Monday, July 31, 2017

Frequency of Cooking a Hot Meal

Every few years the government surveys the energy use of a representative sample of American households. Among the questions included in the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey is the frequency with which households cook a hot meal...

Frequency of cooking a hot meal during an average week
Less than daily: 22%
Once a day: 30%
Twice a day: 32%
3+ times a day: 15%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey

Friday, July 28, 2017

Right-to-Carry Laws Boost Violent Crime

Right-to-carry leads to an increase in violent crime, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. A state-level analysis of trends in crime shows violent crime rising 13 to 15 percent 10 years after a state passes a right-to-carry concealed weapons law. States that pass right-to-carry laws would have to double their prison population to counteract the increase in violent crime, the authors note.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Controls Analysis, Working Paper 23510 ($5)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2017

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2017: 45.2%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 inched upwards in the second quarter of 2017. The age group's 45.2 percent homeownership rate was not statistically different from the record low of 44.6 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2017. 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 slipped toward the 50-percent threshold. In the second quarter of 2017 the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds was 55.8 percent, down from a peak of 65.7 percent in the first quarter of 2007.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 63.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017, a bit higher than the 62.9 percent of a year earlier. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Widening Work Gap among Older Americans

College graduates are a big reason for the rising rate of labor force participation among people aged 65 or older, according to an Urban Institute study. Not only are college graduates more likely to be in the labor force than those with less education, but the labor force participation rate of older Americans is rising faster among the college-educated...

Labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older, 2016
No high school diploma: 10.0%
High school graduate only: 15.3%
Some college/associate's degree: 22.0%
Bachelor's degree or more education: 29.3%

Between 1995 and 2016, the labor force participation rate of people aged 65 or older with a bachelor's degree climbed 7.5 percentage points. This compares with a gain of 5.3 percentage points for those with some college, a 3.8 percentage point gain for those with no more than a high school diploma, and a 2.5 percentage point gain for those without a high school diploma.

"As economic security in old age increasingly depends on delaying retirement, less-educated older adults who retire early will likely face financial challenges in later life and fall further behind their better-educated counterparts," notes the study.

Source: Urban Institute, Educational Differences in Employment at Older Ages

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Analyzing 10,000 Murders

Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women under age 45, reports the CDC. What are the characteristics of women who become homicide victims? To find out, the CDC analyzed 10,018 murders of women aged 18 or older occurring from 2003 to 2014 and reported to the National Violent Death Reporting System, which includes data from 18 states. These are some of their characteristics...

Age of homicide victim
18 to 29: 29%
30 to 39: 22%
40 to 49: 21%
50-plus: 28%

Marital status of homicide victim
Married/partner: 32%
Never married: 38%
Separated/divorced: 30%

Education of homicide victim
Less than high school: 25%
High school graduate: 41%
Some college or more: 34%

Women who die by homicide are young and old, from all educational backgrounds, and about evenly split by marital status. What they have in common is that most were murdered by a current or former intimate partner (55 percent) and most were killed by guns (54 percent).

Source: CDC, Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence—United States, 2003–2014

Monday, July 24, 2017

12% Currently Smoke Marijuana

Nearly half of Americans aged 18 or older have tried marijuana, according to a 2017 Gallup survey. The 45 percent who have ever tried marijuana is the highest figure recorded in all the years Gallup has been tracking marijuana use beginning in 1969 (when only 4 percent had ever tried it). A substantial 12 percent of Americans currently smoke marijuana, with younger adults most likely to do so...

Currently smoke marijuana
Aged 18 to 29: 18%
Aged 30 to 49: 10%
Aged 50 to 64: 8%
Aged 65-plus: 3%

Source: Gallup, In U.S., 45% Say They Have Tried Marijuana

Friday, July 21, 2017

Liquor Hits High in Popularity

Beer is America's number-one alcoholic beverage, according to Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll. But liquor is surging. When Gallup asked those who drink alcohol which beverage they are most likely to choose, 26 percent said liquor in the 2017 poll—the highest percentage in the 25 years Gallup has been tracking the trend.

Do you most often drink liquor, wine, or beer?
Beer: 40%
Wine: 30%
Liquor: 26%

"Future measurements will help determine whether the current figure marks the beginning of a trend toward an increased preference for liquor," says Gallup.

Source: Gallup, Beer Remains the Preferred Alcoholic Beverage in the U.S.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going Online for Science and Technology Information

The majority of Americans get most of their information about science and technology from the internet (56 percent), according to the 2016 General Social Survey. But where do they go online for most of that science and tech news? According to a follow-up question, these are the main online sources for those who get most of their science and tech information from the internet...

Main online source of science and tech information
Search engine: 37%
Online newspaper: 25%
Online magazine: 15%
Online news site: 6%
Online science site: 5%
Social media: 4%
Wikipedia: 1%
Other site: 7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Science Makes Our Way of Life Change Too Fast

The 52 percent majority of Americans agree with the statement, "Science makes our way of life change too fast," according to the General Social Survey. Ten years ago, a smaller 45 percent agreed. Every generation is becoming more anxious about how rapidly science is changing our way of life, but alarm is growing the most among the oldest generation—people aged 71 or older in 2016 (61 or older in 2006)...

