Monday, April 12, 2021

Nearly One in Five Households Has Medical Debt

The most comprehensive look at the characteristics of Americans with medical debt is available from the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The 2018 SIPP included new questions about medical debt, asking respondents whether, in the past year, they had medical bills they were unable to pay in full. 

Overall, 19 percent of households had medical bills they were unable to pay in 2017, the Census Bureau reports. Here are the percentages by age group...

Percent of households with medical debt by age of householder
Total households: 19.0%
Under age 35: 19.4%
Aged 35 to 44: 22.4%
Aged 45 to 54: 22.9%
Aged 55 to 64: 22.0%
Aged 65-plus: 11.3%

Not surprisingly, households with at least one member who did not have health insurance during the year were most likely to have medical debt (31 percent). But even among households in which every household member had health insurance coverage all year, a substantial 16 percent had unpaid medical bills. The average amount of medical debt owed by households with such debt was a substantial $12,430. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

47% Have Received at Least One Dose of Vaccine

Nearly half of American adults have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. The latest numbers were collected March 17-29. The 47 percent who reported having gotten a jab in the last two weeks of March was up substantially from the 34 percent who reported having done so in the first two weeks of the month.

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of March 17-29
Total 18-plus: 47%
Aged 18 to 24: 19%
Aged 25 to 39: 32%
Aged 40 to 54: 40%
Aged 55 to 64: 53%
Aged 65-plus: 81%

There is some erosion in the number who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine. During this round of the survey, 39 million said no—down from 43 million in the first half of March. Non-Hispanic whites are the one segment of the population that has dug in its heals. The percentage of Hispanics and Blacks who say they will probably/definitely not get the vaccine declined during the month of March, while the percentage of non-Hispanic white naysayers was unchanged. 

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, March 17-29

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The Growing Partisan Divide on Climate Change

Since 2016, the public's attitudes toward global warming have frozen, according to Gallup. But that doesn't mean things haven't changed. "This stability masks growing divergence between Republicans and Democrats," Gallup reports.

Overall, the 59 percent majority of Americans say the effects of global warming have already begun, identical to the share who said so in 2016. But Democrats are more likely and Republicans less likely to feel this way...

Percent who say the effects of global warming have already begun

     2020    2016    change
Total 18-plus      59%     59%        0
Democrats      82     77      +5
Republicans      29     40     -11

The gap between Democrats and Republicans on this issue grew from an already large 37 percentage points in 2016 to an enormous 53 percentage points in 2021. 

The pattern is the same when Americans are asked whether global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime. A growing share of Democrats say it will—67 percent in 2021, up from 58 percent in 2016. Only 11 percent of Republicans feel this way, down from 20 percent in 2016. 

Passing legislation to deal with climate change will be a tough sell, warns Gallup, because "Republicans signing on to such legislation are likely to face blowback from the Republican base."

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Covid-19: Third Leading Cause of Death in 2021

Remember all the fanfare last week when the CDC announced that Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020? It took seven months for Covid to climb to the number-three spot on the top-10 cause of death list last year. 

This year, it took only three months. Covid-19 is already the third leading cause of death in 2021. More than 209,000 Americans have died from Covid through April 4 of this year. Let's hope vaccinations and mitigation will prevent Covid from rising even higher on the list in 2021. 

Source: CDC, Covid Data Tracker

Monday, April 05, 2021

Homeownership in 2020 Is below 2000

The 2000s have not been good for homeownership—so far, at least. The 66.6 percent homeownership rate of 2020 was below the 67.4 percent rate of 2000—not only nationally, but in almost every age group and in 30 of 50 states, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey. 

We all know how this happened—the housing bubble, the collapse of the housing market, the Great Recession, and the long recovery. During the bubble, the nation's homeownership rate climbed to an all-time high of 69.0 percent in 2004. In the slow recovery from the Great Recession, the homeownership rate fell for years. It hit a post-Great Recession low of 63.4 percent in 2016. Since then, the rate has been inching back up each year.

Only two age groups had a higher homeownership rate in 2020 than they did in 2000—householders under age 25, and householders aged 75 or older. Every other age group had a lower homeownership rate, with the biggest declines (5 or more percentage points) occurring among householders ranging in age from 30 to 59.

Homeownership rate by age of householder, 2000 and 2020
        2020     2000    change
U.S. total     66.6%     67.4%    -0.8
Under age 25     25.7     21.7     4.0
Aged 25 to 29     35.3     38.1    -2.8
Aged 30 to 34     49.1     54.6    -5.5
Aged 35 to 39     60.0     65.0    -5.0
Aged 40 to 44     65.5     70.6    -5.1
Aged 45 to 49     68.8     74.7    -5.9
Aged 50 to 54     73.2     78.5    -5.3
Aged 55 to 59     74.9     80.4    -5.5
Aged 60 to 64     78.2     80.3    -2.1
Aged 65 to 69     79.6     83.0    -3.4
Aged 70 to 74     82.1     82.6    -0.5
Aged 75-plus     79.0     77.7     1.3

By state, the biggest decline in homeownership between 2000 and 2020 occurred in North Dakota (down 6.5 percentage points), followed by Pennsylvania (-4.8), and Wisconsin (-3.9). Among the 20 states and the District of Columbia with gains in homeownership between 2000 and 2020, Delaware saw the biggest increase (5.9 percentage points), following by New Hampshire (5.3) and Vermont (4.4).

It remains to be seen how the coronavirus pandemic will affect homeownership. The housing market appears to be hot right now, but that's largely because the pandemic has reduced the number of sellers, driving up prices. 

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

Thursday, April 01, 2021

11% of All Deaths in 2020 Due to Covid-19

It's official. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. The CDC's provisional count of deaths by cause in 2020 show Covid-19 behind only heart disease and cancer. Covid replaced suicide on the top-10 cause of death list, the CDC reports. Covid was the underlying or contributing cause of 377,833 deaths—11 percent of all deaths during the year. 

With Covid boosting deaths, the total number of deaths in 2020 exceeded the 2019 number by more than 500,000—an 18 percent increase. The overall age-adjusted mortality rate increased 16 percent. 

Total number of deaths
2020: 3,358,814 
2019: 2,854,838 
Change: +503,976

Age-adjusted mortality rate 
2020: 828.7 deaths per 100,000 population
2019: 715.2 deaths per 100,000 population

Source: CDC, Provisional Mortality Data—United States, 2020

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Membership in Religious Congregations Falls below 50%

The percentage of Americans who belong to a religious congregation fell below 50 percent in 2020, according to a Gallup survey. This is the first time the figure has fallen below 50 percent since Gallup started asking the question in 1937. In 2020, only 47 percent of Americans aged 18 or older answered "yes" when asked, "Do you happen to be a member of a church, synagogue or mosque?"

Membership in religious congregations peaked in the years following World War II, when 76 percent of Americans aged 18 or older were members. The figure remained near the 70 percent level until the 2000s when it began a steady decline. 

Gallup notes that the decline "appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong." Gallup has aggregated three of the most recent years of data to show membership by generation...

Member of a church, synagogue, or mosque, 2018–20 
Millennials: 36% 
Gen Gers: 50% 
Boomers: 58%
Older Americans: 66% 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Most Young Adults Have "Mental Health Symptoms"

The mental health of millions of Americans has been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Young adults have been hit the hardest. This makes sense, since young adults are the ones whose lives have been disrupted the most. Their college classes are remote, their career prospects put on hold, their friends and potential romantic partners socially distanced. 

