Monday, June 24, 2019

Who Finds It Hard to Make Ends Meet?

Nearly one in four Americans reports that it is fairly or very difficult for them to make ends meet, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. Here's the survey question: "Thinking of your household's total income, including all the sources of income of all the members who contribute to it, how difficult or easy is it currently for your household to make ends meet?"

How difficult/easy to make ends meet?
Very difficult: 6.5%
Fairly difficult: 16.6%
Neither difficult nor easy: 26.6%
Fairly easy: 32.8%
Very easy: 17.5%

Perhaps the most interesting finding when analyzing the results by demographic characteristic is how little difference the demographics make. By generation, for example, the percentage who find it fairly or very difficult to make ends meet ranges narrowly from a low of 22 percent in the generation preceding the baby boom (aged 73 or older in 2018) to a high of 28 percent among Gen Xers. By race and Hispanic origin, the figure is lowest among non-Hispanic Whites (21 percent) and highest among Blacks (30 percent). The biggest demographic gap is by education. Among people without a bachelor's degree, 29 percent find it fairly or very difficult to make ends meet. Among those with a bachelor's degree, only 10 percent are struggling.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Friday, June 21, 2019

Friends Across Generations

It is not the norm to have a close friend who is at least 15 years older or younger than you are, according to an AARP survey. Only 37 percent of all adults say they have a close friend who is 15 or more years older or younger. By generation, here is the percentage who have a close cross-generational friendship...

Millennials: 32%
Gen Xers: 41%
Boomers: 39%

The most likely way of meeting a close friend who is so much older or younger is at work, cited by 26 percent of those with such friends.

Source: AARP,  The Positive Impact of Intergenerational Friendships

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Unauthorized Immigrant Population Peaked in 2012

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has fallen by 1.7 million since the 2012 peak. There were 10.5 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2017, according to estimates by Pew Research Center's Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn. This is well below the 12.2 million of 2012. Behind the decline is a steep drop in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico, with the number falling from 6.9 million (57 percent of the total) in 2012 to 4.9 million (47 percent of the total) in 2017. The number from Mexico declined because, since 2012, more have left the U.S. than have arrived here.

The shift in the origin of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is a sign of change, says Pew. "A growing share of U.S. unauthorized immigrants do not cross the border illegally, but probably arrive with legal visas and overstay their required departure date," Pew explains.

Of the 46 million foreign-born residents of the United States, 23 percent are unauthorized immigrants, according to Pew estimates...

Total foreign-born population = 45.6 million in 2017
45% are naturalized citizens (20.7 million)
27% are lawful permanent residents (12.3 million)
23% are unauthorized immigrants (10.5 million)
5% are temporary lawful residents (2.2 million)

Source: Pew Research Center, Mexicans Decline to Less than Half the U.S. Unauthorized Immigrant Population for the First Time

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Only 24% Meet Physical Activity Guidelines

How are Americans doing when it comes to exercising? They are doing better than they had been, but not good enough. Only 24 percent of adults met the recommended aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity guidelines in 2017, according to a CDC study. What are those guidelines? Brace yourself for a wordy explanation:
"Federal physical activity guidelines recommend that adults perform at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., the aerobic guideline). In addition, adults should do muscle-strengthening activities of at least moderate intensity that involved all major muscle groups on ≥2 days per week (i.e. the muscle-strengthening guideline)."
Whew! Got that? 

So, only one in four adults met these guidelines in 2017. Pathetic, but not as pathetic as in 2008 when a smaller 18 percent met the guidelines. Are Fitbits and Apple Watches making a difference?  Maybe. The percentage of adults who met the guidelines has increased significantly in almost every demographic segment. Hispanics living in rural areas and rural residents of the South were the two segments whose physical activity level did not increase over the past few years.

The purpose of the CDC's study was to compare physical activity levels in urban and rural areas by demographic characteristic. Overall, urban residents are more likely to meet federal guidelines than rural residents (25 versus 20 percent, respectively). By age, here is how urban (and rural) residents compare... 

Percent meeting physical activity guidelines in urban (and rural) areas, 2016–17
Aged 18 to 24: 33.4% (25.3%)
Aged 25 to 34: 31.3% (23.6%)
Aged 35 to 44: 26.6% (21.5%)
Aged 45 to 64: 20.9% (16.1%)
Aged 65-plus: 13.8% (9.5%)

Source: CDC, Trends in Meeting Physical Activity Guidelines among Urban and Rural Dwelling Adults—United States, 2008–2017

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

81% of Americans Own a Smartphone

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only eight years ago when Pew Research Center first asked Americans whether they owned a smartphone. In 2011, just 35 percent had one. Today, 81 percent of adults own a smartphone. Those most likely to own a smartphone are 18-to-29-year-olds...

Smartphone ownership by age, 2019
Aged 18 to 29: 96%
Aged 30 to 49: 92%
Aged 50 to 64: 79%
Aged 65-plus: 53%

One in five adults is "smartphone dependent." These smartphone owners do not have traditional broadband service at home, making the smartphone their primary means of accessing the internet, says Pew. Here are the demographic segments most likely to be smartphone dependent...

22% of 18-to-29-year-olds
25% of Hispanics
26% of those with a household income below $30,000
32% of those without a high school diploma

Source: Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Risks of Rabies

Rabies is one of the most fearsome and feared diseases. More than 99 percent fatal, the symptoms of those infected with rabies are so frightening that some scholars surmise they gave rise to the vampire and zombie horror genres.

Fortunately, rabies deaths in the United States are rare these days, with an average of only two people dying from rabies each year, according to the CDC. But many other countries are struggling to bring rabies under control. Globally, human rabies killed 59,000 in 2018 alone.

Dog bites were once the cause of most human rabies in the U.S. The incidence of human rabies has declined because we are vigilant about vaccinating our dogs against rabies and have done so since 1947. Other countries have not made as much progress with dog vaccinations, and the CDC wants Americans to be aware of this danger. Since 1960, there have been 36 human rabies cases in the U.S. caused by dog bites received while people were traveling internationally. "Increased awareness of rabies while traveling abroad is needed," warns the CDC.

Today, bats are the primary cause of rabies in the U.S. Of the 89 cases of human rabies originating in the U.S. between 1960 and 2018, the bat variant accounted for 62 percent. But most bats do not have rabies. Of bats submitted for testing, 94 percent were free of rabies, notes the CDC, which cautions that the "widespread killing of bats is not recommended to prevent rabies."

If treated before symptoms appear, rabies can be prevented. Each year, 55,000 Americans avail themselves of PEP—the lifesaving treatment for those who have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal. "Understanding the need for timely administration of PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) to prevent death is critical," concludes the CDC.

Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Trends in Human Rabies Deaths and Exposures—United States, 1938–2018

Friday, June 14, 2019

60% of Men Have Biological Children

Among the 121 million men aged 15 or older in the United States, 60 percent have biological children, according to the Census Bureau's first report on men's fertility. Among their female counterparts, a larger 69 percent have biological children.

Many men in the 15-plus age group have not yet had children. Below is a comparison of the number of children fathered by all men aged 15 or older and by men aged 61 or older, who are likely to have completed their fertility...

Men aged 15 or older by number of children ever fathered
None: 40.5%
One: 14.5%
Two: 23.0%
Three: 12.6%
Four: 5.4%
Five-plus: 4.0%

Men aged 61 or older by number of children ever fathered
None: 15.6%
One: 13.2%
Two: 31.0%
Three: 21.0%
Four: 10.0%
Five-plus: 9.2%

Source: Census Bureau, Men's Fertility and Fatherhood: 2014

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Financial Hardships of Cancer

One in four cancer survivors aged 18 to 64 had problems paying medical bills, according to a CDC analysis of the material hardships of those who have battled cancer. Behind the hardships is the fact that out-of-pocket medical costs are higher for people with a cancer history than for those with no history of cancer.  Average annual out-of-pocket medical costs in the 2011–16 time period amounted to $1,000 for people aged 18 to 64 with a history of cancer. Their peers with no history of cancer had average annual out-of-pocket medical costs of $622.

