Friday, August 31, 2018

The Most and Least Religious Americans

There are many ways to segment the American population—age, sex, race, education, and so on. Pew Research Center has come up with a new way—religious typology. By asking a nationally representative sample of Americans to answer a handful of questions about religious beliefs and practices, Pew has identified seven religious types in the United States that "cut across many denominations," "unite people of different faiths," or even "divide people who have the same religious affiliation." The most religious of the seven types are the Sunday Stalwarts. The least religious are the Solidly Seculars. Here are some of Pew's findings about these groups...

Sunday Stalwarts: The members of this group account for 17 percent of the adult population. They are actively involved in their religious organization. Most attend religious services at least weekly and pray daily. Sixty-two percent think it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. Most are women, white, and aged 50 or older. The 59 percent majority is Republican.

Solidly Secular: The members of this group also account for 17 percent of the adult population. They seldom or never attend religious services and nearly all (97 percent) say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral. They do not describe themselves as religious, nor do they call themselves spiritual. Most are men, white, under age 50, and Democrats.

There are another five religious typologies between these two extremes: God-and-Country Believers, Diversely Devout, Relaxed Religious, Spiritually Awake, and Religion Resisters. Find out more about them by clicking the link below. Find out your type by taking the quiz here.

Source: Pew Research Center, The Religious Typology—A New Way to Categorize Americans by Religion

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Census Bureau Counts Ridesharing Workers

A few months ago the Bureau of Labor Statistics disappointed trend trackers with its incomplete update of alternative workers. The update did not include a big chunk of the workforce—all those workers (such as Uber and Lyft drivers) whose jobs depend on gig-enabling technologies. Now the Census Bureau has stepped into the breach. By analyzing the government's "nonemployer" statistics, researchers at the bureau have produced a count of the rideshare workforce and a glimpse of its changing characteristics.

The government defines nonemployers as businesses with no paid employees and annual receipts of $1,000 or more. Most nonemployers are self-employed, and their business is not necessarily their main source of income. The Census Bureau researchers took a look at nonemployers in the "taxi and limousine service" industry over time. What they found is shocking, but not surprising—the 700,565 nonemployers in the taxi and limousine service industry in 2016 were more than three times the 224,000 of 2013. Traditional taxi drivers are also included in these numbers, but the surge is entirely due to the rise of ridesharing.

Not only has the number of ridesharing workers ballooned, but their characteristics have changed. In 2013—before the industry disruption—most nonemployer drivers worked full-time. Only 18 percent also had wage and salary earnings in the same year. The great majority (83 percent) were foreign-born, and just 6 percent were women. The characteristics of nonemployers who started driving in 2015—after the industry disruption—were very different. Most were part-timers. The great majority (73 percent) also had wage and salary earnings in the same year. Only 48 percent were foreign-born, and a larger 21 percent were women. Perhaps the biggest difference between drivers before and after the industry disruption is in their earnings. The 2013 drivers, most of whom worked full-time, earned $41,840 (in 2015 dollars). The 2015 drivers, most of whom worked part-time, earned $11,450.

Source: Census Bureau, What May Be Driving Growth in the "Gig Economy?"—Detailed Look at Taxi, Limousine Services

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Median Household Income Rises in July 2018

Another month of gains. Median household income in July 2018 climbed to $62,450, reports Sentier Research. This is the highest median recorded by Sentier since the January 2000 start of its monthly household income series. The July 2018 median was 2.6 percent higher than the July 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 3.1 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 14.1 percent rise in median household income since the post-Great Recession low of $54,736 in June 2011—two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in July 2018 was 103.1 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: July 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Younger Generations More Comfortable with Debt

More than three out of four American households (77 percent) are in debt, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances—not much higher than the 74 percent of 1998. This small increase masks a big rise in debt among older householders...

Percent of householders aged 65 or older in debt, 2016 (and 1998)
Aged 65 to 74: 70% (51%)
Aged 75-plus: 50% (25%)

What accounts for the large increase in debt among older Americans? A National Bureau of Economic Research paper sheds light on a possible reason for the rise. The analysis examines attitudes toward debt in Sweden by birth cohort. One of the key findings is that the percentage of Swedes who are uncomfortable with debt has fallen in more recent birth cohorts. Among survey respondents born from 1921 to 1940, 83 percent reported being uncomfortable with debt. Among those born from 1941 onward, a smaller 55 to 57 percent reported feeling uncomfortable with debt. Those who are uncomfortable with debt are less likely to be in debt, the study finds.

