Wednesday, September 23, 2020

50% of Americans Fear Medical Bankruptcy

There's more to fear than coronavirus. There's bankruptcy to fear as well, bankruptcy caused by mounting medical bills for treating coronavirus. Half of Americans are afraid of such a financial catastrophe. According to a Gallup survey fielded in July 2020, fully 50 percent of the public is concerned/extremely concerned that a major health event in their household could lead to bankruptcy. In 2019, a smaller 45 percent felt this way. 

Those most likely to be concerned/extremely concerned about bankruptcy due to a major health event are people under age 50 (55 percent) and non-whites (64 percent). Since 2019, the fear of bankruptcy has grown the most for these two groups as well—up 12 percentage points for non-whites, up 12 percentage points for 18-to-29-year-olds, and up 9 percentage points for 30-to-49-year-olds. Those least concerned with going bankrupt due to medical bills are people aged 65-plus (40 percent). Thanks, Medicare!

Overall, 15 percent of Americans have medical debt they will be unable to pay off in the next 12 months. Those most likely to have long-term medical debt are non-whites (20 percent), and households with incomes below $40,000 (28 percent). 

"The sharp rise in U.S. healthcare costs, which was already a significant problem for Americans before the Covid-19 pandemic, has only been exacerbated by new challenges presented by the outbreak," Gallup concludes.

Source: Gallup, 50% in U.S. Fear Bankruptcy Due to Major Health Event

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Missing the Arts

Millions of Americans are missing the arts. It has been more than six months since the public has been free to attend art festivals, live music performances, plays, musicals, dance recitals and other in-person art events. This is a big loss for all of us. 

Just how big is revealed by a National Endowment for the Arts analysis of the 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. The NEA study analyzed attendance at in-person art events by generation, revealing widespread devotion to the arts regardless of age. The majority of Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers attend at least one in-person art event during a year's time. On average, these arts aficionados attend three events a year...

Percent reporting attendance at in-person art events in the past year (and average annual number of events participated in by attendees)
65% of Gen Zers (3.1)
59% of Millennials (2.9)
55% of Gen Xers (3.0)
53% of Boomers (2.9)
41% of Silent Generation (2.7)

Note: Generation Z was 18 to 20 in 2017. Millennials were 21 to 36. Generation X was 37 to 52. Boomers were 53 to 71. The Silent Generation was 72 to 89.

The 2017 survey also explored the reasons for attending arts events and the barriers preventing attendance. Wanting to spend time with family or friends was the top reason for attending an in-person art event—cited by 82 percent of attendees. The biggest barrier to attendance was a lack of time. Those were the good old days.   

Source: National Endowment for the Arts, 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, Why We Engage: Attending, Creating, and Performing Art

Monday, September 21, 2020

Is Crime a Problem? Not in My Neighborhood

The nation's violent crime rate has plummeted over the decades—falling by more than 50 percent since the early 1990s, according to FBI data. Nevertheless, Gallup surveys continue to show that the majority of Americans think crime is a very/extremely serious problem in the United States. But when Gallup asks the public about crime in their local area, then it isn't such a big problem. Only 13 percent of the public says crime is a very/extremely serious problem in their area. 

President Trump claims crime is rampant in cities such as New York and Chicago. But the people who live in these and other cities don't think so. According to recently released results from the 2019 American Housing Survey, 94 percent of all Americans disagree with the statement, "This neighborhood has a lot of serious crime." Among those who live in the suburbs, 97 percent disagree. In nonmetro areas, the figure is 95 percent. In central cities, 89 percent disagree. Even in the nation's 15 largest metropolitan areas, at least 90 percent of residents disagree that there is a lot of serious crime in their neighborhood...

Percent who DISAGREE with the statement, "This neighborhood has a lot of serious crime"

15 Largest Metro Areas 
New York93%
Los Angeles90%
Washington, DC93%
San Francisco92%

Source: Census Bureau, 2019 American Housing Survey

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Water Accounts for 51% of Nonalcoholic Beverage Consumption

Water accounts for just over half of what American adults drink on an average day (not counting alcoholic beverages). Water is 51.2 percent of nonalcoholic beverage consumption, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In second place among beverages is coffee (14.9 percent), followed by sweetened beverages (10.2 percent), tea, (8.7 percent), fruit beverages (5.6 percent), milk (5.5 percent), and diet beverages (3.8 percent). 

Water's share of beverage consumption declines with age while coffee's share increases. Among adults aged 60-plus, coffee accounts for 20.5 percent of daily beverage consumption. This is more than twice coffee's share among young adults...

Percent distribution of nonalcoholic beverage consumption by age, 2015–18
  total  20 to 39  40 to 59  60-plus
Water   51.2%    56.5%   49.3%   46.9%
Coffee   14.9      9.2   16.1   20.5
Sweetened beverages   10.2    13.5   10.4     5.9
Tea     8.7      6.7     9.6   10.3
Fruit beverages     5.6      6.5     5.1     5.2
Milk     5.5      5.0     5.2     6.4
Diet beverages     3.8      2.6     4.4     4.9

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Nonalcoholic Beverage Consumption among Adults: United States, 2015–2018

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Median Household Income in 2019: $68,703

Every year demographers anxiously await the Census Bureau's release of income statistics from the Current Population Survey. This year, not so much. In the midst of the Covid-19 Recession, the treasure trove of data has lost much of its predictive power. But still, wow. Median household income soared to a record high of $68,703 in 2019. The median increased by 6.8 percent between 2018 and 2019, after adjusting for inflation. This is the biggest one-year increase in the history of the series dating back to 1967. 

Or is it? Could the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 have caused the outsized increase in median household income in 2019? It doesn't seem possible, but the answer is yes, according to Census Bureau analysts Jonathan Rothbaum and Adam Bee. Here's why... 

The Census Bureau fields the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey in March of each year, with respondents asked to report their income for the previous year. The income statistics for 2019 were collected in March 2020—in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Not surprisingly, survey response rates were abnormally low—10 percentage points lower in March 2020 than in the same month of 2019. When Rothbaum and Bee analyzed response rates by demographic characteristic, they discovered that higher-income households were more likely than lower-income households to respond to the CPS during the pandemic. This nonresponse bias inflated the estimate of household income. 

After adjusting for nonresponse bias, median household income in 2019 is an estimated $66,790 rather than the published and official figure of $68,703. The adjustment reduces the 2018–19 increase in median household income to a more modest 3.9 percent rather than 6.8 percent. 