The Census Bureau has been tracking the mental health of the population in its biweekly Household Pulse Survey. A CDC analysis of the survey's mental health data reveals two worrisome facts: the mental health of Americans was not all that great in August, and between August and February it has gotten worse.

Here's what the Household Pulse Survey asks: How often in the past seven days have you felt 1) nervous, anxious, or on edge; 2) unable to stop or control worrying; 3) little interest or pleasure in doing things; 4) down, depressed, or hopeless? Respondents who reported experiencing one or more of these feelings on most of the past seven days were classified as having mental health symptoms. 

In August 2020, a substantial 36.4 percent of adults aged 18 or older were classified as having mental health symptoms, according to the CDC study. By February 2021, the figure had grown to 41.5 percent—a statistically significant increase. 

Symptoms of anxiety/depressive disorder during past 7 days, January 20—February 1, 2021
Total, aged 18-plus: 41.5% 
Aged 18 to 29: 57.0% 
Aged 20 to 39: 45.9% 
Aged 40 to 49: 41.1% 
Aged 50 to 59: 41.2% 
Aged 60 to 69: 33.4% 
Aged 70 to 79: 26.3% 
Aged 80-plus: 22.5% 

Mental health problems are particularly severe among 18-to-29-year-olds. Not only are most young adults experiencing mental health symptoms, but the 18-to-29 age group is also the one whose mental health is eroding the fastest. Between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of young adults with mental health symptoms grew by 8 percentage points. While the share of the population with mental health symptoms increased in every age group during those months, the rise was largest among 18-to-29-year-olds. It's well past time to open up vaccination sites to all adults, regardless of age, to give young people some hope. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Who's Online "Almost Constantly"

Are you online almost constantly? Every few years Pew Research Center asks Americans how frequently they go online. In 2021, nearly one-third (31 percent) told Pew they were online "almost constantly," up from 21 percent who reported this frequency in 2015. Here is the frequency with which Americans go online...

Frequency with which people aged 18-plus say they go online, 2021
Almost constantly: 31%
Several times a day: 48%
About once a day: 6%
Several times a week: 4%
Less often: 4%
Never: 7%

Not surprisingly, young adults aged 18 to 29 are most likely to be online "almost constantly," with 48 percent reporting this level of internet use. The "almost constantly" figure is 42 percent among 30-to-49-year-olds, 22 percent among 50-to-64-year-olds, and just 8 percent among people aged 65 or older. 

Source: Pew Research Center, About Three-in-Ten U.S. Adults Say They Are "Almost Constantly" Online

Thursday, March 25, 2021

34% Have Received At Least One Dose of Vaccine

Vaccination rates continue to rise. As of mid-March, 34 percent of the population aged 18 or older had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. This is up from 25 percent in the previous survey fielded during the last two weeks of February.

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of March 3-15
Total 18-plus: 34%
Aged 18 to 24: 13%
Aged 25 to 39: 22%
Aged 40 to 54: 25%
Aged 55 to 64: 33%
Aged 65-plus: 70%

The number of people who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine fell slightly in this round of the survey—43 million are still saying no to the life-saving shots, down from 46 million at the end of February. Among the 20 million people who say they definitely will not get the vaccine, the single biggest reason—cited by 10 million—is that they don't trust the vaccine. 

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, March 3-15

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Homeschooling Surges during Pandemic

Homeschooling has "exploded" during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Census Bureau. And by homeschooling, the Census Bureau does not mean remote learning. Rather, it is homeschooling through "pandemic pods," stand-alone virtual schools, or homeschooling organizations. 

Before the pandemic, just 3.3 percent of households with school-aged children participated in homeschooling. By the spring of 2020 (April 23-May 5), the figure had grown to 5.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. By the fall of 2020 (September 30-October 12), a substantial 11.1 percent reported homeschooling their children. 

No state had a homeschooling rate of 10 percent or higher in the spring of 2020. At that time, the homeschooling rate was highest in Alaska (9.6 percent of households with school-aged children), followed by Delaware (8.9 percent), California (8.6 percent), Oregon (8.3 percent), and Montana (8.2 percent). 

By the fall of 2020, the homeschooling rate had climbed above 10 percent in 32 states. 

10 states with highest homeschooling rate, Sept. 30-Oct. 12, 2020
Alaska: 27.5% 
Oklahoma: 20.1%
Montana: 18.3%
Florida: 18.1% 
Virginia: 16.9% 
West Virginia: 16.6%
Georgia: 16.0%
Mississippi: 15.0%
Louisiana: 14.5%
New Mexico: 14.3%

Illinois had the lowest homeschooling rate in the fall of 2020, with only 5.4 percent of households with school-aged children engaged in homeschooling.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

One-Way Commute to Work Hit a Record High in 2019

The time it takes Americans to commute to work hit a record high in 2019, just before start of the coronavirus pandemic. The average one-way commute climbed to 27.6 minutes, up from 25.0 minutes in 2006. Since 2006, commuting time has increased in every year except 2009. Lest you think the pandemic is going to burst this bubble because so many are working from home, the data on commuting time is collected only from workers who do not work from home. 

Only 12 percent of workers report a one-way commute time of less than 10 minutes, down from 15 percent who said so in 2006. Another 10 percent of workers say their commute time is 60 minutes or more, up from 8 percent in 2006. 

The longest one-way commute is experienced by those who ride a long-distance train, commuter rail, or ferry—71.2 minutes. The shortest commute is for those who walk. Here are one-way commute times in 2019 by mode of transportation...

71.2 minutes: long-distance train, commuter rail, or ferry
48.8 minutes: subway or elevated rail
46.6 minutes: bus
27.6 minutes: average time
26.4 minutes: drove alone
21.2 minutes: bicycle
12.6 minutes: walk

Since 2006, the average length of the one-way commute has increased for workers in every type of geography—central cities, suburbs, and nonmetro areas. Commutes are shortest for those who live in the principal cities of micropolitan areas (18.3 minutes). Commutes are longest for those who live in the suburbs of metropolitan areas (29.1 minutes).

Among metropolitan areas with populations of 1 million or more, the share of workers whose commute is 60 minutes or more is greatest in the New York metro area (23 percent). The share of workers whose commute is less than 10 minutes is highest in Rochester, NY (15 percent). 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Small Business Pessimism Drops Below 50%

For the first time in nine months, the percentage of small businesses expecting the worst from the coronavirus pandemic has fallen below 50 percent, according to the Census Bureau's Small Business Pulse Survey. That's progress.

The weekly Small Business Pulse survey asks businesses how long they think it will take before their business operations return to normal. During the week of March 8-14, slightly fewer than half of the nation's small businesses (49.5 percent) said it would take more than six months for them to return to normal, or their operations would never return to normal, or their business had permanently closed. This measure of pessimism has exceeded 50 percent since the week of June 7-13. The drop below 50 percent, although tiny, suggests economic conditions may be changing for the better.

How much time until your business operations return to normal? (March 8-14)
  0.8% say one month or less
  4.5% say two to three months
16.6% say four to six months
40.1% say more than six months
  7.3% say they do not think their business will ever return to normal
  2.1% say their business has permanently closed
16.9% say their business has not been affected by the pandemic
11.7% say their business has returned to its normal level of operations

Before we start singing happy days are here again, it's worth noting that the plurality of businesses still think it will be more than six months before their operations return to normal. Also, the great majority of small businesses in accommodation and food services (69 percent), arts and entertainment (66 percent), and educational services (69 percent) remain pessimistic.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Only 34% of Young Adults Have Cable/Satellite TV

Most Americans still subscribe to cable or satellite television, according to a Pew Research Center survey, but the share has fallen steeply in recent years. Only 56 percent of adults watch television via cable or satellite today, down from 76 percent who did so in 2015. 

