Friday, June 29, 2018

Median Household Income Grew in May 2018

Median household income in May 2018 climbed to $61,858, according to Sentier Research. This is a higher median than in any month since January 2000, after adjusting for inflation. The May 2018 median was 1.8 percent higher than the May 2017 median. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

Median household income in May was 3.7 percent higher than the median of December 2007, when the Great Recession began. It was 13.3 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low of June 2011. "We are at a point now where real median household income is 2.4 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 nearly seven years."

Sentier's Household Income Index in May 2018 was 102.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Student Loans Delay Homeownership by 7 Years

Student loans are preventing many younger adults from buying a home, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors and American Student Assistance. Survey respondents were Millennials aged 22 to 35 who are currently repaying their student loans.

Eighty percent of respondents do not own a home, the survey found, and the single biggest reason is student debt. Fully 83 percent of respondents say student loans are causing them to delay home buying. The biggest reason for the delay is their inability to save for a downpayment (cited by 86 percent), followed by feeling financially insecure because of their debt (74 percent). How long will they delay buying a home? A median of seven years.

Student loan debt is also causing younger adults to delay other life decisions. The 55 percent majority of survey respondents say their  debt is causing them to delay starting a family, and 41 percent say it is causing them to delay getting married.

Source: National Association of Realtors and American Student Assistance, Student Loan Debt and Housing Report 2017—When Debt Holds You Back

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Retirement Plan Participation Declining? No, says EBRI

The percentage of workers who participate in a retirement plan is declining, according to the Current Population Survey. Don't believe it, says the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In an ongoing battle with the redesigned Current Population Survey, EBRI's Craig Copeland analyzes the supposed decline in retirement participation recorded by the CPS and argues that something is very wrong with the survey's data. Reporting on this problem has become an annual undertaking by Copeland. This is his third analysis since the CPS was redesigned, and no resolution seems to be in sight. The Demo Memo posts about his earlier reports can be found here and here.

According to the Current Population Survey, the percentage of full-time, full-year workers who participate in a retirement plan fell from 54.5 percent in 2013—before the CPS was redesigned to better capture retirement income—to just 41.0 percent in 2016. Among workers aged 55 to 64, participation fell from 57.1 percent in 2013 to 48.1 percent in 2016.

These figures are at odds with rising participation rates found in other government surveys, says Copeland, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Compensation Survey. Among private-sector workers at establishments with 500 or more employees, the NCS found a stable 76 percent participating in a retirement plan from 2013 to 2016. The CPS found only 47 percent participating in 2016 (after the redesign), down from 64 percent in 2013 (before the redesign). A study of IRS data confirms stability in retirement plan participation rather than the decline charted by the CPS.

"Rather modest modifications could be made within the CPS questionnaire along the lines of other federal government surveys to improve the retirement plan participation estimates," concludes Copeland. "Until that time, any person or organization using the data or those reading analyses from the CPS data need to be aware of the issues with the data. The estimates from the most recent surveys could easily be misconstrued as erosions in coverage, as opposed to an issue with the design of the survey."

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Current Population Survey: Issues Continue for Retirement Plan Participation and Retiree Income Estimates

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Recession Generation is 51% Minority

The 51 percent majority of the nation's youngest generation is Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's most recent population estimates. The minority share of each generation falls with advancing age to a low of 22 percent among pre-Boomers—people aged 72 or older.

Overall, 39 percent of Americans are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or another minority. Here are the percentages by generation...

Minority share of population by generation, 2017
Recession (0 to 7): 51%
iGeneration (8 to 22): 48%
Millennials (23 to 40): 44%
Gen Xers (41 to 52): 39%
Boomers: (53 to 71): 28%
Older (72 or older): 22%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 Population Estimates

Monday, June 25, 2018

15% of High School Students Report Concussion in Past Year

Among the nation's high school students, 15 percent report having experienced at least one concussion during the past year, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Concussion is defined as "when a blow or a jolt to the head causes problems such as headaches, dizziness, being dazed or confused, difficulty remembering or concentrating, vomiting, blurred vision, or being knocked out."

Seventeen percent of boys and 13 percent of girls report a concussion in the past year. The prevalence of concussion varies greatly by the number of sports played...

