Monday, April 30, 2018

Belief in God

Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe in God or a higher power, according to a Pew Research Center survey. But God means different things to different people. The 56 percent majority believe in God as described in the Bible. Here is the percentage by age...

Believe in God as described in Bible
Aged 18 to 29: 43%
Aged 30 to 49: 49%
Aged 50 to 64: 67%
Aged 65-plus: 65%

Among those who believe in God or a higher power, most think God loves all people, has protected them personally, and has rewarded them.

Source: Pew Research Center, When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Working Parents Are the Norm for Preschoolers

Every parent in the household is employed in the great majority of families with children under age 6, according to 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether preschoolers live in a married-couple or single-parent family, seeing Mom and/or Dad go off to work is the norm...

Families with preschoolers in which all household parents are employed
Married-couple families: 62%
Female-headed families: 68%
Male-headed families: 86%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Characteristics of Families

Thursday, April 26, 2018

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2018

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, first quarter 2018: 46.3%

The homeownership rate of households headed by people aged 30 to 34 fell to 46.3 percent in the first quarter of 2018, a disappointment for those who hoped the upward turn in the fourth quarter of 2017 (to 47.1 percent) was a sign of better times to come. These bobbles do not rise to the level of statistical significance, of course, but over time small upward shifts can build to something meaningful. Alas, the latest downturn suggests the upward bobble had no meaning.

This requires new thinking. Historically (before the Great Recession) homeownership became the norm (rising above 50 percent) in the 30-to-34 age group. 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. After years of watching and waiting for the age group's homeownership rate to recover, time's up. Demo Memo is removing the "first-time homebuyer" distinction from the 30-to-34 age group and bestowing it instead on 35-to-39-year-olds. They are the nation's new first-time homebuyers—the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. Drum roll...

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, first quarter 2018: 57.1%

There's good news in the latest number. In the first quarter of 2018, the homeownership rate of households headed by 35-to-39-year-olds cracked the 57 percent threshold for the first time since 2012. These no-longer-young adults just might be buying homes. Feelings of jubilation should be tempered by the fact that the current homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds is well below their peak rate of 65.7 percent reached in the first quarter of 2007.

Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018, up from 63.9 percent one year earlier. The increase was not statistically significant.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How Much Have Older Workers Saved?

Among the nation's workers aged 55 or older, a substantial 71 percent are "somewhat" or "very" confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement, according to the 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey. There's a reason so many are confident: older workers have managed to boost their retirement savings.

The share of workers aged 55 or older who report saving little has fallen over the past few years, and the share who report substantial savings has increased, according to the survey. Fully 38 percent of workers aged 55 or older report savings of $250,000 or more in 2018, up from 25 percent in 2015. The percentage of older workers who report savings of less than $25,000 fell from 43 to 28 percent during those years.

Value of savings/investments of workers aged 55 or older, 2018
28% have less than $25,000
7% have $25,000 to $49,999
8% have $50,000 to $99,999
19% have $100,000 to $250,000
38% have $250,000 or more

These figures do not include the value of the primary residence. Older workers are now more likely to report having substantial savings ($250,000 or more) than little savings (less than $25,000), a crossover that occurred in 2017.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Median Annual Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs for People Aged 70 or Older: $2,012

One of the biggest concerns of the American public is not having enough money to pay for health expenses in old age. Only 14 percent of workers and 26 percent of retirees feel "very confident" they will have enough money to pay for medical care throughout retirement, according to the 2018 Employee Benefit Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey.

How much do older Americans pay out-of-pocket for medical care in their final decades of life? That question has an answer: a median of $2,012 per year in addition to the cost of health insurance, according to Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. He estimated the out-of-pocket medical costs of people from age 70 until death, using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study. The estimate is in 2015 dollars and adjusted for medical inflation.

A couple thousand dollars a year doesn't sound too bad. Many retirees can pay for those expenses out of current income rather than dipping into savings. But, here's the catch—some older Americans will pay much more. Those with the bad luck to end up in the 95th percentile of medical expenses, for example, must cough up $19,103 per year out-of-pocket. It's hard to pay bills like that without tapping into savings or running out of money altogether.

