Monday, July 13, 2020

Americans Are Increasingly Skeptical of the Police

Americans are increasingly skeptical of the police, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. A growing majority thinks police performance around the country is below par on measures such as using the right amount of force, treating racial and ethnic groups equally, and being accountable for misconduct.

Only 35 percent of the public thinks police do a good/excellent job of using the right amount of force. Fully 64 percent think police performance by this measure is only fair or poor. In 2016, Americans were more evenly split on this question, with a larger 45 percent rating police use of force good/excellent and a smaller 54 percent saying it was only fair/poor.

Similarly, when it comes to treating race and ethnic groups equally, only 34 percent think the police are doing a good/excellent job, far below the 47 percent who felt this way in 2016. When asked what kind of job police are doing holding themselves accountable for misconduct, only 31 percent say good/excellent, well below the 44 percent of 2016.

Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, most Americans agree that police performance is below par on these three measures. Blacks are especially likely to think so, and the majority of non-Hispanic whites agree.

Police are doing only fair/poor job of using the right amount of force
87% of Blacks
70% of Hispanics
57% of non-Hispanic whites

Police are doing only fair/poor job of treating racial/ethnic groups equally
90% of Blacks
73% of Hispanics
57% of non-Hispanic whites

Police are doing only fair/poor job of holding themselves accountable for misconduct
86% of Blacks
65% of Hispanics
65% of non-Hispanic whites

Source: Pew Research Center, Majority of Public Favors Giving Civilians the Power to Sue Police Officers for Misconduct

Thursday, July 09, 2020

35% Listen to Background Music Most of the Time

Do you listen to background music while doing other things such as driving, puttering around the house, exercising, and so on? More than one in three Americans aged 18 or older (35 percent) report playing background music more than half the time while they do everyday activities, according to an AARP survey. Another 34 percent listen to background music sometimes (25 to 50 percent of the time), and 28 percent do so rarely (up to 25 percent of the time). Just 4 percent say they never have music on in the background.

Younger adults are most likely to listen to background music while doing everyday activities. Here are the percentages by generation...

Listen to background music more than 50% of the time while doing everyday activities
42% of Gen Z
41% of Millennials
34% of Gen X
30% of Boomers
24% of Older Americans

Source: AARP, 2020 AARP Music and Brain Health Survey

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

The Impact of Covid-19 on Workers' Retirement Outlook

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) has been surveying the nation's workers about their retirement plans for two decades. TCRS fielded its 20th annual survey late in 2019. Then coronavirus happened, threatening to make the 2019 results irrelevant. So, TCRS rolled up its sleeves and went back into the field in April 2020 to measure the effects of the pandemic on retirement planning.

Many workers are worried, according to the April findings. Overall, 23 percent say the pandemic has made them less confident in their ability to retire comfortably. Boomer workers are most likely to say they have lost confidence...

Percent with less confidence in ability to retire comfortably because of the pandemic
Millennials: 20%
Gen Xers: 25%
Boomers: 32%

The 58 percent majority of all workers say their job has been impacted by the pandemic, with the largest share saying their hours have been reduced. A substantial 22 percent plan to or already have dipped into a retirement account because of the pandemic—33 percent of Millennials, 15 percent of Gen Xers, and 10 percent of Boomers.

Even a small dip into retirement savings is likely to make a large dent. Although most workers are saving for retirement, they haven't accumulated much. The median amount workers have saved for retirement is only $23,000 for households headed by Millennials, $64,000 for Gen Xers, and $144,000 for Boomers.

Source: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The Coronavirus Reshuffle

The nation's geographic mobility rate has been falling for years. That may be about to change because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than one in five adults (22 percent) say they moved or they know someone who moved because of the coronavirus, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Overall, 3 percent moved, 6 percent had someone move into their household, and 14 percent neither moved nor had someone move in but they know someone else who moved. Young adults are most likely to have moved...

Percent who moved for reasons related to the coronavirus outbreak
Aged 18 to 29: 9%
Aged 30 to 45: 3%
Aged 45 to 64: 2%
Aged 65-plus: 1%

Among those who moved, 61 percent moved in with family, 7 percent moved in with a friend, and 13 percent moved to a second home.

Source: Pew Research Center, About a Fifth of U.S. Adults Moved Due to Covid-19 or Know Someone Who Did

Monday, July 06, 2020

Business Outlook Is More Pessimistic

Every week since the end of April, the Census Bureau has been asking the nation's small businesses about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their operations and outlook for the future. The most recent results, collected during the last full week of June, are the most pessimistic yet.

As of June 21-27, the 54 percent majority of small businesses believed it would be more than 6 months before their business operations returned to normal, up from 38 percent who felt this way in Week 1 of the survey. The 54 percent figure includes the 10 percent of businesses that say their operations will never return to normal.

Percentage of small businesses saying it will be more than 6 months before their business operations return to normal...

38% in Week 1 (April 26-May 2)
39% in Week 2 (May 3-9)
42% in Week 3 (May 10-16)
52% in Week 4 (May 17-23)
51% in Week 5 (May 24-30)
51% in Week 6 (May 31-June 6)
47% in Week 7 (June 7-13)
50% in Week 8 (June 14-20)
54% in Week 9 (June 21-27)

Source: Census Bureau, Small Business Pulse Survey

Thursday, July 02, 2020

1.1 Million Fewer Children in the United States

The number of children in the United States fell by 1.5 percent between 2010 and 2019, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates, a decline of 1.1 million. Non-Hispanic whites were the only race and Hispanic origin group to experience a decline, however, with 7.8 percent fewer non-Hispanic white children in 2019 than in 2010. Among Blacks, the population under age 18 grew by just 0.9 percent during those years.

Percent change in population under age 18 by race and Hispanic origin, 2010–19

percent change 
Asians   15.7%
Blacks     0.9%
Hispanics     8.8%
Non-Hispanic whites    -7.8%

The non-Hispanic white share of the nation's children fell from 54 to 50 percent between 2010 and 2019.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2019 Population Estimates

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Younger Adults Are Watching Less TV

The decline in television viewing among younger Americans continues, according to the 2019 American Time Use Survey. People under age 55 are spending less time watching TV, while those aged 55 or older are watching more.

Overall, Americans aged 15 or older spent 2.81 hours watching television on an average day in 2019, almost identical to the 2.82 hours they spent watching TV on an average day in 2009. The overall average has barely changed because of diverging trends by age.

Time spent watching TV as a primary activity, 2019 (and percent change since 2009)
Aged 15 to 19: 2.03 hours (-12.5%)
Aged 20 to 24: 2.22 hours (  -9.4%)
Aged 25 to 34: 1.99 hours (-16.4%)
Aged 35 to 44: 2.03 hours (-14.0%)
Aged 45 to 54: 2.44 hours (  -8.6%)
Aged 55 to 64: 3.24 hours (   0.6%)
Aged 65 plus: 4.59 hours  (  13.3%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the American Time Use Survey

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Generations by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2019

The non-Hispanic white share of the population ranges from a low of just under 50 percent in the Recession generation (defined as children under age 10) to a high of 78 percent among the oldest Americans—those aged 74 or older, born before 1946.

Generation X most closely mirrors the race and Hispanic origin composition of the population as a whole. Generations younger than Gen X are more diverse than the national average, while those older than Gen X are less diverse.

Although Hispanics outnumber Blacks in the population as a whole, Blacks outnumber Hispanics among Boomers and Older Americans. The Asian share of the population is highest in the Millennial generation at 8.4 percent.

Percent Distribution of the Population by Generation, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 2019

Total population100.0% 7.0%14.7%18.5%    60.1%
Recession generation (0-9)100.0 7.418.326.0    49.6
Generation Z (10-24)100.0 7.317.424.0    52.1
Millennials (25-42)100.0 8.415.720.7    55.5
Generation X (43-54)100.0 7.313.918.0    60.8
Boomers (55-73)100.0 5.411.710.8    71.6
Older Americans (74-plus)100.0 4.8  8.9  8.1    77.7

Note: Numbers may not add to 100 percent because Asians and Blacks are those who identify themselves as being of the race alone or in combination with other races, Hispanics may be of any race, and not all races are shown.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's National Population by Characteristics: 2010–2019

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Worst Is Still to Come

The worst is still to come. That's what most Americans think about the coronavirus pandemic. The 59 percent majority of the public says we haven't seen the worst of it yet, according to a Pew Research Center survey fielded on June 16-22. This is 14 percentage points below the 73 percent who felt this way in April. Among Democrats, 76 percent believe the worst is yet to come, down from 87 percent in April. Among Republicans, 38 percent think it will get worse—18 percentage points below the 56 percent who felt that way in April.

