Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Cost of Health Insurance in 2020

The 54 percent majority of Americans had employment-based health insurance in 2020, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Employer-provided health insurance is costly for both employers and employees—and increasingly so, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Here is how much employers and employees paid for health insurance in 2020 and how much those costs have grown since 2020, after adjusting for inflation...

Annual cost of health insurance for employers, 2020 (and % change 2010-20 in 2020$)
Single premium: $7,149 (22%)
Employee plus one: $14,191 (24%)
Family premium: $20,758 (26%)

Annual employee contribution for insurance, 2020 (and % change 2010-20 in 2020$)
Single coverage: $1,532 (27%)
Employee plus one: $4,035 (36%)
Family coverage: $5,978 (35%)

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Statistical Brief 536: Trends in Health Insurance at Private Employers, 2008–2020

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Growing Gap in Death Rates between Urban and Rural

More bad news for rural America. The death rate in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas and the gap is growing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report. The NCHS examined trends in age-adjusted death rates from 1999 to 2019...

Age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 people, 2019 (and 1999) 
Rural areas: 834.0 (923.8)
Urban areas: 693.4 (865.1)

While the death rate fell in both rural and urban areas between 1999 and 2019, the decline was much greater in urban areas. Between 1999 and 2010, both rural and urban areas saw their death rate fall. Since 2010, however, the death rate hasn't budged in rural areas while continuing to fall in urban areas. Consequently, the gap between rural and urban death rates has nearly tripled. The rural rate was just 7 percent greater than the urban rate in 1999. By 2019, it was 20 percent higher. 

What accounts for the widening gulf in death rates between rural and urban areas? The NCHS examined death rates by cause and found rates in rural areas exceeding rates in urban areas for all 10 leading causes of death. The biggest differences were for heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease.

"Those living in rural areas often face greater public health challenges as they have more limited access to health care, are less likely to be insured, and are more likely to live in poverty," the NCHS explains.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Young Republicans Least Likely to be Vaccinated

The 73 percent majority of Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, according to a Pew Research Center survey fielded August 23-29. Democrats (86 percent) are more likely than Republicans (60 percent) to be vaccinated. Among adults by age, people 65-plus are most likely to have gotten the vaccine (86 percent) and 18-to-29-year-olds least likely (66 percent). 

According to Pew's analysis of the numbers by age and political party affiliation, young Republicans (aged 18 to 29) are least likely to be vaccinated. Only 45 percent have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine...

Percent with at least one dose of a Covid vaccine by age and political party affiliation

  Democrat  Republican
Total 18-plus        86%        60%
Aged 18 to 29         81        45
Aged 30 to 49         82        53
Aged 50 to 64         89        56
Aged 65-plus         94        80

The unvaccinated are hurting the country, according to the 60 percent majority of Americans. But the unvaccinated disagree. When Pew asked survey respondents how well this statement describes how they feel—"people who choose not to get a Covid-19 vaccine are hurting the country"—77 percent of the vaccinated said it describes how they feel. Among the unvaccinated, 87 percent said the statement does not describe how they feel.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Stressful Life Events Are More Common among Children in Rural/Nonmetro Areas

A substantial percentage of the nation's school children have experienced stressful life events, according to an analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics. Using data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, the NCHS estimated the percentage of children aged 5 to 17 who had ever experienced one or more of the following stressful life events, as reported by an adult (usually a parent) who responded to the following questions...

  • Has the child ever been the victim of violence or witnessed violence in his/her neighborhood?
  • Has the child ever lived with a parent or guardian who served time in jail or prison?
  • Did the child ever live with anyone who was mentally ill or severely depressed?
  • Did the child ever live with anyone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs?

The findings are not what you might expect. On every measure, children who live in rural areas and small towns outside of metropolitan areas are more likely than those in small/medium metros, suburbs of large metros, or cities of large metros to have experienced stressful events.

Overall, 6.8 percent of children aged 5 to 17 had ever been exposed to violence in their neighborhood. Among children in rural/nonmetropolitan areas, 8.2 percent had been exposed to violence in their neighborhood versus 7.8 percent of children in small/medium metros, 6.3 percent of those in the cities of large metros, and 5.2 percent of those in the suburbs of large metros. 

