Friday, December 28, 2018

Most Americans Frequently Socialize with Relatives

More than one-third of Americans aged 18 or older spend a social evening with relatives at least once a week, and 75 percent socialize with relatives at least monthly, according to the 2016 General Social Survey. Millennials are most likely to socialize with their relatives frequently...

Percentage who spend a social evening with relatives at least once a month (or week)
Total, 18-plus: 75% (39%)
Millennials: 80% (43%)
Gen Xers: 72% (38%)
Boomers: 71% (34%)
Older: 69% (31%)

Note: In 2016, Millennials were aged 22 to 39; Generation Xers were aged 40 to 51; Baby Boomers were aged 52 to 70; Older Americans were aged 71 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What the Average Millennial Spends Each Month

CNBC drew the scorn of Twitter last week when it published The Budget Breakdown of a 25-year-old Who Makes $100,000 a Year and is Excellent with Money. Millennial shaming, cried many of the critics, who rightly noted that most Millennials make far less than the subject of the article—a guy named Trevor—and spend more because they need, like, a car.

So let's compare Trevor's spending with the spending of his peers. Using Consumer Expenditure Survey data, the closest comparable demographic is "householders under age 30."

Under age 30    Trevor
Annual income    $48,946    $100,000
Annual spending      43,038        33,300
Monthly spending        3,615          2,775
  Rent*           915             825
  Transportation           657             130
  Groceries           241             400
  Health insurance*           240             270
  Dining out           221             250
  Utilities           124             195
  Cell phone               76               40
  Internet*             54               20

* Average spending of those who spent on item.

The biggest difference between Trevor and his peers is in annual income. Trevor earns more than double the $48,946 average. He spends less than his peers overall and far less on transportation because he doesn't own a car. Most of his peers own at least one vehicle, an average of 1.3 per householder under age 30. Trevor spends much more on groceries and a bit more on dining out.

Not shown in the above table is Trevor's spending on charitable donations, which amounts to an astonishing $615 a month. Few of his peers make any charitable donations—only 7 percent did so in the average quarter of 2017, according to the CEX. Those who did spent only $84 per month on such donations—just a fraction of what Trevor spent.

Not much discussed in the CNBC piece is spending on entertainment. The article mentioned only that Trevor occasionally splurges on a video game. But surely he spends something on movies, music downloads, Netflix, and the like. Householders under age 30 spend an average of $167 a month on entertainment. Trevor rarely buys clothes, according to the article, while his peers spend a modest $38 a month on men's clothes and shoes and $51 per month on women's clothes and shoes. What about shaving cream, haircuts, and toilet paper? Absent from Trevor's budget is spending on housekeeping supplies ($34/month spent by his peers) and personal care products and services ($41 per month). Let's not even get into student loan payments, which Trevor does not have.

With Trevor's outsized income, he saves a lot. With their much smaller incomes and student loan payments, his peers save little—they put an average of only about $50 per month into their retirement plans. Social Security is another story, however. The monthly deduction for householders under age 30 amounts to a hefty $303, making it one of their biggest expenses.

Trevor is no typical Millennial, mostly because of his outsized income. While he may be excellent with money, typical Millennials aren't so bad either as they manage much tighter budgets.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Average Woman Weighs 171 Pounds

The average man weighs 198 pounds. These figures come from the the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which measures the heights and weights of a nationally representative sample of the population. Here's the trend in the age-adjusted weight of men and women since the turn of the century...

Average weight of men aged 20-plus (in pounds)
2015–2016: 198
2009–2010: 196
1999–2000: 189

Average weight of women aged 20-plus (in pounds)
2015–2016: 171
2009–2010: 166
1999–2000: 164

While weights have increased over the years, heights have remained the same. The 2015–16 survey found the average man to be a bit over 5 feet 9 inches tall. The average woman is almost 5 feet 4 inches in height. These heights have barely budged since 2000.

With heights unchanged and weight increasing, body mass index is rising. The average man has a body mass index of 29.1, up from 27.8 in 1999–00. The average woman has a body mass index of 29.6, up from 28.2 in 1999–00. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight, so the average American is overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, so the average American is very close to being obese.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Mean Body Weight, Height, Waist Circumference, and Body Mass Index among Adults: United States, 1999–2000 through 2015–16

Friday, December 21, 2018

Contraceptive Use by Women Aged 15 to 49, 2015–17

The most common type of contraceptive used by American women is sterilization, according to the federal government's 2015–17 National Survey of Family Growth. The survey asks women about the type of contraceptive they used during the month of the survey interview. Here is the distribution of women aged 15 to 49 by contraceptive use...

Total using contraception: 65%
19% use female sterilization
13% use oral contraceptive pill
  9% use condoms
  8% use long-acting reversible intrauterine device
  6% use male sterilization
  5% use periodic abstinence or withdrawal
  2% use long-acting reversible contraceptive implant
  2% use 3-month injectable (Depo-Provera)
  1% use contraceptive ring or patch

Total not using contraception: 35%
10% never had sexual intercourse
  8% are taking their chances
  7% did not have intercourse in the three months before the interview
  4% are trying to become pregnant
  4% are pregnant or postpartum
  3% are noncontraceptively sterile (female or male)

Only 8 percent of women aged 15 to 49 are sexually active and not using any form of contraception.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Current Contraceptive Status among Women Aged 15-49: United States, 2015–2017

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Three States Lost Population, 2010 to 2018

The population of the District of Columbia grew 16 percent between 2010 and 2018, according to the Census Bureau's latest state population estimates, putting the nation's capital at the top of the fastest-growing list. These are the decade's fastest growing states...

FASTEST GROWING (percent change in population, 2010–18)
16.1% District of Columbia
13.9% Utah
13.7% Texas
13.0% Florida
12.8% Colorado
12.7% North Dakota
12.3% Nevada
11.9% Arizona
11.8% Washington
11.7% Idaho

At the bottom of the list, three states lost population between 2010 and 2018: West Virginia, Illinois, and Connecticut. These are the decade's slowest growing states...

SLOWEST GROWING (percent change in population, 2010–18)
1.2% Michigan
0.8% Maine
0.8% Pennsylvania
0.7% New York
0.5% Mississippi
0.3% Rhode Island
0.1% Vermont
–0.2% Connecticut
–0.8% Illinois
–2.6% West Virginia

While three states registered losses in the 2010-to-2018 time period, a larger eight states lost population in the most recent year. Between 2017 and 2018, the losing states included not only West Virginia and Illinois, but also Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana, New York, Hawaii, and Alaska. One reason for the spreading losses is the ongoing baby bust, according to the Census Bureau. Nationally, natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) has fallen from 1.8 million in 2008 to just 1.0 million in 2018.

Source: Census Bureau, Population and Housing Unit Estimates

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Most Young Adults Are in School Until Age 22

Young adults stay in school longer than they once did. Most are in school until age 22, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 school enrollment data. In 2000, this transition into adulthood occurred two years earlier—at age 20.

Percent of young adults enrolled in school, 2017
Aged 18: 73.7%
Aged 19: 62.5%
Aged 20: 59.2%
Aged 21: 51.0%
Aged 22: 36.4%

Hispanics leave school at a younger age than any other race or Hispanic origin group. The percentage of Hispanics who are enrolled in school falls below 50 percent at age 20. Among Blacks, the age when most are no longer students is 21, and among non-Hispanic Whites it is 22. Asians leave school at an older age than any other race or Hispanic origin group. Most Asians are enrolled in school until age 23. Even among 23-year-old Asians, however, a substantial 46 percent are still in school.

Marketers targeting young adults should keep in mind these lifestyle differences. Among 21-year-olds, for example, the percentage who are enrolled in school ranges from a low of 42 percent among Blacks and Hispanics to a high of 80 percent among Asians.

Source: Census Bureau, School Enrollment in the United States: October 2017—Detailed Tables

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Spending Categories in the 2017 CEX

It's a treasure hunt when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Consumer Expenditure Survey each year. Reporters scour the figures for stories, demographers for trends. The ups and downs in average household spending are, of course, the headline makers. But there are many other newsworthy nuggets hidden in each year's release—such as the new spending categories added to the list each year as the BLS attempts to keep up with the changing economy. Here are some of the new categories of 2017...

