Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Demographics of Covid-19 Job Losses

Younger adults are being hit especially hard by Covid-19 shutdowns, reports Pew Research Center. Workers under age 45 account for 56 percent of the nation's total employed, but they are a larger 64 percent of workers at higher risk of job loss due to the coronavirus.

Younger adults are at higher risk because they account for a disproportionate share of workers in occupations such as retail sales and food service—the types of businesses that are either shut down entirely or sharply curtailed to stop the spread of coronavirus. Workers under age 45 account for 62 percent of retail clerks, 76 percent of cashiers, 78 percent of bartenders, and 83 percent of waiters and waitresses, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the age distribution of workers by occupation.

One-third of Americans say someone in their household lost a job or took a pay cut because of Covid-19, Pew reports. Among adults aged 18 to 29, nearly half report taking a financial hit...

Someone in household laid off, lost job, or had to take a pay cut because of Covid-19
Aged 18 to 29: 46%
Aged 30 to 49: 36%
Aged 50 to 64: 32%
Aged 65-plus: 19%

Source: Pew Research Center, Worries about Coronavirus Surge, as Most Americans Expect a Recession—or Worse

Monday, March 30, 2020

48% of Counties Lost Population, 2018–19

The U.S. population grew by just 0.48 percent in the year ending July 1, 2019. This is the slowest annual rate of growth in 100 years. Growth has actually ground to a halt in many places. According to the Census Bureau's latest estimates, 48 percent of the nation's 3,142 counties lost population between 2018 and 2019.

Even in counties with growing populations, expansion is slowing. The slowdown is occurring everywhere—from the largest urban areas to the most remote rural outposts. A handy way to analyze growth patterns at the county level is by using the federal government's Rural-Urban Continuum, a system 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).

The long-term pattern since 2010 has been one of urban growth—the more urban, the greater the growth. But an examination of the trend in annual growth rates reveals some 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 in 2018 and 2019, the growth rate of rank 1 counties slipped below that of rank 2 counties. Another change has occurred in nonmetropolitan counties. Counties ranking 6 and 8 on the Rural-Urban Continuum had been steadily losing population for most of the decade, but in 2017 they began to record small gains which continued in 2018 and 2019. The gains have not been large enough, however, to make up for losses earlier in the decade. Here are county growth rates for the decade and for the past year by rank on the Rural-Urban continuum...

County population change 2010-2019 (and 2018–19) by Rural-Urban Continuum rank
1. 8.0% (0.54) for counties in metros with 1 million or more people
2. 6.7% (0.64) for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million people
3. 4.4% (0.38) for counties in metros with less than 250,000 people
4. 0.6% (0.17) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, adjacent to metro
5. 1.6% (0.10) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 20,000-plus, not adjacent to metro
6. –1.0% (0.01) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, adjacent to metro
7. –1.6% (-0.18) for nonmetro counties with urban pop of 2,500–19,999, not adjacent to metro 
8. –1.0% (0.10) for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, adjacent to metro 
9. –2.2% (-0.21) for nonmetro counties with urban pop less than 2,500, not adjacent to metro 

Behind the widespread slowing of population growth is the ongoing baby bust, the aging of the baby-boom generation, and the decline in net migration—both domestic and international. With population growth already slowed to a crawl before coronavirus swept the nation, the percentage of counties recording population losses in 2020 is likely to be greater than the 48 percent of 2019. 

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Rural-Urban Continuum Codes and Census Bureau, County Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2019

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unemployment Rate Could Rise to 32.1%

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are working furiously to measure the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. In the past few days, the St. Louis Fed has released one report after another estimating the dimensions of the economic crisis now facing the United States.

—The researchers have determined the number of Americans who work in close proximity to others and therefore must stop working to prevent the spread of coronavirus (27 million).
—They have calculated the percentage of workers at risk of unemployment because of the coronavirus (46 percent).
—They have tallied up the cost of unemployment insurance to tide those workers over (ranging from $57 billion to $642 billion).
—They have done a "back of the envelope" estimate of the unemployment rate by the end of the second quarter of 2020. Brace yourself. It could be as high as 32.1 percent.

For more details about these findings, click on the links below.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Fernando Leibovici, Ana Mara Santacreu, and Matthew Famiglietti, Social Distancing and Contact-Intensive Occupations; Charles Gascon, Covid-19: Which Workers Face the Highest Unemployment Risk?; Bill Dupor, The Efficacy of Enhanced Unemployment Benefits During a Pandemic; and Miguel Faria-e-Castro, Back-of-the-Envelope Estimates of Next Quarter's Unemployment Rate

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Young Adults Are Less Likely to Read Books

Now that we're spending a lot more time at home, we're sure to be reading more books. Right? Maybe not. While the overall percentage of Americans aged 18 or older who read a book (not required for school or work) in the past 12 months has changed little over the past decade, significant changes are occurring by age group. Book reading among young and middle-aged adults has declined, while reading has increased among older people.

The 55 percent majority of adults read a book in 2017, according to the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. The 55 percent includes anyone who read a print, digital, or audio book. The figure was identical in 2012 and nearly identical (54 percent) in 2008. But there have been changes by age group. Take a look...

Percent who read a book in the past year by age

   18 to 34     35 to 64     65-plus  
2017   50.5%   52.5%   56.6%
2012   53.6   54.2   57.2
2008   52.7   56.1   51.2
2002   56.0   59.2   49.4
1992   62.6   63.6   49.6

A big drop in book reading has occurred among younger adults. The percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds who read a book in the past year fell from 63 percent in 1992 to 53 percent in 2008—a 10 percentage point decline during an era when the internet and smartphones became a thing. The decline in book reading is similar, although slightly delayed, among the middle-aged. The opposite trend can be seen among people aged 65 or older, with the percentage who read a book in the past year rising substantially between 2008 and 2012. Why the rise? The highly-educated baby-boom generation began to fill the 65-plus age group, and the college educated are much more likely than those with less education to read books.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, How Do We Read? Let's Count the Ways

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Bracing for the Covid-19 Recession

We know a recession is coming. It's likely to be severe. But the severity will vary by geographic area, according to a Brookings analysis. "In a huge nation made up of diverse places and varied local economies, a look at the geography of highly exposed industries makes clear that the economic toll of any coming recession will hit different regions in disparate, uneven ways," say Brookings researchers Mark Muro, Robert Maxim, and Jacob Whiton.

The researchers examined employment by metro area in the five industries most vulnerable to a coronavirus disruption—mining, transportation, employment services, travel arrangements, and leisure and hospitality. Overall, 24 million people work in those industries—16.5 percent of all workers. But in some metropolitan areas the share is much higher, and that's where the coming downturn could hit hardest.

Among the 100 largest metro areas, Las Vegas is most vulnerable, with 34 percent of its jobs in the five most affected industries. Also among the top five are Orlando, New Orleans, Honolulu, and Oklahoma City. Tech-oriented university towns are likely to be least affected by the Covid-19 Recession, say the researchers. Among the 100 largest metro areas, the five least exposed to the recession's effects are Provo, Utah; Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Albany, New York; and San Jose, California.

"While essentially all of America will likely be affected by Covid-19's economic effects, those effects will be distinct and varied from place-to-place," conclude the researchers.

The Brookings researchers published this report on March 17, one week ago. That's ancient history for an exponentially expanding virus. So, one of the concluding comments in the report may be the most pertinent: "In the event the pandemic tips the economy into a significant nationwide recession, very few places or industries will emerge unscathed. And if that happens, other large sectors—including construction, manufacturing, retail,  education, and even the motion picture industry will be affected regardless of geography."

Source: Brookings, The Places a Covid-19 Recession Will Likely Hit Hardest

Monday, March 23, 2020

Growing Coronavirus Alarm Noted in Surveys

Rising concerns about coronavirus are being captured by survey researchers while they are in the field. According to Pew Research Center survey fielded from March 10 to March 16, the percentage of Americans who believe coronavirus is major threat to the health of the U.S. population climbed from 42 percent in the first two days of the survey period (March 10-11) to 55 percent in the final three days (March 14-16). The percentage who believe coronavirus is a major threat to their personal financial situation grew from 29 to 40 percent during the time span.

