American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
September 2016

Big Boost in Spending in 2015

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: SPENDING IN 2015, CHANGES IN TIME USE 2005-15, SEXUAL IDENTITY OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, EARLY RETIREMENT PEAK, TROUBLE DRIVING, AMERICAN HEIGHTS AND WEIGHTS, AGE OF BUSINESSES, and more
2. Business Tools:

THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, 13th edition

AMERICAN INCOMES, 11th edition
WHO WE ARE: ASIANS, 3rd ed.
WHO WE ARE: BLACKS, 3rd ed.
WHO WE ARE: HISPANICS, 3rd ed.

To see Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog, click here.

1. Hot Trends

Big Boost in Spending in 2015

The average household spent $55,978 in 2015, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, a substantial 4.5 percent more than in 2014 after adjusting for inflation. Every age group gained ground in 2015.

Spending in 2015 was still 1.6 percent below what it was in 2006, the year average household spending peaked, but the gap is closing. For households headed by 45-to-54-year-olds and people aged 65-plus, spending in 2015 surpassed the 2006 peak and has never been higher…

Average household spending in 2015 (and % change 2006-15, in 2015 dollars)
Average household: $55,978 (-1.6%)
Under age 25: $32,797 (-1.0%)
Aged 25 to 34: $52,062 (-6.9%)
Aged 35 to 44: $65,334 (-3.3%)
Aged 45 to 54: $69,753 (+3.1%)
Aged 55 to 64: $58,781 (-1.6%)
Aged 65-plus: $44,664 (+8.4%)
Spending by Race/Hispanic Origin, 2015
Regardless of race or Hispanic origin, households spent more in 2015 than in 2014, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. The 2014-15 rise in average household spending was almost identical for Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Whites (4.5 to 4.6 percent, after adjusting for inflation), while the increase for Asians was more muted (1.3 percent).
Average household spending is still below the 2006 peak, but Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites have almost closed the gap…
Average household spending in 2015 (and % change 2006-15; in 2015 dollars)
Average household: $55,978 (-1.6%)
Asian households: $63,672 (-5.9%)
Black households: $40,372 (-0.7%)
Hispanic households: $47,663 (-5.8%)
Non-Hispanic White households: $60,072 (-0.5%)
Americans Give Thumbs Up to the Economy in 2015
The Feds may be uncertain about the direction of the economy, but Americans are giving it a thumbs up. The average household boosted its spending on a wide variety of products and services between 2014 and 2015 after adjusting for inflation, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Many long-languishing discretionary categories (apparel, furniture) got a welcome infusion of cash, while some necessities (gasoline, electricity) eased their grip on the household budget…
Spending gains, 2014-15 (in 2015 dollars)
Furniture: 29.6%
New cars and trucks: 25.1%
Alcoholic beverages: 11.1%
Reading material: 10.5%
Women’s clothes: 8.0%
Food away from home: 7.8%
Entertainment: 4.1%
Spending declines, 2014-15 (in 2015 dollars)
Gasoline: -15.4%
Drugs: -12.7%
Natural gas: -4.2%
Mortgage interest: -3.3%
Vehicle insurance: -3.1%
Electricity: -1.7%
Smartphones: #1 Online Device
How Americans go online is changing. Those changes are being documented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as it analyzes the biennial Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey. Among Americans aged 3 or older who go online at home, these are the devices they used in 2015 and 2011
Go online at home using device, 2015 (and 2011)
Smartphone: 53% (27%)
Laptop computer: 46% (42%)
Desktop computer: 34% (45%)
Tablet computer: 29% (6%)
TV-connected device: 27% (14%)
Wearable device: 1% (0%)
Internet Use: Urban vs. Rural
As internet use has become the norm over the years, the gap in internet use between urban and rural residents has remained the same, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Among Americans aged 3 or older in 2015, 75 percent of those in urban areas used the internet–6 percentage points greater than the 69 percent among rural residents. The same-sized gap existed as far back as 1998, says the NTIA. That’s when the NTIA began to collect data on internet use through the biennial Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey. In the olden days of 1998, 34 percent of urban residents and 28 percent of rural residents used the internet.