Percent who have cable or satellite TV in 2021 (and 2015)
Aged 18 to 29: 34% (65%)
Aged 30 to 49: 46% (73%)
Aged 50 to 64: 66% (80%)
Aged 65-plus: 81% (86%)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ten Largest Ancestries in the United States

Americans are a melting pot of ancestries, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). Each year the survey asks a representative sample of Americans to identify their ancestry, with multiple responses allowed. Here are the ten largest ancestry groups, according to the 2019 ACS... 

10 largest ancestry groups, 2019
1. German: 40.3 million (12.3%)
2. Irish: 30.4 million (9.2%)
3. English: 23.6 million (7.2%)
4. Italian: 16.1 million (4.9%)
5. Polish: 9.0 million (2.7%)
6. French: 7.1 million (2.2%)
7. Scottish: 5.1 million (1.6%)
8. Norwegian: 4.3 million (1.3%)
9. Dutch: 3.6 million (1.1%)
10. Swedish, 3.5 million (1.1%)

The ancestry tables of the American Community Survey do not include several major groups such as Mexican or Chinese. That's because the information about those groups is collected separately through the survey's race and Hispanic origin questions rather than the ancestry question. Those who report being Hispanic or Asian, for example, are asked to identify their place of origin—such as Mexico or China. If these responses were included in the ancestry list, the top 10 would look very different. Mexican would be in 2nd place (37.2 million, 11.3%), Puerto Rican would be in 8th place (5.8 million, 1.8%), and Chinese would be in 9th place (5.2 million, 1.6%). Norwegian, Dutch, and Swedish would fall off the top-10 list.

Source: Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Generations Differ in Experience of Coronavirus

The great majority of Americans know someone who has had Covid-19. Fully 77 percent of adults personally know someone who has been sick with coronavirus, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll fielded March 3-8. The figure does not vary much by demographic characteristic except for one—generation. 

Counter to what you might expect, the oldest Americans are the ones least likely to know someone who has been sick with Covid-19. Just 54 percent of people aged 75 or older know someone who has come down with coronavirus. At the other extreme, 85 percent of Gen Xers know someone who got Covid—more than any other generation. 

The pattern is the same for coronavirus deaths. Overall, more than one-third of Americans (36 percent) personally know someone who died from coronavirus. The figure ranges from a low of 29 percent among the oldest adults to a high of 41 percent among Gen Xers. 

Know someone   sick with Covid     died of Covid  
Total adults (18-plus)           77%          36%
Gen Z/Millennials (18-39)           80          33
Generation X (40-55)           85          41
Baby Boomers (56-74)           75          39
Silent Generation (75-plus)           54          29

Source: NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Results, The Biden Administration and Covid-19

Monday, March 15, 2021

Mushrooming Trouble

This is no joke, according to the CDC. Each year, 7,500 mushroom incidents are reported to poison control centers in the United States. To get a better handle on the problem, the CDC analyzed data on emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to poisonous mushrooms. Here are some of the findings...

  • In 2016, there were 1,328 emergency department visits and 100 hospitalizations associated with "accidental poisonous mushroom ingestion." 
  • 41% of those who visited an emergency department after ingesting poisonous mushrooms were children under the age of 18. 
  • Males accounted for 63% of those who visited an emergency department after ingesting poisonous mushrooms. 
  • The 37% plurality of emergency department visits occurred in the West.
  • Among those diagnosed with ingesting poisonous mushrooms during 2016–18, 36% had gastrointestinal symptoms, 18% neurological/behavioral symptoms, and 17% cardiac symptoms.
  • 8% of those diagnosed with ingesting poisonous mushrooms were involved with hallucinogenic drug use.

"Given the potential severity and preventable nature of most poisonous mushroom ingestions, wild mushrooms should not be consumed unless identified by an expert," the CDC concludes.

Source: CDC, Health Care Utilization and Outcomes Associated with Accidental Poisonous Mushroom Ingestions—United States, 2016–2018

Thursday, March 11, 2021

First Time Ever: Life Expectancy by State

For the first time ever, the National Center for Health Statistics has released a report estimating life expectancy by state. The estimates are for 2018, with plans to produce the state estimates annually. 

The report reveals big differences by state in life expectancy at birth and at age 65. Hawaii is number one on both measures, with a life expectancy at birth of 81.0 years and at age 65 of 21.1 years. Life expectancy at birth bottoms out in West Virginia, at 74.4 years. Kentucky is last among the states in life expectancy at age 65—just 17.5 years. Here are the top and bottom states for life expectancy at birth...

Top 10 Bottom 10 
1. Hawaii81.0       42. Missouri76.6
2. California80.8  43. South Carolina76.5
3. New York80.5  44. Arkansas75.6
4. Minnesota80.5  45. Oklahoma75.6
5. Connecticut80.4  46. Louisiana75.6
6. Massachusetts80.1  47. Tennessee75.5
7. Washington80.0  48. Kentucky75.3
8. Colorado80.0  49. Alabama75.1
9. New Jersey79.8  50. Mississippi74.6
10. Rhode Island79.8  51. West Virginia74.4

The life expectancy of males at birth is highest in California, at 78.4 years. Female life expectancy at birth is highest in Hawaii, at 84.0 years. For both males and females, life expectancy at birth is lowest in West Virginia—71.7 and 77.3 years, respectively.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. State Life Tables, 2018 (PDF)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

25% Have Received at Least One Dose of Vaccine

Twenty-five percent of Americans aged 18 or older had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine as of the end of February, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. This figure is up from 18 percent in the prior survey, which was fielded during the first two weeks of February. Among people aged 65 or older, the 55 percent majority have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. Here are vaccination rates by age group...

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, February 17-March 1
Total 18-plus: 25%
Aged 18 to 24: 10%
Aged 25 to 39: 16%
Aged 40 to 54: 19%
Aged 55 to 64: 21%
Aged 65-plus: 55%

The number of people who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine was basically unchanged in this round of the survey, with 46 million saying no to the life-saving shots. 

Interestingly, those who have no intention of getting the vaccine are the ones most likely to be out and about in public, according to a Gallup survey. It's almost as if the naysayers think the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax. Among those who do not plan to get vaccinated, reports Gallup, only 40 percent have avoided going to events with large crowds in the past seven days. Among those who are fully vaccinated, more than twice as many (82 percent) have avoided large crowds. Just 26 percent of those who do not plan to get the vaccine have avoided small gatherings of people compared with 59 percent of the fully vaccinated. A substantial 43 percent of those who do not plan to get the vaccine say they are "not at all" worried about getting Covid-19. Among the fully vaccinated, just 22 percent are so complacent.  

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Homeownership by Age in 2020

Take these numbers with a grain of salt. The homeownership rate climbed to 66.6 percent in 2020—two whole percentage points above the 64.6 percent of 2019, according to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS). The homeownership rate increased in every age group. 

BUT, the 2020 homeownership rates are distorted by the coronavirus pandemic. The HVS's in-person interviews were suspended for a good portion of the year, and survey response rates plummeted—a bigger plunge for some groups than for others. The homeownership rates of 2020 were likely boosted by the presumed higher response rates of homeowners than renters during the year. In its HVS Covid-19 impact statement, the Census Bureau cautions against comparing second, third, and fourth quarter 2020 data with previous quarters. The same applies to the 2020 annual statistics, which were released today. 