Twenty-five percent of cancer survivors reported material hardship due to their cancer, its treatment, or the effects of treatment. The CDC defines material hardship as needing to borrow money, going into debt, declaring bankruptcy, or being otherwise unable to pay out-of-pocket health care costs.

Percentage of cancer survivors who experienced material hardship
Total survivors aged 18-64: 25.3%
Any private health insurance: 21.9%
Only public health insurance: 33.1%
Survivors with no health insurance: 36.5%

Having private health insurance did not prevent cancer survivors from experiencing material hardship. "Even many cancer survivors with private insurance coverage reported borrowing money, being unable to cover their share of medical care costs, going into debt, or filing for bankruptcy," notes the report. "Mitigating the negative impact of cancer in the United States will require implementation of strategies aimed at alleviating the disproportionate financial hardship experienced by many survivors," the report concludes.

Source: CDC, Annual Out-of-Pocket Expenditures and Financial Hardship among Cancer Survivors Aged 18–64 Years—United States, 2011–2016

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Is Gen X Prepared for Retirement?

The oldest Gen Xers—born in 1965—turn 55 next year. At that age, retirement planning shifts from serious to critical. How are Gen Xers doing as they prepare to cross the threshold into old(er) age? The 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey examines the generation's retirement readiness, and these are some of the findings...
  • 59 percent of Gen Xers are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, below Boomers (68 percent) and Millennials (67 percent).
  • 65 percent of Gen Xers have personally saved for retirement, but only 31 percent have figured out how much money they need to save for retirement.
  • 52 percent of Gen Xers have saved less than $50,000 for retirement.
  • 31 percent of Gen Xers don't know when they will retire, 11 percent say they will retire at age 70 or older, and another 11 percent say they will never retire.
  • 78 percent of Gen Xers plan to work for pay in retirement.
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey Generation X Report

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 10 States at Highest Risk of an Undercount

Which states will be hurt the most by a 2020 Census that does not perform up to par? A study by the Urban Institute examines three performance scenarios and projects the undercount by state for each one.

  • In the low-risk scenario, the 2020 Census performs as well as the 2010 Census, with only demographic change influencing the outcome. The result is a net undercount of 0.27 percent versus the net overcount of 0.01 percent in 2010. So, even if the 2020 Census performs as well as the 2010 Census, "demographic changes alone would create a net undercount," explains the Urban Institute. 
  • In the medium-risk scenario, the 2020 Census performs according to its operational plan (60.5 percent of households self-respond within six weeks), with no surprises. The result is a net undercount of 0.84 percent. 
  • In the high-risk scenario, the 2020 Census performs below expectations (55.5 percent of households self-respond within six weeks, which is the Census Bureau's predicted lower bound of response) and participation is suppressed by all the hoopla surrounding immigration and the citizenship question. The result is a net undercount of 1.22 percent—more than 4 million people will not be counted. 

Under the high-risk scenario, the District of Columbia will experience the largest undercount (2.68 percent). After D.C., the 10 states that will experience the largest undercount include both blue states such as California and New York and red states such as Texas and Georgia....

10 states with largest projected undercount in 2020 Census (high-risk scenario)
1.98% in California
1.96% in Texas
1.76% in New Mexico
1.73% in Nevada
1.65% in Georgia
1.58% in New York
1.48% in Florida
1.47% in Maryland
1.40% in Arizona
1.33% in Louisiana

Source: Urban Institute, Assessing Miscounts in the 2020 Census

Monday, June 10, 2019

Big Changes in Attitudes toward LGBT Issues

Gallup has been asking the public what it thinks about LGBT issues for more than 40 years. Below are the percentages of the public in agreement with the first questions Gallup asked in 1977 and the percentages in agreement with the same questions in 2019...

Gay people should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities
2019: 93%
1977: 56%

Gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should be legal
2019: 83%
1977: 43%

Gays and lesbians should be allowed to adopt children
2019: 75%
1977: 14%

Being gay or lesbian is something a person is born with
2019: 49%
1977: 13%

LGBT issues, Gallup concludes, "have undergone some of the most dramatic shifts in public opinion—including gay marriage, which hardly even registered as a goal for gay rights activists of the 1970s."

Source: Gallup, Gallup First Polled on Gay Issues in '77. What Has Changed?

Friday, June 07, 2019

Is College Still Worth the Cost?

Yes, says the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in an analysis on its Liberty Street Economics Blog. Despite the rising cost of college, the rate of return for a bachelor's degree exceeds the rate of return for other investments.

The average college graduate with a bachelor's degree earns 75 percent more than the average worker with only a high school diploma, say researchers Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz—an average of $78,000 for the college graduate versus $45,000 for the high school graduate. The earnings premium has been in the $30,000 to $35,000 range since 2000. The researchers estimate a rate of return for a bachelor's degree of about 14 percent—much greater than the 7 percent rate of return for stocks or the 3 percent for bonds. While the rate of return has declined slightly in the past few years due to rising costs, the researchers conclude: "our analysis suggests that college remains a good investment, at least for most people."

But the rate of return is not as high for some, the researchers warn. In particular, the rate of return may not be worth it for those who do not complete a degree, those who take longer than four years to earn a degree, and "the bottom 25 percent of those who made the investment."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Despite Rising Costs, College Is Still a Good Investment

Thursday, June 06, 2019

50% of Women Aged 15 to 44 Are Childless

Among women of childbearing age in the United States, more are childless than ever before. The percentage of women aged 15 to 44 who have not (yet) had children climbed from about one-third in 1976 (the first year of data collection) to one-half in 2018. The biggest increase in childlessness occurred among women aged 25 to 34.

Percent of women who are childless by age in 2018 (and 1976)
Total, 15 to 44: 49.8% (35.1%)
Aged 20 to 24: 78.6% (69.0%)
Aged 25 to 29: 54.2% (30.8%)
Aged 30 to 34: 33.6% (15.6%)
Aged 35 to 39: 20.0% (10.5%)
Aged 40 to 44: 15.0% (10.2%)

Today most women aged 25 to 29 are childless, up from fewer than one-third in 1976. In the 30-to-34 age group, the childless share more than doubled during those years. Are these women delaying having children, or are they foregoing motherhood? For most, it's just a delay. By the end of their childbearing years, only 15 percent of women are still childless, reports the Census Bureau. While this is greater than the 10 percent of 1976, the figure has been close to 15 percent for most of the past 30 years.

Source: Census Bureau, Fertility of Women in the United States: 2018

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Who Lives with Their Parents and Why

Twelve percent of the nation's adults live with their parents. For most, financial reasons are a big factor, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 2018 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking. Here are the reasons people live with their parents by age group (more than one reason could be selected)...

Aged 18 to 21 (61 percent live with parents)
63% to save money
31% prefer living with others
15% to provide financial assistance
13% to care for family member or friend
3% to receive help with child care

Aged 22 to 24 (51 percent live with parents)
83% to save money
37% prefer living with others
29% to provide financial assistance
20% to care for family member or friend
5% to receive help with child care

Aged 25 to 29 (26 percent live with parents)
86% to save money
38% to provide financial assistance
33% prefer living with others
25% to care for family member or friend
8% to receive help with child care

Aged 30 to 39 (13 percent live with parents)
60% to save money
42% to provide financial assistance
36% to care for family member or friend
20% prefer living with others
14% to receive help with child care

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Landline Phone Spending by Generation, 2017

The iPhone changed everything. After its release in 2007, average household spending on cell phone service surged ahead of residential (landline) phone service for the first time. From 48 percent of total telephone service spending in 2006, the cell phone service share jumped to 55 percent in 2007. Ten years later, cell phone service accounted for 82 percent of telephone service spending, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Are most Americans cutting the cord on landlines?

Yes, they are. During the average quarter of 2017, only 37 percent of households reported spending on landline phone service. Here are the percentages by generation...