Interestingly, the rural-urban gap almost disappears among people with a college degree (88% urban vs. 87% rural). But the gap in internet use widens with less education: 4 percentage points for those with some college (84% urban vs. 80% rural), 6 percentage points for those with a high school diploma only (69% urban vs. 63% rural), and 7 percentage points for those without a high school diploma (59% urban vs. 52% rural).
Urban residents are also more likely to use every type of internet-connected device…
2015 device use by urban (and rural) residents aged 3 or older
Smartphone: 54% (45%)
Laptop computer: 48% (39%)
Desktop computer: 35% (29%)
Tablet computer: 30% (24%)
10-Fold Increase in Information Technology Workers, 1970 to 2014
The number of Americans employed in information technology has increased 10-fold in the past four-plus decades, according to a Census Bureau report. Only 450,000 workers were employed in IT in 1970. By 2014 the number was 4.6 million, accounting for 2.9 percent of the work force.
There are big differences between IT workers and the labor force as a whole. IT workers are younger: the 55 percent majority are aged 25 to 44 versus 43 percent of all workers. IT workers are less likely to be female: only 25 percent are women versus 47 percent of all workers. Perhaps the biggest difference is in earnings: IT workers earn more than average, and their earnings are growing. Men who work full-time in IT saw their earnings grow 9 percent between 1970 and 2014, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, earnings fell 12 percent for male workers overall. Women’s earnings increased regardless of occupation during those years. In 2014, women in IT earned 80 percent more than the average working woman and 43 percent more than the average working man.
Median earnings of men who work full-time (and % increase since 1970; in 2014 dollars)
IT occupations: $80,895 (+9%)
All occupations: $49,150 (-12%)
Median earnings of women who work full-time (and % increase since 1970; in 2014 dollars)
IT occupations: $70,385 (+23%)
All occupations: $39,055 (+23%)
Early Retirement Peaked in 1995
Baby-Boom men aren’t opting for early retirement like their fathers did, according to Older Americans 2016: Key Indicators of Well-Being, a report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Early retirement peaked in 1995, when the labor force participation rate of men aged 62 to 64 (born in 1931-33) fell to an all-time low of 45.0 percent. Today, a larger 55.8 percent of men aged 62 to 64 (born in 1951-53) are in the labor force. Although higher than it was, the current labor force participation rate of men aged 62 to 64 is still well below the rate of the early 1960s, when three out of four were in the labor force.
Labor force participation rate of men aged 62 to 64
2015: 55.8%
2005: 52.5%
1995: 45.0%
1990: 46.5%
1980: 52.6%
1970: 69.4%
1963: 75.8%
Driving Troubles of Older Americans
Getting from here to there is a growing problem for many as they age, according to Older Americans 2016: Key Indicators of Well-Being, a report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft may solve this problem in the future. The potential market is huge. One in four Americans aged 65 or older reports having trouble getting places, according to the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. One in five has given up driving altogether, and one in three drives only in the daytime. Here are the percentages by age…
Has trouble getting places
65 to 74: 18.5%
75 to 84: 26.5%
85-plus: 44.6%
Limits driving to daytime
65 to 74: 24.8%
75 to 84: 39.2%
85-plus: 55.3%
Has given up driving altogether
65 to 74: 11.3%
75 to 84: 21.2%
85-plus: 46.5%
11% Have Long-Term Care Insurance
Only 11 percent of adults aged 65 or older have private, long-term care insurance, according to an Urban Institute analysis of Health and Retirement Study data. Even among older Americans with a net worth of $1 million or more, only 25 percent have insurance…
Percent of people aged 65-plus with private, long-term care insurance by net worth, 2014
Less than $50,000: 3%
$50,000 to $99,999: 4%
$100,000 to $499,999: 8%
$500,000 to $999,999: 20%
$1,000,000 or more: 25%
Changes in Time Use: 2005 to 2015
Americans are less likely to read on an average day than they were 10 years ago, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the American Time Use Survey. Only 21 percent of people aged 15 or older read for personal interest as a primary activity on an average day in 2015, down from 27 percent in 2005. But more used a computer for leisure (excluding playing games) in 2015 than in 2005. More also played games (including computer games).
