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