Percent of households spending on landline phone service, 2017
Millennials: 12%
Gen Xers: 31%
Boomers: 48%
Silent: 69%
WWII: 74%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, June 03, 2019

Median Household Income Rises Slightly in April

Median household income rose slightly to $64,016 in April 2019, after adjusting for inflation, according to Sentier Research. While below the record high median recorded in January 2019, the $241 increase in April partially offset the $638 decline that occurred in February and March. Behind those declines was rising inflation, reports Sentier's Gordon Green. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

The April 2019 median was 1.6 percent higher than the April 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 15.0 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,665)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index for April 2019 was 103.9 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the April 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 3.9 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: April 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019

No Credit Card, No Bank Account

As stores across the nation experiment with going cashless, they are shutting their doors on a significant share of the population—those without credit cards or bank accounts. Overall, 19 percent of adults (and their spouses) do not have a credit card and 6 percent do not have a bank account, according to a Federal Reserve Board survey. The share without credit cards or bank accounts is much higher in some demographic segments...

Percent without a credit card
39% of those with household incomes below $40,000
31% of those with no more than a high school diploma
32% of Blacks
28% of Hispanics

Percent without a bank account
14% of those with household income below $40,000
13% of those with no more than a high school diploma
14% of Blacks
11% of Hispanics

Source: Federal Reserve Board, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fans of Nature

Americans are big fans of nature. Nearly every adult (98 percent) agrees with the statement, "I take notice of the natural elements around me (trees, water, wildlife, etc.)," according to the General Social Survey. Almost as many (96 percent) agree that they "have easy access to natural environments, such as public parks, gardens or trails."

Getting out into nature is another matter. When the public is asked whether it agrees or disagrees with the statement, "I spend as much time as I would like in natural environments," more than one in three (35 percent) disagrees. Millions of Americans would like to spend more time in natural environments. Busy with career and family, Millennials and Gen Xers are most likely to say they do not spend as much time as they would like communing with nature.

"I spend as much time as I would like in natural environments" (percent disagreeing by generation)
Millennials: 38%
Gen Xers: 40%
Boomers: 30%
Older: 25%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Growing Health Disparities by Educational Attainment

Education leads to better health for reasons not fully understood. An Urban Institute study takes a closer look at health disparities by educational attainment and trends over time. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, the researchers examine the self-reported health of people aged 19 to 64, dividing the population into two groups—those with at least some college education and those with no college experience...

Percent of 19-to-64-year-olds with fair or poor health, 2017
Any college: 6.8%
No college: 16.8%

Percent of 19-to-64-year-olds with an activity limitation, 2017
Any college: 8.3%
No college: 17.2%

Percent of 19-to-64-year-olds who are obese, 2017
Any college: 29.3%
No college: 36.0%

Percent of 19-to-64-year-olds with moderate/severe psychological distress, 2017
Any college: 9.8%
No college: 15.9%

Health disparities by educational attainment have not only persisted for decades, the researchers find, but in many cases they are growing. Take activity limitations, for example. In 1999, there was a 6.2 percentage-point gap in the percentage with an activity limitation by educational attainment—14.4 percent of those with no college education versus 8.3 percent of those with any college experience. By 2017, the gap had grown to 8.9 percentage points because a larger share of the less educated (17.2 percent) reported an activity limitation. "Less-educated adults from all racial, ethnic, and geographic groups we studied have seen declines in health over time," the researchers conclude.

Source: Urban Institute, Education and Health: Long-Term Trends by Race, Ethnicity, and Geography, 1997–2017

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Parents and Grown Children Talk a Lot

If you wonder why so many people have their noses stuck in their phones, they're probably talking to Mom or Dad. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, today's parents and their grown children talk a lot, according to the General Social Survey.

How much is a lot? Among adults with living parents, 36 percent communicate with a parent every day. Nearly two-thirds communicate with a parent at least several times a week. Here is the GSS survey question...

"Think about the parent you have contact with most frequently: How often do you have contact with that parent, either face-to-face, by phone, internet, or any other communication device?" (percent of those with living parents responding; excludes the 4 percent who live with a parent)
36% daily
25% several times a week
17% once a week
12% one to three times a month
10% less often

When the question is reversed, communication is even more frequent. Among Americans with adult children, nearly half (49 percent) communicate with a grown child every day. Fully 75 percent communicate with a grown child at least several times a week...

"Think about the adult child you have contact with most frequently: How often do you have contact with this child at least 18, either face-to-face, by phone, internet, or any other communication device?" (percent of those with adult children responding; excludes the 2 percent who live with an adult child)
49% daily
26% several times a week
11% once a week
  9% one to three times a month
  5% less often

What does most of this communication look like? Noses stuck in phones. All or most contact with family occurs via phone, texting, or through the internet, reports the 54 percent majority of the public.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Friday, May 24, 2019

How Many Men Have Ever Been Arrested?

A surprisingly large number of men have ever been arrested, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study. To determine how the arrest and incarceration status of men affects their employment prospects, the BLS analyzed data from the 2015–16 iteration of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. This ongoing survey is tracking a nationally representative sample of men and women who were born from 1980 to 1984.

Percent of men born in 1980–84 who have ever been arrested at age 19 or older, 2015–16
45.1% of non-Hispanic Blacks
37.0% of Hispanics
31.7% of non-Blacks/non-Hispanics

From 32 to 45 percent of men in the 1980-to-1984 cohort have ever been arrested. While most of those who were arrested did not spend time in jail, a substantial proportion did...

Percent of men born in 1980–84 who have ever been incarcerated at age 19 or older, 2015–16
19.8% of non-Hispanic Blacks
14.2% of Hispanics
11.0% of non-Blacks/non-Hispanics

The researchers find a decline in the likelihood of being employed as men's interaction with the criminal justice system increases.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment of Young Men after Arrest or Incarceration

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Big City Slowdown

Between 2010 and 2018, the population of the nation's 775 largest cities (incorporated places with populations of 50,000 or more in 2018) grew by an average of 7.5 percent. The remainder of the United States grew by a smaller 5.8 percent. Growth is fastest for cities with populations of 500,000 to 1 million (such as Austin, San Francisco, Denver, and Boston), their populations growing by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2018. Growth is slowest in the nation's largest cities—those with populations of 1 million or more—with a gain of just 5.9 percent between 2010 and 2018.

City population growth 2010-2018 by city size
1 million or more: 5.9%
500,000 to 999,999: 9.6%
250,000 to 499,999: 8.0%
200,000 to 249,999: 6.2%
150,000 to 199,999: 7.3%
100,000 to 149,999: 7.5%
50,000 to 99,999: 7.6%

Among all cities with populations of 50,000 or more, the annual growth rate since 2010 has slowed from about 1.0 percent per year to a smaller 0.6 percent between 2017 and 2018. The biggest slowdown has occurred in cities with populations of 1 million or more. The annual growth rate of the largest cities fell from a peak of 1.11 percent in 2011–12 to just 0.12 percent in 2017–18. Three of these cities—New York, Chicago, and San Jose—experienced small population declines between 2017 and 2018. 

Source: Census Bureau, Fastest-Growing Cities Primarily in the South and West

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Surge in Support for Gay Marriage, 1999 to 2019

Twenty years ago, just 35 percent of Americans supported legal same-sex marriage. Today, 63 percent of the public is in support, according to Gallup—a 28 percentage-point increase over the past two decades. Support has grown by 22 to 37 percentage points in every demographic group, Gallup reports. Here are the changes by age ...