Gallup, too, is noting the rising alarm. When Gallup asked respondents whether they are avoiding going to public places such as stores or restaurants, only 30 percent of those queried on March 13-15 said yes. The figure jumped to 54 percent among those asked the same question on March 16-19.

"In the span of a week," Gallup reports, "Americans have gone from tepid adoption of social distancing to majorities engaging in nearly every major practice advocated by government and health officials."

Percent of adults taking each action to stem the spread of coronavirus, March 16-19 (and percentage point increase since March 13-15
79% are avoiding going to events with large crowds (+20)
75% are avoiding travel by airplane, bus, subway, or train (+20)
57% are cancelling or postponing travel plans (+18)
52% are stocking up on food, medical, and cleaning supplies (+13)
54% are avoiding going to public places (+24)
46% are voiding small gatherings such as with family or friends (+23)

Despite the growing seriousness of the pandemic in the minds of Americans, Gallup reports "there is a long way to go to approach full compliance." While 53 percent of respondents say they have mostly or completely isolated themselves from people outside their household, 21 percent say they are only partially isolated, and 27 percent say they have done little or nothing to avoid contact with people outside their household.

Source: Gallup, Americans Rapidly Answering the Call to Isolate, Prepare

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Financial Impact of Covid-19

If the coronavirus caused you to miss work for at least two weeks, would you continue to get paid? Only 36 percent of employed Americans answered yes to this question, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 54 percent majority said they would not get paid, and the remaining 10 percent were not sure. Workers with the highest household incomes were most likely to say they would continue to get paid. Most of those with the lowest incomes said they would not get paid and as a consequence they would have difficulty keeping up with their basic expenses...

Percent of the employed who said they would not get paid and it would be difficult to keep up with basic expenses if they missed at least two weeks of work because of the coronavirus, by family income:

11% of those with incomes of $100,000 or more
23% of those with incomes of $75,000 to $99,999
27% of those with incomes of $50,000 to $74,999
45% of those with incomes of $30,000 to $49,999
52% of those with incomes below $30,000

Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Public Sees Multiple Threats from the Coronavirus—and Concerns are Growing

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Who's Afraid of a Pandemic?

Way back in 2018, before The Age of Social Distancing, the threat of a pandemic barely registered in the public's mind. Pandemic ranked a lowly 32 on the list of events most frightening to Americans, according to the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Only 39 percent of the public was afraid or very afraid of a major epidemic. Higher on the list of fears were such events as widespread civil unrest (43 percent), economic/financial collapse (49 percent), high medical bills (53 percent), and not having enough money for the future (57 percent).

If asked about our fears today, pandemic is likely to have moved to the top of the list. That's what a recent Gallup survey shows. When Gallup asked respondents how concerned they were about the coronavirus on February 3-16, only 36 percent said they were somewhat/very concerned. When Gallup asked again a month later, from March 2 through March 13, a much larger 60 percent were somewhat/very concerned. The March survey ended five days ago. At that time, there were around 2,500 coronavirus cases in the U.S. Today there are 6,500. San Francisco Bay area residents have been ordered to shelter in place and New York City is considering doing the same. When Gallup asks about coronavirus again in April, it's not much of a stretch to assume well more than 60 percent will be concerned.

Fear of the coronavirus pandemic is sure to be fueling other fears as well. It's likely many more Americans today than in 2018 are afraid of economic collapse, not having enough money, high medical bills, and civil unrest.

Source: Gallup, U.S. Coronavirus Concerns Surge, Government Trust Slides; and Chapman University, America's Top Fears 2018

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Women Who Earn $100,000 or More

Among the 48 million women who work full-time, year-round, 1.4 million had median earnings of $100,000 or more, according to the Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey. These high earners account for just 3 percent of all women who work full-time. Among men who work full-time, 10 percent have median earnings of $100,000 or more.

Women's median earnings surpass $100,000 in 19 occupations. Men's median earnings top $100,000 in 44 occupations.

Among the 19 occupations in which women earn a median of $100,000 or more, 12 are in the health care field. Number one is emergency medicine physician. Here are all 19...

Occupations in which women who work full-time earn a median of $100,000 or more
$250,000 or more: Emergency medicine physician
$237,500: Surgeon
$226,554: Radiologist
$180,500: Other physician
$160,778: Nurse anesthetist
$149,310: Dentist
$131,819: Architectural/engineering manager
$120,857: Pharmacist
$120,703: Actuary
$120,420: Podiatrist
$112,862: Chief executive
$110,619: Lawyer
$103,570: Physician assistant
$101,863: Nurse practitioner
$101,454: Mathematician
$101,141: Nurse midwife
$100,852: Optometrist
$100,131: Computer and information systems manager
$100,089: Computer hardware engineer

Source: Census Bureau, Full-Time, Year-Round Workers and Median Earnings

Monday, March 16, 2020

God's Hand in the Election?

Was Trump chosen by God to be the president? Yes, it's a strange question, but former energy secretary Rick Perry and religious leader Franklin Graham, among others, have said Trump is president because he was chosen by God. Pew Research Center decided to find out how many Americans agreed.

Here's the question asked by Pew: "What comes closest to your views about God's role in recent presidential elections?" This is what a nationally representative sample of the public said about the 2016 election...

  5%: God chose Trump to become president because God approves of Trump's policies
27%: Trump's election is part of God's plan but God doesn't necessarily approve of his policies
49%: God doesn't get involved in U.S. presidential elections
16%: Don't believe in God

Overall, about one-third (32 percent) see the election of Trump as part of God's plan, whether or not God approves of Trump's policies. Interestingly, when asked about the 2008 and 2012 elections, the public responds almost identically. Thirty-two percent say Obama's election was God's plan, with 3 percent saying it was because God approved of Obama's policies and 29 percent saying it was God's plan regardless of Obama's policies.

Source: Pew Research Center, About a Third in U.S. See God's Hand in Presidential Elections, but Fewer Say God Picks Winners Based on Policies

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Homeownership by Age in 2019

The homeownership rate reached an all-time high in 2004, climbing to 69.0 percent. It is still well below that level 15 years later. The homeownership rate was just 64.6 percent in 2019—4.4 percentage points lower than the all-time high, according to the Census Bureau.

After hitting 69.0 percent in 2004, the homeownership rate fell for the next 12 years. It finally bottomed out in 2016 at 63.4 percent. Since then, there has been a recovery of sorts. For the past three years, homeownership has been inching up. The 2019 rate of 64.6 percent is just 1.2 percentage points higher than the low of 2016, a fragile recovery that could be derailed by another economic downturn.

Homeownership rate by age of householder in 2019 (and percentage-point change since 2016)
Under age 25:  23.2 (+1.3)
Aged 25 to 29: 32.9 (+2.0)
Aged 30 to 34: 48.0 (+2.8)
Aged 35 to 39: 57.2 (+1.9)
Aged 40 to 44: 63.2 (+1.2)
Aged 45 to 49: 68.2 (+1.5)
Aged 50 to 54: 71.9 (+0.3)
Aged 55 to 59: 73.9 (-0.1)
Aged 60 to 64: 76.6 (+0.5)
Aged 65-plus:  78.6 (-0.2)

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, 2019 Annual Statistics

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Black Homeownership Lower in 2019 than in 1999

The 2019 homeownership rate in the United States was 2.2 percentage points below the rate in 1999, according to the Census Bureau. The Black homeownership rate was 4.2 percentage points lower than it was two decades ago. Asians and Hispanics had higher rates in 2019 than in 1999, and the non-Hispanic White rate was about the same.