Percent of high school students with at least one concussion in the past year
Play no sports: 7.6%
Play one sport: 16.7%
Play two sports: 22.9%
Play three+ sports: 30.3%

Source: CDC, Self-Reported Concussions from Playing a Sport or Being Physically Active among High School Students—United States, 2017

Friday, June 22, 2018

Population by Race and Hispanic origin, 2017

The U.S. population grew by 16.4 million between 2010 and 2017, according to the Census Bureau. The non-Hispanic White population accounted for just 3 percent of the gain, while Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities accounted for 97 percent. The minority share of the population climbed to 39.3 percent, up from 36.2 percent in 2010. Here are the 2017 population estimates by race and Hispanic origin...

Total population: 325,719,178
The U.S. population grew 5.3 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 16.4 million.

Non-Hispanic Whites: 197,803,083 (60.7%)
The non-Hispanic White population grew by a minuscule 0.2 percent between 2010 and 2017. But the tiny increase masks a remarkable shift: the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 and fell by 41,000 between 2015 and 2017. The peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites occurred eight years sooner than forecast by the Census Bureau. This may mean the U.S. will become minority majority sooner than the bureau's forecast of 2045.

Hispanics: 58,946,729 (18.1%)
The Hispanic population grew 16.1 percent between 2010 and 2017, a gain of 8.2 million. Hispanics accounted for 50 percent of the nation's population growth between 2010 and 2017.

Blacks (alone or in combination): 47,411,470 (14.6%)
The Black population grew 9.4 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than the 5.3 percent national increase. The Black population grew by 4.1 million during those years.

Asians (alone or in combination): 22,183,118 (6.8%)
The Asian population grew 24.6 percent between 2010 and 2017, more than any other race or Hispanic origin group. The Asian population grew by 4.4 million during those years.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics Tables: 2010–2016

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Number of Non-Hispanic Whites Peaked in 2015

The number of non-Hispanic Whites in the United States peaked in 2015, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates. Between 2015 and 2017, the non-Hispanic White population declined by 41,000.

The shrinking of the non-Hispanic White population is occurring sooner than expected. The Census Bureau's latest population projections, released earlier this year, show the number of non-Hispanic Whites increasing until 2023 and peaking at 198.7 million. Instead, the number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2015 at 197.8 million—eight years sooner and about 1 million shy of the forecast.

Number of non-Hispanic Whites
2017: 197,803,083
2016: 197,834,599
2015: 197,844,074 (peak)
2010: 197,389,247

The ongoing baby bust is one of the factors behind the early peak in the number of non-Hispanic Whites. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of births to non-Hispanic Whites fell 11 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. At the same time, the number of non-Hispanic White deaths increased because of the aging of the population and the rise in mortality rates among the middle-aged. Deaths now exceed births among non-Hispanic Whites.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics: 2010-2017

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Education Debt Has Become the Norm

For today's young adults, getting a college degree means going into debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Household Economics and Decision-making. Student loans are nothing new, of course. But in the past, most of those who went to college graduated debt free. Only 28 percent of Boomers (aged 60-plus) with a bachelor's degree, ever had to take out a student loan. Today, student debt is the norm. Among Millennials (under age 30) with a bachelor's degree, 62 percent have had to go into debt to get an education.

This is the percentage of Americans by age and highest degree completed who ever took out loans for their own education...

Some college or certificate
Under age 30: 43%
Aged 30 to 44: 39%
Aged 45 to 59: 24%
Aged 60-plus: 13%

Associate's degree
Under age 30: 54%
Aged 30 to 44: 48%
Aged 45 to 59: 35%
Aged 60-plus: 18%

Bachelor's degree
Under age 30: 62%
Aged 30 to 44: 55%
Aged 45 to 59: 48%
Aged 60-plus: 28%

Graduate degree
Under age 30: 75%
Aged 30 to 44: 64%
Aged 45 to 59: 60%
Aged 60-plus: 36%

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

16% of Americans Provide Financial Support

A substantial 16 percent of Americans aged 18 or older provide financial support to people in other households, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 5th annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking. Another 10 percent receive financial support. Here are the percentages by age...

Provided financial support to people in other households in 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 10%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 20%
Aged 50 to 59: 23%
Aged 60-plus: 16%

Received financial support from people in other households in 2017
Aged 18 to 29: 24%
Aged 30 to 39: 12%
Aged 40 to 49: 8%
Aged 50 to 59: 4%
Aged 60-plus: 4%

Most of the exchange is between parents and children. "Parents were among the providers for just over 6 in 10 support recipients, including 8 in 10 of those under age 30," according to the report. "Additionally, adult children are support providers for over half of people over age 60 who are receiving some assistance." Among those aged 18 to 29 who received support, one-third were getting help with educational expenses or student loan payments.

