Thursday, October 17, 2019

White Working Class Is in Decline

The white working class is declining not only as a share of the total U.S. population but also in absolute numbers, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis.

Today, only 40 percent of Americans aged 25 or older are white working class (defined as non-Hispanic Whites aged 25 or older without a four-year college degree). This is much lower than the 71 percent share of the population this group accounted for in 1975. During the past four-plus decades, the nonwhite working class (Hispanics, Blacks, and other minorities without a four-year degree) and non-Hispanic White college graduates have been growing. Each of these groups is now 25 percent of the population, up from 15 and 12 percent in 1975, respectively. The remaining 10 percent of the population is accounted for by nonwhites with a four-year college degree, up from 1 percent in 1975.

Social and demographic change explains the decline of the white working class—the growing share of non-Hispanic Whites who are earning a college degree and the rapid growth of minority populations relative to the non-Hispanic White population. "Whatever the cause," conclude the researchers, "the decline of this group will undoubtedly continue to have lasting economic and social consequences for the U.S."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The White Working Class: National Trends, Then and Now

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Men's Earnings: Explaining Differences in Trajectory

Why do some workers enjoy rising incomes over their career while other workers can't seem to make any gains? That question was posed by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They examined W-2s and self-employment income of men at ages 25 and again at 55 to see how their earnings grew over the decades. For the median worker, real annual earnings grew 60 percent. But workers below the 20th percentile in earnings had lower earnings at age 55 than they did at age 25. Meanwhile, those in the top 1 percent saw their earnings increase by a factor of 27.

The researchers found several differences in the labor force experience of low- and high-income workers that could affect the earning trajectory of men over their career...
  • low-income workers lose their jobs more frequently
  • low-income workers have longer spells of unemployment
  • low-income workers are less likely to be contacted about alternative job opportunities 
Although high-income workers receive more alternative job offers than low-income workers, they are less likely than low-income workers to switch jobs. "Even though high earners are solicited more often, these solicitations do not always translate into job-to-job switches," say the researchers. "In fact, top income earners are much less likely to switch jobs. While we do not know the particular reason for this behavior, it can be the result of either the earner already having a high-paying job or the current employer responding to the risk of losing its worker."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Liberty Street Economics, Job Ladders and Careers

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Transportation Costs in Metros and States

Nationally, the average household devotes 16 percent of its expenditures to transportation (vehicle purchases, finance charges, insurance, repairs, gasoline, public transportation, etc.). But in the Detroit metropolitan area, residents spend a larger 19 percent of their budget on transportation. Just as housing costs vary across the country, so do transportation expenses. Here is transportation's share of average household spending in selected metropolitan areas...

Transportation as a share of average household spending, 2017–18
Detroit: 19.3%
Phoenix: 19.0%
Dallas: 16.8%
Miami: 16.3%
Houston: 15.9%
Baltimore: 15.8%
Chicago: 13.2%
Boston: 12.0%
New York: 12.0%
San Francisco: 11.3%

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' analysis of the first state-level spending data ever teased from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average Texas household devotes 20 percent of its budget to transportation. This is significantly greater than the 16 to 17 percent of the budget devoted to transportation by households in the metro areas of Dallas and Houston. Transportation consumed 15 percent of the average household's budget in California and 14 percent in New York state, higher than the share devoted to transportation by households in San Francisco (11 percent) or the New York metro (12 percent).

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Death Rate Much Lower for Married People

Married people have strikingly lower death rate than the never-married, divorced, or widowed, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. Take a look at the number of deaths per 100,000 population in 2017 by marital status...

Age-adjusted death rate by marital status in 2017
   779.6 for the married
1,368.8 for the divorced
1,443.6 for the never married
1,656.9 for the widowed

The age-adjusted death rate of married people was 43 percent lower than the death rate of the divorced in 2017. It was 46 percent lower than the death rate of the never married, and 53 percent lower than the death rate of the widowed.

One factor that leads to the lower death rate for the married is self-selection, with healthier people more likely than the less healthy to be married. Another factor is the benefit of living with someone who has your back, urging you to go to doctor appointments, take your pills, and eat right. A third factor leading to higher death rates for the single, divorced, widowed, is the stress surrounding the single life, marital breakups, and the death of a spouse.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality among Adults Aged 25 and over by Marital Status: United States, 2010–2017

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Student Loans: How Much Is Owed?

Americans owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, more than they owe for auto loans or credit card debt. But what is the maximum amount owed by individual borrowers? That's what the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis wanted to figure out. To investigate, Fed researchers used Equifax Consumer Credit Panel data, calculating the maximum loan balance for each borrower between 2000 and 2018, adjusted for inflation.

The median student loan balance is $24,899, according to the findings. But there is great variation in the amount borrowed. More than 20 percent of borrowers owe more than $50,000, and 5 percent owe nearly $100,000 or more. Here are student loan balances by percentile of borrowers...

Student loan balances
20th percentile: $9,703
40th percentile: $19,125
60th percentile: $31,312
80th percentile: $54,497
95th percentile: $99,025
99th percentile: $135,472

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Are Students Borrowing Too Much? Or Too Little?

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Number of Workers Aged 75-Plus Will Double

The median age of the labor force is projected to rise by another 0.6 years between now and 2028—from 41.9 in 2018 to 42.5 in 2028, according to recently released projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It doesn't sound like a big deal.

But it is a big deal. The incremental increase in the median age masks dramatic shifts in the labor force by age group as the large baby-boom generation gets older and labor force participation rates among older workers rise. Take a look at the 10-year change projected for the labor force by age...

Percent change in labor force by age, 2018 to 2028
Total labor force: 5.5%
Aged 16 to 24:    -6.1%
Aged 25 to 34:     0.5%
Aged 35 to 44:   13.9%
Aged 45 to 54:    -1.1%
Aged 55 to 64:    -1.3%
Aged 65 to 74:   50.8%
Aged 75-plus:  104.9%

Only one age group under age 65 will gain a significant number of workers during the decade ahead. Meanwhile, the number of workers aged 65 or older will grow 61 percent. The BLS projects a 51 percent increase in the number of workers aged 65 to 74, and a doubling in the number of workers aged 75 or older. Not only are aging boomers inflating the older population, but the labor force participation rate of older workers is projected to climb as well. Among workers aged 65 to 74, the labor force participation rate is projected to climb from 27.0 to 32.5 percent. (For perspective, only 17.7 percent of the age group was in the labor force in 1998.) The labor force participation rate of people aged 75 or older is projected to rise to 12.1 percent, up from 8.7 percent in 2018. (In 1998, only 4.7 percent of the age group was in the labor force.) Workers aged 65 or older will account for 9.4 percent of the labor force in 2028, up from 6.2 percent in 2018.

Because there will be little or no growth in the number of younger workers in the decade ahead, expect businesses with expanding workforces to turn to older workers to fill positions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Profiles of Violent Death

There were 65,000 violent deaths in the United States in 2016, according to the CDC. The 62 percent majority were suicides, followed by homicides (25 percent), deaths of undetermined intent (11 percent),  legal intervention (1 percent), and unintentional firearm deaths (fewer than 1 percent). The legal intervention category is defined as "deaths caused by law enforcement and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force in the line of duty, excluding legal executions."

The CDC analyzed the circumstances surrounding the violent deaths that occurred in 32 states in 2016. In those states, there were 23,630 suicides, 10,336 homicides, 515 legal interventions, and 295 unintentional firearm deaths. The CDC examined the demographics of the victims  (age, sex, race), the method of death (firearm, sharp instrument, drowning, etc.), the location of death (house/apartment, street, etc.), and precipitating circumstances (depression, intimate partner problem, job problem, crime in progress, and so on).

Looking at the most likely scenario for each type of violent death, here are their profiles...

Suicide: A non-Hispanic White (83 percent) man (77 percent) aged 35 to 64 (52 percent) shot (49 percent) or hung (28 percent) himself in his house/apartment (74 percent) because he was depressed (74 percent). He did not leave a suicide note (66 percent), nor did he disclose to others his suicide intent (76.5 percent).

Homicide: A Black (56 percent) man (79 percent) aged 20 to 34 (46 percent) was shot (74 percent) in his house/apartment (47 percent) by an acquaintance/friend (27 percent) during an argument (32 percent).

Legal intervention death: A non-Hispanic White (50 percent) man (96 percent) aged 25 to 44 (59 percent) was shot (96 percent) in a house/apartment (38 percent) or on the street (28 percent). He had a drug problem (26 percent) or mental illness (21 percent). He had a weapon (73 percent).