Americans may be in denial about the worsening coronavirus pandemic, but businesses are not. A growing share are pessimistic about the future, according to the Census Bureau's Small Business Pulse Survey. In April, only 38 percent of small businesses thought it would take more than 6 months for their operations to return to normal. Now, a larger 50 percent feel that way. In Texas—a coronavirus hot spot—the ranks of the pessimists expanded from 34 percent in April to 52 percent in June.

Source: Pew Research Center, Republicans, Democrats Move Even Further Apart in Coronavirus Concerns; and Census Bureau, Small Business Pulse Survey

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Population by Race and Hispanic Origin, 2019

The non-Hispanic white population declined for the third year in a row in 2019, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates. The number of non-Hispanic whites peaked in 2016, fell by 96,000 in 2017, 213,000 in 2018, and 225,000 in 2019. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 60 percent of the total U.S. population in 2019, down from 64 percent in 2010.

The number of non-Hispanic whites under age 30 declined by 1.7 million between 2016 and 2019, in part because of the ongoing baby bust. The number aged 65 or older climbed by 3.1 million during those years as Boomers filled the age group.

Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2019 (numbers in 000s)
Total: 328,240 (100.0%)
Asian: 22,862 (7.0%)
Black: 48,221 (14.7%)
Hispanic: 60,572 (18.5%)
Non-Hispanic white: 197,310 (60.1%)

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

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics, 2010–2019

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Fewer Emergency Department Visits During Pandemic

Emergency department visits fell steeply during the first 10 weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, reports the CDC. Between March 13 (when a national emergency was declared) and May 23, emergency department visits fell 42 percent overall. Visits fell even for the most serious illnesses. The CDC examined the trend in emergency department visits for three serious illnesses—heart attack, stroke, and uncontrolled high blood sugar. The CDC notes that "these conditions represent acute events that always necessitate immediate emergency care, even during a public health emergency."

Apparently, many people did not get the memo. Compared to the 10 weeks prior to March 13, emergency department visits for heart attack were 23 percent lower in the 10 weeks following the emergency declaration. Emergency department visits for stroke fell 20 percent, and visits for hyperglycemic crisis fell 10 percent.

Who was most likely to avoid getting needed care? For uncontrolled high blood sugar, visits declined the most for younger adults. For heart attack, visits fell the most for people aged 65 to 74. For stroke, visits fell the most for men aged 65 to 74 and women aged 75 to 84.

"There have been reports of excess mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic," states the CDC. "The striking decline in ED visits for acute life-threatening conditions might partially explain observed excess mortality not associated with Covid-19."

Source: CDC, Potential Indirect Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Use of Emergency Departments for Acute Life-Threatening Conditions—United States, January—May 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Income Losses Widespread by Metro, State

Americans everywhere have been badly hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Among all adults aged 18 or older, 48 percent say they or a member of their household has experienced an employment income loss since March 13. By metropolitan area, the figure ranges from a low of 41 percent in Washington, DC, to a high of 60 percent in Los Angeles...

Percent of adults in 15 largest metros with household employment income loss since March 13 
50.3% in Atlanta
48.5% in Boston
48.8% in Chicago
49.9% in Dallas
57.5% in Detroit
52.9% in Houston
59.6% in Los Angeles
57.5% in Miami
55.2% in New York
50.4% in Philadelphia
47.1% in Phoenix
59.2% in Riverside-San Bernardino
54.8% in San Francisco
49.2% in Seattle
40.8% in Washington, DC

By state, the percentage of adults whose household has experienced an employment income loss ranges from lows of 36 to 37 percent in Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming to highs of 54 to 56 percent in California, Michigan, Nevada, and New York.

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey Week 6 (June 4-9)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Majority of 65-Plus Population Still Extremely Proud To Be an American

Among people aged 65 or older, 53 percent say they are extremely proud to be an American, according to a Gallup survey. This is the only demographic segment in which more than 50 percent still feels extreme pride in their nationality.

Extreme pride in being an American has taken a big hit over the past few years, falling from a peak of 69 percent in the years following the 2001 terrorist attacks to just 42 percent in 2020—a record low. Since 2016, the percentage who feel extreme pride in being an American has fallen by 10 percentage points. 

Extremely proud to be an American, 2020 (and percentage point change since 2016)
53% of those aged 65 or older (-2)
50% of men (-3)
49% of whites (-5)
48% of those aged 50 to 64 (-16)
46% of those without a college degree (-8)
42% of those aged 30 to 49 (-9)
34% of women (-16)
34% of college graduates (-13)
24% of nonwhites (-21)
20% of those aged 18 to 29 (-14)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Dental Care Makes a Difference

Toothlessness is associated with being old, but maybe not for much longer. The percentage of people aged 65 or older who have lost all their teeth has plunged over the past two decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2000, a substantial 30 percent of people aged 65 or older had lost all their teeth. By 2017–18, just 13 percent were toothless. Behind the decline is more and better dental care.

Most Americans aged 18 or older see a dentist at least once a year, and nearly half see a dentist every six months. Because dental care is expensive, however, there are big differences in the frequency of dental visits by socioeconomic status such as educational attainment...

Percent with a dental visit in the past year (and past 6 months) by education
47% (27%) of those who did not graduate from high school
55% (37%) of high school graduates 
65% (48%) of those with some college/associate's degree
79% (64%) of those with a bachelor's degree 

A lack of dental care can have serious consequences. Among people aged 65 or older without a high school diploma, fully 32 percent have lost all their teeth. Among those with more education, only 10 percent are toothless. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Don't Expect a Baby Boom

If you think the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders will lead to a boom in births next year, think again. Rather than a boom, expect a "large, lasting baby bust," according to a Brookings analysis. Researchers Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip Levine estimate that the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus will result in 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021 than would normally have occurred. They come to this conclusion after studying the fertility decline of the Great Recession and the 1918 Spanish Flu.

Birth rates, they point out, are pro-cyclical. They rise when times are good and fall when times are bad. These are very bad times. "An analysis of the Great Recession leads us to predict that women will have many fewer babies in the short term, and for some of them, a lower total number of children over their lifetimes," say the researchers. If the unemployment rate remains high in 2021 and beyond, the Covid baby bust could be even worse than they estimate, the researchers warn. Many more births will be delayed, and some births will never happen. The Covid-19 baby bust will be "yet another cost of this terrible episode," they conclude.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Smartphones are #1 Internet Device

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has been tracking the variety of devices used by Americans to go online since 2011. Here are the trends...

Desktop computers were the most popular internet device in 2011, with 45 percent of Americans aged 3 or older going online via a desktop. But desktops have fallen out of favor, and in 2019 only 28 percent used a desktop to go online. 

Laptop computer use has barely changed over the past decade, with 43 percent of the public using a laptop to go online in 2011 and 47 percent doing so in 2019. 

Smartphone use has soared. Only 27 percent of Americans used a smartphone to go online in 2011. In 2019, 68 percent used a smartphone to access the internet, far surpassing the use of any other type of device. 

Tablet computer use has grown since 2011, when only 6 percent of the public used a tablet to go online. But growth leveled off in 2015. In 2019, 30 percent used a tablet computer to go online.

Wearable internet devices such as smartwatches were first tracked by the NTIA in 2015, when just 1 percent of Americans used one. In 2019, the figure had grown to 12 percent.

Smart TVs, connected to the internet, were owned by 14 percent of the public in 2011. By 2019, ownership had grown to 41 percent.

Most Americans use more than one type of device to go online, the NTIA reports. In 2019, nearly two-thirds of the public (64 percent) reported using at least two types of devices to access the internet, and 45 percent used three or more. 

Source: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA Data Reveal Shifts in Technology Use, Persistent Digital Divide

Monday, June 15, 2020

6% of Adults Have Attended a Protest in the Past Month

It may seem as though just about everyone has been protesting in the streets in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. Not so, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only 6 percent of adults say they have attended a protest or rally focused on race or racial equality in the past month. The figure is highest among 18-to-29-year-olds at 13 percent. Among people aged 65 or older, 2 percent say they have participated. 

Blacks, Asians and Hispanics are about equally likely to have participated in a protest. Whites are about half as likely as Blacks to have done so.