Among school-aged children, 6.5 percent had ever lived with a parent/guardian who had served time in jail or prison. Again, the children most likely to have experienced this stress are those in rural/nonmetropolitan areas (9.4 percent), followed by children in small/medium metropolitan areas (8.0 percent), cities of large metro areas (5.1 percent), and suburbs of large metros (4.5 percent). 

A substantial 9.2 percent of children have ever lived with someone who was mentally ill or severely depressed. The figure ranges from a high of 12.0 percent for children in rural/nonmetropolitan areas to a low of 6.8 percent among children in the cities of large metropolitan areas. 

Fully 9.7 percent of children have ever lived with someone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs. The figure ranges from a high of 13.7 percent among children in rural/nonmetropolitan areas to a low of 7.3 percent among children living in cities of large metropolitan areas.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Disparities in Stressful Life Events among Children Aged 5–17 Years: United States, 2019

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Median Earnings by Educational Attainment, 2020

According to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, men who worked full-time, year-round in 2020 earned a median of $63,678—half earned more and half earned less. Here are the medians for men by educational attainment...

Median earnings of men who work full-time by educational attainment, 2020
  $36,423: less than 9th grade
  $37,413: 9th to 12th grade, no diploma
  $49,661: high school graduate only
  $56,267: some college, no degree
  $61,100: associate's degree
  $81,339: bachelor's degree
$101,130: master's degree
$131,268: doctoral degree
$150,509: professional degree
Among all women who work full-time, year-round, median earnings were $51,869 in 2020. Median earnings ranged from a low of $26,591 for women with less than a 9th grade education to a high of $110,717 for women with a professional degree.

Source: Census Bureau, Historical Income Tables: People

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Median Household Income in 2020: $67,521

One of the most closely watched economic statistics was released yesterday by the Census Bureau. According to the 2021 Current Population Survey (CPS) fielded in March 2021 (which asks about income in the previous year), median household income in 2020 was $67,521. This is 2.9 percent below the record high median of $69,560 in 2019, after adjusting for inflation. Here is the trend in median household income over the years...

Median household income for selected years (in 2020 dollars)
2020: $67,521
2019: $69,560 (record high)
2018: $65,127
2012: $57,623 (post Great Recession low)
2010: $58,627
2000: $63,292
1999: $63,423 (previous record high)

But there's a problem with both the 2020 and 2021 medians. Remember the low response rate to the 2020 Current Population Survey, fielded in March 2020, as everything shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic? The response rate was just 73 percent—a good 10 percentage points lower than normal. Even worse, higher-income households were more likely than lower-income households to respond to the survey. No wonder median household income in 2019 leaped up by 6.8 percent—a bigger one-year increase than ever before in CPS history dating back to 1967. The Census Bureau published a working paper about the problem (Coronavirus Infects Surveys, Too: Nonresponse Bias during the Pandemic in the CPS ASEC). In the paper, bureau analysts Jonathan Rothbaum and Adam Bee adjusted the 2019 median for nonresponse bias. After the adjustment, they estimated median household income in 2019 to be a smaller $66,790—but still the highest ever recorded by the CPS.

What about the median income number released yesterday? Unfortunately, the March 2021 CPS has the same problems, according to an analysis by Rothbaum and Charles Hokayem (How Did the Pandemic Affect Survey Response: Using Administrative Data to Evaluate Nonresponse in the 2021 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement). While the survey response rate rose to 76 percent, it was still well below normal. Not only that, but "nonresponse bias in 2021 looks more like it did in 2020 than in prepandemic years," Rothbaum and Hokayem report. Consequently, they estimate the 2021 median to be about 2 percent lower than the $67,521 shown above. The good news is that even after the adjustment median household income in 2021 is about the same as the adjusted 2019 median—in other words, surprisingly close to a record high.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2020

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

How Far Do You Live from Your Mother?

If you're like most Americans with living mothers, your mom lives only a few miles away. Yes, even in these modern times.

"Very close residential proximity to one's mother beyond coresidence is common across the life course even in the geographically large United States," reports a study of proximity to mother in the journal Demographic Research.

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the study's researchers looked at how far children born between 1951 and 1968 lived from their mothers over a 47-year time period. Here are the results for children whose mother was alive at each given age...

Median distance adult children live from mother at each given age
Age 25 to 34: 6.3 miles
Age 35 to 44: 11.1 miles
Age 45 to 54: 12.4 miles
Age 55 to 64: 10.1 miles

"Overall, a large share of children lived very close to their mother through midlife," concludes the study.

