Tuesday, August 31, 2021

69% of Small Businesses in Accommodation and Food Service Industries Are Having Trouble Hiring Workers

More than one-third of the nation's small businesses reported difficulty hiring paid employees in the past seven days, according to the Census Bureau's Small Business Pulse Survey, fielded August 16-22. This iteration of the survey is the first time the Census Bureau has asked about hiring problems. 

Nationally, 35 percent of small businesses say they had trouble hiring employees in the past seven days. The figure is as high as 69 percent for businesses in accommodation and food services. This explains why service was so slow the last time you had dinner in a restaurant. Small businesses in manufacturing and health care also reported above-average difficulties in hiring. 

Forty-three percent of small businesses reported domestic supplier delays in the past seven days. The figure peaks at 68 percent among small businesses in manufacturing followed by retail trade (65 percent), construction (63 percent), and accommodation and food service (61 percent).

Percent of small businesses with problem in past week
42.6% had domestic supplier delays
34.7% had difficulty hiring paid employees
24.5% had difficulties in delivery/shipping to customers
17.5% had foreign supplier delays
13.9% had production delays

Monday, August 30, 2021

Americans Want More Space

The pandemic has given us a bad case of cabin fever. With many feeling like the walls were closing in because of lockdowns and social distancing, a growing share of Americans say their ideal living situation is bigger houses and more yard, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Here is Pew's question...

"Would you prefer to live in a community where the houses are..
—larger and farther apart, but schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away, or
—smaller and closer to each other, but schools, stores, and restaurants are within walking distance?"

When Pew asked this question in July 2021, fully 60 percent of the public chose the "larger and farther apart" option, up from 53 percent in 2019. Only 39 percent chose the "smaller and closer" option, down from 47 percent in 2019. Every demographic segment was more likely to choose the "larger and farther apart" option in 2021 than it was in 2019. 

Percent who would prefer to live in a community where houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away, 2021 (and 2019)
Aged 18 to 29: 55% (43%)
Aged 30 to 49: 63% (56%)
Aged 50 to 64: 66% (59%)
Aged 65-plus: 55% (47%)

The demographic segments most likely to prefer the "larger and farther apart" option are conservative Republicans (77 percent) and rural residents (74 percent). The segments most likely to prefer the "smaller and closer" option are Asians (58 percent) and liberal Democrats (57 percent). 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vaccination Status of Americans, August 4-16

As of mid-August, the great majority of Americans aged 18 or older were fully vaccinated against Covid, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. Here are the latest results...

Vaccination status of adults 18-plus and children 12-17, August 4-16 (numbers in thousands)
   number  percent
Total 18-plus reporting  246,988   100.0%
Have received a vaccine  202,574     82.0
  Received all required doses  193,503     78.3
  Will receive all required doses      7,781       3.2
  Will not receive all required doses      1,290       0.5
Have not received a vaccine    43,427     17.6
  Will definitely get a vaccine      3,740       1.5
  Will probably get a vaccine      4,416       1.8
  Unsure about getting vaccine      8,514       3.4
  Will probably not get a vaccine      7,323       3.0
  Will definitely not get a vaccine    18,669       7.6
Adults in households with children 12-17    45,522   100.0%
Children have received a vaccine    26,128     57.4
Children have not received a vaccine    19,394     42.6
  Will definitely get a vaccine      3,145       6.9
  Will probably get a vaccine      2,185       4.8
  Unsure about getting vaccine      3,341       7.3
  Will probably not get a vaccine      2,679       5.9
  Will definitely not get a vaccine      5,300     11.6
  Do not know vaccine plans of children      2,443       5.4

The 18.7 million adults who say they will definitely not get vaccinated against Covid is a number that hasn't changed significantly since March. The question about children's vaccination plans has been asked only once before, and more than 5 million adults with children aged 12 to 17 said definitely not in both iterations. The naysayers appear to have dug in their heels. Time for mandates.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Screen Time During the Pandemic

During the pandemic, the nation's teenagers spent most of their leisure time in front of a screen, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey. Before anyone starts tsk-tsking about the screen addiction of the younger generations, it is important to note that the nation’s oldest adults also spent most of their leisure time in front of a screen. 


On an average day during the months of May through December 2020, teenagers aged 15 to 19 enjoyed 6.40 hours of leisure time. The teens devoted 2.54 of those hours to watching television and another 1.88 hours to playing games and computer use for leisure—a total of 4.42 hours of screen time, or 69 percent of their leisure time on an average day in 2020. (Note: the category "playing games" includes board games as well as computer games.) The 69 percent share of leisure time teens devoted to screens was up from 61 percent during the same months of 2019. 

