Thursday, July 29, 2021

Oh My Aching Back

It's a common refrain and for good reason. Millions of Americans have back pain, according to the National Center for Health Statistics—not just 1 or 2 million but tens of millions. More than 80 million, in fact.

In 2019, The NCHS asked a representative sample of Americans aged 18 or older this question: "Over the past 3 months, how much have you been bothered by back pain? Would you say not at all, a little, a lot, or somewhere in between?" A substantial 39 percent reported having had a little to a lot of back pain. 

Percent with back pain in past 3 months
Aged 18 to 29: 28%
Aged 30 to 44: 35%
Aged 45 to 64: 44%
Aged 65-plus: 46%

And that's not all. Almost as many adults (36.5 percent) reported having pain in their hips, knees, or feet in the past three months, including 50 percent of people aged 65 or older. Thirty-one percent reported having pain in their hands, arms, or shoulders. 

Overall, the 59 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older reported being in pain in the past three months. 

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Back, Lower Limb, and Upper Limb Pain among U.S. Adults, 2019

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Is Voting a Fundamental Right or a Privilege?

It depends. Overall, 57 percent of Americans aged 18 or older say voting is a "fundamental right for every U.S. citizen and should not be restricted," according to a Pew Research Center survey. Another 42 percent of adults say voting is a "privilege that comes with responsibilities and can be limited." But beliefs about voting vary by demographic characteristic and political affiliation. 

  • Younger adults are most likely to say voting is a fundamental right, with the figure peaking at 64 percent among 18-to-29-year-olds. Sixty percent of 30-to-49-year-olds agree. Among people aged 50 or older, however, only 50 to 51 percent say voting is a fundamental right. 
  • Among Blacks, 77 percent say voting is a fundamental right, as do 66 percent of Asians and 63 percent of Hispanics. Among non-Hispanic whites, only 51 percent say voting is a fundamental right. 
  • The biggest gap is by political party affiliation. Fully 78 percent of Democrats say voting is a fundamental right versus just 32 percent of Republicans. The 67 percent majority of Republicans say voting is a privilege that can be limited. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

First-Time Homebuyer Watch: 2nd Quarter 2021

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34, second quarter 2021: 48.0%

Homeownership rates in the second quarter of 2021 are little changed from the first quarter rates and well below the levels recorded in 2020—when the coronavirus pandemic greatly reduced the response rate to the Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey and consequently distorted homeownership trends.  

The overall homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2021 was 65.4 percent, not significantly different from the 65.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021. The nation's homeownership rate peaked at 69.0 percent in 2004.

The homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds (the age group in which householders typically buy their first home) was not significantly different from the 48.2 percent recorded in the first quarter of the year.  Except for the 50.1 percent blip in the third quarter of 2020, the homeownership rate of 30-to-34-year-olds has been below 50 percent in every quarter since the second quarter of 2011—the aftermath of the Great Recession. Until 2011, the age group's homeownership rate had never sunk below 50 percent in the data series that began in 1982. 

Homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 for selected years, 1982 to 2020 and by quarter in 2021
2021: 48.0% (second quarter)
2021: 48.2% (first quarter)
2020: 49.1% (pandemic bump)
2019: 48.0%
2016: 45.4% (low point)
2015: 45.9%
2011: 49.8% (first time below 50 percent)
2010: 51.6%
2004: 57.4% (high point)
2000: 54.6%
1990: 51.8%
1982: 57.1% 

Source: Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Monday, July 26, 2021

Leisure Time Expanded in 2020

The amount of time people aged 15 or older spent in leisure activities increased in 2020 compared with 2019—rising from 4.99 to 5.53 hours on an average day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. Americans devoted more time to many leisure activities including playing games and using the computer for leisure (up 38 percent), reading (16 percent), sports and exercise (16 percent), and watching television (11 percent). 

One of the leisure categories that lost ground in 2020 was "socializing and communicating." Americans spent 18 percent less time socializing and communicating on an average day in 2020 than in 2019. A more detailed look at this category reveals why, with examples taken verbatim from the American Time Use Survey Activity Lexicon...

Activities included in the category "socializing and communicating"
Entertaining family
Visiting with family
Hanging out with family
Hugging or kissing family
Arguing with family
Entertaining friends
Hanging out with friends
Talking with friends
Hugging/kissing friends
Giving gifts to friends
Opening Christmas gifts with others
Opening birthday presents with others
Talking with neighbors
Greeting neighbors
Visiting adult in nursing home

While we spent less time engaging in the above activities in 2020, we spent 33 percent more time "relaxing and thinking," according to the BLS. These are some of the activities included in this category: doing nothing, wasting time, lying around, hanging out alone, daydreaming, worrying, crying, and grieving.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Changes in Time Use during the Pandemic

How much did your life change in 2020? Probably a great deal. Maybe you worked from home instead of going to the office, your commute time dropped to zero, and you devoted much more time to supervising your children. Now we have the numbers in hand—time use data for 2020—and you can see whether the pandemic changed your life more or less than the life of the average American.

