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

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Attitudes toward Marijuana Legalization by Generation

Americans may not agree on much, but they are close to a consensus on the legalization of marijuana. Two-thirds of the public (66 percent) says the use of marijuana should be legal, according to the 2018 General Social Survey. This is up from 48 percent who felt that way in 2010 and just 33 percent who favored it in 2000.

Percent who think the use of marijuana should be legal by generation, 2018
Millennials: 76%
Gen Xers: 62%
Boomers: 62%
Older: 34%

While support for the legalization of marijuana has been growing for more than a decade, the biggest gains have occurred since 2010. The percentage of Millennials who favor legalization jumped by 20 percentage points between 2010 and 2018—from 56 to 76 percent. Support from Gen Xers climbed 19 percentage points during those years. Interestingly, Boomers were more supportive than Gen Xers in 2010 (54 versus 43 percent), but the two generations are now equally in favor. The generations that precede the Baby Boom (Silent and World War II) are the only ones who have not yet embraced the idea. They probably never will. The percentage of older Americans who favor legalization increased by just 2 percentage points between 2010 and 2018.

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

Monday, April 01, 2019

Older Women Are the 3rd Biggest Game Players

On an average day, 11 percent of Americans aged 15 or older play games, according to the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This time use category includes not only computer and video games but also board and card games. Young men are most likely to play games on an average day, with 43 percent of men aged 15 to 19 and 29 percent of those aged 20 to 24 doing so. But look who is in third place...

Percent who play games on an average day (top five demographic segments)
43% of men aged 15 to 19
29% of men aged 20 to 24
17% of women aged 65 or older
15% of men aged 25 to 34
14% of women aged 20 to 24

Don't assume women aged 65 or older are playing only bridge or Bunco. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, a substantial 30 percent of women aged 50 or older say they sometimes/often play video games.

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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Median Household Income Falls Slightly

Median household income in February 2019 was $63,378, according to Sentier ResearchThis median is slightly less than the January 2019 record high, after adjusting for inflation. Behind the decline is February's 0.2 percent uptick in the Consumer Price Index. 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 February 2019 median was 1.9 percent higher than the February 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 15.0 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,134)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How's The American Dream Doing?

Every two years, when the results of the General Social Survey are released, we gain insight into the wellbeing of the American Dream—the promise that hard work and perseverance will lead to a rising standard of living. The GSS has been probing attitudes toward the American Dream since 1987 by asking the public whether it agrees or disagrees with the statement, "The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living."

The American Dream is doing better, according to the latest survey. In 2018, 65 percent of the public agreed with the statement, up from 58 percent in 2016 and just 55 percent in 2012. The percentage of Americans who feel that the American Dream is working for them hasn't been above 60 percent since 2006—just before the Great Recession.

"The way things are in America, people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living" (percent who agree)
2018: 65.3%
2016: 58.1%
2014: 59.4%
2012: 54.8% (low point)
2010: 58.0%
2008: 59.4%
2006: 69.8%

The economic recovery probably has a lot to do with the more optimistic attitude toward economic mobility in the United States. Nearly every demographic segment is feeling better, with especially large leaps between 2016 and 2018 for Boomers (agreement rising from 50 to 60 percent), non-Hispanic Whites (agreement rising from 53 to 65 percent), and residents of the South (agreement rising from 55 to 71 percent).

One demographic segment, however, is not feeling better about the American Dream. Only 55 percent of Blacks in 2018 agreed that they had a good chance of improving their standard of living, down from 63 percent who felt that way in 2016.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Global Warming: 51% Are Concerned Believers

The threat of global warming is making inroads into the consciousness of the American public. In the latest Gallup environmental survey, 51 percent of adults aged 18 or older are what Gallup calls Concerned Believers. Gallup defines this group as "highly worried about global warming, think it will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, believe it's the result of human activity, and think news reports about it are accurate or underestimate the problem." The 51 percent of 2019 is not statistically different from what Gallup has measured in each year since 2016, but it is significantly higher than the level recorded in the years prior to 2016, when it ranged from 33 to 39 percent.

Another 30 percent of Americans are what Gallup calls the Mixed Middle, and 20 percent are Cool Skeptics. The attitudes of Cool Skeptics are the opposite of Concerned Believers. Gallup describes them this way: "They worry little or not at all about global warming, do not think it will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, think it's attributable to natural environmental changes and think the news exaggerates the problem."

Those most likely to be Concerned Believers are women (55 percent), 18-to-29-year-olds (67 percent), college graduates (60 percent), nonwhites (60 percent), and Democrats (77 percent). Those most likely to be Cool Skeptics are men (25 percent), people aged 50 to 64 (26 percent), non-Hispanic Whites (27 percent), and Republicans (52 percent).

Source: Gallup, Americans as Concerned as Ever about Global Warming

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How Many Households Have Pets? Now We Know

Pets are a big deal to millions of Americans. The average household spends more on pets than it does on any other entertainment item (pet spending is categorized as entertainment by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey). Despite this importance, good data on pet ownership is hard to find. A January article in the Washington Post called the estimates of pet ownership "fuzzy statistics" because they are all over the place, ranging from a low of 49 percent of households (American Housing Survey) to a high of 68 percent of households (American Pet Products Association), according to the Post article.

Now we have a more precise estimate, thanks to the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey (GSS). The GSS has been conducted biennially since 1972, but not until 2018 did it ask about pet ownership. The finding: 61 percent of households own pets.

What makes this estimate more accurate than others? The GSS pet estimate is better than the American Housing Survey estimate because the GSS pet module was designed specifically to collect data on pet ownership, asking nearly a dozen questions about pets. In contrast, the American Housing Survey asked only a single question, the purpose of which was to provide information for emergency management—would you need assistance in evacuating or sheltering pets? Respondents could answer yes, no, or no pets. It's no surprise that the resulting estimate lowballed pet ownership in the United States.

The GSS estimate is better than the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimate because of the stellar methodology of the GSS. Starting with a full probability sample design, the GSS is conducted primarily through in-person interviews and has a response rate of more than 60 percent. In contrast, respondents to the APPA survey are recruited online, an "opt-in" methodology that is likely to oversample pet owners. That explains why the APPA data highballed pet ownership.