Source: Demographic Research, Proximity to Mother over the Life Course in the United States: Overall Patterns and Racial Differences

Monday, September 13, 2021

Wild Swings in Spending in 2020

The average household spent $61,334 in 2020. This was 3.9 percent less than the $63,792 record high spending by the average household in 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The decline in spending during the pandemic comes as no surprise, of course. The wild swings in spending on so many categories of products and services are also not surprising—but they still are eye popping. Take a look...

% change in average household spending on selected categories, 2019–2020 (in 2020 dollars)
-67%: public transportation (airline fares, bus, subway, etc.)
-52%: fees and admissions to entertainment events
-33%: food away from home (restaurants)
-26%: gasoline
-25%: apparel
-19%: personal care products and services
-18%: alcoholic beverages
-13%: education

  +5%: food at home (groceries)
+13%: cash contributions (church, charitable, political)
+22%: reading material (newspapers, magazines, books)

The increase in spending on reading material was the largest among the 14 major components of spending tracked by the Consumer Expenditure Survey, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every age group spent more on reading material in 2020 than in 2019, after adjusting for inflation. The biggest spenders on reading material continue to be the oldest Americans. Householders aged 75 or older spent $196 on newspapers, magazines, and books (digital as well as hardcopy) in 2020, up from $161 in 2019. Householders under age 25 spend the least on reading material—just $51 in 2020. But this was 10 percent more than they spent in 2019.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey

Thursday, September 09, 2021

How Many Americans Are "Low Tech"?

How many Americans just aren't tech savvy? In a major new survey of Americans and technology, Pew Research Center has come up with an estimate: 30 percent.

To measure the size of the "low-tech" public, Pew asked two separate questions: 

Question 1. "Overall, how confident, if at all, do you feel using computers, smartphones, or other electronic devices to do the things you need to do online?" and

Question 2. "Which of the following best describes you, even if neither is exactly right? When I get a new computer, smartphone, or other electronic device, I usually...  
—Need someone else to set it up or show me how to use it, or
—Am able to set it up and learn how to use it on my own"

Pew classified those who responded "only a little/not at all" to Question 1 AND those who responded that they usually need help to set up a new electronic device to Question 2 as having "lower tech readiness." Those who said they were somewhat/very confident in using digital devices AND they usually are able to set up and learn how to use a new device on their own as having "higher tech readiness." 

So who are the "lower tech" Americans? Older adults, of course...

Percent of adults who are "lower tech"
Total 18-plus: 30%
Aged 18 to 29: 16%
Aged 30 to 49: 17%
Aged 50 to 64: 34%
Aged 65 to 74: 54%
Aged 75-plus: 68%

Source: Pew Research Center, The Internet and the Pandemic

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Health Problems Mount Rapidly for the Less Educated

For 39 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked the labor force experience of a cohort of Baby Boomers as they aged from their teens and twenties into their fifties and sixties. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth was first fielded in 1979, when a nationally representative sample of young adults aged 14 to 22 answered a battery of questions. This cohort has been surveyed repeatedly for decades, the latest being in 2018–19, when these late Boomers (born from 1957 to 1964) were aged 53 to 62. 

One of the survey questions has asked respondents whether their health limits the kind or amount of work they can do. Not surprisingly, a growing share of respondents reported health limitations as they aged. Only 3.5 percent said their health was a limiting factor at age 24. The figure grew slightly to 4.9 percent at age 34, then more than doubled to 10.3 percent at age 44. By age 54, a substantial 19.9 percent of the cohort reported limitations in their work due to health issues. 

No characteristic plays a bigger role in determining the health status of aging Boomers than educational attainment...

Percent at specified age who said their health limits their work, by educational attainment
  at 54at 44  at 34  at 24
Total cohort  19.9%  10.3%   4.9%   3.5%
Bachelor's degree+    8.5    4.7   3.6   3.1
Some college/associate's degree  19.7  10.3   5.9   3.2
High school graduate only  23.9  12.2   5.1   3.8
No high school diploma  46.9  23.0   5.8   5.1

By age 54, nearly half (46.9 percent) of those without a high school diploma were limited in their work because of health issues. Among those with a bachelor's degree or more education, only 8.5 percent reported such limitations. The college graduates at age 54 were healthier than every other educational attainment group had been at age 44. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Only 9.3% of Small Businesses Have Vaccine Mandate

Covid-19 vaccine mandates are becoming more common among the nation's major employers but are still relatively rare among small businesses, according to the Census Bureau's Small Business Pulse Survey. Nationally, only 9.3 percent of small businesses say they require employees to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination before physically coming to work, according to the survey fielded August 23-29. 