Agree that "science makes our way of life change too fast," 2016 (and 2006)
Millennials: 48% (40%)
Gen Xers: 53% (47%)
Boomers: 49% (43%)
Older: 68% (53%)

Note: In 2016 Millennials were 22 to 39, Gen Xers were 40 to 51, and Boomers were 52 to 70.
Source: Demo Memo Analysis of the General Social Survey

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

47% Took Prescription Drug in Past 30 Days

Nearly half of Americans (47%) took at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days, according to the 2011–14 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The use of prescription drugs rises with age to more than 90 percent of people aged 65 or older...

Percent who took at least one prescription drug in past 30 days
Under age 18: 21.5%
Aged 18 to 44: 37.1%
Aged 45 to 64: 69.0%
Aged 65-plus: 90.6%

The use of multiple prescription drugs is becoming more common, especially among people aged 65 or older. Overall, 21.5 percent of Americans took three or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days in 2011–14, up from 11.8 percent who did so two decades earlier in 1988–94. Among people aged 65 or older, 67 percent took three or more prescription drugs in the past month, up from 31 percent in 1988–94.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2016

Monday, July 17, 2017

Millennials Living with Parents

Twenty-three percent of high school sophomores of 2002 were living with their parents ten years later in 2012, according to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The longitudinal survey is tracking a representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores as they confront the challenges of adulthood.

Asians, Hispanics, and Blacks are more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to be living with their parents. Here are the percentages of 2002 high school sophomores who were living with their parents in 2012, by race and Hispanic origin...

Asians: 39.2%
Blacks: 28.3%
Hispanics: 32.2%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 18.1% 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later

Friday, July 14, 2017

Some Good News for USPS

First-class mail volume has dropped since its 2001 peak, but it's not all bad news for USPS. In contrast to the first-class mail decline, parcel delivery is booming. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of packages handled by the Postal Service climbed from 3.1 billion to 5.2 billion—a 68 percent increase. Thanks, Amazon!

Source: USPS, A Decade of Facts and Figures

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Making Health Insurance Unaffordable

How much would essential health benefits cost if they were no longer required, as they currently are under the Affordable Care Act, and only those who opted for the service financed the cost? An Urban Institute study has calculated the cost, and it's steep.

The average nongroup marketplace premium was $4,700 in 2017, reports the Urban Institute. But start cherry-picking benefits, and premiums will be much higher. Take maternity care for example. Maternity care accounts for just $278 of the $4,700 annual cost of a typical health insurance plan—not all that much. But if health insurance buyers could opt out of maternity care benefits so that only those who needed maternity care had to pay for it, then those who chose maternity care would see their annual health insurance premium rise by $13,388.

Cherry picking health benefits will greatly increase the cost of health insurance for those who need essential services...

Additional health insurance premium cost if only users finance the service
Inpatient care: $19,071
Maternity care: $13,388
Outpatient care: $5,755
Emergency care: $4,251
Rehabilitative care: $2,247
Office-based care: $1,947
Prescription drugs: $1,836

Source: Urban Institute, The Implications of Cutting Essential Health Benefits: An Analysis of Nongroup Insurance Premiums Under the ACA

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Decline of First Class Mail

First-class mail is in a steep decline, not surprisingly. The number of pieces of first class mail handled by the U.S. Postal Service peaked in 2001 at nearly 104 billion. By 2016, the number had slipped to 61 billion—a 41 percent decline and about what it was in 1981.

The biggest decline in first-class mail volume occurred after the introduction of the smartphone in 2007. Between 2007 and 2011, first-class mail fell by nearly 24 billion pieces—a decline of more than 5 billion pieces a year. Those years account for 56 percent of the overall decline in first-class mail volume since the 2001 peak. In more recent years, the decline in first-class mail volume has slowed to about 1.3 billion pieces a year.

Volume of first-class mail (in billions)
2016: 61.2
2015: 62.6
2011: 72.5
2007: 96.2
2001: 103.7 (peak year)

Source: USPS, Postage Rates and Historical Statistics

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Big Decline in Reading, 2006 to 2016

Fewer Americans are reading on an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey. In every age group, a shrinking share is reading for personal interest as a primary activity on an average day. Overall, the percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who read on an average day fell from 26 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2016. The biggest drops have occurred among older Americans, with double-digit declines among people ranging in age from 45 to 74...