Percent who support legal gay marriage in 2019 (and 1999)
Aged 18 to 29: 83% (52%)
Aged 30 to 49: 68% (39%)
Aged 50 to 64: 55% (31%)
Aged 65-plus: 47% (11%)

Even among Republicans, support for legal gay marriage climbed 22 percentage points between 1999 and 2019—to 44 percent in 2019. "The strong support seen today among young adults is likely to propel the national figure higher in the future," Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, U.S. Support for Gay Marriage Stable, at 63%

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Attitudes Toward Abortion Are Complex

Seventy-three percent of Americans do not want to see the landmark abortion rights ruling Roe v. Wade overturned, according to Planned Parenthood. But what does that mean? The public's attitudes toward abortion are complex, as the General Social Survey has shown over the past 40 years. The GSS includes a battery of question about the circumstances under which women should have the right to a legal abortion. These are the attitudes of the American public  in 2018 and trends over the decades...

Abortion should be legal if a woman's health is in danger: 90 percent of Americans support the right to a legal abortion if a woman's health is in danger, a figure that has not changed significantly in four decades.

Abortion should be legal if a woman has been raped: 79 percent of the public support the right to a legal abortion if her pregnancy is the result of rape, a figure that has not changed significantly in four decades.

Abortion should be legal if the baby has a serious defect: 76 percent support the right to a legal abortion "if there is a strong chance of serious defect in the baby," a figure that has barely changed in four decades.

Abortion should be legal if a married woman doesn't want more children: 50 percent of the public supports the right to an abortion if a married woman does not want more children. This figure was as low as 38 percent in 1983 and has increased somewhat over the years.

Abortion should be legal if a woman cannot afford more children: Only 49 percent of the public supports the right to an abortion for economic reasons, a figure that was as low as 40 percent in 2004 and as high as 55 percent in 1974.

Abortion should be legal if a woman is single: Only 44 percent of the public supports the right to a legal abortion if a woman is not married. This figure has barely changed over the past four decades.

The great majority of Americans may not want Roe v. Wade to be overturned, but they are deeply divided on when a woman should be able to exercise her legal right to an abortion. How many think this decision should be up to the women herself? Here's the General Social Survey question: "Do you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if the woman wants it for any reason?" Half of Americans support the right to a legal abortion for any reason. The figure was 34 percent in 1978, climbed to 40 percent in 1998, and reached 50 percent in 2018.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Monday, May 20, 2019

Births by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2018

Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for the 52 percent majority of women who gave birth in 2018, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Another 23 percent were Hispanic, 15 percent were non-Hispanic Black, and 6 percent were non-Hispanic Asian.

In 12 states, minorities accounted for the majority of births: Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York. Minorities also accounted for the majority of births in the District of Columbia.

At the other extreme, non-Hispanic Whites accounted for more than 80 percent of births in six states: Montana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia. In Vermont and West Virginia, more than 90 percent of births in 2018 were to non-Hispanic Whites.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2018 (PDF)

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Generation Behind on Diversity

The nation's rural population is much less diverse than the urban population, reports the USDA's Economic Research Service. In nonmetropolitan counties (the definition of rural for this comparison), fully 78 percent of the population is non-Hispanic White. In metropolitan counties (urban) non-Hispanic Whites are only 58 percent of the population.

The diversity of rural America is a generation behind the United States as a whole. You have to go all the way back to 1985 to find Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and other minorities accounting for only 22 percent of the total population.

Minority share of population
Urban (metropolitan counties): 42%
Rural (nonmetropolitan counties): 22%

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Rural America at a Glance, 2018 Edition

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Since 2007 Peak, Births Have Fallen in 49 States

The annual number of births in the United States peaked in 2007 at 4.3 million. Since then, births have fallen in every year but one. This ongoing baby bust is widespread, being felt in nearly every state. North Dakota is the only state in which 2018 births surpassed 2007 births—by a large 20.3 percent. The District of Columbia experienced a 3.9 percent increase in births between those years. But these gains are old news. The annual number of births has been falling in North Dakota since 2014 and in the District of Columbia since 2016.

Apart from North Dakota and the District of Columbia, these are the five states in which the baby bust is having the smallest impact...

Percent change in births, 2007 to 2018
-3.0% in South Dakota
-3.3% in Washington
-5.6% in Nebraska
-7.0% in Tennessee
-7.4% in Florida

These are the five states in which the baby bust is having the biggest impact...

Percent change in births, 2007 to 2018
-24.9% in New Mexico
-21.6% in Arizona
-20.4% in Mississippi
-19.9% in Illinois
-19.8% in California

Looking at the latest annual trend, the number of births fell in all but three states between 2017 and 2018. The only exceptions were Missouri, Maine, and New Jersey. The increases in those states were minuscule, however, ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 percent.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2018 (PDF)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Births in 2018 Lowest in 32 years

Only 3,788,235 babies were born in the U.S. in 2018—the fewest births since 1986, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has fallen in every year since 2007.

Number of births (in 000s)
2018: 3,788
2017: 3,856
2016: 3,946
2015: 3,978 
2014: 3,988
2013: 3,932
2012: 3,953
2011: 3,954
2010: 3,999 
2009: 4,131
2008: 4,248
2007: 4,316 (record high)

Records were broken again and again in 2018. The number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 (the general fertility rate) fell to a record low of 59.0 in 2018. The birth rates for women aged 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 29 hit new record lows in 2018. The total fertility rate—the number of births a woman can expect in her lifetime given current age-specific fertility rates—fell to a record low of 1.728 in 2018. This is well below the 2.1 replacement level. "The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement for the last decade," notes the NCHS report.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2018 (PDF)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Only 63% of Public Willing to Vote for Presidential Candidate Aged 70 or Older

Every few years, Gallup surveys the public about its willingness to vote for a hypothetical presidential candidate with certain characteristics. These are some of the findings from its 2019 survey...

Would vote for a presidential candidate who is...
Black: 96%
Female: 94%
Gay or lesbian: 76%
Under age 40: 71%
Over age 70: 63%

The 76 percent of Americans who would be willing to vote for a gay or lesbian candidate is a record high. In 1978, the first year Gallup asked this question, only 26 percent said they would vote for a gay or lesbian candidate.

Source: Gallup, Less than Half in U.S. Would Vote for a Socialist for President

Monday, May 13, 2019

Life Expectancy at Birth by Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin

Life expectancy at birth varies by race and Hispanic origin. Non-Hispanic Blacks have a lower life expectancy at birth (74.9 years) than non-Hispanic Whites (78.6 years). Non-Hispanic Whites have a lower life expectancy at birth than Hispanics (81.8 years).

Add sex to the mix and the ranking of life expectancy becomes more complex. Non-Hispanic Black females have a higher life expectancy than non-Hispanic White males. Non-Hispanic White females have a higher life expectancy than Hispanic males. Hispanic females have the highest life expectancy of all.

Life expectancy at birth in 2016
84.3 years: Hispanic females
81.0 years: non-Hispanic White females
79.1 years: Hispanic males
78.0 years: non-Hispanic Black females
76.2 years: non-Hispanic White males
71.6 years: non-Hispanic Black males

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, United States Life Tables, 2016

Friday, May 10, 2019

Homeowners Aged 30 to 34 by Region

Householders aged 30 to 34 were once the nation's first-time homebuyers—defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent. Nationally, the homeownership rate of the age group fell below 50 percent in 2011 and has been below that level ever since. In the Northeast, South, and West, the homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 slipped below the 50 percent threshold in the aftermath of the Great Recession and has yet to recover. Not so in the Midwest, however, where the homeownership rate of the age group never dipped below 50 percent. Householders aged 30 to 34 are still the region's first-time homebuyers.

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 by region, 2018
47.7%: total U.S.
43.0%: Northeast
56.8%: Midwest
47.8%: South
42.4%: West

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Fewer Use Prescription Drugs

Although it seems as though prescription drug use is on the rise, in fact the percentage of Americans who have used one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days has declined over the past decade—from 48.3 percent in 2007–08 to 45.8 percent in 2015–16. All of the decline in prescription drug use occurred among children under age 12, their use falling from 22.4 to 18.0 percent during those years.

