American Consumers Newsletter

by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director, New Strategist Press
April 2015

Big-City Counties Are Growing Fastest

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: BIG-CITY COUNTIES ARE GROWING THE FASTEST, AMERICANS ARE TRAVELING LESS, ATTITUDES OF NON-HISPANIC WHITES BY REGION, and more
2. New Reference Tools: AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, AMERICAN INCOMES, AMERICAN GENERATIONS SERIES: MILLENNIALS, GENERATION X, and BOOMERS

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

1. Hot Trends

Big-City Counties Are Growing Fastest      

The nation’s most urban counties continue to attract Americans by the millions, according to the Census Bureau’s 2014 county population estimates. A Demo Memo analysis of 2010-to-2014 county population trends along the Rural-Urban Continuum documents strong city growth (the bigger, the better) and unrelenting rural decline.

 

The Rural-Urban Continuum is the federal government’s way of classifying counties by their degree of urbanity. The continuum is a scale ranging from 1 (the most urban counties, in metropolitan areas of 1 million or more) to 9 (the most rural counties, lacking any settlements of 2,500 or more people and not adjacent to a metropolitan area). If you sort the nation’s 3,142 counties by their rank on the continuum, then measure percent change in county population between 2010 and 2014 for each rank, this is the result…

 

Population change 2010-2014 by Rural-Urban Continuum

  1. 4.2% for counties in metros of 1 million+
  2. 3.0% for counties in metros of 250,000 to 1 million
  3. 2.1% for counties in metros of less than 250,000
  4. 0.1% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of 20,000+ and adjacent to a metro area
  5. 1.4% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of 20,000+ and not adjacent to a metro area
  6. -0.7% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of 2,500 to 19,999 and adjacent to a metro area
  7. -0.5% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of 2,500 to 19,999 and not adjacent to a metro area
  8. -1.4% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of less than 2,500 and adjacent to a metro area
  9.  -0.9% for nonmetro counties with an urban pop of less than 2,500 and not adjacent to a metro area

The most urban counties (a 1 on the scale) grew the fastest between 2010 and 2014. The most rural counties (8 and 9 on the scale) experienced the biggest declines.

 

What’s Behind the Big-City County Gains?

The nation’s most urban counties grew by a substantial 4.2 percent between 2010 and 2014, faster than any other type, according to a Demo Memo analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2014 county population estimates by Rural-Urban Continuum. Counties in smaller metros grew at a slower rate, and those in rural areas lost population. Every component of population change is driving growth in the most urban counties…

 

Natural increase was greater in big-city counties. Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of natural increase (defined as births minus deaths) was 2.4 percent in counties ranking 1 on the Rural-Urban Continuum (in metro areas with populations of 1 million or more). This was a higher rate of natural increase than in any other type of county on the Continuum. Counties ranking an 8 or 9 on the Continuum (the most rural) had a negative rate of natural increase between 2010 and 2014–deaths outnumbered births in those areas.

 

International migration was greater in big-city counties. Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of net international migration was 1.8 percent in counties ranking 1 on the Rural-Urban Continuum. While net international migration was positive in every type of county, the rate fell with declining urbanity to a low of just 0.1 to 0.2 percent for counties ranking an 8 or 9.

 

Domestic migration was greater in big-city counties. Between 2010 and 2014, the rate of domestic migration was positive only for the most urban counties–those ranking a 1, 2, or 3 on the Rural-Urban Continuum. Less urban counties lost more migrants than they gained.

 

Millions Want to Move

A substantial 9.6 percent of American households say they want to move, according to a Census Bureau study of residential mobility. But few actually follow through on that desire. With geographic mobility at a record low, the timing could not be better for an analysis of who wants to move and what they do about it.

 

Among the 11 million householders who said they wanted to move in 2010, only 18 percent actually moved in the following 12 months. And as fate would have it, millions of householders who did not express a desire to move in 2010 ended up moving, although at a lower rate (10 percent). Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the Census Bureau analyzed the characteristics of those who wanted to move in 2010 and those who did move in the following 12 months.

 

Among the many characteristics examined in the report, age was one of the most important. Americans under age 35 are most likely to want to move (14.6 percent wanted to move in 2010), and they are also most likely to actually move (27.8 percent moved between 2010 and 2011). Many of the households that ended up moving, however, were not the ones who wanted to move, and many of those who wanted to move were still in the same house a year later.

 

Many people change their minds about wanting to move. The 56 percent majority of those who said they wanted to move in 2010 but stayed put no longer expressed a desire to move when re-interviewed in 2011. “Desiring to move because of residential dissatisfaction appeared to be dynamic,” explains the Census Bureau’s Peter J. Mateyka, “with many respondents’ reports of desiring to move changing one year later, despite living in the same residence.”

 

Americans Are Traveling Less

Americans are traveling less than they did before the Great Recession, according to data collected by the Consumer Expenditure Survey and analyzed in a Monthly Labor Review article. The number of domestic trips taken by American households fell 14 percent between 2006 and 2013, from 230 million to 198 million. The number of international trips fell 25 percent during those years, from 17 million to 13 million. Neither domestic nor international travel show recovery from the Great Recession.

