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

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Delusions of Grandeur

"How would you describe your own personal weight situation right now?" When asked this question, only 41 percent of the American public admits to being overweight, according to a 2020 Gallup survey. 

The National Center for Health Statistics would beg to disagree. According to the measured height and weight of a representative sample of the population, nearly three out of four American adults are overweight...

Percent who are overweight
Fantasy: 41%
Reality: 73%

Men reported weighing an average of 200 pounds, Gallup notes. Women reported weighing 162 pounds. Men are right on the money. The National Center for Health Statistics measures men's average weight at 198 pounds. Women are shy of the mark, however. Their measured weight is an average of 171 pounds—significantly greater than their self-reported 162.

The percentage of men who want to lose weight and are seriously trying to do so was unchanged in 2020, Gallup reports. Not so for women. Although the 59 percent majority of women would like to lose weight, just 23 percent said they had been seriously trying to do so in the past year—the smallest percentage on record. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs Plummet

Out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs has fallen steeply over the past decade. In 2018, those who purchased retail prescription drugs spent a median of $54 for them—42 percent less than the $93 spent in 2009, after adjusting for inflation.

An analysis of retail prescription drug spending based on data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey shows that out-of-pocket spending fell not just at the median, but at every point in the distribution of spending. Even those who spend the most on prescription drugs saw their out-of-pocket costs fall substantially. Those whose spending on retail prescription drugs is at the 95th percentile, for example, saw their annual out-of-pocket costs fall from $1,369 to $945 between 2009 and 2018—a 31 percent decline, after adjusting for inflation. 

Among people aged 65 or older, out-of-pocket spending on retail prescription drugs fell for those on Medicare Part D, for those with private drug insurance, and even for without prescription drug insurance. Older Americans covered by Medicare Part D spent a median of $160 on retail prescription drugs in 2018, down from $341 in 2009, after adjusting for inflation. The elderly with no drug coverage saw their median annual spending fall from $318 in 2009 to $177 in 2018. 

"In recent years overall affordability of retail prescription drugs has not deteriorated, and may have improved," the analysis concludes. 

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Out-of-Pocket Spending for Retail Prescribed Drugs by Age and Type of Prescription Drug Coverage, 2009 to 2018

Monday, January 04, 2021

Third Leading Cause of Death

On February 29, 2020, the CDC logged the first Covid-19 death in the United States. The next day, no one died from Covid—the last day without a Covid death this year. The cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 topped 1,000 on March 26. They exceeded 10,000 on April 6. On April 23, Covid-19 became a leading cause of death in the United States. 

The National Center for Health Statistics tracks leading causes of death, compiling the top-10 list each year. We will have to wait a while before the top-10 list of 2020 is released, but we already know Covid-19—a cause of death unknown a year ago—will be near the top of the list. It will be the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States.

10 Leading Causes of Death in 2019
Total deaths   2,854,838
1. Diseases of heart      659,041
2. Malignant neoplasms      599,601
3. Accidents (unintentional injuries)      173,040
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases      156,979
5. Cerebrovascular diseases      150,005
6. Alzheimer disease      121,499
7. Diabetes mellitus        87,647
8. Nephritis        51,565
9. Influenza and pneumonia        49,783
10. Suicide        47,511

Let's see how the Covid-19 death count compares to the 10 leading causes of death in 2019. April 23 marks Covid's first appearance on the top-10 list. On that day, the cumulative number of Covid deaths in the U.S. surpassed the 47,511 suicides of 2019. The very next day, they exceeded the 49,783 deaths due to influenza and pneumonia. The day after that, they topped the 51,565 deaths from nephritis. So, in just three days in April, Covid not only made it onto the top-10 list, but had become the 8th leading cause of death. 

It didn't stop there. On May 16, Covid deaths surpassed those from diabetes, becoming the 7th leading cause of death. On June 24, Covid climbed into 6th place; on July 29th 5th place; on August 5th 4th place. A couple weeks later, on August 20, Covid-19 became the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States when the 173,490 cumulative Covid deaths surpassed the 173,040 deaths from accidents. 

On December 31, 2020, the CDC logged 3,298 deaths from Covid-19. The cumulative total for the year: 344,497, solidly in 3rd place as a cause of death. Let's hope Covid-19 is much lower on the list in 2021.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Mortality in the United States, 2019 and CDC Covid Data Tracker