Attended a protest or rally focused on race or race relations in past month
Blacks: 10%
Asians: 10%
Hispanics: 9%
Whites: 5%

Among Democrats, 10 percent have taken part in a racial equality protest or rally in the past month. Among Republicans, the figure is 2 percent.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Steep Decline in Satisfaction

Satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States has plummeted since February, according to a Gallup survey. "The decline since February came in two waves," Gallup explains. First was a decline due to the spread of coronavirus. This was followed by another decline after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

In February 2020, 45 percent of Americans aged 18 or older said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., a 15-year high. By early June, only 20 percent said they were satisfied with the way things are going. The decline in satisfaction occurred primarily among Republicans.  

Percent satisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time...

February 2020
Republicans: 80%
Democrats: 13%

June 2020
Republicans: 39%
Democrats: 6%

Source: Gallup, Satisfaction with U.S. Direction Lowest in Four Years

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

This Time Is Different

Six years ago when Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner was killed by police in New York City, the Washington Post asked Americans whether these deaths were isolated incidents or indicative of broader problems in policing. Only 43 percent of the public said the killings indicated a broader problem, and 51 percent called them isolated incidents.

When the Washington Post asked Americans the question again on June 2-7 in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, fully 69 percent of the public said the killing was a sign of broader problems in policing. Only 29 percent called it an isolated incident.

This time is different. The widespread revulsion over the killing of George Floyd and the multiple incidents of police misconduct revealed by smartphones in the following days appear to be a tipping point. Most Americans, from every walk of life, are fed up with the police.

"Do you think the killing of George Floyd was an isolated incident or a sign of broader problems in treatment of black Americans by police?"

(percent saying the killing is a sign of broader problems)

69% of all adults

64% of men
74% of women

77% of people aged 18 to 29
72% of people aged 30 to 39
75% of people aged 40 to 49
66% of people aged 50 to 64
60% of people aged 65-plus

68% of whites
75% of nonwhites

68% of those without a college degree
73% of those with a college degree

64% of whites without a college degree
74% of whites with a college degree

72% of urban residents
69% of suburban residents
64% of rural residents

Republicans are the only remaining holdouts. Among them, 51 percent call the killing an isolated incident, and 47 percent say it a sign of a broader problem in policing.

Source: Washington Post, Big Majorities Support Protests over Floyd Killing and Say Police Need to Change, Poll Finds and June 2-7 Washington Post-Schar School National Poll results

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

51% Decline in Spending on Food Away from Home

Americans spent 51 percent less on food away from home in March 2020 than in March 2019, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service. Spending on food at home was 19 percent greater than a year earlier.

Food-at-home spending is defined as spending on food at grocery stores, super centers, convenience stores, and other retailers. Food-away-from-home spending is defined as spending on food at restaurants, school cafeterias, sports venues, and other eating-out places.

Total spending on eating out, including tax and tips, was $72 billion in March 2019 and just $36 billion in March 2020. This is the smallest monthly amount spent on eating out in the history of the series, which dates back to 1997. February 2020's spending is the second lowest.

Change in spending February 2019 and February 2020 (in constant dollars)
Groceries: +6.5%
Eating-out: -39.3%

Change in spending, March 2019 and March 2020 (in constant dollars)
Groceries: +18.8%
Eating-out: -51.0%

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Eating-Out Expenditures in March 2020 Were 51 Percent Below March 2019 Expenditures

Monday, June 08, 2020

Feeling Nervous, Anxious, on Edge?

How often have you felt nervous, anxious, or on edge during the past week? Chances are, you've felt that way on at least several days, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey fielded May 21-26. Only 37 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they did not feel nervous, anxious, or on edge on any day that week. Another 34 percent said they had been bothered by anxiety on several days, and 28 percent had been bothered on most days or every day. The Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey is tracking the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the well-being of the public, including mental health.

Not surprisingly, the demographics of those who are cool as a cucumber differ dramatically from those who are a quivering basket of nerves. One of the biggest differences is by age, with younger adults much more freaked out than their elders—and with good reason since younger adults are the ones being hit harder by job losses. Here are the extremes: the 61 percent majority of people aged 80 or older say they have not suffered from anxiety on even one day in the past week; among people aged 18 to 29, only 28 percent have nerves of steel. Keep in mind, the survey does not include the elderly living in nursing homes, who might be a lot more anxious than their peers in the community.

Days in past week when you felt nervous, anxious, or on edge, May 21-26

none  several   most or every
Total 18-plus  37.3%    34.4%      28.3%
Aged 18 to 29  27.8    33.8      38.4
Aged 30 to 39  29.4    36.9      33.7
Aged 40 to 49  32.7    37.1      30.1
Aged 50 to 59  36.2    35.8      28.0
Aged 60 to 69  45.5    33.3      21.2
Aged 70 to 70  57.6    28.2      14.2
Aged 80-plus  60.9    23.1      16.1

Note that Wave 4 of the Household Pulse Survey was taken before the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests and unrest across the country. 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Millennials and Covid-19

Millennials are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. According to an analysis by Ana H. Kent of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, there are three reasons the pandemic may be a devastating setback for the generation.

Still behind: Millennials are still struggling from the economic effects of the Great Recession, the only generation further behind economically in 2016 than in 2010. The median wealth of Millennials (defined as those born from 1981 to 1996) was a paltry $12,100 in 2016, says Kent. Even among those with a bachelor's degree, median wealth was just $37,500.

No buffer: At the end of 2019, Millennials had less wealth than Gen X or Boomers at the same age. "If Millennials as a group were still behind and struggling financially after so many years of overall growth, a large economic shock (like the one caused by Covid-19) could upend many of their lives," warns Kent. One in four Millennial households has negative net worth, she reports, and 16 percent could not pay for a $400 emergency expense by any means.

Big losses: Already economically fragile, the Millennial generation has been especially hurt by job losses during the pandemic. Because workers in many of the hard hit industries such as food service, leisure, and hospitality are younger than average, Millennials are suffering more unemployment than older generations.

"Young adult Americans are facing very serious economic upheaval," Kent concludes. The good news, she says: they still have time to recover.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Three Reasons Why Millennials May Face Devastating Setback from Covid-19

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Only 36% Have Ever Felt the Urge to Protest

Most Americans believe in the right to protest, but a surprisingly small share of the public has ever wanted to do so. According to a 2018 Gallup survey, just 36 percent of adults have "ever felt the urge to organize or join a public demonstration."

Seventy-nine percent of the public thinks the people's right to nonviolent protest is very important to maintaining a strong democracy in the United States, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. Most believe in the importance of nonviolent protest regardless of political persuasion, with 88 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans calling it very important. But only 21 percent of Republicans had ever felt the urge to protest, reports Gallup. Among Democrats, the figure was 51 percent.

The urge to protest has become more widespread over the past half century. When Gallup asked the question in 1965, only 10 percent of Americans said they had ever felt like organizing or joining a protest. Perhaps the growing polarization of our society is behind the rise. If Gallup were to ask Americans in 2020 whether they have ever felt like protesting, it's likely well more than 36 percent would say yes.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Price of New Single-Family Homes Falls Again

Home prices fell again in 2019. The median price of new single-family houses sold fell 3 percent between 2018 and 2019, after adjusting for inflation. This was the second year of decline since the price peaked in 2017.

Median price of new, single-family homes sold (in 2019 dollars)
2019: $321,500
2018: $332,314
2017: $336,989 (all-time high)
2009: $258,235 (post-Great Recession low)
2005: $315,350 (pre-Great Recession high)
2000: $250,906

Home prices fell despite the fact that the number of houses sold climbed to 683,000 in 2019—the largest number since 2007 and 11 percent more than in 2018. One factor that may explain the price decline is the smaller size of houses sold. The median square feet of floor area in new single-family houses sold in 2019 fell to 2,322, which is 113 square feet smaller than the 2018 median. This is the largest square-footage decline in the Census Bureau's series, which dates back to 1978.

Source: Census Bureau, Characteristics of New Housing

Monday, June 01, 2020

Covid-19 Wreaks Economic Havoc

The enormous economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is laid bare by the Census Bureau's new Household Pulse Survey, which is tracking the impact of the pandemic on the American public week by week. Among adults in households with children under age 18, the 55 percent majority say they or someone else in the household have experienced a loss of employment income since March 13, according to the May 14-19 wave of the survey. Among adults in households without children, 44 percent have experienced such a loss.

The percentage of Americans who report a loss of employment income since March 13 exceeds 50 percent in every age group under age 55...