 

In an analysis of the travel data, BLS economist Geoffrey D. Paulin finds a surprise. Although the number of trips has declined, the length of trips has increased a bit. On domestic trips in 2013, households spent an average of 4.1 nights away from home–up from 3.8 nights in 2006. On international trips in 2013, households spent 12.6 nights away, up from the 10.5 nights spent away in 2006.

 

Households spent an average of $583 on each domestic trip in 2013–about 4 percent more than the $568 spent in 2006, after adjusting for inflation. Not surprisingly, households spent more on international travel–an average of $3,273 per trip in 2013 and 16 percent more than the $2,830 spent in 2006.

 

Smartphone Ownership in 2015

Fully 64 percent of Americans owned a smartphone in 2015, up from just 35 percent in 2011. According to a Pew Research Center survey, smartphones are owned by the majority of adults in all but the oldest age group and by more Blacks and Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites…

 

Smartphone ownership by age

Aged 18 to 29: 85%

Aged 30 to 49: 79%

Aged 50 to 64: 54%

Aged 65-plus: 27%

 

Smartphone ownership by race and Hispanic origin

Hispanics: 71%

Non-Hispanic Blacks: 70%

Non-Hispanic Whites: 61%

 

Differences in Attitudes by Region

On many hot-button issues, the attitudes of non-Hispanic Whites in the South differ from the attitudes of non-Hispanic Whites in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. A Demo Memo analysis of the 2014 General Social Survey uncovered the following differences…

 

Gay Marriage: Only 47% of non-Hispanic Whites in the South think same-sex couples should have the right to marry (56% Midwest, 70% West, 74% Northeast).

 

Legalizing Marijuana: Only 49% of non-Hispanic Whites in the South favor the legalization of marijuana (58% Midwest, 63% Northeast, 67% West).

 

Belief in Evolution: Only 40% of non-Hispanic Whites in the South believe in evolution (57% Midwest, 59% West, 74% Northeast).

 

Religious Fervor: 54% of non-Hispanic Whites in the South say they have been “born again” (32% Midwest, 31% West, 14% Northeast).

 

Republican Party: 51% of non-Hispanic Whites in the South identify themselves as Republican (44% Midwest, 37% West, 33% Northeast).

 

Stress is the Norm for New Mothers

In the year before they give birth, 71 percent of new mothers experience what the CDC calls a “stressful life event.” The government defines 13 types of stressful life events and categorizes them into four types: financial (moved to a new address, lost job, partner lost job, unable to pay bills); emotional (family member ill and hospitalized, someone close died); partner-associated (separation/divorce, argue more than usual with partner/husband, husband/partner said he did not want pregnancy); and traumatic (homeless, involved in physical fight, partner went to jail, someone close had a problem with drinking/drugs).

 

The average new mother experiences 1.8 stressful life events in the year before her infants’ birth. The 51 percent majority experiences a financial stressor, 30 percent an emotional stressor, 29 percent a partner-associated stressor, and 18 percent a traumatic stressor. Most women are vulnerable to stressful life events, but some are more vulnerable than others. Fully 80 percent of new mothers under age 25, for example, experienced one or more stressors compared with a smaller but still substantial 63 percent of new mothers aged 30 or older. Among the least educated, 76 percent experienced a stressor. Among the best educated, the figure was 60 percent.

 

Financial Satisfaction Is No Guarantee

If you feel like your finances are in good shape, you might be in danger. That’s because, more often than not, feelings don’t reflect reality. According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, “financial satisfaction is a poor indicator of financial well-being and can actually impede the achievement of financial well-being.”

 

In the study, the researchers compared survey respondents’ self-reported financial satisfaction with their actual long-term financial well-being (defined as having adequate medical and life insurance, saving for college and retirement, and paying off student loans and mortgages). They found a disconnect between feelings and reality. The feeling of financial satisfaction comes from day-to-day money matters (such as being employed, able to pay bills, not feeling burdened by debt, and having access to emergency cash) rather than long-term financial health. “Given this intensely present-minded focus of subjective assessments, satisfaction is a poor measure of financial well-being,” the researchers concluded.

 

What can be done to eliminate this blind spot and improve the average American’s financial security? The researchers suggest “greater use of defaults or mandates, or the transfer of responsibility from households to governments or employers, to reduce the nation’s significantly increased reliance on individual household decision-making for basic financial well-being.”

 

Who Looks Forward to Getting the Mail?

Only 41 percent of Americans look forward to getting their (snail) mail each day, according to a Gallup survey. Older people enjoy it more than younger ones…

 

Percent who look forward to getting the mail

Under age 50: 36%

Aged 50 to 64: 41%

Aged 65-plus: 56%

 

Average Number of Jobs

The average middle-aged American has held 11.7 different jobs by age 48, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis of the latest data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979.