Of course, the 2020 data are not perfect. The Bureau of Labor Statistics had to suspend American Time Use Survey data collection during the early months of the pandemic—from mid-March to mid-May. Consequently, the BLS says it cannot produce annual estimates for 2020. But it has released estimates for the time period from May 10 through December 31. The report released today compares the 2020 averages for the May through December time period with the averages for the same time period in 2019. Here is how time use changed for the average person...

  • Waking time spent at home increased from 7.62 hours per day in 2019 to 9.71 hours per day in 2020 as more worked from home and social activities were curtailed due to the pandemic. 
  • Waking time spent alone increased from 6.06 hours per day in 2019 to 7.01 hours per day in 2020 because of the need for social distancing. The biggest increase in alone time occurred among 15-to-19-year-olds, rising from 4.28 hours a day in 2019 to 6.00 hours in 2020.
  • Time spent watching television as a primary activity climbed from 2.74 hours per day in 2019 to 3.05 hours per day in 2020. The biggest increase in television time occurred among people aged 75 or older, rising from 4.52 hours per day in 2019 to 5.20 hours in 2020. 
  • Time spent traveling (including commuting) fell from 1.22 hours per day in 2019 to 0.79 hours per day in 2020. 
  • Among adults living in households with children under age 18, time spent caring for children as a primary activity (meaning the main activity) increased modestly from 1.18 hours per day in 2019 to 1.27 hours per day in 2020. 
  • Among adults living in household with children under age 13, time spent caring for children as a secondary activity (while the adult was doing something else, such as working) grew from 5.07 hours per day in 2019 to 6.06 hours per day in 2020. 
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

It's Official: Life Expectancy Fell 1.5 Years in 2020

Life expectancy at birth in the United States fell by 1.5 years in 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Covid-19 deaths accounted for most but not all of the decline. From 78.8 years in 2019, life expectancy fell to 77.3 years in 2020. The decline was much greater for some groups than others... 

Change in life expectancy at birth, 2019 to 2020 (in years)
Total: -1.5
Females: -1.2
Males: -1.8

Blacks: -2.9
Hispanics: -3.0
Non-Hispanic whites: -1.2

Hispanic males: -3.7
Black males: -3.3
Black females: -2.4
Hispanic females: -2.0
Non-Hispanic white males: -1.3
Non-Hispanic white females: -1.1

"Mortality due to Covid-19 had, by far, the single greatest effect on the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2020," reports the NCHS. Covid accounted for 74 percent of the negative change in life expectancy. More deaths due to unintentional injuries (mostly drug overdoses) contributed another 11 percent, and the rise in homicides contributed 3 percent. 

Fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, and Alzheimer's prevented life expectancy from falling even further.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

64% Are Confident in Science, Down from 70% in 1975

America's confidence in science has slipped over the past half century, according to a Gallup survey. While the 64 percent majority in 2021 reported having "quite a lot/a great deal" of confidence in science, this figure is below the 70 percent who expressed such confidence in 1975—the last time Gallup asked the question. It took Gallup nearly 50 years to pose the question a second time—perhaps because Gallup's researchers assumed having such confidence as we progressed into the 21st century was a no brainer. Looks like that assumption was incorrect. 

Where is the erosion occurring? Among Republicans. Here is the percentage of adults in 1975 and 2021 with "quite a lot/a great deal" of confidence in science by political party affiliation...

Percent with "quite a lot/a great deal" of confidence in science, 1975
Democrats: 67%
Republicans: 72%
Percentage point gap: Republicans +5

Percent with "quite a lot/a great deal" of confidence in science, 2021
Democrats: 79%
Republicans: 45%
Percentage point gap: Democrats +34

In 1975, Republicans were 5 percentage points more likely than Democrats to have "quite a lot/a great deal" of confidence in science. In 2021, Republicans were 34 percentage points less likely than Democrats to have confidence in science. 

Gallup notes: "The current 34-point gap in confidence in science is among the largest Gallup measured for any of the institutions in this year's poll, exceeded only by a 49-point party divide in ratings of the presidency and 45 points in ratings of the police." 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Newsroom Employment Has Fallen 26 Percent

Newsroom employment has plummeted since 2008, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of people employed in newsrooms fell from 114,000 in 2008 to just 85,000 in 2020—a 26 percent decline. Pew defines newsroom employment as reporters, editors, photographers, and videographers who work for newspapers, radio, broadcast television, cable, and "other information services" (digital-native news publishers). 