Percent experiencing a loss of employment income for self or other household member
Total 18-plus: 48%
Aged 18 to 24: 58%
Aged 25 to 39: 54%
Aged 40 to 54: 56%
Aged 55 to 64: 49%
Aged 65-plus: 27%

By race and Hispanic origin, 60 percent of Hispanics have experienced a loss of employment income. The figure is 55 percent for Blacks, 47 percent for Asians, and 44 percent for non-Hispanic Whites.

Most adults with household incomes below $50,000 have experienced a loss of employment income since March 13. The figure falls as household income rises. But even among those in the most affluent households—with incomes of $200,000 or more—a substantial 31 percent have lost employment income during the pandemic.

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey: May 14—May 19

Thursday, May 28, 2020

For Nation's Colleges, No Growth Is Best-Case Scenario

Among high school graduates in 2019, fully 66 percent were enrolled in college by October 2019. This is not a record high enrollment rate, but it's close. The record high of 70 percent was reached in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the high unemployment rate of the Great Recession drove young adults onto college campuses. Will the college enrollment rate of 2020 rise due to the high unemployment rate of the coronavirus pandemic? Or will the college enrollment rate of 2020 decline because of Covid-19 fears and confusion?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics' recently released projections, college enrollment will rise slowly but surely in every year from now through 2028, the end of the projection period. Of course the projections were produced before the coronavirus pandemic. From 19.9 million students enrolled in college in 2019, the NCES projects that the number will inch above 20 million in 2023 and reach 20.3 million in 2028. That kind of stability—once seen as troublesome for a system of higher education accustomed to robust enrollment growth—would be very good news.

College enrollment in the United States peaked in 2010 at just over 21 million—37 percent higher than in 2000. Since 2010, enrollment has been drifting downward as the economy recovered from the Great Recession, luring young adults away from college campuses and into offices and factories. Colleges had been struggling to adapt to the no-growth environment before coronavirus hit. Now they would welcome no growth over the alternative—an enrollment plunge.

College enrollment for selected years, 2000 to 2028 (in millions)
2000: 15.3
2010: 21.0
2019: 19.9
2020: 19.9
2025: 20.2
2028: 20.3

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Projections of Education Statistics to 2028

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

28% Personally Know Someone with Covid-19

Only 2 percent of Americans aged 18 or older have been diagnosed with Covid-19, according to a Pew Research Center survey fielded April 29-May 5. Fourteen percent think they've had Covid-19 but have not been diagnosed. Twenty-eight percent of the American public personally knows someone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, and 20 percent know someone who was hospitalized or died from the virus. Region of residence is the biggest determinant of whether Americans personally know someone with Covid-19...

Personally know someone diagnosed with Covid-19
Northeast: 42%
Midwest: 29%
South: 25%
West: 21%

Personally know someone who was hospitalized or died from Covid-19
Northeast: 31%
Midwest: 22%
South: 18%
West: 13%

Source: Pew Research Center, Few U.S. Adults Say They've Been Diagnosed with Coronavirus, but More than a Quarter Know Someone Who Has

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Early May Reactions to the Coronavirus

58% of those going to work are somewhat/very concerned about exposing members of their household to the coronavirus after being exposed at work.
Washington Post-Ipsos Coronavirus Employment Survey (April 27-May 4)

79% of workers who have been laid off because of coronavirus think “the U.S. should keep trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus, even if that means keeping many businesses closed.” Among all Americans, 74% think we should go slow.
Washington Post-Ipsos Coronavirus Employment Survey (April 27-May 4)

72% say they would get vaccinated if there were a Covid-19 vaccine.
—Pew Research Center, Most Americans Expect a Covid-19 Vaccine within a Year; 72% Say They Would Get Vaccinated (April 29-May 5)

73% think the better option right now is for people to stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Gallup, Social Distancing Eases as Some States Lift Restrictions (May 10)

54% are very/extremely concerned that limiting restrictions in their area will result in more people being infected. 75% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans are very/extremely concerned.
—AP-NORC Poll, Many Are Wary of Re-Opening (May 14-18)

65% say they have avoided public places in the past week, down from 78% in early April.
63% have avoided small gatherings in the past week, down from 84% in early April.
—Gallup, More Americans Venturing Out in Public; Most Still Isolating (May 17)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Births Decline Again in 2019, Record Low Fertility Rate

The decline continues. The number of babies born in the U.S. fell to 3,745,540 in 2019, the smallest number since 1985, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has fallen in every year since 2007. The ongoing baby bust, once thought to be a temporary consequence of the Great Recession, instead is revealing itself to be a permanent shift in American fertility.

Number of births (in 000s)
2019: 3,746
2018: 3,792
2017: 3,856
2016: 3,946
2015: 3,978 
2014: 3,988
2013: 3,932
2012: 3,953
2011: 3,954
2010: 3,999 
2009: 4,131
2008: 4,248
2007: 4,316 (record high)

The number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 (the general fertility rate) fell to 58.2 in 2019. This was 2 percent lower than in 2018 and a new record low. The fertility decline is occurring in most age groups, with birth rates for women aged 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 29 hitting new record lows in 2019. The birth rates of women aged 30 to 34 and 35 to 39 were unchanged in 2019, as was the rate for women aged 45 to 49. The birth rate increased in 2019 only among women aged 40 to 44, a trend that has been ongoing since 1985. 

The total fertility rate—the number of births a woman can expect in her lifetime given current age-specific fertility rates—fell to a record low of 1.705 in 2019. This is well below the 2.1 replacement level. "The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement since 2007," NCHS states.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2019 (PDF)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Fewer Are Donating to Charity

In the past year, 73 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they donated money to charitable organizations, according to a Gallup survey. This is a record low, below the previous low of 79 percent during the Great Recession. But Covid-19 may have influenced responses to the survey, Gallup cautions. Gallup fielded the survey from April 14-28. Although the survey asked about charitable donations over the past year, some respondents may have said what they are currently doing rather than what they have done.

Charitable donations fell the most among lower-income households. Only 56 percent of households with incomes below $40,000 indicated that they had made charitable donations in the past year, fully 17 percentage points lower than the last time Gallup asked the question in 2017. Among households with incomes of $100,000 or more, the percentage donating money fell by just 5 percentage points during the same time period—from 92 to 87 percent.

When asked whether they will give more or less money to charity in the next year, 25 percent say they will give more. Another 66 percent said they will give the same amount. Just 7 percent will give less. "The duration and severity of the economic downturn will be a key factor in whether Americans are able to fulfill those intentions," Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, Percentage of Americans Donating to Charity at New Low

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

What One Word Comes to Mind When You Think of Trump?

"When you think about Donald Trump today, what is the single word that you think best describes him?" This question was asked by PRRI in its 2019 American Values Survey. Overall, 62 percent of the public responded with a negative word, 26 percent a positive word, and 12 percent a neutral word. PRRI researcher Daniel Greenberg analyzed the negative responses.

"Some respondents included obscene language in their responses," Greenberg notes. "These obscene responses are included for data purposes only." In the interest of social science, prepare to hear some nasty language. Ok, maybe not that nasty. Greenberg's analysis shields us from the worst, but it does include some juicy bits.

Asshole, for example, is mentioned and classified as a "negative personality" response. Others in this category are bully and liar. The "negative intellect" category includes such terms as stupid, moron, and joke. In the "negative ego" category are the terms narcissist, arrogant, and selfish. Finally, there's the "extremely negative" category, which includes corrupt, bigot, crazy, evil, and sociopath.

Not surprisingly, the "extremely negative" group is the most pro-Democratic, according to the analysis. Among those who provided an "extremely negative" word, 75 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. This compares with 61 percent of those who provided a "negative personality" word, 57 percent of those who gave a "negative intellect" word, and 49 percent of those who volunteered a "negative ego" word. Among all those who provided a negative one-word description of Trump, Democrats account for the 53 percent majority. Another 37 percent are independents. Five percent are Republicans.

Source: PRRI, Data Reveals the First Word Americans Connect to Trump

Monday, May 18, 2020

Most Small Businesses Badly Hurt by Covid-19

The 51.4 percent majority of the nation’s small businesses say the Covid-19 pandemic has had a large negative effect on them. Among small businesses in accommodations and food services, fully 83.5 percent say Covid-19 has hurt them badly—the highest percentage by industry sector. Among businesses in arts and entertainment, 75.2 percent say they have experienced a large negative effect from Covid-19, as have 74.3 percent of those in educational services and 69.5 percent of health care and social assistance firms.