Back to the 61 percent. That's the great majority of households, folks. The GSS results show that 24 percent of households have one pet, and 36 percent have two or more...

Households by number of pets
No pets: 39%
1 pet: 24%
2 pets: 14%
3 or more pets: 22%

A substantial 46 percent of households have dogs and 25 percent have cats. A handful of households have birds (4 percent), fish (4 percent), small mammals such as gerbils (4 percent), reptiles (3 percent), and horses (1 percent).

When those living without pets are asked why they have resisted the call of the wild, the single most common reason is that they are too busy (36 percent). Another 20 percent say they simply aren't interested. Allergies or health risks are cited by 13 percent, and residential restrictions prevent 11 percent from becoming pet owners.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Monday, March 25, 2019

How Does the Public Feel about a Nonwhite Majority?

A shockingly large percentage of the American public does not look favorably on the day when Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities will outnumber non-Hispanic Whites—a threshold we may cross in 2045, according to Census Bureau projections. When asked whether a majority nonwhite population will strengthen or weaken American culture, 38 percent of the public says it will weaken American customs and values, according to a Pew Research Center survey of the public's attitudes toward a changing America.

It gets worse. When responses are broken down by race and Hispanic origin. Nearly half of Whites (46 percent) say a majority nonwhite population will weaken American culture. A smaller 18 percent of Blacks and 25 percent of Hispanics agree.

When asked whether having a majority nonwhite population by the year 2050 will be good or bad for the country, 23 percent of total adults say it will be bad. Some are more likely to feel this way than others. Twenty-eight percent of non-Hispanic Whites think it will be bad versus 13 percent of Blacks and 12 percent of Hispanics. Twenty-nine percent of people aged 65 or older say it will be bad versus 15 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds. Thirty-seven percent of Republicans don't like the idea versus 12 percent of Democrats.

The good news in these disturbing findings is that the percentage of Americans who think a majority nonwhite population will be good for the country is larger than the percentage who think it will be bad (35 versus 23 percent). And the percentage who say it will be neither good nor bad (42 percent) is even larger.

Source: Pew Research Center, Looking to the Future, Public Sees an America in Decline on Many Fronts

Friday, March 22, 2019

Shrinking Share of Older Women Live Alone

Nearly 15 percent of women aged 15 or older (14.6 percent) lived by themselves in 2018. This figure has been slowly rising for decades, mostly because of the aging of the population. Older adults are more likely than their younger counterparts to live alone, and as the population ages, lone living is becoming more common overall. But the opposite is true for older women. As death rates for the two biggest killers—heart disease and cancer—have fallen among men, widowhood (and lone living) is being delayed.

Among women aged 65 to 74, the percentage who live alone fell by 7 percentage points between 1990 and 2018—from 33 to 26 percent. Among women aged 75 or older, the decline was nearly 10 percentage points during those years...

Percent of women aged 75 or older who live alone
2018: 44.2
2010: 47.3
2000: 49.4
1990: 54.0

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Differences in Earnings of Husbands and Wives

How do husbands and wives compare in earnings? Not surprisingly, most husbands earn more. In 2018, the 54 percent majority of husbands earned at least $5,000 more than their wives...

Earnings difference between husbands and wives, 2018
54% of husbands earn at least $5,000 more than their wives
25% of husbands and wives earn within $4,999 of one another
20% of wives earn at least $5,000 more than their husbands

These figures have changed some since 2000. The percentage of husbands who earn at least $5,000 more than their wives fell from 59 percent in 2000 to the 54 percent of today. The percentage of wives who earn at least $5,000 more than their husbands grew from 15 percent in 2000 to the 20 percent of 2018. The 25 percent of husbands and wives who earn within $4,999 of one another in 2018 is almost identical to the 26 percent of 2000.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Families and Living Arrangements 2018

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

How Was Your Winter?

Colder than normal? Warmer than normal? It's hard to tell.

Gallup asked a nationally representative sample of Americans in early March whether the winter had been warmer or colder than usual. Then it compared their answers to the February 2019 temperature mean and the historic mean (based on 1900 to 2000 NOAA data). Here are the findings by region...
  • In the East: It was 4.4 degrees warmer than average in the East. But 34 percent of the region's residents told Gallup it was colder than usual. Another 42 percent said it was about the same. Only 22 percent reported it being warmer than usual.
  • In the Midwest: Midwesterners did better. The Midwest was 4.9 degrees colder than average, and 62 percent of residents reported that it was colder than usual. 
  • In the South: It was 3.6 degrees warmer than usual in the South, but only 32 percent of residents felt that way. The 43 percent plurality said it was about the same as usual and 23 percent said it was colder than usual.
  • In the West: It was cold in the West, with the average February temperature 6.1 degrees below normal. Western residents felt it, with 64 percent reporting a colder than usual winter. 
How good are we at noticing climate change? Gallup's results show that we get it right only about half the time.

Source: Gallup, More Attributing Colder and Warmer Weather to Climate Change than in Past

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Lost Men

The labor force participation rate of prime-age men (25 to 54) has declined over the past few decades. No one is sure why this has happened, although many have tried to explain it. A National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Ariel J. Binder and John Bound offers an intriguing theory.

First, some context. Most of the decline in men's labor force participation has occurred among men without a college degree. To determine why this is, Binder and Bound examined a number of factors such as a decline in wages for less-educated men, the availability of disability benefits, and the rise of mass incarceration. None of these factors alone is enough to explain the decline. So the researchers suggest that the disruption of the marriage market among less-educated men is also at work. "We claim that the prospect of forming and providing for a new family constitutes an important male labor supply incentive." This incentive has disappeared among less-educated men because "fewer men are actively involved in family provision or can expect to be involved in the future. This removes a labor supply incentive."

The researchers provide data that show just how elusive marriage has become for prime age men without a college degree. This is just one set of data points from their research...

Percent of white men aged 25 to 54 with a high school diploma and no further education who are currently married, 1970 and 2015

Currently married    2015    1970
Aged 25 to 34     38%     83%
Aged 35 to 44     58     90
Aged 45 to 54     61     89

The marriage rate among white men aged 25 to 34 with no more than a high school diploma has fallen by a stunning 45 percentage points since 1970. The decline is a steep 28 to 32 percentage points for those aged 35 to 54. While marriage rates have fallen for college-educated men as well, the decline has been much more modest, say the researchers.