Long-term care costs are driving up out-of-pocket medical expenses for the unfortunate few. To cover those costs, retirees must drain savings accounts, and many ultimately become dependent on Medicaid—the health insurance program for the poor. By the end of life, 33 percent of retirees in the HRS study were dependent on Medicaid to cover their health care costs, up from only 11 percent who were on Medicaid at age 70.

No one knows whether they will need long-term care, but the numbers are not encouraging. Banerjee's study shows that 38 percent of men and 51 percent of women aged 70 will receive nursing home care at some point before they die.

With the threat of long-term care costs looming, many retirees are hesitant to spend their savings. (See the Demo Memo post about another Banerjee study showing this to be the case.) "This raises a question about whether, if such risks could be insured more efficiently, retirees would be able to spend their retirement assets more freely and whether this might improve their personal welfare and/or have positive macroeconomic effects as well," Banerjee concludes.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Cumulative Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses After the Age of 70

Monday, April 23, 2018

Asian American Mothers: Oldest and Most Educated

Asian American women who had babies in 2016 distinguished themselves from other mothers in two ways, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. They are much older, and they are far better educated.

Fully 66 percent of Asian American women who gave birth in 2016 were aged 30 or older, much higher than the 45 percent of all women who gave birth. Here is the percentage by Asian ethnic group...

Percent aged 30 or older
86.7% of Japanese
83.7% of Koreans
69.4% of Chinese
69.1% of Vietnamese
68.8% of Filipinos
64.2% of Asian Indians

The educational attainment of Asian American women who gave birth in 2016 is also remarkable. While 42 percent of all women aged 25 or older who gave birth in 2016 had a bachelor's degree or more education, among Asians the figure was 67 percent. Here is the percentage by Asian ethnic group...

Bachelor's degree or higher
82.5% of Asian Indians
80.3% of Koreans
71.7% of Chinese
70.1% of Japanese
58.2% of Filipinos
44.8% of Vietnamese

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data, Asian American Mothers: Demographic Characteristics by Maternal Place of Birth and Asian Subgroup, 2016

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Generations in 2017

Generational power is shifting, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates by single-year of age. Older generations are losing people, while younger generations are growing because of immigration.

Between 2010 and 2017, Baby Boomers lost nearly 4 million of their peers, a 5 percent decline in the size of the generation. The number in the older Swing generation fell by 2 million, an 8 percent decline. The World War II generation (the oldest) lost 7.6 million members—a 54 percent decline since 2010. Gen Xers saw their ranks fall by just 87,000 during those years.

Meanwhile, the number of Millennials grew by 2.8 million between 2010 and 2017, thanks to immigration. The iGeneration grew by 1.7 million. The Recession generation, aged 0 to 7, is now larger than the Swing and World War II generations combined.

Size of generations in 2017 (and % of total population)
325,719,178 (100.0%): Total population
  32,028,089 (  9.8%): Recession generation (aged 0 to 7)
  63,140,935 (19.4%): iGeneration (aged 8 to 22)
  79,671,915 (24.5%): Millennial generation (aged 23 to 40)  
  49,158,485 (15.1%): Generation X (aged 41 to 52)  
  73,465,961 (22.6%): Baby Boom generation (aged 53 to 71)  
  21,785,111 (  6.7%): Swing generation (aged 72 to 84)  
    6,468,682 (  2.0%): World War II generation (aged 85-plus)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Estimates of U.S. Population by Age and Sex: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Many Retirees Don't Spend Down Their Savings

Here's how it's supposed work: save for retirement during your decades in the labor force, then spend down those savings in retirement. But that's not how it works for many Americans.

Retirees are loath to spend down their savings, according to a study by Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, Banerjee examines changes in the non-housing assets of retirees during nearly two decades of retirement. He divides retirees into three groups based on the size of their pre-retirement non-housing assets, minus debt: Group A had non-housing assets below $200,000 (median of $29,975); Group B had non-housing assets between $200,000 and $500,000 (median of $333,940); Group C had non-housing assets of $500,000 or more (median of $857,450). Regardless of asset group, Banerjee finds the same phenomenon—the non-housing assets of retirees shrink far less than what is assumed by retirement models. After 17 to 20 years of retirement, Group A's non-housing assets had fallen by only 24 percent, Group B's by 27 percent, and Group C's by 12 percent.