Unintentional firearm death: A non-Hispanic White (59 percent) man (86 percent) aged 15 to 24 (35 percent) was in his house/apartment (74 percent), playing (35 percent) with a handgun (63 percent) when he unintentionally pulled the trigger (23.5 percent).

Source: CDC, Surveillance for Violent Deaths—National Violent Death Reporting System, 32 States, 2016

Monday, October 07, 2019

Median Household Income Rises in August 2019

Admit it. It was a disappointment when the Current Population Survey's 2018 median household income estimate, released by the Census Bureau last month, was no higher than the 2017 median, after adjusting for inflation. No need to worry. We already know how things will turn out. The median has been rising month after month during much of 2019, according to Sentier Research, whose Current Population Survey-based estimates track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

Median household income climbed 1.3 percent between July and August 2019, after adjusting for inflation, Sentier reports. The $65,976 August median was 3.4 percent higher than the median a year earlier in August 2018. "Real median household income continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months," says Sentier's Gordon Green. "We have seen a strong positive trend in real median annual household income, which is encouraging."

Sentier's Household Income Index for August 2019 was 106.8 (January 2000 = 100.0). 

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: August, 2019

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Work Schedule Surprises

Many workers do not know their work schedule much in advance, according to the American Time Use Survey, making it difficult to organize child care arrangements or plan doctor visits.

Percent distribution of workers by how far in advance they know their work schedule
19% know less than one week in advance
16% know one to two weeks in advance
10% know two to four weeks in advance
55% know four or more weeks in advance

Among workers without a high school diploma, nearly one-third (31 percent) do not know their work schedule even a week in advance.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules Summary

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

25% of Workers Sometimes Work from Home

Remember when computers and the internet were going to revolutionize the world of work? The ability to work remotely would solve all sorts of social and economic problems—allowing parents to care for young children, saving workers the time and expense of commuting, and lowering the cost of office space for employers. We're still waiting...

Wage and salary workers by work-at-home status, 2017–18
Total wage and salary workers: 100.0%
Workers who occasionally worked at home: 24.8%
Workers with days worked exclusively at home: 14.7%
Workers who worked exclusively at home at least one day per week: 8.0%

While 25 percent of wage and salary workers occasionally worked at home during the 2017–18 time period, according to the American Time Use Survey, many were just finishing up office work after hours. Only 15 percent of wage and salary workers spent a day working exclusively from home, and just 8 percent worked at home exclusively at least one day per week.

Why haven't computers and the internet created a sizable work-at-home labor force? Parents found out it was too hard to manage child care and job duties at the same time. Workers discovered face time at the office was worth the hassle of the commute. Employers grew weary of remote management. For whatever reason, working at home has not turned out to be as popular as once predicted. Of those who occasionally worked at home in 2017–18, the 56 percent majority did so primarily for personal reasons—it was their preference, they were trying to fit work in with personal or family needs, or they wanted to reduce commuting costs. But a substantial 43 percent worked at home primarily out of necessity—they had to catch up on work, their employer required it, or bad weather kept them at home.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules—2017–2018 Data from the American Time Use Survey

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

50% Increase in Householders Aged 65 to 74

Since 2010, the number of households headed by people aged 65 to 74 has expanded by 50 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. This increase accounts for most of the decade's household growth—6.5 million of the 11.0 million increase in households between 2010 and 2019. The number of households headed by people aged 55 to 64 and 75-plus also grew faster than average. Householders aged 55 or older now head nearly half (45 percent) of the nation's households, up from 39 percent in 2010.

Three age groups lost households between 2010 and 2019. The biggest loss occurred among 45-to-54-year-olds. There were 2.8 million fewer householders aged 45 to 54 in 2019 than in 2010 as the small Generation X passed through the age group.

Numerical (and percent) change in households by age of householder, 2010 to 2019
Total households: 11,041,000 (9.4%)
Under age 25:           –34,000 (–0.5%)
Aged 25 to 34:       1,354,000 (7.0%)
Aged 35 to 44:        –149,000 (–0.7%)
Aged 45 to 54:      –2,800,000 (–11.3%)
Aged 55 to 64:        3,785,000 (18.6%)
Aged 65 to 74:        6,517,000 (49.5%)
Aged 75-plus:         2,369,000 (19.6%)

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Income Data Tables

Monday, September 30, 2019

Print Books Remain Most Popular

Nearly three out of four adults have read a book in the previous 12 months, according to a Pew Research Center survey, and print remains the most popular format. Overall, 72 percent of the public read a book in any format in the past year: 65 percent read a print book, 25 percent read an ebook, and 20 percent listened to an audiobook.

Interestingly, young adults are not only more likely than any other age group to have read a book in the past year, they are also most likely to have read a print book..

Percent who have read any book (and a print book) in the past year, 2019
Aged 18 to 29: 81% (74%)
Aged 30 to 49: 72% (65%)
Aged 50 to 64: 67% (59%)
Aged 65-plus: 68% (63%)

Source: Pew Research Center, One-in-five Americans Now Listen to Audiobooks

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Who Works on Weekends?

The average worker works 4.77 days a week. Sixty-eight percent of workers work Monday through Friday. But 19 percent of workers usually work on Saturday and 12 percent usually work on Sunday, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. By day of the week, here is the percentage of workers who say they usually work on that day...

Percent of workers who usually work on...
Monday: 81.0%
Tuesday: 82.3%
Wednesday: 82.5%
Thursday: 82.3%
Friday: 80.4%
Saturday: 19.2%
Sunday: 12.1%

Workers without a high school diploma are among those most likely to work weekends—31 percent usually work Saturdays and 17 percent Sundays. Those in service occupations are also more likely than average to work weekends—39 percent usually work Saturdays and 28 percent Sundays. By industry, fully 50 percent of leisure and hospitality workers usually work Saturdays and 36 percent Sundays.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules—2017–2018 Data from the American Time Use Survey

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Which Occupations Are Dominated by Millennials?

Millennials account for a larger share of the labor force than any other generation. Among the nation's employed in 2018, a substantial 39 percent were Millennials. Boomers and Gen Xers each accounted for 25 percent of the employed, and the iGeneration was 11 percent.

The Millennial share of workers exceeds 39 percent in many occupations and tops 50 percent in more than two dozen. Among the 328 detailed occupations for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides age distributions and median ages, Millennials account for more than 50 percent of workers in 29 occupations. Here are the top five...

Millennial share of workers (top five occupations)
60.3% of emergency medical technicians and paramedics
59.2% of physician assistants
58.8% of bartenders
58.1% of roofers
57.2% of web developers

Millennials also account for more than half of statisticians, firefighters, software developers, financial analysts, probation officers, medical scientists, market researchers, producers and directors, telemarketers, speech language pathologists, information security analysts, physical therapists, police and sheriff's patrol officers, and private detectives.

Note: In 2018, the iGeneration was aged 16 to 23, Millennials were aged 24 to 41, Gen Xers were aged 42 to 53, and Boomers were aged 54 to 72.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Household Data, Annual Averages

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Here's Why Median Household Income Did Not Grow

For a full decade, median household income struggled to return to the pre-Great Recession peak of $62,700 in 2007 (in 2018 dollars). It finally got there in 2017 and stayed there in 2018. Some might question why American households have made no economic progress in more than a decade, but a look at trends in household income by age group reveals that most households have gained ground.

Percent change in median household income by age of householder, 2007 to 2018 (in 2018$)
Total households: 0.8%
Under age 25: 9.7%
Aged 25 to 34: 3.5%
Aged 35 to 44: 4.2%
Aged 45 to 54: 3.4%
Aged 55 to 64: –3.7%
Aged 65 to 74: 16.7%
Aged 75-plus: 20.5%

Note: Percent change calculations between 2007 and 2018 were made after adjusting 2007 median household income to make it comparable to 2018 income as per Census Bureau guidance in: Survey Redesigns Make Comparisons to Years Before 2017 Difficult.

While the overall median did not increase significantly between 2007 and 2018, every age group but one experienced a significant increase, after adjusting for inflation. How could the overall median remain unmoved when almost everyone experienced a gain?