The good news is that median household income in 2019 is still the highest on record, even after the adjustment for nonresponse bias. The 3.9 percent increase in median household income between 2018 and 2019 may not have been the biggest on record, but it was still pretty big—in the 93rd percentile of annual increases. "The adjusted estimates would indicate that 2019 (from the 2020 CPS ASEC) was still a very good year for income," the researchers conclude.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Bigger Stash of Cash

Did your stash of cash grow as the coronavirus pandemic gained strength in the spring of 2020? If you say yes, you're not alone. Americans carried more cash on their person and stored more cash in their home in May 2020 than they did in 2019. 

The Federal Reserve fielded its Diary of Consumer Payment Choice in October 2019, collecting data from a representative sample of the population on the ways Americans pay for things. Two months later, Covid-19 appeared on the worldwide stage, making irrelevant the data collected in October. Rising to the occasion, the Federal Reserve went back into the field and surveyed respondents again in May 2020 to measure changes in payment behavior due to the pandemic. The supplemental survey discovered bigger piles of cash in pockets, purses, and desk drawers. 

The amount of cash the average person carries grew 17 percent between October 2019 and May 2020, the supplemental survey found, rising from $69 to $81. The amount of cash the average person has tucked away in their home, office, or car nearly doubled, growing from $257 to $483. 

The increase in cash holdings "may point to the relief cash can offer in times of uncertainty and to its role as a contingency payment method," the Federal Reserve explains. Cash becomes a security blanket. The emotional rather than practical bond with cash is confirmed by another fact revealed by the supplemental survey. The 63 percent majority of respondents had not used cash to make any in-person payments since March 10, 2020. Most aren't hoarding cash for purchases. They are hoarding cash for protection. 

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Consumer Payments and the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Supplement to the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice

Monday, September 14, 2020

Who Has It Worse: Blacks or Whites?

"It is a lot more difficult to be a Black person in this country than it is to be a White person." Agree or disagree? Overall, just 44 percent of registered voters in the U.S. agree that it is a lot more difficult to be Black, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Another 32 percent say it is a little more difficult, and 23 percent say it is no more difficult. Of course, there are huge differences in opinion by demographic characteristic and political party identification. 

Let's start with race. Among Blacks, fully 81 percent say it is a lot more difficult to be Black than White. Among non-Hispanic whites, just 36 percent feel that way—a gap of 45 percentage points. That's not the biggest attitudinal gap, however. The biggest gap is between Biden and Trump supporters. Among Biden supporters, the 74 percent majority say it is a lot more difficult to be Black. Among Trump supporters, only 9 percent agree—a gap of 65 percentage points. 

Percent of registered voters who think it is a lot more difficult to be Black than White, by generation, 2020 (and 2016)
Millennials: 55% (40%)
Gen Xers: 44% (36%)
Boomers: 37% (32%)
Older Americans: 39% (33%)

Compared with 2016, every generation in 2020 is more likely to think it is a lot harder to be Black than White.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Average Household Spending in 2019: $63,036

Average household spending surpassed $63,000 in 2019—but just barely. The $63,036 spent by the average household in 2019 was 1.1 percent greater than spending in 2018, after adjusting for inflation. Spending in 2019 was the highest ever recorded by the Consumer Expenditure Survey and 12 percent above the post-Great Recession low of $56,077 in 2013. 

That's all ancient history now that the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed millions of jobs and plunged the U.S. into a recession. We will have to wait another year before the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey data. Only then will be be able to measure the impact of the Covid-19 Recession on household spending. 

Average household spending, 2006 to 2019 (in 2019 dollars)
2019: $63,036 (record high)
2018: $62,332
2017: $62,643
2015: $60,378
2013: $56,077 (post-Great Recession low)
2010: $56,403
2006: $61,374 (pre-Great Recession record high)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

More than 1 in 10 Adults Take Antidepressants

The use of antidepressant medications is widespread in the United States, with 13.8 percent of adults taking antidepressants in the past 30 days. Women are more than twice as likely to use antidepressants as men—18.6 percent of women versus 8.7 percent of men took antidepressants in the past month, according to the National Center for Health Statistics' 2017–18 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The use of antidepressants rises with age. Nearly one in four women aged 60 or older took an antidepressant in the past 30 days...

Percent of men using antidepressants in past 30 days, 2015–18
Aged 18 to 39: 5.5%
Aged 40 to 59: 8.4%
Aged 60-plus: 12.8%

Percent of women using antidepressants in past 30 days, 2015–18
Aged 18 to 39: 10.3%
Aged 40 to 59: 20.1%
Aged 60-plus: 24.3%

The use of antidepressants is highest among non-Hispanic whites, with 16.6 percent taking antidepressants in the past month. The figure is 7.8 percent among Blacks, 6.5 percent among Hispanics, and just 2.8 percent among Asians. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Antidepressant Use among Adults: United States, 2015–2018

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

52% of Young Adults Live with Parents

This is a record high. Young adults (aged 18 to 29) are now more likely to live with their parents than ever measured before—even during the Great Depression, according to Pew Research Center. The coronavirus has driven many young adults back home, says Pew, which analyzed monthly files from the 2020 Current Population Survey. In February 2020, before coronavirus swept through the nation, 47 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds lived with their parents. In July 2020, the 52 percent majority lived with Mom and Dad. 

Young adults are more likely than any other age group to have moved due to coronavirus, according to Pew's previous research. Many moved because their college campus closed. Pew notes, however, that the Current Population Survey already classifies college students who live in on-campus college dorms as living with their parents, so the closure of on-campus college dorms did not contribute to the measured increase in young adults who live with parents. Instead, the increase was fueled by college students in off-campus housing who moved back home. It was also fueled by the many young adults who lost their jobs and could no longer afford to live independently.  

Between February and July, the percentage of young adults who live with their parents increased in every demographic segment. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, the share living with parents climbed from 63 to 71 percent. Among those aged 25 to 29, the figure grew from 26 to 28 percent. Living with parents became more common for both men and women, in every race and Hispanic origin group, in every region, and in both metros and rural areas.

Percent of 18-to-29-year-olds living with parents by race and Hispanic origin, July 2020 (and percentage point increase since February 2020)
Total: 52% (5)
Asians: 51% (6)
Blacks: 55% (4)
Hispanics: 58% (3)
Non-Hispanic whites: 49% (7)

"These new living arrangements may have an impact not just on young adults and their families, but on the U.S. economy overall," says Pew. The housing market may be especially vulnerable to the rise of multigenerational households. Pew has evidence of this, finding that the number of households headed by 18-to-29-year-olds fell by 1.9 million between February and July—a 12 percent drop.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Older Workers Projected To Be 25% of Labor Force

The workforce is getting older as the Baby-Boom generation ages. Workers aged 55 or older will account for one in four workers by 2029, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics' projections, nearly double the share in 1999...