Percent who have used one or more prescription drugs in past 30 days, 2015–16
Total population: 45.8%
Under age 12: 18.0%
Aged 12 to 19: 27.0%
Aged 20 to 59: 46.7%
Aged 60-plus: 85.0%

Bronchodilators are the most common type of prescription drug used by children (4.3 percent use them). Teens most commonly take central nervous system stimulants for attention deficit disorder (6.2 percent). Antidepressants are the most common drug taken by people aged 20 to 59 (11.4 percent). Among those aged 60 or older, lipid-lowering drugs are number one (46.3 percent).

The use of prescription drugs varies by race and Hispanic origin. Non-Hispanic Whites are most likely to have used prescription drugs in the past 30 days, with 50 percent having taken them. Asians are least likely (33 percent). Among people aged 60-plus, however, there is little difference in prescription drug use by race and Hispanic origin, with 82 to 85 percent having taken them in the past 30 days. The biggest differences by race and Hispanic origin are in the 20-to-59 age group. The 52 percent majority of non-Hispanic Whites aged 20 to 59 have taken a prescription drug in the past 30 days compared with 45 percent of Blacks, 34 percent of Hispanics, and just 30 percent of Asians.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Prescription Drug Use in the United States, 2015–2016

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

The Age When We Lose Our Parents

"The loss of one or both parents can profoundly affect a person's life," say Census Bureau researchers Zachary Scherer and Rose M. Kreider in an analysis of the age at which people lose their parents. Parents provide financial, emotional, and practical support to their children throughout life, note Scherer and Kreider. Consequently, the age at which one loses a parent can affect quality of life and standard of living.

Little has been known about the age at which Americans experience the loss of their parents—until now. The 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation asked respondents whether their parents were still alive. Scherer and Kreider analyzed the data and found that the loss of one or more parents becomes the norm in the 45-to-54 age group...

Percent with one or more deceased parents
Total, 18-plus: 42.2%
Under age 18: 2.8%
Aged 18 to 24: 7.7%
Aged 25 to 34: 16.4%
Aged 35 to 44: 33.9%
Aged 45 to 54: 63.0%
Aged 55 to 64: 88.4%
Aged 65-plus: 99.1%

People lose their father before their mother, according to the analysis. Most 45-to-54-year-olds have lost Dad, while only one-third of the age group has lost Mom. Among 55-to-64-year-olds, the 54 percent majority has lost both parents. Among people aged 65 or older, a nearly universal 91 percent has lost both parents.

The age at which people lose a parent differs by socioeconomic factors. The higher the income and education, the smaller the percentage who have lost a parent in every age group until 65-plus, when nearly everyone has experienced the loss. By race and Hispanic origin, Blacks experience the loss of a parent at an earlier age than other race and Hispanic origin groups. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, for example, one in four Blacks has experienced the death of a parent. The figure is 15 percent among non-Hispanic Whites and Asians and 17 percent among Hispanics.

Because parents potentially provide their children with financial, emotional, and practical support throughout life, the earlier loss of parents may lower their children's standard of living. "Ostensibly, individuals with lower income, lower educational attainment, and those from communities that experience lower life expectancy would benefit most from parental support. However, our findings indicate that these same groups are the ones that experience parental loss earlier in life," the researchers conclude.

Source: Census Bureau, The Link Between Socioeconomic Factors and Parental Mortality

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

2.5 Million Artists in U.S. Labor Force

The stereotype of the starving artist must be laid to rest. A study of artists in the U.S. labor force by the National Endowment for the Arts shows the earnings of artists to be well above average—a median of $52,800 for those who worked full-time, year-round in 2012–16. Although this is less than the median for all professional workers ($60,460), it is 18 percent more than the median for the average worker ($44,640).

The National Endowment for the Arts collected data for its profile of artists by analyzing a number of government surveys including the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Contingent Workers Survey and Occupation Employment Survey. Artists are defined as those working in the following occupations, listed from most to least numerous...

Artists in the labor force
Designers: 938,000
Architects: 256,000
Art directors, fine artists, animators: 247,000
Writers and authors: 235,000
Photographers: 225,000
Musicians: 194,000
Producers and directors: 188,000
Other entertainers: 71,000
Actors: 53,000
Announcers: 51,000
Dancers and choreographers: 23,000

Fully 2.4 million workers are employed as artists in their primary occupation. Another 333,000 workers are artists as a second job. Musicians are the ones most likely to be artists as a second job (35 percent).

The 58 percent majority of those who are artists in their primary job work for a private company, 30 percent are self-employed, 7 percent work for a nonprofit, and 5 percent for government. Most of those who work as artists in a second job are self-employed (58 percent).

The median age of artists ranges from a low of 26 among dancers and choreographers to a high of 45 among architects and musicians. The median earnings in 2012–16 of artists who worked full-time ranged from a low of $31,150 for dancers and choreographers to a high of $76,680 for architects.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait

Monday, May 06, 2019

Financial Situation of American Households

The 56 percent majority of Americans say their personal financial situation today is good or excellent, according to a 2019 Gallup poll. This figure is significantly above the low of 41 percent recorded in 2012—in the aftermath of the Great Recession. But not everyone is doing well. Here is the distribution of households by their current financial situation...

Current financial situation (percent of households)
19% are saving a lot
37% are saving a little
26% are just managing to make ends meet
  6% are having to draw down savings
  7% are running into debt
  5% mixed, neither, or no opinion

Source: Gallup, Americans Feel Generally Positive about Their Own Finances

Friday, May 03, 2019

Median Household Income Falls Slightly in March 2019

Median household income fell to $63,425 in March 2019, after adjusting for inflation. This was 1 percent below the record high median recorded in January 2019, according to Sentier Research. Behind the decline is rising inflation. "The decline in real median household income of $635 between January 2019 and March 2019 is likely related to the uptick in inflation during the same time period," reports Sentier's Gordon Green. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

Despite the decline since January, the March 2019 median was 1.5 percent higher than the March 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 14.6 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,360)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index for March 2019 was 103.5 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, after adjusting for inflation, the March 2019 median was just 3.5 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: March 2019

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Trust Gap by Educational Attainment

Most Americans do not trust others, according to the General Social Survey. Only 32 percent of the public agrees that most people can be trusted, while more than twice as many (64 percent) believe you can't be too careful in life. But some are more trusting than others, and no one is more trusting than a college graduate.

Americans with a bachelor's degree or more education are the only demographic segment in which the majority believes most people can be trusted—55 percent feel this way. In contrast, only 21 percent of their less-educated counterparts believe most people can be trusted. While 74 percent of those without a bachelor's degree think you can't be too careful in life, only 41 percent of those with a college degree agree.

Most people can be trusted (percent agreeing)
Not a college graduate: 21%
Bachelor's degree or more: 55%

You can't be too careful in life (percent agreeing)
Not a college graduate: 74%
Bachelor's degree or more: 41%

Note: Figures do not sum to 100 percent because some people said "it depends."

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

The Generations in 2018

Generational power continues to shift, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2018 population estimates by single-year of age. Older generations are dying off, while younger generations are gaining because of immigration and, for the Recession generation, births.

Between 2010 and 2018, Baby Boomers lost nearly 5 million of their peers, a 6 percent decline in the size of the generation. The number in the older Swing generation fell by 5 million, a 21 percent decline. The World War II generation (the oldest) lost more than 8 million members—a 60 percent decline since 2010. Gen Xers saw their ranks fall by 319,000 during those years.

Meanwhile, the number of Millennials grew by almost 3 million between 2010 and 2018, thanks to immigration. The iGeneration grew by nearly 2 million. The generations that follow Millennials now slightly outnumber Boomers and older Americans—99.3 million versus 99.1 million.

