American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
August 2006

And the Winners Are…

1. Hot Trends: AND THE WINNERS ARE…
2. Q & A: HOW MUCH ELBOW ROOM?
3. Cool Research Link: ATTITUDES ONLINE
4. NEW FOR SUMMER 2006: THE AMERICAN GENERATIONS SERIES
5. NEW FOR SUMMER 2006: WHO’S BUYING BY AGE

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of college students who are full-time undergraduates at four-year schools: 45.

1. HOT TRENDS

And the Winners Are…

Click here in two weeks to find out: http:// www.DemoMemo.blogspot.com

Two weeks from today is a demographer’s holiday. On August 29, 2006, the Census Bureau will unveil the latest snapshot of where we stand economically, based on the Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement taken each March. From this survey we learn how much our incomes have grown or shrunk in the past year. We can see who gained or lost by sex, age, race, for households, families, and individuals. It is our once-a-year glance in the mirror, for better or worse.

Needless to say, demographers are thrilled and await the unveiling of the numbers with anticipation. For other news junkies, a headline in the local paper or on an Internet news site may be all the notification of the Census Bureau’s pronouncements they receive: incomes up or down, poverty more or less, health insurance growing or declining.

Regardless of how much attention demographers pay to the economic numbers or how little everyone else does, the statistics become a part of our national narrative, telling us how we are doing, where we are going, and what we may expect in the future. This year’s numbers will update us to 2005, the mid-decade position. They will tell us a large part of the story of the first decade of the twenty-first century. So far, the picture is not pretty. Below are the highlights of our economic status as of 2004, as revealed in last year’s survey. Two weeks from today, click on http://www.DemoMemo.blogspot.com to find out what the 2005 numbers show.

HOUSEHOLD INCOME DOWN Median household income stood at $44,389 in 2004, 3.6 percent less than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation.

MEN’S INCOME DOWN The median income of men fell 1.9 percent between 2000 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation.

WOMEN’S INCOME STABLE The median income of women held nearly steady with a 0.1 percent increase between 2000 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation.

HEALTH INSURANCE DOWN The percentage of people who are not covered by health insurance climbed from 14.2 percent in 2000 to 15.7 percent in 2004. The number of the uninsured increased from 40 million to 46 million.

POVERTY UP The percentage of people living in poverty rose from 11.3 to 12.7 percent between 2000 and 2004.

Check back here in two weeks to see the 2005 updates: http://www.DemoMemo.blogspot.com

For more on the changing demographics of the American population, see New Strategist’s updated American Generations Series: The Millennials, Generation X, The Baby Boom, and Older Americans. Visit New Strategist’s web site to order hardcopies or download these books today.

By Cheryl Russell, editorial director, New Strategist Publications
If you have any questions or comments about the above editorial, e-mail New Strategist at mailto:demographics@newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of households that buy milk during an average week: 55.
Percentage of households that buy carbonated colas during an average week: 35.

2. Q & A

How much elbow room?

Later this year, the U.S. population will top 300 million people. The last time we passed a 100 million mark was in 1967. The United States is a big country, and we have a long way to go before we are as densely populated as most other countries of the world. In 2005, there were 80 people per square mile in the United States, according to the Population Reference Bureau (http://www.prb.org). In 1967 that figure was 57 people per square mile.

While it is getting more crowded around here, we still have a lot more elbow room than most other countries. Among the world’s 230 nations, we rank 172 in population density. China, the world’s most populous country, has a population density of 353 people per square mile. India fits 869 people into its average square mile; Japan even more, 876. Yet these countries seem empty in comparison to the most densely populated nation in the world, Bangladesh, with its 2,594 people per square mile.

Americans have more space to themselves than most Europeans do. France has 285 people in each of its square miles. Germany is much more tightly packed with 598, and the United Kingdom tops it with 635. Some nations are emptier than we are, including Brazil (56) and Russia (22). The Canadians, with only 8 people per square mile, and the Australians with an even smaller 7, would feel downright claustrophobic in our crowds.

If you have any questions or comments about the above Q & A, e-mail New Strategist at mailto:demographics@newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

The median age of librarians: 50.