Nevertheless, a comparison of 2020 homeownership rates with the rates in 2004 provides plenty of food for thought. Why 2004? That was the year when the overall homeownership rate in the United States peaked at 69.0 percent. Sixteen years later, we are still far below that peak—even if you accept 2020's homeownership rates at face value. 

Homeownership rate by age of householder, 2004 and 2020 and percentage point change
        2020    2004  change
Total households    66.6%    69.0%    -2.4
Under age 25    25.7    25.2     0.5
Aged 25 to 29    35.3    40.2   -4.9
Aged 30 to 34    49.1    57.4   -8.3
Aged 35 to 39    60.0    66.2   -6.2
Aged 40 to 44    65.5    71.9   -6.4
Aged 45 to 49    68.8    76.3   -7.5
Aged 50 to 54      73.2    78.2   -5.0
Aged 55 to 59    74.9    81.2   -6.3
Aged 60 to 64    78.2    82.4   -4.2
Aged 65-plus    80.0    81.1   -1.1

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, Annual Statistics: 2020

Monday, March 08, 2021

First Class Mail Volume Down 49%

The internet has not been kind to the United States Postal Service. First-class mail is just a shadow of its former self. 

First-class mail volume peaked in 2001 at 104 billion pieces, according to the USPS. By 2020, volume had fallen to just 53 billion—a 49 percent decline. Most of the decline occurred in the five years following the introduction of the smartphone in 2007. 

First-class mail volume (in billions of pieces)
2020: 52.6
2015: 62.6
2012: 68.7
2011: 72.5
2010: 77.6
2009: 82.7
2008: 90.7 
2007: 96.3
2001: 103.7 (peak)

Source: United States Postal Service, First-Class Mail Volume Since 1926

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Who Will "Definitely Not" Get the Covid-19 Vaccine?

A stubborn 15 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say they will "definitely not" get the Covid vaccine, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey fielded February 15-23. Another 7 percent say they will only get the vaccine "if required for work, school, or other activities." Here's a look at the naysayers...

Percent who say they will "definitely not" get the Covid vaccine
15% of all adults

28% of Republicans
  2% of Democrats

24% of rural residents
14% of suburban residents
13% of urban residents

17% of adults without a college degree
11% of college graduates

15% of non-Hispanic whites
14% of Blacks
12% of Hispanics

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor: February 2021

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Facts about the Minimum Wage in 2020

The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, a level unchanged since 2009.   

Most states now have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. 

Among all workers paid by the hour, 1.5 percent earned the minimum or less—1.1 million workers in 2020. 

Among workers paid minimum wage or less, 43 percent are in the prime working age group of 25 to 54. 

Among workers paid the minimum wage or less, 85 percent have a high school diploma or more education. 

Among workers paid the minimum wage or less, 60 percent work in the leisure and hospitality industries. Among workers paid by the hour in the leisure and hospitality industries, 8 percent earn the minimum wage or less. 

Among workers paid the minimum wage or less, 54 percent work in food preparation and serving occupations. Among workers paid by the hour in food preparation and serving occupations, 11 percent earn the minimum wage or less. 

By state, workers who are paid by the hour are most likely to earn minimum wage or less in South Carolina (4.4 percent), Louisiana (3.4 percent), Mississippi (2.8 percent), Virginia (2.7 percent), and Alabama (2.5 percent), 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2020

Monday, March 01, 2021

Nearly 1 Million Same-Sex Couple Households

There were 980,000 same-sex couple households in the United States in 2019, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The 58 percent majority of these households are married couples, and 42 percent are unmarried partners. 

By state, North Dakota has the smallest percentage of same-sex couple households as a share of all coupled households (0.5 percent). The District of Columbia has the largest percentage (7.1 percent). 

By metropolitan area, San Francisco is number one. In the San Francisco metro area, 2.8 percent of all coupled households are same-sex couples. The other metros on the top-10 list are Portland, Seattle, Orlando, Austin, Miami, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, and Baltimore. 

These percentages will grow in the years ahead as more Americans feel free to identify as LGBT because of changing attitudes. According to a recent Gallup survey, 5.6 percent of all Americans aged 18 or older identified as LGBT in 2020. This is up from 3.9 percent in 2015. Self-identification as LGBT increases with each succeeding younger generation. Among Baby Boomers, only 2.0 percent identify as LGBT. The figure is 3.8 percent among Gen Xers, 9.1 percent among Millennials, and 15.9 percent among Gen Z.

Source: Census Bureau, Same-Sex Couple Households: 2019

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Vaccination Rates by Age, February 3-14

The vaccination rate is slowly rising. As of mid-February, 18 percent of Americans aged 18 or older had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. This is up from 13 percent in the prior survey, which was fielded during the last two weeks of January. Here are vaccination rates by age group...

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, February 3-14
Total 18-plus: 18%
Aged 18 to 24: 6%
Aged 25 to 39: 14%
Aged 40 to 54: 15%
Aged 55 to 64: 16%
Aged 65-plus: 35%

How about those anti-vaxers? The number of people who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine is shrinking. There were 53 million naysayers (21 percent of the population aged 18-plus) the first time this question was asked during the weeks of January 6-18. The number fell to 45 million (18 percent) in the February 3-14 time period. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Less Educated Counties are Falling Behind

The U.S. population is getting better educated. But only in some places and not in others. Among the nation's 3,138 counties, the 58 percent majority are becoming better educated. The remaining 42 percent are educationally stagnant—they have not experienced a statistically significant increase in educational attainment over the past decade, according to a Census Bureau analysis of five-year American Community Survey data from 2005–09 to 2015–19.  

Forty-two percent is a lot of counties—more than 1,000. The bad news doesn't stop there. A disproportionate share of the stagnant counties were the least educated to begin with. This means there is a growing gap between counties not only in educational attainment, but also in the economic opportunities that accrue to educated populations. 

To do its analysis, the Census Bureau divided counties into two educational attainment groups. The measure of educational attainment was the percentage of county residents aged 25 or older with a bachelor's degree in 2005–09. For all counties at the time, 18.7 percent of residents aged 25 or older had a bachelor's degree. One educational attainment group consisted of all counties that fell below this threshold. The other group was all counties above this threshold. Now for the analysis: among the counties that fell below this threshold in 2005–09, only 49.8 percent experienced an increase in educational attainment by 2015–19. Among the counties that were above this threshold in 2005–09, a much larger 78.6 percent experienced an increase in educational attainment during the next 10 years. 

This is not good news for stagnant counties. It means the socioeconomic gap between counties is growing, the rural-urban divide is widening, and struggling counties will find economic prosperity even more elusive. 

The coronavirus pandemic will only exacerbate these problems. Recently released Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of the labor force impact of the pandemic show jobs disappearing for less-educated Americans. The number of jobs available for those without a high school diploma is projected to drop 2.3 percent between 2019 and 2029 because of the pandemic, according to a New York Times analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Covid-impact projections. Pre-Covid, these jobs had been projected to grow. The number of jobs available to those with a high school diploma and no further education will inch up by only 0.1 percent in the decade ahead, far less growth than foreseen pre-Covid. At the other extreme, Covid will boost job growth for the better educated. For those with a bachelor's degree, jobs will increase 6.7 percent—a bit more than forecast pre-Covid. Similarly, the job market for people with a graduate degree will expand 9.7 percent during the decade, also above the pre-Covid forecast. 

All this means we need to prepare for more friction, more turmoil—political and otherwise—between educationally stagnant and educationally advancing counties as these trends unfold.

