Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Hispanic Paradox Grows

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Marijuana Almost as Popular as Cigarettes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 29, 2019

Online "Almost Constantly" Continues to Rise

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 26, 2019

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2019

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

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

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


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

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Most Smokers Want (and Have Tried) to Quit

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Median Sales Price of New Homes Slips

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

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

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

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Housing

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Bad Guys with Guns

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 22, 2019

Many Teens Are Trying to Lose Weight

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Big Increase in Deaths due to Unintentional Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

College Graduates One Year Later

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

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Why Are So Many Households Financially Fragile?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 15, 2019

Let's Send an Astronaut to Mars!

Democrats and Republicans agree about one thing—Americans of both political persuasions want to see an astronaut go to Mars. The 55 percent majority of both Democrats and Republicans are in favor of the United States spending money to send an astronaut to the Red Planet. By age, support for sending an astronaut to Mars does not vary all that much either...

Percent who support sending an astronaut to Mars
Total adults: 53%
Aged 18 to 29: 65%
Aged 30 to 49: 54%
Aged 50 to 64: 48%
Aged 65-plus: 46%

The public's support for sending an astronaut to Mars has been growing. Among total adults, only 43 percent favored it in 1999, 10 percentage points below the level of 2019. During those years, the biggest increase in support occurred among Americans aged 65 or older. Only 21 percent of older Americans wanted to spend money to send an astronaut to Mars in 1999. Perhaps because boomers have been filling the 65-plus age group, support has grown to the 46 percent of today.

Source: Gallup, For First Time, Majority in U.S. Backs Human Mission to Mars

Friday, July 12, 2019

U.S. Is Biggest Net Importer of Cuisines

American culture may dominate movies and music around the world, but it does not dominate restaurant cuisines, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study.

University of Minnesota economist Joe Waldfogel uses TripAdvisor data on 148 restaurant cuisines and Euromonitor data on restaurant expenditures in at least the top 60 cities of 52 countries. After analyzing this voluminous data, Waldfogel's principal finding is that the U.S. is the world's largest net importer of cuisines, with a deficit of $130 billion in 2017, excluding fast food. When fast food is included, the deficit falls to $55 billion, but the U.S. remains the biggest net importer of cuisines. Italy and Japan are the largest net exporters of their cuisines, followed by Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, and France.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Dining Out as Cultural Trade, NBER Working Paper 26020 ($5)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Single-Person Households Will Grow the Most

During the decade ahead, single-person households are projected to increase more than any other type, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The number of single-person households will expand by nearly 5 million between 2018 and 2028—a 13 percent increase. This compares with a 10 percent rise in the total number of households during the time period (from 127.8 million to 140.0 million). Most of the growth in single-person households will take place in the 65-plus age group.

The aging of the population will also lead to an expansion in the number of married couples without children under age 18 at home—most of them empty nesters. These households will increase by 4 million, a 10 percent rise. At the same time, the number of married couples with children under age 18 at home is projected to increase by a below-average 7 percent—a gain of less than 2 million.

Number of households in 2018 and 2028 (and percent increase, 2018 to 2028)
Married couples, no kids: 39.2 million, rising to 42.9 million (10%)
Single-person households: 34.7 million, rising to 39.4 million (13%)
Married couples, with kids: 24.4 million, rising to 26.0 million (7%)
Other types of households: 19.0 million, rising to 20.5 million (8%)
Unmarried with kids: 10.6 million, rising to 11.2 million (6%)

Note: "With kids" refers to children under age 18 at home.

Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Updated Household Growth Projections: 2018–2028 and 2028–2038, Appendix Tables

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Time Spent Alone Increases with Age

Americans aged 60 or older spend more than half their waking hours alone—7 hours a day, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. This is more time alone than any other age group. People aged 40 to 59 spend 4.75 hours alone, and those under age 40 spend 3.5 hours alone on an average day.

Among people aged 60 or older, those who live alone spend the most time alone—10 hours 33 minutes on an average day. Alone time among those with a spouse is just half that, at 5 hours 21 minutes a day. Older women spend more time alone than their male counterparts because they are more likely to be widowed and increasingly so with age...

Daily time spent alone (hours:minutes) among women aged 60 or older
Aged 60 to 69: 6:40
Aged 70 to 79: 7:53
Aged 80-plus: 8:34

Note: Measured time includes all waking hours, except for time spent in personal activities.

Source: Pew Research Center, On Average, Older Adults Spend Over Half Their Waking Hours Alone

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Online Banking Is the Norm

The use of online banking is nearly universal in the United States today, according to FINRA's latest National Financial Capability Study. Fully 84 percent of Americans with bank accounts use online, computer-based (laptop or desktop) banking at least sometimes. The 59 percent majority uses online, computer-based banking frequently.