Not only are retirees resistant to spending down their savings, a large percentage actually grow their assets in retirement. More than one-third of retirees, regardless of asset group, had larger non-housing assets after nearly two decades of retirement than they did at the time they retired.

Retirees are hesitant to spend down their savings for four reason: 1) uncertainty about future financial needs; 2) the desire to leave an inheritance; 3) not knowing the safe rate for spending down assets; and 4) behavioral habits—"After building a saving habit throughout their working lives, people find it challenging to shift into spending mode," Banerjee suggests.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Asset Decumulation or Asset Preservation? What Guides Retirement Spending?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Earnings Rise, but It Feels Like a Loss

Men without a bachelor's degree earn more than their counterparts did several decades ago, reports Stephen J. Rose of the Urban Institute in a recent analysis. But the rise in their earnings feels like a loss because they are losing ground relative to the rest of the workforce.

Take a look at the growing gap between the earnings of men with and without a bachelor's degree: Men with a bachelor's degree earned 50 percent more than those without a degree in 1980, says Rose. The gap grew to 81 percent by 2000. It climbed to 119 percent in 2015. Ouch. Because the earnings of men without a bachelor's degree are growing much more slowly than the earnings of college graduates, their standard of living is in relative decline.

In the past, says Rose, a middle-class lifestyle was achieved by owning a 1,000 square foot home with a single bathroom. Today, it requires owning "a 2,000 square foot house with air conditioning and multiple bathrooms, bigger and more appliances, TVs, computers, cell phones, and other amenities not available in the past." The earnings of working men without a college education are enough to achieve the modest middle-class lifestyle of yesterday. But they are not enough to achieve the middle-class lifestyle of today. "Plainly, the norms of today's middle-class life...require more money," says Rose.

Source: Urban Institute, Manufacturing and the Economic Position of Men without a College Degree

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Stocks Account for Bigger Share of Wealth

Stocks are a growing share of the wealth of middle-aged Americans, according to an analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In 2016, stocks accounted for 11 percent of the net worth of householders aged 41 to 60, more than double the 4 percent of 1989. Vehicles also grew in importance, with their share of the household wealth of the middle-aged rising from 14 to 19 percent. In contrast, the share of net worth accounted for by the principal residence of middle-aged householders fell from 46 to 37 percent during those years.

Despite the rising importance of stocks to the middle-aged, stock ownership is increasingly concentrated among the wealthy. In 2016, fully 78 percent of the stock market wealth of middle-aged Americans was owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of households—a record high.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, How Has Stock Ownership Trended in the Past Few Decades?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Always Obey the Law — or Not?

How would you answer this question?

"Would you say that people should obey the law without exception, or are there exceptional occasions on which people should follow their conscience even if it means breaking the law?"

Only 41 percent of Americans say people should always obey the law, while the 59 percent majority say follow your conscience. Older Americans are most likely to say people should always obey the law...

Always obey the law
Millennials: 33%
Gen Xers: 43%
Boomers: 46%
Older: 53%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, April 13, 2018

How's the Tchotchke Index Doing?

If you want proof of the economic recovery, look no further than the Tchotchke Index. As defined by Demo Memo nearly a decade ago (see post), the Tchotchke Index is the amount of money spent by the average household on "decorative items for the home," one of the detailed categories in the Consumer Expenditure Survey. As explained all those years ago, the Tchotchke Index is "an excellent gauge of the economic wellbeing of American households...Spending on tchotchkes tracks the economy's ups and downs with the precision of other, better-known measures such as the Consumer Confidence Index, the unemployment rate, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average."

No one needs tchotchkes. Decorative items for the home are purely discretionary and an impulse buy. Spending on them rises when times are good and falls when times are bad, which is why they are a good measure of household economic wellbeing. Here is the latest on the Tchotchke Index for selected years since 2000 (in 2016 dollars)...

Tchotchke Index
2016: $162.75
2015: $137.97
2014: $112.66
2013: $105.87 (low)
2007: $179.33
2000: $266.50 (high)

In 2016, the Tchotchke Index was higher than at any time since 2007 and fully 54 percent above the $105.87 post-Great Recession low of 2013. But the 2016 Index was still well below the $266.50 of 2000. Why was the Tchotchke Index so high in 2000? Because American household incomes peaked one year earlier, in 1999.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, April 12, 2018

How Many Boomers Are Retired?