Size of generations in 2018 (and % of total population)
327,167,434 (100.0%): Total population
  35,950,639 (11.0%): Recession generation (aged 0 to 8)
  63,371,829 (19.4%): iGeneration (aged 9 to 23)
  79,812,607 (24.4%): Millennial generation (aged 24 to 41)  
  48,922,963 (15.0%): Generation X (aged 42 to 53)  
  72,562,397 (22.2%): Baby Boom generation (aged 54 to 72)  
  20,935,756 (  6.4%): Swing generation (aged 73 to 85)  
    5,611,243 (  1.7%): World War II generation (aged 86-plus)

Note: The Recession generation was born in 2010 or later; the iGeneration was born from 1995 through 2009; the Millennial generation was born from 1977 through 1994; Generation X was born from 1965 through 1976; the Baby-Boom generation was born from 1946 through 1964; the Swing generation was born from 1933 through 1945; the WW II generation was born in 1932 or earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics: 2010–2018

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Keeping Track of American Freshmen

For more than 50 years, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has been keeping track of the characteristics, attitudes, and behavior of each incoming class of college freshmen. It all started in 1966, the year when boomers born in 1948 turned 18 and (some) headed off to college. In that year, just 50 percent of high school graduates went to college—59 percent of men and 43 percent of women. Men's college enrollment far surpassed women's because many men were trying to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam.

Skip ahead to 2017, when a much larger 67 percent of high school graduates were enrolled in college by October following high school graduation—61 percent of men and 72 percent of women, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Times have changed. College freshmen have changed—in some ways, but not in others.

Parents of college freshmen are more highly educated: Only 30 percent of the fathers and 20 percent of the mothers of 1966 college freshmen had a college degree themselves. Today, the great majority of college freshmen have parents who graduated from college.

Worry level is the same: Most college freshmen in 1966 had some (57 percent) or a lot (8 percent) of worries about paying for college. The figures were almost the same in 2017, with 54 percent of having some worries and 12 percent having major worries. The percentage of freshmen with no worries was identical in the two years at 34 percent.

Political views are about the same: Liberals accounted for 36 percent of college freshmen in 2017, down slightly from the 39 percent of 1970 (the first year the survey included this question). Another 22 percent of college students identified themselves as conservative in 2017, up slightly from the 18 percent of 1970. The plurality of college students identified themselves as middle of the road in both years—41 percent in 2017 and 43 percent in 1970.

Goals have changed: Making money is much more important than it used to be. Having a philosophy of life is much less important. Family goals have not changed. Fully 82.5 percent of college freshmen in 2017 said "being very well off financially" was a very important or essential objective, up from 42 percent who felt that way in 1966. Only 48 percent of college freshmen in 2017 said "developing a philosophy of life" was very important or essential, down from 86 percent in 1967 (the first year of the question). Family life continues to be very important or essential to the same share of college freshmen in 2017 as in 1969 (the first year of the question)—71.0 and 71.5 percent, respectively.

Most still think they are above average: The great majority of college freshmen in 1966 and in 2017 considered themselves to be above average or in the highest 10 percent in academic ability, drive to achieve, and understanding of others.

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2019

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, first quarter 2019: 58.3%

The Census Bureau is back on schedule in releasing its homeownership statistics, with the first quarter numbers showing little change in the overall homeownership rate. The latest numbers suggest that the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds is inching upward, however. In the first quarter of 2019, the age group's homeownership rate remained above the 58 percent threshold, a line crossed in the fourth quarter of 2018 for the first time since 2011. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007The rate dipped as low as 54.6 percent in 2015, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The recent upward trend in the homeownership rate of the age group is likely due to the full-employment economy. 

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 fell to 47.5 percent in the first quarter of 2019, after surpassing 48 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2018. These bobbles are not statistically significant. 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 64.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, identical to the rate one year earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Friday, April 26, 2019

Coal Miners Aren't the Only Ones Whose Jobs Are Disappearing

In just 10 years, the number of bookstores in the United States fell from 12,558 to 7,548—a 40 percent decline, according to the Census Bureau's County Business Patterns. The number of book publishers fell 23 percent, and libraries were down 16 percent.

Number of bookstores
2016:    7,548
2006:  12,558

Number of book publishers
2016: 2,574
2006: 3,335

Number of libraries
2016: 2,223
2006: 2,650

Employment in these three types of establishments fell 32 percent between 2006 and 2016—from 267,210 to 181,700. The 86,000 jobs lost in the book industry greatly exceeded the loss of 30,200 coal mining jobs during the same time period.

Source: Census Bureau, World Book and Copyright Day: April 23, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Feeling (Too) Upbeat about Retirement

Two-thirds of American workers (67 percent) are confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, according to the 2019 EBRI/Greenwald Retirement Confidence Survey. The percentage of workers who feel good about what lies ahead hasn't been this high since 2004—before the Great Recession.

But in reality, many workers may not be on track for a comfortable retirement. Nearly half (49 percent) have saved less than $50,000. Only 42 percent have saved $100,000 or more. These figures are low, in part, because many workers do not work for an employer who provides a workplace retirement savings plan. But even among workers with a workplace plan, just 51 percent have saved $100,000 or more. Despite meager savings, 82 percent of workers expect a workplace retirement savings plan to be a source of income in retirement, and 51 percent expect it to be a major source.

Savings of workers and spouses (excluding value of home and defined-benefit plans)
40% have saved less than $25,000
  9% have saved $25,000 to $49,999
  9% have saved $50,000 to $99,999
19% have saved $100,000 to $249,999
23% have saved $250,000 or more

Maybe workers need help with their retirement planning? Nope. Fully 65 percent are confident in their ability to choose the right retirement products or investments. When asked what backs up this confidence—what sources of information they use for retirement planning—the largest share of workers (29 percent) say they don't use any of the listed items—not their employer, not a financial advisor, no online calculators, no Google searches, no websites, no tips from family or friends. The 29 percent who say they use none of these things exceeds the 23 percent who say they use a professional financial advisor.

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, 2019 Retirement Confidence Survey

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Voter Turnout Surged in 2018 Midterm Election

Fifty-three percent of American citizens aged 18 or older voted in the 2018 midterm election. That may not sound like much, but it is the highest midterm turnout in four decades, according to the Census Bureau. The 11.5 percentage-point increase in turnout between 2014 and 2018 was historic. Never before has turnout increased so much from one midterm to the next.

Percent of citizens who voted in 2018 (and 2014)
Total, 18-plus:  53.4% (41.9%)
Aged 18 to 24: 32.4% (17.1%)
Aged 25 to 44: 46.3% (32.5%)
Aged 45 to 64: 59.5% (49.6%)
Aged 65-plus:  66.1% (59.4%)

Turnout increased in every age group, but the gain was greatest among 18-to-24-year-olds. The percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who voted in 2018 was nearly double what it was in 2014—climbing from 17.1 to 32.4 percent, a 15.3 percentage-point rise. Among people aged 65 or older, turnout increased by just 6.7 percentage points.

In every race and Hispanic origin group, turnout increased by 11 to 13 percentage points between 2014 and 2018. Non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to vote in 2018 (57.5 percent), followed by Blacks (51.4 percent). Fewer than half of Asians (40.2 percent) or Hispanics (40.4 percent) voted in the midterms.

By education, the increase in voter turnout was greatest (12 to 13 percentage points) among those with some college or more education. Among those without a high school diploma, turnout increased by just 5 percentage points. The gap in turnout between the most and least educated was nearly 50 percentage points—only 27.2 percent of those without a high school diploma voted in 2018 compared with 74.0 percent of those with a graduate degree.  

The increase in voter turnout was greater in metropolitan areas (a 12.2 percentage-point increase) than in nonmetro areas (7.7 percentage points). Consequently, those who live in metropolitan areas were more likely than nonmetro residents to vote in 2018—53.7 versus 52.1 percent. This was a reversal of the 2014 pattern.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2018 and Behind the 2018 U.S. Midterm Election Turnout

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

County Population Trends, 2010 to 2018

Between 2010 and 2018, the nation's most urban counties grew faster than any other county type, according to the Census Bureau's county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2018 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents ongoing metro growth and continuing rural decline. But patterns are changing.

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government's way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation's 3,000-plus counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure population change between 2010 and 2018 for each rank, this is the result...