Declining Participation: percent participating on average day in 2015 (and 2005)
Working: 42.1% (44.5%)
Shopping: 40.4% (41.4%)
Reading: 21.1% (26.8%)
Caring for children: 20.3% (21.7%)
Telephone calls: 13.6% (15.2%)
Lawn/garden/houseplant care: 9.8% (10.4%)
Attending sports/recreational events: 0.7% (1.3%)
Growing Participation: percent participating on average day in 2015 (and 2005)
Participating in sports/exercise/recreation: 21.0% (18.4%)
Caring for animals/pets: 17.0% (13.6%)
Computer use for leisure (except games): 13.0% (9.3%)
Playing games (including computer): 11.2% (9.0%)
Health-related self-care: 7.0% (6.1%)
Receiving medical services: 3.6% (3.3%)
Job search and interviewing: 1.3% (1.0%)
What’s behind these changes? The aging of the population is one factor. Others include the ongoing baby bust and a shift in leisure preferences from reading to surfing the internet. Note: Primary activities are those respondents identify as their main activity.
Student Loans by Race and Hispanic Origin
Thirty-one percent of Americans aged 25 to 55 have student loan debt, according to an Urban Institute analysis of the Federal Reserve Board’s 2014 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking. Seven percent have debt for a child’s or grandchild’s education. Blacks are significantly more likely than other race/Hispanic origin groups to have student loan debt, and their loans are larger. But they are not significantly more likely to have debt for a child’s or grandchild’s education.
Percent of 25-to-55-year-olds with any student loan debt
Blacks: 39.2%
Hispanics: 29.6%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 30.5%
Other race/ethnicity: 23.8%
Percent of 25-to-55-year-olds with student loan debt for child’s/grandchild’s education
Blacks: 9.1%
Hispanics: 7.6%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 6.9%
Other race/ethnicity: 3.9%
Average student loan debt for 25-to-55-year-olds with debt
Blacks: $43,725
Hispanics: $32,075
Non-Hispanic Whites: $31,367
Other race/ethnicity: $27,106
Average Weight by Age, 2011-2014
The average woman weighed 168.5 pounds in 2011-14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics report, Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2011-2014. That’s five-plus pounds more than the 163.3 pounds of 1999-2002. The average man weighed 195.7 pounds in 2011-14, also five-plus pounds more than the 190.4 pounds of 1999-2002. These numbers come from weigh-ins of a representative sample of the population performed in mobile examination units across the country. Weight peaks among men in their forties and women in their fifties…
Men’s average weight by age (pounds)
Aged 20-plus: 195.7
Aged 20 to 29: 186.8
Aged 30 to 39: 198.8
Aged 40 to 49: 201.7
Aged 50 to 59: 199.5
Aged 60 to 69: 199.7
Aged 70 to 79: 189.3
Aged 80-plus: 174.6
Women’s average weight by age (pounds)
Aged 20-plus: 168.5
Aged 20 to 29: 161.8
Aged 30 to 39: 172.9
Aged 40 to 49: 173.1
Aged 50 to 59: 174.4
Aged 60 to 69: 168.8
Aged 70 to 79: 165.8
Aged 80-plus: 141.9
Height by Race and Hispanic Origin
You can’t blame Americans’ growing weight on an increase in height because we aren’t getting any taller. The average woman aged 20 or older is 63.7 inches tall and her male counterpart is 69.2 inches in height, according to 2011-14 data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The heights of men and women are almost identical to what they were in 1999-2002.
Men: average height by race and Hispanic origin (inches)
Asian: 67.0
Black: 69.5
Hispanic: 67.4
Non-Hispanic White: 69.7
Women: average height by race and Hispanic origin (inches)
Asian: 61.8
Black: 64.2
Hispanic: 62.0
Non-Hispanic White: 64.1
41% of Full-Service Restaurants Are Ethnic
What is the single most popular type of restaurant in the United States? Fast-food restaurants serving hamburgers, of course. There are 53,000 of them, according to the 2012 economic census data available on American Factfinder. They account for 23.6 percent of the nation’s 225,000 fast-food restaurants with employees. After hamburgers are sandwich/sub shops (18.5%), pizza (15.8%), Chinese (10.0%), and Mexican (8.8%).