The Baby-Boom generation is reaching the age of retirement. But what percentage of the generation has retired? According to a Demo Memo analysis of 2017 labor force participation rates by single year of age, 45 percent of the Boomers are retired—meaning they are not in the labor force—and 55 percent are still working. Here's the breakdown...

  • 73 million Boomers were in the civilian noninstitutional population in 2017. 
  • 32 million Boomers were not in the labor force (45 percent).
  • 41 million Boomers were still in the labor force (55 percent).
  • 26 million Boomers worked full-time—66 percent of Boomer workers and 36 percent of the Boomer population.

Most Boomer workers have full-time jobs regardless of age. Among the 39 percent of 65-year-olds in the labor force, fully 70 percent worked full-time. Among the 20 percent of 71-year-olds (the oldest Boomers) in the labor force, 51 percent had full-time jobs.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Workers with Median Annual Earnings of $100,000+

The Bureau of Labor Statistics divides the U.S. workforce into more than 800 individual occupations, and it tracks the earnings of workers in each one. In 2017, median annual earnings by occupation ranged from a low of $19,820 for "gaming dealers" to a high of $198,740 for "family and general practitioners." Median annual earnings were a modest $37,690 for all workers in 2017.

Of the 800-plus occupations, 51 have median earnings that exceed $100,000 a year. This high-earner club is composed of the usual suspects—CEOs, medical professionals, computer scientists, lawyers, and so on. But also on the list are air traffic controllers, political scientists, and astronomers.

The highest of high earners are the eight occupations with median annual earnings of $150,000 or more.  Notice how often dentists appear in this list...

Median annual earnings of $150,000 or more
$198,740: family and general practitioners
$192,930: internists
$190,840: specialty dentists (except prosthodontists)
$185,150: prosthodontists
$183,270: CEOs
$172,650: pediatricians
$165,120: nurse anesthetists
$151,400: general dentists

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Wages by Occupation, May 2017

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gen Xers: Deepest in Debt

No generation is deeper in debt than Generation X. In part, that's because they are in the lifestage (middle age) when debt peaks. But it's also because they are the generation that was hurt the most by the Great Recession, many of them buying homes when housing prices peaked and losing wealth as housing values fell.

Only 8 percent of Generation Xers do not have some type of debt, according to TransAmerica's 18th Annual Retirement Survey of Workers. Fully 72 percent of Gen X workers say their financial priority is paying off debt, surpassing the 61 percent who say saving for retirement is a priority. Here's what Gen Xers owe...

Percent of Generation X workers with debt
66% have credit card debt
55% have a mortgage
48% have car loans
20% have student loans
16% have medical debt

The Great Recession's impact on Generation X is documented by the TransAmerica survey. Only 39 percent of workers in the generation say they either were not impacted or have fully recovered from the Great Recession. Another 38 percent say they have somewhat recovered from the Great Recession. Nearly one in four (23 percent) of Gen X workers say they have not yet begun or may never recover from the Great Recession, the largest share among the generations.

Source: TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for "Retirement"

Monday, April 09, 2018

Most and Least Religious States

How religious are Americans? It depends, according to a Gallup analysis of religious fervor by state and region. Gallup identifies the "very religious" as those who say religion is important to them and they attend religious services weekly or almost weekly. By state, the percentage of the population that is "very religious" ranges from a low of 16 percent in Vermont to a high of 59 percent in Mississippi. These are the states in which at least half the population is "very religious" or "not religious."

Very religious
Mississippi: 59%
Alabama: 54%
Utah: 54%
Louisiana: 52%
Arkansas: 50%
South Carolina: 50%

Not religious
New Hampshire: 51%
Maine: 55%
Vermont: 59%

Source: Gallup, The Religious Regions of the U.S.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Who Is "Too Old" to Work?

At what age do you consider a person to be "old"? That question was asked by the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies in its 18th annual retirement survey of workers. The answer? It depends. The older you are, the older "old" gets. Millennials consider 65 to be the age at which a person is old. For Gen Xers, the age is 70. Among Boomers, it's 75.

The survey also asked, "At what age do you consider a person to be 'too old' to work?" Millennials said 70, while Gen Xers and Boomers said 75. But many respondents did not give an age at all and said it depends on the person—44 percent of Millennials, 54 percent of Gen Xers, and 69 percent of Boomers.