Workers aged 55-plus as a share of the labor force
1999: 12.7%
2009: 18.8%
2019: 23.5%
2029: 25.2%

In 17 states, workers aged 55-plus already account for 25 percent or more of the labor force, according to a BLS analysis of 2019 data. The states with the largest shares of older workers are Vermont (28.8 percent), Maine (28.7 percent), and New Hampshire (28.3 percent). The New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are also above 25 percent, as are the Middle Atlantic states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Florida, of course, ranks among states with the oldest labor force. But so does Hawaii. The remaining states that make the list are Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Fastest Growing Job: Wind Turbine Service Technician

Among the ten fastest-growing occupations in the decade ahead, none is projected to grow faster than wind turbine service technician. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' new projection series examines likely workforce changes in the decade ahead and finds these to be the 10 fastest growing occupations between 2019 and 2029...

10 Fastest Growing Occupations, 2019 to 2029
1. Wind turbine service technician: 60.7%
2. Nurse practitioner: 52.4%
3. Solar photovoltaic installer: 50.5%
4. Statistician: 34.6%
5. Occupational therapy assistant: 34.6%
6. Home health and personal care aide: 33.7%
7. Physical therapist assistant: 32.6%
8. Medical and health services manager: 31.5%
9. Physician assistant: 31.3%
10. Information security analyst: 31.2%

The number of wind turbine service technician jobs is projected to expand by 4,300 in the next 10 years. That's not a lot of jobs, but there weren't many to begin with. So, the percent change in jobs puts wind turbine service technician at the top of the heap. Median annual earnings are $52,910.

Among the 10 fastest growing occupations, home health and personal care aide is projected to gain the largest number of jobs—an impressive 1,159,500 additional jobs over the next 10 years. Median annual earnings are just $25,280.

Of the 10 jobs projected to grow the fastest, physician assistant is the highest paying, with median earnings of $112,260. Two other occupations on the list have median earnings over $100,000—nurse practitioner and medical and health service manager.

Of course, there's a caveat. The BLS states in its news release, "The 2019–29 projections do not include impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic." Since the pandemic may cause structural changes to the economy, the BLS is "developing alternative scenarios for the 2019–29 projection period that encompass possible impacts from the pandemic." Stay tuned.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

50% Increase in Householders Aged 65 to 74

The nation's households are increasingly top heavy. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of households headed by people aged 55 or older grew 28 percent. Households headed by people aged 65 to 74, an age group filling with Boomers, expanded by 50 percent...

Number of households by age of householder, 2010 and 2019 (numbers in 000s)

    2019    2010    percent change
Total households      128,579      117,538          9.4%
Under age 35        26,810        25,490          5.2%
Aged 35 to 54        43,441        46,390         -6.4%
Aged 55 or older         58,328        45,657        27.8%
  Aged 55 to 64        24,172        20,387        18.6%
  Aged 65 to 74        19,681        13,164        49.5%
  Aged 75 or older        14,475        12,106        19.6%

Between 2010 and 2019, the number of households headed by younger adults (under age 35) increased by just 5 percent. Households headed by the middle-aged (35 to 54) fell 6 percent because the small Generation X is in the age group.

Source: Census Bureau, 2019 Current Population Survey

Monday, August 31, 2020

Regional Disparity in Mask Use Shrinks

More Americans are wearing masks "all or most of the time" when in stores or other businesses, according to a Pew Research Center survey. When Pew surveyed the population in June, only 65 percent of adults reported wearing a mask all or most of the time when in a store. By August, a larger 85 percent regularly wore masks.

As coronavirus cases surged during the summer, there were double-digit increases in the regular use of masks in most regions of the country. Consequently, regional differences in mask use have narrowed.

Regions with lowest and highest mask use, June 2020
Lowest: 47% in West North Central states
Highest: 87% in Middle Atlantic states
Difference: 40 percentage points

Regions with lowest and highest mask use August 2020
Lowest: 70% in West North Central states
Highest: 92% in Pacific states
Difference: 22 percentage points

Source: Pew Research Center, More Americans Say They Are Regularly Wearing Masks in Stores and other Businesses

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Summer Protests Are Changing (Some) Minds

The summer of protests has moved the needle, but not for everyone. The percentage of Americans who say recent police killings of Black men are just isolated incidents fell to 42 percent in June 2020, down from the 53 percent majority who dismissed such killings in 2015, according to a PRRI survey.

By race, there are still big differences in attitudes. But the gap is narrowing. In June 2020, 50 percent of whites said the killings were isolated incidents, down from 65 percent who felt that way in 2015. Among Blacks, only 16 percent think the killings are isolated incidents, little changed from 2015.

PRRI took a closer look at white attitudes toward racial justice, revealing a stark and growing polarization by political ideology. Here are white responses to four questions in June 2020 by political party identification (and percentage point change since 2015)...

Recent police killings of unarmed Black men are isolated incidents (percent agree)
White Democrats: 19% (-24)
White Republicans: 81% (-4)

Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for Black Americans to work their way out of the lower class (percent disagree)
White Democrats: 24% (-19)
White Republicans: 81% (+2)

The Confederate flag is more of a symbol of Southern pride than of racism (percent agree)
White Democrats: 21% (-21)
White Republicans: 85% (+6)

Monuments to Confederates are more symbols of southern pride than of racism (percent agree)
White Democrats: 31% (-18)
White Republican: 93% (+6)

Source: PRRI, Summer Unrest over Racial Injustice Moves the Country, But Not Republicans or White Evangelicals

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

High School Seniors Are Taking Fewer Risks—Sort of

In many ways, high school seniors are better behaved than they used to be. The results of the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) show fewer seniors engaging in a number of risky activities. The YRBSS has been tracking the behavior of middle and high school students every two years since 1991, surveying students in public and private schools across the country. Here's a comparison of the behaviors of high school seniors in 2019 with their counterparts in 2009 and 1999...