Homeownership Rate by Race and Hispanic Origin, 1999 to 2019
  total  Asian Black Hispanic NH White
2019  64.6%  57.7%  42.1%  47.5%  73.3%
2010  66.9  58.9  45.4  47.5  74.4
2004  69.0  59.8  49.1  48.1  76.0
1999  66.8  53.1  46.3  45.5  73.2
1999 to 2019   -2.2   4.6   -4.2    2.0    0.1

The U.S. homeownership rate peaked in 2004 at 69.0 percent. Between 2004 and 2019, the Black rate fell 7.0 percentage points, much greater than the decline in the homeownership rate of Asians (-2.1), Hispanics (-0.6), or non-Hispanic Whites (-2.7).

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, 2019 Annual Statistics

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

8.6 Trips Per Day Out of the Average Household

Stir crazy may be the best way to describe the American public over the next few weeks. We are accustomed to being out and about. Staying at home will be a new experience for the growing number who are practicing social distancing or in self-quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19.

For the average household, a household member walks out the door 8.6 times per day. That's 3.37 trips a day for each household member. Here's how those person trips break down...

Person trips per day (and average miles traveled per person) by trip purpose
Total per person: 3.37 trips (39 miles)
Going to work: 0.59 trips (7 miles)
Shopping/errands: 1.3 trips (10 miles)
School/church: 0.37 trips (3 miles)
Social/recreation: 0.93 trips (11 miles)

The number of person trips per day does not vary much by age, ranging from a low of 2.8 trips for children under age 16 to a high of 3.7 for people aged 35 to 65. The number of miles traveled per day ranges from a low of 25 for children to a high of 45 for people aged 21 to 65.

Source: Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey, Summary of Travel Trends: 2017 National Household Travel Survey

Monday, March 09, 2020

Buyer Beware: Floodplain Housing Is Overvalued

Did you pay too much for your house? If it's located in a flood plain, chances are you did, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study. "Floodplain homes in the US are currently overvalued by a total of $34B, raising concerns about the stability of real estate markets as climate risks become more salient and severe."

Researchers Miyuki Hino and Marshall Burke matched FEMA's floodplain maps of 1,289 counties with CoreLogic's property sales data from 1996 through 2017. The results "show little evidence that information about flood risk is fully priced in property markets," they report. But in states with strict real estate disclosure laws, there is a floodplain discount because buyers are better informed. In states with the strictest disclosure laws—those requiring sellers to notify buyers if a property is in a floodplain, if it has been damaged in a flood, and the cost of flood insurance—the flood zone discount is -4.1 percent. Most states do not have strict floodplain disclosure laws, however, so buyer beware.

"Our findings suggest that many of the 3.8 million floodplain homes in the US are over-valued and that development in the floodplain likely exceeds what would be observed if asset prices fully reflected information about flood risk," the researchers conclude. "The additional risk created by these investments is likely growing due to climate change and the long-lived nature of housing and infrastructure."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Does Information about Climate Risk Affect Property Values? Working Paper 26807 ($5).

Thursday, March 05, 2020

24% of Workers Do Not Have Paid Sick Leave

As the coronavirus threatens to keep many Americans at home, now is the time to review paid sick leave in the United States. While 76 percent of the nation's workers have paid sick leave, 24 percent do not. They can't stay home without a pay cut. Here is the percentage of workers in 2019 without paid sick leave by occupation and earnings...

Workers without paid sick leave by major occupational group
39% of workers in service occupations
36% of workers in sales occupations
32% of workers in natural resources, construction, or maintenance occupations
30% of production workers
10% of professional workers
  6% of workers in management, business, and financial occupations

Workers without paid sick leave by average wage
69% of workers with wages in the bottom 10 percent
49% of workers with wages in the lowest 25 percent
21% of workers with wages in the second 25 percent
12% of workers with wages in the third 25 percent
  8% of workers with wages in the highest 25 percent
  6% of workers with wages in the top 10 percent

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employee Benefits in the United States Summary

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Which Lifestyle Do You Prefer?

If you ask the public which it prefers—life in the suburbs/country or life in the city—most prefer the suburban/country lifestyle, according to a Pew Research Center survey.  Ask yourself which lifestyle you prefer:

1. Prefer to live in a community where houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away.
2. Prefer to live in a community in which houses are smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores and restaurants are in walking distance.

Overall, the 53 percent majority of Americans choose option number 1. They prefer the suburban/country lifestyle. A smaller 47 percent prefer option number 2, the urban lifestyle.

Fortunately, most of us live in the type of community we prefer. Among residents of urban areas, the 60 percent majority prefers the urban lifestyle. Among people living in rural areas, the 69 percent majority prefers the suburban/country lifestyle. The suburban population is split on which it prefers, however, While 51 percent of suburban residents prefer the suburban/country lifestyle, nearly as many—48 percent—prefer the urban lifestyle.

Source: Pew Research Center, Big Houses, Small Houses: Partisans Continue to Want Different Things in a Community

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

We're Already Behind in Life Expectancy

The good news is that American life expectancy is projected to rise, according to the Census Bureau. The bad news is that our life expectancy has already fallen short of what it should be to achieve the projected gains.

In a report on future trends in life expectancy, the Census Bureau foresees life expectancy rising from the 79.7 years it had projected for 2017 to 85.6 years in 2060, an increase of about 6 years. The trouble is, actual life expectancy in 2017 was only 78.6 years, fully 1.1 year less than the 79.7 projected, which was the starting point for the trends forecast in the report. The lower actual life expectancy of 2017 is a consequence of three years of life expectancy declines during the 2010s. So, we're already behind on making those life expectancy gains.

This disconnect is mentioned in the report. A footnote reads: Official life expectancy measures from the NCHS were lower than the projected life expectancy values for 2017. Despite recently observed decreases in life expectancy, these projections assume continued increases in life expectancy." The researchers also explain that they expect the pattern of broad increases in life expectancy to resume.

Let's hope so, because the potential increases are impressive. Here are the life expectancy projections for 2060, the increase from the projected life expectancy of 2017 (and actual life expectancy in 2017)...

Total population
85.6 years in 2060, 5.9 years more than the 79.7 projected for 2017 (78.6 actual)

83.9 years in 2060, 6.6 years more than the 77.3 projected for 2017 (76.1 actual)

87.3 years in 2060, 5.3 years more than the 82.0 projected for 2017 (81.1 actual)

Non-Hispanic Whites
85.6 years in 2060, 5.6 years more than the 80.0 projected for 2017 (78.5 actual)

Non-Hispanic Blacks 
84.6 in 2060, 8.4 years more than the 76.2 projected for 2017 (74.9 actual)

86.5 years in 2060, 4.3 years more than the 82.2 projected for 2017 (81.8 actual)

Source: Census Bureau, Living Longer: Historical and Projected Life Expectancy in the United States, 1960 to 2060

Monday, March 02, 2020

42% of Americans Are Obese

Obesity continues to spread. Among Americans aged 20 or older, 42.4 percent are obese according to the 2017–18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This is up from 39.6 percent in the 2015–16 survey. These numbers are based on the measured heights and weights of nationally representative samples of the U.S. population. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher (body mass index = kg/m2 or weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared).

Percentage of Americans aged 20 or older who are obese
2017–2018: 42.4%
2015–2016: 39.6%
2009–2010: 35.7%
1999–2000: 30.5%

No one knows why obesity has become so common, but the causes appear to be affecting everyone equally. Obesity does not vary by sex or age, with 43 percent of men and 42 percent of women measured as obese. By age group, 40 percent of 20-to-39-year-olds, 45 percent of people aged 40 to 59, and 43 percent of those aged 65 or older are obese. Obesity also doesn't vary much by race or Hispanic origin—with one exception. Only 17 percent of Asians are obese versus 42 percent of non-Hispanic Whites, 45 percent of Hispanics, and 50 percent of Blacks.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity among Adults: United States, 2017–2018

Thursday, February 27, 2020

21% of Adults Were Caregivers in 2015–2017

Public health officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the looming need for caregiving as the baby-boom generation ages into infirmity. To find out how much caregiving is currently being provided, the CDC included questions about it in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys of 2015, 2016, and 2017.