When asked how long they plan to live, every generation gave a median age of 90. Boomers expect to spend 20 years in retirement, Gen Xers 23, and Millennials 25.

Source: TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, Wishful Thinking or Within Reach? Three Generations Prepare for "Retirement"

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Facebook Is a Big News Source for Millennials

The Millennial generation gets most of its news from the internet, according to a 2018 survey by the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago. The percentage of Millennials who say they get most of their news online ranges from a low of 61 percent among Hispanics to a high of 87 percent among Asians.

But what does it mean to get most of your news online? Does it mean going directly to a news site, or to a news aggregator (such as Reddit), or to a social media site (such as Facebook)? According to the results, the answer is yes to all three. Among Millennials who get most of their news from the internet, there is a fairly even split among the three types of news sources...

Get most news from a news website
Asians: 25%
Blacks: 30%
Hispanics: 28%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 40%

Get most news from a news aggregator
Asians: 31%
Blacks: 15%
Hispanics: 26%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 25%

Get most news from social media
Asians: 43%
Blacks: 54%
Hispanics: 44%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 35%

Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, Facebook dominates social media sites as a source of news for Millennials, according to the report. In the past week, 62 percent of Hispanics, 64 percent of Blacks, 67 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, and 74 percent of Asians have read news stories or headlines on Facebook.

Source: GenForward, Millennials and Technology: An Overview of Usage, News Consumption, the Future of Work, and Public Policy

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Racial Wealth Gap Is Replicating

Black households are more likely than White households to have student debt. This is a problem, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The disparity in student debt is replicating the racial wealth gap in the younger generation.

Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, visiting scholar Fenaba R. Addo of the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability, examines the emerging racial wealth gap among those in the 1997 cohort (first interviewed when they were aged 12 to 16) who graduated from college. Among the graduates, Blacks were less likely than Whites to receive financial help from their parents in paying college expenses—58 percent of Blacks received help versus 72 percent of Whites. The Black college graduates who received help got less than their White counterparts—$4,200 for Blacks versus $11,700 for Whites.

These disparities occurred because Black parents are far less wealthy than White parents. The Black parents in the study had an average net worth of $48,500 versus $174,900 for the White parents. With parents less able to help out, Black students are more likely to depend on student loans, and this is replicating the racial wealth gap. By age 25, according to Addo's findings, the average net worth of the White graduates exceeded that of the Black graduates by 84 percent...

Average net worth of NLSY97 college graduates at age 25
Black: $20,186
White: $37,182

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Parents' Wealth Helps Explain Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

County Extremes: Health Insurance Coverage

The percentage of Americans aged 21 to 64 who do not have health insurance varies greatly by county, according to the Census Bureau's small area health insurance estimates. At one extreme is Norfolk County, Massachusetts, where only 2.6 percent of people aged 21 to 64 were not insured in 2016. At the other extreme is Hidalgo County, Texas, where 40.9 percent were not insured.

A look at the Census Bureau's interactive map accompanying the data reveals Texas to be a hot spot of the uninsured. Of the 10 counties in the nation with the highest percentage of people aged 21 to 64 who are uninsured, all are in Texas. At the other extreme, 7 of the 10 counties with the smallest percentage of uninsured are in Massachusetts.

Source: Census Bureau, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates

Monday, April 02, 2018

52% of Non-Hispanic White Millennials Lean Democrat

The Millennial generation, more than any other, is politically aligned with Democrats, and increasingly so over the past few years. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of registered voters, the 59 percent majority of Millennials (defined by Pew as those born between 1981 and 1996) identified themselves as Democrats or leaning Democrat in 2017, up from 53 percent in 2014. A smaller 32 percent of Millennials identified themselves as Republican or leaning Republican in 2017, down from 37 percent in 2014. Millennials are the only generation in which Democrats have an advantage over Republicans even among non-Hispanic Whites...

Percent of non-Hispanic Whites who identify as Democrats/lean Democrat by generation, 2017
Millennials: 52%
Gen Xers: 41%
Boomers: 41%
Silent: 36%

Source: Pew Research Center, Wide Gender Gap, Growing Educational Divide in Voters' Party Identification