Source: Census Bureau, Bachelor's Degree Attainment in the United States: 2005 to 2019

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Boomers Still Have A Grip on Congress

The Baby-Boom generation dominates both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. According to an analysis of the 117th Congress by Pew Research Center, Boomers account for the 53 percent majority of the House and for an even larger 68 percent of the Senate...

House: number (and percent) of members of the 117th Congress by generation
Millennials: 31 (7%)
Gen Xers: 144 (33%)
Boomers: 230 (53%)
Silent: 27 (6%) 

Senate: number (and percent) of members of the 117th Congress by generation
Millennials: 1 (1%)
Gen Xers: 20 (20%)
Boomers: 68 (68%)
Silent: 11 (11%) 

Note: Pew defines Millennials as those born from 1981 to 1996; Gen X from 1965 to 1980; Boomers from 1946 to 1964; Silent generation from 1928 to 1945.

The ages of the 117th Congress range from a youthful 25.5 years to an ancient 87.7 years. The median age of the House is 58.9. The median age of the Senate is 64.8. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

What Covid Will Do to Jobs

This has been a helluva year for those who work with demographic and economic statistics. Everything is topsy turvy. The usually dependable government data released over the past 12 months—household income and spending data, time use estimates, and net worth assessments—was either collected before the pandemic, making the findings irrelevant, or collected during the pandemic and tainted by survey anomalies such as low response rates. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projections for 2019-29, released last September, are no exception. The BLS based the projections on pre-Covid labor force and economic assumptions. Consequently, they raise more questions than they answer. How would Covid impact the labor force in the decade ahead? How would Covid change industries and occupations?

Now the BLS has addressed some of those questions. In a Monthly Labor Review article, BLS economists estimate the impact of the pandemic on industries, occupations, and employment. The analysis compares the baseline projections for the next 10 years, released in September, with two alternate scenarios—a moderate Covid impact and a severe Covid impact. With a few exceptions, the BLS economists show that the biggest Covid impacts will be strengthening ongoing trends rather than reversing them. 

Cashiers are one example. In the baseline series, this occupation was projected to be the one losing the largest number of jobs between 2019 and 2029—a loss of 265,000. Because of Covid, the job losses will be even greater. In the moderate-impact scenario, the number of people employed as cashiers will fall by 511,000 between 2019 and 2029. In the severe-impact scenario, the number will fall by 714,500. "Checkout automation is expected to accelerate because of the pandemic," say the BLS economists. 

Information security analysts are at the other extreme. In the baseline projections, this occupation ranked as one of the 10 fastest growing, with a 31 percent increase in jobs between 2019 and 2029. Because of Covid, these jobs will increase even faster—up 42 to 43 percent in the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively. "The increase in telework and robust demand for work-related digital security are expected to make these analysts the fourth-fastest growing occupation in either alternate scenario," the BLS economists report.

Because of the pandemic, jobs in medical research also are projected to grow rapidly in the decade ahead. "Both the public and private sectors will likely pay greater attention to pandemic preparedness going forward," the study's authors report. This explains why the number of epidemiologists, which had been projected to increase by a modest 5 percent in the baseline projections, is projected to expand by a much larger 31 percent because of Covid.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, Employment Projections in a Pandemic Environment

Thursday, February 18, 2021

1.0 Year Decline in Life Expectancy, January-June 2020

Yep, it happened. As projected by a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a 1.0 year decline in life expectancy in the first six months of 2020. One year may not sound like a lot, but it is the biggest decline since World War II, the New York Times reports.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell to 77.8 years in the first half of 2020—one full year below the 78.8 year life expectancy of 2019, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Here are the declines in life expectancy at birth by sex, race, and Hispanic origin...

Decline in life expectancy at birth, January–June 2020 versus 2019
Black males: -3.0 years
Hispanic males: -2.4 years
Black females: -2.3 years
Hispanic females: -1.1 years
Non-Hispanic white males: -0.8 years
Non-Hispanic white females: -0.7 years

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for January through June, 2020 (PDF)

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

62% of Adults Are Cellphone Only

When Steve Jobs unveiled the first Apple iPhone on January 29, 2007, only 13 percent of adults lived in a "wireless-only" household—meaning a household with only cellphones and no landline phone. Today, wireless-only households are by far the norm. In January-June 2020, the 62 percent majority of adults aged 18 or older lived in a household with cellphones and no landline phone, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Here are the percentages of adults who lived in a wireless-only household in January-June 2020 (versus 2007)...

Percent of adults in a cellphone-only household, January-June 2020 (and January-June 2007)
       2020      2007
Total, 18-plus        61.8%       12.6%
Aged 18 to 24        72.6       27.9
Aged 25 to 29        80.4       30.6
Aged 30 to 34        83.0       12.6*
Aged 35 to 44        74.5       12.6*
Aged 45 to 64        58.5         7.1
Aged 65-plus        35.0         2.0

* Age group in 2007 was 30-44. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Urban Exodus? Not So Fast

Did the coronavirus pandemic really cause Americans to flee the cities? This notion has been bandied about by the media for months, but the evidence has been more anecdotal than factual. Now we have the facts, thanks to Stephan D. Whitaker, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. 

Whitaker analyzed data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel. The addresses of borrowers in the Equifax data are updated monthly and are as geographically detailed as census tracts. This kind of detail allowed Whitaker to examine migration into and out of urban neighborhoods, which he defined as census tracts in metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more and a population density of at least 7,000 people per square mile or most of the housing in the tract was built before World War II. He studied migration flows into and out of urban neighborhoods from March through September 2020 and compared them to migration flows during the same months in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

So, was migration out of urban neighborhoods greater in 2020 than in the earlier years? Yes. Out-migration from urban neighborhoods averaged 276,000 per month from March through September 2020—or 10,000 more out-migrants per month in 2020 than in 2017–19. But that's not the whole story. In fact, it's not even the bigger story. This is the bigger story: the number of people moving into urban neighborhoods decreased more than the the number of people moving out of urban neighborhoods increased. There were an average of 18,000 fewer in-migrants to urban neighborhoods per month in 2020 than in the earlier years compared with the 10,000 per month increase in out-migrants.  

"The estimates presented here strongly suggest that migration flows were unfavorable for urban neighborhoods during 2020," concludes Whitaker. But use of the term "exodus" to describe the change is not accurate, he says. Rather than an exodus out of urban neighborhoods, the bigger migration story of 2020 was the decline in the number of migrants moving into urban neighborhoods. "What is certain is that hundreds of thousands of people who would have moved into an urban neighborhood in a typical year were unwilling or unable to do so in 2020."

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Did the Covid-19 Pandemic Cause an Urban Exodus?

Thursday, February 11, 2021

21 Million Say No to Covid Vaccine

The percentage of the population that has received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine climbed from 8 percent in mid-January to 13 percent in late January, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Among people aged 65 or older, 21 percent have received at least one shot of the vaccine. 

There's still a long way to go. Fully 215 million American aged 18-plus have not yet received even one shot of a vaccine. Among them, the majority says it "will definitely" get a vaccine...

Attitudes toward getting a Covid vaccine among those who have not already received at least one dose (January 20-February 1, 2021)
55% definitely will get a vaccine
23% probably will get a vaccine
13% probably will not get a vaccine
10% definitely will not get a vaccine

More than 21 million Americans say they definitely will not get a Covid vaccine. Another 27 million say they probably will not get a vaccine. That's nearly one in four (23 percent) of all those who have not yet received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly one in five (19 percent) of the total population aged 18 or older. Among those who say they definitely will not get a vaccine, the single biggest reason is concern about side effects. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Demographics of the Viral Stock Frenzy

How many Americans bought GameStop or other viral stock during the speculative trading frenzy in January? According to a Yahoo Finance-Harris Poll, an astonishing 28 percent of Americans participated. 