According to the CDC's estimate, 17.7 million adults were informal, unpaid caregivers in 2015. They had provided regular care in the past 30 days to a friend or family member with a health problem or disability. Over the three-year time period, a substantial 21 percent of adults were caregivers.

Because the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is a survey administered by the states, the CDC report on caregiving provides state-level detail. Caregivers are most prevalent in the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where more than 25 percent of adults are currently providing care. Women are the majority of caregivers in every state and account for 58 percent of caregivers nationally. By age, 45 percent of caregivers are under age 45, 34 percent are aged 45 to 64, and 21 percent are aged 65 or older. In Florida and Oregon, more than 25 percent of caregivers are aged 65 or older. Among caregivers nationally, 19 percent report being in fair or poor health.

"As the U.S. population continues to age, the need for informal caregivers is likely to increase," the CDC concludes. But "population dynamics might result in fewer available caregivers per person." There are several reasons for a potential caregiver shortage, says the CDC—smaller family sizes and fewer adult children, working women, and geographically dispersed families.

Source: CDC, Characteristics and Health Status of Informal Unpaid Caregivers—44 States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, 2015–2017

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Who Lives in the Suburbs?

When it comes to identifying where Americans live, there are two different perspectives. One perspective is delineated by the federal government's metropolitan area definitions, where people live in the principal city of a metro area, or outside the principal city but still in the metro area (the suburbs), or in a nonmetropolitan area. The other and perhaps more important perspective is based on feelings. Millions of Americans feel like they live in small cities and towns, finds a Gallup survey, when they actually live in big cities and suburbs, according to metropolitan definitions.

The biggest difference between perception and reality is in the suburbs. The 54 percent majority of Americans live in the suburbs—in a metropolitan area outside a principal city, according to the government's definition. But only 26 percent of Americans think they live in the suburbs, finds Gallup.

There's also a difference in perceptions of city living. Fewer Americans say they live in a "big city" than actually live in the principal cities of metropolitan areas. Only 20 percent think they live in a big city, according to Gallup, but 32 percent of the U.S. population lives in a principal city—defined as a city with a population of at least 50,000.

Where are the missing city and suburban residents? They're not in rural areas, since the percentage of Americans who say they live in a rural area almost exactly matches the government's nonmetropolitan population estimate—15 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Instead, the missing city and suburban residents live in what they identify as small cities (20 percent) or towns (16 percent).

Bottom line: Many Americans feel like they live in smaller, more intimate communities than what is conjured by the terms "principal city" and "suburb."

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Census Bureau data; and Gallup, Americans Big on Idea of Living in the Country

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Food-Related Activities Rank 4th in Time Use

How much of your day revolves around food? If you're an average American, then it's a lot. Food-related activities rank fourth in the amount of time they consume, according to a study by the USDA's Economic Research Service, behind only sleep, paid work, and watching TV.

Americans spent an average of 117.5 minutes a day in food-related activities during the 2014–17 time period, the study finds. That's 8.2 percent of 24 hours. Food-related activities include traveling to grocery stores and restaurants, shopping for food, preparing meals, eating and drinking, and loading the dishwasher. Here's how much time the average person and the average participant spend per day in each of the major categories of food-related activities...

Eating and drinking
Average time: 64.0 minutes
Percent participating: 95.1%
Time spent by participants: 67.3 minutes

Food preparation
Average time: 27.5 minutes
Percent participating: 53.5%
Time spent by participants: 51.4 minutes

Food-related cleanup
Average time: 7.7 minutes
Percent participating: 22.6%
Time spent by participants: 34.1 minutes

Travel associated with eating
Average time: 6.5 minutes
Percent participating: 22.9%
Time spent by participants: 28.3 minutes

Grocery shopping
Average time: 6.3 minutes
Percent participating: 13.8%
Time spent by participants: 46.0 minutes

Travel for grocery shopping
Average time: 3.3 minutes
Percent participating: 13.7%
Time spent by participants: 24.4 minutes

Purchasing non-grocery food
Average time: 1.5 minutes
Percent participating: 13.5%
Time spent by participants: 10.9 minutes

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food-Related Time Use: Changes and Demographic Differences

Monday, February 24, 2020

Most Think Census Will Ask about Citizenship

Most Americans believe, incorrectly, that the 2020 census will ask about citizenship, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Whether this belief will suppress participation in the census, which is just a few weeks away, remains to be seen.

The 56 percent majority of the public thinks the census will include a question about citizenship, according to the Pew survey. Another 25 percent are not sure. Only 17 percent know that a citizenship question will not be on the census. By demographic segment, here's who knows there will be no citizenship question on the census...

—14 percent of women and 20 percent of men
—15 to 16 percent of adults under age 65 and 21 percent of those aged 65 or older
—18 percent of Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, but only 9 percent of blacks
—21 percent of foreign-born Hispanics versus 16 percent of native-born Hispanics
—26 percent of those with a bachelor's degree and 13 percent of those with less education
—20 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans

Source: Pew Research Center, Most Adults Aware of 2020 Census and Ready to Respond, but Don't Know Key Details

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Why Is the White Working Class Declining?

The white working class is shrinking, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The question is why. The St. Louis Fed analysis defines the white working class as non-Hispanic whites without a four-year college degree. The number of working class whites peaked in the early 1990s and has been declining in most years ever since. At the same time, every other major group in society—Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites with a college degree—has been growing. Working class whites accounted for the majority of the population until 2004. Today, they are a minority nationally, in three out of four regions, and in seven states.

What is the cause of the decline in the white working class? In the Fed analysis, the researchers looked at two potential causes. First, they examined the rise in "deaths of despair," which are deaths due to suicide, alcohol, or drugs. While the death rate from these causes has tripled among the white working class in recent years, these deaths explain less than 1 percent of the decline in working class whites, according to the calculations.

Then the researchers examined educational attainment. Bullseye! The number of non-Hispanic whites with a four-year college degree tripled between 1976 and 2019. The surge in educational attainment is resulting in a loss of about 1 million working class whites each year and explains most of the decline.

"To the extent that the decline of the white working-class population in recent years is due to rising college degree attainment, this population change can be viewed positively," the researchers conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, The White Working Class: Declining Mostly Due to Rising College Attainment

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Stressed Out? Join the Crowd

On a scale of 1 to 5, how stressed out do you feel? Here's how a nationally representative sample of Americans answered that question, according to an AARP survey...

1. 24% not at all stressed
2. 18%
3. 25%
4. 16%
5. 16% a great deal of stress

About one-third of the public feels stressed out (4 and 5). Also, about one-third of the public reports feeling more stressed out today than three years ago, the survey found.

By age, older Americans are the least stressed. Nearly half of 50-to-64-year-olds (49 percent) and those aged 65-plus (47 percent) say they are not stressed at all (1 or 2). A smaller 39 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds and 34 percent of people aged 35 to 49 say they are stress free. Among people under age 50, four out of ten report feeling more stressed out today than three years ago.

The biggest source of stress is finances, with 42 percent reporting money as a cause. The current political climate is second in importance, at 36 percent. The percentage who are stressed out by the current political climate rises with age, from a low of 31 percent among 18-to-34-year-olds to a high of 44 percent among people aged 65 or older.

Source: AARP, Dealing with Stress

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

100 Years of Baby Names

Over the past century, James has been the number-one most popular boy's name, according to the Social Security Administration. Between 1919 and 2018, nearly 5 million boys have been named James. The second and third most popular boys' names of the past century are John and Robert, followed by Michael, William, David, Richard, Joseph, Thomas, and Charles, to round out the top 10.

James is still a popular name. During the decade of the 2010s, it was in 9th place on the top-10 list. William and Michael were also on the 2010s list—in 5th and 7th place. The number-one boys' name of the past decade, however, was Noah. Also making an appearance on the top-10 list of the 2010s were Liam, Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Alexander, and Elijah.

