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