The answer is the changing age structure of the population, thanks to baby boom and baby bust. In 2018, there were many more older householders (with lower incomes) than in 2007 as boomers aged into their sixties and seventies. The share of households headed by people aged 65 or older grew from 21 to 27 percent of the total during those years. Conversely, there were fewer middle-aged householders (in their peak-earning years) in 2018 than in 2007 because the small Generation X was in the 35-to-54 age groups. The share of households headed by 35-to-54-year-olds fell from 40 to just 34 percent during those years. These shifts depressed growth in the overall median and will continue to do so until the large Millennial generation is more of a presence in the peak-earning age groups.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Historical Income Tables: Households

Monday, September 23, 2019

Most Americans Have Been Spoofed

Robocalls are a big problem. Nearly 48 billion robocalls came into the U.S. in 2018, up from 29 billion just two years earlier, according to an AARP study. Many of the calls are scams. In an effort to educate the public about the dangers of answering such calls, AARP surveyed a representative sample of adults to see how they responded when their phone rings.

Caller ID is nearly universal, the survey found. In an ideal world, this should help people avoid phone scams. Fully 97 percent of adults say they can see who is calling on their phone. In fact, they rely on caller ID to determine whether or not to answer the phone. Fully 92 percent say they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to answer a call when they see the name and number of a family member or friend, 86 percent are likely to answer a call when they see the name of a business with which they have a relationship, and 59 percent are likely to answer a call from a local area code.

That's the problem. Scammers are spoofing local area codes to entice people to answer the phone. And it's working. In the past month, fully 74 percent of the public has answered a call from a local area code only to discover it was a spoof—a robocall disguised as a local call.

"Many Americans rely on caller ID to determine who is calling them and, as a result, many are being deceived into answering calls from criminal telemarketers," says the AARP report.

Although most Americans say they have not given robocallers their personal information, the survey results show that many could be enticed to do so. When presented with hypothetical call scenarios, a substantial 39 percent of survey respondents say they would be likely to answer a call if the caller told them their credit card had been compromised, and 29 percent say they would be likely to answer a call if told their Social Security number had been compromised.

Source: AARP, Many Americans Still Vulnerable to Spoofing

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How Often Do Workers Get Paid?

It depends. Some get a paycheck every week, while others get paid only once a month. No single pay schedule accounts for the majority of businesses, according to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...

Percent distribution of private businesses by length of pay schedule, 2019
Weekly: 33.8%
Biweekly: 42.2%
Semimonthly: 18.6%
Monthly: 5.4%

The construction industry is most likely to pay every week (76 percent of construction businesses pay weekly). The financial activities industry is the one most likely to pay only monthly (8 percent of financial activities businesses pay monthly).

The less workers are paid, the more frequently they receive a paycheck, according to a BLS analysis of pay schedules in 2013. Among workers paid weekly, average hourly earnings were $18.62 in 2013. Among those paid biweekly, average hourly earnings were a higher $24.81. Earnings were highest among those paid semimonthly or monthly, an average of $29.75 and $28.45 per hour, respectively.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Length of Pay Periods in the Current Employment Statistics Survey and How Frequently Do Private Businesses Pay Workers?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Householders Aged 75-Plus Outspend Young Adults

Average household spending peaked in 2006, just before the Great Recession. Spending then fell for years as Americans struggled with lost jobs and homes. It took until 2017 for average household spending to set a new record high. Now spending has plateaued. Average household spending in 2018 ($61,224) was not statistically different from the 2017 figure ($61,525), after adjusting for inflation, and not much higher than the old 2006 record ($60,285).

This stability in the overall median masks changes in average household spending by age of householder. The rule of thumb is this: the older the householder, the greater the increase in average household spending. Take a look...

Average household spending in 2018 (and % change since 2006; in 2018$)
Under age 25: $32,039 (–8.7%)
Aged 25 to 34: $56,457 (–4.7%)
Aged 35 to 44: $71,198 (–0.6%)
Aged 45 to 54: $75,387 (+5.1%)
Aged 55 to 64: $66,212 (+4.7%)
Aged 65-plus: $50,860 (+16.5%)
  Aged 65 to 74: $56,268 (+10.3)
  Aged 75-plus: $43,181 (+19.9%)

Average household spending was lower in 2018 than in 2006 for householders under age 45. The youngest householders saw their average spending decline by a steep 8.7 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Behind the decline is the postponement of marriage, reducing household size and spending.

Average household spending was higher in 2018 than in 2006 for householders aged 45 or older, with the biggest gains experienced by the oldest householders—a nearly 20 percent increase in average household spending for householders aged 75 or older, after adjusting for inflation. Average household spending by the oldest and youngest householders was almost identical in 2006 (in 2018 dollars)—$35,000 spent by householders under age 25 versus $36,000 spent by householders aged 75-plus. Not so in 2018. The oldest householders now outspend the younger by a whopping 35 percent—a difference in average annual spending of more than $11,000.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

44% Increase in Spending on Public Transportation

Why is average household spending on public transportation going through the roof?

While overall household spending did not increase between 2017 and 2018, after adjusting for inflation, spending on public transportation climbed 12 percent and was one of the year's fastest-growing spending categories. That's not just a blip. Since 2010, average household spending on public transportation has climbed 44 percent, after adjusting for inflation—four times faster than the increase in overall household spending—making it one of the fastest-growing spending categories during the time period.

There are three reasons for the ongoing boom in spending on public transportation. One, the back-to-the-city movement has increased spending on mass transit. Two, the aging of the baby-boom generation has boosted travel spending. Three, the average household has more than tripled its spending on "taxi fares."

Percent change in average household spending on public transportation, 2010–2018
231% increase in spending on taxi fares
  73% increase in spending on ship fares
  68% increase in intercity train fares
  34% increase in spending on airline fares
  10% increase in spending on intercity bus fares
    8% increase in spending on intracity mass transit fares

Included in the "taxi fare" category is spending on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

He/ She/ They

A substantial 18 percent of adults personally know someone who goes by a gender-neutral pronoun, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Young adults are most likely to know someone who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun...

Know someone who goes by a gender-neutral pronoun
Aged 18 to 29: 32%
Aged 30 to 49: 19%
Aged 50 to 64: 14%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

About half of adults say they would be comfortable "using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if asked to do so," Pew finds. Young adults are most likely to say they would feel comfortable (61 percent). Americans aged 65 or older are least likely to say they would feel comfortable doing so (47 percent).

Source: Pew Research Center, About One-in-Five U.S. Adults Know Someone Who Goes by a Gender-Neutral Pronoun

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Average Household Spending Stalls in 2018

After reaching a record high last year, average household spending took a breather. The $61,224 average of 2018 was not statistically different from the 2017 figure. Spending plunged as low as $54,984 in 2013. Average household spending in 2018 was 11 percent higher than the 2013 low—an additional $6,200 of spending per year per household.

Average household spending, 2006 to 2018 (in 2018 dollars)
2018: $61,224 (not significantly different from 2017)
2017: $61,525 (record high)
2015: $59,304
2013: $54,984 (post-Great Recession low)
2010: $55,402
2006: $60,285 (previous record high)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Median Household Income in 2018: $63,179

The good news: median household income is as high as it has ever been, at $63,179 in 2018. The bad news: after adjusting for inflation, median household income in 2018 is no higher than it was in 1999, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

You won't be able to spot this fact in the CPS data tables released by the Census Bureau yesterday. That's because 2018 income data are not comparable to data from earlier years. The Census Bureau redesigned the Current Population Survey's income questions beginning in 2014 and data processing methods beginning in 2018. But in an America Counts story, bureau analysts adjusted the overall household median for these changes to allow for a comparison of the 2018 median with earlier medians. The 2018 median, it turns out, is as high but not significantly higher than the 1999 median, after adjusting for inflation.

Why is 2018's median household income almost identical to the median nearly 20 years ago? One big reason is the aging of the large Baby-Boom generation. In 1999, Boomers were in their peak-earning years, boosting the overall household median to a record high. In 2018, the demographic pattern is reversed. Boomers are retiring and living on reduced incomes. Generation X is in the peak-earning years (45 to 54), but with little impact on the overall median because of its small size. Here is median household income by age of householder in 2018...

Median household income by age of householder, 2018
Total households: $63,179
Under age 25: $43,531
Aged 25 to 34: $65,890
Aged 35 to 44: $80,743
Aged 45 to 54: $84,464
Aged 55 to 64: $68,951
Aged 65-plus: $43,696
  Aged 65 to 74: $52,465
  Aged 75-plus: $34,925

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Tables for Household Income

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

States with the Highest Death Rates

Your chances of dying are much higher in some states than in others, according to a National Center for Health Statistics' report analyzing the five states with the highest and lowest death rates in 2017.

Highest death rates: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia
Lowest death rates: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, and New York

The difference is not trivial. The annual number of deaths per 100,000 age-adjusted population is 926.8 in the five states with the highest death rate (the High Five) compared with 624.0 deaths per 100,000 age-adjusted population in the five states with the lowest rate (the Low Five). So, the death rate in the High Five is an astounding 49 percent higher than the death rate in the Low Five. These differences "persist when stratifying by gender, age, and race and Hispanic origin," according to the NCHS analysis.