Girls' names are more diverse than boys' names. All told, 35 million boys have received one of the top 10 names of the century compared to 15 million girls. Mary is the number-one most popular girls' name of the past 100 years. Between 1919 and 2018, 3.3 million girls have been named Mary. Other girls' names on top of the century list are Patricia, Jennifer, Linda, Elizabeth, Barbara, Susan, Jessica, Sarah, and Karen.

None of those names appear on the top-10 list of girls' names of the 2010s. Emma was the number-one girls' name of the past decade, followed by Sophia, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Abigail, Emily, Madison, and Charlotte. The name Mary ranked a lowly 125th in popularity in the 2010s.

For a look at how names have changed over the past 100 years, here are the three most popular boys' and girls' names in each decade...

The 3 most popular names for boys by decade
2010s: Noah, Liam, Jacob
2000s: Jacob, Michael, Joshua
1990s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1980s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1970s: Michael, Christopher, Jason
1960s: Michael, David, John
1950s: James, Michael, Robert
1940s: James, Robert, John
1930s: Robert, James, John
1920s: Robert, John, James

The 3 most popular names for girls by decade
2010s: Emma, Sophia, Olivia
2000s: Emily, Madison, Emma
1990s: Jessica, Ashley, Emily
1980s: Jessica, Jennifer, Amanda
1970s: Jennifer, Amy, Melissa
1960s: Lisa, Mary, Susan
1950s: Mary, Linda, Patricia
1940s: Mary, Linda, Barbara
1930s: Mary, Betty, Barbara
1920s: Mary, Dorothy, Helen

Note: Alexa was the 90th most popular girls' name in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available. This ranking is well below Alexa's peak a few years earlier. It was the 32nd most popular girls' name in 2015—the same year Amazon introduced its Alexa to the general public.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Social Security Administration's Popular Baby Names by Decade

Monday, February 17, 2020

Only 40% of Americans Like Winter

Winter is the season everyone loves to hate. Well, nearly everyone. According to a 2019 HuffPost/YouGov survey, 51 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have an unfavorable view of winter. Forty percent have a favorable view. The remainder are undecided. By region of the country, this is how people feel about winter...

Percent with a favorable view of winter
Northeast: 34%
Midwest: 24%
South: 48%
West: 45%

What about summer? Overall, 76 percent of Americans have a favorable view of summer, while just 16 percent have an unfavorable view. Here are attitudes toward summer by region...

Percent with a favorable view of summer
Northeast: 78%
Midwest: 81%
South: 72%
West: 72%

Spring and fall are rated even higher than summer. Fully 82 percent of the public has a favorable view of spring and fall, and the figures do not vary much by region.

Source: HuffPost, Winter is Objectively the Most Unlikeable Season

Thursday, February 13, 2020

63% Rise in College-Educated Workers since 2000

Over the past two decades, the labor force has become much more educated. In 2000, workers with no more than a high school diploma greatly outnumbered workers with a bachelor's degree or more education. The opposite is the case today. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more education account for 41 percent of the civilian labor force aged 25 or older, while those with a high school diploma or less education account for just 32 percent.

Distribution of the Labor Force Aged 25 or Older by Educational Attainment

          2019        2000
   number  percent   number  percent % change
   (in 000s)  distribution  (in 000s)  distributionin number
Total labor force    142,448     100%   118,148       100%   20.6%
High school graduate or less      46,138       32     49,224        42   –6.3
Some college/Associate degree      37,421       26     32,844        28   13.9
Bachelor's degree or more        58,889       41     36,080        31   63.2

Behind the changing educational distribution of the labor force is robust growth in college-educated workers and a decline in the least educated. The number of workers with at least a bachelor's degree grew 63 percent between 2000 and 2019. The number of workers with a high school diploma or less education fell 6 percent during those years.

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Millennial Wealth Is Below Expectations

The income and wealth of Millennials is lagging behind that of older generations at the same age, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The study examines the incomes and net worth of older Millennials, defined as those born from 1980 through 1989, and compares them to the finances of older generations when they were the same age.

The median net worth of the typical Millennial household is 34 percent less than expected when compared to older generations. They are behind by $12,000. "For someone at the beginning of adulthood, this is a lofty sum to miss out on," writes Ana H. Kent, a Fed policy analyst and one of the researchers. One of the reasons for the lower net worth of Millennials is that fewer are homeowners. Their homeownership rate is 4 percentage points below expectations.

But Millennials aren't suffering equally. The median household income of those with a bachelor's degree is 7 percent higher than expected, and their median net worth is only 6 percent below expectations—$55,000 versus an expected $58,000. The picture is not as rosy for Millennials without a bachelor's degree. Their median household income is 9 percent below expectations. Even worse, their median net worth is a stunning 44 percent below expectations—$14,000 versus an expected $25,000.

"For this generation of older millennials, having less money than older generations at the same age could be very problematic," concludes Hunt.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Are Millennials a Lost Generation Financially? and The Millennial Wealth Gap: Smaller Wallets than Older Generations

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Occupations Dominated by Workers Aged 55-Plus

The older workforce is large and getting larger. Workers aged 55 or older accounted for 24 percent of the nation's employed in 2019. This is up from 20 percent in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In many jobs—such as flight attendant, economist, and bus driver—older workers account for more than one-third of the employed. In a handful of occupations, people aged 55 or older are more than half of the total...

Occupations in which more than 50 percent of workers are aged 55 or older
76.9%: funeral service managers
71.4%: shoe and leather workers and repairers
63.2%: legislators
62.5%: etchers and engravers
60.0%: embalmers and funeral attendants
56.9%: farmers and ranchers
55.8%: crossing guards
53.5%: tailors and dressmakers
52.9%: judges and magistrates

It is perhaps fitting that funeral service manager and embalmer/funeral attendant are in the short list of occupations dominated by the oldest workers. Who better to do these tasks than those soon to become the product of their labor? At the other extreme, the 55-plus age group accounts for fewer than 10 percent of bartenders, waiters and waitresses, emergency medical technicians, physician assistants, and computer research scientists.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, 2019

Monday, February 10, 2020

Median Household Income Falls in December 2019

Median household income fell between November and December 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $65,666 December median was 0.8 percent below the November 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. "The relatively large increase in inflation over the past few months has had a negative effect on real median annual household income," explains Sentier. The Sentier estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

Despite the recent dip, "real median household income has continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.1 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 16.6 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $56,308.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for December 2019 was 105.4 (January 2000 = 100.0). To put this in perspective, the December 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 5.4 percent higher than the median of January 2000—almost exactly two decades ago. To stay on top of these trends, look for the next monthly update from Sentier.

Source: Sentier ResearchHousehold Income Trends: December 2019

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Most Older Homeowners Stay Put

Do older Americans stay in one home long enough to turn their home equity into an income stream, boosting their standard of living in retirement? That's the question posed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. To determine the answer, CRR researchers estimated the housing trajectories of homeowners aged 50 or older to see whether they had enough residential stability to tap home equity. The answer is yes, according to CRR's analysis of data from the Health and Retirement study. Most older Americans stay put...

Housing trajectory of older homeowners from ages 50-54 to death
53% stay in their home until death
17% move at the time of retirement, then remain in their new home until death
16% stay in their home until a health shock forces them into a rental or long-term care facility
14% are frequent movers

"These findings largely support the narrative from previous research: most people want to age in place and usually move only in response to a shock," say the researchers. Consequently, most homeowners "experience enough residential stability to make tapping home equity through reverse mortgages or property tax deferrals a financially viable strategy."

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Are Homeownership Patterns Stable Enough to Tap Home Equity?

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Giving Money to Adult Children, Aging Parents

Many midlife adults have it tough. Some are the parents of adult children who are not yet financially independent. Others have aging parents who are struggling to make ends meet in retirement. To help out, millions of midlife adults are giving them money.

AARP recently took the measure of these millions, surveying people aged 40 to 64 with living parents and/or adult children aged 25 or older. Respondents were asked, "Have you given any financial support to your [parents/adult children] in the past 12 months?" Here's how many had...