Newspapers dominated newsroom employment in 2008. But employment at newspapers fell by a whopping 57 percent between 2008 and 2020. Consequently, the newspaper industry is just a shadow of its former self. At the other extreme, the number of newsroom employees who work in the digital-native industry has more than doubled and now accounts for 21 percent of the total.

Newsroom employment by industry, 2008 and 2020
   2020     2008     % change
Total    84,640   100.0%       114,260   100.0%          -26%
Newspapers    30,820     36.4         71,070    62.2          -57
Broadcast TV    29,700     35.1         28,390    24.8             5
Digital-native    18,030     21.3           7,400      6.5         144
Radio      3,360      4.0           4,570      4.0          -26
Cable TV      2,730      3.2           2,830      2.5            -4

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Fewer Are Claiming Social Security Benefits at 62

Boomers are waiting longer to retire than their parents did. Only about one in four Boomers born in 1957 claimed Social Security retired worker benefits at the earliest possible age of 62, according to an analysis of Social Security Administration data by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. In contrast, early claiming was the norm for men and women born in 1940 or earlier. 

Early claiming has fallen with each succeeding cohort of Boomers (birth years 1946 through 1964), with the exception of an uptick in 2009 as a consequence of the Great Recession. Boomers born in 1957 turned 62 in 2019, the latest year for which SSA data are available... 

Percent who claimed Social Security benefits at age 62, by birth year and year turned 62
Birth year  Year 62     Men    Women
1957  2019     24.4%       26.6%
1956  2018     26.8       29.3
1955  2017     28.0       30.7
1954  2016     29.4       32.4
1953  2015     31.4       34.9
1952  2014     33.4       36.9
1951  2013     35.5       39.4
1950  2012     37.8       41.5
1949  2011     40.8       44.3
1948  2010     43.6       46.8
1947  2009     45.2       48.7
1946  2008     39.7       44.7
1940  2002     50.2       54.6
1930  1992     56.6       61.4

The fact that so few Boomers are claiming benefits early is a good thing. "Claiming later will lead to a higher monthly benefit check and generally improve retirement income security," say CRR's Anqi Chen and Alicia H. Munnell. While the Covid recession may have boosted early claiming in 2020, the researchers do not think it will permanently reverse the trend towards later claiming.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Pre-Covid Trends in Social Security Claiming

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Big Decline in Sexual Activity among Teens

What's up with teenagers? Way back in 1991, the 54 percent majority of teens (defined as students in grades 9 through 12) reported ever having had sexual intercourse, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. By 2019, the figure had dropped to just 38 percent. 

Percent of high school students who have ever had sexual intercourse, 1991 and 2019

     2019     1991     pp change
Total, 9-12      38.4%      54.1%      -15.7
9th grade      19.2      39.0      -19.8
10th grade      33.6      48.2      -14.6
11th grade      46.5      62.4      -15.9
12th grade      56.7      66.7      -10.0

The decline in sexual activity has occurred in every grade. It is more pronounced among males (an 18.2 percentage point drop to 39.2 percent) than among females (a 13.2 percentage point drop to 37.6 percent). Teenagers in every race and Hispanic origin group are far less sexually active now than in the past. 

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2020

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Record High Participation in Outdoor Recreation in 2020

More people participated in outdoor recreation in 2020 than ever before, most likely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 53 percent majority of Americans aged 6 or older engaged in an outdoor recreational activity in 2020—a record high, according to the Outdoor Foundation. "Outdoor spaces became places of refuge to safely socialize, improve physical and mental health, connect with family and recover from screen fatigue," the Foundation states in its annual report.

Percent of people aged 6-plus participating in the five most popular outdoor activities in 2020 (and percent participating in 2019)
1. Running: 21.0% (20.2%)
2. Hiking: 19.0% (16.4%)
3. Fishing: 18.0% (16.6%)
4. Bicycling: 17.3% (16.1%)
5. Camping: 15.8% (13.8%)

As more couch potatoes were forced to venture outside, the overall enthusiasm of participants took a noticeable hit, the Foundation reports. "About one-quarter of new participants say they do not want to continue their new activity, a number that may grow sharply as consumers return to pre-pandemic habits."

Source: Outdoor Foundation, 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report

Monday, July 12, 2021

Religious Identity in 2020

Nearly one in four American adults reports being religiously unaffiliated, according to PRRI's 2020 Census of American Religion. The 23 percent who say they are religiously unaffiliated is below the peak of 26 percent recorded in 2018. Nevertheless, the religiously unaffiliated group is larger than any single religious affiliation. 