But wait. The oldest Americans—people aged 75 or older—spent an even larger 71 percent of their leisure time in front of a screen on an average day. With 8.05 hours a day of leisure on their hands in 2020, the 75-plus age group spent 5.20 hours watching television and another 0.51 hours playing games and computer use for leisure. (Note: While some of the game playing among older Americans is board games, computer games are increasingly popular in the oldest age group.) The 71 percent of leisure time the oldest Americans devoted to screens in 2020 was up from 66 percent during the same months of 2019.  

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2020 American Time Use Survey

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Most Favor Mask, Vaccine Mandates for Schools

The 58 percent majority of the American public somewhat/strongly favors mask mandates for students attending K-12 schools, according to an AP-NORC survey. An almost identical 59 percent support a mask mandate for teachers working in those schools. But there are deep partisan divides on this issue, which is playing out in school districts across the country...

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor mask mandates for students in K-12 schools
Total adults: 58%

Democrats: 83%
Republicans: 31%

Vaccinated: 69%
Not vaccinated: 29%

Support for a Covid vaccine mandate is almost as popular as a mask mandate, with 55 percent of adults somewhat/strongly in favor of requiring students aged 12 or older to be vaccinated to attend school in person. Fifty-nine percent of Americans support a vaccine mandate for teachers. Among Democrats, 77 percent favor a vaccine mandate for students and 81 percent for teachers. Among Republicans, the figures are 34 and 38 percent, respectively.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Household Spending is Highest in DC, Lowest in Miami

Among the 22 metropolitan areas for which the Consumer Expenditure Survey collects spending data, average annual household spending is highest in Washington, D.C., and lowest in Miami...

Metropolitan areas with the highest average annual household spending
Washington, DC: $95,441
San Francisco: $87,287
Minneapolis-St Paul: $84,006
Boston: $83,297
New York: $73,806

Metropolitan areas with the lowest average annual household spending
Chicago: $64,804
Atlanta: $64,103
Honolulu: $63,481
Tampa: $59,193
Miami: $57,472

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Metropolitan Statistical Areas Tables, 2018–2019

Thursday, August 19, 2021

49% of U.S. Adults Have Tried Marijuana

Nearly half of U.S. adults have ever tried marijuana, according to a Gallup survey. Gallup has been tracking marijuana use for decades. A half century ago in 1971, just 4 percent of adults reported having ever used marijuana. The figure surged to 33 percent by 1985, reached 45 percent in 2017, and climbed to 49 percent in 2021. 

"The increase in the proportion of U.S. adults who have tried marijuana mainly reflects millennials replacing older traditionalists in the U.S. adult population," explains Gallup. 

There are no statistically significant differences in the percentages of Boomers, Gen Xers, or Millennials who have ever tried marijuana. Americans born before 1946, however, are much less likely to have tried it...

Percent who have ever tried marijuana by generation
Millennials: 51%
Gen Xers: 49%
Boomers: 50%
Older: 19%

When asked whether they currently use marijuana, differences by generation emerge. Among Millennials, 20 percent say they currently use marijuana. The figure is 11 percent among Gen Xers, 9 percent among Boomers, and 1 percent among older Americans.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

How Many Countries Have You Visited?

The 71 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older have ever visited a foreign country, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only 40 percent have visited 3 or more countries, however, and just 11 percent have visited 10 or more...

Percent distribution of American adults by number of countries ever visited
None: 27%
One: 19%
Two: 12%
3-4: 15%
5-9: 14%
10+: 11%

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Teen Unemployment Rate Is below 10%

Last month the unemployment rate among teenagers aged 16 to 19 was just 9.6 percent. This is a remarkably low rate. You would have to search in the records all the way back to 1953 to find a lower unemployment rate for the age group, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The unemployment rate for 16-to-19-year-olds climbed as high as 32.1 percent in April 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic swept through the nation. With employers now scrambling to fill entry-level positions, the teen unemployment rate in July 2021 was well below its pre-pandemic level. Two years earlier, in July 2019, 12.0 percent of 16-19-year-olds were unemployed. 

Unlike teens, the unemployment rate for adults aged 20 or older remains higher than it was pre-pandemic. In July 2021, 5.2 percent of adults were unemployed compared with 3.3 percent in July 2019. 

Note: The unemployed are people who have been actively looking for a job in the past four weeks. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force (the sum of the employed and the unemployed).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Teenage Unemployment Rate under 10 Percent for the Third Straight Month in July 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's Happening Again

People who identify themselves as some "other race" besides Asian, Black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or white are the second-largest racial group in the United States, according to 2020 census results. If you're scratching your head trying to figure out just what this "other race" could be, you're not alone. The fact is, most people of "other race" are Hispanics. They checked the "other" category because they could not find the terms "Hispanic" or Latino" as options on the race question of the 2020 census. The federal government considers Hispanic to be an ethnicity, not a race, and it collects information on Hispanic origin with a separate ethnicity question. 