Percent of adults aged 40 to 64 who have provided financial support in the past 12 months to...
Parents: 32%
Adult children: 51%

The support is substantial, too. Among those who gave money to a parent in the past year, 54 percent had given $1,000 or more and 20 percent $5,000 or more. The figures are similar for those who gave money to adult children—56 percent gave $1,000 or more and 25 percent gave $5,000 or more.

Is it a financial strain to provide this support? For many, not so much. Among those helping parents, 43 percent say it is little or no strain. For those helping adult children, 47 percent say the same. But a substantial 28 to 29 percent of those providing financial support say it is causing them high financial strain.

Source: AARP, Midlife Adults Providing Financial Support to Family Members

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Husbands and Wives More Likely to Share Chores

Wives are still more likely than husbands to do the laundry, prepare meals, and clean the house, according to a Gallup survey. When asked "Who is more likely to do each of the following in your household?" this is what heterosexual married couples report...

58% wife more likely
28% both equally
13% husband more likely

Preparing meals
51% wife more likely
32% both equally
17% husband more likely

Cleaning the house
51% wife more likely
37% both equally
9% husband more likely

But responsibility for these chores is divided more equitably in 2019 than it was a quarter century ago. The percentage of married couples in which the wife is more likely to do the laundry fell from 70 percent in 1996 to 58 percent today. The percentage of married couples in which the wife is more likely to prepare meals fell from 63 to 51 percent. For housecleaning, 60 percent of wives were more likely to do the cleaning in 1996 and 51 percent today.

While wives are still more likely than husbands to perform traditional household chores, a Demo Memo analysis of American Time Use data (Who Does More, Men or Women?) has shown that there is near equity in the amount of daily time men and women devote to the combination of housework, paid work, and childcare. Men spend an average of 5.60 hours per day performing these tasks and women 5.35.

Source: Gallup, Women Still Handle Main Household Tasks in U.S.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Life Expectancy Is at a Standstill

Life expectancy in the United States was no higher in 2018 than it was in 2010, which makes the 2010s (so far) the first decade in modern history in which the lives of Americans have not increased. During those eight years, life expectancy at birth succeeded in climbing 0.2 years, reaching a high of 78.9 in 2014. Then, to the consternation of many, it fell by 0.2 years between 2014 and 2015—the first decline since 1993. It fell another 0.1 year between 2016 and 2017, but gained 0.1 year between 2017 and 2018. In 2018, as in 2010, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 78.7 years.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States, 2010 to 2018
2018: 78.7 years
2017: 78.6
2016: 78.7
2015: 78.7
2014: 78.9
2013: 78.8
2012: 78.8
2011: 78.7
2010: 78.7

A study by the National Center for Health Statistics takes a look at the reasons for the 0.3 year decline in life expectancy between 2014 and 2017. Most of the decline was caused by the increase in drug overdose deaths. In 2010, there were 38,329 deaths from drug overdoses. The number grew to 47,055 by 2014. Then things really got bad, with deaths surging to 70,237 by 2017—a 49 percent increase between 2014 and 2017. This surge explains the 51 percent majority of the decline in life expectancy during those years, reports the National Center for Health Statistics. Other causes of death contributing to the decline in life expectancy were Alzheimer's disease, suicide, homicide, and diabetes.

Drug deaths fell slightly in 2018, and life expectancy recovered a bit—but it's only back to where it was nearly a decade ago.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality Data, Changes in Life Expectancy at Birth, 2010–2018; and Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2018

Thursday, January 30, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2019

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, fourth quarter 2019: 57.8%

Ho-hum is the word that best describes the 4th quarter homeownership numbers released by the Census Bureau this morning. The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group, the nation's first-time homebuyers, was stable in the fourth quarter of 2019. Although the 57.8 percent rate for the age group in the fourth quarter was higher than its third quarter rate, it was below the age group's rate one year earlier. None of these bobbles are statistically significant. The homeownership rate of the age group peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. It bottomed out at 55.0 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The current rate is much closer to the bottom than the top.

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 climbed in the fourth quarter, reaching 48.9 percent. But again, this rate is not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds 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 65.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, not statistically different from the rate one year earlier. The homeownership rate reached an all-time high of 69.0 percent in 2004.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tripling in Young Adult Households with Student Loans

The percentage of young adult households with student loan debt has tripled over the past few decades, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis analysis. Among all households headed by 25-to-34-year-olds, 46 percent had student loans in 2016—three times the 1989 figure. Here is the trend by type of household...

Percent of married-couple householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 46%
1989: 15%

Percent of cohabiting householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 50%
1989: 10%

Percent of single-person householders aged 25 to 34 with student loan debt
2016: 45%
1989: 17%

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, As Fewer Young Adults Wed, Married Couples' Wealth Surpasses Others'

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Outcomes for Adults Who Had Been in Foster Care

Foster care may be the best solution for a bad situation, but children who experience foster care face a lifetime of struggle, according to the 2011–2017 National Survey of Family Growth. Overall, 2.6 percent of adults aged 18 to 44 had ever been in foster care. The National Center for Health Statistics compared their characteristics with those of their peers who had never experienced foster care. It's no surprise that children who have been taken into foster care are more likely to be disadvantaged as adults, but the magnitude of the disadvantage is disturbing.

More likely to be sexually active by age 15: 59 percent of men and 55 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had sexual intercourse for the first time by age 15. This compares with 28 percent of men and 25 percent of women who had never been in foster care.

More likely to have a first birth by age 20: 51 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had a first birth by age 20. This compares with a smaller 23 percent of women who had never been in foster care. Among men, the comparable figures are 30 and 9 percent, respectively.

Less likely to be currently married: Only 30 percent of men and 22 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care are currently married. This compares with 40 percent of men and 42 percent of women who were never in foster care.

Less likely to be high school graduates: Fully 25 percent of men and 21 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care are high school dropouts. This compares with 12 and 10 percent of men and women who had never been in foster care, respectively.

Less likely to have a bachelor's degree: Only 5 percent of men and 9 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care had a bachelor's degree. This compares with 31 percent of men and 36 percent of women who had never been in foster care.

More likely to receive public assistance: Fully 52 percent of men and 67 percent of women aged 18 to 44 who had ever been in foster care received public assistance in the past 12 months. The comparable figures for men and women who had never been in foster care are 24 and 33 percent, respectively.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Family Growth, Demographic, Health Care, and Fertility-Related Characteristics of Adults Aged 18 to 44 Who Have Ever Been in Foster Care: United States, 2011–2017

Monday, January 27, 2020

Non-Hispanic White Share of Public School Students by Urbanicity

Non-Hispanic whites are a minority of the nation's public school students, accounting for 48.9 percent of elementary and secondary students in 2015, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But the share of non-Hispanic whites varies greatly by urbanicity...

Non-Hispanic white share of public elementary and secondary school students
20.2% in large cities (city population of 250,000 or more)
32.6% in mid-sized cities (city population of 100,000 to 250,000)
46.0% in small cities (city population below 100,000)
47.8% in large suburbs (suburb of city with 250,000 or more population)
59.9% in mid-sized suburbs (suburb of city with population of 100,000 to 250,000)
63.6% in small suburbs (suburb of city with population below 100,000)
67.1% in fringe towns (urban cluster 10 miles or less from an urbanized area)
64.8% in distant towns (urban cluster 10 to 35 miles from an urbanized area)
58.3% in remote towns (urban cluster 35-plus miles from an urbanized area)
65.9% in fringe rural areas (not in an urban cluster, less than 5 miles from an urbanized area)
79.3% in distant rural areas (not in an urban cluster, 5 to 25 miles from an urbanized area)
73.1% in remote rural areas (not in an urban cluster, 25-plus miles from an urbanized area)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, School Choice in the United States, 2019

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Curve of Happiness

Happiness is a u-shaped curve, says Dartmouth economist David G. Blanchflower. Young adults are relatively happy. As they age into their middle years, fewer feel happy—perhaps because of troubles with their children, spouse, career, or finances. Happiness bottoms out in middle-age. But that's not the end of it. Things get better as people reach their golden years, with a growing percentage feeling happy again.