The death rate in the High Five exceeds the death rate in the Low Five in every age group. The biggest difference occurs in the 25-to-34 and 35-to-44 age groups, where the death rate in the High Five is more than double the death rate in the Low Five.

The death rate in the High Five exceeds the death rate in the Low Five for both non-Hispanic Blacks (32 percent higher) and non-Hispanic Whites (39 percent higher). Hispanics are the only exception. The Hispanic death rate in the High Five is 27 percent lower than the Hispanic death rate in the Low Five.

The High Five has a higher death rate than the Low Five for each of the top five causes of death. The heart disease death rate is 46 percent higher, cancer 29 percent, chronic lower respiratory disease 100 percent, unintentional injuries 83 percent, and stroke 39 percent.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Patterns between Five States with Highest Death Rates and Five States with Lowest Death Rates: United States, 2017

Monday, September 09, 2019

"I Want to Believe"

Fox Mulder of The X-Files wanted to believe in UFOs, and he has lots of company. Fully 33 percent of Americans aged 18 or older think "some UFOs are alien spacecraft," according to a Gallup survey. Sixteen percent say they personally have seen a UFO.

There are few demographic differences in the belief that aliens are visiting earth. By age, the proportion who believe some UFOs are alien spacecraft ranges from a low of 29 percent among people aged 65 or older to a high of 39 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds. People who live in the Midwest are least likely to believe (27 percent), while those in the West are most likely (41 percent). Twenty percent of adults in the West say they personally have seen a UFO.

Among Americans who are religiously affiliated, 31 to 32 percent think some UFOs are alien spacecraft. Among those with no religion, a larger 40 percent are believers.

Source: Gallup, Americans Skeptical of UFOs, but Say Government Knows More

Friday, September 06, 2019

Median Household Income Rises in July 2019

Median household income climbed 0.7 percent between June and July 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $65,084 July median was $438 greater than the June 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

"Real median household income continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 2.3 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 16.6 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $55,798.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for July 2019 was 105.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the July 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 5.4 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. "Not an impressive performance by any means," says Green. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: July 2019

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Snacking in the Evening

Most Americans are late evening snackers, according to the USDA Food Surveys Research Group, which defines late evening as 8 pm to midnight. On an average day, 64 percent of people aged 20 or older "consumed one or more foods or beverages other than plain water in the late evening." So what, you say? The USDA is interested in this behavior because of its "potential negative implications for health."

The prevalence of late evening snacking is greatest among young adults. Fully 68 percent of people aged 20 to 39 consume something more than just plain water between 8 and 11:59 pm on an average day. Among 40-to-59-year-olds, 65 percent snack in the late evening. Among people aged 60 or older, the figure is 59 percent.

Now for the potential negative implications: Late evening snacking is not calorie free. On average, the food and drinks consumed in the late evening add up to 16 percent of the daily calories of snackers. Perhaps consequently, late evening snackers consume more calories on an average day than those who do not snack in the evening—2,243 calories per day for snackers and 1,906 calories for nonsnackers.

The snackers are veritable vacuum cleaners in the kitchen. The foods and beverages being consumed by late night snackers include sweet bakery products (17 percent of late night snackers), candy (10 percent), sandwiches (9 percent), poultry (5 percent), white potatoes (6 percent), fruit (11 percent) cheese and yogurt (5 percent), regular soft drinks (9 percent), diet soft drinks (4 percent), tea (8 percent), milk (6 percent), coffee (4 percent), and alcoholic beverages (14 percent). Among those who report drinking alcohol between 8 and midnight, nearly half of the alcohol they drink all day is consumed during those hours.

Source: USDA, Food Surveys Research Group, Late Evening Food and Beverage Consumption by Adults in the U.S.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

21% Take Time Off from Work During Average Week

During an average week, 21 percent of wage and salary workers take time off from their job—either paid or unpaid, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. The reasons for taking leave include vacation, illness, family needs, or personal errands.

Among the 30 million wage and salary workers who take any leave—paid or unpaid—during an average week, this is their main reason for taking time off...

31.0% for vacation
21.9% for own illness or medical care
19.8% to run errands or for personal reasons
  8.0% for illness or medical care of a family member
  6.9% because of a holiday
  3.1% for childcare or eldercare (except illness)
  1.8% because of the weather
  1.4% for birth or adoption of a child
  6.2% for some other reason

Women are more likely than men to take time off during an average week due to the illness or medical care of a family member (10.3 versus 5.5 percent). Among parents of children under age 13, a substantial 14.4 percent take leave during an average week due to the illness or medical care of a family member. Interestingly, these parents are much less likely than average to take time off for their own illness—16.7 percent do so during an average week versus 21.9 percent of all workers.

Overall, 66 percent of wage and salary workers had access to paid leave in 2017–18, up from 60 percent in 2011. Not surprisingly, workers in management are most likely to have access to paid leave (81.5 percent), while those in service (43.2 percent) and construction (35.8 percent) are least likely.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Access To and Use of Leave Summary

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Dropping Kids Off at College

The number of college students attending four-year schools has climbed 75 percent over the past four decades, rising from 5.9 million in 1977 to 10.3 million in 2017. But the distance parents drive to drop off their kids at college hasn't changed much over the decades...

Percent of freshmen whose home is 50 or fewer miles from their college
2017: 41.9%
2007: 35.4%
1997: 32.5%
1987: 31.9%
1977: 39.2%

Percent of freshmen whose home is more than 500 miles from their college
2017: 17.6%
2007: 13.4%
1997: 13.9%
1987: 13.8%
1977: 10.7%

Source: Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2017 and The American Freshman: Fifty-Year Trends 1966–2015

Friday, August 30, 2019

Workers Are Cautiously Optimistic about the Job Market

Workers are cautiously optimistic as Labor Day approaches. Nearly one in four says it would be easy "to find a job with another employer with approximately the same income and fringe benefits" as they have now, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. In the aftermath of the Great Recession in 2010, only 12.6 percent felt such confidence...

Percent of workers who say it would be "very easy" to find an equally good job
2018: 24.2% (cautious optimism)
2016: 20.5%
2014: 19.5%
2012: 16.0%
2010: 12.6% (record low)
2008: 22.0%
2006: 31.8% (irrational exuberance)

In 2006, just before the start of the Great Recession, 31.6% of American workers were confident in their ability to find another equally good job. This irrational exuberance quickly disappeared as the stock and housing markets collapsed. By 2010, the 53 percent majority of workers said it would not be easy to find a comparable job. Today, only 35 percent think it would be hard. It has taken more than a decade for workers to regain even modest confidence in the job market.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Households with Zero or Negative Net Worth

Millions of American households have zero or even negative net worth, meaning the amount of money they owe equals or exceeds their assets. Twenty million households—16 percent of all households—are on this bottom rung of the net worth ladder, according to the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation. These are their demographic characteristics...
  • By age, the youngest householders are most likely to have zero or negative net worth. Among householders under age 35, a substantial 30 percent have no wealth. At the other extreme, householders aged 75 or older are least likely to have zero wealth (6 percent).
  • By race and Hispanic origin, Households headed by Blacks are most likely to have zero or negative net worth (29 percent). Asian households are least likely to have no wealth (8 percent). 
  • By education, 27 percent of households without any member who has a high school diploma have zero or negative net worth. Households with at least one member who has a graduate degree are least likely to be without wealth (11 percent).
  • By income, 29 percent of households in the lowest income quintile have zero or negative net worth. This compares with just 5 percent of households in the highest income quintile. 
  • By homeownership status, 34 percent of renters have zero or negative net worth versus just 5 percent of homeowners.
Source: Census Bureau, Wealth, Asset Ownership, and Debt of Households Detailed Tables: 2015

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

(Almost) 200 Years of Legal Immigration Numbers

The Department of Homeland Security's Yearbook of Immigration Statistics is chock full of interesting numbers. Table 1 of the Yearbook displays the annual number of legal immigrants to the United States in every year going back almost 200 years—to 1820. These numbers provide context for today's immigration debate...