Percent of high school seniors who engaged in activity, 1999 to 2019

2019  2009  1999
Drove after drinking*   7.8%   28.2%   37.2%
Currently smoke cigarettes*   9.0   25.2   42.8
Currently drink alcohol* 39.9   51.7   61.7
Currently use marijuana* 28.3   24.6   31.5
Ever had sexual intercourse 56.7   62.3   64.9
Currently sexually active** 42.3   49.1   50.6
Use a computer 3 or more hours per day
for something other than school work***
 45.5   21.2     –
Watch television 3 or more hours per day*** 19.4     –   33.1

Note: – means data not available.
* In past 30 days
** In past 3 months
*** On an average school day

Many fewer high school seniors are smoking cigarettes, with the percentage of current smokers falling from 43 percent in 1999 to just 9 percent in 2019. But 40 percent of 2019 high school seniors reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, making vaping almost as popular as cigarettes were two decades ago.

Many fewer high school seniors report driving after drinking, with the number falling from 37 percent in 1999 to just 8 percent in 2019. But the 59.5 percent majority of 2019 high school seniors say they have texted while driving in the past 30 days, a behavior that can be as dangerous as driving after drinking. 

Nearly half of high school seniors say they use computers (including smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, etc.) for something other than schoolwork for 3 or more hours a day on an average school day. But many fewer high school seniors are spending a lot of time watching television.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Small Business Pulse Survey, Phase 2

It's baaack. Last week the Census Bureau released the first findings from phase 2 of the Small Business Pulse Survey, collected August 9-15. The Small Business Pulse Survey, which is measuring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on small businesses, was on hiatus for six weeks as the bureau tinkered with questions and prepared for phase 2. Phase 1 of the survey lasted from April 27 to June 27. That was supposed to be the end of the Small Business Pulse Survey, but the coronavirus had other plans. Phase 2 of the survey will collect weekly data from August 9 through October 15. Whether there will be a phase 3 of the survey remains to be seen. Here's a look at some of the new phase 2 questions and answers during the week of August 9-15...

Supply chain problems are common:
"In the last week did this business have any of the following?"
Domestic supplier delays: 29.4%
Delays in delivery/shipping to customers: 18.0%
Difficulty locating alternative domestic suppliers: 12.6%
Production delays at this business: 9.0%
Foreign supplier delays: 10.0%
Difficulty locating alternative foreign suppliers: 3.7%
No supply chain problems: 61.5%

Most businesses are experiencing reduced operating capacity: 
"How would you describe this business's current operating capacity relative to one year ago?"
Decreased: 55.2%
No change: 37.5%
Increased: 7.3%

Physical distancing requirements are limiting operating capacity for many businesses:
"In the last week was this business's operating capacity affected by any of the following?"
Physical distancing of customers: 21.0%
Availability of personal protective equipment and/or related equipment or supplies: 21.0%
Availability of other supplies or inputs used to provide goods or services: 14.4%
Physical distancing of employees: 11.1%
Ability to rehire furloughed or laid off employees and/or hire new employees: 8.6%
Ability of employees to work from home: 3.2%
None of the above: 57.5%

Many businesses say they need to increase sales or obtain financial assistance:
"In the next 6 months, do you think this business will need to do any of the following?"
Increase marketing or sales: 32.8%
Obtain financial assistance or additional capital: 26.8%
Identify and hire new employees: 23.4%
Learn how to better provide for the safety of customers and employees: 19.3%
Identify new supply chain options: 14.1%
Develop online sales or websites: 13.9%
Permanently close this business: 5.5%
None of the above: 32.7%

Both phase 1 and phase 2 of the Small Business Pulse Survey have asked businesses how long it would be before operations return to normal. During the week of August 9-15, the 57 percent majority of small businesses said it would be more than 6 months before a return to normal. This was the highest level of pessimism recorded in any week of the survey.

Source: Census Bureau, Small Business Pulse Survey

Monday, August 24, 2020

Working Mothers: Unsung Heroes

Back in the good old pre-Covid days of 2019, most preschoolers went to day care. The 59 percent majority of children aged 0 to 5 and not yet in kindergarten participated in regularly scheduled nonparental care at least weekly, according to the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey. Among children whose mother and father worked full-time, 86 percent were in day care in 2019.

Fast forward to today. The coronavirus pandemic is making it all but impossible for many parents to work now that children are at home rather than in day care or at school. How many parents are unable to work because of these child care issues? A lot, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Among adults aged 18 to 64, a substantial 18 percent reported as of mid-July that they were not working because of Covid-19 related child care issues. Among adults aged 25 to 44, almost one in four (24 percent) were not working because of the lack of child care during the pandemic. Among women aged 25 to 44, the figure was 31 percent.

Percent of 25-to-44-year-olds not working due to Covid-19 related child care issues, July 16-21
Total: 18.2%
Men: 11.6%
Women: 30.9%

"Parents are among the unsung heroes of this crisis," notes the Census Bureau. "They have adapted their households and juggled work, children's schooling and other household needs. However, the pandemic uniquely affected mothers' work in formal labor markets."

Source: Census Bureau, Working Moms Bear Brunt of Home Schooling while Working during Covid-19

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Only 5% Are Heavy Drinkers?

People lie about how much alcohol they drink, or maybe they just don't remember. This is a well known fact and occurs not just in the United States but in countries around the world. The evidence of underreporting is easily discovered by comparing how much people say they drink with actual alcohol volume sales. One review of these studies found self-reported drinking to be 40 to 60 percent below actual consumption.

With this in mind, consider the latest data on drinking in the United States. Overall, 66 percent of adults aged 18 or older reported consuming alcohol in the past year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics' 2018 National Health Interview Survey. The NCHS calculates alcohol consumption using two questions. First, the 66 percent of respondents who are drinkers are asked how often they drink. Then they are asked, "In the past year, on those days that you drank alcoholic beverages, on the average, how many drinks did you have?" Based on the answers to those two questions, the government calculates how much alcohol men and women consume in an average week. Men who drink more than 14 alcoholic drinks a week and women who drink more than 7 are classified as heavy drinkers. An alcoholic drink is defined as one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

According to the calculations based on these self-reports, only 5.0 percent of men aged 18 or older drink more than 14 alcoholic drinks a week. Only 5.2 percent of women drink more than 7 drinks a week.  If you think this is an understatement, it most certainly is.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Heavy Drinking among U.S. Adults, 2018

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

36% of Kids Eat Fast Food on an Average Day

Fast food is a big part of the daily diet of American children. On an average day in 2015–18, more than one-third of children aged 2 to 19 (36 percent) ate fast food, according to the National Center for Health Statistics' National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey is an in-person interview asking a nationally representative sample of respondents (or, in the case of children, their parents) to recall their food intake over the past 24 hours. The survey defines fast food as food sourced from a fast-food or pizza restaurant.

