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