Friday, March 31, 2017

Median Household Income Rises in February 2017

Median household income in February 2017 stood at $58,714, according to Sentier Research, about 1 percent higher than the January 2017 median after adjusting for inflation. While this is good news, the rise only boosts median household income back to where it was a year earlier in February 2016. 

"The monthly pattern for median annual household income has been marked by some sharp increases and decreases over the past several years," reports Sentier. "More broadly, there has been a general upward trend in median household income since the post-recession low point reached in August 2011." The February 2017 median was 10.1. percent higher than the August 2011 median of $53,330, the low point. Sentier's household income figures are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in February 2017 was 2.7 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was 0.8 percent higher than the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The February 2017 median was just 0.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in February 2017 was 99.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: February 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

SIPP Data Reveals New Details on Living Arrangements

The Census Bureau's 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation provides new details about the living arrangements of Americans. This is who Americans lived with in 2013 (note: categories are not mutually exclusive)...

Living arrangements
Live with a spouse: 39.2%
   Opposite-sex spouse: 39.0%
   Same-sex spouse: 0.2%
Live with parent/child: 37.4%
Live alone: 11.6%
Live with unmarried partner: 6.1%
   Opposite-sex partners: 5.7%
   Same-sex partner: 0.4%
Live with other nonrelative: 2.9%
Live with grandparent/grandchild: 0.9%
Live with sibling: 0.9%
Live with other relative: 0.9%

The SIPP survey also looked at changes in household composition. For the great majority of Americans (84 percent) household size and composition did not change over a year's time. Another 11 percent of the population experienced one change in household composition during a year's time—such as a birth or death or someone moving in or out of the household. Five percent of the population experienced two or more changes in household composition.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Home Equity Accounts for 32% of Net Worth

The median net worth of the average household was $80,039 in 2013, according to a recently released report from the Census Bureau's 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The 2014 SIPP includes improvements to questions designed to measure net worth, with new, topic-specific questions about types of assets such as annuities, trusts, businesses owned as investments, and educational savings accounts. Without these changes, notes the report, median net worth may have been as low as $74,083. The revised survey also included a question about student loans.

Here is the composition of net worth for American households, excluding households in the top 1 percent of net worth because their asset ownership is unlike the average...

Composition of household net worth, 2013
Home equity: 32.2%
401(k) accounts: 16.3%
IRA and Keoghs: 10.5%
Stocks, mutual funds: 9.6%
Assets at financial institutions: 9.4%
Business or profession: 5.2%
Rental property: 4.4%
Other real estate: 3.9%
Motor vehicles: 3.3%
Annuities and trusts: 3.0%
Cash value life insurance: 2.8%
Other assets: 3.6%
Unsecured liabilities: –4.7%

The 55 percent majority of households have unsecured liabilities, which include credit card debt,  student loans, medical debt, etc. Overall, 42 percent of households have credit card debt, with a median of $3,000 owed. Twenty percent of households have student loans, and those that do owe a median of $18,000.

Source: Census Bureau, Improvements to Measuring Net Worth of Households: 2013

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Big-City Counties Continue to Grow Faster

The nation's most urban counties continue to grow faster than any other county type according to the Census Bureau's 2016 county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2016 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth (the bigger, the better) and continuing rural decline.

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2016 for each rank, this is the result...

County population change 2010-2016 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank

1. 6.0% for rank 1 counties, in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 4.6% for rank 2 counties, in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 3.0% for rank 3 counties, in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.2% for rank 4 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
5. 1.7% for rank 5 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 20,000+
6. –1.0% for rank 6 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
7. –1.1% for rank 7 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro with urban pop of 2,500-19,999
8. –1.3% for rank 8 counties, nonmetro adjacent to metro with urban pop less than 2,500
9. –1.6% for rank 9 counties, nonmetro not adjacent to metro, urban pop less than 2,500

An examination of annual rates of population change by Rural-Urban Continuum shows population declines in every year between 2010 and 2016 for counties ranking 6, 7, 8, and 9 on the continuum. Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) grew faster than any other county type in every year.  

