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)