Though GameStop was the poster child of the frenzy, it was not the most popular stock purchase. The number-one spot belonged to AMC Entertainment. Among those who purchased viral stock in January, 35 percent purchased AMC, 33 percent bought GameStop, and 23 percent BlackBerry. The 53 percent majority of those who bought viral stock invested $250 or less. 

The demographics of the players are what you might suspect. Men were much more likely than women to have purchased viral stocks in January—40 percent of men did so versus 16 percent of women. Younger adults were more likely to participate than older Americans. Forty percent of 18-to-44-year-olds bought viral stock in January compared with 17 percent of those aged 45 or older.

Source: The Harris Poll, Going Viral: "Meme Stocks" Win Over 1 in 4 Americans

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

College Graduates 10 Years Later

Forty percent of Millennials have a bachelor's degree, making them the best-educated generation. They are paying a steep price for those credentials. According to a National Center for Education Statistics' longitudinal survey, nearly three out of four Millennials who earned a bachelor's degree went into debt to pay for their education.  

The NCES's Baccalaureate and Beyond longitudinal survey has been tracking the economic wellbeing of 2007–2008 bachelor's degree recipients. A recent NCES report examines the status of these graduates in 2018, a decade after they earned their degree. Much of the news is good. Sixty-three percent of the graduates owned a home in 2018, for example, compared with only 48 percent of the 30-to-34 age group as a whole (two-thirds of the 2007–08 cohort was under age 35). The median earnings of those who worked full-time amounted to $67,500 compared with $52,000 for all 30-to-34-year-olds with full-time jobs. 

Not all the news is good, however. A substantial 20 percent of 2007–08 college graduates have a negative net worth—meaning their debts exceed their assets, the NCES reports. Among Black college graduates, 37 percent have a negative net worth. Student loans are the reason. Fully 72 percent of the 2007–08 cohort borrowed to pay for their education, owing a cumulative median of $32,116. Among Black graduates, 86 percent borrowed and they owe a larger $51,395. Most of the 2007–08 cohort (55 percent) is still repaying those loans, with an average monthly payment of $427. 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Baccalaureate and Beyond: First Look at the 2018 Employment and Educational Experiences of 2007–08 College Graduates

Monday, February 08, 2021

The Demographics of the Insurrection

Who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6? Knowing who they are is just as important as knowing their ideology and beliefs, according to University of Chicago political scientists Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby. The two researchers analyzed the demographics of 193 individuals arrested for entering the U.S. Capitol or breaking into the Capitol grounds on January 6. 

Characteristics of those arrested on January 6
94% white
86% male

32% aged 35 to 44
24% aged 45 to 54
12% aged 55-plus

9% unemployed
27% white-collar workers
13% business owners

10% members of militia/violent right-wing group

The characteristics of those arrested on January 6 differ in important ways from those arrested for right-wing violence in prior years, say Pape and Ruby. They are older, less likely to be unemployed, and also less likely to be affiliated with right-wing groups. The researchers find these differences troubling because "Pro-Trump activists joined with the far right to form a new kind of violent mass movement." 

All the ingredients are there for this violent mass movement to grow, Pape and Ruby warn. The ingredients are 1) A leader (Trump) willing to engage in extra-legal activity; 2) Grievances perceived by large numbers of people (the "stolen" election); and 3) A deadly focal point event (January 6). 

"This is not about a few hundred arrests," the researchers conclude. "We need to understand who we are dealing with in the new movement. Targeting pre-2021 far-right organizations will not solve the problem."

Source: University of Chicago, Chicago Project on Security & Threats, The Face of American Insurrection—Right-Wing Organizations Evolving into a Violent Mass Movement

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Kind of a Drag

Despite being more educated than any other generation, Millennials are having a tough time. They are highly educated but burdened by student debt. They graduated from college into the difficult job market following the Great Recession. Because of their financial hardships, they delayed marriage and homeownership. Consequently, Millennials have been behind older generations in their accumulation of wealth.  

The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) examines the economic status of Millennials using data from the  Federal Reserve Board's 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. The CRR researchers, Anqi Chen and Alicia H. Munnell, compare the economic status of Millennials aged 28 to 38 in 2019 with Boomers and Gen Xers when they were that age. They find that older Millennials (born 1981-91) have caught up to late Boomers (1954-64) and Gen Xers (1969-79) in their income, marriage rate, homeownership, and labor force participation. But because of student loan debt, Millennial wealth still lags that of Boomers and Gen Xers. 

Among Millennial householders aged 34 to 38, for example, net worth is just 70 percent of their income. This is less than the 82 percent ratio for Boomers and far below the 110 percent ratio for Gen Xers at the same age. When the researchers took a look at what was holding Millennials back, the culprit turns out to be student loans. Among Millennials aged 28 to 38, fully 40 percent have student loan debt versus just 28 percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of Boomers at that age. 

"Excluding student loans, the median net wealth-to-income ratio for the leading edge of the Millennial generation looks very similar to that for previous cohorts," Chen and Munnell report. Student debt, they conclude, is a constant drag on the Millennial balance sheet.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Millennials' Readiness for Retirement—A 2019 Update

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 4th Quarter 2020

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, fourth quarter 2020: 49.2%

Homeownership rates in the 4th quarter of 2020 have fallen from the stratospheric heights reached in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020—when the coronavirus pandemic greatly reduced the response rate to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) and consequently distorted homeownership trends. The 79 percent response rate in the 4th quarter was still below the 83 percent average, reports the Census Bureau. But it was well above the 2nd and 3rd quarter response rates of 70 and 71 percent, respectively. 

It will take time before there is certainty that the HVS homeownership statistics once again reflect reality. But the 4th quarter numbers appear to be closing in on reality. The overall homeownership rate in the 4th quarter of 2020 was 65.8 percent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the 65.1 percent homeownership rate in the 4th quarter of 2019. The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds (the age group in which householders typically buy their first home) has been surprisingly stable over the four quarters of 2020 (48.0, 49.1, 50.1, and 49.2). Note that the 50.1 percent homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds in the 3rd quarter of 2020 was the first time since 2011 that their rate has exceeded 50 percent. Will the age group firmly reclaim its position as the nation's first-time homebuyers in 2021? We'll have to wait and see. 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Prescription Meds for Mental Health

Twenty-one percent of Americans aged 18 or older have taken a prescription medication in the past four weeks to help with their mental health, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Ten percent say they have received counseling from a mental health professional in the past four weeks, and another 11 percent say they needed counseling but did not get it. 

Women are far more likely than men to be on medication for mental health issues—26 percent of women reported taking medication in the past four weeks versus 15 percent of men. People who live alone are more likely to be taking medication (25 percent) than those who live with others. Interestingly, the use of medication falls with household income—from 25 percent of those with household incomes below $25,000 to just 15 percent of those with household incomes of $200,000 or more. 

People who have had to borrow money from friends or family in the past 7 days to make ends meet are the ones most likely to be taking prescription medication for mental health. Fully 29 percent of these borrowers are on medication.

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, January 6-18 

Monday, February 01, 2021

What's the Most Important Thing Children Should Learn?

What is the single most important thing children should learn to prepare them for life? The largest share of Americans (42 percent) say it is most important for children to learn to think for themselves, according to the General Social Survey (GSS). Hard work ranks second, helping others is third, obedience fourth, and popularity fifth.   