This information comes from the Census Bureau’s new Small Business Pulse Survey, a weekly data collection effort to track the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on small business. The Census Bureau defines small businesses as single-location employer businesses with 1 to 499 employees and receipts of $1,000 or more. The first of what will be weekly releases reveals the status of small businesses as of April 26 through May 4.

Only 7.6 percent of small businesses say the Covid-19 pandemic has had little or no effect on them. Those most likely to report minimal impact are utilities (37 percent).

The Small Business Pulse Survey gets into the weeds, with state-level detail. In New York State, 62.2 percent of small businesses say the pandemic has had a large negative effect on them. In Texas, 48.9 percent say so. What are some of these negative effects? In the past seven days, nationally, three out of four small businesses say their operating revenues have declined, and more than one in four has had to reduce paid employees. Seventy-five percent of small businesses have requested assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Source: Census Bureau, Small Business Pulse Survey: Tracking Changes During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Thursday, May 14, 2020

April Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment

The unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent in April—more than three times the 4.4 percent rate of March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the highest rate of unemployment since the Great Depression. But even this painful figure is an underestimate of the actual level of unemployment in April, as the BLS states in its Employment Situation news release. Here's why: a number of interviewers misclassified those who were unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic as employed but absent from work. Adding the misclassified workers onto the unemployment roles would have increased the April unemployment rate by nearly 5 percentage points.

Keep this in mind as you take a look at April’s unemployment rates by educational attainment...

Unemployment rate of people aged 25 or older by education, April 2020 (and March 2020)
Not a high school graduate: 21.2% (6.8%)
High school graduate only: 17.3% (4.4%)
Some college/associate degree: 15.0% (3.7%)
Bachelor’s degree or more: 8.4% (2.5%)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation—April 2020

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

17% Walk, Bike on an Average Day

On a typical day, 17 percent of Americans aged 5 or older travel by walking or biking, according to the Federal Highway Administration's National Household Travel Survey. Each of these "non-motorized trips," as the NHTS calls them, averages 1 mile in length and lasts 16 minutes. The trips are for a variety of purposes such as exercise, recreation, going to work, or visiting a store.

Some people are more likely to walk/bike places than others. Among people who report excellent health, 19 percent walk or bike on an average day compared with just 9 percent of those in poor health. People who usually exercise vigorously in a typical week are more likely to report walking or biking on an average day (22 percent) than those who report rarely or never exercising (8 percent). Not surprisingly, people who live in large cities are most likely to report walking or biking on an average day (34 percent) while those in live in rural areas are least likely (10 percent).

Percent of people aged 5 or older who walk/bike on an average day, by place of residence
Major city: 34%
Suburb: 21%
Small town: 14%
Rural area: 10%

Source: Federal Highway Administration, National Household Travel Survey, Non-Motorized Travel (PDF)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How Many Will Lose Their Health Insurance?

The official unemployment rate climbed to 14.7 percent in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, a level of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. Sky high unemployment is not just an economic problem for the United States, but also a public health problem. Most Americans depend on employer-provided health insurance. As they lose their jobs, they lose their insurance.

An Urban Institute study tallies up just how many are likely to lose their health insurance in the months ahead, and the results are not for the faint of heart. Urban Institute researchers examined the health insurance consequences of an unemployment rate of 15, 20, and 25 percent. Here are the findings...

15% unemployment rate: 17.7 million would lose insurance (5.1 million more uninsured)
20% unemployment rate: 25.4 million would lose insurance (7.3 million more uninsured)
25% unemployment rate: 33.0 million would lose insurance (9.6 million more uninsured)

Note that the number of people losing employer-provided health insurance far surpasses the number who join the ranks of the uninsured. That's because many of the uninsured would qualify for Medicaid because of their lower incomes, and many others would purchase marketplace health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Despite these safety nets, however, the Urban Institute projects a painful rise in the number of Americans without health insurance. With unemployment at 15 percent, the number of uninsured would rise 18 percent. At 20 percent unemployment, the number of uninsured would increase by 26 percent. At 25 percent unemployment, the uninsured would expand by 34 percent.

But the situation might become even uglier than these numbers suggest. That's because, once again, the Affordable Care Act is before the Supreme Court, with a number of states arguing that the law should be declared unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court agrees and strikes down the ACA, warns the Urban Institute, our Great Depression level of unemployment will lead to many more uninsured Americans than the estimates indicate. "Reversing the ACA, and thereby strengthening the relationship between joblessness and uninsurance, would counteract efforts to contain the virus, improve public health, and stabilize the economy."

Source: Urban Institute, How the Covid-19 Recession Could Affect Health Insurance Coverage

Monday, May 11, 2020

Married Couples Peak in the 40-to-44 Age Group

Only 48 percent of the nation's 129 million households are headed by married couples, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. By age, the married-couple share of households first rises above the 50 percent threshold in the 35-to-39 age group, peaks at 58 percent in the 40-to-44 age group, and falls back below the 50 percent threshold in the 75-to-79 age group. Only 20 percent of households headed by people aged 85 or older are married couples.

Percent of households headed by married couples by age of householder, 2019
Total households: 48.2%
Under age 25: 14.5%
Aged 25 to 29: 32.6%
Aged 30 to 34: 49.4%
Aged 35 to 39: 56.9%
Aged 40 to 44: 58.1%
Aged 45 to 49: 57.3%
Aged 50 to 54: 54.7%
Aged 55 to 59: 52.8%
Aged 60 to 64: 52.4%
Aged 65 to 69: 51.5%
Aged 70 to 74: 51.0%
Aged 75 to 79: 44.3%
Aged 80 to 84: 37.4%
Aged 85-plus: 20.4%

The married-couple share of households was as high as 78.8 percent in 1949. The share fell below 70 percent in 1971, below 60 percent in 1981, and below 50 percent in 2010.

Source: Census Bureau, Age and Sex Composition in the United States: 2019

Thursday, May 07, 2020

What Grade Would You Give Yourself for Social Distancing?

Americans are doing a pretty good job of staying at home to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey fielded April 15-20. Most report not leaving home at all in the past week to visit, work, or even exercise....

Percent who did not leave home in the past week
70% did not leave home at all to visit close friends or family
67% did not leave home at all to go to work
57% did not leave home at all to exercise
20% did not leave home at all to shop for essentials

When asked to grade themselves on their social distancing practices in the past two weeks, 53 percent of Americans give themselves a grade of A. They are not so generous with their neighbors. Only 35 percent give their neighbors an A for following social distancing guidelines. Another 35 percent give their neighbors a B, and a substantial 24 percent give their neighbors a grade of C, D, or F.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, KKF Health Tracking Poll—Late April 2020: Coronavirus, Social Distancing, and Contact Tracing

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Missing the Museums

How soon will Americans return to cultural attractions—the museums, parks, aquariums, zoos, theaters, and concerts they have been unable to visit during the Covid-19 shutdown? The public expects to resume normal visitation patterns within three months, according to Colleen Dilenschneider, the Chief Market Engagement Officer for IMPACTS, a firm that tracks audience engagement for nonprofit and cultural organizations. Dilenschneider provides her insights on the Know Your Own Bone website.

IMPACTS' weekly survey of adults who are likely to visit or have visited cultural attractions in the past shows that "intent to visit" is returning to normal after falling in March. Twenty-one percent of survey respondents as of May 2 intend to visit one of 84 cultural organizations within the next three months. This is the same percentage as the survey measured one year earlier—before coronavirus. Intent to visit is returning to normal. "People who enjoy visiting cultural organizations are starting to plan their trips again," says Dilenschneider.

While this is good news, there's a caveat. "Near-term demand for onsite cultural engagement is being redistributed away from some organization types and towards others," cautions Dilenschneider. Those who visit botanic gardens may be more likely to visit them than usual, according to the survey's findings. Those who visit zoos, public beaches, aquariums, and museums also indicate an increased interest in visiting. But those who attend movie theaters, performing arts, concerts, or sports stadiums are less interested in resuming their usual attendance pattern.

"Experiences requiring a visitor to be indoors and in stationary, close quarters do not currently indicate the same levels of demand as do other cultural enterprises," Dilenschneider concludes.

Source: Colleen Dilenschneider, Know Your Own Bone, Data Update: How Covid-19 Is Impacting Intentions to Visit Cultural Entities—May 4, 2020 and Which Cultural Entities Will People Return to after Reopening?—April 22, 2020

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Biggest Vapers Are Former Smokers

Before coronavirus began to dominate the news, another sort of epidemic was capturing our attention: vaping. Remember those days? Here is the latest data on the prevalence of vaping by age group...