  • Number of legal immigrants admitted to the United States in 1820: 8,385
  • First year the annual number of legal immigrants exceeded 100,000: 1842
  • First year the annual number of legal immigrants exceeded 1,000,000: 1905
  • Number of years annual legal immigration has exceeded 1,000,000: 23
  • Peak number of annual legal immigrants: 1.8 million in 1991
  • Number of years annual legal immigrants were at least 1% of total population: 21
  • Most recent year annual legal immigrants were at least 1% of population: 1914
  • Number of legal immigrants in most recent year (2017): 1.1 million
  • Number of years annual legal immigration has exceeded 2017 level: 8
  • Legal immigrants in 2017 as percent of total US population: 0.35%
  • Number of years annual legal immigration has exceeded 0.35% of population: 91

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Department of Homeland Security's 2017 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

33% Participate in the "Sharing Economy"

Only one-third of internet users participate in the "sharing economy," according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's 2017 Internet Use Survey. The NTIA defines the sharing economy (or P2P) as people buying, selling, or trading goods and services with one other through online platforms.

Not surprisingly, internet users who participate in the sharing economy are younger (median age 42) than internet users who don't participate (median age 52). Also not surprisingly, the higher the income, the greater the participation...

P2P participation of internet users by household income, 2019
33% of total internet users
23% of those with incomes below $25,000
27% of those with incomes of $25,000 to $49,999
32% of those with incomes of $50,000 to $74,999
36% of those with incomes of $75,000 to $99,999
47% of those with incomes of $100,000 or more

Requesting services is the most common form of participation in the sharing economy, with higher-income internet users most likely to do this. Fully 39 percent of internet users with household incomes of $100,000 or more had requested services, for example, versus only 16 percent of those with household incomes below $25,000. Among all internet users, 26 percent had requested services.

Offering services is a much less common P2P activity. Among all internet users, 6 percent had offered services such as ride hailing or lodging. Participation by household income ranges narrowly from 4 percent of those with the lowest incomes to 8 percent of those with the highest incomes.

Selling goods is undertaken by 11 percent of all internet users. Participation ranges from 9 percent among those with the lowest incomes to 14 percent among those with the highest.

Source: NTIA Data: Two-Thirds of U.S. Internet Users Do Not Participate in the Sharing Economy

Monday, August 26, 2019

The News: Fox vs. CNN

Who trusts Fox News? Who trusts CNN? A recent Gallup survey examined how much Americans trust various news sources, finding local news to be the most trusted (74 percent find it trustworthy). CNN News is trusted by 48 percent of Americans and Fox News by 43 percent.

Not surprisingly, trust in news sources varies greatly by political party affiliation. Among Republicans, 69 percent trust Fox News. Among Democrats, only 30 percent trust Fox. The opposite pattern occurs with CNN, which is trusted by 72 percent of Democrats and just 20 percent of Republicans. Among independents, 48 percent trust CNN and 37 percent trust Fox.

Percent who watch CNN News (or Fox News) every day/several times a week
Aged 18 to 29: 21% (20%)
Aged 30 to 49: 23% (21%)
Aged 50 to 64: 22% (33%)
Aged 65-plus: 26% (42%)

Among adults under age 50, CNN and Fox are about equally important as daily/weekly sources of news. Among people aged 50 or older, Fox is a more popular source of news than CNN.

Source: Gallup, In U.S., 40% Trust Internet News Accuracy, Up 15 Points

Friday, August 23, 2019

Thank God It's Friday

TGIF! You know the feeling. You know it because you've lived it over and over again—about 1,400 times by the time you're in your fifties. That's the average number of weeks Americans are employed from the age of 18 until they are 52.

This somewhat unsettling thought comes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, a Bureau of Labor Statistics effort that has been tracking people born from 1957 through 1964 for decades. The cohort was first interviewed when they were aged 14 to 22. At the latest interview, conducted in 2016–17, they were aged 51 to 60. These folks had been employed for 78 percent of all the weeks they had lived since the age of 18. That's about 1,400 TGIF moments.

There are differences by demographic characteristic, of course. Men spent 84 percent of all those weeks employed and women 72 percent. Among men by educational attainment, the share of weeks spent at work between the ages of 18 and 52 ranged from a low of 69 percent for those without a high school diploma to a high of 89 percent for college graduates. Women without a high school diploma had worked only 45 percent of the weeks since they were age 18. Women with a bachelor's degree or more education had worked for a much larger 80 percent of the weeks.

The survey's findings show that college-educated men and women have similar work histories, with men having been employed for 1,574 weeks since the age of 18 and women employed for 1,414 weeks. The difference between the two is about the amount of time a working woman might take off to have a couple of kids.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth: Results from a National Longitudinal Survey Summary

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Who's Afraid of a Natural Disaster?

Do Americans underestimate their risk of being affected by a flood or other natural disaster? Yes, according to results of the American Housing Survey.

Among the nation's householders, only 9 million—or 8 percent—agree that their neighborhood is at high risk of a natural disaster, according to the 2017 survey. With 2.53 people in the average household, that's only 23 million people who are willing to acknowledge that they live in a high-risk area—7 percent of the population.

But a much larger 60 million people—18 percent of the population—live just in the coastal counties of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. These counties are deemed at high risk for hurricanes, according to the Census Bureau. In addition to those 60 million, there are many millions more who live in areas at high risk of wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Yes, Americans greatly underestimate their risk of a natural disaster. This might explain why, in the aftermath of a natural disaster, so many households lack the appropriate insurance.

In California, which is prone to earthquakes, only 9 percent of households agree that they are at high risk for natural disasters. Texans are a bit more worried, with 11 percent agreeing they are at high risk. In Florida, where hurricanes often strike, 14 percent of households acknowledge the risk. Among metropolitan areas included in the 2017 survey, the percentage of householders who think they are at high risk of a natural disaster ranges from a high of 20 percent in Houston and 17 percent in Miami to a low of 2 percent in Washington, D.C.

People who have recently experienced a natural disaster are more likely to acknowledge risk, while those living in areas where a natural disaster occurred in the distant past are often in denial. Among households in New Orleans, interviewed in the 2015 American Housing Survey, fully 31 percent agreed that their neighborhood was at high risk of a natural disaster. But in San Francisco, only 11 percent of households thought their risk of a natural disaster was high. After all, 1906 was a long time ago.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Young Adults Are Much Less Likely to Care for Household Children on an Average Day

The time use of young adults has changed a lot due to the baby bust. A smaller share of people aged 20 to 34 spent time caring for household children on an average day in 2018 than in 2008, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the American Time Use Survey.

The number of births in the United States peaked at 4.3 million in 2007. The following year, in 2008, nearly one-third of women aged 20 to 24 and more than half of those aged 25 to 34 were spending time caring for household children on an average day.

Skip ahead 10 years to 2018. The fertility rate is at an historic low. The annual number of births is 12 percent below the 2007 high. Only 18 percent of women aged 20 to 24 were caring for household children on an average day in 2018, down from 32 percent in 2008. Among women aged 25 to 34, the share who were caring for children had fallen from 54 to 46 percent. Men were not making up the difference either, with declines in the percentage of men who were caring for children in both age groups. In contrast, in the older 35-to-44 age group, there was little change over the decade in the share who participated in child care.

Percent caring for children on an average day by age and sex, 2008 and 2018

2018     2008
Aged 20 to 24   11.3%     20.1%
  Women   18.4     32.0
  Men     4.2       8.3
Aged 25 to 34   35.0%     41.3%
  Women   45.8     53.5
  Men   24.2     29.1
Aged 35 to 44   45.6%     45.9%
  Women   55.9     54.1
  Men   35.1     37.5

What else are young adults doing while they wait to have kids? They are not more likely to work, nor are they more likely to socialize with friends and family. But they are more likely to be in school. The percentage of people aged 20 to 24 who participated in educational activities on an average day grew from 20 to 25 percent between 2008 and 2018. Young adults also are more likely to use a computer or go online—a larger share were surfing the internet and playing games on an average day in 2018 than in 2008.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Few Follow the News "Very Closely"

Most Americans are not news junkies. Among adults aged 18 or older, only about one in three say they follow national or local news "very closely," according to Pew Research Center.

By age, young adults are least interested in the news, with only 15 percent following local or national news closely. Interest in the news rises with age. Among people aged 65 or older, 49 percent follow national news and 42 percent follow local news very closely.

Follow national (local) news "very closely"
Aged 18 to 29: 15% (15%)
Aged 30 to 49: 25% (28%)
Aged 50 to 64: 36% (38%)
Aged 65-plus: 49% (42%)

Source: Pew Research Center, Older Americans, Black Adults and Americans with Less Education More Interested in Local News

Monday, August 19, 2019

Public School Students in 2019

Non-Hispanic Whites will account for 47 percent of the nation's public school students this fall, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The 53 percent majority of students in grades K through 12 will be Hispanic, Black, Asian, or another minority. This is a big shift since 2000, when 61 percent of public school students were non-Hispanic White. The share fell below 50 percent in 2014.