Overall, fast food accounted for 14 percent of children's daily calorie intake in 2015–18. It accounts for a greater percentage of daily calories among teens aged 12 to 19 (17 percent) than among children aged 2 to 11 (11 percent). By race and Hispanic origin, fast food accounts for 21.5 percent of daily calorie intake for Blacks teens, the most of any demographic segment. Among Hispanic teens, the figure is 18.5 percent, and among non-Hispanic whites 14.8 percent.

Fast food consumption of children aged 2 to 19, average day 2015–18
64% consumed no fast food
11% consumed less than 25 percent of calories from fast food
14% consumed 25 to 45 percent of calories from fast food
11% consumed over 45 percent of calories from fast food

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Fast Food Intake among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2015–2018

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Creative Economy Sheds Jobs

Read it and weep: a Brookings analysis of the effects of Covid-19 on the nation's creative economy is not for the faint of heart. The assessment, undertaken by Richard Florida of the University of Toronto and Michael Seman of Colorado State University, measures the extent of Covid-19 job and revenue losses for arts industries and occupations from April 1 to July 31, 2020. The findings are grim...
  • Creative industries—such as music, film, design, advertising, and theater—lost 2.7 million jobs (31 percent) and $150 billion in sales of goods and services (9 percent) from April through July. 
  • Fine and performing arts industries lost 50 percent of their jobs. 
  • Creative occupations—such as musician, artist, performer, and designer—shed 2.3 million jobs (30 percent) and 15 percent of total average monthly wages.
  • By state, California is in the lead in absolute numbers of jobs lost and revenue foregone. But as a percentage of jobs lost, smaller states have bigger losses. Seven states—Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Maryland, Vermont, and Maine—have lost more than one-third of their creative industry jobs.
  • Among metropolitan areas, New York and Los Angeles lost the most creative industry and creative occupation jobs. But in percentage terms, the losses are much greater in smaller metros. Las Vegas lost 36 percent of its creative industry jobs from April through July, 2020. Other metros where creative industry jobs fell by more than one-third are Nashville, Tucson, New Orleans, Baltimore, Jacksonville, and Richmond.
To prevent further damage to the nation's arts culture and economy, Florida and Seman recommend a "substantial and sustained national creative-economy recovery strategy." Without such an effort, every region, state, and metro will be diminished culturally and economically. "Arts, culture, and creativity are one of three key sectors (along with science and technology as well as business and management) that drive regional economies," conclude Florida and Seman. "Any lasting damage to the creative sector will drastically undercut our culture, well-being, and quality of life."

Source: Brookings Institution, Lost Art: Measuring Covid-19's Devastating Impact on America's Creative Economy

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Elevated Levels of Adverse Mental Health Conditions"

The evidence of mental health trauma is piling up. A survey by the CDC found "elevated levels" of mental anguish due to the stress of the coronavirus pandemic. Overall, 41 percent of Americans have experienced one or more adverse mental or behavioral symptoms because of the pandemic.

The CDC fielded the survey June 24-30. The survey's questions assessed symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma or stress-related disorder, increased substance use, and suicidal thoughts. Here are the findings...

Percent of Americans with adverse mental health conditions, June 24-30
25.5% have an anxiety disorder
24.3% have a depressive disorder
26.3% have trauma or stress related disorder
13.3% had started/increased substance use
10.7% had considered suicide in the past 30 days

These numbers are not normal. "The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%)," the CDC reports. "Prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%)." The percentage of respondents who had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days climbed from 4.3 percent in the second quarter of 2019 to the 10.7 percent of June 2020.

Younger adults are faring the worst. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, fully 75 percent exhibited at least once adverse mental or behavioral health symptom, as did 52 percent of those aged 25 to 44. The figure was 29.5 percent among 45-to-64-year-olds and 15 percent among people aged 65 or older.

Source: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation during the Covid-19 Pandemic—United States, June 24–30, 2020

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx?

What do Americans whose ancestry is rooted in Latin America and Spain prefer to call themselves? This might be a good time to find out since the new term, Latinx, is now being bandied about, an alternative to the commonly used terms Hispanic and Latino.

The preferred term is Hispanic, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. Fully 61 percent of the Hispanic population prefers the term Hispanic. Another 20 percent prefer the term Latino, and just 4 percent opt for Latinx.

But wait. Most Hispanics have never heard of the term Latinx, which has been introduced recently as a gender-neutral alternative for Latino. Only 23 percent of Hispanics have heard of it. Even among those who are aware of the term Latinx, however, just 10 percent prefer it. Fully 50 percent of Hispanics who have heard of Latinx prefer the term Hispanic, and 31 percent prefer Latino.

Source: Pew Research Center, About One-in-Four U.S. Hispanics Have Heard of Latinx, but just 3% Use It

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Why Parents Are Tearing Their Hair Out

Modern American parents do not devote all that much time to child care. Instead, they depend on day care providers, schools, and extracurricular activities to do much of the heavy lifting. Or, they used to. Parents, more than any other segment of the population, have had their daily lives turned upside down by the coronavirus.

Consider the time use of parents before the pandemic. On an average day in 2019, parents with children under age 18 spent only 1.36 hours a day caring for their children as a primary activity (their main activity), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. Mothers spent 1.74 hours a day and fathers 0.91 hours a day caring for children.

Before coronavirus, few parents spent any time engaged in education-related activities with children. Parents devoted only 0.11 hours (less than 7 minutes) to their child's educational activities on an average day in 2019. Most parents did not engage in education-related activities with their children at all, according to a BLS analysis of time use data from 2015–19. For married parents, here are the percentages who participated in education-related activities with their children on an average day...

Married parents engaging in education-related activities with children, average day 2015–19
  5.2% of fathers with full-time jobs
  9.2% of mothers with full-time jobs
18.2% of mothers with part-time jobs
19.4% of mothers who are not employed

Now imagine how many parents are engaged in education-related activities with their children on an average day in 2020 and how much time they are devoting to it.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Average Hours Per Day Parents Spent Caring for and Helping Household Children as Their Main Activity

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Praying Away the Coronavirus

Most Americans say they are using prayer as a way to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. The 55 percent majority of the public reports praying at least weekly as a way to cope, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The percentage who say they pray daily as a coping mechanism (43 percent) far surpasses the percentage who say they never pray (31 percent). Older adults are most likely to use prayer to help them cope with the pandemic...