Currently use (and ever-used) e-cigarettes by age, 2018
Total 18-plus: 3.2% (14.9%)
Aged 18 to 24: 7.6% (25.8%)
Aged 25 to 44: 4.3% (21.1%)
Aged 45 to 64: 2.1% (11.0%)
Aged 65-plus: 0.8% (4.7%)

Young adults are the biggest users of e-cigarettes, with about one in four 18-to-24-year-olds having ever used them. But age is not the biggest determinant of use. The biggest determinant is cigarette smoking status. Among people who never smoked, only 6.5 percent have ever used e-cigarettes. Among current cigarette smokers, the figure is 49.4 percent. And among former cigarette smokers who quit in the past year, fully 57.3 percent have ever used e-cigarettes and 25.2 percent currently use them. The evidence indicates that cigarette smokers are using e-cigarettes to help them kick the smoking habit.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Electronic Cigarette Use among U.S. Adults, 2018

Monday, May 04, 2020

Late April Reactions to the Coronavirus Pandemic

21% would return to their normal activities right now if their state lifted coronavirus restrictions, This is 8 percentage points higher than the 13% who felt this way on April 2-6.
44% of Republicans say they would return to normal right now, up 19 percentage points.
22% of Democrats say they would return to normal right now, up 10 percentage points.
—Gallup, Americans Differ Greatly in Readiness to Return to Normal (April 20-26)

59% have practiced social distancing at all times during the past 24 hours, lower than the 65% who did so in early April.
69% of Democrats practiced social distancing at all times in the past 24 hours, down from 73%.
46% of Republicans practiced social distancing at all time in the past 24 hours, down from 55%.
—Gallup, Americans Still Social Distancing, but Less Vigilant (April 20-26)

50% of working Americans have been financially affected by the coronavirus—they or someone in their household has either lost their job or had their hours reduced.
55% of people under age 45 have been financially affected.
44% of people aged 45 or older have been financially affected.
—NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, Half of Americans Financially Affected by Coronavirus (April 21-26)

50% of American adults had a job on April 30, 17 percentage points lower than the 67% of March 26.
—Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California, Understanding Coronavirus in America (April 30)

41% expect the disruptions to travel, school, work, and public events in the U.S. to continue for a few more months before it starts to improve.
37% expect  he disruptions to travel, school, work, and public events in the U.S. to continue for the rest of the year or longer before it starts to improve.
22% expect the disruptions to travel, school, work, and public events in the U.S. to continue for a few more weeks before it begins to improve.
—Gallup, As Curve Flattens, Americans See Progress but Longer Battle (April 20-26)

24% of those who have not had coronavirus think they will get it in the next three months.
21% of those who have not had coronavirus think they will die from it if they get it.
—Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, University of Southern California, Understanding Coronavirus in America (April 30)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Record Low Marriage Rate in the U.S.

The marriage rate has never been lower. We all had a hunch this was the case. Now we have the facts. In 2018, there were 2.1 million marriages in the United States—6.5 marriages per 1,000 population, the lowest rate going all the way back to 1900, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The marriage rate has had its ups and downs over the years. It reached a peak of 16.4 marriages per 1,000 population in 1946, as couples eagerly tied the knot after the disruptions of World War II. For the next half century or so, the marriage rate bobbled between 10.9 at the highest and 8.4 at the lowest. Then something changed. In 2000, the rate fell to what was then an all-time low of 8.2 marriages per 1,000 population. By 2010, it was just 6.8, and in 2018 it fell to 6.5.

Number of marriages per 1,000 population for selected years, 1900 to 2018
2018: 6.5 (record low)
2010: 6.8
2000: 8.2
1990: 9.8
1980: 10.6
1970: 10.6
1960: 8.5
1950: 11.1
1946: 16.4 (peak)
1940: 12.1
1930: 9.2
1920: 12.0
1910: 10.3
1900: 9.3

Two factors explain the record low marriage rate. First, the majority of young men and women today go to college after graduating from high school. Many of them postpone marriage until they finish their schooling and establish a career. The median age at first marriage for both men and women has been rising almost every year for nearly a decade. In 2019, it was 29.8 for men and 28.0 for women. The all-time lows in median age at first marriage occurred in 1956—age 22.5 for men and 20.1 for women, according to the Census Bureau. Another reason for the low marriage rate is the greater acceptance of cohabitation, which has become the norm for young adults prior to marriage.

Will the marriage rate sink even lower? Probably. Social distancing regulations due to coronavirus are sure to postpone tens of thousands of weddings scheduled for 2020.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Marriage Rates in the United States, 1900–2018

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 1st Quarter 2020

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, first quarter 2020: 59.4%

Just as the homeownership rate was beginning to recover from the Great Recession, the coronavirus hit. The pandemic will likely dampen the homeownership rate in the months and years to come as homeowners struggle to pay their mortgage and wanna-be homeowners spend down their savings to avoid homelessness. 

The homeownership rate of the 35-to-39 age group, the nation's first-time homebuyers, climbed in the first quarter of 2020 to 59.4 percent, up from 58.3 percent a year earlier. This is the highest quarterly homeownership rate for the age group in nearly a decade—since the third quarter of 2011. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds peaked at 65.7 percent in 2007. It bottomed out at 55.0 in the fourth quarter of 2016. The rate had been trending upward since then, but coronavirus is likely to halt those gains.

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 basically unchanged in the first quarter of 2020, at  48.0 percent and 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 65.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, a statistically significant rise from the rate one year earlier. Don't expect the rise to continue.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Nearly Half of American Adults Have Hypertension

If hypertension is a risk factor for Covid-19, then many Americans are at risk. Nearly half of adults in the United States have hypertension, according to the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This survey is carried out through mobile examination units that fan out across the country and take measurements of a nationally representative sample of Americans. You can't get better data than this...

Percent with hypertension, 2017–18
Total, 18-plus: 45.4%
Aged 18 to 39: 22.4%
Aged 40 to 59: 54.5%
Aged 60-plus: 74.5%

Note: Hypertension is defined as systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 130 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 80 mmHg or currently taking medication to lower blood pressure.

Hypertension rises steeply with age, with three out of four people aged 65 or older having the condition. The prevalence is greater for men (51 percent) than for women (40 percent), and it's greater for Blacks (57 percent) than for non-Hispanic Whites (44 percent) or Hispanics (44 percent).

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Hypertension Prevalence among Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2017–2018

Monday, April 27, 2020

New Census Bureau Surveys Will Track Impact of Covid-19 on American Households and Businesses

Shortly after the Great Recession commenced in December 2007, the Federal Reserve Board realized it had a problem. The Feds had just finished interviewing respondents for the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances when the economy went into a tailspin. The triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is the premier source of information on the wealth of American households. The Feds knew the results of the 2007 survey would be woefully out of date before they were even tabulated. What was a government agency charged with steadying the nation's financial wellbeing to do?

Be nimble, of course. Nimble describes the next steps taken by the Federal Reserve Board. The Feds went back into the field in 2009 to reinterview those who had participated in the 2007 survey. In doing so, they collected invaluable historical data in the midst of the deepest economic slump since the Great Depression.

Fast forward to today. The country faces another crisis that threatens not only our health but also our economy. Now it's the Census Bureau's turn to be nimble, and it is rising to the challenge. The bureau is launching two new surveys—the Household Pulse Survey and the Small Business Pulse Survey—to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's households and businesses. The goal of the Household Pulse Survey is "to measure various sectors impacted by Covid-19: employment status, consumer spending, food security, housing, education disruptions and dimensions of physical and mental wellness." The goal of the Small Business Pulse Survey is to collect "information on location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal assistance programs, and expectations concerning future operations." The data from these surveys will be produced and disseminated in near real-time and made available to the public each week.

This is a heads-up. If you receive an email from the Census Bureau asking you to respond to the Household Pulse Survey or the Small Business Pulse Survey, take a moment to admire the nimbleness of this large government agency. Tell the bureau how things are going. You will be doing your patriotic duty by fulfilling "the urgent need for accurate, frequent data at this crucial moment in America's history."