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017

Monday, June 18, 2018

Do You Want To Be Rich? Only 61% Say Yes

A surprisingly modest 61 percent of Americans say they would want to be rich, according to a Gallup survey. Younger adults are most likely to yearn for wealth. They are also the ones most likely to think they will be rich someday...

Percent who would want to be rich (and percent who think it's likely they will be rich)
Aged 18 to 29: 67% (52%)
Aged 30 to 49: 69% (39%)
Aged 50 to 64: 59% (23%)
Aged 65-plus: 44% (10%)

Note: Percentages based on those who do not consider themselves rich.

Democrats are as likely as Republicans to want to be rich (60%), but they do not see eye to eye on another question. Fully 81 percent of Republicans think the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people. Only 43 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: Gallup, Partisan Divide on Benefit of Having Rich People Expands

Friday, June 15, 2018

Is Your Father Still Alive?

Many Americans celebrated Father's Day yesterday by remembering their father rather than spending time with him. Only 45 percent of adults still have Dad in their life, and the 55 percent majority do not. The percentage of adults whose father is no longer alive becomes the majority in the 45-to-54 age group...

Father is no longer alive
Total 18-plus:   54.8%
Aged 18 to 29:   7.3%
Aged 30 to 44: 32.7%
Aged 45 to 54: 64.2%
Aged 55 to 64: 89.0%
Aged 65-plus:  99.1%

Note: Click here for how many have living mothers.
Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Low Fertility May Be Here to Stay

"The most pressing current issue for the Social Security Trustees is how to think about the sharp decline in the total fertility rate," says Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in an analysis of Social Security's 2018 Trustees Report. According to the report, which projects the finances of the Social Security program 75 years into the future, the Social Security Trust Fund this year will collect less through taxes and interest than it pays out in benefits. The fund is projected to run out of money in 2034.

The Trustees need to get the nation's fertility rate right when they project the future finances of the system. That's because the fertility rate is one of the most important variables for determining the long-term financial stability of the system. For older Americans to receive benefits, younger Americans must pay into the system. Without enough younger Americans, the system breaks down.

Munnell examines historical patterns in fertility to determine whether we can expect the current low rates to rebound as the economy improves. Her analysis focuses on the total fertility rate (TFR)—or the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime based on current age-specific birth rates. In 2017, the TFR was 1.76, well below the TFR of 2.0 assumed by the end of the projection period in the Trustees Report.

Historically, the TFR has fallen during recessions and increased during expansions, Munnell's analysis shows. But this has not happened in recent years. The current low fertility rate is at odds with the ongoing economic expansion. This suggests that it could be a permanent shift. "It seems hard to make the case at this point for a cyclical rebound in the TFR," Munnell says.

If the nation's low fertility is the new normal, then the Social Security Trust Fund needs to make changes to the program sooner rather than later. This will "share the burden more equitably across cohorts, restore confidence in the nation's major retirement program, and give people time to adjust to needed changes," Munnell concludes.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Social Security's Financial Outlook: The 2018 Update in Perspective

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Only 30% of Americans Use Desktop Computers

Fully 78 percent of Americans aged 3 or older used the internet as of November 2017, according to the latest government survey of computer and internet use—a supplement to the Current Population Survey, sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The survey reveals ongoing changes in how we access the internet.

Desktop computers and broadband connections were once the primary way we went online. That's no longer the case. Today, the number of households connected to the internet through mobile data plans (88.9 million) surpasses the number connected to the internet through wired broadband service (85.3 million). The use of desktop computers has fallen behind smartphones, laptops, and even tablet computers.

Percent using computing device in 2017 (and 2011)
64% use a smartphone (43%)
46% use a laptop (43%)
34% use a smart TV (14%)
32% use a tablet (6%)
30% use a desktop computer (45%)
8% use a wearable device (NA)

As the variety of computer devices has grown over the years, more Americans are using multiple devices. In 2017, 62 percent of Americans reported used at least two different types of computing devices, up from 52 percent in 2013. The percentage who used three or more devices climbed from 32 to 42 percent during those years.

Source: NTIA, New Data Show Substantial Gains and Evolution in Internet Use

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CDC Investigates Rise in Suicides

The CDC's report on the rising number of suicides in the United States was released on June 8,  just days after Kate Spade committed suicide and the same day Anthony Bourdain took his own life. The government's in-depth analysis of suicide's potential causal factors sheds light on just how difficult it will be to stem the rising tide.