The same attitudinal shift has likely occurred in the United States, with the older debt-wary generations having been replaced by younger cohorts less concerned with debt. "A change in attitudes toward debt is potentially relevant for understanding the recently observed increase in debt," conclude the authors.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Attitudes Toward Debt and Debt Behavior, Working Paper 24935 ($5)

Monday, August 27, 2018

47% of Private-Sector Employers Provide Health Insurance

Only 47 percent of private-sector businesses provided health insurance for their employees in 2017, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. This is well below the 56 percent of 2008, but higher than the 45 percent of 2016. By size of establishment, this is the percentage of businesses that offer health insurance...

Percent of establishments offering health insurance to employees, 2017
Less than 10 employees: 23.5%
10 to 24 employees: 49.2%
25 to 99 employees: 74.6%
100 to 999 employees: 96.3%
1,000 or more employees: 99.3%

One factor behind the decline in the provision of employer-provided health insurance since 2008, says EBRI, was the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA allowed those working for smaller establishments to get health insurance in the marketplace. A factor behind the increase in the provision of health insurance between 2016 and 2017, says EBRI, is the low unemployment rate. The provision of health insurance has become a tool for recruiting and retaining workers in a tight labor market.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, After Years of Erosion, More Employers are Offering Health Coverage; Worker Eligibility Higher

Friday, August 24, 2018

Eating While Doing Something Else

If you've ever wondered why Americans are increasingly overweight, the American Time Use Survey may have the answer. Not only do we spend an average of 63.6 minutes a day eating and drinking mindfully (meaning as a primary activity—or our main activity at the time) but we spend another 17 minutes eating and drinking mindlessly (meaning as a secondary activity while we're focusing on something else). How many calories can we consume in 17 minutes? More than enough to tip the scales, apparently.

Five pursuits account for the 57 percent majority of the primary activities in which we engage while eating and drinking as a secondary activity. Number one is watching television. Twenty-three percent of mindless eating and drinking occurs while watching TV. Close behind is working at our main job, which accounts for another 23 percent. Socializing is number three. Food and drink preparation is fourth, which may explain why so many cooks claim not to be hungry when sitting down for dinner. Reading for personal interest is number five.

There are notable differences between men and women in the primary activities that account for most of their secondary eating and drinking. Among men, the top five activities are watching TV, working, socializing, playing games, and relaxing/thinking. For women, the top five are working, watching TV, food and drink preparation, socializing, and grooming.

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Watching TV and Working Are the Top Activities that Accompany Secondary Eating

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Americans Drive 51 Minutes a Day

Eighty-eight percent of Americans aged 16 or older drive at least occasionally, according to the AAA Foundation's third annual American Driving Survey. Those who drive spend an average of 51 minutes a day behind the wheel on their 2.24 road trips. People aged 25 to 49 do the most driving and log the greatest number of daily trips...

Average number of minutes per day spent driving, 2016 (and number of trips)
Aged 16 to 19: 37.5 (1.96)
Aged 20 to 24: 50.2 (1.89)
Aged 25 to 34: 57.5 (2.45)
Aged 35 to 49: 59.1 (2.41)
Aged 50 to 64: 46.8 (2.35)
Aged 65 to 74: 51.0 (2.10)
Aged 75-plus: 33.9 (1.84)

Source: AAA Foundation, 2016 American Driving Survey 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Decline in Births Now Equals Great Depression Drop

Since peaking in 2007, the annual number of births in the United States has fallen 10.7 percent. This number has significance: it is equal to the decline in births that occurred during the Great Depression. Among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, the decline has been even greater...

Number of births by race and Hispanic origin in 2017 (and percent change since 2007)
Total: 3,853,472 (–10.7)
Asian: 249,214 (–2.1%)
Black: 560,560 (–10.6%)
Hispanic: 897,518 (–15.5%)
Non-Hispanic White: 1,991,348 (–13.8%)

But the current birth decline differs from the Great Depression decline in two ways. One, the Great Depression decline occurred over a four-year period while the current decline is ten years old and counting. Two, the Great Depression decline ended as the economy improved while the current decline has deepened with the improving economy. According to the Center for Retirement Research, the ongoing decline in the midst of a booming economy suggests that we may be in "a slow drift" to the low fertility levels of some other developed countries.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Birth Data

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Retirement Years Have Expanded. Now What?