Percent who pray at least weekly to help cope with the coronavirus outbreak
Aged 18 to 29: 38%
Aged 30 to 49: 51%
Aged 50 to 64: 64%
Aged 65-plus: 67%

Younger adults are more likely to exercise than pray as a way to cope with the pandemic, with 61 to 62 percent of people under age 50 engaging in exercise as a coping mechanism at least once a week. Adults aged 50 or older depend on prayer and exercise about equally.

Regardless of age, watching TV is the number-one coping mechanism, followed by spending time outdoors. Fully 89 percent of the public reports watching TV or movies at least weekly to get through these strange days, and 84 percent report spending time outdoors.

Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Adults Regularly Turn to a Variety of Activities to Help Cope with Coronavirus Outbreak

Monday, August 10, 2020

Most Are Not Comfortable Flying

The majority of Americans currently do not feel comfortable flying, according to a Gallup survey. Gallup asked people aged 18 or older who had flown in the past year whether they are "currently comfortable" taking a flight. The 52 percent majority said no. Here are the numbers by age...

Not comfortable flying at all
Aged 18 to 34: 33%
Aged 35 to 54: 51%
Aged 55 or older: 69%

These numbers are bad news for the airline industry. Americans aged 55 or older—those most afraid to fly—account for 44 percent of all household spending on air fares, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. "Differences in comfort level by age group might be expected given that older adults are more vulnerable to severe illness from Covid-19," says Gallup. "But the extent of those differences is especially noteworthy given that baby boomers and retirees are important market segments for leisure travel."

Half of 35-to-54-year-olds are afraid to fly as well. This age group accounts for another 40 percent of household spending on airline fares. The 18-to-34 age group is the one least afraid to fly, but it accounts for just 16 percent of spending on air travel.

Source: Gallup, 52% of U.S. Air Travelers Now Uncomfortable Flying; and Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, August 06, 2020

One-Third of Renters Unsure about Ability to Pay Rent

One-third of the nation's renters told the Census Bureau that they had no or only slight confidence in their ability to pay next month's rent. The Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey has been measuring the impact of the coronavirus on American households each week since early May. The latest results (collected during the week of July 16-21) show many of the nation's renters risking eviction as Covid relief benefits run out. Here are the demographics of those who may not be able to make their next rent payment...

Percent of renters with no/only slight confidence in ability to pay next month's rent (July 16-21)
33% of all renters

29% of those aged 18 to 24
36% of those aged 25 to 39
39% of those aged 40 to 54
28% of those aged 55 to 64
13% of those aged 65-plus

22% of non-Hispanic whites
27% of Asians
42% of Blacks
49% of Hispanics

43% of households with children under age 18

Source: Census Bureau, Week 12 Household Pulse Survey: July 16-21

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

What Parents Want

Only 36 percent of parents want full-time in-person schooling to resume in the upcoming school year, according to a Gallup survey. As school start dates approach and Covid-19 infections surge, the percentage of parents who support full-time in-person instruction has dropped precipitously since June, when the 56 percent majority of parents supported traditional instruction.

Parents' preferences for the resumption of school (July 13-27)
Full-time in person school: 36%
Part-time in-person/part-time remote: 36%
Full-time remote instruction: 28%

Behind the 20 percentage-point drop in support of full-time in-person instruction are parents' growing fears that their children will become infected with Covid-19. Between June and July, the percentage of parents who are somewhat/very worried about their child becoming infected climbed from 46 to 64 percent. This growing fear explains the 21 percentage-point increase in parents' preference for full-time remote instruction, which rose from just 7 percent in June to the 28 percent of July. There was almost no change in the percentage of parents who favor a mix of in-person and remote schooling.

Republicans are far less concerned than Democrats about their children going back to school. Among parents who are Democrats, only 13 percent favor full-time in-person schooling. Among parents who are Republicans, 68 percent favor traditional instruction.

Source: Gallup, Fewer U.S. Parents Want Full-Time In-Person Fall Schooling

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Why Nursing Homes Are Covid Hot Spots

Nursing homes account for a disproportionate share of Covid-19 cases and deaths. Covid outbreaks continue to plague nursing homes despite visitor restrictions that began in mid-March. Why are nursing homes such hot spots? A National Bureau of Economic Research study may have the answer: staff linkages.

In a unique study, NBER researchers analyzed the geolocation data of more than 500,000 smartphones observed in at least one of 15,000 nursing homes during the six weeks following the nationwide nursing home visitor restrictions that went into effect March 13. Since visitors were no longer allowed into nursing homes, most of these smartphones belonged to staff. The goal of the study was to discover how interconnected nursing homes are through their staff. Very connected: "We find that 7 percent of individuals entering a nursing home also entered at least one other nursing home in the six-week period," the researchers report. The average nursing home, in fact, has connections with 15 other nursing homes. There are a number of reasons for this high level of connectivity. One, most nursing homes rely on staffing agencies to fill some of their staffing needs, which can vary from day to day. Two, nursing home workers may work at multiple facilities and many do. Three, hospice workers and other specialists travel to multiple nursing homes.

"Eliminating staff linkages between nursing homes could reduce Covid-19 infections in nursing homes by 44 percent," the researchers estimate. "These results provide evidence of the magnitude of the benefits that would derive from compensating nursing home workers to work at only one home and limiting cross-traffic across homes," they conclude.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Nursing Home Staff Networks and Covid-19, Working Paper #27608

Monday, August 03, 2020

Teleworking During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Nearly one-third of the nation's employed workers told the Bureau of Labor Statistics in June that they had teleworked or worked at home for pay at any time during the past four weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. This hefty figure does not include those who usually work from home or those who teleworked for a reason unrelated to the pandemic.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has added five questions to the monthly Current Population Survey, which collects the government's official employment data. The BLS first added the questions in May and plans to continue asking them each month for the foreseeable future. Besides teleworking, respondents are also being asked whether they are unable to work because their employer has closed or lost business, whether they are being paid if they are missing work, and whether the pandemic has prevented them from looking for a job.

The 31 percent who reported teleworking in June was little different from the 35 percent who said they had done so in May. The characteristics of those who are teleworking because of the pandemic are not surprising, but nevertheless striking. Teleworking rises steeply as education increases...

Percent of the employed who teleworked for pay in the past 4 weeks due to the coronavirus, by education, June 2020
  4.8% of those without a high school diploma
12.6% of high school graduates only
22.3% of those with some college
48.0% of those with a bachelor's degree
63.3% of those with a graduate degree

By race and Hispanic origin, Asians are far more likely to telework than other race and Hispanic origin groups. This is because Asians are the most educated workers and also the ones most likely to work in management and professional occupations. Hispanics are least likely to telework because they are the least-educated workers and also least likely to be managers or professionals...