Public school students in grades K–12 by race and Hispanic origin, 2019
47.1% are non-Hispanic White alone
27.8% are Hispanic
15.3% are non-Hispanic Black alone
  5.7% are non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islander alone
  3.1% are non-Hispanic two or more races
  1.0% are non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native alone

The non-Hispanic White share of public school students will fall a bit more in the next few years. In 2027, non-Hispanic Whites will account for 45 percent of students, according to NCES projections.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2027

Friday, August 16, 2019

Will the U.S. Go to War?

"Do you expect the U.S. to fight in another world war in the next 10 years?" The General Social Survey has been asking this question since the mid-1970s. In every year, a substantial share of the population says yes. The latest data, from the 2018 survey, finds Americans split 50/50 on the chances of a world war within 10 years.

Who is most likely to believe a war is imminent? Women, Blacks, and those without a college degree. Fully 57 percent of women versus 43 percent of men think the U.S. will fight in another world war in the next 10 years, according to the 2018 survey. Among Blacks, 65 percent feel that way versus about half of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites and just 11 percent of Asians. The 55 percent majority of those without a college degree think we will soon fight in a world war versus 40 percent of college graduates.

Historically, this "Fear Meter" was highest in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The percentage of Americans who thought we would engage in a world war within 10 years was just 38 percent in 2000, before the attacks. The next time the question was asked, in 2002, fully 68 percent thought we would soon be in a world war. The Fear Meter was lowest in 1989–90, when only 29 to 32 percent thought the U.S. would fight in a world war within 10 years. What was going on at the time? The fall of the Berlin Wall, giving hope to Americans that greater world peace was at hand.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, August 15, 2019

32% Can Speak a Language other than English

Nearly one-third of Americans aged 18 or older (32 percent) say they can speak a language other than English, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. This figure has been growing slowly over the years and is up from 28 percent a decade ago.

Not surprisingly, Asians and Hispanics are most likely to say they can speak a language other than English—83 and 69 percent, respectively. In contrast, only 22 percent of Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites are multilingual. By generation, the youngest Americans are most likely to be able to speak a language other than English...

Can speak a language other than English
iGeneration: 43%
Millennials: 39%
Gen Xers: 33%
Boomers: 26%
Older: 13%

Note: In 2018 the iGeneration was aged 18 to 23; Millennials were aged 24 to 41; Gen Xers were aged 42 to 53; Boomers were aged 54 to 72; and older Americans were aged 73 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Why Aren't More Men Working?

Fewer men of prime working age are in the labor force. Among men aged 25 to 54, the labor force participation rate fell from 96 percent in 1969 to 89 percent in 2018. Or, to put it another way, more than 1 in 10 men of prime working age are not in the labor force today, up from 1 in 25 in 1969. What accounts for this increase? A BLS examination of the characteristics of nonworking men deepens the mystery—and may reveal the answer.

Using data from the 1979 and 1997 National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth, BLS economist Donna Rothstein compares the characteristics of nonworking men aged 30 to 36 from two cohorts—those born from 1960 through 1964 and those born from 1980 through 1984. She defines "nonworking" as men who had not worked for at least one year prior to the NLSY interview. Her analysis reveals that, if anything, the younger cohort of nonworking men was less disadvantaged than the older cohort...

  • The percentage of nonworkers with a health condition that limited their ability to work fell from 51 percent in the older cohort to 41 percent in the younger cohort.  
  • The percentage of nonworkers who were interviewed in prison (making it impossible to work) fell from 24 percent in the older cohort to 16 percent in the younger cohort.
  • The percentage of nonworkers with scores in the bottom 25th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (administered by the NLSY survey) was 64 percent in the older cohort and a smaller 53 percent in the younger cohort. 

Being less disadvantaged than the older cohort, men in the younger cohort should have been more likely to work. But Rothstein's analysis uncovers a difference that might explain their lower labor force participation. Nonworking men in the  younger cohort were much less likely than those in the older cohort to have ever married: 70 percent of the nonworkers in the younger cohort had never married versus 52 percent in the older cohort. According to a recent NBER study, this fact may be the key. The NBER study theorizes that the decline in marriage is the reason men of prime working age are less likely to be in the labor force. Without the pressure to support a family, men are less likely to work.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Men Who Do Not Work During Their Prime Years: Who do the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth Data Reveal?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

How Many First Marriages End in Divorce?

The expected duration of a first marriage is eight years shorter than it used to be, according to a study by sociologist Arun S. Hendi of Princeton University in the journal Demography. Nearly all of the decline occurred between 1960 and 1980, with little change between 1980 and 2010.

In the 1960s, first marriages had an expected duration of 34 years. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 26 years. Behind the decline was the rising probability of divorce. In the early 1960s, the probability of divorce was 20 to 22 percent. By the early 1980s, the probability of divorce had more than doubled, rising to 48 percent. Since 1980, the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce has not increased significantly, and the expected duration of a first marriage has remained at about 26 years.

This is a surprising finding, Hendi notes, because it "lies in contrast to other recent reports that the propensity for divorce has either increased dramatically or decreased. Period estimates indicate that the reality lies somewhere in between." Between 1980 and 2010, he says, "the probability of a first marriage ending in divorce increased by approximately 1%."

Source, Demography, Proximate Sources of Change in Trajectories of First Marriage in the United States, 1960–2010, Arun S. Hendi, Volume 56, Issue 3 ($39.95)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Men Prefer Beer. Women Prefer Wine

Beer is still the alcoholic beverage of choice for the largest share of drinking Americans (38 percent), but wine (30 percent) and liquor (29 percent) are not far behind. Men and women differ greatly in their choice of beer or wine. But they are about equally likely to drink liquor...

Drink beer most often
Men: 55%
Women: 21%

Drink wine most often
Men: 15%
Women: 45%

Drink liquor most often
Men: 26%
Women: 32%

Source: Gallup, Liquor Ties Wine as Second-Favorite Adult Beverage in U.S.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Use of CBD Products by Age

A surprisingly large 14 percent of Americans use CBD products, according to a Gallup survey. Young adults are most likely to use them...

Percent who personally use CBD products
Aged 18 to 29: 20%
Aged 30 to 49: 16%
Aged 50 to 64: 11%
Aged 65-plus: 8%

Half of adults say they do not use CBD products, and 35 percent have never heard of them.

Interestingly, the percentage of the population using CBD products is almost equal to the percentage who say they smoked marijuana in the past week (15 percent), according to another Gallup survey. Among people aged 65 or older, a larger share use CBD products (8 percent) than marijuana (3 percent).

Source: Gallup, 14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products

Thursday, August 08, 2019

How Close is Your Grocery Store?

How far do Americans live from the nearest supermarket? Using a combination of store and population data, the USDA's Economic Research Service estimated how far Americans have to go to get to the nearest store.

Percent distribution of population by distance to nearest supermarket
Under 0.5 miles: 30.0%
0.5 to 1.0 miles: 29.9%
More than 1.0 miles: 40.0%

The median distance to the nearest supermarket for the population as a whole is 0.88 miles. Not surprisingly, people in urban areas are closer to a food store than those in rural areas. The median distance to the nearest supermarket for people in urban areas is 0.69 miles, while people in rural areas are a median of 3.11 miles from the nearest store.

"Accessing affordable and nutritious food is a challenge for many Americans," explains the report. One of the goals of the analysis was to determine how many Americans live in census tracts with "low access" to food stores. Low access is defined, for urban residents, as living more than 1 mile from the nearest supermarket. For rural residents, low-access is defined as living more than 10 miles from the nearest store. The state with the largest share of low-access census tracts relative to the state's total census tracts is South Dakota (62.6 percent).

Another goal of the analysis was to determine how many Americans live in census tracts that are both low access and low income. The state with the largest share of low-access/low-income census tracts relative to the state's total census tracts is Mississippi (31.3 percent).

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Understanding Low-Income and Low-Access Census Tracts Across the Nation: Subnational and Subpopulation Estimates of Access to Healthy Food

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Most People Can't Be Trusted

It's not only the number of candles on a birthday cake that separate younger from older Americans. A survey by Pew Research Center finds a huge attitudinal gap between young adults (aged 18 to 29) and older Americans (aged 65-plus) on matters of trust.