This has happened before—on the 2010 Census. Even then, the Census Bureau was concerned about Hispanics checking "other race" on the race question, so it tested an alternative that asked for race and Hispanic origin in a single question. The test proved that the combined question worked much better, reducing the "other race" category to the residual it was meant to be. When presented with separate race and Hispanic origin questions, a substantial 7.1 percent of the population in 2010 checked "other race." When presented with the combined question, just 0.2 percent of the population checked "other race." After these test results were released in 2012, Demo Memo predicted: "Expect a combined race and Hispanic origin question on the 2020 census." 

Alas, it was not to be. Although a combined race and Hispanic origin question was planned for the 2020 census, the Trump administration nixed it. So, it's happening again—an enormous "other race" population and lots of confusion.

Race and Hispanic origin of U.S. population
 2020 Census    number% distribution
Total population  331,449,281      100.0%
American Indian     9,666,058          2.9%
Asian   24,000,998          7.2%
Black   46,936,733        14.2%
Native Hawaiian     1,586,463          0.5%
White 235,411,507        71.0%
Other race   49,902,536        15.1%
Hispanic   62,080,044        18.7%
Non-Hispanic white 191,697,647        57.8%

Note: Numbers by race will not add to the total population because people could identify themselves as more than one race. Hispanics may be of any race.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of 2020 Census results

Thursday, August 12, 2021

55% of 12-17 Age Group Has Received a Covid Vaccine

Just 55 percent of the nation's children aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey fielded July 21-August 2. This iteration of the survey is the first time the bureau has asked about the vaccination status of the 12-to-17 age group. With the school year starting in a few weeks, this relatively low vaccination rate is concerning. 

There are 15 million vaccine resistant parents, according to the Census Bureau—or one third of all parents. The bureau defines the vaccine resistant as all parents who say their child will "probably" get the vaccine as well as those who say their child will "probably not/unsure/definitely not" get the vaccine. Here are the reasons for their resistance (more than one reason could be cited)...

Reasons for vaccine resistance among parents of children aged 12-17
62% are concerned about possible side effects
39% plan to wait and see if it is safe
32% don't trust Covid-19 vaccines
26% don't trust the government
22% say children in household are not at high risk
21% do not believe children need a vaccine
12% are unsure if the vaccine will work for children
  9% say their children's doctor has not recommended vaccination
  4% say they do not vaccinate their children

The most recent iteration of the Household Pulse Survey asks adults whether they are fully vaccinated. As of early August, 79 percent of adults aged 18 or older report being fully vaccinated. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

It's Not Just You

Most Americans are feeling the frustrations of supply chain problems, according to a Gallup survey. In the past two months, 60 percent of the public reports being unable to buy a product because of shortages. Almost as many—57 percent—have experienced a significant delay in receiving a product they have ordered. 

Overall, 71 percent of the public reports experiencing one of these two problems, and 46 percent report having both problems. 

"From the toilet paper shortage at the beginning of the pandemic to a car shortage today, Americans have experienced firsthand what it means when production constraints or a shortfall of critical manufacturing components means retailers can't keep up with demand," reports Gallup. 

According to results of the Census Bureau's latest Small Business Pulse Survey, fielded in mid-July, 39 percent of all small businesses have experienced domestic supplier delays in the past seven days—a record high. Among small businesses in retail trade, the 60 percent majority has experienced domestic supplier delays in the past seven days.

Source: Gallup, Most U.S. Consumers Have Felt Supply Chain Problems

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Worst States for Health Insurance

Nationally, 14.5 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 did not have health insurance in 2019, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Texas is number one in the percentage of working-age adults without health insurance. Nearly one-third of Texans aged 18 to 64 does not have health insurance—more than double the national rate. In Oklahoma, one in four lacks health insurance. In Georgia and Florida, the figure is one in five. Why are these states doing so poorly? They have refused to expand Medicaid to all low-income adults (up to 138 percent of poverty level), as provided by the Affordable Care Act. 

States with the largest percentage of adults aged 18 to 64 without health insurance
Texas: 30.5%
Oklahoma: 25.6%
Georgia: 22.3%
Florida: 20.6%

Arkansas and North Carolina tie for 5th place on the list of the worst, with 17.8 percent of working-age adults uninsured. 

In states that have refused to expand Medicaid, an average of 20.8 percent of working-age adults do not have health insurance. In states that have expanded Medicaid, a much smaller 10.9 percent of adults aged 18 to 64 lack health insurance. The 17 states that had not expanded Medicaid as of 2019 were: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

Note: As of 2021, five additional states have adopted Medicaid expansion: Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

Gun Owners and Non-Owners Disagree about Policies

Should the purchase of guns by the mentally ill be restricted? Fully 87 percent of Americans say yes, with gun owners and those who don't own guns in rare agreement, according to a Pew Research Center survey. When it comes to most other gun policies, however, gun owners and non-owners are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Take a look...

