to traditional work and most likely to say they are struggling financially.

Source: Prudential, Gig Workers in America

Monday, September 25, 2017

Financial Instability = Postponed Marriage

Most people who have never married (58 percent) say they want to marry someday, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only 14 percent don't want to marry and another 27 percent are not sure.

What's keeping those who want to marry from tying the knot? The 59 percent majority say they haven't found the right person. But that's not the only obstacle. A substantial 41 percent of the never-married say a major reason for their single status is that they are not financially stable enough to marry. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, fully 51 percent say financial instability is a major reason for remaining single.

Source: Pew Research Center, As U.S. Marriage Rate Hovers at 50%, Education Gap in Marital Status Widens

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Rise of Obesity, 1997 to 2017

One in three Americans is obese, up from one in five two decades ago. Here is the trend...

Percent of people aged 20 or older who are obese (body mass index of 30kg/m^2 or higher)
2017: 32.0%
2007: 26.7%
1997: 19.4%

These numbers, from the National Health Interview Survey, are  based on self-reported heights and weights and likely understate obesity. After all, who doesn't trim a few pounds and add a few inches when asked to report their dimensions. For an unbiased measure of obesity, the National Center for Health Statistics actually measures the heights and weights of a nationally representative sample of the population through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Those efforts revealed a larger 36 percent of adults to be obese in 2011–14, up from 22 percent in 1988–94.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the January-March 2017 National Health Interview Survey

Thursday, September 21, 2017

41 Million Eldercare Providers

Millions of Americans provide informal, unpaid care for people aged 65 or older with aging-related problems—helping them with household chores, taking them to the doctor or grocery store, managing their finances, and so on. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey collects data about this informal caregiving and the BLS regularly publishes reports on the extent of eldercare and the characteristics of caregivers. Here are a few of the highlights from the 2015-16 report...

More than 1 in 10 Americans provide eldercare: The 41 million who provided eldercare in the past three or four months are a substantial 16 percent of the population aged 15 or older. 

Eldercare providers are in every age group: More than 1 in 10 young adults (aged 15 to 24) provide eldercare. The figure climbs as high as 24 percent among 55-to-64-year-olds.

Men account for 44 percent of eldercare providers: Although women are the majority of providers, men account for a substantial share in every age group.

Many eldercare providers are caring for more than one person: 71 percent of eldercare providers are caring for one person, while 29 percent are caring for two or more.

Caring for a friend or neighbor is common: 16 percent of eldercare providers are caring for a friend or neighbor. Among caregivers aged 65 or older, the figure is 27 percent.

On an average day, about one in four caregivers provides eldercare: Those who provide care spend an average of 2.8 hours doing so.

Most eldercare providers have been helping for years: More than half of caregivers have been providing eldercare for three or more years.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unpaid Eldercare in the United States—2015-16 Summary

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Median IRA Balance: $31,742

Individual retirement accounts hold 25 percent of all retirement plan assets in the U.S., reports the Employee Benefit Research Institute. In the 7th annual update of its IRA Database, EBRI estimates a median balance of $31,742 in the IRAs of individual owners in 2015. The average balance was $125,045. Here are median balances by age of owner...

Median IRA account balances
Under age 25: $3,565
Aged 25 to 29: $4,622
Aged 30 to 34: $7,113
Aged 35 to 39: $11,244
Aged 40 to 44: $16,738
Aged 45 to 49: $23,439
Aged 50 to 54: $31,440
Aged 55 to 59: $41,733
Aged 60 to 64: $57,859
Aged 65 to 69: $78,612
Aged 70-plus: $80,968

IRA balances are modest because few owners contribute in a year's time—only 14.1 percent contributed in 2015. Those with Roth IRAs are more likely to contribute (26 percent) than those with traditional IRAs (7 percent). Among those who contributed, only 54 percent contributed the maximum allowable amount.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2015 Update of the EBRI IRA Database: IRA Balances, Contributions, Rollovers, Withdrawals, and Asset Allocation

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mental Distress: Where It's the Worst

The CDC regularly monitors health conditions by state and metro area. Its latest analysis examines data collected in 2013—pre Trump, Harvey, and Irma. At that time, these five states had the largest proportion of adults who reported experiencing 14 or more days of mental distress during the past 30 days...

States with highest mental distress
1. West Virginia: 15.2%
2. Alabama: 14.4%
3. Kentucky: 14.3%
4. Oklahoma: 14.3%
5. Mississippi: 14.2%

North and South Dakota had the smallest proportion of residents reporting mental distress (7.7 and 7.9 percent, respectively).

These were the five metropolitan areas with the largest proportion of adults who reported experiencing 14 or more days of mental distress during the past 30 days...

Metros with highest mental distress
1. Akron, OH: 19.4%
2. Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA: 18.0%
3. Fort Smith, AR-OK: 17.6%
4. Winston-Salem, NC: 16.8%
5. Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS: 16.6%

The metros with the smallest proportions of residents reporting mental distress were Minot, ND (6.3 percent), Grand Forks, ND-MN (6.3 percent), and Sioux Falls, SD (6.5 percent).

Source: CDC, Surveillance for Certain Health Behaviors and Conditions among States and Selected Local Areas—Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2013 and 2014

Monday, September 18, 2017

6.3% Increase in Black Median Household Income

Black households registered a larger gain in median income than any other race or Hispanic origin group, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The Black (alone or in combination) 2016 median of $40,065 was 6.3 percent higher than the $37,681 median of 2015, after adjusting for inflation. The median income of non-Hispanic White households grew 2 percent, and the Asian (alone or in combination) and Hispanic medians grew 4.0 and 4.3 percent, respectively...

Median household income in 2016 (and % change 2015-16; in 2016 dollars)
Asians: $80,822 (4.0%)
Blacks: $40,065 (6.3%)
Hispanics: $47,675 (4.3%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: $65,041 (2.0%)

Source: Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016