Pew surveyed Americans to measure their level of interpersonal trust, then categorized respondents as high, medium, or low trusters based on their answers to three questions—can people be trusted, do people try to be fair no matter what, and do people try to help others. Overall, 22 percent of adults are high trusters, 41 percent are medium trusters, and 35 percent are low trusters.

There are big differences by age. Nearly half (46 percent) of 18-to-29-year-olds are low trusters, reports Pew. Among people aged 65 or older, only 19 percent fall into this category. The 60 percent majority of young adults say most people can't be trusted (versus 29 percent of people aged 65 or older), 71 percent say most people try to take advantage of you if they get a chance (versus 39 percent), and 73 percent say most of the time people just look out for themselves (versus 48 percent).

Stark differences emerge between young adults and the oldest Americans on a number of other questions as well. For example, only 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds versus 67 percent of people aged 65 or older have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American people to respect the rights of those who are not like them. Just 44 percent of young adults versus 66 percent of those aged 65-plus have a fair or great deal of confidence in the American public to accept election results no matter who wins.

Source: Pew Research Center, Young Americans Are Less Trusting of Other People—and Key Institutions—than Their Elders

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Unlike Boomers, Most Millennials Attended College Regardless of Family Income

Going to college was not the norm for the Baby-Boom generation. Among high school graduates born from 1960 through 1964, the youngest Boomers, only 44 percent had enrolled in college within four years of high school graduation. For Millennials, in contrast, going to college was the norm. Among Millennial high school graduates born from 1980 though 1984, a much larger 73 percent had enrolled in college within four years of high school graduation.

Family income largely determined the college attendance of Boomers, with the majority of those only in the top income quartile going to college. Not so for Millennials. The majority of Millennials in every family income quartile went to college. Here are the percentages attending college within four years of high school graduation by birth cohort and family income quartile...

Bottom income quartile
Born 1960–64: 32.5%
Born 1980–84: 62.3%

2nd income quartile
Born 1960–64: 41.4%
Born 1980–84: 66.1%

3rd income quartile
Born 1960–64: 43.2%
Born 1980–84: 74.0%

Top income quartile
Born 1960–64: 61.1%
Born 1980–84: 84.8%

The increase in college attendance among young adults with low and mid-level family incomes is one factor behind the rise in student debt over the past few decades.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, College Attendance and Completion Higher among Millennials than Youngest Baby Boomers

Monday, August 05, 2019

Have Gun in Home

Thirty-five percent of Americans have a gun in their home, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. Another 3 percent refused to say whether they had a gun. The percentage of households with a gun has fallen from a high of more than 50 percent in the early 1980s.

Gun ownership does not vary much by generation, ranging from a low of 31 percent among Millennials to a high of 40 percent among Gen Xers and Boomers. By region, households in the Northeast are least likely to own a gun (21 percent) and those in the Midwest and South most likely (41 percent). The biggest difference in gun ownership is by race and Hispanic origin...

Percent of households with guns by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2018
Black: 22.0%
Hispanic: 18.6%
Non-Hispanic White: 44.7%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, August 02, 2019

Median Household Income Rises in June 2019

Median household income climbed 0.9 percent between May and June 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $64,430 June median was $593 greater than the May 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

"Real median household income continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.8 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 15.9 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $55,612.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for June 2019 was 104.7 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the June 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 4.7 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. "Not an impressive performance by any means," says Green. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: June 2019

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Weapons in Schools

School safety is a big concern, and a recent National Center for Education Statistics report shows why. In the 2017–18 school year, public schools reported 3,600 incidents in which a firearm or explosive device was brought into a school (3 percent of schools reported this type of incident) and 69,100 incidents in which a knife or sharp object was brought into a school (reported by 38 percent).

These reports are just the tip of the iceberg, judging from the results of the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. This biennial survey of students in 9th through 12th grade was developed to monitor risky teen behaviors. According to the 2017 survey, 3.8 percent of students in 9th through 12th grade said they had carried a weapon (such as a gun, knife, club, etc.) onto school property in the past month. With 16.7 million high school students in the nation, this means more than 600,000 had brought a weapon to school in the past month. Among boys, 5.6 percent had done so. Boys in 11th and 12th grade were most likely to have brought a weapon to school—7.1 and 7.0 percent, respectively.

Overall, 6.0 percent of high school students say they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the past year. Among boys, 7.8 percent had been threatened with a weapon. Boys in 9th grade were most likely to report this kind of experience, at 8.8 percent. 

Source: CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Youth Online High School Results

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Hispanic Paradox Grows

Hispanics have lower death rates and a longer life expectancy than non-Hispanic Whites. This is true despite the fact that Hispanics are poorer than non-Hispanic Whites and less likely to have health insurance. Their mortality advantage is known as the "Hispanic paradox" because demographers cannot explain it.

The Hispanic paradox is growing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics' analysis of trends in mortality rates. For Hispanics aged 25 or older in 2017, the age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population was 31 percent lower than the rate for non-Hispanic Whites. In 2000, the Hispanic death rate was only 23 percent lower than the non-Hispanic White rate.

Death rate per 100,000 population aged 25 or older, 2017 (and 2000)
Hispanics: 784.4 (995.1)
Non-Hispanic Whites: 1,137.4 (1,288.1)

Between 2000 and 2017, the age-adjusted death rate for Hispanics aged 25 or older fell 21 percent. The non-Hispanic White death rate fell by only 12 percent. "The mortality advantage for Hispanic adults has endured through 2017," concludes the NCHS report, "and has been increasing with respect to non-Hispanic white adults."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Trends by Race and Ethnicity among Adults Aged 25 and Over: United States, 2000–2017

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Marijuana Almost as Popular as Cigarettes

More than one in four Americans (27 percent) smoked something in the past week, according to a Gallup survey. Fifteen percent of adults aged 18 or older smoked cigarettes, 12 percent smoked marijuana, and 8 percent vaped. (Some smoked more than one kind of product.)

Cigarettes are more popular than marijuana among the population as a whole, but marijuana is more popular than cigarettes in some demographic segments...

Young adults: 22 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds smoked marijuana in the past week. This figure greatly exceeds the 14 percent who smoked cigarettes. In every other age group, cigarettes are more popular than marijuana. Young adults are more likely to vape (19 percent) than smoke cigarettes.

College graduates: Smoking marijuana is more popular than cigarettes among college graduates—13 percent have smoked marijuana in the past week versus 9 percent who have smoked cigarettes. Among those with no college education, 20 percent had smoked cigarettes in the past week versus a smaller 13 percent who had smoked marijuana.

Affluent: Those with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to have smoked marijuana (10 percent) than cigarettes (5 percent) in the past week.

Source: Gallup, Marijuana Use Similar to New Lower Rate of Cigarette Smoking

Monday, July 29, 2019

Online "Almost Constantly" Continues to Rise

More than one in four American aged 18 or older say they are online "almost constantly," according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey. Among adults, 28 percent say they are almost constantly online, up from 21 percent in 2015. Among the youngest adults, nearly half say they are online almost constantly...

Online "almost constantly"
Aged 18 to 29: 48%
Aged 30 to 49: 36%
Aged 50 to 64: 19%
Aged 65-plus: 7%

In addition to young adults, the other demographics segments most likely to be online almost constantly are college graduates (36 percent), Hispanics (34 percent), and those with a household income of $75,000 or more (34 percent).

Source: Pew Research Center, About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Say They Are 'Almost Constantly' Online

Friday, July 26, 2019

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2019

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, second quarter 2019: 56.1%

The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group fell in the second quarter of 2019, down a significant 2.2 percentage points from the first-quarter figure. In the two previous quarters, the rate had exceeded 58 percent for the first time since 2011. But that rise may have been a blip, with the latest figure hovering not far above the post-Great Recession low of 54.6 percent in 2015. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007

What about their younger counterparts? Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time home buyers—defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds was stable at 47.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 55.3 percent in 2007, fell below 50 percent in 2011, and has been stuck below that level ever since. 


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019, not statistically different from the rate one year earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Most Smokers Want (and Have Tried) to Quit

Don't get mad at smokers when you're dodging second-hand smoke on city streets, in doorways, alleys, and parking lots. Feel sorry for them instead. Most smokers do not want to smoke. Most have tried to quit—not just once upon a time but within the past year.

According to a government survey, 65 percent of adult smokers have attempted to quit in the past year. This surprisingly large figure is not big enough, says the CDC, which wants to see the attempted quit rate rise to 80 percent by 2020. Why is a larger number so important? Because the more smokers who attempt to quit, the more who will succeed. Apparently, quitting takes a lot of practice. Smokers who manage to quit have tried to do so an average of 30 times, the CDC reports.