Percent reading on an average day, 2016 (and percentage point change since 2006)
Aged 15 to 19: 8.7% (–1.2)
Aged 20 to 24: 10.1% (–0.5)
Aged 25 to 34: 12.0% (–3.4)
Aged 35 to 44: 13.9% (–7.5)
Aged 45 to 54: 15.3% (–12.2)
Aged 55 to 64: 25.5% (–13.2)
Aged 65 to 74: 33.0% (–14.8)
Aged 75-plus: 46.1% (–8.6)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 American Time Use Survey

Monday, July 10, 2017

Household Income Volatility, 2009 to 2012

In the difficult three-year period between 2009 and 2012, when the United States was struggling to recover from the Great Recession, nearly half of households experienced a dramatic swing in their income—either up or down. A new Census Bureau report examines fluctuations in household income during that time period, using data from the longitudinal Survey of Income and Program Participation. While nearly half of households experienced income volatility, much of it was positive. Despite the difficult economy, the Census Bureau notes that more households saw their income rise than fall.

Change in household income, 2009 to 2012 (in 2012 dollars)
Increased 50 percent or more: 15.9%
Increased 25 percent or more: 24.4%
Changed less than 25 percent: 53.5%
Decreased 25 percent or more: 22.1%
Decreased 50 percent or more: 9.0%

The report also examines the demographic characteristics of households that moved into higher or lower income quintiles during those years.

Source: Census Bureau, Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Fluctuations in the U.S. Income Distribution: 2009–2012

Friday, July 07, 2017

Are Video Games Behind The Decline in Young Men's Work Hours?

Young men are working fewer hours than they once did, and a new study suggests a novel reason for the decline—better video games.

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of hours men aged 21 to 30 worked for pay fell 12 percent, report researchers in a National Bureau of Economic Research study. The percentage of young men who did not work at all, excluding full-time students, climbed from 8 to 15 percent during those years.

To find out why work hours fell, the researchers look at trends in the work hours and leisure time of young men between 2004–07 and 2012–15. As work hours fell, leisure time increased. Young men devoted three-quarters of their increased leisure time to gaming and computers. Using data from the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey, the researchers test their theory that "improved leisure technology raised the return to non-market time and consequently increased the reservation wage of younger men." In other words, it takes more money than it once did to lure young men away from video games.

"Technology growth for recreational computer activities, by increasing the marginal value of leisure, accounts for 23 to 46 percent of the decline in market work for younger men during the 2000s," the researchers conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men, Working Paper 23552 ($5)

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Fewer Births in 46 States

The ongoing baby bust is occurring in 46 states. Nationally, the number of births fell 8.7 percent between 2007 (the year when births peaked at 4.3 million) and 2016 (3.9 million births). By state, the decline during those years is in the double digits in 15 states, with New Mexico seeing the biggest drop...

States with a double-digit decline in births, 2007 to 2016
19% decline: New Mexico
18% decline: Mississippi and Arizona
15% decline: Illinois
14% decline: Georgia, California, and Connecticut
13% decline: New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Rhode Island
12% decline: New Jersey, Nevada, and Vermont
10% decline: Idaho and Maine

The number of births increased in only four states and the District of Columbia between 2007 and 2016: South Dakota (up 0.1%), Alaska (1.4%), Washington (1.7%), D.C. (11.3%), and North Dakota (28.7%).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Going to College Leads to Postponed Parenting

One-third of the high school sophomores of 2002 were parents ten years later in 2012, according to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. The longitudinal survey is tracking a representative sample of 2002 high school sophomores as they confront the challenges of adulthood. One of the key findings is how big a role higher education plays in the timing of childbearing. Here are the percentages of 2002 high school sophomores who had become parents by 2012, by educational attainment...

69.6% of high school dropouts
53.0% of high school diploma only
40.5% of those with some college
35.4% of those with an associate's degree
12.8% of those with a bachelor's degree
9.1% of those with a graduate degree

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Millennials: The Sophomore Class of 2002 a Decade Later

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Adults Under Age 45 Are Watching Less TV

Adults under age 45 are watching less TV on an average day than they did a decade ago, while those aged 45 or older are watching more. Overall, the amount of time people aged 15 or older spend watching television as a primary activity on an average day climbed from 2.57 hours in 2006 to 2.73 hours in 2016. Behind the increase is the aging of the population and the greater amount of time older Americans spend watching television. Here are the trends...

Hours per day spent watching TV in 2016 (and % change since 2006)
Aged 15 to 19: 1.94 (–8.1%)
Aged 20 to 24: 2.12 (–1.9%)
Aged 25 to 34: 1.95 (–11.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 2.07 (–1.9%)
Aged 45 to 54: 2.66 (+11.8%)
Aged 55 to 64: 3.26 (+13.2%)
Aged 65 to 74: 4.10 (+7.0%)
Aged 75-plus: 4.33 (+3.6%)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 American Time Use Survey

Monday, July 03, 2017

Walking for Transportation or Leisure

A growing percentage of Americans are walking for transportation or leisure, according to results of the National Health Interview Survey. When Americans were asked whether they had spent 10 or more minutes walking for transportation or leisure in the past seven days, a larger percentage had done so in 2015 than in 2005: 65 percent of women (up from 57 percent) and 63 percent of men (up from 54 percent).

Source: CDC, Walking for Transportation or Leisure among U.S. Women and Men—National Health Interview Survey, 2005–2015