In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. The annual number of suicides has grown by almost 30 percent since 1999, the CDC reports. The suicide rate has increased in every age group under age 75 and has grown in most states. Confronted with these facts, this timely CDC report examines 2015 data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, in which 27 states participated. Information from friends and family, reported to law enforcement at the time of death, are part of the database. The findings are not encouraging...
  • Among those who committed suicide in the 27 reporting states, the 54 percent majority did not have a known mental health condition. 
  • Among those without a mental health condition, only 22.4 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide. Even among those with a known mental health condition, only 23.5 percent had disclosed their intention to commit suicide. 
  • Only 28 percent of those who committed suicide had problematic substance abuse problems—a possible indicator of suicide risk.
  • Among suicide victims with known mental health problems, more than half were in treatment at the time of death.
What can be done to save lives? In an attempt to answer that question, the CDC examined the problems of suicide victims, with information provided by friends and family about troubles in the victim's life. The most commonly reported issues were intimate partner problems (27 percent), physical health problems (22 percent), school problems (20 percent), and job/financial problems (16 percent). These troubles are not unique to suicide victims, of course, which is why one of the CDC's recommendations is the suggestion that we teach better "coping and problem-solving skills to manage everyday stressors and prevent future relationship problems, especially early in life."

Most of the family and friends of suicide victims may never know why their loved one chose to take his or her own life. Only one-third of suicide victims leave a note, the CDC reports.

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Trends in State Suicide Rates—United States, 1999–2016 and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide—27 States, 2015

Monday, June 11, 2018

991 Million Doctor Visits in 2015

Americans visited the doctor 991 million times in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That 3.1 visits per person, on average. Here are the averages by age...

Average number of physician office visits per person, 2015
Under age 1: 6.2
Aged 1 to 17: 1.8
Aged 18 to 44: 2.0
Aged 45 to 64: 3.7
Aged 65-plus: 6.6

Females are more likely than males to visit the doctor, with an average of 3.6 visits per year for females and 2.6 for males.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Characteristics of Office-Based Physician Visits, 2015

Friday, June 08, 2018

How Many Would Go into Space?

Americans are a timid bunch. Personally, most would not want medical treatments so that they could live to be at least 120, most don't want to ride in a driverless car, and most don't want to go into space.

Only 42 percent of people aged 18 or older are definitely/probably interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. The 58 percent majority is definitely/probably not interested in going into space. Why not ride a rocket into space? The biggest concern is cost, second is fear, and third is age/health problems. Most Millennials do want to go into space. Most in the older generations do not.

Percent who definitely/probably would be interested in orbiting earth in a spacecraft
Millennials: 63%
Generation Xers: 39%
Boomers or older: 27%

Millennials may get their chance to go into space, according to exactly half of the public. Fifty percent of Americans think people will routinely travel in space as tourists by 2068.

Source: Pew Research Center, Space Tourism? Majority of Americans Say They Wouldn't Be Interested

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Gig Workforce in 2017...but more to come

If you think gig workers are a growing share of the U.S. labor force, the results of the latest survey of gig work appear to contradict the notion. According to the long-awaited Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 estimate of the gig workforce, measured through a special supplement to the Current Population Survey, there has been no growth or even decline since 2005 in the proportion of American workers who, in their main job, are what the BLS calls "contingent or alternative." These workers include independent contractors, on-call, temporary, and contract workers, as well as those working short stints (contingent). This is the first update of the BLS' contingent and alternative worker survey since 2005 (pre-Uber!), and the finding of little to no growth doesn't make sense. What's the explanation?

Here is the explanation: a whole lot of alternative workers (millions!) are missing from these latest counts. A highlighted box in the news release notes...
"Four new questions were added to the May 2017 Contingent Worker Supplement. These questions were designed to identify individuals who found short tasks or jobs through a mobile app or website and were paid through the same app or website. BLS continues to evaluate the data from these new questions; the data do not appear in this news release [emphasis added]. When available, additional information will be at Findings from this research will be published in a Monthly Labor Review article by September 30, 2018."
So, we will have to wait a bit longer for the much-anticipated official measure of the real size of the gig workforce.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements Summary

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Educated, Affluent Parents Most Likely to Use Day Care

Sixty percent of the nation's preschoolers are in a nonparental care arrangement (day care) at least weekly, according to a National Center for Education Statistics survey. But there are big differences in day care use by parental education and income...