What’s the most popular type of full-service restaurant in the United States? The answer is “other ethnic”–a category that includes Thai, Indian, Cambodian, Japanese, Ethiopian, and all other ethnic restaurants except Mexican, Italian, and Chinese. There are 31,000 “other ethnic” restaurants, accounting for 13.5 percent of the nation’s 232,000 full-service restaurants with employees. Second in popularity is Mexican (9.4%) followed by Italian (9.2%) and Chinese (8.6%). The four ethnic categories account for a substantial 41 percent of the nation’s full-service restaurants.
Sexual Identity of High School Students
More than 1 in 10 high school students identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or “not sure,” according to a government survey. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey asked a representative sample of students in grades 9 through 12 about their sexual identity with these results…
Sexual identity of high school students
Heterosexual: 88.8%
Gay or lesbian: 2.0%
Bisexual: 6.0%
Not sure: 3.2%
Among high school girls, 84.5 percent identify themselves as heterosexual or straight. Among high school boys, the figure is 93.1 percent.
Non-Hispanic Whites Decline in Northeast and Midwest
The non-Hispanic White population in the United States grew by just 0.3 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a Demo Memo analysis of Census Bureau population estimates. In the Northeast and Midwest, the non-Hispanic White population declined…
Percent change in non-Hispanic Whites, 2010 to 2015
Northeast: -2.2%
Midwest: -0.6%
South: 1.7%
West: 1.4%
Age Distribution of American Businesses
The Census Bureau’s new Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs is a welcome addition to business statistics, providing more timely information on U.S. businesses and business owners. Rather than waiting for economic census updates every five years, the new survey will provide economic and demographic characteristics of businesses and their owners annually in the years between the economic census–thanks to a public-private partnership with the Census Bureau, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and the Minority Business Development Agency. Data on the characteristics of businesses and the gender, ethnicity, and race of business owners are available for the nation, states, and 50 largest metropolitan areas.
U.S. firms with paid employees by age of firm, 2014
Total firms: 5,437,782 (100.0%)
Less than 2 years: 481,981 (8.9%)
2 to 3 years: 723,679 (13.3%)
4 to 5 years: 519,712 (9.6%)
6 to 10 years: 1,146,177 (21.1%)
11 to 15 years: 2,398,315 (44.1%)
16 or more years: 167,917 (3.1%)
These are a sampling of posts published in the past few weeks in Cheryl Russell’s Demo Memo blog. Please send questions or comments to demographics@newstrategist.com.

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percentage of people aged 75 or older who live alone:

Men: 23%
Women: 46%

2. MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS

Here are your one-stop resources for understanding American consumers–vital, cost effective information. Get the answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy!
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This new edition of American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money is your map to the changing consumer landscape, exploring and explaining the economic status of Americans in the aftermath of the Great Recession. It looks at household income trends through 2014 by age, household type, race and Hispanic origin, education, region, and work status; examines trends in the incomes of men and women by a variety of demographic characteristics; and provides data on the wealth of American households. The poverty population is also a focus of American Incomes.
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The Who We Are Series provides a comprehensive look at the characteristics of America’s three major minorities: Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics. In addition to detailed estimates of their numbers nationally and by state and metropolitan area, the three volumes in the Who We Are Series include the latest socioeconomic data on each population. Detailed household spending data, the latest on household wealth, and findings from the American Time Use Survey are also presented.

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For your convenience, all of New Strategist’s titles are available as searchable single- and multiple-user PDFs linked to spreadsheets of each data table so you can do your own analyses and create PowerPoint presentations.
BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Percent who describe themselves as working class:

Hispanics: 61%
Blacks: 55%
Non-Hispanic Whites: 42%