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
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