Without the pressure to support a family, some men simply drop out of the labor force. How do they survive? A growing share of prime age men without a college degree survive by living with their parents. Here are some stats from the study...

Percent of white men aged 25 to 54 with a high school diploma and no further education who are living with their parents, 1970 and 2015

Live with parents    2015    1970
Aged 25 to 34     25%     10%
Aged 35 to 44     13       4
Aged 45 to 54       9       3

One in four white men aged 25 to 34 with no more than a high school diploma lives with his parents, as do roughly 1 in 10 of his older counterparts. "The possibility of drawing support from one's existing family...creates a feasible labor-force exit," conclude the researchers.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, The Declining Labor Market Prospects of Less-Educated Men, NBER Working Paper 25577 ($5)

Monday, March 18, 2019

Many College Students Do Not Earn a Degree

Most high school graduates enroll in college. Many take on student loans to pay for their education. But how successful are they in earning the credentials that will help them boost their earnings for a lifetime? A longitudinal study by the National Center for Education Statistics reveals the not-so-pretty picture.

Through its 2012/17 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, the NCES tracked first-time students who entered postsecondary institutions in 2011–12 to determine how many had earned an educational credential six years later in 2017. Here are the findings...

Highest educational credential attained by Spring 2017
  8.5% had earned a certificate
10.9% had earned an associate's degree
36.8% had earned a bachelor's degree
43.8% had no educational credential 
  
Among the 44 percent who had yet to earn an educational credential, 28 percent were still in school and 72 percent were no longer enrolled in any institution.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Age at which Americans Will Stop Driving

Most automobile owners in the United States do not plan on giving up driving—ever. Sixty-two percent of the nation's drivers say they will continue to drive for the rest of their life, according to an AARP survey...

"At what age do you think you will stop driving?"
Age 60 to 75: 12%
Aged 76-plus: 24%
Never stop driving: 62%
Refused to answer: 2%

Among drivers who say they will stop driving, the average age at which they will turn in their keys is 78 for both Millennials and Gen Xers. Boomers say they will stop driving at an average age of 82.

Source: AARP, Boomers Going the Distance: 2018 Consumer Insights on the Driving Experience

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dementia: the 3rd Leading Cause of Death?

Dementia is a major cause of death. We know that. The government's mortality reports show Alzheimer's disease to be the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2017, Alzheimer's disease killed 121,000 Americans.

But Alzheimer's disease accounts for only a portion of dementia deaths. A much larger 262,000 people died of dementia in 2017, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics. If all types of dementias were considered a single cause of death (as they are in some countries), then dementia would be the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.

The NCHS report provides a detailed look at dementia deaths by type. Alzheimer's disease is most common, accounting for 46 percent of dementia deaths in 2017. Vascular dementia deaths are another 6 percent, and other types or unspecified dementias account for the rest. Regardless of the type, all dementias have one thing in common—they are debilitating for the individual and devastating for the family. One table in the report reveals the debilitation and devastation: place of death. Most dementia deaths occur in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or hospice. In other words, most patients and families are unable to deal with the consequences of dementia on their own or at home. Among all deaths in the U.S., just 27 percent occur in a nursing home, long-term care facility, or hospice. Among dementia deaths, the figure is 60 percent.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, Dementia Mortality in the United States, 2000–2017

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Average Household Spending on Travel Tops $1,800

Americans are spending more on travel than ever before. The average household spent $1,852 on travel in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is 7 percent more than it spent in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. A 7 percent increase doesn't sound like much, but consider this: travel spending fell 15 percent between 2007 and 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Between 2010 and 2017, average household spending on travel grew 26 percent.

Average household spending on travel, 2007 to 2017 (in 2017 dollars)
2017: $1,852
2010: $1,468
2007: $1,735

The single biggest item in the average household's travel budget is lodging, which accounts for 27 percent of total travel spending. Airline fares are second at 24 percent of the budget, and restaurant meals (17 percent) are third. Together, these three items account for two-thirds of household spending on travel. The remaining one-third of the budget is accounted for by a range of items listed here in rank order: recreational expenses on trips, gasoline on trips, alcohol on trips, ship fares, groceries purchased while traveling, local transportation on trips, train fares, luggage, vehicle rentals, parking fees and tolls on trips, and intercity bus fares.

Between 2010 and 2017, average household spending increased on all but two travel budget items, after adjusting for inflation. Average household spending on gasoline fell 18 percent because of lower gas prices. Spending on vehicle rentals fell by a larger 30 percent because of competition from ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

One of the biggest gains in travel spending was experienced by the category "local transportation on trips," which includes spending on ride-sharing services. Between 2010 and 2017, average household spending on local transportation on trips climbed 45 percent, after adjusting for inflation. In 2010, the average household spent 52 percent more on rented vehicles than on local transportation when traveling. Ride-sharing has reversed this pattern. In 2017, the average household spent 36 percent more on local transportation than on rented vehicles when traveling.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Driving Alone to Work: Top and Bottom Metros

Most Americans drive alone to work, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Nationwide, the percentage of workers aged 16 or older who commute alone in an automobile stood at 76 percent in 2017. The figure varies by metropolitan area.

The five metros with the most lone drivers
The five metropolitan areas with the largest share of lone drivers are all in the South: Dothan, AL (89 percent); Wheeling, WV (89 percent); Owensboro, KY (88 percent); Huntsville, AL (88 percent); and Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL (88 percent). One reason for these above-average figures is a lack of public transportation. The percentage of workers in these metros who use public transportation to get to work ranges from 0.0 to 0.5 percent.

The five metros with the fewest lone drivers
All five metropolitan areas with the smallest share of lone drivers are in the Northeast or West: New York (50 percent); San Francisco (57 percent); Ithaca, NY (58 percent); Boulder, CO (64 percent); and Corvallis, OR (66 percent). In New York and San Francisco, the availability and popularity of public transportation is the biggest factor reducing the percentage of workers who drive alone. In the New York metro, 31 percent of workers commute on public transportation. In San Francisco, the figure is 17 percent. Among metropolitan areas, New York and San Francisco are the ones with the highest use of public transportation.

Driving to work alone is relatively low in the other three metropolitan areas for different reasons.