"The expansion of retirement years has been one of the most profound societal changes of the past eight decades in the United States," write Eugene Steurerle and Damir Cosic of the Urban Institute. This expansion is straining the Social Security system's finances.

Since the Social Security program first began to pay benefits in 1940, the length of retirement (i.e., receipt of Social Security benefits) has expanded by more than a decade due to rising life expectancy and early claiming. If men and women today were to collect Social Security benefits for the same number of years as their counterparts in 1940, they would have to delay claiming their benefits until age 74 (men) or 75 (women). Instead, the average age of Social Security claiming is 64, with many claiming as early as age 62.

Although Social Security's full retirement age is rising from 65 to 67, the earliest age allowed for Social Security claiming (62) remains the same. The consequence is this: a woman retiring at age 62 in 2022 will receive Social Security benefits for 29 percent of her life and 58 percent of her adulthood. Such lengthy retirements are not financially sustainable.

"Reform must address the unavoidable question posed in the title of this brief," conclude the authors. How should Social Security adjust when people live longer?

Source: Urban Institute, How Should Social Security Adjust When People Live Longer?

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Decline in Black Homeownership

Every race and Hispanic origin group has a lower homeownership rate today than in the early 2000s, but no group has seen a bigger decline in homeownership than Blacks. In 2017, just 42.3 percent of Black households owned their home—6.8 percentage points below the 49.1 percent peak of 2004. Hispanics saw their homeownership rate fall 3.5 percentage points from their peak, Asians experienced a 3.6 percentage-point loss, and the non-Hispanic White rate was down 3.7 percentage points.

Black homeownership rate
2017: 42.3%
2010: 45.4%
2004: 49.1% (peak)
2000: 47.2%

The gap in the homeownership rate of non-Hispanic White and Black households grew from 26.9 to 30.0 percent points between 2004 and 2017.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Annual Statistics: 2017

Friday, August 17, 2018

Pets Outnumber People in the U.S.

There are more pets than people in the United States, according to the 2017–2018 APPA (American Pet Products Association) National Pet Owners Survey. Our nation is home to 326 million people and 393 million pets. The 68 percent majority of households own at least one pet, and many own more than one...

Percentage of households owning pets by type (and average number owned)
Dogs: 48%(1.5)
Cats: 38% (2.0)
Fish, freshwater: 10% (11.1)
Birds: 6% (2.6)
Small animals: 5% (2.1)
Reptiles: 4% (2.0)
Horses: 2% (2.9)
Fish, saltwater: 2% (7.5)

Most owners dote on their pets by giving them treats and gifts. Nearly all dog owners (95 percent) dole out treats. So do 80 percent of cat owners and even 54 percent of the owners of reptiles. Gift giving is almost as prevalent as the provision of treats. Seventy-eight percent of dog owners give their dogs gifts, as do 67 percent of cat owners. Even reptile owners show generosity: 46 percent gave their reptile a gift in the past year, with 14 percent giving it a Christmas gift.

Source: APPA, 2017–18 APPA National Pet Owners Survey

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Who Thinks News Media is Enemy of the People?

"Which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?"

Only 26 percent of Americans believe the news media is the enemy of the people, according to a Quinnipiac poll, with few differences by age...

News media is the enemy of the people
Aged 18 to 34: 29%
Aged 35 to 49: 27%
Aged 50 to 64: 27%
Aged 65-plus: 20%

But there is a huge difference in belief by political affiliation...

News media is the enemy of the people
Democrats: 5%
Republicans: 51%

Source: Quinnipiac University Poll, August 14 National Poll

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Feelings of Success Rise with Age

The percentage of Americans who believe they are successful is lowest among young adults and rises with age. The 2016 General Social Survey asked people aged 18 or older how they felt about the statement, "Right now I see myself as being pretty successful." Overall, 46 percent said the statement was mostly or definitely true for them. But the percentage was lowest among Millennials and highest among older Americans...

"I see myself as being pretty successful" (percent saying mostly/definitely true)
Millennials: 38%
Gen Xers: 41%
Boomers: 51%
Older: 57%

By education, only 42 percent of those without a bachelor's degree felt successful compared with a larger 56 percent of those with a bachelor's degree.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Who Does More, Men or Women?

Everyone knows that women do more housework than men. Each year the American Time Use Survey documents the difference. The 2017 survey finds women aged 15 or older spending an average of 2.2 hours a day doing what it calls "household activities," while men devote only 1.4 hours a day to these tasks. Household activities include cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, pet care, home repair, vehicle care, and household management such as paying bills.