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals Datasets: 2010–2016

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Deaths of Despair"—Economists Document Rising Mortality among Less-Educated Non-Hispanic Whites

Death rates are rising for middle-aged non-Hispanic Whites with a high school diploma or less education, report Princeton economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton in a stunning analysis of this troubled segment of the American population. The rise in mortality rates is due to what Case and Deaton call "deaths of despair"—deaths due to drug use, alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Among non-Hispanic Whites with no more than a high school diploma, mortality rates in 2015 were higher than in 1999. During those years, mortality rates fell for other segments of the population—better educated non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. The mortality rates of non-Hispanic Whites with a high school diploma or less education were 30 percent lower than the mortality rates of Blacks in 1999. By 2015, they were 30 percent higher.

Case and Deaton see globalization and automation as the possible deep underlying causes of what they call the collapse of the white working class. The long-run stagnation of the wages of this group has led to a decline in marriage, greater social isolation, withdrawal from the labor force, a sense of hopelessness, and more deaths of despair.

Source: Brookings Institution, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century

Friday, March 24, 2017

Half of Same-Sex Households Are Married Couples

Among the nation's 858,896 same-sex households, nearly half (49.5 percent) are married couples, according to the 2015 American Community Survey. This figure is substantially higher than the 43 percent of 2014. There is little difference between men and women in the married share of same-sex couple households...

Male-male households
Spouses: 201,779
Partners: 210,222
Percent married: 49.0%

Female-female households
Spouses: 223,578
Partners: 223,317
Percent married: 50.0%

Source: Census Bureau, American Community Survey Data on Same Sex Couples

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Many Births Are Unplanned

Unplanned births are common, according to the Urban Institute. Fully 36 percent of respondents to the Urban Institute's nationally representative survey of women aged 18 to 44 reported experiencing an unplanned birth. Among women who had given birth, the 62 percent majority said they had experienced at least one unplanned birth.

How do women feel about these unplanned births? Among all women aged 18 to 44, the majority thought an unplanned birth would have a negative effect on four key aspects of a woman's life—education (66 percent negative), job (58 percent), income (63 percent), and mental health (59 percent). But among women who had actually experienced an unplanned birth, a smaller share reported negative effects in those four areas: education (36 percent negative), job (31.5 percent), income (47 percent), and mental health (40 percent).

"When considering the effects of an unplanned birth on women's lives in general, respondents who had experienced an unplanned birth were less likely than those who had not to perceive mostly negative effects," reports the Urban Institute. Still, a substantial share of women reported negative consequences. "For women who experience an unplanned birth, access to targeted services and supports could reduce the negative impact of an unplanned birth on a woman's life," concludes the report.

Source: Urban Institute, Prevalence and Perceptions of Unplanned Births

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How Much Have Workers Saved?

Most American workers are saving for retirement. Overall, 61 percent of workers aged 25 or older say they or their spouse have saved money for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey. In every age group, most say they have saved for retirement, with the figure ranging from a low of 52 percent among workers aged 25 to 34 to a high of 70 percent among workers aged 55 or older.

But many workers have not saved much. Most aged 25 to 34 have less than $10,000 in savings and investments, not counting home equity or defined-benefit pensions. At the other extreme, the majority of workers aged 55 or older have saved at least $100,000, and 35 percent have saved $250,000 or more.

Less than $10,000 in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 58%
Aged 35 to 44: 31%
Aged 45 to 54: 33%
Aged 55-plus: 28%

$10,000 to $100,000 in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 29%
Aged 35 to 44: 35%
Aged 45 to 54: 26%
Aged 55-plus: 17%

$100,000 or more in savings
Aged 25 to 34: 13%
Aged 35 to 44: 34%
Aged 45 to 54: 42%
Aged 55-plus: 53%

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Can Google Street View Determine Local Demographics?

Can Google Street View combined with deep learning-based computer vision provide accurate and up-to-date demographic profiles of local areas? The answer is yes, according to an astonishing study appearing in arXiv, an online repository of scientific papers.

Using 50 million Google Street View images of cars in 200 American cities, the study's researchers determined, with the help of a "machine vision framework based on deep learning," the make, model, and year of each car (2,657 categories). They then used that information to "accurately estimate income, race, education, and voting patterns, with single-precinct resolution." The average precinct has a population of only about 1,000, say the researchers. Here are some of their findings, in their own words...