Children aged 0 through 5 in day care at least once/week by parent's education
41% of those whose parent did not graduate from high school
49% of those whose parent has only a high school diploma
60% of those whose parent has some college or an associate's degree
64% of those whose parent has a bachelor's degree
75% of those whose parent has a graduate or professional degree

Day care use also varies by family income. Only 48 percent of preschoolers whose family income is below $20,000 are in day care at least once a week compared with 75 percent of those with an income above $100,000.

Day care use rises with education and income because of its high cost. In 2016, households with a child who attended a day care center spent an average of $1,769 per quarter on the service, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey—an annual average of more than $7,000.

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

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Age of Retirement Rising for College Graduates

The average age of retirement is rising among men, but the increase is almost entirely limited to those with a college degree, according to an analysis by Matthew S. Rutledge of the Center for Retirement Research.

Among men with a college degree, the average age of retirement climbed from 64.6 in the 1990s to 65.7 in the 2010s—an increase of 1.1 years. For men with no more than a high school diploma, the average age of retirement rose from 62.2 to 62.8 during the time period—an increase of just 0.6 years. Why is the rise so much smaller among the less educated? According to Rutledge's research, four factors are at work:

  • Health disparities: Over the past few decades, the health of less-educated workers has improved less than the health of workers with a college degree. Consequently, the less-educated are more often forced by health issues to leave the labor force. 
  • Defined-contribution retirement plans: Less-educated workers are less likely than the better educated to have a defined-contribution retirement plan. Thus, they lack the incentive to remain at work longer to build up their retirement funds.
  • Early claiming of Social Security benefits: Less-educated workers account for most of those claiming early benefits, and this might make sense because of their lower life expectancy. "They tend to maximize their lifetime Social Security benefits by claiming before their FRA [full retirement age], and even as early as age 62."
  • Marital status: Less-educated workers are less likely than college graduates to be married and thus they do not have the incentive to delay retirement until their (typically younger) wife reaches retirement age.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, What Explains the Widening Gap in Retirement Ages by Education?

Monday, June 04, 2018

Teens and Tech: 2018 Update

Every few years Pew Research Center surveys the use of technology by teenagers aged 13 to 17. Here are some of the latest findings...

95% of teens have a smartphone or access to one.
88% of teens have a desktop or laptop computer at home.
45% of teens say they are online almost constantly.
97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls play video games.
85% of teens say they use YouTube, the most popular online platform.
31% of teens say social media is mostly positive, and among them the largest share says social media allows them to connect with friends and family.
24% of teens say social media is mostly negative, and among them the largest share says social media allows bullying and rumors to spread.

Source: Pew Research Center, Teens, Social Media and Technology 2018

Friday, June 01, 2018

84% of Americans Are Digitally Literate

The 84 percent majority of Americans are digitally literate, according to a survey of Americans aged 16 to 65. Only 16 percent of the population is not digitally literate. These findings come from The International Assessment of Adult Competencies, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The survey assessed the computer skills of a nationally representative sample of Americans, determining how many were able to use computers "to solve real-world problems such as purchasing goods or services, finding health information, and managing personal information and business finances."

The United States was just one of the 19 countries whose computer skills were assessed by the OECD. With a digital literacy rate of 84 percent, the U.S. beat the 19-country average of 77 percent. Among the countries, the Netherlands had the largest percentage of digitally literate (89 percent) and Poland had the smallest (50 percent). The U.S. ranks lower in digital literacy than Scandinavian countries, about the same as Canada, England, and Germany, and higher than Australia, Austria, Korea, or Japan.

Fully 74 percent of Americans aged 18 to 65 use a computer at work, the survey found, and 81 percent use a computer in everyday life. Of course digital literacy varies by demographic characteristic. Here are some of the biggest differences...

Education: Fully 95 percent of 18-to-65-year-olds with an associate's degree or more education are digitally literate versus 83 percent of high school graduates and 59 percent of high school dropouts.

Age: The youngest adults are the most literate. Fully 92 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds are digitally literate. The figure falls with age to a low of 72 percent among 55-to-65-year-olds.

Race and Hispanic origin: Only 65 percent of Hispanics are digitally literate. The figure is 78 percent among Blacks and 89 percent among non-Hispanic Whites. Asians were not identified separately but included in an "other" category along with American Indians and the multiracial. The digital literacy rate of the "other" group was 87 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, A Description of U.S. Adults Who Are Not Digitally Literate