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor allowing people to carry concealed guns in more places
Gun owners: 70%
Not a gun owner: 30%

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor allowing teachers to carry guns in K-12 schools
Gun owners: 63%
Not a gun owner: 33%

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor banning assault-style weapons
Gun owners: 37%
Not a gun owner: 74%

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor banning high-capacity ammunition magazines
Gun owners: 40%
Not a gun owner: 74%

Percent who somewhat/strongly favor creating a federal database to track all gun sales
Gun owners: 46%
Not a gun owner: 77%

Gun owners are a large minority of adults in the United States. According to Pew, 30 percent of adults personally own a gun and another 11 percent say they don't own a gun but someone else in their household does. This large constituency is what makes gun safety laws so elusive.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Height and Weight of 18-Year-Olds

The average 18-year-old female is overweight, according to measurements collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. A body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 or higher is considered overweight. The average 18-year-old female had a BMI of 26.1 in 2015–18, the latest data available. 

The average 18-year-old male had been overweight in two previous iterations of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007–10 and 2011–14), but the average male fell into the normal range (BMI of 24.7) in the 2015–18 survey. 

Here are the measurements of the nation's youngest adults...

Females aged 18,
Height: 5' 4"
Weight: 152 pounds
BMI: 26.1

Males aged 18
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 167 pounds
BMI: 24.7

Among the nation's 19-year-olds, both males and females are overweight. The average 19-year-old female weighs 156.5 pounds (BMI of 26.9), and the average 19-year-old male weighs 176 pounds (BMI of 26.1). 

Among adults aged 20 or older, the average woman weighs 171 pounds (BMI of 29.6) and the average man weighs 198 pounds (BMI of 29.1). A BMI of 30.0 or higher is considered obese.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Americans Are Increasingly Pessimistic about Covid

The percentage of Americans who think the coronavirus situation is getting better plummeted between June and July, according to a Gallup survey. In June, fully 89 percent of the public thought the Covid situation was improving. In July, just 40 percent felt that way. The optimists are now outnumbered by the 45 percent who say the situation is getting worse—the first time since January 2021 that the pessimists have outnumbered the optimists, Gallup reports.

Attitude toward Coronavirus Situation, July 2021 (and June 2021)
Getting better: 40% (89%)
Getting worse: 45% (3%)
Staying the same: 14% (8%)

A growing number of Americans are somewhat/very worried about catching Covid, with the vaccinated more likely to be worried (33 percent) than the unvaccinated (20 percent).

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Does Intelligent Life Exist on Other Planets?

The 65 percent majority of Americans aged 18 or older say "their best guess is that intelligent life does exist on other planets," according to a Pew Research Center survey. But opinions differ by religious affiliation and practice. Only 40 percent of white evangelicals think intelligent life on other planets is likely versus 85 percent of atheists. Here are the percentages by frequency of prayer...

Percent who say their best guess is that intelligent life DOES exist on other planets
54% of those who pray daily
64% of those who pray weekly
72% of those who pray a few times a month
80% of those who pray seldom or never

Monday, August 02, 2021

National Park System Visits Fell 28% in 2020

Visits to the national park system plunged in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic temporarily closed parks across the country and kept many people from traveling. The 237 million recreational visits in 2020 were 90 million fewer than in 2019, according to the National Park Service—a 28 percent decline. The number of visits in 2020 was the smallest since 1980, a time when there were many fewer parks (325 versus 423 in 2020). Not every park saw a decline in visitors, however. 

Top 10 national parks visited in 2020, number of visits (and percent change in visits 2019–20)
1. Great Smoky Mountains NP: 12.1 million (-4%)
2. Yellowstone NP: 3.8 million (-5%)
3. Zion NP: 3.6 million (-20%)
4. Rocky Mountain NP: 3.3 million (-29%) 
5. Grand Teton NP: 3.3 million (-3%)
6. Grand Canyon NP: 2.9 million (-52%)
7. Cuyahoga Valley NP: 2.8 million (+23%)
8. Acadia NP: 2.7 million (-22%)
9. Olympic NP: 2.5 million (-23%)
10. Joshua Tree NP: 2.4 million (-20%)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been the most visited national park since 1944. It maintained its number-one position despite the pandemic. 

Two national parks fell off the top-10 list in 2020: Yosemite fell from 5th to 12th place, and Glacier fell from 10th to 13th place. Two national parks moved onto the top-10 list in 2020: Cuyahoga Valley rose from 13th to 7th place as visits there increased by 23 percent, and Joshua Tree rose from 11th to 10th place despite fewer visitors.

Source: National Park Service, Annual Visitation Highlights