County population change 2010-2018 by Rural-Urban Continuum Rank

1. 7.6% for counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 6.2% for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 4.1% for counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.5% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 1.7% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, not adjacent to metro
6. –1.0% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, adjacent to metro
7. –1.6% for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. –1.0% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. –1.9% for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

The long-term pattern has been one of urban growth—the more urban, the greater the growth. But an examination of annual growth rates reveals important changes. Counties with a rank of 1 on the continuum (the most urban) grew faster than any other county type in every year between 2010 and 2017. But between 2017 and 2018, the growth rate of rank 1 counties slipped below that of rank 2 counties—an increase of 0.72 percent for rank 1 counties versus a slightly larger 0.75 percent increase for rank 2 counties. Behind the slower growth of rank 1 counties are small declines 
between 2017 and 2018 in the populations of the three largest metro areas —New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. 

Conversely, some nonmetropolitan counties that had been steadily losing population are now making small gains. Rank 6 and 8 counties grew slightly in both 2017 and 2018, but those gains were not large enough to make up for losses earlier in the decade.  

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2018

Monday, April 22, 2019

Median Age of People Who Walk To Work: 33

American workers have a median age of 42, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 American Community Survey. But the median age of workers varies by how they get to work—a matter of importance to transportation planners and businesses that market to commuters. Here are the median ages of workers by their primary means of transportation to work, from oldest to youngest...

Age 47: work at home
Age 43: drive alone
Age 39: carpool
Age 38: public transportation
Age 38: taxi, motorcycle, bicycle
Age 33: walk

Source: Census Bureau, American Factfinder, American Community Survey

Friday, April 19, 2019

Only 50% of Americans Belong to a Church

Only half of Americans aged 18 or older belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, according to Gallup survey. The 50 percent of 2018 is a record low and down from 70 percent in 1999. Behind the decline, says Gallup, is the growing share of the population without a religious preference. That share climbed from 8 to 19 percent in the past two decades. Not only is church membership declining in successively younger generations, but it is also falling over time within generations...

Church membership in 2016–2018 (and 1998–2000)
Millennials: 42% (NA)
Gen Xers: 54% (62%)
Boomers: 57% (67%)
Older Americans: 68% (77%)

In 2016–2018, church membership was lowest among men (47 percent), people under age 30 (41 percent), Hispanics (45 percent), people in the West (43 percent), and liberals (37 percent). Church membership was highest among people aged 65 or older (64 percent), non-Hispanic Blacks (65 percent), people in the South (58 percent), Republicans (69 percent), and conservatives (67 percent).

Source: Gallup, U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Reaching Out for Financial Advice in Old Age

Older Americans might be in trouble. They control a large share of the nation's wealth, yet many are not prepared to manage it. Cognitive abilities decline with age, and most older Americans eschew financial advice. Those are some of the findings of a National Bureau of Economic Research analysis of the 2016 Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey of people aged 50 or older. NBER researchers added several questions about financial advice to the HRS, which also measures cognitive ability and financial literacy. The goal of the study was to determine how cognitive ability and financial literacy influence the quantity and quality of the financial advice sought by older Americans.

One of the study's major findings is how infrequently older Americans seek financial advice. Only 35 percent of respondents had reached out for guidance on handling their finances. Another major finding of the study: seeking financial advice is not influenced by cognitive ability or financial literacy. In other words, cognitive ability and financial literacy have no affect on the quantity of financial advice sought by older Americans.

The quality of financial advice is another matter. "More cognitively able and financially literate respondents tend to seek professional financial advice, rather than seeking casual help from family/friends," the authors report. Respondents with greater cognitive ability and financial literacy are more distrustful of financial advisors in general and especially wary of "free" financial advice from advisors who shroud their fees. The quality of financial advice is influenced by cognitive ability and financial literacy, the researchers conclude.

"Low cognitive ability and poor financial literacy can be a barrier to receiving quality financial advice," conclude the authors, "suggesting that researchers and policymakers may need to find new ways to evaluate and monitor financial behavior in an aging population."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, How Cognitive Ability and Financial Literacy Shape the Demand for Financial Advice at Older Ages, Working Paper 25750 ($5.00)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Most Americans Have Three or More Siblings

How many brothers and sisters do Americans aged 18 or older have? The 2018 General Social Survey asks about siblings with the question, "How many brothers and sisters did you have? Please count those born alive but no longer living, as well as those alive now. Also include stepbrothers and stepsisters, and children adopted by your parents."

Number of siblings
None: 4%
One: 21%
Two: 21%
Three: 16%
Four: 10%
Five: 7%
Six: 6%
Seven: 5%
Eight: 3%
Nine: 2%
Ten or more: 4%

Among all Americans aged 18 or older, the 54 percent majority have (or had) three or more siblings. But there are differences by age. Among adults aged 50 or older, fully 61 percent have (or had) three or more siblings. Among adults under age 50, a smaller 49 percent have (or had) three or more siblings.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Many Participate in Sports or Exercise on an Average Day?

Nearly one in five Americans aged 15 or older (19 percent) participates in sports, exercise, or recreation on an average day, according to the American Time Use Survey. Of the many sports and recreational activities in which people participate, fewer than two dozen attract at least 1 million enthusiasts on an average day. Here they are...

Number (and %) of people aged 15-plus participating in sport/exercise on average day, 2017
1. Walking: 16.6 million (6.4%)
2. Working out (unspecified): 9.0 million (3.5%)
3. Weightlifting/strength training: 7.9 million (3.1%)
4. Running: 4.9 million (1.9%)
5. Swimming/water sports: 4.2 million (1.6%)
6. Biking: 2.6 million (1.0%)
7. Doing yoga: 1.9 million (0.7%)
8. Using cardiovascular equipment: 1.8 million (0.7%)
9. Playing basketball: 1.6 million (0.6%)
10. Playing soccer: 1.1 million (0.4%)
11. Golfing: 1.0 million (0.4%)

These figures do not include all those who bicycle or walk to work, which is logged as travel related to work rather than sports or exercise. In 2017, about 800,000 people usually bicycled to work and 4 million usually walked to work, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 American Time Use Survey

Monday, April 15, 2019

2.3 Million Fewer Households with Children

The number of households with children under age 18 has fallen by more than 2 million since 2007 (the year births peaked in the U.S.), according to the Census Bureau...

Number of households with children under age 18
2018: 34,452,000
2007: 36,757,000
Change: –2.3 million

As of 2018, only 27 percent of households included children under age 18, a record low. The share of households with children was as high as 49 percent in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Family Tables

Friday, April 12, 2019

Most Gen X Households Have a Dog

Overall, 61 percent of American households have a pet, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. Among Gen Xers, the share is 66 percent, making them the most pet-friendly generation. This makes sense, since many acquired pets as they married and had children. Millennials are in the process of doing the same.

Percent of households with pets by generation, 2018

   Any pet     Dog   Cat
Total households       61%       46%     25%
Millennials       60       43     23
Generation Xers       66       53     28
Boomers       62       50     23
Older Americans       45       33     18

Boomers are about as likely as Millennials to have a pet. Among older Americans (the Silent and World War II generations) fewer than half of households have a pet. Many once had a pet, however. When asked whether they had a pet five years ago, 57 percent of older Americans said yes.

Note: In 2018, Millennials were aged 24 to 41, Generation Xers were aged 42 to 53, Baby Boomers were aged 54 to 72, and Older Americans were aged 73 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Blacks and Whites Disagree about Racial Discrimination

Which is the bigger problem for the United States: people seeing racial discrimination where it really does NOT exist, or people NOT seeing racial discrimination where it really DOES exist?

That's a necessarily wordy question designed to reveal stark differences in the public's attitudes toward racial discrimination. And reveal them it does. When Pew Research Center asked Americans this question, the great majority of Asians (71 percent), Blacks (84 percent), and Hispanics (67 percent) all said the bigger problem is turning a blind eye to the racial discrimination that really does exist. Only 48 percent of non-Hispanic Whites agreed...