Electric vehicle charging: While data for new categories such as this one are not yet plentiful enough to draw conclusions, the partial year data show 45-to-54-year-olds to be the biggest spenders on electric vehicle charging.

Dental, vision, and prescription drug insurance: The BLS has broken up the monolithic category "other health insurance" into the important subcategories of dental, vision, and prescription drug. Average household spending is greatest for dental insurance.

Movie tickets: For many years spending on movie tickets was lumped into a single category that also included theater tickets and admissions to parks and museums. Slowly, slowly, the BLS separated one type of admission from another. Finally, beginning in 2017, spending on movie tickets is a category of its own, allowing analysts to track this important expenditure.

Nonphysician health care services inside/outside the home: The BLS has split the single nonphysician health care services category into two categories to allow for analysis of where the need for these services is greatest (or most costly). The partial year data show average household spending on these services at home to be twice as great as outside the home.

Video rental, streaming, and downloading: This new category is a combination of what had been two separate categories—video cassette, tape, and disc rentals; and streaming, downloading videos. The new combined category means that analysts can no longer track spending on streamed and downloaded video, which was the fastest-growing entertainment category of the 2006-to-2016 decade.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Panhandler Problem: No Cash

Panhandlers have a problem. Increasing numbers of Americans don't have any cash to give them. Only 53 percent of  the public always carries cash, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, down from 60 percent in 2015. Forty-six percent of the public feels comfortable carrying no cash at all, up from 39 percent who felt that way three years ago.

Percent who feel comfortable without cash by age, 2018
Total adults: 46%
Under age 50: 52%
Aged 50-plus: 38%

Younger adults are leading the way toward a cashless society. More than one-third (34 percent) of adults under age 50 do not use cash in a typical week, according to Pew. Among adults aged 50 or older, the figure is 23 percent. The percentage who don't use cash in a typical week is rising...

Use of cash during typical week in 2018 (and 2015)
Use cash for most purchases: 18% (24%)
Use cash for some purchases: 52% (51%)
Use cash for no purchases: 29% (24%)

Source: Pew Research Center, More Americans Are Making No Weekly Purchases with Cash

Friday, December 14, 2018

College Graduation Rates at Four-Year Schools

Many students who enroll at a four-year college fail to earn their bachelor's degree, according to the latest figures from the National Center for Education Statistics. Among full-time, first-time students seeking a bachelor's degree at four-year schools beginning in 2011, only 60.4 percent earned the degree within six years at that institution. Here are the percentages by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent of 2011 cohort completing bachelor's degree within 6 years
39.8% of Blacks
55.0% of Hispanics
64.3% of Whites
74.1% of Asians

Graduation rates within six years are above average at private, nonprofit schools (66 percent), about average at public schools (60 percent), and far below average at for-profit private schools (just 21 percent).

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2009–14; Outcome Measures for Cohort Year 2009–10; Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2015–17; and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2017

Thursday, December 13, 2018

How Many Attended Arts Events in 2017?

More Americans are attending arts events, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA's 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts is an occasional supplement to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, asking Americans aged 18 or older whether they have attended a variety of arts events in the past 12 months. Here is a look at the percentage who attended arts events (or engaged in literary reading) in 2017...

52.7% read any books not required for work or school
41.8% read novels or short stories
28.3% visited parks, monuments, buildings, or neighborhoods for historic or design value
24.2% attended outdoor performing arts festivals
23.8% visited craft fairs or visual arts festivals
23.7% visited art museums or galleries
16.5% attended musical plays
11.7% read poetry
  9.4% attended nonmusical plays
  8.6% attended classical music concerts
  8.6% attended jazz music events
  6.3% attended dance performances other than ballet
  5.9% attended Latin, Spanish, or salsa music events
  3.7% read plays
  3.1% attended ballets
  2.2% attended operas

Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of adults who took part in arts events increased for a number of activities such as attending outdoor performing arts festivals (up 3.4 percentage points), visiting art museums or galleries (2.7 percentage points), and touring parks, monuments, buildings, etc. (4.4 percentage points). The percentage of adults who read any book fell 1.9 percentage points, however, and reading novels or short stories was down an even larger 3.4 percentage points.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Trends in Arts Attendance and Literary Reading: 2002–2017: A First Look at Results form the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

College Enrollment Declines in Tight Labor Market

With help wanted signs multiplying across the nation, college enrollment continues to decline. Only 18.4 million students were enrolled in college in 2017, according to the Census Bureau, nearly 2 million fewer than the 2011 high of 20.4 million.

College enrollment by type of school in 2017 (and 2011)
Total enrollment: 18.4 million (20.4 million)
Two-year colleges: 4.3 million (5.7 million)
Four-year colleges: 10.3 million (10.9 million)
Graduate schools: 3.8 million (3.8 million)

Enrollment trends since 2011 differ by type of school. The biggest decline occurred at two-year schools as the tightening labor market lured students away from campus. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of students at two-year schools fell by a substantial 25 percent—a loss of 1.4 million. The enrollment decline at two-year schools accounts for most of the overall decline in college students since 2011.

Graduate school is a different story. The 3.81 million enrolled in graduate school in 2017 was slightly greater than the 3.77 million enrolled in 2011.

Four-year schools are yet another story. Yes, enrollment in four-years schools in 2017 was below the 2011 level. But in contrast to two-year or graduate schools, enrollment in four-year schools peaked much more recently—in 2016, at 11.15 million. Between 2016 and 2017, enrollment in four-year schools fell by more than 800,000. Is this decline just a blip, or is the labor market looking so good that four-year schools are about to experience the type of decline that has dogged two-year schools over the past few years?

Source: Census Bureau, School Enrollment in the United States: October 2017—Detailed Tables

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Who Spends the Most on Women's Clothes?

Boomers spend more than any other generation on women's clothes, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey. While the average household spent $580 on women's clothes in 2017, households headed by Baby Boomers spent $661...

Average household spending on women's clothes, 2017
$661 spent by Boomers
$647 spent by Gen Xers
$493 spent by Millennials
$419 spent by the Silent Generation
$209 spent by the World War II generation

Baby boomers also control the largest share of the women's clothing market...

Distribution of aggregate household spending on women's clothes, 2017 
39% controlled by Boomers
30% controlled by Gen Xers
21% controlled by Millennials
10% controlled by Silent and WWII

In an average week, a substantial 20 percent of Boomer and Gen X households buy women's clothes. Among Millennials, the figure is 18 percent.

Note: BLS definitions of the generations are as follows: WWII generation born in 1927 or earlier; Silent generation born from 1928 to 1945; Boomers born from 1946 to 1964; Generation X born from 1965 to 1980; Millennials born in 1981 or later.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, December 10, 2018

27% Say They Have a Pre-existing Condition

Only 27 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they have a pre-existing condition, according to a Gallup poll. Among people aged 65 or older, just 38 percent say they have such a condition. These unrealistically low figures show that the public either doesn't understand the meaning of "pre-existing condition" or is afraid to admit they have one—even to a pollster. Government data show that a much larger share of Americans have what could be considered a pre-existing condition. For example...

Clearly, millions more Americans have pre-existing conditions than are willing to admit it, including the majority of older Americans. Why, then, is there any debate at all about whether health insurance companies should be prohibited from denying coverage because of a person's medical history?

Source: Gallup, One in Four U.S. Adults Say They Have a Pre-Existing Condition

Friday, December 07, 2018

Student Debt in 2017

Average student debt upon graduation grew to $28,650 in 2017, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. This is the debt owed by 2017 graduates from the nation's four-year public and nonprofit colleges. It does not include amounts borrowed by parents for their children. It also does not include the amount owed by graduates of for-profit schools, who typically owe the most.

Overall, 65 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. The figure varies by state. It was highest in New Hampshire, South Dakota, and West Virginia, where 74 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. It was lowest in Utah, where only 38 percent have student loan debt. Graduates in Connecticut have the highest average debt ($38,510), followed by Pennsylvania ($36,854), and Rhode Island ($36,250). Average debt is lowest in Utah ($18,838).

In California, the state with the most bachelor's degree recipients, a below-average 50 percent of 2017 graduates have student loans. Those with loans owe an average of $22,785—20 percent less than the average college graduate with debt.

