American Consumers Newsletter

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

Geographic Mobility Rate at Record Low

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Hot Trends: GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY AT RECORD LOW, HOMEOWNERSHIP’S DECADE OF DECLINE, ATTITUDES TOWARD GAY MARRIAGE 2004 to 2014, 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

Geographic Mobility Rate at Record Low  

Many will be disappointed with the latest report on the nation’s geographic mobility. Fewer Americans moved between 2013 and 2014 than in the previous year, according to the Census Bureau, and the mobility rate fell to a record low. Although the bureau calls the trend in mobility “stable,” the numbers are not good news for housing and other industries awaiting the return of the mobile American.

 

Only 11.5 percent of people aged 1 or older moved from one house to another between March 2013 and March 2014–an all-time low. The number who moved fell by 237,000 between 2012-13 and 2013-14. Here is the trend in the mobility rate since 2006-07, before the start of the Great Recession…

 

Geographic mobility rate

2013-14: 11.5%

2012-13: 11.7%

2011-12: 12.0%

2010-11: 11.6%

2009-10: 12.5%

2008-09: 12.5%

2007-08: 11.9%

2006-07: 13.2%

 

The mobility rate fell slightly for both homeowners and renters. Among homeowners, only 5.0 percent moved between 2013 and 2014. While this rate is above the record low of 4.7 percent recorded in the years 2010-11 and 2011-12, it remains well below the 7 to 9 percent that was typical in the the years prior to the Great Recession. Renters account for 71 percent of movers. Among renters, 24.5 percent moved between 2013 and 2014, an all-time low. Before the Great Recession, the renter mobility rate typically exceeded 30 percent.

 

Homeownership: A Decade of Decline

The nation’s homeownership rate peaked in 2004 at 69.0 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey. Since then, the overall rate has fallen by 4.5 percentage points to 64.5 percent in 2014. Among householders in their thirties, the rate fell by more than 10 percentage points during those years…

 

Homeownership rate in 2014

(and percentage point decline since 2004)

Under 25: 21.7% (-3.5)

25 to 29:   32.7% (-7.5)

30 to 34:   47.1% (-10.3)

35 to 39:   56.0% (-10.2)

40 to 44:   63.2% (-8.7)

45 to 54:   70.7% (-6.5)

55 to 64:   76.3% (-5.4)

65-plus:    79.9 (-1.2)

 

Homeownership of 30-to-34-year-olds 

The homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 fell by more than 10 percentage points between 2004 (the year the nation’s homeownership rate peaked) and 2014, according to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey. Historically, 30-to-34-year-olds had been the nation’s first-time homebuyers, the age group in which the homeownership rate climbed above 50 percent. But between 2004 and 2014 the homeownership rate of the age group fell from well above 50 percent (57.4) to well below (47.1). No longer is 30-to-34 the age of first-time home buying, except in the Midwest.

 

Northeast (-10.1 percentage points): In the Northeast, the homeownership rate of households headed by 30-to-34-year-olds fell from 51.9 percent in 2004 to 41.8 percent in 2014.

 

Midwest (-7.4 percentage points): The Midwest is the only region in which the homeownership rate of householders aged 30 to 34 remains above 50 percent. In 2014, 57.6 percent of householders aged 30 to 34 in the region owned their home, down from 65.0 percent in 2004.

 

South (-11.1 percentage points): For householders aged 30 to 34 in the South, the homeownership rate fell from 58.8 to 47.7 percent between 2004 and 2014.

 

West (-12.2 percentage points): The decline in homeownership in the 30-to-34 age group was greatest in the West. The figure fell from 52.1 percent in 2004 to just 39.9 percent in 2014.

 

College Fantasy vs. Reality

Fantasy: 85% of college freshmen believe they will complete their bachelor’s degree in four years, according to The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014.

 

Reality: 38% of college freshmen complete their bachelor’s degree in four years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

 

Slow Payback of Student Loans

In the fourth quarter of 2014, the outstanding balance on student loans in the United States reached a mind boggling $1.2 trillion, up from $346 billion ten years ago. The number of borrowers with outstanding loans grew 92 percent during those years to 43 million.

 

One reason for the enormous growth in student loans is the disturbingly slow rate at which the loans are being paid back, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Looking at Equifax data, the researchers find only 37 percent of borrowers making regular payments on schedule. The others are either delinquent, in deferral, or still in school.

 

The researchers analyzed how much debt borrowers had in the year they left school and how much debt remained at the end of 2014. The 2010 cohort, for example, had $78 billion in debt upon leaving school and more than four years later still owes 91 percent of that amount. The 2005 cohort still owes 62 percent of its student loan balance from nearly 10 years ago.

 

The housing market is haunted by these student loans, according to the Fed analysis. “We don’t fully understand how the burden of large amounts of debt on households’ balance sheets for long periods of time affects student borrowers’ behavior,” conclude the researchers, “but our research so far suggests that growing student debt has contributed to the recent decline in the homeownership rate and to the sharp increase in parental co-residence among millennials.”

 

Technology May Immiserate Humanity

“Will smart machines, which are rapidly replacing workers in a wide range of jobs, produce economic misery or prosperity?”