Percent of the employed who teleworked for pay in the past 4 weeks due to the coronavirus, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2020
48.5% of Asians
30.8% of non-Hispanic whites
25.7% of Blacks
21.1% of Hispanics

By age, there are few differences in teleworking with one exception. Workers under age 25 are far less likely to telework (15 percent) than those aged 25 to 54 (35 percent) or  aged 55 or older (30 percent).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Supplemental Data Measuring the Effects of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic on the Labor Market

Thursday, July 30, 2020

When Should Children Have Their Own Smartphone?

Today's parents are concerned about their children's screen time. Fully 71 percent of parents with children under age 12 are worried about their child spending too much time in front of a screen, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Two out of three parents say parenting is harder today than it used to be, with many citing technology as the reason. Despite these concerns, the great majority of parents with a child aged 5 to 11 say their child uses tablet computers and smartphones, as do nearly half of parents with a child under age 5...

Parents with a child aged 5 to 11
80% say their child uses/interacts with a tablet computer
63% say their child uses/interacts with a smartphone

Parents with a child under age 5
48% say their child uses/interacts with a tablet computer
55% say their child uses/interacts with a smartphone

What is the appropriate age for children to have their own device? When it comes to smartphones, 73 percent of parents think a child should be 12 or older, with 45 percent giving the nod to children aged 12 to 14 and another 28 percent wanting to wait until a child is aged 15 to 17. Parents are more lax when it comes to tablet computers. Fully 65 percent think children can have their own tablet computer before the age of 12, while 31 percent say the child should be 12 or older.

Source: Pew Research Center, Parenting Children in the Age of Screens

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Covid Stress Is Making Us Sick

The coronavirus is having a negative impact on the mental health of Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. In July, the 53 percent majority of adults said their mental health was being negatively impacted by the pandemic—the highest share recorded in Kaiser's tracking poll and 14 percentage points higher than in May.

Those most likely to say their mental health is suffering are women (57 percent), young adults aged 18 to 29 (62 percent), Blacks (68 percent), and those who are having financial difficulties because of the pandemic (71 percent).

The worry and stress due to the coronavirus pandemic is also affecting our physical wellbeing. Most Americans have experienced at least one of of these ailments because of the stress...

In the past two months, have you experienced any of the following due to worry or stress related to the coronavirus outbreak?
36% have had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
32% have experienced a poor appetite or overeating
18% have had difficulty controlling their temper
18% have had frequent headaches or stomachaches
12% have increased their alcohol or drug use
12% have had their chronic conditions worsen

Overall, the 52 percent majority of the public has experienced at least one of these health problems in the past two months.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF Health Tracking Poll—July 2020

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2020

Homeownership rate of householders aged 35 to 39, second quarter 2020: 61.7%*

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the nation's data collection efforts. Not only has the pandemic disrupted 2020 Census operations, but it is also affecting the many surveys undertaken by the Census Bureau and other government agencies. The result can be wacky data. With the release of second quarter homeownership statistics from the Housing Vacancy Survey, we have the first installment of wacky data. 

Taken at face value, the second quarter numbers suggest that homeownership in the United States has surged in the midst of the pandemic. Nationally, the homeownership rate climbed to 67.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020, a stunning 3.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter of 2019. The homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds appears to have increased by a whopping 5.6 percentage points over the past year. Every age group saw its homeownership rate rise substantially, as did households in every region, every income group, and every race and Hispanic origin group. The homeownership rate of households with incomes below the all-household median climbed 5.2 percentage points between second quarter of 2019 and second quarter 2020. Those with incomes above the median saw their rate rise by 2.3 percentage points. Black homeownership grew by 6.4 percentage points, Hispanic by 4.8 percentage points, and non-Hispanic white by 2.9 percentage points. These outsized increases in homeownership are most likely a statistical artifact of the pandemic. 

The Census Bureau's press release accompanying the second quarter data notes the impact of the pandemic on the survey. In-person interviews were suspended in March, and the bureau attempted to collect data by telephone from the households scheduled for in-person interviews. Perhaps as a consequence, the survey's response rates were well below normal. The second quarter response rates were 69.9 percent in April, 67.4 percent in May, and 64.9 percent in June—sharply lower than the response rate of 82.7 percent in the same time period a year earlier.

* Data users should exercise caution, the bureau warns. That's why there's a giant asterisk hovering over the homeownership rate of 35-to-39-year-olds.

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, July 27, 2020

Covid-19 Is Getting A LOT Worse

Most Americans think the Covid-19 crisis is getting worse, a lot worse. During the week ending July 19, the 55 percent majority of the public said the coronavirus situation in the U.S. is getting a lot worse, according to a Gallup survey. Not only is this a record high, but it is 46 percentage points (!) higher than the percentage who felt this way on June 7.

Behind the worsening outlook is a tripling of daily coronavirus cases. "On June 7, the seven-day average of new cases was less than 22,000 per day," reports Gallup. "By July 19, it had exceeded 66,000 cases per day."

Partisan differences have never been greater. Among Democrats, 86 percent think the situation is getting a lot worse, an astonishing 72 percentage points higher than on June 7. Among Republicans, only 15 percent think the situation is getting a lot worse, up 13 percentage points.

Source: Gallup, U.S. Covid-19 Outlook Deteriorates as Infections Spike

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Many Museums Are in Danger of Closing

The coronavirus pandemic is threatening the nation's museums. A June survey of 750 museum directors by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) finds many unsure about their ability to survive the pandemic. When asked whether there is a significant risk of their museum closing permanently in the next 16 months if they did not receive financial relief, 16 percent of directors said yes and another 17 percent said they didn't know.

The 56 percent majority of museums have 6 months or less of operating reserves remaining. Only half expect to reopen with 100 percent of their workforce. All expect to lose operating revenue in 2020, with most expecting substantial declines...

Operating income museums expect to lose in 2020
30% expect to lose up to 20 percent
37% expect to lose 21-40 percent
22% expect to lose 41-60 percent
11% expect to lose 81 percent or more

"The survey results document extreme financial distress in the museum field," reports the AAM.

Source: American Alliance of Museums, National Survey of Covid-19 Impact on United States Museums

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Most Men 65-Plus Are Current or Former Smokers

Smoking was once the norm for men in the United States. Only 41 percent of men aged 65 or older say they never smoked cigarettes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The 59 percent majority are current or former smokers.