Source: Institute for College Access and Success, Student Debt and the Class of 2017

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Retirement Readiness Lags, Especially for Hispanics

The retirement readiness of Americans took a hit from the Great Recession and has yet to recover, according to study by the Center for Retirement Research. CRR researchers assessed retirement readiness by race and Hispanic origin using the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) and found Hispanics to be worse off than Blacks or non-Hispanic Whites.

The National Retirement Risk Index is calculated by comparing a household's pre-retirement income with the income they are projected to have in retirement based on Social Security benefits, retirement savings, and the hypothetical annuitization of all their assets including housing. Households whose estimated retirement income falls at least 10 percent below their pre-retirement income are considered at risk of having insufficient funds to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. CRR determined NRRI for households headed by 30-to-59-year-olds by race and Hispanic origin using data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. In 2016, 50 percent of the nation's households fell below the target, meaning half of households are at risk of not being able to maintain their current standard of living in retirement. The 2016 NRRI is lower than the 53 percent of 2010 but significantly higher than the 44 percent of 2007.

National Retirement Risk Index by race and Hispanic origin in 2016 (and 2007)
Total: 50% (44%)
Black: 54% (52%)
Hispanic: 61% (51%)
Non-Hispanic White: 48% (42%)

Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, more households were at risk of running short of money in retirement in 2016 than in 2007. But Hispanics were worse off than Blacks or non-Hispanic Whites, the CRR study found. "The deterioration for Hispanics reflects their buying housing in the wrong places at the wrong time," explain the researchers. Fully 40 percent of Hispanic households live in the states hardest hit by the Great Recession (Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California) compared with only 20 percent of non-Hispanic White or Black households. Consequently, the value of the homes owned by Hispanics took a bigger hit, losing twice as much in value between 20017 and 2016 (41 percent) as the homes of non-Hispanic Whites or Blacks (21 and 22 percent, respectively). The stability in the NRRI for Black households, the researchers say, is due to Blacks' relatively low pre-retirement standard of living, which is easier to achieve in retirement because of Social Security's progressive benefit formula.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Trends in Retirement Security by Race/Ethnicity

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

10.7 Million Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S.

The unauthorized immigrant population in the United States is shrinking, according to a Pew Research Center report. In 2016, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., down from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007. Behind the decline are fewer unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, their number falling from 6.95 million in 2007 to 5.45 million in 2016. As the number of Mexicans has declined, the number of Central Americans has grown, rising from 1.50 million in 2007 to 1.85 million in 2016.

Pew's report examines not only trends in the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States, but also their characteristics. Here are some of the findings...
  • Most unauthorized adult immigrants are long-term residents, having been in the country for a median of 14.8 years.
  • Nearly 700,000 young adults in the U.S. were brought here illegally as children and have temporary protection from deportation under DACA. 
  • 5 million American-born children live with unauthorized immigrant parents.
  • The share of K–12 students who have at least one unauthorized immigrant parent is 20 percent in Nevada, 13 percent in Texas and California, and 11 percent in Arizona and Colorado.
  • Unauthorized immigrants account for 24 percent of the nation's foreign-born population. 
  • Unauthorized immigrants are 4.8 percent of the U.S. labor force. They account for 24 percent of the farm workforce and 15 percent of construction workers.

Pew Research Center, U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Total Dips to Lowest Level in a Decade

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Mobility Rate of Renters Falls to 20.1%

The nation's mobility rate hit an all-time low of 10.1 percent in 2017–18, primarily because fewer renters are moving. The mobility rate of renters fell to 20.1 percent in 2017–18, down from more than 30 percent in the early 2000s. One reason for the decline in the mobility rate of renters is that fewer of them are moving after buying a house.

Number of renters aged 1 or older who moved after buying a house (in 000s)
2017–18: 2,350
2016–17: 2,554
2010–11: 1,544 (low)
2005–06: 3,415
2001–02: 4,334
2000–01: 3,942

In 2017–18, about 2.4 million renters moved after buying a house. While this number is higher than the post-Great Recession low of 1.5 million in 2010–11, it is well below the 4.3 million of 2001–02. What are the characteristics of renters who move after buying a house? The 57 percent majority are people aged 30 to 44 and children under age 16. 

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Monday, December 03, 2018

Median Household Income Stable in October 2018

Median household income in October 2018 stood at $63,220, reports Sentier Research, unchanged from September after adjusting for inflation. The September and October medians are the highest recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The October 2018 median was 2.6 percent higher than the October 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.7 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.8 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in October 2018 was 103.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: October 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

Another Decline in Life Expectancy

Life expectancy at birth fell to 78.6 years in 2017, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, down from 78.7 years in 2016. Life expectancy also fell in 2015, held steady in 2016 according to revised numbers, then fell again in 2017. "The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s," reports the New York Times about the trend. Behind the decline are rising death rates for 7 of the 10 leading causes of death including unintentional injuries and suicide.

Unintentional injuries: Most drug overdose deaths are included in the "unintentional injuries" cause of death. The number of drug overdose deaths climbed to 70,237 in 2017, up from 63,632 in 2016. The death rate from drug overdoses was 21.7 per 100,000 population in 2017, up from 12.3 in 2010 and 6.2 in 2000.

Suicide: Suicides are also on the rise. Between 1999 and 2017 the suicide rate increased 33 percent, climbing from 10.5 to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 population. Suicide rates are much higher for men than for women. They are much higher in rural than in urban counties, and the gap is growing. The suicide rate in the most rural counties was 36 percent greater than the rate in the most urban counties in 1999. The rural rate was 80 percent higher in 2017.

The decline in life expectancy in 2017 was limited to males and people under age 65. "People are increasingly hopeless," said George Washington University disease prevention expert Dr. William Dietz in the New York Times, "and that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2017 and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2017 and Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Which Generation Is In Control?

When the 116th Congress takes over in January 2019, the Baby-Boom generation will account for a shrinking majority of representatives, according to an analysis by Pew Research Center. The Boomer share of the total will fall from 62.1 percent in the 115th Congress to 53.9 percent in the 116th Congress. While Boomers and older Americans are a shrinking share of those in control of the House of Representatives, Gen Xers and Millennials are making gains...

Generational distribution of the 116th Congress (and 115th)
Millennials: 6.0% (1.1%)
Gen Xers: 31.5% (27.1%)
Boomers: 53.9% (62.1%)
Silent: 8.6% (9.7%)

Newly elected House Democrats (median age 45.8) are younger than newly elected House Republicans (median age 48.9), Pew reports, but re-elected House Democrats (median age 64.3) are older than re-elected House Republicans (median age 58.4). House leadership is even older, at least among Democrats. Roll Call political columnist @MrWalter Shapiro notes that all Democratic leaders of the House are members of the Silent generation.

Source: Pew Research Center, Millennials, Gen X Increase Their Ranks in the House, Especially among Democrats

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mobility Rate Falls to 10.1%

Another record low: the percentage of the population aged 1 or older who moved from one house to another in the past 12 months fell to a new low of 10.1 percent between March 2017 and March 2018. Today's mobility rate is less than half the rate of 1960-61.

Mobility rate for selected years
2017–18: 10.1%
2016–17: 11.0%
2000–01: 14.2%
1990–91: 17.0%
1980–81: 17.2%
1970–71: 18.7%
1960–61: 20.6%
1950–51: 21.2%

The decline in mobility has been greatest among young adults. Take a look at the decline in the mobility rate of Americans aged 20 to 34 since the turn of the century...

Mobility rate of young adults in 2017–18 (and 2000–01)
Aged 20 to 24: 20.3% (32.7%)
Aged 25 to 29: 20.2% (29.5%)
Aged 30 to 34: 14.4% (20.6%)

Why has the mobility rate of young adults declined so steeply? One factor is student loans. Many young adults live with their parents, rather than on their own, as they pay down their debt.

Source: Census Bureau, Migration/Geographic Mobility

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The BLS Strikes Back

"You talkin' to me?" That famous line could describe the response of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to a critical NBER study, which suggested that the Current Population Survey's labor force questions undercount the nation's employed and multiple job holders because they fail to capture much of the informal economy—or gig work.