 

That’s the question posed in Robots Are Us: Some Economics of Human Replacement, a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. The authors create a model to see how technological progress will impact the human economy. The model’s outcome is, to use the authors’ term, “disturbing.”

 

The results of the model show that the growing legacy of software code may very well put the human economy out of business. “As the stock of legacy code grows,” say the researchers, “the demand for new code and, thus for high-tech workers, falls.” Former high-tech workers will seek jobs in low-tech occupations, driving those wages down. Smart machines are now on track to immiserate humanity, and open-source technology is likely to make matters worse. The researchers recommend generation-specific redistribution policies that could soften the blow.

 

Education of the Labor Force in 2014

Among the nation’s 135 million workers aged 25 or older, 50 million had a bachelor’s degree or more education–37 percent of the total, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By race and Hispanic origin, this is the percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree…

 

60% of Asians

42% of non-Hispanic Whites

27% of Blacks

19% of Hispanics

 

Boomer Men Not Delaying Retirement

Between 2000 and 2010, the labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69 climbed by more than 6 percentage points–from 30.3 to 36.5 percent. Many thought the upward trend was here to stay as the baby-boom generation sought to boost its retirement income. Many were wrong. As boomer men filled the 65-to-69 age group over the past four years, the rise in labor force participation came to a halt, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the participation rate of men aged 65 to 69 fell slightly between 2010 and 2014…

 

Labor force participation rate of men aged 65 to 69

2014: 36.1%

2010: 36.5%

2000: 30.3%

 

Interestingly, a Gallup survey of today’s 65-to-68-year-olds found them no more likely to work than the four-year cohort immediately preceding them. Those Gallup results are now confirmed.

 

One in Four Americans Will Be 65-Plus

In 2029, the youngest members of the baby-boom generation (born from 1946 through 1964) will turn 65. With boomers inflating the older age groups, the elderly share of the American population will climb to 25 percent by 2050, according to Census Bureau projections–three times greater than the 8 percent of 1950…

 

Percentage of U.S. population aged 65 or older

2050: 24.9%

2014: 13.2%

1950:   8.1%

 

63% of Americans Live in a City

Nearly two out of three Americans (63 percent) live in a city, according to the Census Bureau. Cities are defined by their legal corporate limits. They differ from metropolitan areas, which are defined by the Office of Management and Budget and consist of counties with urban populations of 50,000 or more. The nation has many more cities (19,508) than metropolitan areas (381).

 

Between 2010 and 2013, the population of the nation’s cities grew 3.1 percent–greater than the 2.4 percent growth rate for the nation as a whole. City growth occurs not just because of population gains, however, but also because of annexation. Boundary changes between 2010 and 2013, for example, added nearly 32,000 people to the city of Kirkland, Washington. City population also grows when new cities are created. Sixteen new cities were incorporated between 2010 and 2013, including James Island, South Carolina, and Jurupa Valley, California.

 

The most populous city in the United States is New York, with 8.4 million people in the city’s 303 square miles of land. All those people in such a small geographic area make New York the most densely populated city in the United States, with 27,781 people per square mile. Close to the other extreme is Sitka, Alaska, which has more land area than any other city–2,870 square miles. Because only 9,020 people live there, however, Sitka’s density is just 3.1 people per square mile.

 

Evolving Attitudes toward Gay Marriage

When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “Homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another,” the 57 percent majority of Americans agree. According to results from the General Social Survey, the change in attitudes toward gay marriage has been swift…

 

Percent in favor of gay marriage

2014: 56.7%

2012: 48.9%

2010: 46.5%

2008: 39.2%

2006: 35.4%

2004: 30.8%

 

Among Millennials (aged 20 to 37 in 2014), the 70 percent majority supports gay marriage. The figure is 55 percent among Gen Xers (aged 38 to 49) and 51 percent among Boomers (aged 50 to 68). The oldest Americans (aged 69 or older) are still opposed, with only 39 percent agreeing that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.

 

Married Three or More Times

Among Americans aged 15 or older, 52.3 percent have married only once, 13.5 percent have married twice, and 3.6 percent have married three or more times. According to the Census Bureau report Remarriage in the United States, those most likely to have married three or more times are the oldest members of the baby-boom generation. Among people in their sixties, fully 9.1 percent of men and 7.6 percent of women have married at least three times.

 

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

Percent of Americans who read for personal interest on an average day…

9.3% of people aged 25 to 34 (least likely)
47.2% of people aged 75-plus (most likely)

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.

 

PDF with Excel links (978-1-940308-77-7)

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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.

 

PDF with Excel links (978-1-940308-83-8)

Single-user $80.95

Multi-user $240.00

Hardcover: $110.00 (978-1-940308-81-4)

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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.

 

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.

 

PDF with Excel links (978-1-940308-86-9)

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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.

 

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.

 

PDF with Excel links (978-1-940308-89-0)

Single-user $80.95

Multi-user $240.00

Hardcover: $110.00 (978-1-940308-87-6)

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Order all three editions of the newly updated American Generations SeriesThe Millennials, Generation X, and The Baby Boom and save!

Hardcover: $300.00 (978-1-937737-14-6)

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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

Average weight of Americans aged 20 or older…

Men: 195.5 pounds
Women: 166.2 pounds