In every age group, women do more housework. The gap is greatest among the youngest adults—under age 25—where women spend twice as much time as men engaged in household activities. The gap declines fairly steadily with age. Among people aged 65 or older, women do only 22 percent more housework than their male counterparts.

But there's more to a day's work than housework. There's also paid work and child care. Men spend 47 percent more time than women working for pay on an average day. Women spend twice as much time as men taking care of household children. What happens when you add up the time men and women devote to all three responsibilities? It turns out, there is near equality in the amount of time men and women spend doing housework, paid work, and childcare. Men devote 5.60 hours a day to these activities and women 5.35 hours—a difference of only 18 minutes a day, with men doing the extra time. Even if you break it down by age, men and women spend nearly equal amounts of time doing what needs to be done on an average day...

Difference in time women and men devote to housework, paid work, and child care
Aged 15 to 19: women, 24 minutes more
Aged 20 to 24: men, 1 minute more
Aged 25 to 34: women, 1 minute more
Aged 35 to 44: men, 13 minutes more
Aged 45 to 54: men, 11 minutes more
Aged 55 to 64: men, 17 minutes more
Aged 65-plus: women, 1 minute more

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 American Time Use Survey

Monday, August 13, 2018

47% of Millennials Have a Tattoo

With summer at its peak, tattoos are more visible than ever. Overall, 29 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have a tattoo, according to a 2015 Harris Poll. This is nearly double the 16 percent of 2003. With such rapid growth, the percentage with a tattoo today is certainly higher than the 29 percent of 2015. Here are the 2015 stats by generation...

Percent with at least one tattoo by generation
Millennials: 47%
Gen Xers: 36%
Boomers: 13%
Older: 10%

Source: The Harris Poll, Tattoo Takeover: Three in Ten Americans Have Tattoos, and Most Don't Stop at Just One

Friday, August 10, 2018

Median Age of Full-Time Workers: 45

Forty-five—that's the median age of the nation's full-time workers aged 25 or older, according to the Census Bureau, with almost no difference in the median age of men (44.8) and women (45.0) in the workforce. But in some occupations there are big differences in the median age of male and female workers. For example...

Men: 51.6
Women: 41.6

Men: 50.8
Women: 35.7

Behind the differences in the median age of men and women in some occupations is the influx of (younger) women into these jobs over the past few decades. Women earned 49 percent of degrees in dentistry in 2015-16, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, up from 37 percent two decades earlier. They earned 65 percent of degrees in optometry, up from 53 percent in the mid-1990s. The gap in the median age of men and women in these and other professions is a sign of women's expanding presence in the workforce.

Source: Census Bureau, Detailed Occupation and Education Table Package

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Census Bureau Retracts 2017 Vintage Population Projections

Shocking demographers and other trend spotters across the nation, the Census Bureau has removed its 2017 vintage population projections from its web site. The projections, released in March 2018, updated the bureau's 2014 vintage projections. This terse explanation appears on the bureau's projections site:

"An error was identified in the 2017 population projections data release. All data files have been removed. Corrected news products and data files are forthcoming."

Demo Memo had analyzed the projections in two posts in March:
Minority Majority in 2045
Surprises in the 2017 Population Projections

Stay tuned for what went wrong and whether the corrections change our view of the future.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Nervous Breakdown?

"Have you ever felt you were going to have a nervous breakdown?" That's one of the mental health questions in the 2016 General Social Survey. A surprisingly large 36 percent of Americans aged 18 or older answered "yes."

Women are more likely than men to have ever felt like they were going to have a nervous breakdown—42 versus 27 percent. By race and Hispanic origin, Asians are most likely to have felt that way (43 percent) and Blacks least likely (28 percent). By generation, nearly half of Millennials have felt on the brink of a breakdown...

Ever felt you were going to have a nervous breakdown?
Millennials: 48%
Gen Xers: 37%
Boomers: 29%
Older: 14%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

How Many Are Lonely?

Nearly 1 in 12 Americans aged 18 or older reported feeling lonely most or all of the time during the past week, according to the 2016 General Social Survey. Several questions in the 2016 survey probed the public's emotional health. The good news is that few of us spent most of the past week feeling bad. The bad news is that some of us did. Five percent felt depressed most or all of the time in the past week, 6 percent felt sad, and 8 percent felt lonely.