The u-shape of happiness occurs not just in the United States but around the world. Blanchflower examines the relationship between age and happiness in 132 countries. Happiness reaches its lowest point at age 48.2 in developing countries and age 47.2 in advanced countries. "The happiness curve is everywhere," he concludes.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, David G. Blanchflower, Unhappiness and Age, Working Paper No. 26642 ($5); and Is Happiness U-Shaped Everywhere? Age and Subjective Wellbeing in 132 Countries, Working Paper No. 26641 ($5)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

52% Think Earth Is Warming Due to Human Activity

A slim majority of American adults think the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 52 percent majority feel this way. Another 17 percent agree the earth is warming but they think it is mostly because of natural patterns in the environment. A substantial 21 percent are outright deniers: they think there is no solid evidence of global warming.

Young adults are most likely to think the earth is warming because of human activity, while people aged 50 or older are least likely to feel this way.

Percent who say the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity
Aged 18 to 29: 69%
Aged 30 to 49: 54%
Aged 50 to 64: 43%
Aged 65-plus: 44%

Among people aged 50 or older, those who believe the earth is warming due to human activity are outnumbered by those who don't believe it is warming, who think warming is due to natural patterns, or who don't know what to think. Greta Thunberg has work to do.

Source: Pew Research Center, In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

High School Dropout Rate: 5.4%

Among the nation's 16-to-24-year-olds, 5.4 percent are high school dropouts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The NCES defines dropouts as those who are not enrolled in school and do not have a high school credential.

The high school dropout rate varies by race, Hispanic origin, and ethnicity. Here are the rates for selected groups in 2017, from highest to lowest...

Percent of 16-to-24-year-olds not enrolled in school and without a high school credential, 2017
Alaskan Native: 15.1%
American Indian: 9.6%
Hispanic: 8.2%
  Puerto Rican: 9.3%
  Mexican: 7.9%
  Dominican: 7.0%
  Cuban: 6.6%
Black: 6.5%
Non-Hispanic White: 4.3%
Asian: 2.1%
  Filipino: 2.0%
  Vietnamese: 1.9%
  Korean: 1.6%
  Chinese: 1.1%

Among Hispanics, the dropout rate differs depending on whether the young adult is native- or foreign-born. The dropout rate is just 6.3 percent for those born in the United States. Among the foreign-born, the dropout rate is a much higher 15.2 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates  in the United States: 2019

Monday, January 20, 2020

Labor Force Participation Rates, 1948 to 2018

The lives of men and women were vastly different in 1948. Only 1 in 3 women was in the labor force in those post-war years compared with nearly 9 of of 10 men. Today, the lives of men and women are much more similar. The gap in the labor force participation rate between women and men has fallen from nearly 54 to just 12 percentage points over the past seven decades.

Women's labor force participation rate peaked in 1999 at 60.0 percent. It has fallen slightly in recent years because the large baby-boom generation is retiring. Some of the recent decline in men's labor force participation rate is for the same reason.

Labor force participation rate by sex, 1948 to 2018

   women   men
2018      57.1%   69.1%
2008      59.5   73.0
1998      59.8   74.9
1988      56.6   76.2
1978      50.0   77.9
1968      41.6   80.1
1958      37.1   84.2
1948      32.7   86.6

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: a Databook

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Remarkable Increase in Men's Life Expectancy

In recent years, life expectancy trends in the United States have been disappointing. Length of life has increased more slowly in the United States than in other developed countries. Geographic disparities in life expectancy are growing and, in the past few years, overall life expectancy has actually declined. But there's some good news on the life expectancy front. According to a study in Demography, the gains in the life expectancy of American men in a number of large cities have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Examining men's mortality in 25 large U.S. cities over the 25 years from 1990 to 2015, the researchers found above average increases in places such as San Francisco (13.7 years), Washington, D.C. (13.7 ), and New York City (11.8). These increases are far above the overall gain of 4.8 years for all American men during the time period. In most of the 25 cities examined, in fact, men's life expectancy grew far more than the 4.8 year average.

What accounts for this "remarkable" rise in life expectancy, as the researchers describe it? One factor is the decline in deaths due to HIV/AIDS. Another is the decline in homicides. The changing socioeconomic characteristics of city populations also contributed to the rise. Resilience also has a role, the authors suggest. "One potential explanation for the pattern of city improvements involves the long-run strength and character of local institutions," they conclude. "The six top-performing cities—San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC—stand out as international centers of cultural and economic activity and have long histories of strong amenities and commensurate institutional infrastructure."

Source: Demography, Life and Death in the American  City: Men's Life Expectancy in 25 Major American Cities from 1990 to 2015, by Andrew Fenelon and Michel Boudreaux, Volume 56, No. 6,  ($39.95)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Suburbs Are Home to Most American Households

Fifty-three percent of American households live in the suburbs, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Only one in three lives in a central (or principal) city...

Percent distribution of U.S. households by metropolitan status, 2018
33.4% are in the principal city of a metropolitan area
52.6% are in the suburb of a metropolitan area
14.0% are outside a metropolitan area

But there is great variation in metropolitan status by race and Hispanic origin. Among Asians and Blacks, the 51 percent majority of householders live in the principal city of a metropolitan area. The figure is 46 percent among Hispanics. In contrast, only 26 percent of non-Hispanic White householders live in a city. Consequently, non-Hispanic Whites head a much smaller share of city than suburban or nonmetropolitan households.

Non-Hispanic White share of U.S. households by metropolitan status, 2018
52% of principal city households
71% of suburban households
83% of nonmetropolitan households

Source: Census Bureau, 2019 Current Population Survey

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trends of the 2020s: The Rural-Urban Divide

The growing gap in the wellbeing of rural and urban America is an intractable problem likely to worsen in the 2020s. Here's why the problem won't go away. Over the years, ongoing urbanization has "sorted and segregated national populations" by personality type, according to Will Wilkinson, vice president for research at the Niskanen Center. In his paper, The Density Divide: Urbanization, Polarization, and Populist Backlash, Wilkinson examines research on personality type and selective migration and uses the lessons learned to explain the rural-urban divide.

Urban areas are increasingly home to people who score higher on the "openness to experience" personality domain, Wilkinson says. "People high in openness seek novelty, like to travel, are interested in other cultures, try new foods, are motivated to learn, and are relatively comfortable with ethnic and cultural difference," he explains. Population density and openness to experience are highly correlated, in part because those who are high in openness are also more likely to migrate. As urban areas accumulate people higher in openness, rural areas are increasingly populated by those who are less open. "Those low in openness are wary of change and more likely to hew to tradition, remain close to home, and feel unsettled by cultural difference." They are stuck in place, resistant to moving despite the problems of rural America—depopulation, the loss of jobs, lower incomes, relatively poor health, and widespread drug abuse. Rather than move to places of opportunity, they succumb to what economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case call "deaths of despair." (For a chilling account of this phenomenon, see Who Killed the Knapp Family? by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in the New York Times.)

The rural-urban divide is likely to widen in the 2020s not only because of what Wilkinson calls the "density divide" between urban and rural personalities, but also because of the "small-state bias" in our electoral system. Those high in openness tend to be more liberal and Democratic. Those low in openness tend to be more conservative and Republican. "Under the conditions of the density divide," Wilkinson concludes, "the constitutionally baked-in overrepresentation of sparsely populated states lends Republicans an enormous structural advantage, and as America's population continues to concentrate in highly urbanized states, this bias grows worse."

Monday, January 13, 2020

Teens Are Driving Less

The nation's teenagers are driving less than they once did. Only 50 percent of 16-to-17-year-olds drive on an average day, according to the 2017 National Household Travel Survey. This is down from 58 percent in 2009 and 63 percent in 2001.