The bigger problem is NOT seeing racial discrimination where it really DOES exist
Asians: 71%
Blacks: 84%
Hispanics: 67%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 48%

There are deep divisions among non-Hispanic Whites on this issue, however. Young adults are most likely to believe the bigger problem is refusing to acknowledge racial discrimination, with 61 percent of adults under age 30 feeling that way. A smaller 40 to 49 percent of those aged 30 or older agree. By education, 59 percent of non-Hispanic White college graduates believe not seeing racial discrimination where it really does exist is the bigger problem. Only 42 percent of those with less education feel the same way. The deepest divide is by party affiliation. Fully 77 percent of non-Hispanic White Republicans believe the bigger problem is seeing racial discrimination where it really does not exist. Fully 78 percent of non-Hispanic White Democrats believe the bigger problem is not seeing racial discrimination where it really does exist.

Source: Pew Research Center, Race in America 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Student Loans Lower Black Wealth

The wealth gap between Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites is huge. The median household wealth of non-Hispanic Whites was nearly 10 times that of Blacks in 2016—$171,000 versus $17,409, according to an Urban Institute analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances. While higher rates of homeownership among non-Hispanic Whites are the primary reason for this gap, another reason is student loan debt. Black households are more likely than non-Hispanic White households to have student loans, and Blacks owe more than non-Hispanic Whites. The percentage of Black households with student loan debt has more than doubled since 1989.

Percentage of Black households headed by people aged 25 to 55 with student loan debt, 1989 to 2016 (and average amount owed in 2016 dollars)
2016: 41.8% ($14,225)
2007: 28.3% (  $6,111)
2001: 18.5% (  $2,224)
1989: 17.9% (  $1,161)

Among non-Hispanic White households headed by people aged 25 to 55, a smaller 34 percent had student loan debt in 2016, owing an average of $11,108.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Homeownership by Age in 2018

The nation's 64.4 percent homeownership rate in 2018 was significantly higher than the 63.4 percent post-Great Recession low of 2016, according to Census Bureau data. But most age groups are simply treading water, with small or no increases in homeownership during the past two years. Not so for householders aged 30 to 39, their homeownership rates climbing by a statistically significant 2.3 percentage points between 2016 and 2018.

Homeownership rate by age in 2018 and 2016

   2018      2016percentage-point
change
Total households    64.4%      63.4%           1.0
Under age 25    22.7      21.9           0.8
Aged 25 to 29    32.5      30.9           1.6
Aged 30 to 34    47.7      45.4           2.3
Aged 35 to 39    57.6      55.3           2.3
Aged 40 to 44    62.9      62.0           0.9
Aged 45 to 49    68.4      66.7           1.7
Aged 50 to 54    71.7      71.6           0.1
Aged 55 to 59    74.0      74.0           0.0
Aged 60 to 64    76.8      76.1           0.7
Aged 65 or older    78.5      78.8          -0.3

Despite these gains, the homeownership rates of householders in their thirties remain well below not only what they were during the housing bubble, but also below the historical average prior to the bubble. From 1982 (the first year of the data series) through 1999, for example, the average homeownership rate of 30-to 34-year-olds was 53.0 percent—more than 5 percentage points higher than their 2018 rate. The average homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds during those years was 63.6 percent, fully 6 percentage points higher than their 2018 rate.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Monday, April 08, 2019

Nearly 1/3 of Least Educated in Labor Force Are "Underutilized"

Seventeen percent of the labor force is "underutilized," according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of data from the Adult Training and Education Survey, part of the 2016 National Household Education Surveys Program. The survey defines the underutilized as the unemployed, those who have a part-time job but would prefer full-time employment, and those who have a temporary job but would prefer a permanent position. The percentage of labor force participants who are underutilized is highest among the least educated...

Percent of labor force participants who are "underutilized" by education
32% of high school dropouts
21% of high school graduates only
18% of those with some college
16% of those with an associate's degree
11% of those with a bachelor's degree
11% of those with a graduate degree

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Relationship between Educational Attainment and Labor Force Underutilization

Friday, April 05, 2019

Are You a Have or a Have-Not?

Most Americans (58 percent) do not think the U.S. is divided into Haves and Have-nots, according to a Gallup Survey. While this figure is lower than the 71 percent of 1989, it is higher than the 49 percent of 2008 (in the midst of the Great Recession).

Those most likely to think the country is divided are Democrats (57 percent) and Blacks (70 percent). A smaller 24 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of non-Hispanic Whites agree. Hispanic attitudes mirror those of non-Hispanic Whites, with just 38 percent believing that the country is divided into Haves and Have-nots.

Although the majority of the public does not believe the country is divided into Haves and Have-nots, most Americans can readily classify themselves as one or the other. Fifty-six percent of the public sees itself as a Have, very close to the 58 percent who deny that the U.S. is divided in such a way. Could it be that the Haves are in denial? Those most likely to see themself as a Have are those with household incomes of $100,000 or more (81 percent), college graduates (71 percent), non-Hispanic Whites (64 percent), and Republicans (71 percent).

Overall, 36 percent of Americans identify themselves as a Have-not. Those most likely to see themselves this way are those with household incomes below $40,000, those who did not graduate from college (43 percent), Blacks and Hispanics (57 percent), and political independents (45 percent).

Source: Gallup, Majority Rejects Idea of Haves, Have-Nots Divide in U.S.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Homeownership Rate Rises Again in 2018

One year ago the nation's homeownership rate posted its first increase in more than a decade. At the time, Demo Memo asked, "Could it be the start of a trend?"

One year later and the answer is...complicated. The homeownership rate is continuing to rise, climbing to 64.4 percent in 2018, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey (HVC). This is 1.0 percentage point higher than the post-Great Recession low of 63.4 percent recorded in 2016. Despite the increase, however, the 2018 homeownership rate remains relatively low. It is the fourth lowest rate of the 2000s (surpassing only the rates in 2015, 2016, and 2017).

Homeownership rate for selected years
2018: 64.4%
2017: 63.9%
2016: 63.4% (post Great Recession low)
2015: 63.7%
2010: 66.9%
2004: 69.0% (all-time peak)
2000: 67.4%
1990: 63.9%
1980: 65.6%
1970: 64.2%

But perhaps comparing today's homeownership rate with the pumped-up rates of the housing bubble does not provide the necessary perspective. It might be more instructive to compare the 2018 rate to homeownership rates prior to the housing bubble. During the 30-year span from 1970 to 2000, the homeownership rate ranged from a low of 63.8 percent in 1988 to a high of 66.8 percent in 1999. The average rate during the time period was 64.7 percent, almost identical to the 64.4 percent of 2018. This exercise suggests, then, that today's homeownership rate is not the new normal. It's the old normal. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Most Americans Support LGBT Protections

Most Americans agree: there should be nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT population. Fully 69 percent of the public favors "laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing," finds a PRRI survey.

The majority of every religious group, men, women, every age group, and every race and Hispanic origin group supports laws against LGBT discrimination. By religious affiliation, support ranges from a high of 90 percent among Unitarians to a low of 53 percent among Jehovah Witnesses. By party affiliation, 79 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans favor such laws. Good news, right?

But dig a little deeper into the PRRI survey results, and a contradiction emerges. Another question in the survey asks Americans whether they favor or oppose religiously-based service refusals of the LGBT population—in other words, can a small business owner refuse to provide products or services to the LGBT population if doing so violates the owner's religious beliefs. Fifty-seven percent of the public opposes service refusals. Note that this 57 percent is smaller than the 69 percent of the public that favors nondiscrimination protections. A PRRI analysis of the results finds that fully 23 percent of Americans hold contradictory views—they favor nondiscrimination laws to protect the LGBT population but would allow a small business owner to discriminate against the LBGT population based on the owner's religious beliefs.

Source; PRRI, Fifty Years After Stonewall: Widespread Support for LGBT Issues—Findings from American Values Atlas 2018