The BLS has fired back, defending the CPS labor force questions in a recent Monthly Labor Review article. In the article, BLS researchers compare results from the CPS with those from the American Time Use Survey, which asks respondents about "income-generating activities" in addition to whether they have a main or other job. The finding: the nation’s overall employment figures are minimally affected by including respondents who report unemployment on the CPS and income-generating activities on the ATUS. This inclusion would increase overall employment by between 0.4 and 3.0 percent. A bigger effect is seen for multiple job holders. By including in the multiple job holder count those who report having a single job on the CPS and additional income-generating activities on ATUS, the increase in multiple job holders ranges from between 3.0 and a substantial 20.7 percent. The increase is especially large for young adults (as high as 42 percent for people under age 25), women (27 percent), and the less educated (23 percent for those with a high school diploma or less education).

While admitting there could be more multiple job holders than the official CPS numbers indicate, the BLS dismisses the notion that the CPS has missed a surge in gig work. The article concludes: "Despite anecdotal evidence of a large increase in the number of gig workers in recent years, ATUS estimates do not show a marked increase since 2003–07 in either the percentage of people who did income-generating activities or in the amount of time spent by those who did these activities."

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Measuring Labor Market Activity Today: Are the Words Work and Job too Limiting for Surveys?

Monday, November 26, 2018

Suicide Rate by Occupation

The suicide rate among the working-age population (aged 16 to 64) is rising, reports the CDC. To try to "inform suicide prevention efforts," the CDC is tracking suicide rates by occupation because "the workplace is an important but underutilized location for suicide prevention."

Among men, those working in construction and extraction have the highest suicide rate, at 53.2 suicides per 100,000 population in 2015. Among women, those working in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media have the highest rate—15.6 suicides per 100,000 population. Here are men's suicide rates by occupation, ranked from highest to lowest...

Men's suicide rate per 100,000 population by occupation, 2015
Construction and extraction: 53.2
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media: 39.7
Installation, maintenance, and repair: 39.1
Transportation and material moving: 30.9
Production: 30.5
Protective service: 28.2
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance: 26.8
Health care practitioners and technical: 25.6
Faming, fishing, and forestry: 22.8
Sales and related: 21.5
Food preparation and serving: 20.9
Health care support: 19.5
Architecture and engineering: 19.4
Legal: 18.7
Management: 17.8
Personal care and service: 16.5
Computer and mathematical: 16.1
Office and administrative support: 15.8
Life, physical and social science: 15.0
Community and social service: 14.6
Business and financial operations: 13.0
Education, training, and library: 10.9

Between 2012 and 2015, men's suicide rate increased the most in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations—up 47 percent. The second largest increase (43 percent) was among those working in food preparation and serving. Among women, the biggest increase in the suicide rate occurred among those in food preparation and serving (54 percent), followed by art, design, entertainment, sports and media (34 percent).

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Suicide Rates by Major Occupational Group—17 States, 2012 and 2015

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

How Much Do You Pay for Health Insurance?

The nation's private-sector workers who receive health insurance from an employer pay only a fraction of the cost. Their employer pays the rest. Here are the latest health insurance cost estimates from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and how they compare to costs in 2004...

Average annual cost for single coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $6,368 ($3,705)
Employer contribution: $4,953 ($3,034)
Employee contribution: $1,415 ($671)

Average annual cost for employee plus-one coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $12,789 ($7,056)
Employer contribution: $9,258 ($5,390)
Employee contribution: $3,531 ($1,667)

Average annual cost for family coverage in 2017 (and 2004)
Total premium: $18,687 ($10,006)
Employer contribution: $13,469 ($7,568)
Employee contribution: $5,218 ($2,438)

Employee contributions for health insurance have more than doubled since 2004, and employer contributions have grown 63 to 78 percent. Employer contributions grew more slowly during those years because private-sector businesses are requiring their employees to pay a higher share of the total. For employees with single coverage, their share of the health insurance premium grew from 18 to 22 percent between 2004 and 2017. For those with plus-one or family coverage, their share of the bill climbed from 24 to 28 percent.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, MEPS Insurance Component Chartbook 2017

Monday, November 19, 2018

Use of E-Cigarettes Surges among Teens

More than 3 million high school students use electronic cigarettes, according to the CDC, up from just 220,000 a few years ago. The CDC defines use of e-cigarettes as having one or more in the past 30 days. Here is how use has grown since 2011...

Percentage of 9th-12th graders who used 1 or more e-cigarettes in the past 30 days
2018: 20.8%
2011:   1.5%

Two out of three high school students who vaped in the past month used the flavored variety. No wonder the FDA is planning to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes to teens.

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Notes from the Field: Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Median Age at First Marriage Continues to Rise

The median age at which men and women marry for the first time continues to set records, rising to an all-time high of 29.8 years for men and 27.8 years for women in 2018. Here is the trend since 2000...

Women: median age at first marriage
2018: 27.8
2015: 27.1
2010: 26.1
2005: 25.3
2000: 25.1

Men: median age at first marriage
2018: 29.8
2015: 29.2
2010: 28.2
2005: 27.1
2000: 26.8

The lowest median age at first marriage was recorded in 1956, when women married for the first time at 20.1 and men at 22.5.

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Marital Status Tables

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Households with Children Under Age 18: 27.0%

Only 27.0 percent of the nation's households include children under age 18, according to the Census Bureau's families and living arrangements data for 2018. This is a record low. The figure was 30 percent in 2010 and as high as 49 percent in 1960. Since 2010, the share of households with children has fallen in every age group under age 40 and increased in every age group 40-plus...

Percent of households with children under age 18, in 2018 (and 2010)
Under age 25: 19.5% (28.0%)
Aged 25 to 29: 35.6% (42.8%)
Aged 30 to 34: 52.3% (59.2%)
Aged 35 to 39: 64.7% (67.4%)
Aged 40 to 44: 61.8% (59.8%)
Aged 45 to 49: 47.7% (44.4%)
Aged 50 to 54: 25.9% (22.7%)
Aged 55 to 64: 7.8% (6.6%)
Aged 65-plus: 1.3% (1.0%)

Source: Census Bureau, America's Families and Living Arrangements 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Regrets about Not Saving More

What are the chances you will regret not saving more money when you were younger? Better than even, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study of "saving regret."

NBER researchers measured saving regret by surveying a nationally representative sample of Americans aged 60 or older using the RAND American Life Panel. Respondents were asked to think back to when they were 45-years-old. If they could re-do their spending and saving from then to now, would they save more, save the same, or save less? The finding: Most wish they had saved more when they were younger. Fully 58.5 percent had saving regret.

The researchers correlated saving regret not only with demographic characteristics, but also with other factors such as income shocks—both positive and negative—and personality. Fully 68 percent of respondents with negative income shocks had saving regret. Among those with positive income shocks, a smaller 49 percent had saving regret. Respondents whose planning horizon was longer than 10 years were less likely to have regret (51 percent) than those who planned only a few months ahead (65 percent). By demographic characteristic, younger respondents were more likely to have regret. Among respondents aged 60 to 64, two out of three (65 percent) had saving regret. Among respondents aged 75 or older, the figure was 42 percent. While 45 percent of respondents with a graduate degree had saving regret, the figure was a larger 61 percent among those with a high school diploma or less education.

As you can see from the above statistics, feelings of regret are common—even among those who are seemingly on top of their game. "Perhaps regret or the wish to re-do past decisions is part of the human condition," conclude the researchers. Even among respondents in the top income and wealth quartiles, regret is substantial—39 percent of those in the top wealth quartile and 46 percent of those in the top income quartile had saving regret.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Saving Regret, Working Paper 25238

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Who Uses YouTube?

Among social media platforms, nothing is as popular as YouTube—not even Facebook, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. Fully 73 percent of Americans aged 18 or older use YouTube, surpassing the 68 percent who use Facebook. Among younger adults, the figures are even higher...

Percent who use YouTube by age, 2018
Aged 18 to 24: 94%
Aged 25 to 29: 88%
Aged 30 to 49: 85%
Aged 50 to 64: 68%
Aged 65-plus: 40%

What's so great about YouTube? That's a question only 27 percent of adults might ask—those who haven't yet caught on to what YouTube offers—primarily instruction and explanation. The largest share of YouTube users (51 percent) say the site is very important for helping them learn how to do things they haven't done before, 19 percent say it is very important for helping them decide whether to buy a particular product, and 19 percent say it is very important for helping them understand things happening in the world. Only 28 percent say YouTube is very important just for passing the time.