  • Ithaca, NY, distinguishes itself as the metropolitan area with the largest share of workers who walk to work—12.5 percent did so in 2017. Additionally, a relatively large 10 percent of Ithaca workers work at home. 
  • Boulder, CO, is the metropolitan area with the largest share of workers who work at home—13.6 percent. Also, Boulder ranks second among metropolitan areas in the percentage of workers who commute to work by bicycle (4.6 percent). 
  • Corvallis, OR, is the metropolitan area with the largest share of workers who bicycle to work—6.8 percent in 2017. Additionally, it has a relatively large share of workers who walk to work (7.6 percent) or who work at home (8.7 percent). 

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 American Community Survey

Monday, March 11, 2019

"No Religious Preference" Now and in Childhood

Only 9 percent of Americans were raised without a religious preference, according to the General Social Survey. But a substantial 22 percent now say they have no religious preference. In each generation, the percentage who currently have no religious preference is at least twice as large as the percentage who were raised without a religious preference...

Percent with no religious preference today (and in childhood)
iGeneration: 28% (11%)
Millennials: 32% (13%)
Gen Xers: 21% (10%)
Boomers: 15% (5%)
Older: 11% (3%)

Note: In 2016 the iGeneration was 18 to 21, Millennials were 22 to 39, Gen Xers were 40 to 51; Baby Boomers were 52 to 70, and older Americans were 71 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey

Friday, March 08, 2019

Baby Food Spending Plunges

The ongoing baby bust is being felt in at least one grocery store aisle. Average household spending on baby food fell 64 percent between 2007 (the year births peaked in the U.S.) and 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Average household spending on baby food (in 2017 dollars)
2017: $18.16
2010: $40.19
2007: $50.05

Beyond the decline in births, the other factor dragging down spending on baby food is the greater propensity of parents to make their own rather than relying on the store bought variety. That helps to explain why spending on baby food fell more than twice as much as spending on infants' clothes during the past decade. Between 2007 and 2017, average household spending on clothes for children under age 2 fell from $110 to $77, after adjusting for inflation—a 30 percent decline.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Slowdown Ahead for College Enrollment

The nation's colleges should prepare for slower growth, according to a new set of projections by the National Center for Education Statistics. Enrollment in post-secondary institutions grew 9 percent between 2007 and 2017. Between 2017 and 2027, the gain should be only 3 percent. Enrollment growth will slow in every age group and for both men and women.

Some enrollment declines are forecast as well. NCES projects enrollment by race and Hispanic origin only for U.S. residents and not for foreign students. Among U.S. residents enrolled in college, NCES projects a decline in non-Hispanic Whites and growth for Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics in the decade ahead...

Percent change in college enrollment of U.S. residents, 2017 to 2027
Asians: 8.7%
Blacks: 5.8%
Hispanics: 13.3%
Non-Hispanic Whites: –6.9%

By 2027, non-Hispanic Whites will account for 48 percent of the nation's college students, down from 53 percent in 2017.

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

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Characteristics of Nursing Home Residents

More than 1.3 million Americans lived in the nation's 15,600 nursing homes in 2015–16, according to the National Center for Health Statistics' National Study of Long-Term Care Providers. Despite the aging of the population, the nursing home population is shrinking. There were a larger 1.5 million nursing home residents in 2000 compared to the 1.3 million counted by the latest survey. Here are the characteristics of nursing home residents in 2015–16...
  • 65 percent are women
  • 84 percent are aged 65 or older, and 65 percent are aged 75 or older
  • 75 percent are non-Hispanic White, 14 percent Black, and just 5 percent Hispanic
  • 48 percent have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia
  • 60 percent need help eating, 87 percent need help transferring in and out of a chair or bed, 89 percent need help toileting, and more than 90 percent need help bathing, dressing, and walking
  • 62 percent are dependent on Medicaid to pay their nursing home costs
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, 2015–2016

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Highest Paying Occupation by Education, 2017

Want your children or grandchildren to make a lot of money? The Bureau of Labor Statistics has suggestions for them, depending on how long they want to stay in school. It has identified the occupations with the highest annual wage for each educational attainment category. Not only that, the BLS has projected the number of job openings for those occupations during the 2016 to 2026 time period.

Doctoral or professional degree: Anesthesiologist
Mean annual wage: $265,990
Job openings 2016–26: 1,400

Masters degree: Nurse anesthetist
Median annual wage: $165,120
Job openings 2016–26: 2,800

Bachelor's degree: Chief executive
Median annual wage: $183,270
Job openings 2016–26: 20,000

Associate's degree: Air traffic controller
Median annual wage: $124,540
Job openings 2016–26: 2,400

Postsecondary nondegree award: Electricial repairer, powerhouse, substation, and relay
Median annual wage: $78,140
Job openings 2016–26: 2,100

High school diploma: Nuclear power reactor operator
Median annual wage: $93,370
Job openings 2016–26: 500

No formal educational credential: Mine shuttle car operator
Median annual wage: $56,890
Job openings 2016–26: 100

Note that many of these occupations do not have a lot of openings projected for the decade ahead. Not to worry. The BLS has alternatives. Here are the occupations near (but not at) the top of the pay scale in each educational attainment category that will have the most job openings in the decade ahead, from highest educational attainment to lowest: family practitioner (5,600 openings, $208,560); physician assistant (10,600 openings, $104,860); financial manager (56,900 openings, $125,080); dental hygienist (17,500 openings, $74,070); aircraft mechanic and service technician (10,900 openings, $61,020); detective (7,500 openings, $79,970); service unit operator, oil, gas, and mining (6,400 openings, $48,290).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, High-Wage Occupations by Typical Entry-Level Education, 2017

Monday, March 04, 2019

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2018

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, fourth quarter 2018: 58.9%

After a month's delay because of the government shutdown, the Census Bureau has released the 4th quarter 2018 homeownership statistics. They show an uptick in the homeownership rate of younger adults. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds—the nation's first-time home buyers—increased in the fourth quarter of 2018, rising above 58 percent for the first time since 2011. Post Great Recession, the homeownership rate of the age group dipped as low as 54.6 percent in 2015. It peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. Clearly, there is an upward trend in the homeownership rate of this age group, likely due to the full-employment economy.  