  • "We successfully detected 22 million distinct vehicles, comprising 32% of all the vehicles in the 200 cities we studied, and 8% of all vehicles in the United States."
  • "Our model detects strong associations between vehicle distribution and disparate socioeconomic trends."
  • "The vehicular feature that was most strongly associated with Democratic precincts was sedans, whereas Republican precincts were most strongly associated with extended-cab pickup trucks."
  • "Our estimates accurately determined that Seattle, Washington is 69% Caucasian."
  • "We estimated educational background in Milwaukee, Wisconsin zip codes, accurately determining the fraction of the population with less than a high school degree."

The researchers ask whether this type of analysis eventually could replace costly and time-consuming door-to-door efforts such as the American Community Survey. "As digital imagery becomes ubiquitous and machine vision techniques improve, automated data analysis may provide a cheaper and faster alternative," they suggest.

Source: arXiv, Using Deep Learning and Google Street View to Estimate the Demographic Makeup of the US

Monday, March 20, 2017

Younger Adults Have More Smartphones

Households headed by people under age 25 own more than two smartphones on average, or 0.83 smartphones per household member. This is a greater concentration of smartphones than in any other age group, according to the Energy Information Administration's 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Not far behind are households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds, with 0.80 smartphones per household member. Smartphone ownership is lowest among householders aged 75 or older, just 0.30 per household member.

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey examines household ownership of a variety of electronic devices including televisions and computers.

Smartphones per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.83 (2.4)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.80 (2.3)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.69 (2.4)
Aged 45 to 54: 0.75 (2.1)
Aged 55 to 64: 0.64 (1.4)
Aged 65 to 74: 0.52 (1.0)
Aged 75-plus:  0.30 (0.5)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Friday, March 17, 2017

Many Americans Have Past-Due Medical Debt

Among adults under age 65, a substantial 24 percent had past-due medical debt in 2015, according to a study by the Urban Institute. The figure varies by state, ranging from a low of 5.9 percent in Hawaii to a high of 37.4 percent in Mississippi. Among the 10 states with the highest rates of past-due medical debt, 8 are in the South...

States with largest percentage of 18-to-64-year-olds with past-due medical debt
Mississippi: 37.4%
Arkansas: 36.3%
West Virginia: 33.0%
Indiana: 32.5%
South Carolina: 32.4%
Kentucky: 30.9%
Missouri: 30.6%
Oklahoma: 30.0%
Alabama: 30.0%
Georgia: 29.2%

Hawaii is the only state in which the percentage of people aged 18 to 64 with past-due medical debt is below 10 percent. Minnesota has the second-lowest rate (13.3%), followed by California (16.0%), Massachusetts (16.1%), and Connecticut (16.3%).

Source: Urban Institute, Past-Due Medical Debt among Nonelderly Adults, 2012-15

Thursday, March 16, 2017

34% of Households Experience Income Volatility

More than one-third of American households experience income volatility in a year's time, according to Pew Charitable Trusts' 2015 Survey of American Family Finances. Pew defines volatility as a year-over-year change in annual household income of at least 25 percent. Here are the percentages who experienced volatility by generation...

Households with at least a 25% change in income, 2014-15 (and % gaining or losing)
Millennials: 43% (26% gain; 17% loss)
Gen Xers: 31% (18% gain; 13% loss)
Boomers: 31% (15% gain; 16% loss)
Silent: 31% (15% gain; 16% loss)

Income volatility is a hardship says Pew, and survey findings bear this out. The 34 percent of households experiencing income volatility between 2014 and 2015 were more likely than those with stable incomes to have experienced financial shortfalls in the past year. They were less likely to have savings or the ability to come up with $2,000 to pay for unexpected expenses. Households with a financial loss of 25 percent or more had median savings of just $1,550. Those with a financial gain of 25 percent or more had savings of $3,000. Those with stable incomes had median savings of $5,500.

The most commonly cited reason for income volatility is an irregular work schedule, says Pew.

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts, How Income Volatility Interacts with American Families' Financial Security

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Younger Adults Have More Laptop Computers

Households headed by people under age 35 have an average of 1.5 laptops per household—one for every two household members. This is a greater concentration of laptops than in any other age group, according to the Energy Information Administration's 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). The RECS examines household ownership of a variety of electronic devices including televisions, computers, and smartphones.