But there is a dark side to YouTube, and most YouTube users have encountered it. Sixty percent say they have seen videos that show people engaging in dangerous or troubling behavior, the Pew Survey found. Among the 81 percent of parents who let their children aged 11 or younger watch YouTube, 61 percent say their child has encountered unsuitable content. "Numerous researchers have noted that a great deal of children's content on YouTube consists of simple, repetitive animated videos with modest production values and seemingly random titles designed specifically to appeal to the site's search function and automated recommendation system," Pew states.

For an eye-opening examination of the unsavory content in some YouTube videos for children, see Weird Kids Videos and Gaming the Algorithm.

Source: Pew Research Center, Social Media Use in 2018 and Many Turn to YouTube for Children's Content, News, How-To Lessons

Monday, November 12, 2018

Most Children Live with Siblings

Among the nation's 74 million children under age 18, more than three out of four (78 percent) live with siblings. Only 22 percent do not have one or more siblings at home, according to the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation...

58% of children share their home only with biological/adopted siblings
11% of children share their home only with half/step siblings
  8% of children share their home with biological/adopted and half/step siblings
22% of children do not have siblings living with them

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: Parental Interaction, School Engagement, and Extracurricular Activities: 2014

Friday, November 09, 2018

Millions of Americans Practice Yoga

There's a reason you see so many people walking down the street with yoga mats. Millions of Americans practice yoga, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. The NCHS regards yoga as a "complementary" medicine—meaning a form of alternative medicine for health and wellness. Every now and then it surveys the population to determine just how many people practice (or "use") yoga. An increasing number of them, it seems. In 2017, a substantial 14.3 percent of adults aged 18 or older had used yoga in the past 12 months—more than 35 million people. This figure is up from 9.5 percent in 2012. The use of yoga varies by demographic characteristic, of course...

  • 20 percent of women practice yoga versus 9 percent of men.
  • Yoga is most popular among younger adults. In the 18-to-44 age group, 18 percent practiced yoga in the past 12 months. The figure was 12 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds, and 7 percent among people aged 65 or older. 
  • 17 percent of non-Hispanic Whites practiced yoga in the past 12 months. The figure was 9 percent among Blacks and 8 percent among Hispanics.

The practice of yoga has become more mainstream, the NCHS concludes.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Big Growth in 401(k) Balances

Consistency pays off. Workers who consistently participate in their 401(k) plan have seen their account balance grow rapidly over the past few years, according to an analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

EBRI tracked the account balances of workers who contributed (or their employers contributed) to their 401(k) plan in every year from 2010 through 2016 to determine how their accounts did over the time period. They did well. The average plan balance for consistent participants climbed from $75,378 to $167,330 between 2010 and 2016. That's a compound average annual growth rate of 14 percent. Here is how account balances grew over those years by age of worker in 2016...

Average 401(k) account balance of consistent participants in 2016 (and in 2010)
Workers in their 20s:   $34,956 (   $3,998)
Workers in their 30s:   $77,927 (  $21,804)
Workers in their 40s: $146,624 (  $57,117)
Workers in their 50s: $217,447 (  $99,388)
Workers in their 60s: $204,783 ($117,139)

Source: EBRI, What Does Consistent Participation in 401(k) Plans Generate? Changes in 401(k) Plan Account Balances, 2010—2016

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

How Many Boomers Are Middle-Aged?

On average, American women think "old age" begins at 70, according to an AARP survey of women. But the age at which "old age" begins differs by generation...

Age at which "old age" begins
Millennials: 67
Gen Xers: 70
Boomers: 74

The same phenomena occurs when women are asked at what age "middle age" begins. On average, they say it begins at 47, but here are the answers by generation...

Age at which "middle age" begins
Millennials: 44
Gen Xers: 47
Boomers: 51

Among Boomer women, 78 percent regard themselves as middle-aged, according to the AARP survey. But according to the Boomer definition of middle age—which stretches from 51 to 73—the entire generation (aged 54 to 72 this year) is still middle-aged. Even by Millennial standards, 80 percent of Boomers are middle-aged and not yet old.

Source: AARP, Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Women's Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Teens from Poor Families Less Likely to Play Sports

Teenagers at or near poverty level are much less likely than their higher-income counterparts to play sports, according to the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation. Among all teenagers aged 12 to 17, a substantial 44.5 percent participate in sports. But this figure is as low as 33 percent among those with family incomes below poverty level. Here is the percentage of teens who play sports by family income...

Percent of 12-to-17-year-olds who play sports by family income relative to poverty level
Family income below poverty level: 32.9%
100 to 199 percent of poverty level: 35.2%
200 to 299 percent of poverty level: 44.3%
300 to 399 percent of poverty level: 51.3%
400 percent or more of poverty level: 56.5%

Poor and near-poor teens are also are less likely to take part in other extracurricular activities such as clubs and lessons. This is a problem, the Census Bureau says, because "participation in activities is particularly important for children from low-income families as it mediates some of the socioeconomic disadvantage."

Source: Census Bureau, A Child's Day: Parental Interaction, School Engagement, and Extracurricular Activities: 2014

Most Democrats Are Afraid of Global Warming

Americans are polarized on many issues, and fear of global warming/climate change is one of them. The public is almost evenly divided on the spectrum of fear towards global warming, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Among all adults, 26 percent are "very afraid" of global warming/climate change, and 27 percent are "afraid." Another 23 percent are only "slightly afraid" of global warming, and 24 percent are "not afraid."

Behind the divide are the differing attitudes of Democrats and Republicans. While three out of four Democrats are afraid of global warming (afraid or very afraid), three out of four Republicans are not (slightly afraid or not afraid).

Fear of global warming/climate change by party affiliation, 2018

  Democrats   Republicans
Total  100.0%   100.0%
Very afraid    43.0       5.5
Afraid    33.6     20.3
Slightly afraid    17.8     32.3
Not afraid      5.7     41.8

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Top 10 Fears by Party Affiliation

Monday, November 05, 2018

Excuses, Excuses

In the last midterm election in 2014, only 17 percent of 18-to-24-year-old citizens voted—the lowest rate of any age group. When the young adults who did not vote were asked by the Census Bureau why they failed to show up at the polls. These were their reasons...

32% said they were too busy
17% said they were not interested
14% said they were out of town
10% forgot

Other reasons given by 18-to-24-year-olds for not voting included not liking the candidates (4 percent), illness (3 percent), registration problems (3 percent), an inconvenient polling place (2 percent), transportation problems (2 percent), and "other" (8 percent). Five percent of nonvoters refused to explain why they didn't cast a ballot.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2014

Friday, November 02, 2018

Most Say Trump Has Encouraged White Supremacists

That's what the 54 percent majority of Americans think, according to a PRRI survey. Here are the percentages who feel this way by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent who think Trump has encouraged white supremacists
72% of Blacks
68% of Hispanics
58% of non-Hispanic Whites with a four-year college degree
38% of non-Hispanic Whites without a four-year college degree

Not surprisingly, Democrats (83 percent) are far more likely than Republicans (15 percent) to feel that Trump has encouraged white supremacists.

Source: PRRI, Partisan Polarization Dominates Trump Era: Findings from the 2018 American Values Survey

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in September 2018

Another month of good news: Median household income in September 2018 climbed to $63,007, reports Sentier Research. This is the highest median recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The September 2018 median was 3.7 percent higher than the September 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

"We are at a point now where real median household income is 3.7 percent higher than January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. "Not an impressive performance by any means over a period spanning almost two decades, but the trend line has been positive for about seven years." More impressive is the 14.8 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in September 2018 was 103.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: September 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 3rd Quarter 2018

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, third quarter 2018: 57.5%

The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds—the nation's first-time home buyers—inched upwards in the third quarter of 2018, rising above 57 percent for only the second time since 2012. Post Great Recession, the homeownership rate of the age group dipped as low as 54.6 percent in 2015. It peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. The third quarter rate is closer to the bottom than the top, but a slight upward trend in homeownership may be in evidence. 