Felt lonely most or all of the time in the past week
Aged 18 to 29: 7.4%
Aged 30 to 39: 4.4%
Aged 40 to 49: 9.4%
Aged 50 to 59: 11.9%
Aged 60 to 69: 7.4%
Aged 70-plus: 5.1%

Loneliness peaks among people in their 50s, with 12 percent saying they felt lonely most or all of the time. One factor that may cause loneliness in this age group is the emptying nest. Loneliness is least likely among people in their 30s, the crowded-nest years. The oldest Americans—people aged 70 or older—are one of the age groups least likely to feel lonely.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Monday, August 06, 2018

5% of Americans Are Vegetarian, 3% Vegan

Five percent of Americans are vegetarians, according to a Gallup survey, and another 3 percent are vegan. Vegetarians are those who do not eat meat, and vegans reject all animal products. By age, both vegetarians and vegans peak in the 30-to-49 age group...

Percent who are vegetarian
Aged 18 to 29: 7%
Aged 30 to 49: 8%
Aged 50 to 64: 3%
Aged 65-plus: 2%

Percent who are vegan
Aged 18 to 29: 3%
Aged 30 to 49: 4%
Aged 50 to 64: 1%
Aged 65-plus: 3%

Source: Gallup, Snapshot: Few Americans Vegetarian or Vegan

Friday, August 03, 2018

55% in U.S. Pray Every Day

The United States is an outlier when it comes to prayer, according to Pew Research Center. It is the only wealthy country in the world in which the majority of the population prays daily. Here are some comparisons with other countries...

Percentage of adults who pray daily, for selected countries
United States: 55%
Mexico: 40%
Canada: 25%
Italy: 21%
Australia: 18%
Russia: 18%
Sweden: 11%
France: 10%
Germany: 9%
United Kingdom: 6%

The percentage of adults who pray every day is highest in Afghanistan (96 percent) and lowest in China (1 percent). Of 102 countries examined by Pew, the average is 49 percent. Sociologists theorize that countries with high levels of income inequality often have high levels of religiosity, reports Pew.

Source: Pew Research Center, The Age Gap in Religion Around the World and American Are Far More Religious than Adults in Other Wealthy Nations

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Record Low Fertility Rate Examined in Report

The nation's fertility rate hit a new low in the first quarter of 2018, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44) fell to 60.1 in the first quarter of the year, according to the NCHS's Vital Statistics Rapid Release Natality Dashboard. This is lower than the all-time annual low of 60.2 in 2017

The ongoing decline in the fertility rate is examined in a report by the Center for Retirement Research. The report analyzes whether the decline is a lingering effect of the Great Recession or a structural shift in childbearing in the United States. The conclusion: "the bulk of the evidence" points to a structural shift caused by four factors...
  • Hispanics are having fewer children
  • More women are earning college degrees
  • Those with no religious affiliation are having fewer children
  • The female-to-male wage ratio has increased
Because of these shifts, the nation's fertility rate is not likely to bounce back to pre-recession levels, concludes the report. Barring more immigration, lower fertility means the nation's social programs will become more expensive in the years ahead.

 Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Is the Drop in Fertility Temporary or Permanent?

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Student Loan Debt, 1992 to 2016

The percentage of households with student loan debt has more than doubled in the past 24 years, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances. In 2016, 22.3 percent of American households had outstanding student loans, up from 10.5 percent in 1992. The percentage of households with student loans increased substantially in every age group during those years...

Percentage of households with student loans in 2016 (and 1992)
Under age 35: 44.8% (24.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 34.3% (11.7%)
Aged 45 to 54: 23.7% (5.7%)
Aged 55 to 64: 12.9% (2.9%)
Aged 65-plus: 2.4% (1.2%)

Among households with student loans, the median amount owed has more than tripled, after adjusting for inflation—rising from $5,363 in 1992 to $19,000 in 2016. In the 35-to-44 age group, debt has quadrupled...

Median amount owed for student loans by debtors in 2016 (and 1992); in 2016 dollars
Under age 35: $18,500 ($5,363)
Aged 35 to 44: $20,100 ($4,860)
Aged 45 to 54: $20,000 ($6,201)
Aged 55 to 64: $18,000 ($12,234)
Aged 65-plus: $12,000 ($10,223)

While households with and without student loans are equally likely to have saved in a defined-contribution retirement plan, those without student loans have saved much more. Among householders aged 45 to 54 with a college degree, those without student loans had a median balance of $126,000 in their defined-contribution retirement plan in 2016. Those with student loans had a median balance of $46,000.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, Student Loan Debt: Trends and Implications