What about their younger counterparts, householders aged 30 to 34, who were once the nation's first-time home buyers? Their homeownership rate rose to 48.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from 47.1 percent a year earlier. Before the Great Recession, 30-to-34-year-olds were the nation's first-time home buyers (defined as the age group in which the homeownership rate first surpasses 50 percent). But their rate fell below 50 percent in 2011 and has been stuck there ever since. With the recent gains, 30-to-34-year-olds may be on their way to reclaiming first-time homebuyer status.


Nationally, the homeownership rate was 64.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from 64.2 percent one year earlier. The difference is not statistically significant.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Friday, March 01, 2019

Median Household Income Rises in January 2019

Median household income continues to rise, according to Sentier Research, climbing to $63,688 in January 2019. This was 4.6 percent higher than the January 2000 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was the highest median yet measured by Sentier's household income series, which began in January 2000. 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 January 2019 median was 3.0 percent higher than the January 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 15.7 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,038)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in January 2019 was 104.6 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: January 2019

Thursday, February 28, 2019

You Don't Want to Belong To This 1%

The average American incurred $5,006 in medical expenses in 2016, according to the federal government's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. But an unlucky few spent much more than average. Just 5 percent of the population accounted for half of all medical spending in 2016. Here is the average health care spending incurred per person in 2016 at selected percentiles of spending...

Average spending per person by percentile of health care spending, 2016
Top 1 percent of spending: $110,003
Top 5 percent of spending: $50,077
Top 10 percent of spending: $33,053
Top 50 percent of spending: $9,735
Bottom 50 percent of spending: $276

Not surprisingly, people aged 65 or older were the largest share (43 percent) of those in the top 1 percent of medical spending, and 45-to-64-year-olds accounted for another 34 percent.

Medicare was a big source of payment for those in the top 1 percent, covering 36 percent of their health care costs. Private insurance paid another 37 percent of their costs. The top 1 percent paid 5.5 percent of its health care bills out-of-pocket.

Source: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Concentration of Health Expenditures and Selected Characteristics of High Spenders, U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2016

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

More Evidence of Census Concerns

The public is feeling uneasy about the 2020 census. A Census Bureau survey of attitudes toward the 2020 census found only 68 percent of the public reporting that they would be very or extremely likely to answer the census. This figure is considerably smaller than the 86 percent who felt that way in a survey prior to the 2010 census. And that's not all. A recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)/Atlantic survey probed the public's attitude toward the census with two questions—one about whether the census would be used to check people's immigration status and the other about how the potential citizenship question would affect the census count. The public's answers raise alarm bells.

Question 1: "Do you think the government will use...Census records to check on an individual's immigration status, or do you think this information will only be used for counting the population?"

39% said they don't know how census records will be used
33% said census records would be used to check immigration status
just 26% said census records would be used only to count the population

Question 2: "For the first time, the 2020 Census may include a new question that asks individuals if they are legal citizen of the United States. In your opinion, how likely do you think it is that the Census will NOT get an accurate count because some people will be worried about answering this question?"

53% said it would be very likely that the census would not be accurate
23% said it would be somewhat likely the census would not be accurate
11% said they didn't know how it would affect the count
only 10% said it was somewhat/very unlikely that the census count would not be accurate

Interestingly, Republicans and Democrats are in agreement about the harm of a citizenship question —81 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Democrats believe it is somewhat/very likely to result in an inaccurate count. Let's hope the Supreme Court has the same concern when it hears arguments about the citizenship question later this year.

Source: PRRI/The Atlantic 2018 Pluralism Survey, American Democracy in Crisis: The Fate of Pluralism in a Divided Nation

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Feelings of Discrimination Linked to Income

Feelings of perceived discrimination are linked to income for both whites and blacks, according to an analysis of survey data by Ana HernÃ¥ndez Kent of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Examining data from two surveys—the American Identity and Representation Survey (Resource Center for Minority Data) and the Americans' Changing Lives survey (National Institute on Aging), Kent compared the household incomes of whites and blacks after controlling for feelings of racial discrimination. While her analysis confirmed the fact that whites typically have higher household incomes than blacks, the within-race income comparisons offered some surprises...
  • Whites who thought they had been discriminated against because of their race had a lower household income than whites who did not feel discriminated against, according to the results of the American Identity Survey. In fact, the "whites who did feel they were discriminated against had a median range of household income equivalent to the typical black who also felt discrimination," reports Kent. But the second survey—Changing Lives—showed no difference in the household incomes of whites based on perceived discrimination.
  • The black pattern was different. "The pattern of results for blacks in both surveys turned these findings on their head," says Kent. "Blacks who felt they were discriminated against because of their race actually had higher median incomes than blacks who didn't feel racial bias."
"Looking at only blacks, felt discrimination appears to be related to improved financial outcomes," Kent concludes.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Perceived Bias and Income Patterns Differ by Race

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bored Teenagers

What is the single most commonly shared feeling among today's teens? Boredom, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Fully 40 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 say they feel bored every day or almost every day. Another 44 percent say they feel bored "sometimes." Boredom is far more common among teens than feeling tense or nervous, with a smaller 29 percent of teens saying they feel tense or nervous every day or almost every day.

When teens are asked about the personal pressures they face, the biggest by far is pressure to get good grades. The 61 percent majority of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to do well in school. Few teens feel pressure to be sexually active, drink alcohol, or use drugs. In fact, most teens say they feel no pressure at all to engage in those activities.

Percent of teens who feel "a lot" of pressure
61% to get good grades
29% to look good
28% to fit in socially
21% to be involved in extracurricular activities
13% to help family financially
8% to participation in religious activities
8% to be sexually active
6% to drink alcohol
4% to use drugs

Source: Pew Research Center, Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem among Their Peers

Friday, February 22, 2019

42% of New Mothers Have a Bachelor's Degree

More than 40 percent of women who gave birth in 2017 had a bachelor's degree or more education, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 41.7 percent of of new mothers with at least a bachelor's degree in 2017 is nearly twice the 22.8 percent of 1997.

The percentage of new mothers with a bachelor's degree or more education varies by race and Hispanic origin...