3. COOL RESEARCH LINKS

To keep up-to-date on ever-changing demographics and lifestyles, check out this useful web site:

Attitudes Online
http:// sda.berkeley.edu:8080/quicktables/quickconfig.do?gss04
Want to know how many Americans are against the death penalty for murder, how they feel about banning the Bible in public schools, or whether Americans think homosexuals should be allowed to teach at the nation’s colleges? Now you can find out by delving into the National Opinion Research Center’s highly respected General Social Survey (GSS) online. This survey, fielded every two years, has been collecting attitudinal data since 1972.

Until now, tapping into GSS results has been difficult, limited to academic researchers with the expertise to run statistical programs to unlock the database. To the rescue comes the Computer Assisted Survey Methods Program at the University of California, Berkeley, creating web-based programs for analysis of survey data. Its online application allows you to choose a GSS question and get an answer in table and chart format. You can explore attitudes and how they have changed from as far back as 1972 up to 2004. You can also explore attitudes by demographic segment, including gender, age, race, and political affiliation.

How many Americans are against the death penalty for murder? Thirty-two percent in 2004, up from 21 percent in 1990. Only 36 percent of Americans want to ban the Bible in public schools, but among college graduates the 51 percent majority thinks the Bible should be banned. And 65 percent of Americans think it is OK for homosexuals to teach at the nation’s colleges and universitiesup from 53 percent thirty years ago.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of women aged 85 or older who live alone: 57.

 

4. NEW FOR SUMMER 2006: The updated AMERICAN GENERATIONS SERIES

New Strategist continues to do the work for you with a new update of the four-volume American Generations Series:

  • The Millennials: Americans Born 1977 to 1994, 3rd ed. $69.95; 1-885070-88-8; 416 pgs.; hardcover
  • Generation X: Americans Born 1965 to 1976, 5th ed. $69.95; 1-885070-89-6; 352 pgs.; hardcover
  • The Baby Boom: Americans Born 1946 to 1964, 5th ed. $69.95; 1-885070-90-X; 352 pgs.; hardcover
  • Older Americans: A Changing Market, 5th ed. $69.95; 1-885070-91-8; 392 pgs.; hardcover

The four volumes in the American Generations Series are designed for easy use, with ten chapters bringing you the latest data on each generation’s Education, Health, Housing, Income, Labor Force participation, Living Arrangements, Population, Spending, Time Use, and Wealth.

New to the series is the chapter with data from the government’s fascinating American Time Use Survey. And The Millennials includes updated estimates of the sexual activity and drug use of teens and young adults, along with the latest numbers on alcohol and cigarette use among teenagers.

Order all four volumes in the American Generations Series and receive a free CD containing the previous editions of these books in .pdf format. What a deal! (CD available only with hardcopy orders.)

American Generation Series + CD (ISBN 1-933588-07-1) $265.00.

To see detailed tables of contents, introductions, bibliographies, indexes, and sample pages of these books, or to download them in .pdf format, go to http://www.newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of high school students who are employed: 21.

5. NEW FOR SUMMER 2006: The all new WHO’S BUYING BY AGE

For anyone interested in spending by age–and age is probably the most important predictor of spending–Who’s Buying by Age could be considered the new bible of spending patterns.

  • Who’s Buying by Age
    $59.95; 1-933588-04-7; 214 pgs.; paper

Who’s Buying by Age is your only published source for weekly and quarterly spending data. It gives you, along with its in-depth annual spending data, a full picture not only of what households buy and how much they spend, but how often they buy certain items. Best of all, you get 2000 to 2004 spending trend data by age.

Who’s Buying by Age opens with an overview chapter that examines average spending in 2000 and 2004 for seven age groups ranging from under 25 to 75 or older. The twelve chapters that follow focus on spending by product category–alcohol, apparel, entertainment, financial products and services, gifts for nonhousehold members, groceries, health care, household operations, shelter and utilities, restaurants, transportation, and a chapter on personal care, reading, education, and tobacco.

To see the detailed table of contents, introduction, index, and sample pages from this report, or to download it in .pdf format, go to http://www.newstrategist.com.

 

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Fifty-eight percent of households headed by Generation Xers include children under age 18.