Source: Census Bureau, Pulse Surveys, New Census Survey Provide Near Real-Time Info on Households, Businesses during Covid-19

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Fewer Claiming Early Social Security Benefits

The percentage of older men and women who claim Social Security benefits at age 62—the earliest possible age to begin receiving retired-worker benefits—has dropped steeply over the past two decades. Behind the decline is the greater labor force participation of older Americans, according to an analysis by Patrick J. Purcell of the Social Security Administration. The labor force participation rate of men aged 60 to 64 grew from 53 to 63 percent between 1995 and 2018, while the labor force participation of their female counterparts climbed from 38 to 52 percent.

Among 62-year-old men, the rate of Social Security claiming fell from 44.1 percent in the 1995–99 time period to just 22.1 percent in 2015–18. Among 62-year-old women, the figure fell from 49.4 to just 24.6 percent during those years. Apparently, older Americans are getting the message—the longer they wait to claim Social Security, the bigger their monthly benefit.

As early claiming has declined, there has been a surge in claiming at age 66—deemed Full Retirement Age (or FRA) by the Social Security Administration for those born between 1943 and 1954. Among 66-year-olds in 2015–18, the rate of claiming was 55.7 percent for men and 48.0 percent for women. These figures are up sharply from the 28.2 and 27.7 percent, respectively, of 1995–99.

Purcell notes in his analysis that "trends in retirement age—and in the age at which individuals claim Social Security benefits—can change substantially in a short time." We're about to see just how rapidly claiming rates can change. As older workers lose their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, early claiming of Social Security benefits may become more popular again.

Source: Social Security Administration, Employment at Older Ages and Social Security Benefit Claiming, 1980–2018

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Most of Us Agree, Take It Slow

The small protests of Covid-19 shut-down orders, promoted by right-wing organizations and strategically positioned in state capitals, might have you worried. You probably don't need to worry. Most Americans are more concerned that state restrictions on public activity will be lifted too soon rather than too late, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. Overall, 66 percent of the public fears state governments will lift restrictions too quickly. Only 32 percent are afraid they will be lifted too slowly. Even among Republicans, 51 percent are afraid restrictions will be lifted too soon. Among Democrats, the figure is 81 percent.

That's one thing about which most of us agree. Here's another: most people think the problems the country is facing due to coronavirus are going to get worse. Fully 73 percent of the public says the worst is yet to come versus only 26 percent who say the worst is behind us. Among Democrats, 87 percent are bracing for the worst. Among Republicans, it's 56 percent.

Source: Pew Research Center,  Most Americans Say Trump Was Too Slow in Initial Response to Coronavirus Threat

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What If No One Wants to Ride a Bus Again?

Eighty-five percent of American workers usually drive to work, according to the 2018 American Community Survey. Only 5 percent usually take public transportation, a paltry figure that has barely changed in years. It's going to change now and not in a good way. Mass transit use has plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be hard to lure any but the most desperate back onto buses and subways. According to a Gallup survey fielded during the first week of April, nine out of ten Americans are now avoiding public transportation.

Public transportation is being hammered by the coronavirus. Not only are transit drivers at heightened risk of becoming infected with Covid-19, but their passengers are too. Research is documenting the disease's spread through public transportation. According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, public transportation—specifically the subway—appears to be the primary way coronavirus infected tens of thousands in New York City. To make this determination, economist Jeffrey E. Harris of MIT superimposed maps of subway turnstile entries with coronavirus incidence in New York City by zip code through the month of March. The results, he says, show the subway system to have been "a major disseminator—if not the primary transmission vehicle—of coronavirus infection."

This is a problem for the nation's large cities and their once vibrant economies. If mass transit is a primary vector through which communicable diseases spread widely and deeply, what is the future for cities where a large share of workers depend on public transportation to get to work?

Cars are not the answer. Not only do they create traffic jams and pollution, but private vehicles are unaffordable for many. Strict social distancing on buses and subways? Only if we want to slow city life to a crawl. Walking works only for those who live close to their employer, a luxury few can afford. But one mode of transportation checks all the boxes: inexpensive, socially distant, and healthy: the bicycle. Only 0.5 percent of American workers usually bicycle to work. Many more would do so if cities became not just bike friendly but bike ferocious, freeing streets of cars to make room for tens of thousands of  bicycle commuters. In Berlin, 13 percent of workers commute by bicycle. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the majority bike to work. We can do it too. Bicycles could be the route to resilience for America's large cities.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Generations in 2019

A Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2019 population estimates by single-year of age reveals the ongoing decline of Gen X and older generations as deaths shrink their ranks. The Millennial generation and Gen Z continue to grow because of immigration.

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of Baby Boomers fell by 829,000, and the number of older Americans fell by 1.7 million. Generation X also lost members, with a population decline of 159,000. When the Census Bureau's 2020 population estimates are released next year, Covid-19 deaths will add to but not dwarf these pre-pandemic losses.

Between 2010 and 2019, the number of Americans born in 1945 or earlier fell by 39 percent, a loss of 16 million people. The Baby-boom generation shrank 7 percent, with nearly 6 million fewer Boomers in 2019 than in 2010. Generation X lost 544,000 members during those years. Meanwhile, the number of Millennials grew by almost 3 million and Gen Z by 2 million. Millennials and younger generations now account for the 55 percent majority of the U.S. population.

Size of generations in 2019 (and % of total population)
328,240,000 (100%): Total population
  39,773,000 (12%): Recession generation (aged 0 to 9)
  63,486,000 (19%): Generation Z (aged 10 to 24)
  79,778,000 (24%): Millennial generation (aged 25 to 42)  
  48,696,000 (15%): Generation X (aged 43 to 54)  
  71,649,000 (22%): Baby Boom generation (aged 55 to 73)  
  24,858,000 (  8%): Older Americans (aged 74-plus)  

Note: The Recession generation was born in 2010 or later; Generation Z was born from 1995 through 2009; the Millennial generation was born from 1977 through 1994; Generation X was born from 1965 through 1976; the Baby-Boom generation was born from 1946 through 1964; Older Americans were born in 1945 or earlier.

Source: Census Bureau, National Population by Characteristics: 2010–2019

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Early April Reactions to the Coronavirus Pandemic

15% personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from Covid-19.
27% of Blacks personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died from Covid-19.
—Pew Research Center, Health Concerns from Covid-19 Much Higher among Hispanics and Blacks than Whites, April 7-12

66% are concerned that they might unknowingly spread Covid-19 to others.
55% are concerned that they will get Covid-19 and require hospitalization.
—Pew Research Center, Health Concerns from Covid-19 Much Higher among Hispanics and Blacks than Whites, April 7-12

15% say their emotional/mental health is already suffering from Covid-19.
37% say they can last a few more weeks or months before mental health damage.
48% say they can go as long as necessary without emotional scars.
—Gallup, Americans Say Covid-19 Hurting Mental Health Most, April 6-12

55% of those who have left their house in the past week have used face coverings in public.
—ABC News/Ipsos, Coronavirus Outbreak Triggering Significant Changes to American Society, April 8-9

83% of parents with children in K–12 are satisfied with the way their children's school has been handling instruction during school closures.
—Pew Research Center, Lower-Income Parents Most Concerned about their Children Falling Behind Amid Covid-19 School Closures, April 7-12

20% of Americans say they will return to their normal activities immediately once government restrictions on social contact are lifted and businesses/schools start to reopen.
31% of Republicans say they will immediately return to normal
11% of Democrats say they will immediately return to normal.
—Gallup, Americans Remain Risk Averse about Getting Back to Normal, April 3-5

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

You Think You've Got Cabin Fever?

The average housing unit in the United States has a median of 1,500 square feet of living space, according to the Census Bureau's American Housing Survey. With more than two people in the average household, each of us can lay claim to a median of 700 square feet. Those 700 square feet are feeling pretty cramped these days.

Of course, some of us are packed in tighter than others. Take the residents of the New York metropolitan area, for example. The average housing unit in New York has a median of 1,150 square feet of living space—580 square feet per person. It's even tighter in San Francisco, at 550 square feet per person. For householders under age 25 in San Francisco, per capita living space is just 350 square feet.

Percent distribution of households by square footage of housing unit
Under 1,000: 23%
1,000 to 1,499: 26%
1,500 to 1,999: 21%
2,000 to 2,999: 21%
3,000 or more: 10%

Young adults have the smallest homes. Householders under age 25 live in housing units with a median of just 925 square feet—or 475 square feet per person. Middle-aged and older Americans have the largest homes. Householders ranging in age from 45 to 74 live in homes with a median of 1,600 square feet. On a per capita basis, people aged 65 or older have the most room to roam—a median of more than 900 square feet per person.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's 2017 American Housing Survey

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Big Experiment in Remote Learning

One-fifth of the nation's households are taking part in a massive experiment in remote learning. Among the 129 million households in the United States, 26 million are families with children aged 6 to 17—children whose school buildings are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and who are receiving their lessons at home. Among householders aged 35 to 44, the majority are supervising children who are learning remotely.

