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