Friday, June 28, 2019

How Many Americans Are Gay?

According to the American public, fully 23.6 percent of the U.S. population—nearly one in four adults—is gay, lesbian, or bisexual. That's what a Gallup survey finds. This guesstimate by the public is far larger than what Americans report when they are asked about their sexual orientation.

When Gallup asked about sexual orientation in 2017, only 4.5 percent of adults identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. When the General Social Survey asked about sexual orientation in 2018, only 5.0 percent identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

But many Americans are hesitant to identify themselves as LGBTQ—especially older people. So a more accurate measure of the gay, lesbian, or bisexual population is likely to be found in the responses of younger adults—Millennials. According to the 2017 Gallup survey, 8.2 percent of Millennials identify themselves as LGBTQ versus only 2.4 percent of Baby Boomers. According to the 2018 General Social Survey, 8.9 percent of Millennials identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual versus 1.6 percent of Boomers.

Even among Millennials, however, the percentage who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual has been rising as the public's acceptance of the LGBTQ population has grown. Only 5.8 percent of Millennials identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in 2012, reports Gallup, well below the 8.2 percent of 2017. So, it's likely that the LGBTQ population is even larger than the responses of young adults suggest. But it's unlikely to be as high as the public's guesstimate of 23.6 percent of Americans.

Source: Gallup, Americans Still Greatly Overestimate U.S. Gay Population

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fewer Are Reading Because of Smartphones and TV

Reading for personal interest continues to decline as a leisure activity. The percentage of Americans who read on an average day fell from 24.9 percent in 2007 (prior to the Great Recession and before smartphones became a thing) to just 17.5 percent in 2018. During those years, the number of people who read for personal interest on an average day fell from 57 million to 46 million—a loss of more than 10 million daily participants despite a growing U.S. population.

Percent reading for personal interest on an average day, 2018 (and 2007)
Aged 15 to 19:   8.3% (  9.4%)
Aged 20 to 24:   6.9% (  9.0%)
Aged 25 to 34:   8.4% (13.3%)
Aged 35 to 44: 13.3% (18.6%)
Aged 45 to 54: 13.6% (27.5%)
Aged 55 to 64: 21.4% (35.4%)
Aged 65-plus:  36.9% (50.3%)

While the lure of the smartphone screen and video gaming are the probable reasons for the reading decline among younger adults, television is the likely culprit among people aged 65 or older. The amount of time people aged 65-plus watch television on an average day grew from 3.98 to 4.51 hours between 2007 and 2018.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 American Time Use Survey

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Suicide Rate Continues to Rise

The suicide rate in the United States continues to rise. A recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics examines the increase by sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin. The results are disturbing and a sign that something is very wrong.

The age-adjusted suicide rate climbed 33 percent between 1999 and 2017— from 10.5 to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 standard population. (To compare deaths over time, statisticians age-adjust the rates so that results are not affected by changes in the age structure of the population.) The 33 percent increase is bad, but it is dwarfed by even larger increases in some age groups...

  • The age-adjusted male suicide rate rose 26 percent between 1999 and 2017. The rate increased significantly in all but the oldest age group (75-plus). The biggest increases in the rate occurred among 10-to-14-year-olds (up 74 percent) and 45-to-64-year-olds (up 45 percent). 
  • The age-adjusted female suicide rate grew by 53 percent between 1999 and 2017, although females remain far less likely than males to commit suicide. In 2017, the age-adjusted female suicide rate was 6.1 deaths per 100,000 population versus the 22.4 deaths for males. The suicide rate among females increased significantly in all but the oldest age group (75-plus). Between 1999 and 2017, the biggest increases in the female suicide rate occurred in the 10-to-14 (up 240 percent) and 15-to-24 (up 93 percent) age groups.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 8th leading cause of death among males. By race and Hispanic origin, the suicide rate for both males and females is highest among American Indians and non-Hispanic Whites.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Suicide Rates for Females and Males by Race and Ethnicity: United States, 1999 and 2017

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Non-Hispanic Whites: 60% of Total Population in 2018

For the second year in a row, the non-Hispanic White population fell slightly, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates for 2018. The number of non-Hispanic Whites peaked in 2016, fell by 95,000 between 2016 and 2017 and by another 152,000 between 2017 and 2018.

Among non-Hispanic Whites, every age group under age 25 lost population between 2016 and 2018, with the biggest decline (3.3 percent) occurring among 20-to-24-year-olds. Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for the 60 percent majority of the total U.S. population in 2018. The share will fall below 50 percent in 2045, according to Census Bureau projections.

Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2018 (numbers in millions)
Total: 327.2 (100.0%)
Asian: 22.6 (6.9%)
Black: 47.8 (14.6%)
Hispanic: 59.9 (18.3%)
Non-Hispanic White: 197.5 (60.4%)

Note: Asians and Blacks are those who identify themselves as being of the race alone or in combination with other races. Hispanics may be of any race. Not all races are shown.

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

Who Finds It Hard to Make Ends Meet?

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

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

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

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Friday, June 21, 2019

Friends Across Generations

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

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

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

Source: AARP,  The Positive Impact of Intergenerational Friendships

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Unauthorized Immigrant Population Peaked in 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Only 24% Meet Physical Activity Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

81% of Americans Own a Smartphone

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

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

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

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

Source: Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Risks of Rabies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

60% of Men Have Biological Children

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Financial Hardships of Cancer

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Is Gen X Prepared for Retirement?

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The 10 States at Highest Risk of an Undercount

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

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

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

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

Source: Urban Institute, Assessing Miscounts in the 2020 Census

Monday, June 10, 2019

Big Changes in Attitudes toward LGBT Issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 07, 2019

Is College Still Worth the Cost?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 06, 2019

50% of Women Aged 15 to 44 Are Childless

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Who Lives with Their Parents and Why

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Landline Phone Spending by Generation, 2017

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

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

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

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Monday, June 03, 2019

Median Household Income Rises Slightly in April

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

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

Sentier's Household Income Index for April 2019 was 103.9 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the April 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 3.9 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. "Not an impressive performance by any means," says Green. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: April 2019