Small businesses in the health care industry are most likely to require proof of vaccination, but even in health care just 15. 8 percent are mandating vaccination.

By state, small businesses in the District of Columbia are most likely to require proof of vaccination, at 26.3 percent. In Rhode Island the figure is 20.7 percent and in California 17.2 percent.

Among major metropolitan areas, San Francisco leads the pack with more than one-quarter of small businesses requiring employees to show proof of vaccination...

Percent of small businesses requiring employees to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination before physically coming to work, selected metropolitan areas, August 23-29
San Francisco: 25.5%
San Jose: 22.3%
San Diego: 17.6%
Seattle: 17.6%
Sacramento: 16.8%
New York: 15.3%
Los Angeles: 14.8%
Riverside: 13.1%
Boston: 12.7%
Miami: 11.5%
Portland: 11.0%
Denver: 10.1%
Tampa: 9.4%
Philadelphia: 9.1%
Houston: 7.9%
Chicago: 7.0%
Minneapolis: 6.3%

Thursday, September 02, 2021

One in Six Older Americans Is Childless

Who will care for childless adults as they age and require more help? That is one of the questions asked by the Census Bureau in its first examination of the aging childless population. The answers are important because the older childless population is growing as the baby-boom generation ages.

"In the United States, much of the care for older generations falls to their children," the Census Bureau explains. But millions of Americans aged 55 or older are childless. Here are the numbers...

Number (and percent) of childless Americans aged 55 or older (numbers in thousands)
Total 55-plus: 15,190 (16.5%)
Aged 55 to 64: 8,212 (19.6%)
Aged 65 to 74: 4,761 (15.9%)
Aged 75-plus: 2,214 (10.9%)

Note: The childless are those who have zero biological children.

The data for the report come from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation. In 2018, the baby-boom generation was aged 54 to 72. Among younger boomers, aged 55 to 64, fully one in five is childless. 

A substantial 40 percent of childless adults aged 55 or older live alone, according to the analysis. Among adults aged 55-plus who are parents, a smaller 21 percent live alone. "Childless adults appear to have fewer immediate sources of social support within their households," notes the report. "They are more likely than parents to be living alone and less likely to be living with a spouse."

But childless older adults also have some advantages. They are more educated than their counterparts who had children. As a consequence, their net worth is also higher than average. The median personal net worth of childless adults aged 55 or older was $153,900 in 2018. For all adults aged 55-plus, median personal net worth was a smaller $133,500 and for older parents just $130,400. The higher net worth of the childless "may put them at a greater advantage when it comes to obtaining paid care," states the report. 

Source: Census Bureau, Childless Older Americans: 2018

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

America's Favorite Fruits

The average American eats 58 pounds of fresh fruit per year, according to the the USDA's Economic Research Service. The amount of fresh fruit consumed by the public is significantly higher than it used to be thanks to greater availability and more convenient packaging. In 1970, the average person consumed only 44 pounds of fresh fruit per year. The figure topped 50 pounds for the first time in 1986.

Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit, with the average person eating 13 pounds of bananas in 2019 (the latest data available). Here are the pounds of fresh fruit consumed per year by type of fruit (only fruits with per capita consumption of 1.0 pounds or more are shown)...

Pounds of fresh fruit consumed per capita, 2019 (edible weight)
1. Bananas: 13.4
2. Apples: 9.8 
3. Watermelon: 4.7
4. Grapes: 4.5
5. Oranges: 3.6
6. Avocados: 3.0
7. Strawberries: 2.8
8. Tangerines: 1.9
9. Pears: 1.8
10. Blueberries: 1.7
11. Limes: 1.6
12. Pineapple: 1.6
13. Mangoes: 1.5
14. Cantaloupe: 1.3
15. Lemons: 1.3

Surprisingly, peaches are not on the list of the most popular fresh fruits. The average person consumed only 0.9 pounds of fresh peaches in 2019, down from a peak of 3.2 pounds in 1980. 

Source: USDA Economic Research Service, Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System