Percent of households with children aged 6 to 17 by age of householder
Total households: 20.4%
Under age 25: 3.6%
Aged 25 to 29: 14.9%
Aged 30 to 34: 31.3%
Aged 35 to 39: 50.2%
Aged 40 to 44: 55.1%
Aged 45 to 49: 45.8%
Aged 50 to 54: 26.6%
Aged 55 to 64: 6.7%
Aged 65-plus: 1.0%

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2019

Monday, April 13, 2020

Winter is the Cold Season

It's not just folklore but fact. Colds are more common in winter than in the summer, according to the 2018 National Health Interview Survey. When Americans were asked whether they had experienced a head or chest cold in the past two weeks, 16.6 percent said yes in the winter months of January through March. Only 7 percent said yes in the summer months of July through September...

Percent with a head/chest cold in the past two weeks
16.6% in the winter (January-March)
  8.5% in the spring (April-June)
  7.0% in the summer (July-September)
13.7% in the fall (October-December)

In every season, children under age 18 were most likely to have had a cold. In the winter, more than 20 percent of children had experienced a cold in the past two weeks. In every season, people aged 65 or older were least likely to have had a cold.

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Percentage of Person Who Had a Cold in the Past 2 Week, by age Group and Calendar Quarter—National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2018

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Coronavirus Hospitalization Rates by Age

At what rate are Americans ending up in a hospital due to Covid-19? The CDC is keeping a running tab of Covid-19 hospitalizations in 14 states and comparing the number being hospitalized to area population estimates. The states include New York, which has been hardest hit, as well as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah.

Overall, in the four weeks ending March 28, 2020, the rate of hospitalization due to Covid-19 in the study area was 4.6 per 100,000 population. The hospitalization rate rises with age...

Rate of Covid-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population, March 1–28
Aged 0 to 4: 0.2
Aged 5 to 17: 0.1
Aged 18 to 49: 2.5
Aged 50 to 64: 7.4
Aged 65 to 74: 12.2
Aged 75 to 84: 15.8
Aged 85-plus: 17.2

Among those hospitalized, 89 percent had underlying health conditions, with hypertension (50 percent) and obesity (48 percent) most common. The CDC findings suggest Blacks may account for a disproportionately large share of those hospitalized with Covid-19. While Blacks accounted for 18 percent of the population of the study area, they were a larger 33 percent of those hospitalized with Covid-19.

Source: CDC, Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Patients Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019—COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–30, 2020

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Afraid to Go to the Doctor

Many Americans are now afraid to go to the doctor, according to a Gallup survey. People who need routine medical care—nothing to do with coronavirus—are afraid to visit a clinic or doctor's office.

Here's the question Gallup asked on March 28-April 2: "If you needed medical treatment right now, how concerned would you be about being exposed to coronavirus at a doctor's office or hospital?" Fully 83 percent of Americans say they would be moderately or very concerned, with 42 percent very concerned. Only 4 percent say they would not be concerned at all.

By age, there is little variation in the degree of concern. Young adults aged 18 to 29 (83 percent) are just as likely as those aged 65 or older (82 percent) to be moderately or very concerned.

By health condition, people who are immune compromised are most likely to be moderately or very concerned about going to a doctor's office or hospital (92 percent), with the 56 percent majority very concerned. Most of those with kidney disease and COPD are also very concerned.

Source: Gallup, Americans Worry Doctor Visits Raise Covid-19 Risk

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

New Orleans Has Highest Prevalence of Covid-19

The prevalence of Covid-19 varies greatly by metropolitan area, according to an analysis by Joe Cortright the director of City Observatory, a web site and think tank devoted to urban analysis. Among the 53 metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more, the number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population ranges from a low of 16.4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul to a high of 692.6 in New Orleans. The median among large metro areas is 51 cases per 100,000 population. Here are the 12 metros with the highest Covid-19 prevalence rates as of April 5...

Number of reported Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population, as of April 5, 2020
1. New Orleans: 692.6
2. New York: 441.6
3. Detroit: 297.4
4. Boston: 190.8
5. Indianapolis: 141.1
6. Seattle: 137.6
7. Philadelphia: 126.4
8. Chicago: 116.3
9. Miami: 113.4
10. Buffalo: 104.0
11. Nashville: 101.6
12: Milwaukee: 89.8

Metros with a relatively low prevalence of Covid-19 today should not rest on their laurels. More cases are coming. In just one week, the rate in Indianapolis nearly tripled, climbing from 51.0 on March 29 to the 141.1 of April 5. Miami's rate more than doubled during the week, rising from 46.2 to 113.4.

In Wisconsin, where Milwaukee has the 12th highest rate of Covid-19 among the nation's large metros, the primary election is being held today. Many voters will have to choose between voting in-person or not voting at all. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against extending the deadline for receipt of Wisconsin's mail-in ballots, which many voters have yet to receive.

Source: City Observatory, Joe Cortright, Covid-19 Prevalence by Metro Area

Monday, April 06, 2020

Return to Normal? Not So Fast

"If there were no government restrictions and people were able to decide for themselves about being out in public, how soon would you return to your normal day-to-day activities?"

When Gallup asked the public this question recently, only 14 percent said they would return to normal right now. Americans are traumatized by the coronavirus pandemic, and most would be hesitant to resume life as they once knew it. This suggests that economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic could be painfully slow.

If restrictions were lifted, 42 percent of Americans say they would wait until new cases declined significantly before resuming their normal activities. Another 38 percent say they would return to normal activities only after there were no new cases for a period of time. Seven percent say they would resume their normal activities only after a vaccine is developed.

Willingness to resume normal activities depends on how vulnerable people believe they are to the virus. Those who believe it is very likely that they would suffer severe symptoms are most hesitant to return to normal. Only 9 percent would resume their normal activities immediately, and 58 percent would wait until there are no new cases. Among those who believe it is very unlikely they would experience severe symptoms, fully 44 percent would resume their normal activities right now and just 17 percent would wait until there are no new cases.

Source: Gallup, Americans Hesitant to Return to Normal in Short Term

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Take-Out from Restaurants Is Essential

During a week's time, Americans eat out an average of five times a week, according to a pre-coronavirus study by the USDA's Economic Research Service. These "food-away-from-home" acquisitions, as the ERS calls them, include everything from meals at restaurants, to milk shakes from ice cream shops, tacos from food trucks, pizza deliveries, and school lunches. This means nearly one-fourth of our 21 meals a week are acquired from restaurants or other places away from home.

The coronavirus is putting a serious dent in those dining habits. No longer can we dine in a restaurant, so take-out has become the only option. Fortunately, states that have ordered non-essential businesses to close have also deemed take-out to be essential. For most of us, it is.

Weekly frequency of food-away-from-home acquisitions by age
Total adults: 4.72
Under age 25:  5.01
Aged 25 to 34: 5.31
Aged 35 to 44: 5.45
Aged 45 to 54: 5.05
Aged 55 to 64: 4.96
Aged 65 to 74: 4.28
Aged 75-plus:  3.44

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, America's Eating Habits: Food Away from Home

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Growth is Slowing in the 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas

Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans (86 percent) live in a metropolitan area. The 56 percent majority lives in a metropolitan area with a population of at least 1 million. One in four (26 percent) lives in one of the top 10 metropolitan areas. These are the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and their populations, according to the Census Bureau's 2019 population estimates...

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: 19,206,000
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: 13,215,000
3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI: 9,459,000
4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX: 7,573,000
5. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 7,066,000
6. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: 6,280,000
7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL: 6,166,000
8. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD: 6,102,000
9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA: 6,020,000
10. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ: 4,948,000

This is the first time Phoenix has appeared in the top-10 list. In 2019, it bumped Boston off the list as the Phoenix population expanded by 2 percent in a year's time and Boston's grew by just 0.3 percent. Boston, with a population of 4,873,000 is now the 11th largest metropolitan area in the United States.

Except for Phoenix, the 10 largest metropolitan areas grew more slowly between 2018 and 2019 than their average annual growth in the 2010 to 2019 time period. The three largest metro areas—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—all experienced an 0.3 percent decline in population between 2018 and 2019.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2019