Percent of Americans aged 18 or older who identify with religious group, 2020
23% religiously unaffiliated
16% white mainline Protestant
14% white evangelical Protestant
12% white Catholic
  8% Hispanic Catholic
  7% Black Protestant
  4% Hispanic Protestant
  2% other Catholic of color
  1% Jewish
  1% Latter-day Saint (Mormon) 
  1% Muslim
  1% Buddhist
  0.5% Hindu
  0.2% Unitarian

The PRRI survey notes a "precipitous drop" in white evangelical Protestant affiliation over the years—from 23 percent of adults in 2006 to just 14 percent in 2020. White mainline Protestants now outnumber white evangelical Protestants.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

50% of Adults Live in an All-Vaccinated Household

How many of us live in a household in which every member has had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine? Half of us, according to a KFF survey fielded June 8-21. Another one in five adults is in a "mixed" household, meaning some members are vaccinated and some are not...

Vaccination status of households
50% of adults are vaccinated and live in an all-vaccinated household
14% of adults are vaccinated, but live in a mixed household
7% of adults are unvaccinated, but live in a mixed household
25% of adults are not vaccinated and live in a household in which no one is vaccinated

How many of the vaccinated adults who live in a mixed household are living with children under age 12, who are ineligible for the vaccine? The answer is—surprisingly few. Among the 14 percent of adults who are vaccinated but live in a mixed household, only 34 percent say that all unvaccinated household members are children under age 12. The 65 percent majority say that some of the unvaccinated household members are aged 12 or older. 

The KFF survey also reveals a partisan divide in the vaccination status of households, with Democrats much more likely than Republicans to live in an all-vaccinated household...

Vaccination status of households by political party affiliation
     Democrats     Republicans 
All-vaccinated household          67%       39%
Vaccinated, mixed household          18       12
Unvaccinated, mixed household            5         8
All-unvaccinated household          10       37

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

46% Have a Will

Fewer than half (46 percent) of adults in the United States have a will, according to a recent Gallup survey. Here's the question asked by Gallup: "Do you have a will that describes how you would like your money and estate to be handled after your death?"

Not surprisingly, the percentage of Americans who have a will is highest among those with household incomes of $100,000 or more (61 percent). It is also well above average among college graduates (57 percent). It is much higher among older than younger adults...

Percent who have a will
Aged 18 to 29: 20%
Aged 30 to 49: 36%
Aged 50 to 64: 53%
Aged 65-plus: 76%

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Born in 1970? Have We Got News for You

Who is the longest-lived human being on record? Her name was Jeanne Calment. She was born in Arles, France in 1875. She died 122 years and 164 days later in 1997. She currently holds the record for what is called the "maximum reported age at death."

How long will her record stand? That's what a study published in Demographic Research wanted to determine. Researchers Michael Pearce and Adrian E. Raftery of the University of Washington calculated the probabilities that the record would be broken by 2100. The chances are very good that Jeanne Calment's record will be broken by then. In fact, there's a 99 percent probability that someone will have lived more than 122 years 164 days by 2100, the researchers report. 

Pearce and Raftery also calculated the probability that the record would rise to 126, 128, and 130 years by 2100. There is an excellent (89 percent) chance that someone will live to be at least age 126 by 2100, they calculate. The probability is pretty good (44 percent) that someone will live to be at least age 128 by 2100. 

The probability is a smaller but still significant 13 percent that someone will live to be at least 130 by 2100. If you were born in 1970, we're looking at you. You might be the one who is still around in 2100 to celebrate your 130th birthday.

Source: Demographic Research, Probabilistic Forecasting of Maximum Human Lifespan by 2100 Using Bayesian Population Projections 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

No Increase in Vaccination Rate in June

Seventy-nine percent of adults aged 18 or older say they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey fielded June 9-21. The percentage of adults who said they had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine was unchanged from the previous iteration of the survey fielded May 26-June 7. 

Percent who have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine as of June 9-21
Total 18-plus: 79%
Aged 18 to 24: 72%
Aged 25 to 39: 70%
Aged 40 to 54: 77%
Aged 55 to 64: 85%
Aged 65-plus: 91%

The stability in the numbers over the month of June suggests that the United States may be at the end of the road regarding vaccination unless it becomes mandatory at schools, workplaces, and other venues. 

Of the 52 million adults who have yet to receive a Covid vaccine, only 10 million say they probably/definitely will get vaccinated. The number who say they probably/definitely will not get the vaccine was unchanged from the previous survey at 27 million. Another 14 million say they are unsure about getting the vaccine, the same as before.  

Source: Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, June 9-21