Mobile banking is also now the norm. Fully 65 percent of Americans with bank accounts say they use their phone to bank at least sometimes, and 42 percent do so frequently.

Online banking using a laptop or desktop computer does not vary much by age, while mobile banking is much more common among young adults...

Use online banking via a laptop or desktop computer
Aged 18 to 34: 87%
Aged 35 to 54: 85%
Aged 55-plus: 81%

Use mobile banking via a smartphone
Aged 18 to 34: 87%
Aged 35 to 54: 74%
Aged 55-plus: 42%

A substantial portion of the population uses smartphones to pay at point of sale, with 35 percent doing so at least sometimes. About the same percentage (37 percent) use their phones at least sometimes to transfer money to another person—such as through the Venmo or Zelle apps. Younger adults are most likely to do these things. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, 53 percent have used their mobile phone to pay at point of sale, and 60 percent have transferred money to another person using their phone. Among people aged 55 or older, the figures are just 17 and 15 percent, respectively.

Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation, The State of U.S. Financial Capability: The 2018 National Financial Capability Study

Monday, July 08, 2019

Median Household Income Falls Slightly in May 2019

Median household income fell slightly to $63,799 in May 2019. This was $353 lower than the April 2019 median after adjusting for inflation, according to Sentier Research. Sentier's estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

The May 2019 median was 0.9 percent higher than the May 2018 median, after adjusting for inflation. It was 14.4 percent higher than the post-Great Recession low reached in June 2011 ($55,783)—a bottom hit two years after the official end of the Great Recession.

Sentier's Household Income Index for May 2019 was 103.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the May 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 3.4 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost two decades ago. "Not an impressive performance by any means," says Green. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: May 2019

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Only 45% Are Extremely Proud to be an American

Pride in being an American has hit the lowest point since Gallup began to ask the question in 2001. Only 45 percent of adults today are "extremely proud" to be an American—the second consecutive year below 50 percent, reports Gallup. This figure was as high as 70 percent in 2003, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Pride in being an American is highly polarized today not only by political affiliation but also by age...

Percent "extremely" proud to be an American, 2019
76% of Republicans
63% of people aged 65 or older
57% of people aged 50 to 64
38% of people aged 30 to 49
24% of people aged 18 to 29
22% of Democrats

The percentage of Republicans who are extremely proud to be an American has grown since Trump was elected, rising from 68 percent in 2016 to the 76 percent of today. The percentage of Democrats who are extremely proud to be an American has plunged since Trump was elected, falling from 44 percent in 2016 to the 22 percent of today. "Record-low American patriotism is the latest casualty of the sharply polarized political climate in the U.S. today," Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, American Pride Hits New Low; Few Proud of Political System

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

60% of Preschoolers Are in Day Care

The 60 percent majority of children under age 6 and not yet in kindergarten participate in at least one weekly nonparental care arrangement. Among infants under age 1, just 47 percent are in nonparental care at least once a week. The share is 54 percent among 1- and 2-year-olds and rises to 73 percent among children aged 3 to 5.

Distribution of preschoolers in nonparental care at least once a week by type of arrangement
42% are in a day care center only
20% are cared for by a grandparent only
  9% are cared for by a nonrelative in another home only
  5% are cared for by an aunt/uncle/other relative only
  3% are cared for by a nonrelative in own home only
20% have multiple types of arrangements

The percentage of children cared for by a grandparent only is highest among infants, at 38 percent. A smaller 26 percent of 1- and 2-year-olds are cared for only by grandparents, with the figure falling to just 8 percent among 3-to-5-year-olds. The percentage who are in a day care center only rises with age from 21 percent of infants to 56 percent of 3-to-5-year-olds.

Child care can be costly. Two-thirds of parents who use nonparental care pay for the service. The average out-of-pocket cost for those who pay is $6.93 per hour. That's $139 a week for 20 hours and $277 a week for 40 hours of care.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, The Costs of Child Care: Results from the 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey

Monday, July 01, 2019

Where Kids Go to School

Despite the rise of charter schools, the great majority of children in grades 1 through 12 attend a traditional public school...

Distribution of children in grades 1 through 12 by type of school attended
85.9% attend a traditional public school
  4.6% attend a charter school
  7.6% attend a religious private school
  1.9% attend a nonsectarian private school

The above figures do not include homeschooled children. Overall, 3.3 percent of children aged 5 to 17 are homeschooled.

Among parents with children enrolled in grades 1 through 12 at a public school, 20 percent moved to their current neighborhood for its school. Those most likely to move to a neighborhood for its public school are Asians (27.4 percent), parents with a bachelor's (24.5 percent) or graduate (30.2 percent) degree, those with family incomes at least two times the poverty level (23.6 percent), and suburban residents (24.4 percent).

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