What about their younger counterparts, aged 30 to 34, who were once the nation's first-time home buyers? Their homeownership rate rose to 48.0 percent in the third quarter of 2018. This is up from 45.9 percent one year earlier, a statistically significant increase. Before the Great Recession, 30-to-34-year-olds were the nation's first-time home buyers (defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent). But their rate fell below 50 percent in 2011 and has been stuck there ever since. With their recent gains, perhaps 30-to-34-year-olds are on their way to reclaiming first-time homebuyer status.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, up from 63.9 percent one year earlier. The difference is not statistically significant.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

One Week Away

Election day is one week away, and many are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for an historic turnout. But midterm elections typically disappoint. Turnout is abysmally low, especially among younger adults, Asians, and Hispanics. Only 41.9 percent of citizens aged 18 or older voted in the last midterm elections in 2014. Here are the 2014 voting rates by age, race, and Hispanic origin...

Percentage of citizens who voted in the 2014 midterm elections
17.1% of 18-to-24-year-olds
32.5% of 25-to-44-year-olds
49.6% of 45-to-54-year-olds
59.4% of people aged 65 or older

27.0% of Hispanics
27.1% of Asians
39.7% of Blacks
45.8% of non-Hispanic Whites

Among voters in the 2014 midterm elections, fully 55 percent were non-Hispanic Whites aged 45 or older. Twenty-four percent were non-Hispanic Whites aged 65 or older. This oldest segment of non-Hispanic White voters accounted for a larger share of the 2014 midterm electorate than Asian, Black, and Hispanic voters combined (23 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Historical Reported Voting Rates

Monday, October 29, 2018

Growing Fear of Mass Shootings

The percentage of Americans who are afraid of mass shootings has more than doubled in the past few years, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears.

In 2015, only 16.4 percent of the public was afraid/very afraid of a mass shooting—about equal to the percentage who were afraid of needles and germs and ranking a lowly 56th among the public's top fears. The 2018 survey finds a much larger 41.5 percent of the public afraid of a mass shooting. Fear of mass shootings now ranks 28th on the list of America's biggest fears—just above fear of terrorism (39.8 percent).

Percent who are afraid/very afraid of a mass shooting
2018: 41.5%
2017: 28.1%
2016: 26.9%
2015: 16.4%

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Prison to Prison Pipeline

If the purpose of prison is to rehabilitate criminals, then the prison system in the United States is a massive failure. The 60 percent majority of those released from prison after serving their time are arrested again within two years.

This figure comes from a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of recidivism. For nine years the bureau followed a random sample of convicts released from state prisons in 2005. Within one year following release, 44 percent had been arrested again. Within two years, the figure was 60 percent. After nine years, fully 83 percent had been re-arrested.

The rate of recidivism does not vary much by demographic characteristic. Among males, 84 percent were arrested again within nine years. The rate among females was 77 percent. For non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, the rate was over 80 percent. By age, the rate ranged from a high of 90.1 percent for those released when they were aged 24 or younger to a low of 76.5 percent for those aged 40 or older at the time of release.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005–2014)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Millennial Food Purchasing Patterns

Millennials purchase food differently than older generations, according to a study by the USDA's Economic Research Service. Some of the differences are age related but some may be a sign of changing food preferences, the study suggests. Here are some of the differences...

  • Millennials are least likely to eat at home on an average day. Only 36 percent of Millennial eating occasions occur at home on an average day. Among Gen Xers the figure is 39 percent, Boomers 41 percent, and older Americans 50 percent. 
  • Millennials are most likely to purchase fast food during an average week. In the past week, 62 percent of Millennials had purchased prepared food from a fast-food restaurant, carry-out, or food delivery, the study reports. This compares with 56 percent of Gen Xers, 59 percent of Boomers, and 47 percent of older Americans. 
  • Millennials make the fewest trips to food stores during an average month. Millennial households visit food stores an average of 5.33 times per month. Frequency rises with age. Gen Xers make 6.27 visits to food stores per month, Boomers 7.33, and older Americans 7.78.
  • Millennials spend less than other generations on groceries. Millennials spend $94 per capita on groceries during an average month. Gen Xers spend $102, Boomers $144, and older Americans $159. Regardless of income level, Millennials spend less per capita on groceries than older generations. 
  • Millennial grocery shoppers allocate a larger share of their food dollar to prepared food. When Millennial households shop for groceries, they devote 7.48 percent of their grocery dollar to prepared food. The older generations devote less than 7 percent to prepared food. The USDA defines prepared food as food that requires minimal or no preparation after purchase, such as sandwiches and salads from the grocery deli, prepared chicken, frozen pizza, and so on. 

The food shopping patterns of Millennials are shaped by the fact that most are young adults, the study notes. But there are indications that Millennials have unique food preferences. After controlling for income, for example, the per capita spending of Millennials on fruit matches the spending of older Americans—who are the biggest spenders on fruit. As the income of Millennials rises, their per capita spending on vegetables also rises. "The Millennial generation may have a stronger preference for fruits and vegetables compared to older generations," the study concludes. Another difference: Millennials may have "become accustomed to consuming foods requiring minimal preparation effort."

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food Purchase Decisions of Millennial Households Compared to Other Generations

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Low-Fat Diets Aren't Working

If eating high-fat food was the cause of obesity, then Americans would be losing weight. The fat content of the American diet has fallen substantially over the past 35 years, reports the USDA's Economic Research Service. Fat accounted for only 32 percent of the calories consumed by the average person in 2011–14, down from 41 percent in 1977–78. The 32 percent figure is within the level of dietary fat recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.

Americans have significantly reduced the fat in their diet, but they haven't lost weight. Just the opposite, in fact. During the past 35 years, as we opted for lower-fat foods, the percentage of people aged 20 to 74 who are overweight expanded from 47 to 71 percent. Obesity climbed from 15 to 40 percent. If fat is not the culprit, then what is behind the obesity epidemic?

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Both at Home and Away, Americans Are Choosing More Lower Fat Foods than They Did 35 Years Ago

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cash Is Still King, Sort Of

Burglars take note. It is probably not worth your time to break into houses or cars looking for cash. It turns out, few of us keep cash anywhere but in our pockets, wallets, or purses. And the cash we carry doesn't amount to much—only $59, on average. These findings come from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice (DCPC), a collaborative effort of the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Boston, Richmond, and San Francisco.

The latest DCPC survey was fielded in October 2017 and asked a nationally representative sample of respondents to record on a daily basis how much cash they had on their person or stored in their home, car, or office; what payments they made; and how they paid—cash, debit cards, credit cards, electronic transfer, etc. According to the survey results, while most consumers have cash on their person, just 22 percent have at least $1 stored elsewhere. Those who stash cash have an average of $738 squirreled away.

Americans use cash for 30 percent of their transactions during a typical month, the single largest method of payment. But cash accounts for only 8.5 percent of the total value of payments made during a month. Here is a look at the number of transactions made by the average person during a month by payment method...

Number of transactions per month (and average amount per transaction) by type of payment
12.4 cash transactions ($23)
10.7 debit card transactions ($47)
8.6 credit card transactions ($61)
2.5 checks written ($238)
2.2 other* methods ($180)
2.0 bank account number payments ($310)
1.7 online banking bill pay ($256)
0.7 prepaid cards ($26)
0.1 money orders ($275)

* Other methods include PayPal, account-to-account transfers, mobile payments, and deductions from income.

The average American makes payments amounting to $3,418 during a month. Interestingly, the average number of payments made during a month fell from 46 in 2016 to 41 in 2017—a statistically significant drop. The reason for the decline is not known.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, The 2017 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Monday, October 22, 2018

This is the 3,000th Post

This is Demo Memo's 3,000th blog post. I know this because demographers like to count things. In the 12 years Demo Memo has been online, this blog has spotted and tracked a lot of demographic trends. It has reported on many groundbreaking studies. It has kept its readers up-to-date on the government's latest survey results.

Demo Memo began in 2006 with this post and continued on from there to report on the first signs of the housing collapse, the historic decline in the mobility rate, the rising age at first marriage, the steep loss in net worth, the beginnings of the baby bust, fun things like the Tchotchke Index and its updates, and a favorite of Demo Memo—technological adoption of cell phones, smartphones, and the internet.