Percentage of smokers who have attempted to quit in the past year by age, 2017
Total 18-plus: 65.4%
Aged 18 to 24: 76.4%
Aged 25 to 44: 68.6%
Aged 45 to 64: 60.8%
Aged 65-plus: 55.8%

In every state, most smokers have tried to quit in the past 12 months. The percentage ranges from a low of 58.6 percent in Wisconsin to a high of 71.6 percent in Connecticut.

Source: CDC, State-Specific Prevalence of Quit Attempts among Adult Cigarette Smokers—United States, 2011–2017

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Median Sales Price of New Homes Slips

The median sales price of new single-family houses sold fell slightly in 2018 to $326,400. This is below the 2017 record high of $331,000, after adjusting for inflation. Until 2018, the median sales price of new single-family houses sold had increased in every year since 2011.

Median sales price of new single-family homes sold, 2005 to 2018 (in 2018 dollars)
2018: $326,400
2017: $331,000 (record high)
2016: $322,000
2015: $311,700
2011: $253,600 (post Great Recession low)
2010: $255,400
2005: $309,700 (pre Great Recession high)

Perhaps there's a reason new home prices fell a bit in 2018. The falling price may be due to a lack of customers. Sales of new single-family houses are struggling to return to their historical average prior to the Great Recession. Between 1978 and 1999, an average of 652,000 new single-family houses were sold each year. In 2018, only 617,000 were sold—well below the average despite a bigger population and the presence of the large Millennial generation is in the home buying age groups.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Housing

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Bad Guys with Guns

How many criminals carry a gun when they commit their crime? Fewer than you might think. Only 21 percent of all state and federal prisoners carried or possessed a firearm during the crime for which they were imprisoned, according to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Among criminals who possessed a gun, most used it in some way and 27 percent shot and killed someone. Here are the outcomes for state prisoners who possessed a gun during their offense...

State prisoners who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were imprisoned
Total who possessed firearm: 100.0%
Did not use firearm: 32.0%
Showed, pointed, or discharged firearm: 68.0%
  Discharged firearm: 46.5%
     Killed victim: 27.1%
     Shot but did not kill victim: 12.4%
     Discharged firearm but did not shoot anyone: 7.0%
  Did not discharge firearm: 21.5%

Where did these guns come from? Among all state and federal prisoners who possessed a gun when they committed the offense for which they were imprisoned, the largest share—43 percent—obtained the gun from the street or in the underground market. Another 25 percent got their gun from a family member or friend. Only 10 percent bought the gun at a retail store.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016

Monday, July 22, 2019

Many Teens Are Trying to Lose Weight

More than one in three teenagers has tried to lose weight in the past year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Among 16-to-19-year-olds in 2013–16, a substantial 38 percent have tried to lose weight, up from 24 percent in 2009–10.

Girls are more likely than boys to have tried to lose weight—45.2 percent of girls versus 30.1 percent of boys. Here is the percentage of 16-to-19-year-olds who tried to lose weight in the past year by sex, race, and Hispanic origin...

Percentage of 16-to-19-year-olds who tried to lose weight in past year
54.8% of Hispanic girls
46.6% of Hispanic boys
42.6% of non-Hispanic Black girls
41.3% of non-Hispanic Asian girls
40.7% of non-Hispanic White girls
25.7% of non-Hispanic White boys
20.6% of non-Hispanic Black boys
18.7% of non-Hispanic Asian boys

Obese teens are most likely to try to lose weight, with 77.7 percent trying in the past year. Among teens who are overweight but not obese, the 58.9 percent majority had attempted to lose weight. Among teens with normal weight, 18.5 percent had tried to shed pounds. The most commonly reported methods for losing weight were exercising (83.5 percent), drinking more water (52.3 percent), and eating less (48.6 percent).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight among Adolescents Aged 16–19 in the United States, 2013–16

Friday, July 19, 2019

(Only) 23% Want to Spend More on Space Exploration

Should the U.S. spend more on space exploration? Only about one in four Americans aged 18 or older say yes, according to the General Social Survey. That's not many supporters, but it's a lot more than it used to be.

Percent who think the U.S. spends too little on space exploration
2018: 22.8%
2008: 13.6%
1998: 10.3%
1988: 18.4%
1978: 12.9%
1975:   8.0%

The Apollo program put a man on the Moon 50 years ago tomorrow, on July 20, 1969. The program ended a few years later in 1975. It's easy to see why. At the time, only 8 percent of the public said the U.S. was spending too little on space exploration. Fully 60 percent thought we were spending too much. 

Times have changed. The share of Americans who think we're spending too much on space exploration fell from 60 percent in 1975 to just 25 percent in 2018. A nearly equal number—23 percent—now want to spend more on space exploration, nearly three times the 8 percent of 1975. 

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Big Increase in Deaths due to Unintentional Injuries

The third leading cause of death in the United States is what the CDC calls "unintentional injuries"—or accidents. Because a growing number of people are dying from unintentional injuries, this cause of death has been rising among leading causes of death. From 2000 through 2012, it was the fifth leading cause of death. It rose to fourth place in 2013 and climbed into third place in 2015, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Not only were there 74 percent more accidental deaths in 2017 than in 2000, but the age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population grew from 34.9 to 49.4 during those years. Three types of unintentional injuries account for the great majority of accidental deaths—drug overdoses, motor vehicle accidents, and falls. These three causes accounted for 80 percent of all unintentional injury deaths in 2017...

Unintentional injury deaths in 2017
Total deaths: 169,936 (100.0%)
Drug overdoses: 61,311 (36.1%)
Motor vehicles: 38,659 (22.7%)
Falling: 36,338 (21.4%)
Other: 33,628 (19.8%)

Drug overdoses are the most common type of accidental death, accounting for 36 percent of unintentional injury deaths in 2017. The number of accidental drug overdoses more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2017. The age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population climbed from 4.1 to 19.1 during those years.

Motor vehicle accidents were once the most common type of accidental death, but drug overdoses surpassed them in 2013. The number of motor vehicle deaths has fallen slightly over the years—from 41,994 in 2000 to 38,659 in 2017. The age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 population fell from 14.9 to 11.5 during those years.

Falls, like drug overdoses, are a growing cause of accidental death. In 2017 there were almost as many deaths from falls as there were from motor vehicle accidents. This was not the case in 2000, when motor vehicle deaths outnumbered deaths from falls by more than three to one. Growth of the 85-plus population is one reason for the greater number of deaths from falls.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Unintentional Injury Death Rates in Rural and Urban Areas: United States, 1999–2017

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

College Graduates One Year Later

Earning a college degree is still worth the cost, say the experts. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Board, for example, finds the rate of return on a bachelor's degree is much greater than the rate of return on other investments.

The Fed's finding may comfort recent college graduates. They need encouragement. That's because most are in debt and not yet making much money, according to a longitudinal study by the National Center for Education Statistics. The study looked at the status of 2015–16 college graduates one year after they received their degree. Here are some of the findings...
  • The 67 percent majority had borrowed money to pay for their education, with the average cumulative amount borrowed a hefty $30,500. 
  • The median annualized earnings of those who with a full-time job was just $39,900.
  • Only 47 percent had a salaried job.
  • One in four worked for an employer who did not offer job benefits such as health insurance or a retirement plan. 
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B:16/17): A First Look at the Employment and Educational Experiences of College Graduates, 1 Year Later

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why Are So Many Households Financially Fragile?

Forty-one percent of American households say they would have trouble paying an unexpected $400 expense, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 2017 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED). What accounts for this astonishingly high figure? That's what Anqi Chen of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wanted to find out. To determine the reasons for the financial fragility of such a large swath of the population, Chen analyzed 2017 SHED data and the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Low-income households are most likely to say they could not pay for an unexpected $400 expense. A substantial share of higher-income households also say they could not do it...

Household could not pay for an unexpected $400 expense, by household income
Under $25,000: 72%
$25,000 to $49,999: 59%
$50,000 to $74,999: 40%
$75,000 to $99,999: 34%
$100,000 or more: 17%

Chen found several reasons for this widespread financial fragility. About half of those who say they could not pay an unexpected $400 expense literally do not have $400 in their checking or savings accounts. The question is, why do those who have the money in their bank accounts feel so fragile? Because their funds are needed to pay down debt, says Chen. Student loans, installment loans, and oversized mortgages prevent many households with solidly middle-class incomes from accumulating a rainy day fund that could cover an unexpected $400 expense.

Source: Center for Retirement Research, Why Are So Many Households Unable to Cover a $400 Unexpected Expense?