Laptop computers per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.52 (1.5)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.51 (1.5)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.40 (1.4)
Aged 45 to 54: 0.49 (1.4)
Aged 55 to 64: 0.48 (1.0)
Aged 65 to 74: 0.42 (0.8)
Aged 75-plus:  0.29 (0.5)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Many Households Unaware of Retirement Risk

Many Americans are not prepared for retirement. Some know it, but many don't. Conversely, among households that are adequately prepared for retirement, substantial numbers think they are at risk. A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) measured the size of each of these groups in an attempt to determine the accuracy with which households assess their retirement readiness.

The CRR study analyzed data from the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI), which is based on the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. The NRRI defines households at risk as those whose retirement income will not be enough to replace a targeted percentage of pre-retirement earnings. The Survey of Consumer Finances also asks households how well prepared they think they are for retirement. Comparing those two measures—retirement readiness and perception of retirement readiness, the CRR study found the following...

52% of households are at risk
33% of households are at risk and they know it
19% of households are at risk and they don't know it

48% of households are not at risk
24% of households are well prepared for retirement and they know it
24% of households are well prepared for retirement and they don't know it

The 19 percent of households that are unaware of their retirement risk tend to be those with defined-contribution retirement plans and high incomes. The 24 percent that are well-prepared but think they are at risk tend to be homeowners with defined-benefit pension plans.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Do Households Have a Good Sense of their Retirement Preparedness?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Average Number of Televisions Is Declining

The number of televisions in the average American home is declining, according to newly released data from the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). In 2015, there were an average of 2.3 televisions per household, down from 2.6 in 2009. Fewer households have three or more TVs (39 percent, down from 44 percent in 2009), and more households have no TVs (2.6 percent, up from 1.3 percent in 2009).

The number of televisions per household member rises with age. Households headed by people aged 75 or older have twice as many televisions per household member (1.47) as the youngest householders (0.72).

Televisions per household member (and per household) by age, 2015
Under age 25:  0.72 (2.07)
Aged 25 to 34: 0.81 (2.36)
Aged 35 to 44: 0.83 (2.89)
Aged 45 to 54: 1.08 (3.06)
Aged 55 to 64: 1.27 (2.77)
Aged 65 to 74: 1.34 (2.55)
Aged 75-plus:  1.47 (2.40)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Average Number of Televisions in U.S. Homes Declining

Friday, March 10, 2017

Median Household Income Stable in January 2017

Median household income in January 2017 stood at $58,056, according to Sentier Research, not significantly different from the December 2016 median after adjusting for inflation. 

The 2015 rise in median household income appears to have stalled out in 2016. "With the exception of some minor ups and downs," reports Sentier, "median annual household income has essentially been flat since the fall of 2015." Nevertheless, the January 2017 median was 9.0 percent higher than the $53,265 median of August 2011—the low point in Sentier's household income series. 

"Although median annual household income did not decline significantly between December and January, it is down by $691 (or 1.2 percent) since November 2016," says Sentier's Gordon Green. "We continue to monitor the course of inflation, as this has a significant effect on the trend in real median annual household income." Sentier's median household income estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey.

Median household income in January 2017 was 1.7 percent higher than the median of June 2009, which marked the end of the Great Recession. It was not significantly different from the median of December 2007, the start of the Great Recession. The January 2017 median was 1.3 percent below the median of January 2000. The Household Income Index in January 2017 was 98.7 (January 2000 = 100.0).

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: January 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Drug Overdose Deaths by State, 2015

Drug overdose deaths are surging. The age-adjusted death rate nearly tripled between 1999 and 2015, rising from 6.1 to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 population. By race and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic Whites have by far the highest drug overdose death rate—21.1 deaths per 100,000 population for non-Hispanic Whites versus 12.2 for Blacks and 7.7 for Hispanics. By age, the biggest increase in drug overdose deaths occurred among people aged 55 to 64, the rate rising five-fold from 4.2 to 21.8 deaths per 100,000 population between 1999 and 2015.

The age-adjusted drug overdose death rate is much higher in some states than in others. Here are the states with the highest and lowest death rates in 2015...