More recently, Demo Memo has been examining why small-town America is in decline, when minorities will become the majority of voters, the resistance to self-driving cars, the 30-year low in births, the early peak in the non-Hispanic White population, the decline of life expectancy, and the extraordinary rise in spending on pets.

Demo Memo has been a lot of work and also a lot of fun. Here's to 3,000 more!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Who's Afraid of Illegal Immigrants?

Although President Trump has attempted to instill in the American public a fear of undocumented immigrants, his efforts have failed to persuade most of us. In fact, a larger share of the public is afraid of Trump himself (59 percent) than of illegal immigrants (41 percent), according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears...

Fear of illegal immigrants
59.3% are not afraid
19.3% are slightly afraid
12.2% are afraid
  9.3% are very afraid

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Fear of Immigration

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Americans Are More Afraid, Survey Finds

Americans are increasingly afraid. This is one of the most striking findings from the 2018 Chapman University Survey of American Fears. This year as in past years, the number one fear—mentioned by the largest share of the public—is fear of corrupt government officials. But the percentage of Americans who say government corruption scares them has climbed, rising from 61 to 74 percent between 2016 and 2018.

Corruption is not the only thing Americans are increasingly frightened about, Chapman University reports. Many things are scaring them more. In fact, all of the top 10 fears in 2018 scare more than half the public. In 2016, most of the top 10 fears scared only about one-third of the public.

Top 10 fears of 2018 (percent saying they are afraid)
1. Corrupt government officials: 74%
2. Pollution of oceans rivers, and lakes: 62%
3. Pollution of drinking water: 61%
4. Not enough money for the future: 57%
5. Someone you love will become seriously ill: 57%
6. People you love dying: 56%
7. Air pollution: 55%
8. Extinction of plant and animal species: 54%
9. Global warming and climate change: 53%
10. High medical bills: 53%

Another trend Chapman University sees in the list of fears is the rise of environmental concerns. Five of the top 10 fears of 2018 are environmental. In 2016, the number of environmental concerns in the top 10 list was zero.

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears, America's Top Fears 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How Wrong Are the Official Counts of Gig Work?

Eyebrows were raised a few months ago when the Bureau of Labor Statistics Contingent Worker Supplement revealed no growth in the alternative workforce between 2005 (the last time the survey was taken) and 2017, despite the apparent growth of the gig economy. Surprise turned to dismay when the Bureau admitted its failure to successfully measure "electronically mediated employment"— or gig work arranged and paid for through online platforms.

Could it be that the Bureau of Labor Statistics' effort to measure a growing and vital segment of the workforce is way off track? The answer is yes. Although study after study after study finds a substantial percentage of Americans participating in the gig economy, these workers are eluding the government's official efforts to measure them.

There's a reason for this. The employment questions asked by the monthly Current Population Survey, which is the official measure of the labor force, do not capture informal work activity. This is the finding of a National Bureau of Economic Research study by Katharine G. Abraham of the University of Maryland and Ashley Amaya of RTI International.

The Current Population Survey asks respondents whether they did any work for 'pay' or 'profit' during the survey reference week. It also asks whether respondents have more than one 'job' or 'business.' Abraham and Amaya have a problem with these questions, which were formulated years ago when the labor force was less complex: "It is not clear...that respondents are likely to think of money earned through informal work activity as either 'pay' or 'profit' or to consider such activity to be a 'job' or 'business.'" To test this hypothesis, they surveyed Mechanical Turk (Amazon's crowdsourcing platform) participants and asked respondents not only the standard CPS employment questions but also additional questions to probe for informal work activity.

What a difference those additional questions made. Fully 22 percent of respondents had engaged in additional work activity in the past week that would have been missed by the CPS. Among those identified by the CPS questions as having no work activity in the past week, 23.5 percent had engaged in informal paid work. Among those identified by the CPS as having one job in the past week, 23.3 percent were engaging in informal work as well. Among those the CPS identified as having two jobs, an additional 15.9 percent also performed informal paid work on top of their busy schedules. Those who engaged in informal work in the past week devoted a substantial 8.2 hours, on average, to the activity.

The researchers admit that their Mechanical Turk sample is not representative of the U.S. population as a whole. But, they say, their findings "provide important evidence about the sensitivity of survey estimates to asking more probing questions." It's too late for this insight to make a difference in the long-awaited (12 years!) 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement, which took "as its starting point the employment reported in response to the standard CPS questions." Let's hope the Bureau of Labor Statistics will take these findings seriously and field a better survey of the gig workforce—ASAP.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Probing for Informal Work Activity, Working Paper 24880 ($5)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rural Residents Are Big Spenders on Transportation

Households in rural areas spend slightly less than their urban counterparts. The average rural household spent $58,241 in 2017, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey—4 percent less than the $60,468 spent by the average urban household. But, not surprisingly, rural households are the biggest spenders on several transportation categories...

  • Vehicle purchases: Rural households own more vehicles than urban households (2.6 versus 1.8), and they spend 28 percent more than the average household on vehicle purchases. Their spending is particularly high (48 percent above average) on used vehicles. Households in urban areas spend 6 percent less than average on vehicle purchases.
  • Vehicle finance charges: Rural households spend 31 percent more than average on vehicle finance charges. Urban households spend 7 percent less than average. 
  • Gasoline: Rural households spend 26 percent more than average on gasoline. Households in urban areas spend 6 percent less than average. 
  • Vehicle maintenance/repair: Rural households spend 53 percent more than average on vehicle repair. Households in urban areas spend 12 percent less.

Because their spending is above average on these items, rural households are the biggest spenders on the overall transportation category. The average rural household spent $11,466 on transportation in 2017—$2,315 more than the $9,151 spent by the average urban household. Rural residents devote 20 percent of their household budget to transportation. For urban households, the figure is 15 percent.

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

What Would You Do To Stay Employed?

Among the nation's employed adults, here are the percentages who would be willing to do the following to avoid being unemployed...

87% would be willing to learn new skills
74% would accept temporary employment
60% would accept a longer commute
56% would accept lower pay
40% would be willing to move within the United States
17% would be willing to move to another country

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, October 12, 2018

37% Eat Fast Food on an Average Day

Fast food is a staple of the American diet. More than one-third (37 percent) of adults aged 20 or older eat fast food on an average day, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The NCHS defines fast food as food sourced from a fast-food restaurant or pizza. Young adults are most likely to eat fast food, older adults least likely...

Percent eating fast food on an average day
Aged 20 to 39: 45%
Aged 40 to 59: 38%
Aged 60-plus: 24%

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fast Food Consumption among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Three Generations of Married-Couple Households

It is difficult to grasp just how much living arrangements have changed in the United States unless you mine the Census Bureau's archives to uncover the nitty gritty of the way we used to live. The most dramatic change over the decades is the decline in the share of households headed by married couples. In three generations, the share of all households headed by married couples fell 26 percentage points—from 74 to just 48 percent. Among the youngest adults, the drop is a stunning 68 percentage points! Here is the married-couple share of households by age of householder today (2018), one generation ago (1990), and two generations ago (1960)...

Percent of households headed by married couples
     2018     1990     1960
Total households     48.0%     55.3%     74.2%
Under age 25     14.3     31.9     82.3
Aged 25 to 34     41.5     54.1     86.9
Aged 35 to 44     56.9     62.2     84.4
Aged 45 to 54     55.0     63.8     76.5
Aged 55 to 64     52.9     63.1     67.9
Aged 65 or older     44.2     44.0     51.1

What replaced all those married couples? Single-parent families, single-person households, and people living together outside of marriage. These once uncommon living arrangements were the consequence of rising educational attainment and women's growing economic independence. The steep decline in married couples reveals much of the social change of the past half century.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How Many Are Watching TV at Midnight?

On an average day, 79 percent of Americans aged 15 or older watch television as a primary activity—meaning their main activity at the time. The percentage who watch television is lowest among 15-to-19-year-olds (73 percent) and highest among people aged 65 or older (89 percent). These facts come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey.

The survey collects even more detail about the activities in which people engage on an average day. It records the time of day, for example, and whether respondents are alone or with others. Here is the percentage of Americans aged 15 or older who are watching television at selected hours of the day...