Percentage of new mothers with at least a bachelor's degree, 2017
67.9% of Asians
51.3% of non-Hispanic Whites
24.6% of Blacks
18.9% of Hispanics
13.2% of Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders
12.7% of American Indians, Alaska Natives

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Educational Attainment of Mothers Aged 25 and Over: United States, 2017

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Most Whites Do Not Perceive Local Discrimination

When Americans are asked whether Blacks in their community are treated less fairly than Whites, attitudes are strikingly different depending on whether the respondent is Black or White, according to a Gallup survey. The majority of Blacks think Blacks are treated less fairly than Whites in a variety of local situations. Few Whites agree or perhaps are unaware of local problems. Here are the percentages who Blacks and Whites who think Blacks are treated less fairly than Whites in their community by type of situation...

Dealing with police, such as traffic incidents
Blacks: 77%
Whites: 45%

On the job or at work
Blacks: 60%
Whites: 22%

In stores downtown or the shopping mall
Blacks: 59%
Whites: 25%

In restaurants, bars, theaters or other entertainment places
Blacks: 50%
Whites: 22%

In getting healthcare from doctors and hospitals
Blacks: 49%
Whites: 17%

In neighborhood shops
Blacks: 48%
Whites: 22%

Source: Gallup, Americans Less Satisfied with Treatment of Minority Groups

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

32% of Americans Are Financially Insecure

Despite the robust job market, many Americans are financially insecure—a substantial 32 percent of the nation's adults in 2017, according to the Urban Institute. This estimate comes from the The Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, a new effort by the Urban Institute to measure financial insecurity.

The Urban Institute classified survey respondents as financially insecure if they had experienced at least one of three things in the past 12 months: 1) they were not sure they could come up with $400 for an unexpected expense; 2) they had missed a credit card or nonmortgage loan payment; and/or 3) they had been contacted by a debt collector. Fully 32 percent of adults were found to be financially insecure—22 percent were not confident they could come up with $400 for an unexpected expense, 14 percent had been contacted by debt collector; and 13 percent missed a loan payment. Here are some of the demographics of financial insecurity...
  • Financial insecurity does not vary much by age, with 27 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds, 34 percent of 35-to-49-year-olds, and 36 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds financially insecure. 
  • Race has more of an impact on financial insecurity, with Blacks most likely to be insecure (52 percent), followed by Hispanics (40 percent), and non-Hispanic Whites (27 percent). 
  • Education matters even more than race. Fully 51 percent of people with less than a high school education and 38 percent of those with a high school diploma/some college were financially insecure. Among college graduates, the figure was a much smaller 17 percent. 
  • Income matters a bit more than education. Among people with household incomes below poverty level, 58 percent were financially insecure. Among those with household incomes above 400 percent of poverty level, the figure was 14 percent. 
Despite the improving economy of 2017, concludes the Urban Institute, "many Americans are facing financial distress and struggle to keep up with their bills and cover unexpected expenses."

Source: Urban Institute, Financial Distress among American Families: Evidence from the Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Occupations that Grew Faster than Projected, 2006–16

In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that occupational employment would grow 10.4 percent by 2016. Boy, were they wrong. The actual growth during those years was just 3.6 percent, thanks to the Great Recession. When the BLS produces labor force projections, it assumes full employment. Employment was anything but full during and in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

But the BLS got a lot of things right. It correctly projected which occupations would grow or decline 75 percent of the time, according to its Occupational Projections Evaluations. (Yes, the BLS periodically evaluates its own projections for accuracy.) It projected which occupations would grow faster than the economy as a whole 54 percent of the time.

The Bureau projected especially rapid growth in the 2006 to 2016 time period for a number of occupations that ended up growing even faster than forecast—despite the ravages of the Great Recession. Here are some of those occupations, along with their actual and projected growth from 2006 to 2016...

Computer software engineers, applications
Actual growth: 64%
Projected growth: 45%

Mental health counselors
Actual growth: 58%
Projected growth: 30%

Personal financial advisors
Actual growth: 54%
Projected growth: 41%

Veterinary technologists/technicians
Actual growth: 43%
Projected growth: 41%

Pharmacy technicians
Actual growth: 41%
Projected growth: 32%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The 2006–16 Projections: How Did Fast-Growing Occupations Fare?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Millennials: The College Divide

A lot has been written about the struggles of Millennials. The generation had the misfortune to enter the job market in the midst of the Great Recession, an economic setback that has been throwing shade on them for more than a decade. But some in the generation are doing better than others, according to a Pew Research Center analysis that compares the wellbeing of Millennials to that of older generations at the same age (the 25-to-37 age group was used for the analysis). The dividing line between Millennial Haves and Have Nots is the bachelor's degree. Millennials with a bachelor's degree are doing as well or better than Gen Xers, Boomers, or older Americans (the Silent Generation) at the same age. Millennials without a bachelor's degree are doing worse.

Among Millennials who work full-time, those with at least a bachelor's degree earned a median of $56,000 in 2017, according to Pew. This was about the same as college-educated Gen Xers earned when they were aged 25 to 37, and it was more than college-educated Boomers or older Americans earned as young adults. The opposite is true for Millennials without a college degree. Those with only some college earned a median of $36,000 in 2017, less than their older counterparts at the same age. Millennials with no more than a high school diploma earned just $31,300 in 2017, also less than equally-educated Gen Xers, Boomers, or the Silent Generation when they were young adults.

The rising fortunes of Millennial college graduates and the declining fortunes of Millennials without a college degree have resulted in a growing gap in the median household income of young adults by educational attainment. Millennials with at least a bachelor's degree had an (adjusted for household size) median household income of $105,000 in 2017 versus $49,000 for those with no more than a high school diploma—a gap of $56,000. The gap was $54,000 for Gen Xers at the same age, $41,000 for Late Boomers, $29,000 for Early Boomers, and just $20,000 for the Silent Generation.

Source: Pew Research Center, Millennial Life: How Young Adulthood Today Compares with Prior Generations

Friday, February 15, 2019

Everyday Newspaper Readers Are Disappearing

Only 20 percent of Americans aged 16 or older say they read the newspaper every day, according to the 2016 General Social Survey. This figure is likely even lower today. In 2000, more than one-third (37 percent) of the public read the newspaper every day. In 1990, more than half (53 percent) were daily newspaper readers. Here is the percentage of Americans by generation who were daily newspaper readers in 2016...