 

The NLSY79 has been interviewing a nationally representative panel of respondents every few years for decades, since they were aged 14 to 22 (born between 1957 and 1964). The survey collects data on the panel’s labor market experiences. In the latest iteration, respondents were aged 47 to 56, and they had held this many jobs between the ages of…

 

Number of jobs held

Ages 18 to 24: 5.5

Ages 25 to 29: 3.0

Ages 35 to 39: 2.1

Ages 40 to 48: 2.4

 

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 households with children of the householder living in the home, by generation…

Millennials: 47%
Gen Xers: 65%
Boomers: 32%

2. MEET YOUR CUSTOMERS

Here are all new and expanded one-stop resources for understanding American consumers–vital, cost-effective information. Get the answers you need for business success in today’s competitive economy!

 

American Incomes: Demographics of Who Has Money, 10th ed.

The 10th 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. American Incomes looks at household income trends through 2013 by age, household type, race and Hispanic origin, education, region, and work status. It examines trends in the incomes of men and women by a variety of demographic characteristics. It provides data on the wealth of American households, showing the impact of the Great Recession on household assets and debt. The poverty population is also a focus of American Incomes, which includes the following chapters:

Household Incomes This chapter examines trends in household income over the past 13 years. It also presents detailed 2013 household income statistics by age of householder, race and Hispanic origin of householder, type of household, and other important demographic characteristics.

Men’s Incomes Chapter 2 examines trends in men’s incomes and provides detailed 2013 income statistics for men by a variety of demographic characteristics.

Women’s Incomes Chapter 3 examines trends in women’s incomes and provides detailed 2013 income statistics for women by a variety of demographic characteristics.

Wealth The statistics in Chapter 4, from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, provide a comprehensive portrait of the assets, debts, and net worth of American households by demographic characteristic. This chapter also examines 2007-to-2013 trends in wealth.

Poverty Chapter 5 shows how poverty has grown and reveals the demographics of those who are falling behind. 456 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, 12th ed.

Quick and easy access is the goal of the new 12th edition of The American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns. Designed for convenience, The American Marketplace draws on scores of government sources to give you a population profile of the United States in one handy volume. This reference is organized into 11 chapters: attitudes, education, health, housing, income, labor force, living arrangements, population, spending, time use, and wealth.

 

The American Marketplace reveals the latest demographic trends and tells the American story. It examines changing lifestyles in rich detail, from growing racial and ethnic diversity to declining homeownership, from disappearing nuclear families to shifting patterns of household spending, from another baby bust to new attitudes toward gay marriage. New to this edition of The American Marketplace are 2013 population estimates for the nation, states, and metropolitan areas, revealing surprising patterns of growth. The Attitudes chapter has data from the 2012 General Social Survey. The Income chapter, with 2013 income statistics from the 2014 Current Population Survey, reveals the struggle to stay afloat. The Wealth chapter examines net worth in 2013 and the downward trend since the Great Recession. The American Marketplace is a reference tool that will help you cut through the clutter and track the trends. 654 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF linked to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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The American Generations Series

Each of the three volumes in the new American Generations Series provides an in-depth look at the demographic and lifestyle data needed for an understanding of each generation, how it is changing, and what to expect in the future.

 

The Millennials: Americans Born 1977 to 1994

The all new sixth edition of The Millennials is two books in one: it provides a demographic and socioeconomic profile of the Millennial generation, which spanned the ages of 20 to 37 in 2014, and it includes a special supplement on the iGeneration–the population under age 20. In these difficult economic times, perhaps no generation is more important to businesses than Millennials. For those who track generational change, the special supplement on the iGeneration will give you a preview of what is to come. 564 pages.

 

You can see the book’s introduction, table of contents, index, and sample pages on New Strategist’s web site, where you can also download this unique reference tool as a PDF with links to Excel spreadsheets of all data tables.

 

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Generation X: Americans Born 1965 to 1976

The new eighth edition of Generation X tells the story of the small but vital generation spanning the ages of 38 to 49 in 2014. Although their numbers are small, lifestage dictates that Generation X is a vital part of the nation’s commerce and culture. People in their thirties and forties are in the crowded-nest years. They are supposed to be advancing in their careers, their incomes should be growing, and their spending should climb because of the expenses of children and teens. But the generation has been hit hard by the Great Recession and is still struggling to recover. This reference shows you how Gen Xers are coping with these demands and what to expect in the future. 344 pages.

 

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The Baby Boom: Americans Born 1946 to 1964

After more than six decades of breaking the rules established by their elders, the Baby-Boom generation and older Americans are one and the same. In 2014, Boomers spanned the ages from 50 to 68, accounting for 24 percent of the total U.S. population and 71 percent of the population aged 50 or older. The new eighth edition of The Baby Boom: Americans Born 1946 to 1964 includes in its pages, for the first time, a statistical profile of the U.S. population aged 50 or older-absorbing the New Strategist reference Older Americans: A Changed Market into one volume. Boomers already dominate the older market, and they’re transforming it as they take charge. The Baby-Boom is your strategic guide to the generation and how it is changing what it means to be old.

438 pages.

 

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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

Among Americans aged 25 or older, 32.0 percent of women and a slightly smaller 31.9 percent of men have a bachelor’s degree. College-educated women outnumber their male counterparts by more than 2 million…

Women with a bachelor’s degree: 34.8 million
Men with a bachelor’s degree: 32.1 million