Percent watching television
6% are watching from midnight to 1 am
1% are watching from 3 to 4 am (lowest point)
13% are watching from noon to 1 pm
38% are watching from 6 to 7 pm
59% are watching from 8 to 9 pm (highest point)

For many, watching television is a solitary activity. Forty-eight percent of television time is spent alone, 52 percent with others.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Television, Capturing America's Attention at Prime Time and Beyond

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

What's Wrong with the White Working Class?

When the white working class sneezes, America catches a cold. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis examines what may be ailing America in an analysis of trends in the wellbeing of this largest segment of Americans. It defines the white working class as households headed by non-Hispanic Whites without a four-year college degree. The white working class accounts for the 42 percent plurality of the nation's households. Another 26 percent are headed by whites with a college degree and 32 percent are headed by Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities.

Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, researchers at the Fed analyzed trends in the socioeconomic wellbeing of the white working class, comparing its experience over the past few decades to that of college educated whites and to nonwhites. Relative to the other segments, the white working class has declined...
  • The share of income accruing to the white working class fell from 45 percent in 1989 to 27 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the share of income accruing to college educated whites and to nonwhites increased. 
  • The share of wealth accruing to the white working class fell from 45 percent in 1989 to 22 percent in 2016. At the same time the share of wealth accruing to college educated whites and to nonwhites increased. 
  • The median household income and median net worth of white working class households has fallen relative to the national medians, and their homeownership rate, marriage rate, and self-reported health status also have deteriorated.
These declines may be "the result of circumstances unique to the white working class," say the researchers. The circumstances include: 1) rising high school graduation rates for Blacks and Hispanics, which has increased the competition with nonwhites for jobs; 2) less racial and ethnic discrimination in the labor market, which has increased the competition with nonwhites for jobs; and 3) globalization, which has reduced job opportunities.

"The long-term decline of the white working class may be due, in part, to the reduction over time of their previous advantages over nonwhite working classes," the study concludes.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall: The Decline of the White Working Class

Monday, October 08, 2018

Many Americans Believe in Reincarnation

One in three adults (33 percent) believes in reincarnation, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Even among those who profess to be neither religious nor spiritual, a substantial 22 percent believe in it.

Women (39 percent) are more likely than men (27 percent) to believe in reincarnation. Blacks (43 percent) and Hispanics (37 percent) are more likely to believe than non-Hispanic Whites (29 percent). By education, college graduates are least likely to believe (24 percent) while those with no more than a high school diploma are most likely (39 percent). Here is the percentage who believe in reincarnation by age...

Believe in reincarnation
Aged 18 to 29: 39%
Aged 30 to 49: 34%
Aged 50 to 64: 34%
Aged 65-plus: 22%

Source: Pew Research Center: 'New Age' Beliefs Common among both Religious and Nonreligious Americans

Friday, October 05, 2018

One in Five Young Adults Vapes

Among Americans aged 18 or older, only 9 percent say they occasionally or regularly vape (use e-cigarettes). But the vaping rate is much higher among young adults, with 20 percent vaping and a smaller 16 percent smoking cigarettes...

Percent who occasionally/regularly vape (or smoke cigarettes)
Aged 18 to 29: 20% (16%)
Aged 30 to 49:   9% (23%)
Aged 50 to 64:   7% (26%)
Aged 65-plus:    0% (10%)

Source: Gallup, Young People Adopt Vaping as their Smoking Rate Plummets

Thursday, October 04, 2018

How Long Are the Golden Years?

Just how long are the golden years? If you are nearing retirement, how many years can you and your spouse expect to spend together? This is not an easy calculation. The answer is not simply the shorter life expectancy of the husband. Instead, the calculation of joint life expectancy requires incorporating the probabilities of both husband and wife surviving in each successive year.

It's a tedious job, say economists Janice Compton and Robert A. Pollack, but they did it. Their results are published in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, which examines trends in joint life expectancy over time and by race, Hispanic origin, and education. They illustrate their findings throughout the paper by considering a wife aged 60 married to a husband aged 62. "We focus on 60 year old wives and their husbands because these are ages at which many couples make crucial retirement-related decisions such as leaving career employment and claiming social security benefits," the authors explain. Here are some of the findings by race, Hispanic origin, and education based on life expectancy stats in 2010...

Joint life expectancy for wife at 60 and husband at 62 (and probability wife will be survivor)
Blacks: 15.45 years (63%)
Hispanics: 18.79 years (65%)
Non-Hispanic Whites: 17.66 years (63%)

Neither is a college graduate: 15.53 years (65%)
Only wife is a college graduate: 17.17 years (68%)
Only husband is a college graduate: 18.31 years (59%)
Both are college graduates: 18.99 years (63%)

Joint life expectancy has expanded over the decades as individual life expectancy has grown, the researchers find. For non-Hispanic White couples, joint life expectancy has stretched from just 12.06 years in 1950 to the 17.66 years of 2010. Black couples can look forward to 15.45 golden years, up from just 9.99 in 1950.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, The Life Expectancy of Older Couples and Surviving Spouses, Working Paper 25009 ($5)

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

An Historic Moment in Tech Adoption

We may be at an historic moment. "The share of Americans who go online, use social media, or own key devices has remained stable the past two years," reports Pew Research Center. Pew knows because it has been surveying these things for decades, all the way back to 1994, when the percentage of people who "use the Internet" was just 6 percent.

According to Pew's 2018 survey, 89 percent of American adults use the Internet, 77 percent own a smartphone, 73 percent own a desktop or laptop computer, 69 percent are on social media, and 53 percent have a tablet computer. These percentages are nearly identical to the 2016 figures. Behind the stability is the "near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Put simply, in some instances there just aren't many non-users left."

That's not to say technological change has come to a halt. The Internet of Things is rising, says Pew, with the growing use of smart TVs, wearable devices, digital voice assistants, and so on. But we are in a new phase, and "the method for tracking certain adoption metrics may need to change." Pew's panel of experts, for example, has advised Pew that it may want to stop asking people whether they "use the Internet." The reason? That's like asking them if they use electricity. A silly question.

Source: Pew Research Center, Internet, Social Media Use and Device Ownership in U.S. Have Plateaued after Years of Growth

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

BLS: Don't Do What We Did

Wow, what a mess. In a 33-page Monthly Labor Review article, the Bureau of Labor Statistics explains its delay in releasing the data on what it calls "electronically-mediated work"—defined as "short jobs or tasks that workers find through websites or mobile apps that both connect them with customers and arrange payment for the tasks." Here is the key sentence:
"BLS should not again attempt to collect data about electronically mediated work using the four new questions fielded in the May 2017 CWS [Contingent Worker Survey]."
In other words, the first attempt made by the BLS to count the number of electronically-mediated workers was a failure.

Some background: In June, the BLS released its estimate of the gig workforce, measured by a special supplement to the 2017 Current Population Survey. The results were surprising, showing no growth or even decline in the gig workforce since 2005. But the survey did not include those who engaged in electronically-mediated work. These figures would be revealed, said the BLS, before September 30 in a Monthly Labor Review article. As promised, the article appeared on the BLS web site on Friday, September 28th. It is a sorry tale of earnest efforts to add four questions on electronically-mediated work to the Contingent Worker Supplement of the Current Population Survey and the flawed numbers that resulted from those efforts.

So flawed were the results, in fact, that the BLS was forced to recode the answers. There were too many false positives. To recode, BLS statisticians probed the survey's microdata files for clues as to whether respondents were or were not actually engaged in electronically-mediated work. The "yes" answers to the survey's four questions summed to 5 million respondents engaging in electronically-mediated work in the past week, or 3.3 percent of the nation's employed workers. But after probing the microdata and diligently recoding, BLS statisticians reduced the number to just 1.6 million, or 1.0 percent of the employed.

"If BLS were to collect data about electronically mediated work in the future," the article concludes, "questions would need to be substantially revised. It may simply be that the concepts are too complicated for four questions to properly identify all the information BLS was attempting to measure." Kudos to the BLS for being forthcoming about this failure, but we're back to square one in our understanding of the size and shape of the gig economy.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Electronically mediated work: new questions in the Contingent Worker Supplement