Read a newspaper every day
Millennials: 10%
Gen Xers: 15%
Boomers: 30%
Older: 38%

A substantial 48 percent of Millennials, 39 percent of Gen Xers, 28 percent of Boomers, and 22 percent of older Americans say they never read the newspaper.

Note: In 2016, Millennials were aged 22 to 39; Generation Xers were aged 40 to 51; Baby Boomers were aged 52 to 70; older Americans were aged 71 or older.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Giving Money Away in 2016

Forty-eight percent of American households gave money to persons or organizations outside the household in 2016, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics' analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Among those who did, the average amount given was $4,298. Here is the percentage of households that gave money away during the year by type of recipient (and average amount given by donors)...

25.16% gave money to churches/religious organizations ($2,970)
16.54% gave cash gifts to family/friends outside the household ($2,391)
16.11% gave money to charitable organizations ($2,462)
  3.15% paid child support ($7,142)
  2.84% gave money to support students in college ($3,580)
  2.30% gave money to political organizations ($837)
  2.26% gave money to educational institutions ($2,716)
  0.46% paid alimony ($20,754)
  0.15% gave gifts of stocks/bonds/mutual funds to family/friends ($25,717)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Relationship between Cash Contributions, Pretax Income, and Age

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

37% Retire Earlier than Planned

A substantial 37 percent of Americans retire before their planned retirement age, according to the Center for Retirement Research. The Center's researchers came to this conclusion after examining longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study for the years 1992 to 2012 to determine how many older Americans ended up retiring before their planned retirement age—one of the questions asked by the survey. The older the age at which people plan to retire, the more likely they are to retire before they planned...

Percent retiring earlier than planned
20% of those who planned to retire at age 61 or younger
26% of those who planned to retire at age 62
38% of those who planned to retire at ages 63 or 64
42% of those who planned to retire at age 65
55% of those who planned to retire at age 66 or older

What accounts for all these early retirements? Of the four factors considered by the researchers (health, employment, family, and financial), the most important is health. Absent health problems or a change in health status, the percentage who retire earlier than planned would drop from 37 to 32 percent, the researchers report. That's not much of a decline. In fact, the four factors considered by the researchers can explain only one-quarter of early retirements. What accounts for the rest? Perhaps "soft" factors, say the researchers, "like the lure of leisure time."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Retiring Earlier than Planned: What Matters Most?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

19% Have Experienced Identity Theft

Millions of Americans have been the victims of identity theft, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly one in five (19.4 percent) people aged 16 or older has been a victim at least once in his or her lifetime, and 10 percent have been a victim in the past year. These findings come from the 2016 Identity Theft Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Identity theft is not only common, but affects a growing share of the population. The 10 percent who were victims in 2016 is greater than the 7 percent measured in 2014. The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines identity theft as "fraud that is committed or attempted using a person's identifying information without authority." The three types of identity theft are the misuse of an existing credit card, bank, or other account; the opening of a new account in a person's name; and the misuse of personal information for fraudulent purposes—such as to get medical care.

The most common type of identity theft is misuse of an existing credit card account. In 2016, a substantial 4.3 percent of Americans aged 16 or older—or 11 million people—were the victims of credit card fraud. How did the victims discover the identity theft? Most were alerted to suspicious activity by a financial institution, the Bureau of Justice Statistics' reports. Only 7 percent of victims reported their identity theft to police, while 88 percent reported it to a credit card company or bank.

Actions taken by identity theft victims in the past 12 months
75.6% checked bank or credit statements
67.5% shredded documents with personal information
44.3% checked their credit report
36.8% changed passwords on financial accounts
16.2% used an identity-theft security program on a computer
11.7% purchased identity-theft insurance or credit monitoring service
4.7% purchased identity-theft protection

While the above list makes it look as though identity theft victims have learned their lesson and are getting serious about protecting their personal information, in fact the percentages who undertake these security enhancing activities are about the same for identity theft victims as they are for nonvictims.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Victims of Identity Theft, 2016

Monday, February 11, 2019

E-Cigarette Use: Young Adults by State, 2017

Young adults are the biggest users of e-cigarettes but their use varies by state, according to the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Here are the five states in 2017 with the largest percentages of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes...

States with largest percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes
1. Oklahoma: 15.4%
2. Wyoming: 15.2%
3. Arkansas: 14.7%
4. Tennessee: 14.5%
5. Missouri: 13.9%

Maryland had the smallest percentage of 18-to-24-year-olds who use e-cigarettes, with only 5.4 percent doing so in 2017. Vermont (6.1 percent) and California (6.4 percent) followed.

Source: CDC, BRFSS Prevalence and Trends Data

Friday, February 08, 2019

Median Household Income Stable in December 2018

Median household income in December 2018 was stable at $63,517, according to Sentier Research. This was not significantly different from the November 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. The December 2018 median was 2.7 percent higher than the December 2017 median. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis. 

Median household income in December was 15.4 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,051)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index in December 2018 was 104.3 (January 2000 = 100.0). To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2018

Thursday, February 07, 2019

More People Aged 65-Plus Are at Work

Two decades ago, the percentage of older men and women in the labor force was negligible. Marketers could safely ignore them and target only retirees in their messages to the 65-plus age group. Not so anymore. More than one-third of men aged 65 to 69 and one-fourth of those aged 70 to 74 are still working. More than one in four women aged 65 to 69 has a job...

Labor force participation rate of people aged 65-or-older, 1998 and 2018
      2018     1998
Men
Aged 65 or older      24.0%     16.5%
  Aged 65 to 69      37.6     28.0
  Aged 70 to 74      23.8     16.5
  Aged 75 or older      11.9       7.5
Women
Age 65 or older     15.9%       8.6%
  Aged 65 to 69     28.9     17.8
  Aged 70 to 74     15.8       9.3
  Aged 75 or older       6.4       2.9

Between 1998 and 2018, the number of workers aged 65 or older more than doubled (up 161 percent) because of the double whammy of rising labor force participation rates and the aging of the baby-boom generation. These increases will continue, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor force participation rate of men aged 65 or older is projected to rise to 25.9 percent by 2026, and women's rate should climb to 18.3 percent. The number of workers aged 65 or older will expand by another 46 percent between 2018 and 2026.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

The 6 Most Commonly Purchased Groceries

During an average week, nearly every household spends money on groceries. But shopping carts are disproportionately filled with only a handful of items. These are the 6 items purchased by at least one-third of households during the average week of 2017...