Percentage of 16-to-17-year-olds who drive on an average day
2017: 50%
2009: 58%
2001: 63%

What's behind the decline in teen driving? One factor is that fewer 16-to-17-year-olds have a driver's license. Only 27 percent of 16-year-olds had a driver's license in 2018, down from 34 percent in 2001. Among 17-year-olds, the figure fell from 54 to 46.5 percent during those years, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

But there may be another reason for teens' lack of interest in cars. As the National Household Travel Survey report explains, "given the fact that teens have grown up in a society that is largely connected by technology, their travel patterns may be different in 2017 as compared to 2001." In other words, the smartphone is an easier and cheaper way to stay in touch with friends than the automobile.

Source: Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey, Travel Trends for Teens and Seniors

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Most Popular Outdoor Recreational Activities

Nearly half of Americans aged 6 or older (49 percent) participate in outdoor recreational activities during a year's time, according to the Outdoor Foundation. Annual participation has been at the 49 percent level for the past decade. Here are the outdoor fitness activities in which at least 10 percent of people aged 6 or older participate at least once a year...

Most popular outdoor fitness activities
Running: 19%
Fishing: 17%
Bicycling: 16%
Hiking: 15%
Camping: 14%

Among those who do not participate in outdoor recreational activities, 46 percent would like to do so. Family responsibilities are cited as the biggest obstacle to their participation.

Source: Outdoor Foundation, 2018 Outdoor Participation Report

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

How Many Books Do You Read in a Year?

If you read at least one book in the past year, you rank among the majority of Americans. According to a 2017 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, 53 percent of American adults read at least one book in the past 12 months—excluding those required for work or school. The median number of books read in a year's time is a modest 4.8, and the average 11.4. Still, the numbers add up. Americans read 1.4 billion books in 2017.

Women are more likely than men to have read a book in the past 12 months (61 versus 44 percent). By age, readership is as low as 47 percent among 18-to-24-year-olds, but is 50 percent or higher in all older age groups. The figure peaks at 57 percent among 65-to-74-year-olds. Not surprisingly, reading books increases with education...

Percent who read a book during past 12 months
High school graduate only: 40%
Some college/associate degree: 55%
College graduate: 68%
Graduate school: 79%

Twenty-three percent of adults used an electronic device, such as an e-reader or tablet computer, to read a book in the past year. Sixteen percent listened to an audiobook.

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Patterns of Arts Participation: A Full Report from the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Moms Provide Most Homeschooling Instruction

Nearly 1.7 million children aged 5 to 17 are being homeschooled in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Parents homeschool their children for a variety of reasons, but most parents cite these four...

80% homeschool because of concern about the environment of other schools
67% homeschool to provide moral instruction
61% homeschool because of dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools
51% homeschool to provide religious instruction

Mothers are the main provider of instruction for 78 percent of homeschooled students. Only 13 percent are taught primarily by their father. While Moms are the main teachers for most homeschooled students, 23 percent receive at least some instruction by a tutor or private teacher, and 31 percent receive at least some instruction from a local homeschooling group.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Homeschooling in the United States: Results from the 2012 and 2016 Parent and Family Involvement Survey

Monday, January 06, 2020

44% of People Aged 50-Plus Play Video Games

More older Americans are playing video games, according to a 2019 AARP survey. Forty-four percent of people aged 50 or older engage in "interactive digital entertainment that you play via a computer, a game console (like the Xbox or PlayStation), or a phone or tablet" at least once a month. This level of participation is higher than the 38 percent of 2016. The average 50-plus gamer spends five hours a week playing video games. Nearly half (47 percent) of older gamers play daily.

In the 50-plus age group, women are more likely than men to play video games—49 percent of women aged 50-plus report playing video games at least once a month versus 40 percent of men. Among the women gamers, 53 percent play daily. Among the men, only 39 percent play every day.

Percent of people aged 50-plus who play video games
Aged 50 to 59: 49%
Aged 60 to 69: 44%
Aged 70-plus: 39%

A growing share of older gamers use phones, tablets, or other mobile devices to play games—73 percent in 2019, up from 57 percent in 2016. A shrinking share play on computers or laptops—47 percent in 2019, down from 59 percent in 2016.

The three most popular types of games among older gamers are puzzle/logic games (named by 49 percent), card/tile games (47 percent), and trivia/word/traditional board video games (22 percent). What do older Americans get out of playing video games? The largest share—57 percent—say playing video games "provides me with relief from anxiety or stress."

Source: AARP, Gaming Attitudes and Habits of Adults Ages 50-Plus

Friday, January 03, 2020

Median Household Income Falls in November 2019

Median household income fell between October and November 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The $66,043 November median was 0.9 percent below the October 2019 median, according to Sentier Research. "The relatively large increase in inflation last month (0.3 percent), following a comparable increase the month before, had a negative effect on real median annual household income," reports Sentier. The Sentier estimates are derived from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and track the economic wellbeing of households on a monthly basis.

Despite the recent dip, "real median household income has continued to display an upward trend over the past 12 months (up 1.9 percent)," says Sentier's Gordon Green, "and especially since the low point reached in June 2011 (up 17.5 percent)." At the June 2011 low point—two years after the official end of the Great Recession— median household income was just $56,185.  

Sentier's Household Income Index for November 2019 was 106.2 (January 2000 = 100.0). In other words, the November 2019 median, after adjusting for inflation, was just 6.2 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: November 2019

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Nearly 1 Million Same-Sex Households in U.S.

Among the nearly 1 million same-sex couple households in the U.S. in 2018, 60 percent are married couples, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Total same-sex couple households: 995,420
Married couples: 592,561
Unmarried partners: 402,859

California, the most populous state, has the most same-sex couple households (135,274). Florida, Texas, and New York are home to more than 70,000. Only 878 same-sex couples live in Wyoming, the least populous state.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of Same-Sex Couple Households

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Trends of the 2020s: Slow-Go Boomers

Lists, rankings, and reviews. The end of a decade brings a torrent of retrospective. If you're tired of looking back, then let's look ahead. Using the demographics as a crystal ball, Trends of the 2020s will be a series of occasional posts identifying the major trends of the decade ahead.

Here's one of the major trends of the 2020s: Slow-Go Boomers. The oldest Boomers turn 74 this year. During the next two decades, the number of people aged 75 to 84 will expand by 84 percent as Boomers pass through the age group. The number of 75-to-84-year-olds is projected to rise from 16.6 million this year to 30.5 million by 2040, according to the Census Bureau. In the decades ahead, the Baby-Boom generation will downshift from the "Go Go" (65 to 74) lifestage of old age to the "Slow Go" (75 to 84) and "No Go" (85-plus) lifestages.

The 2010s was characterized by rapid growth in the number of 65-to-74-year-olds as the oldest Boomers filled the age group—the Go-Go years of old age. Recently retired and still physically robust, Boomers were eager to embrace new experiences. The next few decades will not be as easy. At ages 75 to 84, the Slow-Go years, physical difficulties and health conditions begin to limit activities and shape lifestyles. At ages 85-plus, the No-Go years, it gets worse.

Most in the Go-Go years of old age have no difficulty taking care of themselves (self-care), getting around (mobility), or doing chores (household activities), according to a Department of Health and Human Services study, Disability and Care Needs of Older Americans. With advancing age, however, the percentage of older Americans with difficulties rises steeply...

Percentage of people aged 75-plus with difficulties in self-care, mobility, or household activities
Aged 75 to 79: 48.5%
Aged 80 to 84: 59.4%
Aged 85 to 89: 75.0%
Aged 90-plus: 85.3%

During the 2020s, the oldest Boomers will age into the Slow-Go years, a time when difficulties become the norm. Most of those with difficulties receive help from unpaid caregivers—family and friends, primarily. Already, 40 million unpaid caretakers (16 percent of the population aged 15 or older) are helping the nation's elderly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' report, Unpaid Eldercare in the United States. And the oldest Boomers haven't even turned 75 yet. That happens in 2021.