Percent who say each characteristic is the most important thing children should learn, 2018 (and 1986)
Think for self: 41.6% (51.2%)
Work hard: 27.6% (11.2%)
Help others: 20.7% (13.7%)
Obedience: 9.9% (23.4%)
Popularity: 0.2% (0.5%)

Obedience has fallen in importance over the decades, as discussed in this recent post (How Many Americans Are Receptive to Fascism?) But so has thinking for oneself. More than half the public named thinking for oneself as the most important thing children should learn when the GSS first asked this question in 1986. Over the past three decades, the percentage who rate thinking for oneself as number-one has fallen by nearly 10 percentage points. Working hard and helping others have taken up the slack. The percentage who think the most important thing for children to learn is to work hard has grown by 16 percentage points since 1986, and helping others has gained 7 percentage points. The one thing that hasn't changed over the decades is the low rating for popularity. Fewer than 1 percent believe popularity is the number-one lesson children need to learn.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the General Social Survey

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Vaccination Rates by Demographic Characteristic

How many Americans have received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine? The Census Bureau recently added this question to its biweekly Household Pulse Survey. As of January 6-18, the answer is 8 percent, with some variation by demographic characteristic.

Age: The vaccination rate is lowest among 18 to 24 year olds (3 percent) and peaks at 9 percent among people aged 40 to 64. Among those aged 65 or older, 7 percent have gotten at least a first shot.

Sex: Women are more likely to have received a dose (9 percent) than men (6 percent). 

Race and Hispanic origin: Asians are most likely to have received at least one dose of vaccine (13 percent).  The rate is 8 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 6 percent for Blacks and Hispanics. 

Education: The vaccination rate rises with education. Only 4 percent of those with no more than a high school diploma have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. The figure rises to 8 percent among people with some college or an associate's degree and 12 percent among those with a bachelor's degree or more education.

Household income: Those living in households with an income of $100,000 or more are most likely to have received at least one dose of the vaccine (11 to 13 percent). Among those with a household income below $25,000, just 3 percent have gotten a shot. 

The fact that medical workers were first in line for the vaccines—many of whom are highly educated and well paid—is one reason for the differences in vaccination rates by education and income. In the weeks to come, we should see rising rates in all demographic segments.

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey: January 6—January 18

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How Many Americans Are Receptive to Fascism?

One of the questions on the personality test that probes for vulnerability to fascism (the F-Scale) is this: "Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn." Agreement with this statement is one sign of receptivity to fascism.

The General Social Survey (GSS) has been asking the American public a similar question every year or two since 1986: Here it is: "How important is it for a child to learn to obey to prepare him or her for life?" 

One in 10 Americans told GSS interviewers in 2018 that obedience was the most important thing for a child to learn to prepare him or her for life. (The other options were learning to work hard, learning to help others, learning to think for themselves, or learning to be popular.) Here are the percentages who chose obedience as the most important thing by age group...

Obedience is the most important thing for a child to learn, 2018 (and 1986)
Aged 18 to 44: 8% (19%)
Aged 45 to 64: 10% (28%)
Aged 65-plus: 13% (32%)

The public may be less receptive to fascism today than it was several decades ago. The first year the GSS asked this question in 1986, a much larger 23 percent of Americans named obedience as the single most important thing a child needed to learn.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the 2018 General Social Survey

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Predictions about the Housing Market

The housing market is in a frenzy because of the coronavirus pandemic. The housing inventory is at a record low of 380,000—48 percent below what it was one year ago, according to Calculated Risk. Because of the scarce supply, housing prices are going through the roof—13 percent higher in December 2020 than one year earlier, according to Realtor.com

Don't expect this much exuberance in the housing market in the years and decades to come. According to a research report by Laurie Goodman and Jun Zhu of the Urban Institute, household formation will be relatively slow and homeownership will decline over the next two decades. In the report, Goodman and Zhu project household formation and homeownership through 2040 by age, race, and Hispanic origin. Here are some of their findings...

  • Household formation will continue at a modest pace. Between 1990 and 2010, the nation gained a net of 12.4 million households in each decade. The number dropped to just 7.3 million between 2010 and 2020. While household formation in the decade ahead will exceed this slow pace, it will fall far below the heady days of the 1990s and 2000s. The projections show the formation of 8.5 million new households during the 2020s followed by an additional 7.6 million in the 2030s. The number of renter households will grow twice as fast as the number of owner households.
  • Homeownership will decline for nearly all age, race, and Hispanic origin groups through 2040. The study projects a decline in the overall homeownership rate from 64 percent in 2018 to 62 percent in 2040. Those likely to be hit the hardest are Black households headed by 45-to-74-year-olds. "If current policies stay the same, the Black homeownership rate will fall well below the rate of previous generations at the same age and result in an unprecedented number of Black renters over 65," say Goodman and Zhu. 
  • Between 2020 and 2040, all net new homeowners will be nonwhite. The number of Hispanic homeowners is projected to increase by 4.8 million, Asian by 2.7 million, and Black by 1.2 million. The number of non-Hispanic white homeowners will decline by 1.8 million during those years. 

Source: Urban Institute, The Future of Headship and Homeownership

Monday, January 25, 2021

Biggest Job Declines, 2019 to 2029

Which occupation is going to shed the most jobs over the next decade? Just as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the occupations likely to grow the most, it also identifies those likely to experience the largest job losses. Here are some of those occupations...

Occupations ranking among the 30 with the largest projected job decline, 2019 to 2029
1. Cashiers
2. Secretaries
9. Cooks, fast food
10. Tellers
14. Customer service representatives
16. Postal service mail carriers
21. Correctional officers
23. Chief executives
25. Retail salespersons
28. Travel agents
30. Computer programmers

Cashier is the occupation likely to lose the most jobs in the decade ahead as online sales and self-checkout eliminate the need for staff. The number of cashiers is projected to decline by 265,000 during the next decade. That still leaves a lot of cashiers in the workforce—more than 3 million in 2029—because cashier is one of the largest occupations. Secretaries, tellers, retail salespersons, travel agents, and computer programmers are also on the list of biggest losers because of technological change. No surprises there. But what's up with chief executives? The number of chief executives is projected to decline by 10 percent, falling from 288,000 in 2019 to 259,000 in 2029. 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections, Occupations with the Largest Job Declines

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Where Americans Get Their News

Digital devices are the news source for the great majority of Americans. Fully 86 percent of the public "sometimes" or "often" gets news from a smartphone, computer, or tablet, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The 60 percent majority "often" gets news from these digital devices. 

Percent getting news sometimes/often from...
Digital devices: 86%
Television: 68%
Radio: 50%
Print: 32%

Not only is digital the primary platform for getting news, but people prefer it that way. When asked which platform they prefer as a news source, 52 percent say digital devices, 35 percent say television, 7 percent radio, and 5 percent print.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Small Business Pulse Survey Takes a Hiatus

Jobs are disappearing, unemployment claims are surging, the pandemic is raging. In the midst of this turmoil, the Census Bureau's Small Business Pulse Survey is going on hiatus. Following the release of data collected during the week of January 4 through January 10, the survey is taking a pause. Check back in February for information about future releases of the survey, the Census Bureau says. 

The Small Business Pulse Survey has been measuring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's small businesses. The bureau fielded the first survey in late April (April 26 through May 2) and continued collecting data weekly through June. The pandemic was supposed to be over by then. It wasn't. Phase 2 of the Small Business Pulse Survey began in early August and ended in mid-October. The pandemic still wasn't over. Phase 3 of the Small Business Pulse Survey began in mid-November and ended on January 10. "The data collection period for the Small Business Pulse Survey is now closed," reports the  Census Bureau on the survey's web page. 