Percent of households buying item in an average week
1. Fresh fruit: 56%
2. Fresh vegetables: 56%
3. Milk: 47%
4. Bread: 44%
5. Cheese: 39%
6. Prepared food from the supermarket deli: 38%

Bananas are the most frequently purchased fruit (34 percent). Tomatoes are the most frequently purchased vegetable (22 percent). During an average week, nonwhite bread is added to more shopping carts (40 percent) than white bread (35 percent).

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Only 5.0% of Workers Have More than One Job

Really? If we are to believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects monthly employment figures through the Current Population Survey, then only 5.0 percent of workers had two or more jobs during an average week of 2018. But there is growing evidence that this number is way too low.

A National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger raises serious doubts about the 5.0 percent figure. Not only do Katz and Krueger think the number is too low, they are also skeptical of Current Population Survey data that show a decline in multiple job holding over the years—from a peak of 6.2 percent in 1996 to the 5.0 percent of today. So they designed an experiment to test the accuracy of the CPS's multiple jobs question.

Using a sample of Amazon Mechanical Turk participants, many of whom are multiple job holders, Katz and Kreuger asked their sample the standard Current Population Survey question about multiple jobs ("Last week did you have more than one job or business, including part time, evening or weekend work?") to see how many said yes. They also probed the sample about any additional work they did in the past week ("Did you work on any other... small paid jobs last week that you did not include in your response to the previous question?")

Among those who reported having only one job on the CPS question, fully 61 percent said they had failed to report another small job they had done in the reference week. Among those who reported having multiple jobs on the CPS question, an additional 38 percent reported having even more work than was captured by the CPS.

"The MTurk sample is highly non-representative," the authors note, "but this survey experiment demonstrates that the standard multiple job holding question in the basic monthly CPS is susceptible to underreporting." Interestingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics agrees. While the BLS disputes the notion that its surveys have missed the rise of the gig economy, it admits that the CPS may undercount multiple job holders. For more on this, see the Monthly Labor Review article, Measuring Labor Market Activity Today: Are the Words Work and Job too Limiting for Surveys?

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Understanding Trends in Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, Working Paper 25425 ($5)

Monday, February 04, 2019

State-to-State Student Migration

Among high school graduates who enroll in a four-year institution within 12 months of receiving their high school diploma, most enroll in a school in their home state. Fully 74 percent of students choose an in-state school, according to 2016 data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. But the rate ranges from lows of 39 percent in New Hampshire and 42 percent in Connecticut to highs of 89 percent in West Virginia and 90 percent in Utah.

The net migration of first-year four-year college students also varies greatly by state. Most states gain from student migration, but 13 states lose more students to other states than they attract to their schools. Here are the five states with the biggest net migration streams, both positive and negative...

States with the biggest net gain of first-year college students
Pennsylvania: 15,525
Indiana: 9,656
Alabama: 8,532
Arizona: 7,361
Iowa: 7,358

States with the biggest net loss of first-year college students
New Jersey: –27,262
Illinois: –19,171
California: –14,164
Texas: –12,059
Maryland: –8,564

Other states that lose more first-year four-year college students than they gain are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, and Wyoming.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics 2017

Friday, February 01, 2019

Homicides at the Nation's Schools

Hundreds of children have been murdered while at school over the past few decades, according to a grim study by the CDC. Nearly 400 children (393) were murdered in single-death incidents while at school from 1994 to 2016. Another 121 children were murdered in multiple-death incidents from 1994 to 2018. There are differences in these two types of crimes, according to the study findings...

Sex of victims and perpetrators: The victims in single-death incidents were mostly male (77 percent), while the victims in multiple-death incidents were evenly split between males and females. Males were the great majority of perpetrators in both types of incidents, with the proportion reaching as high as 98 percent in multiple-death incidents.

Race of victims: Blacks were a much larger share of victims in single-death (53 percent) than multiple-death incidents (12 percent). Non-Hispanic Whites were a much larger share of victims in multiple-death incidents (69 percent) than single-death incidents (23 percent).

Age of victims: Fully 78 percent of victims in single-death incidents were aged 15 to 18, another 19 percent were aged 10 to 14, and 3 percent were aged 5 to 9. In multiple-death incidents, a smaller 54 percent of victims were in the 15-to-18 age group, 23 percent were aged 10 to 14, and 23 percent were aged 5 to 9.

Cause of death: Firearms were the cause of death in 63 percent of single-death incidents. Stabbing accounted for another 24 percent. In multiple-death incidents, fully 95 percent of deaths were caused by firearms.

Source: CDC, Characteristics of School-Associated Youth Homicides—United States, 1994–2018

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Online vs Paper 2020 Census Response

The 2020 census, for the first time, will allow the public to respond online rather than fill out a paper form. According to a 2018 Census Bureau survey of attitudes toward the census, most Americans would prefer to respond to the census online or don't care whether the form is online or paper. Overall, 40 percent would prefer online to paper, 28 percent do not have a preference, and 32 percent would prefer paper. Young adults and Asians are two of the groups who would most prefer to answer the census online...

More than half of young adults would prefer the online option: Among people aged 18 to 34, a substantial 56 percent would prefer to fill out the census online, as would 54 percent of those aged 35 to 44. The preference for an online form falls to 39 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds and to just 19 percent among people aged 65 or older. Fully 56 percent of the oldest age group would prefer a paper form.

Most Asians would prefer the online option: The 59 percent majority of Asians would prefer an online form, with only 20 percent expressing a preference for paper. Blacks are least likely to prefer the online option (29 percent) and most likely to prefer paper (44 percent).

Having the option to answer the 2020 census online may boost census response rates, helping communities better attract the government funding they are due because of a more complete count of residents. Those who would most prefer an online form—young adults and Asians—are also the demographic segments least enthusiastic about the census. Just 54 percent of young adults and 55 percent of Asians report being "very" or "extremely" likely to fill out a census form. This compares with a larger 67 percent of all adults, 69 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, and 73 percent of people aged 65 or older.

Source: Census Bureau, 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Final Survey Report