States with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population
West Virginia: 41.5
New Hampshire: 34.3
Kentucky: 29.9
Ohio: 29.9
Rhode Island: 28.2

States with the lowest rate of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population
Iowa: 10.3
Texas: 9.4
North Dakota: 8.6
South Dakota: 8.4
Nebraska: 6.9

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2015

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Difficulties in Physical Functioning, 2015

Among Americans aged 65 or older in 2015, a substantial 37 percent reported having great difficulty performing at least one of nine physical tasks, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 37 percent figure is a bit higher than the 35 percent of people aged 65 or older who reported having great difficulty with these tasks in 2002, the first year the question was asked.

Percent of 65-plus who say physical task would be very difficult or impossible
Standing for two hours: 24.9%
Stooping, bending, or kneeling: 22.5%
Walking a quarter mile: 19.2%
Pushing or pulling large objects: 15.1%
Climbing 10 steps without resting: 14.5%
Lifting or carrying 10 pounds: 11.5%
Reaching over head: 5.6%
Sitting for two hours: 4.9%
Grasping or handling small objects: 4.6%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Minority Share of 10 Largest Metro Areas, 2015

Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 38 percent of the total U.S. population in 2015. Minorities are the majority in 7 of the 10 largest metropolitan areas.

Minority share of 10 largest metropolitan areas
New York: 53.1%
Los Angeles: 70.1%
Chicago: 46.7%
Dallas: 52.3%
Houston: 62.7%
Washington, DC: 53.9%
Philadelphia: 37.4%
Miami: 68.2%
Atlanta: 51.7%
Boston: 28.3%

Note: Minorities are calculated by subtracting non-Hispanic Whites from the total population.
Source: Census Bureau, American Factfinder, 2015 American Community Survey

Monday, March 06, 2017

Health Status by Rural-Urban County Classification

The larger and more dense the urban county, the greater the percentage of residents who practice healthy habits, according to a study by the CDC. The habits examined by the CDC were smoking, drinking (moderately or not at all), maintaining normal body weight, meeting aerobic physical activity recommendations, and getting enough sleep. While differences by type of county were not large, they were statistically significant...

Percent of resident who practice at least 4 of 5 healthy behaviors, by county type
Large metropolitan center counties: 31.7%
Large fringe metropolitan counties: 30.2%
Median metropolitan counties: 30.5%
Small metropolitan counties: 29.5%
Micropolitan counties: 28.8%
Rural counties: 27.0%

Even after controlling for demographic characteristics, the pattern is the same. "Evidence-based strategies to improve the health-related behaviors of persons living in rural areas in the United States should be widely implemented," the report concludes.

Source: CDC, Health-Related Behaviors by Urban-Rural County Classification—United States, 2013

Friday, March 03, 2017

Last Dental Visit More than Five Years Ago

A substantial 13 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have not been to a dentist in more than five years. Because dental care often requires hefty out-of-pocket spending, low-income adults are more likely than the affluent to skip dental checkups. Among adults with family incomes below $35,000, 23 percent have not seen a dentist in five-plus years versus only 3 percent of those with family incomes of $100,000 or more. The dental care gap by educational attainment is even larger...

More than 5 years since last dental visit
30% of those without a high school diploma
19% of those with a high school diploma only
12% of those with some college but no bachelor's degree
4% of those with a bachelor's degree or more education

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Tables of Summary Health Statistics

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Crime Decline, 2000 to 2015

Crime has fallen substantially since 2000, according to the FBI. The number of violent crimes fell 16 percent between 2000 and 2015, and the violent crime rate fell 26 percent. The number of property crimes fell 21 percent during those years, and the property crime rate fell 31 percent.

Number of violent crimes (and rate per 100,000 population)
2015: 1.2 million (372.6)
2010: 1.3 million (404.5)
2005: 1.4 million (469.0)
2000: 1.4 million (506.5)

Number of property crimes (and rate per 100,000 population)
2015: 8.0 million (2,487.0)
2010: 9.1 million (2,945.9)
2005: 10.2 million (3,431.5)
2000: 10.2 million (3,618.3)

Note: Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015 Crime in the United States

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Number of Children in Lifetime, 2015

American women will have an average of 1.84 children in their lifetime, an estimate based on birth rates by age in 2015. This is well below the average of two children per woman required to sustain the U.S. population at its current size absent immigration. Here is the average number of children women will have in their lifetime by race and Hispanic origin...

Average number of children in lifetime
2.12 children for Hispanics
1.86 children for non-Hispanic Blacks
1.75 children for non-Hispanic Whites
1.65 children for Asians
1.26 children for American Indians

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