Here are some of the findings from the last week of the survey, January 4-10...

  • 75 percent of small businesses say the coronavirus pandemic has had a moderate to large negative effect on them, including 90 percent of businesses in accommodation and food service.
  • 40 percent of small businesses say their revenues have fallen in the past week, including 56 percent of those in accommodation and food service.
  • 12 percent of small businesses say they have reduced their paid employees in the past week, including 27 percent of those in accommodation and food service.
  • 55 percent of small businesses say their business operations will not return to normal for more than six months, will never return to normal, or the business has permanently closed. Among businesses in accommodation and food service, 77 percent report this level of pessimism. 
Source: Census Bureau, Small Business Pulse Survey

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Life Expectancy to Drop by More than 1 Year

Whenever life expectancy declines in the United States, it's a big deal. In the past 50 years, the National Center for Health Statistics has measured only four annual declines in life expectancy at birth, all of them small, ranging from a drop of 0.1 years to 0.3 years. 

Brace yourself: Because of Covid-19, life expectancy is projected to drop by 1.13 years in 2020, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This is a very big deal. 

There's more. The PNAS study was undertaken months ago, and its projections are based on the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's (IHME) medium scenario of Covid deaths produced in early October. At that time, the medium scenario forecast a total of 321,000 Covid deaths. In fact, Covid killed 344,000 people in 2020, according to the CDC. This larger number is close to IHME's high scenario estimate of 348,000 deaths by the end of the year. The high scenario means an even larger life expectancy decline in 2020, according to the PNAS study—a drop of 1.22 years.

There's even more. Because of Covid's disproportionate impact on people of color, the life expectancy decline will be much greater for Blacks and Hispanics than for non-Hispanic Whites. Under the medium death scenario, Hispanic life expectancy at birth in 2020 is projected to decline by 3.05 years, Black by 2.10 years, and non-Hispanic white by 0.68 years. 

"One of the many very distressing consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is an estimated 39% increase in the Black-White life expectancy gap," note the study's authors. The life expectancy decline will also reduce what is called the Hispanic paradox (the longer life expectancy of Hispanics versus non-Hispanic whites) by more than 70 percent, the authors report.

Is the projected 2020 life expectancy decline just a blip or will it be long lasting? The study's authors are doubtful the decline is just a blip. "A rapid return to pre-Covid-19 life expectancy is unlikely," they conclude. Covid-19 deaths are continuing to mount. Also, say the authors, there are "the long-term detrimental health impacts for those who recovered from the virus, deaths from other health conditions that were precipitated by Covid-19, and social and economic losses resulting from the pandemic."

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Reductions in 2020 US Life Expectancy Due to Covid-19 and the Disproportionate Impact on the Black and Latino Populations

Thursday, January 14, 2021

20% Increase in the Mortality Rate

File this story in the Not Surprising But Still Shocking category: the age-adjusted mortality rate in the United States in the second quarter of 2020 (April, May, June) was a stunning 20 percent higher than the age-adjusted mortality rate in the second quarter of 2019, the National Center for Health Statistics reports. 

There were 840 deaths per 100,000 population in the second quarter of 2020, NCHS reports, compared with 702 deaths per 100,000 population in April, May, and June of 2019—a 19.7 percent increase. 

Percent change in 2nd quarter mortality rate by age group, 2019–20 
Age 1 to 4:   -12.9%
Age 5 to 14:   -0.7%
Age 15 to 24: 21.4%
Age 25 to 34: 30.1%
Age 35 to 44: 29.3%
Age 45 to 54: 26.3%
Age 55 to 64: 20.6%
Age 65 to 74: 19.1%
Age 75 to 84: 17.4%
Age 85-plus:  19.4%

Children under age 15 were the only ones spared. Every other age group experienced a double-digit rise as Covid-19 deaths mounted in the spring of 2020. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Rapid Release, Mortality Dashboard

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

"Unprecedented Demographic Stagnation"

You don't have to wait for 2020 census results to know the big trends of the past decade. That's because demographer William H. Frey of the Brookings Institution has revealed the biggies in a recent report. According to Frey, this is what the 2020 census will show...

1. "Unprecedented stagnation in population growth," says Frey. The 2010s are likely to have been the decade with the slowest population growth in U.S. history. Until the 2010s, the U.S. was one of the fastest growing countries in the industrialized world.

2. Ongoing decline in geographic mobility. The annual mobility rate has been falling through most of the 2010s, reaching an all-time low of 9.3 percent in 2019–20. While the coronavirus pandemic may boost mobility temporarily, Frey thinks it will then resume its long-term decline.

3. The continued aging of the population, thanks to the Baby-Boom generation. 

4. "A first-time decline in the nation's white population," Frey predicts for the 2010s, largely due to the fact that whites are older than other race groups. "This means that other racial and ethnic groups are responsible for generating overall population growth," says Frey.

5. Great diversity in the Millennial and younger generations compared to Boomers and older Americans. "The generational divide in diversity...has impacted politics in ways that are sometimes divisive," Frey notes.

The biggest trend to be revealed by the 2020 census, according to Frey, is this: the nation is in the midst of unprecedented demographic stagnation. One way to break out of the stagnation is to increase immigration, he says. "Given our rapidly aging native-born population, immigration will ensure growth—especially among the critical youth and labor force populations."

Source: Brookings, What the 2020 Census Will Reveal about America; Stagnating Growth, an Aging Population, and Youthful Diversity

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Houston, We Have a Problem

"Because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that's what it takes to set things right." Do you agree or disagree? 

A substantial 44 percent of Americans "mostly" or "completely" agree with the statement, according to PRRI's 2020 American Values Survey. The survey was fielded last September, well before the January 6 Trump insurrection. Here is the percentage who agree by political affiliation...

We need a leader who is willing to break some rules if that's what it takes to set things right (percent mostly/completely agreeing)
57% of Republicans
43% of independents
36% of Democrats

With so many Americans willing to take a wrecking ball to law and order, the Trump insurrection was inevitable.

Monday, January 11, 2021

31% Expect to Lose Employment Income Soon

The coronavirus pandemic is getting worse. Daily new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are at all-time highs. The vaccine rollout is fatally slow. Cold weather and the winter surge has driven the public back into hiding. It should have come as no surprise, then, that nonfarm payroll employment fell by 140,000 in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the first decline in payroll employment since April. 

It also should come as no surprise that a growing share of the public expects to lose employment income in the next four weeks (personally, or someone in their household). Thirty-one percent of Americans aged 18 or older have been telling the Census Bureau since mid-November that they expect to lose employment income soon, according to the Household Pulse Survey fielded December 9-21. The December job numbers prove them right.

Expect self or household member to lose employment income in next 4 weeks
Nov 11-Dec 21: 31% 
Sept 30-Oct 26: 24% (low)
April 23-May 5: 39% (high)

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Record Low Household Growth in 2010s

The number of households in the United States grew by only 9.3 percent over the past 10 years—from 118 million in 2010 to 128 million in 2020. This is the slowest household growth on record, capped off by the first ever annual decline in households between 2019 and 2020. 

Number of households, 2010 and 2020 (in 000s)
      2020    2010percent change
Total households       128,451       117,538         9.3%
With children under 18         33,464         35,218        -5.0

The number of households with children under age 18 fell by nearly 1.8 million during the decade. Behind the decline is the ongoing baby-bust, which is predicted to deepen as coronavirus further reduces births. 

Source: Census Bureau, Families & Living Arrangements