Cigarette smoking status of men aged 65-plus
Current smoker: 10%
Former smoker: 49%
Never smoker: 41%

Cigarette smoking status of women aged 65-plus
Current smoker: 7%
Former smoker: 31%
Never smoker: 62%

Not surprisingly, health problems are more common among smokers than nonsmokers. A substantial 28 percent of current smokers aged 65 or older report having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for example. The figure is a smaller 19 percent among former smokers, and 7 percent for never smokers.

The prevalence of health problems among former smokers depends on how long they smoked. Among former smokers who smoked for 10 or fewer years, only 9 percent have COPD. Among those who smoked for 10 to 25 years, 12 percent have the disease. The share rises to 20 percent among those who smoked for 25 to 40 years and peaks at 33 percent among those who smoked for 40 or more years. Most former smokers had smoked for 25 or more years, NCHS reports, and one in four had smoked for 40 or more years.

"Smoking cessation has been shown to be beneficial at any age," the NCHS concludes. "However, even after quitting smoking, the length of time a person smoked is reflected in current health measures among people aged 65 and over."

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Health of Former Cigarette Smokers Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2018 (PDF)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Nearly Half the 75-Plus Population Has a Disability

Forty-one million Americans have a disability, according to the Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey—12.6 percent of the total population. The percentage of people with a disability rises with age, from less than 1 percent of children under age 5 to nearly half the population aged 75 or older.

Percent of Americans with a disability by type and age, 2018

all ages    75-plus
Any disability  12.6%      47.5%
  Hearing difficulty    3.6      21.7
  Vision difficulty    2.4        9.0
  Cognitive difficulty    5.1      13.1
  Ambulatory difficulty    6.8      31.0
  Self care difficulty    2.6      12.8
  Independent living difficulty    5.8      23.4
Note: Ambulatory difficulty is serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Self care difficulty is difficulty dressing or bathing. Independent living difficulty is difficulty doing errands such as visiting a doctor or shopping.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Employment-Population Ratio below 50% in 10 States

In normal times, the employed outnumber those who are not employed among the population aged 16 or older. Nationally, that's still the case. But in 10 states, the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic has driven the employment-population ratio below 50 percent.

Nationally, the employment-population ratio was 52.8 percent in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning 52.8 percent of the population aged 16 or older was currently employed. This figure is well below the 60.6 percent employment-population ratio one year earlier in May 2019. The 7.8 percentage point drop in the national ratio between May 2019 and May 2020 pales in comparison to the decline in some states. In Nevada, for example, the employment-population ratio fell by 19 percentage points...

May 2020 employment-population ratio in the 10 states with a ratio below 50 percent

percentage point change,
May 2019-May 2020
California                49.6%             -10.1
Florida                47.1             -10.1
Hawaii                45.0             -14.0
Louisiana                49.6               -6.1
Michigan                46.8             -12.3
Mississippi                47.2               -5.5
Nevada                41.9             -19.2
New Mexico                49.9               -5.3
New York                49.8               -8.4
West Viriginia                47.2               -5.0

Overall, 8 states experienced a double-digit decline in their employment-population ratio between May 2019 and May 2020. Five of the states are shown above. The three additional states are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment-Population Ratio Less than 50.0 Percent for 10 States in May 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Only 38% of Small Businesses May be Left Standing

The nation's small businesses are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. What was once thought to be a few weeks of lockdown has turned into months of disruption. A National Bureau of Economic Research study examined how big the impact of the pandemic is likely to be, querying small businesses on their ability to survive.

At the end of March/early April, NBER researchers asked a sample of small businesses whether they would still be in operation in December 2020 if the Covid crisis lasted one month, four months, or six months. The 72 percent majority of small businesses said they likely would be in operation in December if the Covid crisis lasted just one month. At four months, only 47 percent thought they would still be around in December. At six months, just 38 percent said it's likely they would survive. Here are the percentages of small businesses that think they could survive a 6-month Covid crisis by industry...

Percent of businesses likely to be in operation in December 2020 if Covid crisis lasts 6 months
Banking/finance: 59%
Real estate: 56%
Professional services: 54%
Construction: 45%
Arts/entertainment: 35%
Health care: 35%
Tourism/lodging: 27%
Personal services: 22%
Restaurant/bar: 15%

"The Covid-19 crisis represents a once-in-a-generaton crisis for America's small businesses," the NBER researchers conclude, "especially those that specialize in face-to-face service."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, How Are Small Businesses Adjusting to Covid-19? Early Evidence from a Survey, Working Paper 26989

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Back to School Jitters

The nation's parents are not happy. Most of them (51 percent) are very/extremely worried about sending their children back to school in the fall, according to the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index fielded July 10-13.

An even larger 71 percent of parents think their family's health and wellbeing will be at moderate/large risk if they send their children to school in the fall, with the 43 percent plurality of parents calling the risk large. Do the calculation, and that's 31 million parents—or 1 in 8 voters—who are freaking out, not to mention millions more teachers and grandparents. This wave of worries should keep even the most callous school board member, school superintendent, mayor, governor, congressional representative, and senator up at night, concerned about their careers if not their constituents.

Coronavirus worries are not limited to parents. The 59 percent majority of the public is now very/extremely concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Axios/Ipsos poll. This figure is 11 percentage points higher than it was a month ago and approaching the 66 percent peak level of concern recorded in early April.

Source: Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index, Despite Seeing Great Risk, Americans Slow to Make Major Changes to Deal with Covid

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What Are Men Thinking?

Men are much less likely than women to wear a mask when outside their home, according to a Gallup survey. Only 34 percent of men say they always wear a mask in public, fully 20 percentage points below the 54 percent of women who say they always wear one. At the other end of the spectrum, a substantial 20 percent of men say they never wear a mask in public versus 8 percent of women.

Overall 44 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they always wear a mask when outside their home. Another 28 percent say they wear a mask very often, 11 percent sometimes, 4 percent rarely, and 14 percent never.

Percent who never wear a mask when outside their home
Men: 20%
Women: 8%

Republicans: 27%
Democrats: 1%

Midwest: 23%
South: 13%
West: 10%
Northeast: 8%

Not a college grad: 18%
College graduate: 4%

Aged 35 to 54: 16%
Aged 55-plus: 14%
Aged 18 to 34: 9%

Source: Gallup, Americans' Face Mask Usage Varies Greatly by Demographics

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.